Meet Douglas Graham

Palm Springs Profiles introduces you to people in our community who are making a difference but don’t often make the headlines. This week, meet Douglas Graham, a man of many hats who wears them all well.

The people who make Palm Springs like no place else

When thousands of people take to the streets of Palm Springs for this year’s Desert AIDS Walk on October 30 (register for the event at this site), they will be walking for people like Douglas Graham. It’s hard to put Graham’s accomplishments into a single email. He is a director, choreographer, dance and voice teacher, performer, silver medalist in bodybuilding at The Gay Games, and so much more. You can even see him featured in the documentary Desert Migration. Graham is also one of the 38 million people currently living with HIV, and he is one of thousands who benefit from the services offered at DAP Health, which has held the Desert AIDS Walk for more than 30 years. Get to know Douglas below. 

AGE: 65

OCCUPATION: I wear MANY hats! Some of which are dance teacher, voice teacher, massage therapist and professional singer at a local church.


WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? I followed “a voice” that told me … YELLED at me to move here. Not knowing anything about the city, I followed and it was the best move I could have ever made.

WHAT KEEPS YOU HERE? My “tribe” – gay men “of a certain age” who still live their lives, provide friendship and fun, a wonderful home with a wonderful housemate, Steve, my four cats, and above all else, that “painting in the sky” over the mountains that changes every five minutes and still takes my breath away every day.

DO YOU HAVE FAMILY HERE? Yes, my feline “kids” Munk and Dolce.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR IN THE DESERT? NOW! Meaning fall … the weather, the city comes back to life, and leading to my favorite event of the year … Halloween!

HOW DO YOU BEAT THE HEAT? I stay in, and I enjoy my pool! I’ve also been an avid hiker since the pandemic and sadly that had to be put on hold until now.

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY BY WHICH YOU LIVE? Having almost died and come back from the brink victorious, it would have to be “Never take one single breath for granted.”


WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ISSUE FACING OUR COMMUNITY? Ya know, my belief is that, what we focus on increases. So I honestly don’t look at “issues.” I mean, every city has them, but there is just so much good here, it might be Pollyanna, but the good outweighs everything that comes up. There are great people here doing such amazing things, that it all seems to just work out.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO OR PLACE TO GO IN THE DESERT? Hiking the trails. My favorite is the Lykken. A romantic dinner at Tropicale. And when I want to dance, it’s Oscars tea on Sundays with my crazy fun friends.

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT PALM SPRINGS THAT THEY MIGHT NOT ALREADY KNOW? There used to be the Spa Resort Hotel with something called “The Taking of the Waters.” You’d simply sit in the waters and get the healing properties from them. The first residents of our town, the Cahuilla Indians, surely knew the healing properties here, and that this place, like Sedona, is a “vortex” of energy. For those who have an open heart and mind to feel it, it’s a tangible thing. I look at myself 12 years ago, and I don’t see the same person. There is a magic here beyond the senses, and, as I mentioned, it’s in the mountains, and that painting in the sky. 

WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? I have no “guilt” in anything that gives me pleasure. So … care to rephrase that question? 🙂

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