Remembering Our History
In 1986, the Palm Springs Pride celebration began as a simple dinner and variety show showcasing the talents of local entertainers at the Riviera Resort grand ballroom. The first Pride Parade named the Desert Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade took to the streets of Palm Springs with 35 units and was greeted by hundreds of men and women. The parade made its way down Williams Road to Mesquite and into Demuth Park where the festival was held. Since then, Greater Palm Springs Pride has flourished and grown. From those humble beginnings has emerged a celebration that attracts over 125,000 people from Southern California, across the nation and around the world.
- June 28 – the community fights back following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village (police harassment was common at that time for gay bar patrons due to a NYC law requiring a minimum of three articles of “gender-appropriate clothing”). Later termed “the Stonewall Uprising”, the riot lasts three days.
- The nation’s first Gay Pride March is held in New York City.
- Amazon Bookstore, the first lesbian-feminist bookstore, opens in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- The National Gay Task Force (“Lesbian” was added later) is formed to “bring gay liberation into the mainstream of American civil rights.”
- Congress members Bella Abzug and Ed Koch introduce the first federal bill to include language directed at protecting the rights of gays and lesbians; the bill was defeated.
- American Psychological Association removes homosexuality from its list of psychological disorders.
- Anita Bryant leads a successful campaign to repeal a gay rights law in Dade County, Fl.
- AB1, Art Argos’ anti-discrimination bill was presented in Sacramento.
- Gilbert Baker designs the Rainbow Flag to fly in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. Gilbert Baker would later be honored by Palm Springs Pride with a 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
- State Senator Briggs’ Prop. 6, commonly known as The Briggs Initiative, called for a ban of LGBT teachers and their supporters in public schools. Openly gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk was instrumental in fighting the measure. Governor Ronald Reagan opposed the measure which was defeated by a landslide in the November statewide vote.
- Disneyland hosts its first “Gay Night”
- On Nov. 27th, our community mourns the loss of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Confessed killer Dan White claims junk food impaired his judgment.
- The first National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights draws between 100,000 and 200,000 participants.
- The first reference to AIDS, then known as Gay-Related Immune Disease or GRID, appeared in both medical journals and the mainstream press.
- In the midst of a lawsuit with the United States Olympic Committee banning use of the name “Gay Olympics”, the first “Gay Games” are held in SF with 1300 athletes representing 12 nations participating.
- Hoping to bring “the drags of the New York club world into the daylight”, the first annual drag festival, “Wigstock”, is held in New York City
- Cleve Jones envisions a national memorial, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, after seeing a patchwork of signs posted at a 1985 Candlelight March, bearing the names of people lost to AIDS. Cleve Jones would later be honored as the Palm Springs Pride Celebrity Grand Marshal in 2009.
- The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is founded.
- The first Pride celebration in Palm Springs was organized by the Desert Business Association and promoted as “Sizzle.” The event was a variety show showcasing the talents of local entertainers at the Riviera Resort grand ballroom.
- Proposition 64, the LaRouche initiative, which called for the quarantine of HIV-infected individuals, is defeated with the vehement support of the LGBT community.
- Sizzle 2 was not well received by the community due to its poorly staged production. The event was never held again.
- Charles Pierce performed in a gay Pride benefit concert at the McCallum Theatre in what was billed as, “A comedy show of female impersonation by America’s best known performer of his kind!” Joan Edgar, Music Director, and Kirk Fredericks, Production Director.
- October 11 is celebrated as the first National Coming Out Day.
- California state legislator Lyndon LaRouche’s second proposition requiring the reporting of names of persons with AIDS to local health officials, Prop. 69, is defeated.
- Pride featured a Friday reception at the Fashion Plaza, the Saturday Eartha Kitt show at the Radisson Resort, and a Sunday Country Fair hosted by the Desert Women’s Association at The Villa.
- The Pride Festival was staged at the Perez Auto Park and organized by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance of the Desert.
- Palm Springs chapter of PFLAG, an organization formed to “help others unlearn the homophobia inherent in the socialization process”, holds its first meeting. They later received their 501c3 in March of 1994.
- The Festival moved to Demuth Park.
- The community staged a rally at City Hall to raise awareness and show support for AB 101.
- The first Desert Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade took to the streets of Palm Springs with 35 units. Making its way down Williams Road to Mesquite and into Demuth Park, site of the Festival, the Parade was greeted by hundreds of men and women.
- The Parade and Festival was hosted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance of the Desert and held over Memorial Day weekend at Demuth Park.
- When Gov. Pete Wilson visited Indian Wells Racquet Club in 1992, PFLAG picketed him at the country club where he was speaking.
