Palm Springs LGBTQ Hotels Celebrate 50 years of Gay Tourism with Contest

The Desert Gay Tourism Guild is celebrating fifty years of LGBTQ hospitality in the Greater Palm Springs area with the creation of the annual Greater Palm Springs Play Gay, Stay Gay Poster & T-Shirt Contest. Artists are invited to submit ideas that celebrate California’s LGBTQ Desert playground, and its rich history of welcoming LGBTQ visitors from all over the world to play and stay in the world-famous sun-drenched California desert oasis. The winning selection that best represents both the destination and fifty years of LGBTQ hospitality will become the official Greater Palm Springs Play Gay, Stay Gay Poster &/or T-Shirt for 2020, and be featured on merchandise and in promotions throughout the year. The artist whose artwork is chosen by the selection committee will receive $500.00, and be invited out to Palm Springs for an all-expense paid weekend during which there will be a Launch party and signing.

The Greater Palm Springs area has long been known as a popular resort destination for LGBTQ tourists, having welcomed them (openly or covertly) since the 1930s. But starting in the early 1970s, hotels began to appear that were devoted exclusively to serving the LGBTQ community. These hotels, mostly small boutique properties, often kept a low profile within the larger community, but as members of the LGBTQ community began to push for civil rights, becoming more visible in the process, the hotels followed suit.

“The greater Palm Springs area was really ahead of the curve when it came to the LGBTQ community, and that included hospitality.” says Michael C. Green, who chairs both the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels and the Desert Gay Tourism Guild. “The transition (from mainstream hotels to LGBTQ hotels) was an easy one because the market was already there. Gay people were visiting the area in large numbers, often for the same reasons the Hollywood crowd came here. It was close to LA, but it was far enough away that they could relax and be themselves without fear of repercussion.”

“Long before I ever owned a hotel, I used to come out to Palm Springs and stay at the El Mirasol hotel, circa mid – 1980s to early 1990s, which at that time, catered to both men and women. adds Denise Goolsby, former innkeeper at The Bee Charmer (which is now La Maison in Palm Springs). “It was like coming to paradise. My partner and I could be ourselves in a safe and welcoming environment.”

Today, there are just over twenty LGBTQ hotels in the greater Palm Springs area. These hotels, looking back over their own history of hospitality discovered that there was reason for celebration – namely the fact that they will celebrate fifty years of LGBTQ hospitality in 2020. It was out of that discovery that the idea for an annual contest to celebrate LGBTQ hospitality emerged. “We were talking about the anniversary of Stonewall,” Green continued, “and we thought, you know we should really commemorate our history of LGBTQ hospitality as well, because the ability to travel safely and stay together in a hotel room was not something any of us could take for granted back in the day.”

And so the Greater Palm Springs Play Gay, Stay Gay Poster & T-Shirt Contest was born. Artists are invited to submit ideas that celebrate California’s LGBTQ Desert playground and its rich history of welcoming LGBTQ visitors from all over the world to play and stay in the world-famous sun-drenched California desert haven. The winning selection that best represents both the destination and fifty years of LGBTQ hospitality will become the official Greater Palm Springs Play Gay, Stay Gay Poster &/or T-Shirt for 2020, and be featured on merchandise and in promotions throughout the year.

The artist whose work is chosen by the selection committee will receive $500.00, and an invitation to Palm Springs for an all-expense paid weekend during which there will be a Launch party and poster signing. The submission deadline for the contest is Friday, December 6th, 2019 at 5PMPT. The winning art will be announced Monday, December 30th, 2019.

Entries can be submitted online at: www.palmspringsgayinfo.com/contest

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