The Rainbow Connection

Greater Palm Springs Pride

photos by david a. lee

Palm Springs and the desert cities have welcomed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people for decades, stretching back to the glory days when closeted Old Hollywood luminaries joined their straight costars as they reveled in the sun and holed up in gated resorts operated by tight-lipped (and, no doubt, well-rewarded) personnel. 

The world has changed dramatically, with gay men and women living more open and authentic lives. And the greater Palm Springs area has responded in kind, providing more gay and gay-friendly restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, retailers and other businesses per capita than any other gay destination.

It’s easy to see why so many LGBTs call the desert home. In Palm Springs, 35 to 40 percent of the city’s full-time residents are believed to be gay or lesbian. The gorgeous weather coupled with proximity to Los Angeles and San Diego have enshrined the Greater Palm Springs area as a hospitable haven for a diverse population.

City governments throughout the valley have long recognized the power of the gay vote, and many elected officials, including a preponderance of Palm Springs City Council members, are out. Steve Pougnet, Palm Springs’ openly gay mayor, ran against Mary Bono Mack for the U.S. Congress representing the 45th District with the support not only of a hefty portion of the community, but of his husband and their two young children.

Many desert gays and lesbians are politically active and outspoken, attending rallies against Proposition 8, the voter-initiated amendment abolishing the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry in California, in large numbers. LGBT activist groups, such as Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Equality California (EQCA), and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), thrive in the area’s open-minded arena.

“In my 22 years in Palm Springs, I've seen quite an evolution in the gay community as relates to political interest,” says Andy Linsky, who sits on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board of Directors. “As the LGBT population has grown from the influx of those moving in from larger cities, so has the level of political activity. We now have a fully engaged and supportive generation of social and political activists.”

Equally admirable is that a vocal, generous, and resilient group of nongay allies have, for more than 25 years, joined gay men and lesbians in their fight for equality and healthcare. Desert AIDS Project and AIDS Assistance Program are two organizations that work tirelessly on the behalf of all, offering prevention programs and free HIV/STD testing, as well as supporting those without the resources to successfully cope with their illness. Events such as the annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (DAP) and Evening Under The Stars (AAP) mark triumphant fundraising tools enjoyed by all who attend and are underwritten in large part by “straight but not narrow” patrons.

And then there’s the fun. Parties and parades abound in the valley, with annual events such as the fabled Dinah Shore Week and Jeffrey Sanker’s legendary White Party (the nation’s largest gay dance festivity), respectively enticing an international horde of lesbians and gay men to revel under the desert sun. Pride Weekend, Cinema Diverse, and even Modernism Week attract thousands more who come to enjoy themselves while plunking millions of dollars into the local economy. 

Enjoying a plethora of successful gay-owned and gay-friendly bars, restaurants, shops, resorts, and services, the LGBT community — full-time, part-time, or one-time — has much to celebrate in the Coachella Valley.

LGBT Resources

2011-2012 LGBT Calendar

Bars and  Restaurants

Azul Bar and Restaurant
369 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Casual indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant specializing in tapas)

67625 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City
(Leather/cruise bar)

Blame It On Midnight
777 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs
(Restaurant and nightclub)

Blue Pear/The Pool House
2249 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Mexican restaurant and bar with poolside lounging)

Bongo Johnny’s Bar and Restaurant
214 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs
(Casual indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant)

36737 Cathedral Canyon Dr., Cathedral City

Dink’s Restaurant and Ultra Lounge
2080 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
(Indoor/outdoor bar, restaurant, and lounge with entertainment)

Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt
300 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs
(Pump-your-own yogurt joint and late night hangout)

Hunters Palm Springs
302 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs
(Video bar and dance club)

(Uptown) 1-760-416-2244
515 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(South) 1-760-322-7776;
1700 S. Camino Real at E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, snacks)

Hamburger Mary’s
415 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Bar and restaurant)

Rainbow Bar and Grill
216 S. Indian Canyon Dr. (at Arenas Rd.), Palm Springs
(Bar and restaurant)

241 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs
(Italian cuisine)

Shame on the Moon
69950 Frank Sinatra Dr., Rancho Mirage
(Upscale restaurant and bar)

200 S. Indian Canyon Dr. (at Arenas Rd.), Palm Springs
(Video bar specializing in show tunes)

224 E. Arenas Rd., Palm Springs
(Indoor/outdoor bar)


301 E. Arenas Rd., Palm Springs
(Sports bar)

Studio One 11
67555 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Cathedral City
(Piano bar and lounge)

