The Palm Springs Pride Parade bustled Sunday in a rainbow extravaganza of unified acceptance and colorful camaraderie. For decades, the celebration has been the hallmark of the LGBTQ community and allies as a means of fostering a place of support and love.
A total of 225 entries took to Palm Canyon Drive during the two-hour event, much to the delight of a post-pandemic crowd. Local organizations, companies, and city officials were represented at the parade, all present with allied support or LGBTQ representation.
An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 people packed downtown during the parade and after. Among them was Lulu Schoenfeld, who was helping represent Eisenhower Medical Center.
“I identify as bisexual and have grown up in Palm Springs my entire life,” Schoenfeld said. “This has always been a super-inclusive place. Community involvement is so important to raise awareness for LGBTQ individuals.”
Parade participants were both young and old, donning their brightly hued attire and waving their Pride flags proudly as a beacon of solidarity and outreach.
“I myself am a queer individual and I am married to a trans person,” said Madison Sheehen with Visit Greater Palm Springs. “I chose to participate in the parade this year to represent our diverse community while showing love for our hometown.”
“Say Gay” was the theme chosen by organizers this year in response to legislation in Florida that says public school teachers may not instruct on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades kindergarten through third grade. On Sunday, the message was loud and clear that wouldn’t fly in Palm Springs.
From drag queens and porn stars to marching bands and politicians, each of the dozens of parade entries came ready to try and outdo the other in variations of a rainbow theme.
“It is truly a community effort,” said Ron deHarte, CEO and president of Palm Springs Pride prior to the parade. “It is a huge showcase for the city of Palm Springs.
While the Pride Parade is a local staple, ripples of its flamboyant reputation have reached across the threshold of the Coachella Valley and has even provided a glimmer of hope for those individuals seeking acceptance outside of their comfort zone.
Jay Williams, a 12-year-old Beaumont resident, made the trip to Palm Springs with their guardian, seeking the bright banners and smiling faces (both in abundance) of the trademark Pride festival — an opportunity that was not available back home to them. At the point of coming-of-age freedom, Williams found the acceptance they sought at the Parade, proving that Pride is a universal calling not bound by location but thriving with people inhabiting it.
“I am so excited to attend the Pride festival, because it’s my first time here and I feel like I really belong,” said Williams, proudly donning their rainbow flag cape. “I don’t have to be afraid of what other people think or who I want to be.”