Friday, April 8, 2016

Endtime Perversion: 20,000 female homosexuals in the desert: welcome to the Dinah, a world without men For five days in Palm Springs, an alternate reality where gay women celebrate each other with pool parties, dancing and debauchery

Every year at the end of March, 20,000 female homosexuals from around the world fly into the Californian desert for five days of debauchery, and I’m one of them. It’s my second time at the Dinah, also known as the largest girl festival in the world. I’m staying at the Hilton in Palm Springs, which is hosting the famous Dinah pool parties, and the hotel feels like a homosexual harem.

It’s a surreal experience: for a few days the world is turned upside down, the minority is suddenly the majority. Everywhere you look, lesbians are smiling, drinking, dancing, kissing. There are a few men around – staff working the event and guys who have been dragged along by lesbian friends – but they are hard to spot. It’s basically entirely queer women in attendance.
The party is named after the Dinah Shore golf tournament, started in 1972 by the eponymous entertainer. Dinah Shore wasn’t a lesbian (she’d be doing somersaults in her grave if she knew what her moniker was attached to now), but golf seems to attract a lot of lesbians. A sapphic scene sprouted up around the golf tournament, and the Dinah was born. It’s now in its 26th year.
Today, nobody is here for the golf. No one is here for the DJs, comedians or YouTube stars performing either. They’re here for the girls. Butch, femme, old, young, gold stars, bi, black, white, hardcore, normcore – the Dinah attracts a diverse group. There’s a sense of liberation and a tacit understanding that what happens in Dinah stays in Dinah (unless it ends up on Facebook).
“Flashing is normal,” Charlotte, 24, told me. “I get flashed at a lot.” Random girls pulling you into their hotel rooms are also pretty standard. One year, there was a minor earthquake in Palm Springs. Debbie, a Dinah veteran who has attended every event since 1991, recalls that half the water splashed out of the pool. Most of the girls were too drunk to realize or care.

The feeling of permissiveness is compounded by the desert scenery: it looks like there has been some sort of gaypocalypse, and all the straight men and women have died out.
I can’t lie, it’s nice being in a predominantly female space for a few days. There’s a feeling of comfortable camaraderie; a sense of suddenly being a first-class citizen. But I feel like that comes more from the queerness rather than the femaleness. No one at the Dinah wishes a plague on all men. Despite the stereotype of the man-hating dyke, most lesbians really like men (we need them around to ensure we don’t get too distracted). The Dinah isn’t about separatism; it’s about celebration.It’s also about scantily clad celebration. Maybe all the clothes got destroyed during the gaypocalypse, because nobody’s wearing much. Several opt for stickers or tape over their nipples instead of bikini tops, and I can’t help but think they will later regret the decision (think: ripping off a Band-aid). Then again, so might getting in the pool. There are fake eyelashes floating in the water, and I don’t want to imagine what sort of bodily fluids. You can’t get syphilis from a swimming pool but, for a moment, I wonder.
Syphilis, by the way, isn’t something most lesbians think about much as they rack up Dinah conquests (“Never settle for a girl from day one,” one girl advised me, “the day two girls are always better”). Nor are STDs in general. It’s my untested hypothesis that one of the reasons the Dinah is so debauched is that it is quite difficult to get pregnant when sleeping with other women, and there’s also a misperception among many lesbians that you’re not at risk of STDs. Certainly it’s not something you’re told about much; a lot of medical professionals aren’t trained to talk to gay women about sexual health.
Another factor feeding into the debauchery, of course, is that lesbians rarely have such a large dating pool on hand. And as any economist will tell you, you’re more likely to be an outrageous flirt when faced with a thick market.
Speaking of economics: corporations have finally woken up to the profit margins of the margins, and the Dinah has become a lot more attractive to brands. Bacardi, Bud Lite, Smirnoff and Barefoot Wines are all big sponsors this year. Bacardi and Bud have sent teams of scantily clad promo girls (most of whom are straight) who hand out swag, pose for photos and generally act a little gay for pay. While it’s normally irritating to get relentlessly advertised to, in this case it’s a sign of progress. You’re not a real human until you’re recognized by corporate America.
The Dinah has also started to attract more big-name talent. Katy Perry and the Pussycat Dolls have all performed at the festival. And this year, Lady Gaga popped in briefly as a guest to watch pal Katherine Moennig (known to lesbians everywhere as Shane from the L word) play a DJ set. The celebrities have raised the Dinah’s profile and brought it more mainstream attention.
Vice are here this year, for example, shooting a documentary. The producer is gay, but it’s also her first Dinah and she looks a little overwhelmed.
“What’s your angle?” I ask her. “Well, you know, we’re going to show all the tits and ass,” she says, as her cameraperson zooms in on just that, “and then we’re going to show why it’s actually really meaningful.” She pauses for a moment. “So far though, all we’ve got is the tits and ass.”
Let’s not downplay the tits and ass – they’re meaningful in their own way. As CeeCee, a 26-year-old Dinah newbie, told me, a lot of people don’t think lesbians (that is, real human lesbians, not the male porn fantasies) have any fun. “People think we just sit at home in sensible shoes reading feminist theory to our cats,” she said. Being able to strip off at the Dinah, then, is an empowering experience for a lot of women; a chance to embrace and celebrate their sexuality in a safe space.