The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge
330 E. Amado Rd., Palm Springs
(Indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant specializing in fine dining)

Tool Shed
600 E. Sunny Dunes Rd., Palm Springs
(Levi/leather cruise bar)

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge
2100 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Dance club featuring Sunday night drag shows)

707 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Upscale bar and restaurant specializing in American cuisine)

Wang’s In The Desert
424 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Bar and restaurant specializing in Asian cuisine)


The BottomLine / PULP Magazines


Equality California (Palm Springs)

Human Rights Campaign
(Orange County/Long Beach/Palm Springs)

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Coachella Valley Transgender Community Support Group

Golden Rainbow Center / Sage CK

Desert AIDS Project


AIDS Assistance Program

Resorts  (Men)

All Worlds Resorts
(Features nature walk, in Warm Sands area)

Camp Palm Springs

Clothing-optional resort in Cathedral City

Canyon Club Hotel
Clothing-optional, units with kitchens available.

CCBC – Cathedral City Boys Club

Largest clothing-optional resort in Southern California

Clothing-optional, cruiser bikes available

Chaps Inn
Leather/bear clothing-optional resort

Desert Eclipse Resort

Clothing-optional, hair studio on premises

Desert Paradise Resort Hotel
Clothing-optional Spanish style resort built in 1940s

East Canyon Hotel & Spa
Sophisticated Palm Springs gay resort

El Mirasol Villas
Clothing-optional resort originally built by Howard Hughes

Escape (formerly Chestnutz)
Clothing-optional resort featuring 15-man hot tub

Hacienda at Warm Sands
Clothing-optional resort offering a pillow menu


Clothing-optional resort with tropical spa garden

Clothing-option resort featuring ’50s-styled kitchenettes

Inn Exile
Clothing-optional Southwestern style gay resort in Warm Sands area of Palm Springs

La Dolce Vita
Clothing-optional gay resort located in central Palm Springs.

Pura Vida (formerly Bacchanal)
Clothing-optional men’s resort offering periodic stays for families, women, etc

Santiago Resort

Clothing-optional resort featuring one of the desert’s largest private resort pools

Clothing-optional resort offering gourmet espresso bar

Tortuga Del Sol
Clothing-optional Southwestern-styled resort with zen garden

Triangle Inn
Clothing-optional resort boasting midcentury architecture

The View Palm Springs
Clothing-optional resort offering on-site yoga classes

Villa Mykonos
Featuring large suites with kitchens, resort caters to LGBT men and women

Vista Grande, Atrium, & Mirage
Clothing-optional resort featuring waterfall and “ring of fire”

Warm Sands Villas
Clothing-optional resort offering daily houseman services

Resorts (Women)

Casitas Laquitas
Intimate resort with Mexican flair featuring casitas with fireplaces and private patios

Queen of Hearts
Charming resort features fruit trees and in-room kitchens

Retail & Services

1st Community Insurance Services
400 S Farrell Drive, Suite B104 Palm Springs

Gay Mart

305 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs
Retail outlet in the heart of Palm Springs specializing in clothing and adult products.

Gear Leather

650 East Sunny Dunes Road, Palm Springs
Specializing in leather and fetish wear

Imageville Gallery
128 La Plaza at Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Photography by Gary Dorothy

Just Fabulous
515. N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Retail outlet specializing in unique books, cards, art, and gifts.

Q Trading Company
606 E. Sunny Dunes Road, Palm Springs
Retail outlet specializing in LGBT-themed books, videos, fine gifts, and collectables.

World Gym
1751 N. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs
Voted “Best Fitness Club” by Palm Springs Life readers

Cinema Diverse
Sept. 22-25, 2011

Palm Springs AIDS Walk & 5K Run
Oct. 22, 2011

Greater Palm Springs Pride
Nov. 5-6, 2011

Palm Springs Leather Pride

Nov. 12-13, 2011

Palm Springs International Film Festival

Jan. 5-16, 2012

Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards

Feb. 11, 2012

Boldstrokes LGBT Book Fest
March 1-4, 2012

Dinah Shore Week
March 30-April 1, 2012  /

Jeffrey Sanker’s The White Party
April 6-9, 2012

Meet The Museum Party

Palm Springs Art Museum
April 6 (White Party weekend), 2012

Hot Rodeo
May 4-6, 2012

Evening Under the Stars

May 5, 2012

Palm Springs ShortFest
June 19-25, 2012


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