Gay Desert Hot Springs

Years in the making, project assures dozens of honorees are finally out on stars that dot city sidewalks

Posted on October 12, 2023

Through “Out on the Walk,” 61 of the more than 460 people honored with a star on city sidewalks for civic or business contributions will also be recognized as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

www.thepalmspringspost.com BY MARK TALKINGTON ● COMMUNITYEVENTS ● OCTOBER 11, 2023

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David Gray, who co-founded and co-directs the LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, speaks at a dedication ceremony Wednesday afternoon. His shirt features a Keith Haring design used to advocate for National Coming Out Day.

It wasn’t lost on anyone attending a special event Wednesday afternoon in Downtown Palm Springs that the day also marked the 35th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. Recognizing and honoring LGBTQ+ history was why they had gathered, although in a much better atmosphere than activists faced decades ago.

The dedication of the “Out on the Walk” project — an exhibit opening Thursday at the Village Green off South Palm Canyon Drive and a related update to the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce’s Walk of the Stars app — may have seemed a world away from the era that brought an urgent need to push for visibility as Congress and the Reagan Administration seemed unwilling or unable to address the growing AIDS crisis.

Still, increased visibility is what project organizers are hoping for.

Through the joint project with the chamber, the LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, and the city that was five years in the making, dozens of the more than 460 people recognized with a star on city sidewalks, previously honored only for their civic or business contributions to the city, will also be recognized as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

To do this, the Walk of the Stars app, which helps identify where each star is located and tell the history of each honoree, has been updated to reflect the recognition, showing a Pride flag beside the names of some honorees. A related exhibit curated by Archives volunteers, which has drawn heavy interest while displayed elsewhere in the community for the past two years, will be on display at the Village Green for the next month.

For those gathered Wednesday at the project’s dedication and most city residents, recognizing sidewalk stars featuring trailblazing members of the local LGBTQ+ community seems like a no-brainer. But as Mike Thompson, CEO and director of The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, explained, the project could serve a particular purpose for some visitors.

“These stars are beacons for people who visit our city who don’t live in places where LGBTQ+ people are celebrated,” Thompson said. 

Added City Councilmember Ron deHarte, an Archives board member and president of Palm Springs Pride: “LGBTQ+ discrimination thrives in an atmosphere of silence. An exhibition like this tells the world that the city of Palm Springs will not be silent.”


Details: The “Out on the Walk” exhibition runs through Nov. 12 at Village Green Heritage Center, 217 S. Palm Canyon Dr., on Thursdays from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. David Gray, who co-founded and co-directs the LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert along with Julie Warren, said volunteers are still needed to staff the exhibit. To step up, contact him or Warren at lgbtqpshistory@gmail.com or visit lgbtqpshistory.org.

Author

MARK TALKINGTON

Mark first moved to the Coachella Valley in 1994 and is currently a Palm Springs resident. After a long career in newspapers (including The Desert Sun) and major digital news websites, he founded The Palm Springs Post in 2021.