The Dinah, a Festival for Queer Women, Returns to Palm Springs
“Within lesbian culture, Dinah Shore is the ultimate party and experience,” said Sarah R. Davis, 37, a third-time attendee, who was lounging on a daybed with her wife, a dystopian feminist novel and an icy bottle of Veuve Clicquot. She, like so many others in Palm Springs for the weekend, had learned of the Dinah from that famed “L Word” episode. Once she went, she understood its outsize reputation within queer circles. “This is a place to be our full selves,” Ms. Davis said.
For years, even as celebrity performers including Katy Perry, Lizzo, Lady Gaga and Tegan & Sara have headlined the festival, Saturday’s pool party has remained the “L Word Pool Party,” out of reverence for the cultural product that drew huge crowds to the Dinah.
“It blows me away that they still do ‘L Word’ pool parties,” Ilene Chaiken, one of the show’s creators, said over Zoom. She likened attending with the original cast to bringing the Beatles anywhere in the early 1970s. “It never occurred to me that ‘The L Word’ would be branded in memoriam at the Dinah. It’s an important piece of our gay culture now. It’s become an institution, and we need institutions.”
Since the event’s inception, Palm Springs has seen its politics become more liberal, and in 2018, it became the first municipality in America with a City Council whose members are all openly L.G.B.T.Q. The Dinah has changed, too: Though often branded as a lesbian paradise, for the last few years the event has opened to nonbinary and trans people, regardless of gender.
“It’s bigger than a party. It’s a movement. It’s powerful,” Ms. Hanson, 60, said. “We create five days where we are living in a queer, nonbinary, lesbian world. We celebrate who we are.”