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Faces of White Party Palm Springs

The largest gay men's gathering in the country has helped the city become the all-inclusive, welcoming place that it is.

Site Staff Current Digital, LGBT

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY KATE NAYLOR

They say don’t wear white after Labor Day, but Palm Springs is known for creating the trends and not following them. Thanks to White Party Palm Springs creator and promotor, Jeffrey Sanker, men from all around the globe have hailed to the city for the last 30 years, donned in elaborate white attire, to enjoy one of the largest gay music festivals in the world.

However, three decades ago, Palm Springs wasn’t as gay-friendly as it is today. “We can truly thank White Party for helping this city become such an inclusive, celebratory place for gays – things have changed immensely over these years,” said one White Party attendee. “To see what a community, a safe haven if you will, Palm Springs has become, and for this to be the 30th anniversary of White Party? It makes many of us so proud to be a part of its history.”

• GALLERY: Click to view additional White Party Palm Springs photos.

Inclusivity seemed to be a theme when asking White Party attendees about their experiences. Many mentioned that everyone is welcome – young, old, out or not, all ethnicities and body types – White Party is a place where you can come as you are. Everyone attends for the same simple reasons – to celebrate each other and to have a good time.

Here is a cross-section of reactions from attendees on the 30th anniversary.

Brendan O’Connor, 33

Hometown: Originally from Chicago, currently residing in LA

Occupation: Set Designer in TV & Film

First White Party memory: This is my first White Party!

Why is it appropriate to have White Party held in Palm Springs: After 30 years in Palm Springs, this has really had a hand in the community that’s been built here. White Party fosters a positive environment for LGBTQ causes so having it in a city that is supportive of that makes the most sense.

What does White Party mean to me: This represents inclusiveness – young, old, big, small – this is all about community. Plus it’s fun!

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Chris Paseka, 40

Hometown: From New Jersey but living in Los Angeles

Occupation: Actor


First White Party memory: This is my first White Party and my first true gay-themed circuit weekend!

Why is it appropriate to have White Party held in Palm Springs: When I think of Palm Springs I think of inclusivity, a welcoming city and incredibly friendly people. I just feel like this is a place for gay people to feel comfortable and not have to worry.

What does White Party mean to me: For me at this point in my life, it means accepting myself and just being who I am, and celebrating with people who feel the same way.

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Miguel Marte-Tokar, 35

Hometown: San Francisco

Occupation: Clothing Designer

First White Party memory: This is my first time attending.

Why is it appropriate to have White Party held in Palm Springs: The weather and the atmosphere – it’s the perfect combination.

What does White Party mean to me: It’s a celebration of the community; we are here to support each other.

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Allen Williams, 25

Hometown: Los Angeles, via Oakland

Occupation: Admissions at USC

First White Party memory: This is my first White Party and it’s amazing.

Why is it appropriate to have White Party held in Palm Springs: It brings awareness to the LGBTQ community and it’s inclusive. This is a place to have a community of inclusivity and awareness.

What does White Party mean to me: It’s a place I can be free and comfortable with everyone. It doesn’t matter where you come from – it’s a good time for everyone.

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Ron, 60

Hometown: Bronson, Texas

Occupation: I run a campground

First White Party memory: This is my first White Party experience in Palm Springs
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Why is it appropriate to have White Party held in Palm Springs: The weather is beautiful – couldn’t ask for a better location.

What does White Party mean to me: Bringing everyone together!

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Rodrigo, 40

Hometown: Career Developing Counselor

Occupation: Hollywood, California

First White Party memory: My walk of shame from a hotel – haha!

Why is it appropriate to have White Party held in Palm Springs: Three reasons: first is the tradition. The second is that it boosts the economy. And most importantly, this is one of the gayest, friendliest cities that also hosts a large elderly gay community. By hosting White Party in Palm Springs, we can bring the celebration to the older generation, keeping them involved in positive ways.

What does White Party mean to me: Friends and memories – fremories! (I just made that up!).

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