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Palm Springs Celebrates Pride Throughout the Year

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During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month in June, we reflect on the progress we have made in the fight for justice, inclusion, and equality.

We honor the resilience of LGBTQ+ people fighting to live authentically and freely.  We reaffirm our belief that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights.  And we recommit to delivering protection, safety, and equality to LGBTQ+ people and families.

“It celebrates diversity and inclusivity and creates a platform for individuals and organizations to share and raise awareness of issues that are important to them.” That is a quote from Ron deHarte, CEO of Greater Palm Springs Pride. As a Co-President of the U.S. Association of Prides, deHarte intimately understands the event’s significance and helps root its legacy in Palm Springs’s landscape.

shag pride poster 2021

A Brief History of Pride

The history of Pride is deeply rooted in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and the fight against discrimination and injustice. Pivotal events, courageous activism, and a resilient community mark the journey to modern Pride celebrations.

The Early Years: Before Stonewall
Before the famous Stonewall Riots, the LGBTQ+ community faced widespread discrimination and legal persecution. Social norms and laws criminalized homosexual behavior, and LGBTQ+ individuals often had to hide their identities to avoid arrest, violence, and social ostracization. Despite these challenges, early LGBTQ+ rights organizations began to form in the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis. These groups worked to raise awareness and fight for fundamental rights, laying the groundwork for future activism.

The Stonewall Riots: A Turning Point
The modern Pride movement traces its roots to the Stonewall Riots, which began in the early hours of June 28, 1969. The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was frequently raided by the police. On this particular night, the patrons of Stonewall decided to fight back against the police harassment. The spontaneous uprising lasted several days and marked a significant turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

The Stonewall Riots galvanized the community and sparked a wave of activism. It brought national and international attention to the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and inspired the formation of new advocacy groups, including the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance.

The First Pride Marches
In the wake of Stonewall, activists sought to commemorate the uprising and continue the fight for equality. The first Pride marches took place on June 28, 1970, exactly one year after the riots. Known then as Christopher Street Liberation Day, these marches were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Thousands of people took to the streets to demand equal rights and celebrate their identities openly.

These early Pride marches were both a protest and a celebration, blending political activism with a joyous affirmation of LGBTQ+ identities. Their success and visibility helped establish Pride as an annual tradition.

Growth and Expansion
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Pride celebrations spread to more cities across the U.S. and around the world. The events grew in size and scope, incorporating parades, festivals, and various cultural activities. The LGBTQ+ rights movement also made significant strides during this period, achieving key victories such as the decriminalization of homosexuality in many countries.

However, the community also faced significant challenges, including the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Pride events became crucial platforms for raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, advocating for research and support, and honoring those who had lost their lives to the disease.

The Modern Era
In the 1990s and 2000s, Pride continued to evolve and expand. The movement gained further visibility and acceptance, and Pride events began to receive support from corporations, politicians, and mainstream media. This period also saw significant legal and social advancements, including legalizing same-sex marriage in many countries and growing recognition of transgender rights.

first gay pride parade christopher street
The parade was called Christopher Street Liberation Day. The Stonewall Inn is on Christopher Street. The riots at the gay bar and the protests that followed were a turning point for LGBT rights in the United States. Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

Pride Comes to Palm Springs

Palm Springs Pride is rooted in the early 1980s, when the LGBTQ+ community faced significant challenges and discrimination. The inaugural event was a modest picnic organized by a small group of activists and community members. This gathering aimed to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals to come together, celebrate their identities, and discuss the issues they faced.

In 1986, a soiree at the Riviera ballroom (now Margaritaville Palm Springs) comprised Pride. Local performers basked in the glow of a dinner party atmosphere, but it would be six more years before the revelry spilled into the streets.

Eartha Kitt Entertaining at 1989 Pride
Eartha Kitt entertaining at the 1989 Palm Springs Pride

The 90s saw the introduction of more structured activities, including a parade and festival. The increased visibility of the event helped to foster a sense of community and solidarity among LGBTQ+ individuals in Palm Springs and the surrounding areas. In 1992 there were 35 entries for the Palm Springs Pride Parade that snaked their way around Demuth Park, attracting the attention of less than 1,000 guests.

When Palm Springs Pride weekend shifted from the heat of early summer to the cooler appeal of autumn, its attendance skyrocketed. The 2000s marked a significant period of expansion for Palm Springs Pride. The event began to receive greater recognition and support from local businesses, government entities, and the broader community. This support helped to elevate the festival’s profile and allowed for more elaborate celebrations.

Greater Palm Springs Pride continued to innovate, introducing new elements such as the Pride Parade, the Downtown Block Party, and the Youth Zone, which catered specifically to young LGBTQ+ individuals. The inclusion of these diverse activities helped to create a more inclusive and family-friendly atmosphere.

Greater Palm Springs Pride is held on the first weekend of November.
pride poster arthur coleman

Why We Celebrate Pride All Year Long

While June is designated as Pride Month, the spirit of Pride extends far beyond these 30 days. Celebrating Pride all year long is crucial for several reasons:

Continuous Advocacy: The fight for LGBTQ+ rights and equality is ongoing. Celebrating Pride throughout the year keeps the momentum going and ensures that advocacy efforts remain strong.

Everyday Inclusivity: True inclusivity means embracing diversity every day. Celebrating Pride year-round fosters a culture of acceptance and love in our daily lives.

Support and Solidarity: The challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community do not disappear after June. Continuous celebration and support provide a lifeline for individuals who may struggle with acceptance and discrimination.

Historical Remembrance: The history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement is rich and ongoing. Year-round Pride celebrations help keep this history alive and relevant, honoring the pioneers who paved the way and acknowledging the work that still needs to be done.

palm springs pride parade

Community and Advocacy

Palm Springs Pride has maintained a strong focus on community and advocacy. The event not only celebrates the LGBTQ+ community but also raises awareness about ongoing issues and challenges. It serves as a platform for advocacy, highlighting the importance of equality, inclusivity, and human rights.

Palm Springs Pride also works closely with local organizations and charities, helping to support various causes within the LGBTQ+ community. This commitment to advocacy and community support has helped to cement Palm Springs Pride’s role as a vital and impactful event.

Gay-Straight Alliances

Greater Palm Springs Pride is deeply committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ youth in the Coachella Valley. One of the key ways they achieve this is by supporting Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools throughout the region. GSAs are student-led organizations that work to create safe and welcoming spaces for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Their support includes training and development, networking and collaboration, advocacy, scholarships, and awards.

Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast

The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast is an annual event held in May to honor the legacy of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. and a pioneering figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, was a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ rights and a champion for marginalized communities. His courage, leadership, and commitment to social justice left an indelible mark on the LGBTQ+ movement. The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast commemorates his contributions and keeps his spirit of activism alive.


Palm Springs Pride exemplifies the vibrant and resilient spirit of the LGBTQ+ community. As we celebrate Pride Month in June, let’s remember to carry the values of inclusivity, acceptance, and love throughout the year. By doing so, we honor the history of Pride, support ongoing advocacy, and create a world where everyone can live authentically and without fear.

Whether you’re attending a parade, joining a festival, or simply supporting a friend, every act of celebration and support contributes to a more inclusive and loving world. Here’s to celebrating Pride today, tomorrow, and every day. Happy Pride! 🌈

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