A New Gay Generation Heads Towards Palm Springs:

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As the sun’s fading light gave the San Jacinto Mountains a golden glow, it also cast a serene spell over those below, admiring the view in Palm Springs, to slow down, breathe deep – and maybe even have a cocktail.

A group of LGBTQ men and women of all ages gathered at the pool and rooftop lounge of the new Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel, an elegant-casual spot for such sunsets and an even better one to eye all sorts of pleasurable scenery of the human kind.

I was there in late summer for an annual national conference of gay journalists, many of whom were there for the first time. Others, like myself, had returned for another enjoyable escape; but some, too, had decided to live there, drawn to this odd oasis of under-the-radar delights in the desert – while still being within striking distance of a major city or two.

I wanted to know from this poolside crowd what the pull of this place was, acting as a playground, home and community for so many who live under a rainbow flag? How did it evolve and, most importantly, what is it like now?

But first I wanted to understand the lay of the land, and veteran visitors gave me the basics for this desert outpost most widely known for its hot springs (20 boutique mineral water resorts and hideaways), golf tournaments, rehab centers, mid-century architecture and its 20 or so clothing-optional resorts and spas, including some for the straight crowd. Here’s what I learned:

It’s a string of desert pearls (and some zircons). The area is made up of a series of small towns that extend from Palm Springs in the west all the way to Coachella in the eastern end.