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Can a gay man find happiness in a 55+ community?

Real Estate Agent with Bennion Deville Homes DRE 01325586

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!)

Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

PAUL KAPLAN  : Of course, gay men can find happiness in a 55+ community. I live in a waterfront gated community. It is not 55+, but my best friends are Gay, and everyone loves them. They come to the pool in their rainbow hats, and sparkle and would do anything for anyone. They are wonderful and everyone loves them. Congrats to your success and now I have a new referral agent for your community 

Jun 03, 2024 07:59 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Paul,

Glad you found a place that makes you both happy. I would have been very surprised, if there were not some groups or activities that would let you make new friends pretty quickly.

Jun 03, 2024 08:01 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Congrats on the feature and being actually surprised by your new home location and all of its amenities.

Jun 03, 2024 10:17 AM
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Good for you

Jun 03, 2024 11:00 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Paul,
From what I know about Sun City, there is something for everyone. I'm glad to see you and Larry have found your peeps.

Jun 03, 2024 11:03 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Very little better than making a dream come true.  And your post brings forth something I don't even think about.  Gays being welcomed.   Seems naive  on my part but just does not come to mind.  Of course I am not on the side of the fence that would be of concern for me.  And, better or worse, don't think about it one way or the other so it being an issue needs be brought forth, as you have done quite well.  Extended happiness for you both, and especially with next year's chili rematch.  lol  Mark

PS...As born and raised SC beach boy I did venture out to Palm Springs often and of course up the tram.  

Jun 03, 2024 11:22 AM
Brian L. Sirota, Esq.
Bristar Realty (Realtor/Attorney) - Orange, CA
For Solutions: (714) 501-7660

Hiya Paul:

Your enthusiasm for Sun City and its perks come through loud and clear!   

Fun post.

Jun 03, 2024 02:32 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Paul:

Glad to hear you and Larry found Sun City and have made it your home. Clearly this 55+ community offers a lot of amenities and activities for residents. No doubt living there is a goal for many people.

Welcome to ActiveRain and congratulations on your featured post - it was a pleasure to read.


Jun 03, 2024 04:20 PM
Caroline Gerardo
Licensed in 20 states - Newport Beach, CA
C. G. Barbeau the Loan Lady nmls 324982

I loved your story. Happiness can be found where you make it.

Jun 03, 2024 05:25 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street, Suite #5, Topsfield, MA - Topsfield, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Evening PAUL KAPLAN 

Life Liberty and the *pursuit* of happiness is one of my favorite parts of the Declaration of Independence. Glad you have followed the pursuit of happiness.

Jun 03, 2024 07:44 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
I’ve seen it happen and I wish you all the best in the whole world! Happy Pride as well! I do think will be kind of one day!!
Jun 03, 2024 10:07 PM
Lisa Friedman
Great American Dream Realty - Essex, VT
35 Years of Real Estate Experience!

Sounds like a wonderful place. Love that it is so dog friendly. Glad you are so happy there!

Jun 04, 2024 05:22 AM
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

 Congratulations on achieving your dream!  Fortunately, adult communities these days are accepting of others, and folks just want to enjoy an active retirement lifestyle.

Jun 04, 2024 06:04 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I read the title and went through the post and sensed your happiness at being there and just maybe the last sentence I read brought a smile and a reality, We may not be the token gay couple    

Jun 04, 2024 09:28 AM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Sounds like you found your place in the Sun! Happiness Abounds! I would love to see a picture of Betty; she sounds like a hoot!

A very long time ago my Aunt Evelynn and her husband lived in a place called Sun City. I was just a kid and my parents were required to sign something saying we wouldn't be there longer than a week because we had 5 kids. We weren't allowed to bike, skateboard or make noise! And the yard was rocks painted in green!

It sounds like Sun City is way more fun than it used to be. I am happy for you both and a little jealous. Enjoy every moment!

Jun 05, 2024 02:15 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

Such a great read, it's making me want to move to Sun City. Happy Hour starting at 1 PM? Sign me up, please. I am with you.. pineapple does not belong on pizza.

Jun 05, 2024 05:06 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

I have a friend who lives in Sun City. He and his wife moved there from the Bay Area ten or so years ago. He loves the many activities in which he is involved.

Jun 05, 2024 07:35 AM
Elyse Berman, PA
LoKation Real Estate - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824

PAUL KAPLAN It sounds like you and Larry and your dog have found the perfect place to call home.  We have many 55+ communities here and everyone is welcome.   I love that your community welcomes dogs.  My favorite type of community!

Jun 07, 2024 02:21 AM
John Marshall - FORE!

Good to see another LoKation agent here!

Jun 07, 2024 02:52 PM
John Marshall - FORE!
LoKation Real Estate - Cherry Hills Village, CO
Specializing in Golf Course Properties

PAUL KAPLAN  I love this, Happy Pride Month to you and your partner Larry! Great to see an accepting community!. I have learned a lot about the LGBTQ community through my son and now business partner. Eye opening for sure to watch the trials and tribulations of what he endured. 


Jun 07, 2024 02:52 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing your personal experience. I will post your blog on X.

Jun 10, 2024 07:20 AM