- Operated under the name of Palm Springs Lesbian & Gay Pride
- Pride Parade and Festival moved from Memorial Day Weekend to Veterans Day Weekend. This move combined with promoting Palm Springs Pride at other Southwest Pride events resulted in significantly increasing hotel occupancy rates. The Pride celebration would grow each year over the next fifteen years when the first economic impact study was conducted.
- Parade was held on Ramon Road.
- David Mixner was the Grand Marshal of the Pride Parade
- The narrowly defeated Employment Non-Discrimination Act becomes the first bill of its kind ever put to a vote before the full U.S. Senate.
- Judge Kevin Chang rules in 1996, the State of Hawaii has failed to show the necessary “compelling interest” to uphold a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.
- Congress passes and President Bill Clinton signs into law the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”, permitting states to deny recognition of marriage by same-sex partners.
- The Pride parade moved to Palm Canyon Drive in 1997 and Michael Feinstein was the Grand Marshal. Members of Desert Chapel congregation marched on city hall to protest the move because of their anti-homosexual beliefs.
- Pride organization formally changed its name to Greater Palm Springs Pride.
- On August 4, the American Psychological Association votes to limit attempts to “cure” homosexuality and agrees to require the reading of a statement to gay patients affirming that being gay is normal and healthy.
- Comic-actress Ellen DeGeneres comes out as a lesbian, as does her character, on the highly publicized April 30 episode of Ellen, a first for American TV.
- The Walt Whitman Community School, the nation’s first private school for gays and lesbians, opens in Dallas on September 5.
- Cathedral City – In 1997, the city approved the first domestic partnership ordinance in the area.
- The Pride organization incorporated under the name of Greater Palm Springs Pride as non profit organization November 4, 1998.
- The festival expanded to include Arenas & Marquis Gardens.
- The Pride organization received IRS non-profit status, 501(c)3 October 1999.
- www.pspride.org url registered.
- Pride Festival moves from Arenas Rd and is held in the Angels Baseball Stadium in Sunrise Park. The Arenas Road/Marquis gardens location was ideal because of the high concentration of gay businesses and residents in the area. Critics believed that the move from the “streetfair” atmosphere of Arenas to the “festival village” at the Sunrise Stadium, was a bad decision.
- Dick Haskamp named first Community Grand Marshal.
- Four Desert Winds Freedom Band members join GAYFBLA in Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade (Nov 3).
- The festival and parade, which has experienced a 20% growth rate in the last five years, attracted close to 60,000 attendees over the two-day period in 2003, making it the largest annual special event in the city of Palm Springs.
- Ron Oden, the first openly gay Mayor of Palm Springs, and the first openly gay and African American mayor of any city in the U.S. rides in Palm Springs Pride Parade.
- Grand Marshals for this year’s parade are the 4,000 same sex couples who were married in San Francisco this past spring. These couples stand as a powerful symbol of the enduring determination of our community to achieve equal rights for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation.
- LGBA Combined Marching Band marches in Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade.
- Palm Springs High School’s Spirit of the Sands Marching Band and Visual Corp marched in annual Pride Parade for first time. In the fall of 2006 Palm Springs High School band director Brian Ingelson decided that it was time for his marching band to perform in the Palm Springs Pride Parade. What started out to be a controversial decision, viewed as anti-Christian and with death threats against the band director, has become one of the band’s most meaningful performances of the year. Not only for the students marching in the parade but, for the tens of thousands of Pride Parade spectators.
- Palm Springs Biker Chicks lead the parade for the first time.
- Undercover sex sting operation by the City of Palm Springs Police Department occurs in June in the Warm Sands neighborhood.
- Cleve Jones served as Celebrity Grand Marshal.
- The Greater Palm Springs Pride organization announced on July 19, 2010 the election of LGBT rights activist Ron deHarte to its board of directors. deHarte will be responsible for working closely with the board and community stakeholders in guiding the organization in the fulfillment of its mission.
- In 2010, official Pride events attracted 57,502 attendees, who pumped $12.3 million of direct spending in Palm Springs. Of those attending, 72% were from out of town. Pride generated $122,978 in hotel transient occupancy tax (TOT), $108,173 in City of Palm Springs Transactions and Use Tax (PSGT) and 314 full-time equivalent jobs were supported in the community by the expenditures made by Pride and its audiences in 2010.
- The economic impact from organization and audience expenditures in Palm Springs increased in 2011 to $14.1 million
- On the heels of a city manager’s report that admitted wrongdoing in the Warm Sands sex sting that exclusively targeted men who have sex with men, the Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez, who led that sting operation, announced his retirement.
- Among the black eyes the Police Department is sporting are the use of gay slurs to describe those who were being observed, and an investigation would determine that the police chief himself was the first to utter what the report called “disturbingly offensive remarks.”
