I’m Kristin Scharkey, features editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, wishing you a happy Friday and sincere apologies for missing our Thursday edition. The news cycle never sleeps!
‘We’re still here’: Palm Springs’ historic gay bars see light at the end of the tunnel. Despite more than a year of pandemic-related closures, many of the bars located in the Southern California destination are open again.
The city has long been one of the most popular LGBTQ destinations in the country.
“These bars are more than just drinking places,” Rob Giesecke, owner of Chill Bar Palm Springs, told Desert Sun reporter Amanda Ulrich. “This is where the community comes together.”
In other parts of California, some gay bars haven’t been as lucky. San Francisco and Los Angeles, for example, have seen several famed establishments go under. The Stud, San Francisco’s oldest LGBTQ bar, was one of the first to announce it was shuttering last May.
Giesecke partially credits his business’ survival to the tight-knit community that came together and “formed ranks” around the historic street. Customers sat in outdoor patios in 120-degree heat when they could have stayed home. Some started GoFundMe pages for Arenas bars.
“We’re like a gay community center bar. Local gay men treat this as their living room,” said David Farnsworth, the co-owner and general manager of nearby Streetbar. “It’s been ground zero for them for forever.”
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Here’s some more news you may want to know ahead of the weekend:
California’s population falls for first time ever
Nearly 200,000 people left the Golden State last year, “marking the first population decline ever recorded in the state and underscoring larger trends that recently led to the loss of a Congressional seat,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Soumya Karlamangla and Thomas Curwen report that “a major force in California’s declining population has been the exodus to other states. The state has seen more people leave than move in from other states for much of the last three decades.”
For 40 years, this victim of rape and murder had no name; genetic genealogy gave it back
Thanks to genetic genealogists’ use of historical records, social media and DNA, the public can now call Kern County Jane Doe by her true name: Shirley Ann Soosay.
For 40 years, Soosay was an unidentified woman known to the public only as a victim of a brutal rape and murder. During the perpetrator’s 2018 trial in Ventura County, jurors and attorneys referred to her based on where her body was found on July 15, 1980: Kern County Jane Doe.
Ventura County Star reporter Megan Diskin details how investigators used genetic genealogy to identify Soosay.
Mosey on down to the Cactus Ranch
No ifs, ands or buts about it: California Nursery Specialties Cactus Ranch is a super cool place. The Los Angeles Times got an inside look at the San Fernando Valley hot spot, just northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Reporter Jeanette Marantos said the nursery “feels secret and special because as nurseries go, it’s relatively unknown, and thus uncrowded. That’s because, during the week, the Cactus Ranch is a wholesale nursery business, closed to the public, but on weekends it’s open to anyone from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. in winter.)”
I, for one, am thirsting after these photos by Calvin B. Alagot.
No fireworks this year?
The city of Palm Springs won’t host a fireworks show for the Fourth of July this year — and the reason isn’t COVID-19.
Citing concerns for the negative impacts of fireworks on pets, veterans and people with post-traumatic stress disorder, the Palm Springs City Council this week rejected an agreement with a fireworks company to provide the annual show in 2021.
“We’re coming out of COVID and it seems like a perfect time for a paradigm shift,” Councilmember Dennis Woods said.
Desert Sun reporter Erin Rode has the details on the city’s pivot for the patriotic holiday.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Los Angeles Times, VC Star. We’ll be back in your inbox Monday with the latest headlines.
As the features editor at The Desert Sun, Kristin Scharkey oversees a team of reporters covering beats ranging from health to business. Reach her at [email protected].