Palm Springs: ‘Embracing gay can pay’

While a lot of big brands have only started wooing dyke dollars recently, the city of Palm Springs has long been cognizant of the economic benefits of embracing diversity. It grew to prominence in the 1930s when closeted Hollywood movie stars would head to the desert to escape the studios’ scrutiny. The likes of Rock Hudson, Liberace, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich all spent time there.
Today it’s estimated that almost half the population of Palm Springs are gay, and it has the highest per capita gay population in the US, if not the world. It’s also seeing a surge of interest among straight Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio recently bought a vacation home there: the Dinah Shore Palm Springs Estate.
Rob Moon, the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, told me that “now more than ever, the city is experiencing a tremendous renaissance and Dinah Shore Weekend has been a huge economic driver. We owe a debt of gratitude to the LGBT community for helping Palm Springs evolve into the ultra-cool, stylish and sophisticated city it is today.”
As for the future of lesbian-centric events, there has been a trend of lesbian bars closing recently. This has been partly been blamed on apps like Tinder, which make meeting other gay people less reliant on gay bars. It’s also been put down to more liberal attitudes; there’s no longer a need for gay space if all space is more inclusive.
Will the next generation of gay women feel the same need for an extended women’s party? Mariah Hanson, founder of the Dinah, certainly seems to think so. “There’ll always be need for gay people to come together and congregate,” she said. “Our culture is unique … we’re not part of straight culture. The Dinah is and always has been five days of incredibly magical celebration of our lives. If the UN would pay attention to what’s going on at the Dinah it could change the world in a big way. People put aside their differences and go home feeling changed.”
I don’t know that Ban Ki-moon should necessarily get the security council to strip into swimwear and grope each other. However, there’s certainly something affirmative and cathartic about the experience. As Leah, a DJ in Boston, told me: “It’s the experience that college should have been.”
It’s also a reminder of how much today’s gay people owe to previous generations. There was a long fight for our right to party, and it’s not over yet. I got back from the Dinah on Tuesday morning; the same day Mississippi’s governor signed legislation making discrimination against gay couples legal. There’s still a while to go before we can all really celebrate.


Allergic Vaginitis

Because the symptoms of this are both inside the vagina and around the vulva, it is often mistaken for something else, usually a yeast infection or even herpes. It is caused by an allergic reaction to something, such as latex, lubes, nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), sex toys or toiletries. Symptoms include red, irritated skin, vaginal itching and increased discharge. 

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This happens when the bacteria which naturally occur in the vagina (usually beneficial) get out of balance. Symptoms are a yellow/grey discharge, sometimes accompanied by a fishy smell, and vaginal irritation. One definite cause is douching, and it is regarded as a condition peculiar to lesbians, although no-one can explain why. It’s treated with antibiotics and oral medication.


This is the most common sexually transmitted infection,. It is mostly passed on through penetrative sex, so it can be transmitted via toys, fingers and hands. Most women have no symptoms whatsoever, and it hangs around for years. Can include pain during sex or while peeing; increased vaginal discharge; irregular bleeding. Can cause infertility through pelvic inflammation (see Pelvic Inflammatory Disease). It can be treated with antibiotics.


Like Chlamydia, this is spread via penetrative sex, including the use of fingers and toys. It can also be transmitted via oral sex and affect the throat and urethra. A rare means of transmission is through sharing flannels, as the bacterium thrives in warm moist places. Sometimes there are no symptoms, but vaginal discharge (which can be yellow or yellow-green) and a burning pain on peeing are common. It’s treated with antibiotics.


