The Rainbow Connection

David Vaillancourt Social Scene 0 Comments


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
1-760-325-5533; www.azultapaslounge.com
369 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Casual indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant specializing in tapas)

1-760-321-9688; www.thebarracksbarps.com
67625 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City
(Leather/cruise bar)

Blame It On Midnight
1-760-323-1200; www.blameitonmidnight.com
777 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs
(Restaurant and nightclub)

Blue Pear/The Pool House
1-760-778-5500; www.bluepeartexxmexx.com
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)

1-760-321-0031; www.digsbar.com
36737 Cathedral Canyon Dr., Cathedral City

Dink’s Restaurant and Ultra Lounge
1-760-32-7676; www.dinksrestaurant.com
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
1-760-323-0700; www.huntersnightclubs.com
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; www.kofficoffee.com
1700 S. Camino Real at E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, snacks)

Hamburger Mary’s
1-760-778-6279; www.hamburgermarysps.com
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
1-760-324-5515; www.shameonthemoon.com
69950 Frank Sinatra Dr., Rancho Mirage
(Upscale restaurant and bar)

1-760-778-4326; www.spurline.com
200 S. Indian Canyon Dr. (at Arenas Rd.), Palm Springs
(Video bar specializing in show tunes)

1-760-320-1266; www.psstreetbar.com
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
1-760-866-1952; www.thetropicale.com
330 E. Amado Rd., Palm Springs
(Indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant specializing in fine dining)

Tool Shed
1-760-320-3299; www.toolshed-ps.com
600 E. Sunny Dunes Rd., Palm Springs
(Levi/leather cruise bar)

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge
1-760-416-7584; www.toucanstikilounge.com
2100 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Dance club featuring Sunday night drag shows)

1-760-864-8746; www.triopalmsprings.com
707 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Upscale bar and restaurant specializing in American cuisine)

Wang’s In The Desert
1-760-325-9264; www.wangsinthedesert.com
424 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
(Bar and restaurant specializing in Asian cuisine)


The BottomLine / PULP Magazines
1-760-323-0552; www.psbottomline.com


Equality California (Palm Springs)
1-760-409-0208; www.eqca.org

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

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
1-760-202-4430; www.ps-pflag.com

Coachella Valley Transgender Community Support Group

Golden Rainbow Center / Sage CK
1-760-416-7790; www.grcps.org

Desert AIDS Project

1-866-331-3344; www.desertaidsproject.org

AIDS Assistance Program
1-760-325-8481; www.aidsassistance.org

Resorts  (Men)

All Worlds Resorts
1-760-323-7505; www.allworldsresorts.com
(Features nature walk, in Warm Sands area)

Camp Palm Springs

1-760-322-2267; www.camp-palm-springs.com
Clothing-optional resort in Cathedral City

Canyon Club Hotel
1-760-778-8042; www.canyonclubhotel.com
Clothing-optional, units with kitchens available.

CCBC – Cathedral City Boys Club

1-760-324-1350; www.ccbcps.com
Largest clothing-optional resort in Southern California

1-760-323-9966; www.centurypalmsprings.com
Clothing-optional, cruiser bikes available

Chaps Inn
1-760-327-8222; www.chapsinn.com
Leather/bear clothing-optional resort

Desert Eclipse Resort

1-760-325-0655; www.deserteclipseresort.com
Clothing-optional, hair studio on premises

Desert Paradise Resort Hotel
1-760-320-5650; www.desertparadise.com
Clothing-optional Spanish style resort built in 1940s

East Canyon Hotel & Spa
1-760-320-1928; www.eastcanyonps.com
Sophisticated Palm Springs gay resort

El Mirasol Villas
1-760-327-5913; www.elmirasol.com
Clothing-optional resort originally built by Howard Hughes

Escape (formerly Chestnutz)
1-760-325-5269; www.escapepalmsprings.com
Clothing-optional resort featuring 15-man hot tub

Hacienda at Warm Sands
1-760-327-8111; www.thehacienda.com
Clothing-optional resort offering a pillow menu


1-760-323-2868; www.yourgayresort.com
Clothing-optional resort with tropical spa garden

1-760-327-1408; www.inndulge.com
Clothing-option resort featuring ’50s-styled kitchenettes

Inn Exile
1-760-327-6413; www.innexile.com
Clothing-optional Southwestern style gay resort in Warm Sands area of Palm Springs

La Dolce Vita
1-760-325-2686; www.ladolcevitaresort.com
Clothing-optional gay resort located in central Palm Springs.

Pura Vida (formerly Bacchanal)
1-760-832-6438; www.puravidaps.com
Clothing-optional men’s resort offering periodic stays for families, women, etc

Santiago Resort

1-760-322-1300; www.santiagoresort.com
Clothing-optional resort featuring one of the desert’s largest private resort pools

1-760-778-5883; www.terrazzo-ps.com
Clothing-optional resort offering gourmet espresso bar

Tortuga Del Sol
1-760-416-3111; www.tortugadelsol.com
Clothing-optional Southwestern-styled resort with zen garden

Triangle Inn
1-760-322-7993; www.triangle-inn.com
Clothing-optional resort boasting midcentury architecture

The View Palm Springs
1-760-327-3866; www.theviewpalmsprings.com
Clothing-optional resort offering on-site yoga classes

Villa Mykonos
1-760-321-2898; www.villamykonos.com
Featuring large suites with kitchens, resort caters to LGBT men and women

Vista Grande, Atrium, & Mirage
1-760-322-2404; www.mirage4men.com
Clothing-optional resort featuring waterfall and “ring of fire”

Warm Sands Villas
1-760-323-3005; www.warmsandsvillas.com
Clothing-optional resort offering daily houseman services

Resorts (Women)

Casitas Laquitas
1-760-416-9999; www.casitaslaquita.com
Intimate resort with Mexican flair featuring casitas with fireplaces and private patios

Queen of Hearts
1-760-322-5793; www.queenofheartsps.com
Charming resort features fruit trees and in-room kitchens

Retail & Services

1st Community Insurance Services
400 S Farrell Drive, Suite B104 Palm Springs
1-760-325-7400; www.cisps.com

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
1-760-322-3363; www.gearleather.com
Specializing in leather and fetish wear

Imageville Gallery
1-760-416-9825; www.imageville.us
128 La Plaza at Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Photography by Gary Dorothy

Just Fabulous
1-760-864-1300; www.bjustfabulous.com
515. N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Retail outlet specializing in unique books, cards, art, and gifts.

Q Trading Company
1-800-756-2290; www.qtrading.com
606 E. Sunny Dunes Road, Palm Springs
Retail outlet specializing in LGBT-themed books, videos, fine gifts, and collectables.

World Gym
1-760-327-7100; www.worldgympalmsprings.com
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
www.thedinah.com  / www.dinahshoreweekend.com

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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