Palm Springs Celebrates Pride Throughout the Year - Visit Palm Springs tag-img

Palm Springs Celebrates Pride Throughout the Year

palm springs pride

Every time we speak, laugh or sing, the body requires coordination. The human larynx organizes a complex array of vocal chords into a symphony of sound, transforming the air we breathe into vital, celebratory audio. Our individual voice is powerful, to be sure, but it gathers even more veneration when it harmonizes with those around us. We are meant to be heard and we are louder together.

These are the core principles of Pride.

“It celebrates diversity, 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 significance of the event and helps to root its legacy in the landscape of Palm Springs.

shag pride poster 2021

A Brief History of Pride

The joyous nature of the various LGBTQ+ festivities that circle the globe stand in stark contrast to the riots that gave birth to Pride as we know it. One year after the 1969 Stonewall uprising tore down the notion that gay people were second-class citizens, queer activists marched to commemorate the event.

The original theme of early parades was Gay Power but it eventually evolved into Gay Pride. The purpose of the gatherings was to register voters, ratify safety measures for the LGBTQ+ community and assert a sense of identity for marginalized groups.

We were in the streets and on the news; we would never go back in the closet.

Echoes of those fledgling Pride events rippled from the past and into the queer-and-now, igniting passionate responses well beyond the big cities where they started.

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

In 1986, a modest soiree at the Riviera (now Margaritaville) ballroom comprised the entirety of Pride. Local performers basked in the glow of a dinner party atmosphere, but it would be six more years for the revelry to spill into the streets.

Eartha Kitt Entertaining at 1989 Pride
Eartha Kitt Entertaining at 1989 Pride

1992 witnessed the first Palm Springs Pride parade in our hometown, but it was an understated affair, to say the least. 35 entries 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 crisp appeal of autumn, its attendance skyrocketed. (Pride is usually the first week in November)

“We’re not the same old Pride that people may know from 15 years ago,” explains deHarte. “No longer are we a 15,000 person event held behind the walls of a baseball stadium. We’re out in the community, on Palm Canyon Drive, and now Palm Springs Pride is recognized as one of the most must visited Pride festivals in the world. Last year, American Express named us as one of the 12 Pride events worth traveling for. We’ve been on the Instinct Magazine’s list for the 12 most fabulous worldwide events.”

pride poster arthur coleman

When asked why our humble hamlet ranks amongst the best of the fests worldwide, deHarte answers earnestly, “The city itself sets us apart, makes us very unique.”

Beaming with local fervor, deHarte continues, “Palm Springs truly is like no place else. We’re known as a friendly festival. So, you have large festivals in all of California and sometimes people may get lost in so much going on. But you come to Palm Springs and even though we’re a large scale Pride Festival, we’re very friendly, people enjoy themselves, and there’s just this sense of Pride in the inclusivity in Palm Springs. And when that’s combined with people from all around the world, with our residents, it’s just something that people truly find a place of joy and they really have a great time.”

Giving Back, Going the Distance

While some party weekends are satisfying in a superficial sense, Pride runs deeper. Not only does the event coordinate its efforts with a myriad of charity organizations, but it also transcends November and extends throughout the calendar.

“The weekend’s very important for the Palm Springs community, because it helps us fundraise for activities that exist throughout the entire year in Palm Springs,” narrates deHarte. “The Palm Springs Pride organization’s have an incredible focus on youth in the community.  We directly fund youth LGBTQ activities throughout all of Coachella Valley and directly support the Gay–Straight Alliances in 55 different schools now.  That’s one of the things that, throughout the year, we work with youth, we continue to engage youth in the community through our different programs.  And we engage the community in general with programs like the Cesar Chavez Breakfast, the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast, where we’re raising awareness year-round in our programs that focus on activism and awareness in the community.”


The litany of philanthropic successes that Palm Springs Pride continues to achieve warms our hearts, but it also inspires our brains. Every time we look back through revelatory pics of Prides past, the calculator in our brains starts to crunch the numbers. So many participants, so much love – it truly is a festival of humankind on a grand scale.

It’s Only Getting Grander

“We’re expecting a good crowd of people this year,” deHarte predicts. “What’s important about Pride is, it brings together the LGBTQ community and our allies to celebrate. Celebrate who we are as a community, celebrate the inclusivity of the community, our diversity, and the overall creativity that our community brings together. And this year’s important because everybody’s ready. Everybody’s ready to get out and celebrate Pride.”

Lani Garfield - PhotosbyLani palm springs pride
Credit: Lani Garfield

Guiding our proverbial parade to its finish line, deHarte concludes, “Pride in Palm Springs has taken on a new life.”

What a perfect final note to hit. Life is what Pride gives us. The life of an epic party, the life that we cherish in the wake of a devastating pandemic, and the life that we commemorate from those formative gay marches. We stand for those who no longer can and we raise our collective voices in their honor.

Happy Pride, everybody.

Listing of All Palm Springs Pride Events

Written By Kevin Perry


Come Out, Come Out, However You Are!


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