Palm Springs Gay History Revealed


By Andrew Belonsky

"It was the sexual freedom that was the most popular draw of Palm Springs..."

Tab Hunter hanging in an inner-tube

Throughout Wallace's work, we see male stars being forced to butch up for the camera and marrying for the press. Palm Springs was, for many of them, their only escape.

It was the sexual freedom that was the most popular draw of Palm Springs and some of the adjoining communities, and it still is for many. Privacy, as was noted earlier, was provided by the ubiquitous walls surrounding many of the community’s homes and resorts, yet the place was still close enough to the studios that a star could show up for a movie or television production call in a couple of hours.

So for the publicly homophobic Liberace (who once sued a British newspaper for saying he was gay while at the same time cavorting with bevies of young male beauties behind the walls of a succession of homes) and hundreds of closeted gay, lesbian, and bisexual actors, actresses, and their friends, a trek to the desert was the ideal solution to having your fame as well as enjoying it. On at least one occasion in the mid-1950s, Tab Hunter and his then boyfriend, Tony Perkins, hid out together at the Desert Inn, where Hunter was often photographed by the fan magazines, provocatively posed on the diving board or in the pool, to satisfy the fantasy of millions of female teens.

Much of the book also focuses on Rock Hudson and his relationship with George Nader. Here, a very small excerpt that shows that even closeted movie stars can make a family of their own in Palm Springs:

After Hudson and Gates divorced, he was seen in the company of several good-looking young men. One of them was his friend George Nader, who became the life partner of the actor’s secretary, Mark Miller. Nader had a weekend place in Bermuda Dunes, some 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs, and occasionally took Hudson water-skiing at the Salton Sea. So close were Hudson, Nader, and Miller that Hudson’s biographer, Sara Davidson, described the couple as "Rock’s family for most of his adult life."

Tags: Palm Springs