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Sun City Surprise: A Gay Realtor Finds Paradise (and a Killer Chili Recipe)


Gays at Sun City

Paul Kaplan

I've made it a professional goal to be known as a leader in the Real Estate industry in the Palm Springs market for the past 20+ years...

I've made it a professional goal to be known as a leader in the Real Estate industry in the Palm Springs market for the past 20+ years...

Jun 1 6 minutes read

For 25 years, I, Paul Kaplan, have been a Realtor, slinging keys and showing houses. But my real passion, you ask? Gazing longingly at the vibrant community of Sun City in Palm Desert. Forget selling there, I dreamt of living there..

Now, Sun City isn't exactly known for its rainbow flags. It's a gated 55+ community of 10,000 people, more like an adult Disneyland – golf courses, pickleball courts, enough water aerobics to make an Olympian blush. Even in my 40s, I confess, I daydreamed about qualifying for residency one day. My partner, Larry, just rolled his eyes.

"Paul," he'd say, honey dripping from his voice, "you're more likely to find a disco ball at a bingo night than a gay couple at Sun City."

But the allure of an activity-packed retirement was too strong. We both craved hobbies, something beyond the "work-travel-repeat" cycle we were stuck in for the past few decades. Plus, who wouldn't want a sunset cocktail by the fire pit, gossiping about errant golf balls and upcoming vacations?

So, with a leap of faith and a couple months of house hunting, we bought a house in Sun City.  Now granted, I love Architecture, especially the kind with clean lines and pops of color that defined the mid-century modern movement in Palm Springs. I spent years buying, renovating, and living in those iconic homes. Don't get me wrong, I still appreciate a well-designed post and beam, but let's be honest – those houses weren't built for our desert summers. They looked fantastic but hitting 200 degrees inside during July wasn't exactly comfortable.  And forget about low energy bills!  Sun City, with their spacious interiors and fully insulated attics, started to look pretty appealing from a practicality standpoint, even if it wasn't my initial design dream. And it doesn't hurt that the home prices are 1/3 what they would be in Palm Springs, with some of the lowest HOA fees in the Coachella Valley too.

After closing escrow on our Sun City home, within days, gone were the ruffled curtains and floral wallpaper. We quickly sprinkled some "fairy dust" as they say in the biz, making it ours, a home we can be proud to invite our most discerning guests over to.  

Surprise number one after moving here? A thriving LGBTQ+ group called the Rainbow Circle, which sponsors multiple fun events throughout the season.  Larry, bless his competitive soul, even snagged second place at their recent chili cook-off (though the winner's secret ingredient was a mystery Larry still ponders). Those gays take their chili seriously! Larry swears the contest was rigged but can't wait for a rematch next year.

The Rainbow Circle isn't just for LGBTQ+ folks, it's a welcoming space for allies too. Proof? Look no further than Betty, an 80-year-old firecracker who sat with us at a recent Rainbow dinner. She strutted in rocking black leather pants, a leopard blouse, and a bottle of Prosecco – enough firepower for the whole table! Apparently, her husband was glued to the football game, but Betty knew exactly where she'd have a better time: "with the gays," she declared with a wink.  She then proceeded to passionately advocate for her gay grandson and transgender granddaughter, all while single-handedly conquering that bottle of vino! Let's just say, Betty's an honorary member of the Rainbow Circle for life. .

Surprise number two? I wasn't the youngest there, but close. Who doesn't like to be the "chicken" in the group? There are over 80 clubs and activities available here- I quickly joined a few committees – marketing, Garden Club, ceramics (turns out, sculpting gnomes is harder than it looks). A bit too much, I quickly realized, for a still-working guy. But hey, retirement goals, right?

The best part? We're not bored. Not even close. The calendar is a kaleidoscope of activities – from Zumba to bocce ball tournaments to Monte Carlo nights to miniature sailboat races, walks around the 16 lakes, or lounge time by the pool. We don't golf (yet!), but the golf carts are a must. More for dog chauffeuring than actual golfing, it seems. Sunsets often finds us relaxing at our community restaurant's fire pits, swapping stories with our friendly neighbors while sipping adult beverages. Politics? A non-issue. Here, the biggest debate is whether pineapple belongs on pizza (it doesn't, fight me).  Eventually, when we actually retire, we'll have more time to join in on more activities..

Speaking of dogs, we're both dog lovers, and the idea of a community built around dog walks and numerous dog parks, sounded ideal. Every morning and evening, we pass the same faces walking their pups – is it a sign of old age that we know all the dogs' names by heart, but somehow never seem to learn their owners'?

Sure, we miss the vibrant Palm Springs scene a little. (We have since learned the short cut through the open desert, and we can be in downtown Palm Springs in 25 minutes!) But Sun City's a different kind of paradise. Inclusive, friendly, and with happy hour starting at 1 pm (need I say more?). We may not be the token gay couple everyone wants to befriend (although we're both a whiz with interior design and would be more than happy to help our neighbors), but we're very happy here.

So, if you're an active single, or couple, gay or straight, and retirement looms, don't discount Sun City. You might just find your own rainbow over a perfectly manicured fake lawn. Just don't ask me about the gnomes. Let's just say, they're a work in progress.... and start perfecting your chili recipe too!

Oh, and if you want to be our neighbors, check out the current listings here.   As a resident and Realtor, I'll be happy to give insight on the best areas in the community to live!  (I haven't retired yet!)

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