From 2009-2014 I didn’t really know any straight people. Sure, I’d have the occasional conversation with a cashier or someone I met at a conference, but my social circle was entirely made of LGBTQ folks. I was working for LGBTQ nonprofits during the day, promoting in the evening, and socializing with an entirely LGBTQ social circle. My world view was about as big as a hula hoop but lord did I have a good time. I was at a different queer event 3-4 nights a week, had close friends who were activists, artists, DJs, event producers, and MCs and was living in New York City. I was as privileged as a queer young adult can get because I was surrounded by love and support. I had amazing mentors cheering me on. When I left New York to travel, I slowly started to realize how important it is to have a community.
Now – I can’t complain- at all – I have one of the best jobs in the world. I literally get to travel and do cool shit for a living but it’s not all rainbows and queer dance parties. For one, I spend most of my days alone looking at a computer screen. Two, it’s really tough convincing brands that queer women are worthy of an investment (vom). Three, I travel so much that it’s really difficult to maintain relationships with people who have an “out of sight out of mind” mentality with their friendships. Over the years I’ve drifted away from a lot of people who were once very important to me.
I’ve been to some of the biggest LGBTQ events in the world. I’ve done some of the biggest Pride events in Asia, Europe, and North America. I’ve also done a lot of the festivals and celebrations. [Still haven’t been to Cape Town Pride, Carnival, Mardi Gras, L Beach ORR Ella festival – if you’re reading this email me – my twitter bio REALLY needs to read “done the gay on 7 continents” #noshame]
So sometimes, I can get a bit jaded to the queer party scene. Remember, the first Pride was a police riot. They’re supposed to be political. They’re supposed to be about celebrating and protecting the beauty of our community. Sure modern Pride celebrations aren’t perfect, there’s a lot of problematic AF stuff that happens. Corporate sponsored Pride floats, hyper-sexualization, rampant drug and alcohol use – I’m not blind to this stuff. But the reality is, there is still a very valid reason that we have events like Pride and Dinah Shore – we still really need queer spaces online and offline. They’re rapidly disappearing (RIP Lex and After Ellen). This is where Dinah Shore 2017 comes in…
This wasn’t my first Dinah Shore – but it was by far my best Dinah. I went, knowing how important spaces like Dinah were for folks without strong queer communities to lean on. But I lately I’ve been seeing it more as something I could provide for other people, rather than something I needed for myself.
OH HOW WRONG WAS I … LET ME COUNT THE WAYS.
The weekend was absolutely magical and no – I’m not just saying that to build hype for my next trip lol
Dinah Shore 2017 really was everything I didn’t know I needed. For some fucked up reason, I’ll be discussing with my therapist later – I had this misconception that I didn’t need queer events anymore because I’m not a big drinker, I’m married, and I’ve always had access to queer events. Dinah gets a bit of a bad rap as a drunken shit show [and sure – that’s part of it] but it’s a very small part of it. But what really makes Dinah special is that for one weekend a year, a little town in the desert becomes ours. We’re everywhere. At the parties, at the restaurants, in all of the hotels. Palm Springs becomes LezBiQueerville, USA. The parts of Dinah that stand out in my memory are the small moments in between the drinks and the dancing. I pseudo tackled a girl in a totally nonsexual way in her hotel bed less than 48 hours after meeting. That’s how quickly the folks on this trip bonded. The stuff that stands out are the inside jokes, hotel room brunches, and lazing around in the morning rehashing the night before.
I wasn’t sure if it was just me – or if the rest of our group felt this way also – I wasn’t alone.
I mean shit – by the end of this group trip a few of our members tattooed themselves with permanent reminders of this adventure.
I tried to explain it to Linds when I got home but honestly, this trip just felt special. We had 10 people from 4 countries and three US cities. I loved learning about photography, Australia, veganism, Rawanda and what communities are like in places around the world. I loved connecting new friends with old friends and watching everyone open up slowly over the course of the weekend. I have no doubt in my mind that these are connections that I’ll hold on to for a very long time.
Kate Ross and I did this as an experiment. We had no idea it would work out so well. We got together and mixed her brand of nightlife and my brand of travel to develop an itinerary that emphasized relationship building, community, and our expertise. We partnered with Tagg Magazine and Lush Cosmetics for goodies in our swag bags – rented a couple vehicles and set out into the desert. Our first stops were more travel-focused than Dinah focused but I think each part played a special role in a group of very different people coming together as friends.
Without further ado – I give you 80 photos of our trip courtesy of Jamie Thrower at Studio XIII Photography [PS: hire her!}