- Section of Rainbow 25 Flag in Parade – Community leaders carry a large section of the Key West 25th Anniversary Rainbow Flag in this year’s Palm Springs Pride Parade. The rainbow flag was created by Gilbert Baker (who was on hand to receive the Palm Springs Pride Lifetime Achievement Award) in San Francisco in 1978, the year Harvey Milk was assassinated. The rainbow flag is an international, universal symbol of gay pride. Originally a mile-and-a-quarter long, the Rainbow 25 Flag was unfurled on June 15, 2003 in Key West.
- Communidad Orgullo GLBT Tijuana and Greater Palm Springs Pride jointly announced on May 27, 2011 that human rights activist and board member of Palm Springs Pride Ron deHarte will be the international grand marshal of the 2011 Marcha de Orgullo GLBT Tijuana, in Tijuana, Baja California Mexico.
- The International Prime Timers organization held their national conference in Palm Springs during Pride weekend.
- Desert Hot Springs High School Marching Band appears for the first time in the annual Pride Parade.
- Greater Palm Springs Pride recognized as the Organization of the Year by the Desert Business Association.
- Greater Palm Springs Pride represented the Coachella Valley in the San Diego Pride parade on July 21 and debuted several new 20-foot-tall character balloons including same-sex couples Adel and Eve and Adam and Steve. The custom designed giant balloons were featured in the parade to draw attention to equal rights and the freedom to marry for all individuals.
- Greater Palm Springs Pride hosted a portion of the Carter-Johnson Leather Library at the November 3 & 4 Pride Festival. The collection was on display as part of the Fetish in the Outfield leather area within the festival. The Carter-Johnson Leather Library, a huge traveling exhibit containing more than 10,000 items, includes artwork, books, DVDs, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, club and event pins, posters, and other materials that explore the world of alternative sexuality going all the way back to the 1700s.
- The Pride Festival is held for the last time in Sunrise Stadium.
- 25th Anniversary AIDS Walk is held as part of annual Pride Parade.
- LGBT Center of the Desert presents Center Stage, a benefit concert with special guest emcee at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Thursday, October 31, 2013. This was the first time The Center held their annual fundraiser during the annual Pride week celebration.
- The City of Palm Springs approves closing Palm Canyon Dr. for two days to accommodate the Pride Festival’s move to downtown Palm Springs. The Festival takes place on Palm Canyon Dr from Amado to Baristo and on Tahquitz and Arenas Rd between Indian Canyon and Belardo. The Festival main stage is set up on Arenas Rd between Calle Encilia and Indian Canyon.
- The Pride Parade route is changed to accommodate the Pride Festival’s move to Palm Canyon Dr. and the street closure becomes the largest closure in the city’s history. The Pride Parade steps off at Tachevah and travels south to Amado.
- November 1, George and Chris Zander are attacked after leaving Arenas Rd. (George Zander later dies on December 10, 2015).
- Palm Springs Pride named “Best 11 Gay Pride Festival Trips on the Planet” by Jetsetter Magazine in 2015.
- Data from attendees participating in official events including the Pride Festival and Pride Parade reveals that the 2015 human rights and cultural tourism celebration generated over $22 million dollars of organization and audience expenditures in the region. The impact increased from $20 million in 2014.
- Greater Palm Springs Pride announces $20,461 donation to GSA Clubs of Coachella Valley from the Pride Youth Fund. The funds are intended to assist students and school advisors at the grassroots level and include $7,500 in grants for 15 GSAs to support programs and activity of their choosing.
- First Dyke March and Rally occurs with 300 participants gathering at the Convention Center and marching to Palm Canyon and then down to Arenas Rd.
- 2015 Desert Business Association named Ron deHarte, President of Palm Springs Pride, as the Outstanding Community Service Leader.
- Palm Springs Pride events grew significantly in 2014 and 2015 becoming the largest California Pride Festival south of San Francisco. Attendance increased from 15,000 to over 100,000.
- Celebrating 30th anniversary of Pride in the Coachella Valley, the Pride Parade will have 175 contingents and honor the fallen who lost their lives in the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history. Highlighting anti-LGBT violence and paying tribute to the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., marchers from Palm Springs’ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied communities will carry signs with names and pictures of each victim lost in the June 12 Pulse nightclub shooting.
- The largest marching band to ever appear in a Pride parade appears in the Palm Springs Pride Parade with 350 members from the International Lesbian and Gay Band Association. The association held its annual conference in Palm Springs on Pride weekend.
- Frontiers.com named Palm Springs Pride as one of the top 10 must travel to Prides, May 16, 2016.
- Palm Springs Pride named to the top 14 must visit Pride Festivals in the World list by Holiday Lettings, a TripAdvisor company out of the UK. According to Holiday Lettings, we are thrilled to announce that based on industry research and traveler feedback, we’ve created a list of the fourteen most loved and most talked about pride festivals worldwide and the Greater Palm Springs Pride has been recognized on our list, 14 Must Visit Pride Festivals Worldwide! (August 3, 2016).