Sunny and warm all year round, over 50% LGBTQ population and a Hollywood heritage dating back a hundred years, Palm Springs and cathedral cityCA, make it into the Top 10 Queer Cities in the World
By Vic Gerami
Palm Springs and its neighboring city, Cathedral City, with ever-bright sunshine, offer visitors a bit of everything year-round. This world-famous town in the Southern California desert is a mid-century haven. The atmosphere is very laid back and the lifestyle much more relaxed than in Los Angeles, about two hours away.
The city’s LGBTQ population is now estimated at over 51%, the highest gay population per capita in the United States, if not the world. Even during Donald Trump’s homophobic administration, the desert getaway achieved some notoriety in 2018 when voters elected the nation’s first city council made up entirely of members of the LGBTQ community.
Some of the most famous queer celebrities who have lived or played in Palm Springs include Rudolph Valentino, Liberace, Dinah Shore (Leonardo DiCaprio bought Dinah Shore’s house in 2014), Tab Hunter, Rock Hudson and Lance Bass, to residents current Barry Manilow and Bob Macky.
The genesis and importance of Palm Springs can be traced to Hollywood. In the 1910s, studios discovered the wonders of filming in Palm Springs with vacant land, mountains and rocks for westerns and dunes for Arabian desert films.
With the emergence of the studio system when stars were not allowed to be further from Los Angeles than less than two hours away, in case studios needed it, movie stars made Palm Springs their favorite weekend.
Throughout the year, significant events and attractions make Palm Springs and Cathedral City ideal places to visit during all four seasons. Here are some highlights if you are considering the desert for your next vacation.
The Cinema Colony
There’s now a neighborhood that celebrates famous Palm Springs residents. The Movie Colony (TMC) is a neighborhood named after the many famous movie stars who owned homes between the 1930s and 1960s. Some major movie stars who had homes in TMC are Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Jack Benny , Marilyn Monroe and Al Jolson.
TMC is located in central Palm Springs, within walking distance of downtown, and includes approximately 170 homes.
Modernism Week is an annual ten-day celebration of mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture. Modernism Week features over 350 events including the Modernism Show and Sale, tours of iconic homes, films, talks, top-notch architectural double-decker bus tours, late-night parties and live music , walking and biking tours, fashion, classic cars, modern garden tours, a vintage travel trailer exhibit, and more.
White Party Palm Springs is the largest gay circuit party in the United States and typically attracts over 30,000 attendees during the Coachella Valley spring season. Traditionally, the party takes place over three days, with a series of pool and dance parties from Friday to Sunday. The weekend usually begins with a theme party on Friday evening. On Saturday, guests are encouraged to dress in white for the main event. White Party also features internationally renowned DJs and music artists. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga have performed in recent years.
Cinema Diverse, a program of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, is dedicated to advancing and strengthening our diverse gay community through the creation of a world-class film festival that showcases lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cinema of the whole world. It features an exciting and diverse combination of features and shorts from around the world celebrating LGBTQ+ cinema.
Big Pride of Palm Springs
The annual Greater Palm Springs Pride takes place the first weekend in November, kicking off peak desert season and attracting approximately 100,000 attendees. It includes a parade, a festival and a vendor’s market. Palm Springs Pride held its first Pride Festival to celebrate the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 on Christopher Street in New York City.
Dinah is the world’s largest all-female annual music festival and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Known for its diverse, eclectic, and multi-genre line-ups, the weekend festival is the longest-running LGBTQ+ party that brings a massive lineup of the best in pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop music to Palm Springs. The event has grown from a small one-night event in a Palm Springs museum with 1,500 attendees thirty years ago to booking luxury locations at luxury hotels with over 15,000 attendees (women LGBTQ+, non-binary and trans participants and straight allies). ).
LGBTQ Veterans Memorial
Cathedral City has the first LGBTQ veterans memorial in the United States. In April 2019, the Desert Memorial Park Cemetery in Cathedral City was designated as an official state memorial. The memorial was first unveiled at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City on May 27, 2001. A small cemetery obelisk—complete with an American eagle, pink triangle, and explanatory plaque—was dedicated on Memorial Day 2001.
Cathedral City LGBTQ Days
Cathedral City LGBTQ Days takes place the last weekend in March and kicks off the California Pride season. The event brings together celebrities, artists, media and community leaders for a festive weekend of entertainment, pool parties, concerts, dancing, picnic, exhibits, music and other scheduled events.
CCBC Resort, which stands for Cathedral City Boys Club, is the largest resort for gay men in the world. Located minutes from downtown Palm Springs, this fantastic 3.5-acre playground is described by its owner, Richard Altman, as “the Disneyland of gay men.” CCBC is on a cul-de-sac, and Richard owns it, so in 2012 he asked the city to change the name of the street to “Gay Resort Drive”. CCBC is a vast and expansive hideaway with beautifully landscaped trails and secluded coves, multiple pools, hot tubs, a grotto, dry sauna, and friendly staff who run the hotel with military precision. CCBC has an equally fantastic restaurant called “Runway”. Located just outside the resort, Runway offers casual American dining, a full bar, evening and weekend entertainment, and events.
No other resort can give you the ultimate Palm Springs experience other than CCBC. However, there are over thirty other gay hotels and resorts in Palm Springs and Cathedral City to choose from. Some of them are clothing optional, while others are not. Seventeen of the hotels are in an enclave called “Warm Wands”, all side by side. There are all kinds of hotels to suit everyone’s needs, tastes and sensitivities.
Daily Desert Guide
If you want to learn about all the events, parties, and other fun things going on in Palm Springs but don’t want to search online, check out the Desert Daily Guide (DDG), Palm Springs’ premier LGBTQ publication. since 1984. DDG publisher Will Paige is the unofficial honorary mayor of Palm Springs, so he’s in the middle of the action 365 days a year.
Poolside entertainment, nightlife, parties, and shopping are just a few popular activities with visitors. The desert is also a great vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you’re into adventurous activities like rock climbing or gentler pastimes like nature walks and guided hikes. No matter how you prefer to enjoy the outdoors, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get out in Palm Springs. You can go hot air ballooning, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, or visit one of the many casinos.