About the LGBT Community in Palm
The current gay and lesbian population in Palm Springs is estimated
to be about seven times the national average. This concentration is
even greater than that of San Francisco, which has approximately
five times the national average. Gay residents represent about 35
percent of those who are year-round residents. The influx of gays
and lesbians into the city began in the early 1990s, shortly after
the mayor and city council approved ordinances which sought to
discourage college students from visiting Palm Springs during
spring break, and began making aggressive attempts to recruit gays
and lesbians to come to the city as tourists and new residents.
A popular destination among retirees, Palm Springs has also long
drawn significant numbers of over-50 gay men and lesbians, both as
full- and part-time residents and as vacationers. Generally, the
demographic at bars and restaurants throughout the year tends
toward the 40s-and-older set, but during high-season weekends and
special events you’ll find a more age-varied crowd.
There are few places in the world where gay travelers feel so
welcomed as in Palm Springs. The area has been a mecca for gay
travelers since the 1950s, when it became known as the “Playground
of the Stars”. Celebrities and other famous folks flocked to the
dry desert to relax and play. Only two hours from Los Angeles, yet
a world away, Palm Springs was the place where closeted
Hollywood-types could let their hair down, and it still is.
Today, the area is a burgeoning gay travel and conference
destination with major events like White Party, Dinah Shore Weekend
and Greater Palm Springs Pride. The city was identified as a top
gay travel destination in a 2006 survey by Community Marketing.
Openly gay business owners and political figures are visible at
nearly every level of government, including the current and
previous mayors, and a majority of the City Council. Palm Springs
is home to America’s only Gay Veterans Memorial, and was one of the
first California communities to establish a domestic partnership
registry. Many diverse organizations form the fabric of the LGBT
community in Palm Springs including the Gay Rodeo, Freedom Band,
Frontrunners, AIDS Assistance Program and Desert AIDS Project.
hspace="6" vspace="6" There are more than 35 openly-gay resort
hotels in the city. The annual Gay Pride Parade and Festival is
held the first weekend in November and in recent years has grown to
attract an estimated 35,000 spectators. The largest gay events in
the area, however, occur in March or April, with the “White Party”
attracting thousands of gay men for parties and concerts and The
Dinah/Dinah Shore Weekend (held on the same weekend as, but not
officially affiliated with the Kraft Nabisco LPGA Championship held
in nearby Rancho Mirage), one of the largest events in the country
for lesbian women.
Palm Springs ranks sixth in “most-visited” U.S. destinations by
Community Marketing, the leading Gay market research firm in the
Simply put, Palm Springs is one of the gayest places on earth, and
proud of it. With a population in excess of 48,000, it is estimated
that more than 16,000 gay men and lesbians live here. That’s not
including the other eight cities in the surrounding area, plus the
gay tourist population and “snow-birds”.