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Palm Springs: An Abridged, Gay History

By Alan Hindle

Tuesday April 22, 2008

Palm Springs, a gingham playground of golf courses and private pools in the green desert of the Coachella Valley, south central California. A climate controlled wonderland of sideways mountains and Suessian palm trees; a place where movie stars, Rat Packers, busloads of conventioneering doctors and whooping college kids can party until they need more busloads of doctors to stitch their livers back together.

Or perhaps, not so much anymore.

In the mid-nineties Palm Springs City Council decided to aggressively court homosexuals to visit and move there, with the odd idea that a preponderance of gays and lesbians wandering about holding hands would cause young people to think twice about flocking there every school break to get drunk, naked, stoned, drunk and broke. In a sad indictment of the apparent ignorance of college students, it worked. Palm Springs today is no longer a Mecca of edjukit debauchery, but does have seven times more gays than the national average. And since the scientifically estimated rate of homosexuality in both humans and animals is one in seven, that means everybody in Palm Springs is gay. Gay! San Francisco is only five times the average, making Palm Springs the queerest town in the world.

Ah, Palm Springs! First called La Palm de la Mano de Dios by the Spanish, or The Palm of God’s Hand. Then some engineers installing a Jacuzzi saw a clump of palm trees and started calling it Palm Springs instead. The population is 80% white but the land is mostly owned by the 4% Cahuilla Indians. A rolling, jutting, sprawling haven of queers and native landlords, a zephyr-dusted checkerboard dotted with electricity-generating windmills and cheap, sleazy bars ‘neath unblemished empyrean infinity. If heaven can be found anywhere on Earth, it most surely rests in God’s palm.

Life in Palm Springs may have calmed down somewhat, become more gentile—except during the White Party, when tens of thousands of waxed men dressed in virginal white get filthy. However, a certain coterie of neer-do-well journalists have booked a villa featuring hot and cold running booze with the intention of single-handedly returning Coachella to alcoholic madness and livers that burst like boiled grapes. WHOOOO! Spring Break! Lez all get TOOOtally fucked UUUUUUP!!!!