2021 Palm Springs Pride was more than a celebration of pride

PALM SPRINGS – Even the palm trees were shaking this weekend as the 35th Grand Palm Springs Pride Festival freed the city from the doldrums of a pandemic that, while not exactly over, certainly felt that way, at least for a weekend.

All the pride and everything Palm Springs – literally everything – had stolen from us by the pandemic was in full view, but with an added twist: It was the first full-scale pride celebration in California since January 2020 and people were ready to go. to celebrate. Last year’s event took place virtually on Facebook.

Thousands and thousands of people, most of them without masks, from all walks of life swarmed the city for three days from coast to coast, something that seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago.

Dan Bertin, 87, wiped a tear in his eye when the Los Angeles Blade asked him why he decided to attend Palm Springs Pride. “I hung up this morning with my son in London, he’s gay like me,” he laughed, and told me that his husband and my newborn grandson would be arriving on a flight in coming from Paris on Friday next week. I’m so happy I just had to celebrate.

9-year-old Stanton’s mother Lydia says her son insisted they attend the festival on Sunday. Mom told the Blade, “At this point he says he’s gay so I thought he should see this.” Stanton, who wore a mask because he is not vaccinated, said he knew he was not alone but had no idea there were so many people like him. Pointing to other passing children, he said, “Look, they’re like me.” His mother corrected him. “Don’t guess at people, Stanton. He laughed and ran into the bounce house the festival organizers had set up for the kids and his mother followed him. “I couldn’t sit on this one, so we came from the border today. I am so proud to be his mom. Stanton, she says, was born Stacy.

Tammy Green said the event was her first public event since Covid. “I’m so tired of all this isolation that I could cry out. I’m fully vaccinated and ready for some love, so if you know any hot dykes you can hook me up with, I also shaved just for Pride baby!

Joel Stern and her husband Randall came from Seattle: “We love Palm Springs and we love Pride, so when we found cheap plane tickets on Alaska from Seattle to Palm Springs on Pride Week, we jumped, ”said Joel. “Yeah, that bitch forgot to book a hotel room,” Randall said. “So I splurged him on $ 1200 a night AirBnB and we have a mansion with a pool and we’re going home now!”

John W, a homeless and disabled Transman who has one arm, said he lives in Palm Springs. He got his misty eyes petted by Cody, the dog owned by Arturo Jimenez and his partner, the publisher of LA Blade Troy Masters, saying, “I can’t have a dog but I love them.” I have too much PTSD and can barely take care of myself. But today in Pride, surrounded by people ready to talk to me, I feel free and even sudden loud noises don’t trigger me.

Scott E. from New York says he met a “Daddy” on Grinder who invited him to Palm Spring Pride after a series of X-rated photos. “Honey, I booked this ticket and here I am, but it wasn’t not present. Everything is fine, “he said, smiling and gesturing to an older man,” I’m sure it’s going to be okay. “

Evan Caplan, who visited Palm Springs Pride from Washington, DC, said, “Palm Springs Pride was an opportunity to get away from it all in DC and enjoy the weather, the festivities and the opportunity to meet all kinds of people. different people. It was a magical getaway to party the streets and feel welcomed by everyone in the city. It was also a reaffirmation of the spirit of the gay community coming together after a difficult and difficult year, ”he added.

Tracy S. arrived from Nashville. The 32-year-old public relations officer said he was out during the pandemic and was too shy to attend the Nashville pride event. “I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same,” he said.

Robin Tyler, the 79-year-old Los Angeles-based lesbian activist and comedian, took to the main stage of the event on Friday night and brought the house down. Her favorite joke of the evening: “I met a man in Palm Springs who said he was from Texas. Texas, where men ARE men, and women are nothing. There, the right-wing courts believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth! “

Robin Tyler in concert at PS Pride 2021 (Courtesy Robin Tyler)

On Sunday, the parade kicked off at Palm Canyon Drive, slowly making its way towards the entrance to the Pride Festival at Amado Road where thousands of smiling people, some still waving flags and their parade signage, parade drag queens galore, young and old, dad and puppies, lined the parade route. Dozens of tanks, jumping to blaring music with twisting go-go boys and a few quieter offers passed as merchants peddled their wares.

Mary Rostow and his wife June watched the parade go by, greeting old friends.

“I see people I haven’t seen in years and that makes my heart sing,” said Mary. “We don’t have much pride left and it really means a lot to me that they’ve managed to put everything in place. June, who wore a mask that said “Vaxed” said “We really have a lot to celebrate”

Members of the Los Angeles Trans Chorus (America’s premier choir of transgender, non-binary, intersex, gender nonconforming, and gender fluent individuals) performed “More Friends Than You Know”, a touching song about diversity and acceptance and empowerment after marching in the parade.

Alan Uphold, a former Chorus board member who recently moved to Palm Springs from Los Angeles with her husband Jeff Olde, was moved to tears by their performance, said the song “touches me every time” .

Many other local businesses and organizations were also present at the parade; a group with Planned Parenthood received loud cheers as they paraded, while Wang’s in the Desert, a popular Pan-Asian cuisine restaurant in Palm Springs, mounted a red and yellow dragon head in the back of a truck . Leather men were selling drink specials outside downtown bars, and hundreds watched the event while eating on restaurant terraces.

In the 200 or so booths, the glow on people’s faces told the real story.

“We have 4 bags of memorabilia including the Los Angeles Blade,” said Drexel Simpson of Phoenix. “This is our first trip since Covid and there’s just no way to tell you how liberating it is to spend time with people, without masks, hugging old friends, kissing them like the best they can. old time and get back to normal. It’s like Covid Liberation Pride. And I hope the world will follow.

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