An inflammation of the liver with various causes, and symptoms including yellow skin and eyes, nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness and stomach pain. There are three main hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis A is found in fecal matter, such as contaminated food and oral-anal contact. Transmission between women has been known.
Hepatitis B is spread by an exchange of blood and other body fluids. This includes touching an open cut if you have broken skin and sharing toothbrushes, nail clippers or razors. It takes very little blood or fluid to transmit, but cannot be contracted through food, drink or casual contact. Lesbians are invisible as far as Hepatitis B research is concerned, but vaccines for both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are available.
Hepatitis C is spread mainly through contact with infected blood,.

Herpes (genital)

Very common, the main symptoms are painful sores around the mouth (‘cold sores’), asshole and genitals (‘genital warts’). It can be passed on easily through any contact with a sore, so you should avoid going down on someone if you have a cold sore. They go away of their own accord, but are incurable and can recur.


HIV is spread through direct contact with blood, vaginal fluids and semen, during sex, childbirth or through sharing needles. Reports of transmission via breast milk. The problem seems to be related to chafing of the nipples causing them to bleed, rather than the milk itself. HIV attacks white blood cells, causing them to lose their ability to fight infections and usually leading to AIDS.
There have been cases of woman-to-woman transmission and the leading suspects are menstrual blood, vaginal discharge (when there is also vaginitis) and certain sex practices which can cause bleeding, whether by accident or deliberately.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Genital Warts)

There are many different viruses which can produce genital warts, including herpes, which are painless lumps around your genitals and anus. They’re all spread by touch. They are treated by freezing them off, or using a paint-on solution. One of the wart viruses has been linked to cervical cancer, and because an exchange of body fluids is not required to spread it, you should insist on having regular smear tests.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Caused by several bacteria, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, infection usually starts within a few days of sex with an infected person, but it can take up to few months. It can also occur after childbirth, surgery and abortion. Symptoms include abdominal and back pain, nausea, spotting, vaginal discharge and fever, but some women show no symptoms whatsoever. Scar tissue from PID can block the Fallopian tubes, leading to infertility. There have been cases of woman-to-woman transmission.

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Lice need human contact to spread, and cannot hop or fly. Spread by any close contact with an affected person, their bed linen or their clothes, symptoms include seeing the lice themselves, and itching. Transmission between female sexual partners is common, and treatment involves special lotions and shampoos (available at pharmacies, but cheaper on prescription), and washing clothing and bed linen in hot water.


This is an infestation of tiny mites which burrow into the skin and give off a chemical which causes itching. Any close (and not-so-close) contact can spread the mites, and they can live in fabric for a couple of days. The first time someone gets scabies, the itching will take 2-6 weeks to start; later infestations show up more quickly as people become sensitized. The main symptom is itching—really evil, nasty itching that keeps you awake at night and causes you to scratch until you bleed. Treatment involves thoroughly putting lotion over your entire body below the neck, including under nails. Partners and friends should also be treated as a precaution, and a second treatment might be required.


A serious and devastating (if untreated) disease which is transmitted via contact with the sores and rashes associated with it. It can also be passed on by a pregnant woman to the fetus. The first sign is a single sore or spot, hard at the edges, which is usually painless and easily mistaken for something else. This appears between 10 days and three months after contact, lasts for 2-6 weeks and is highly contagious. 6-8 weeks after it disappears, around 30% of sufferers will go on to the second stage which lasts from 2 weeks to 6 months. Symptoms at this stage include swollen lymph nodes, rashes and flu-type symptoms. Another kind of highly infections sore sometimes appears—flat grayish warts. Beyond this, if still untreated, the infection will cause serious damage to the brain, heart, nervous system, kidneys, and eyes. The signs of syphilis on the skeleton are quite dramatic, and the bones can look like molten wax. Fortunately, it need not get this far as it is susceptible to penicillin, and partners will also need to be treated.


Only found in the vagina, this can lead to an itchy, frothy and smelly discharge. Symptoms start around 2-20 days after exposure. Woman-to-woman transmission is well-documented and it can also be spread through sharing flannels and has been known to have been caught by women sharing a Jacuzzi. Easily treated with antibiotics, but partners should be treated too.

Yeast Infections (Candidiasis)

This happens when a usually benign yeast living in the vagina gets out of control. It is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, but can be a symptom of something more serious and should be checked out. Symptoms include a thick white vaginal discharge with a yeasty odor and the appearance of cottage cheese, and itching.


The most pernicious of all infections, you can have it for years without realizing it, and the majority have it to some degree.  Symptoms include low self-esteem, feeling bad after a good time, and judgmental behavior towards others. It can lead to large counselling bills, irresponsible behavior leading to epidemics of sexually transmitted infections and death through suicide.
Post a Comment