Come Out, Come Out, However You Are!
Perfect outings for LGBTQ locals and gay day trippers
By Kevin Perry
Whether you live in sassy San Bernardino, ruvealing Riverside, or not-so-innocent Indio, Palm Springs is your playground for LGBTQ events, enticement, and empowerment. In fact, we have prided our pride for almost a century. When Hollywood became the world’s dream factory during the silent era of the 1920s, matinee idols like Rudolph Valentino visited Palm Springs to ride out their current scandals and create some new ones in the process. Our hometown became synonymous with sin done right!
It also earned its reputation as Los Angeles’ fabulous closet. To escape the prying eyes of Tinseltown, screen idols like Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, and Tab Hunter cavorted in Coachella Valley, cementing our rugged landscape as an oasis of inclusion. No wonder so many accomplished members of the LGBTQ’mmunity have set up shop here…
PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP
Palm Springs is a wonderland of LGBT-owned businesses. They know how to treat their gay clientele because they ARE the gay clientele. Just ask Tony Torres and his partner Rocky Wood, founders of Bike Palm Springs. This rental shop is the perfect first stop on your gay, hip day trip!
Pedal your way through our stylish shopping district and prepare for a luxury landing at Seaplane Shirts. Owner Schuyler Brown has cultivated a killer fashion line with a queer eye for prints and dyes.
Continue your sashay with a stop at Krave & Kulture, outfitting dudes with attitude, or Gay Mart, LGBTQ-owned-and-fabulous. And now that you’ve got a vision for your gay domicile, populate it with the cutest keepsakes in the county. Stock up at Christopher Anthony Ltd. and bring their art pieces, furnishings, and overall gorgeousness home from your triumphant trip to PS.
But before you leave, mark your calendar for a return visit. We’re conveniently SoCal central, so any fun-loving gays within a 100-mile radius can get here in the blink of a false eyelash. Springtime gives birth to the raucous riot grrrrl shenanigans of The Dinah, the biggest queer female music festival on Mother Earth.
But don’t worry, guys; we didn’t forget about you (call us!). White Party brings infamy out of the shadows and into the spotlight, jump-starting the careers of such gay icons as Lady Gaga and Ke$ha with concerts and decadence to last you through the searing summer months.
Now that you’re good and naughty, lash on some gear for Palm Springs Leather Pride, an edgy exploration of your deepest desires every October. The following weekend, cool off with the chillest LGBT revelry in the world. Greater Palm Springs Pride saves the best for last, staging an epic festival and parade in November to avoid the sweltering heat of those other Pride gatherings. Let’s face it: June is so played out, so play it up with the gays of PS!
FROM DRAGS TO BITCHES
The zeitgeist has spoken: Drag is here to slay! The popularity of faux female performers has permeated Palm Springs pop culture (not unlike alliteration). In fact, we have events every day of the week, from kween-worthy karaoke at Retro Room Lounge to down and dirty flirty at Copa Nightclub.
As a sinful sorbet, take a break from the estrogen with a gritty grope – oops, we mean trip to Tool Shed. The man candy is served up raw and robust, so growl on over... OK, bro break’s over – back to the bitchiness! Oscar’s Café & Bar delivers a drag brunch that will scratch your eyes out and follows it up with the most loving LGBTQ gathering of the week: their intoxicating Sunday Tea Dance. Community is served!
Speaking of community, Pride award honoree Tommi Rose has a royal residency at Toucans, where you can see her shuffle her (bingo) balls every Saturday. She also rules Sunday nights with her troupe of savage Playgirls, so gird your loins and get your tickets (they’re as popular as they are irreverently hilarious)!
But the bulk of the bars belong to the Arenas District, a flourishing LGBTQ wonderland of libations and liberation, all lined up for your local convenience. Get upscale with gourmet fare from Blackbook; share a story with the gents at Streetbar; harness your manliness at the Levi and leather lasciviousness of Eagle 501; go-go directly across Arenas to convene with bears and bois at Hunters; simply chill at the bar that says it all, Chill; or strike up the band and sing along with showtunes at Quadz.
Amidst the revelry, get your gay shopping fix at Bear Wear or Rough Trade. If it dangles, show it who’s boss with the help of our friends at Palm Springs Piercing Company. And get ready for a deep dive into the PS pool scene with a skimpy swimsuit from Division.
STAY AND PLAY
Now get ready to ditch your fancy new Speedo, because Palm Springs boasts the most clothing optional gay resorts in the world. If you’re just here for the afternoon, the frisky fellas at Canyon Club or All Worlds Resorts & Annex will be happy to hook you up with a day pass.
But your day trip might turn serious, at which point you just MUST explore the overnight options that queer PS offers. Marvel at the mid-century mastery of Triangle Inn, named for the geometric innovation that dominates its design. Get playful at Tortuga del Sol, get a hug from Ron at Desert Paradise, or get a meal from Tom at Vista Grande.
The gay landscape in Palm Springs is so varied that you can find any niche to scratch your itch. Chaps Inn excavates your adventurous side, Bearfoot Inn welcomes burly studs and those who love them, and INNdulge boasts a social hour that assures you won’t be a stranger for long, no matter how brief your stay.
And if you really are only stopping in for the day, book a spa date at La Dolce Vita. Their attentive staff will meet your needs and eradicate your stress. Before and/or after your massage, feel free to roam the clothing optional grounds, take a dip in one of their two pools, or enjoy the steam room and Jacuzzi area.
Once you begin exploring this Palm Springs paradise, you’ll soon learn that it stretches beyond your wildest LGBTQ dreams. Your gay day trip may only last a few hours, but the memories will linger for a lifetime…