Palm Springs Cinema Hosts LGBT Film Festivals, Contributes To Anti-Gay Causes

Rozene SuppleThe Camelot theater in Palm Springs is one of the leading indie theaters in the vacation hot spot. The theater has hosted a variety of film festivals, including hosting the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Short Film Festival, the American Documentary Film Festival, and the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, since it was created in 1967.

One would think that to host such events the theater would be owned by progressive or at least liberal-leaning proprietors. Roger Tansey over at MyDesert uncovered the reality that in fact the owner, Mrs. Rozene Supple, has donated to a variety of right-wing and anti-gay causes. Some of her offenses include $2200 to Michele Bachmann, $7,900 to the Koch brothers' Citizens United, and arguably most egregiously (in message, if not amount) she gave $100 to to support California's Proposition 8.

Mrs. Supple wrote a rebuttal for MyDesert in an attempt to balance out her portrayal, explicitly stating that she loves her Palm Springs community, and though she's Republican she does not support the Tea Party or religious right (despite donating to Bachmann), she wants smaller government oversight and less regulation (despite donating to Citizens United), and she admires and respects the gays (despite donating to an anti-gay hate cause).

To her credit, Mrs. Supple says that she has donated to causes like Desert AIDS Project, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Equality California, The Judy Fund, Olive Crest, and the Children’s Discovery Museum, and she says that going forward, 

I have decided that I will no longer contribute to any political entity that does not embrace equal rights for all Americans. Truth be told, I will probably stop contributing to any of them.

Mrs. Supple may have a struggle on her hands undoing the damage that she has already done to her own reputation and public good will, and time will tell if she actually follows through on her commitments. Still, better a late conversion than never.


  1. says

    I posted this yesterday on my facebook fan page. Feel free to visit my page. There are many comments of support for Rozene and some that are not in support. Best, Del Shores


    If you aren’t a Palm Springs or desert resident, you are probably unaware of the controversy that has transpired since last Sunday concerning Rozene Supple, the owner of Camelot Theaters, where SORDID LIVES ran for 96 weeks, which created the cult phenomenon. I dare say that most of you wouldn’t know who I am if it were not for Sordid Lives. My little movie would have died a quick death if it had not been for the support of the staff and owners of the Camelot Theaters.

    Rozene and Ric Supple are my friends. They have supported my career for years. Yes, they are Republicans, but they are also humanitarians. They are fiscally conservative, but they are socially liberal. When my marriage fell apart, Rozene called me to tell me how sorry she was. Ric sat with me at the next event I attended at the Camelot and told me how sorry he was, put his hand on my shoulder and told me I would find love again. They were fond of my ex and they supported our marriage and our love.

    Ric and Rozene Supple have been two of the single most influential people in my career. They gave Sordid Lives a birth place and a home for two years that created the sensation, that then led to the DVD sales where I suspect most of you came to know of me and my work. The Supples love the movie, they love the message of the film, they love the cast and they love me.

    Here’s the skinny of this controversy. The Desert Sun published a commentary Sunday from a Palm Springs attorney named Roger Tansey (special to the Desert Sun) called “Camelot theater owner backs right-wing causes”.


    He broke down donations to mostly Republican politicians (including Michele Bachmann and John Boehner) that totaled $18,150 from 2000 to 2011. Most of the donations were to Republican candidates, but a few were to organizations including $100 to in 2008 which was fighting for Prop 8.

    Now I must admit that I was horrified that she had given to support Prop 8. The others (especially the anti-Hilary Clinton donations) I thought – well, she’s supporting Republican candidates and her small government fiscal stance trumps the social issues, which happens even in our own community. Do I agree with her on the donations and who she supports politically? Hell no! Do I agree with the Log Cabin Republicans? HELL NO! But on those donations, I can go to my “we can agree to disagree” position. But not Prop 8. So I called Michael Green, the creator of Cinema Diverse and close friend of the Supples. Here’s what he said, “”In 2008, Rozene got a phone call from a telemarketer who told her he was working for a group that was trying to protect marriage and families. She gave him $100 via credit card. She had no idea what the donation really was until someone told her.” She has made reported statements since about how this was an error and has also given (much more) money to Equality California. I called Rozene about an hour ago, first and foremost to give her my love and support, but also, I wanted to hear about the Prop 8 donation from her mouth. She said, “I did not understand what I was giving to and have said many times that it was a mistake. I thought I was supporting families.” And I believe her! She’s in her 90s, is still very sharp, but there were many who were confused and deceived by the supporters of Prop 8. It’s the reason they won!

    My question — why did Mr. Tansey position himself as a journalist and then do very sloppy UNFAIR journalism, only painting one side of Rozene Supple? Rozene says she doesn’t know him, has no idea why he went after her. I’m also unclear as to why the Desert Sun published his commentary without digging deeper. If both had done the right thing, the fair thing, they would have found that Rozene has also given to: Desert AIDS Project, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation ($11,000) Equality California, The Judy Fund, Olive Crest, the Children’s Discovery Museum and many others.

    Today, Rozene sent in her own commentary to The Desert Sun. Here’s her side of the story:

    (I will print both in their entirety in the comments below, along Michael Green’s statement and Emerson Collins’.)

    You can certainly have your opinion about this situation. And it can oppose mine. But I speak from my heart about friends I know who love me, my work and the LGBT community. We want people to evolve. Even with all of this controversy, you will see that a 90+ year old Republican is still evolving. Rozene stated in her commentary: “I can tell you specifically that I am not a fan of either the tea party or the religious right, and that I have been struggling for quite a while with the fact that my efforts to support fiscal responsibility in government have been clouded by these other issues. As a result of that struggle, and because of these recent attempts to paint me as someone I am not, I have decided that I will no longer contribute to any political entity that does not embrace equal rights for all Americans.”

    If we didn’t allow people to evolve, are we any better than the religious right, the Republicans, the so-called Christians who judge us? Rozene and Ric are now both in their 90s. It seems dreadfully unfair that they are taking this beating this late in life and all the good is being dismissed by some of our community.

    To further quote Rozene, “I realize that some people will find a way to criticize this decision on my part, or spin it in a negative way. That’s their option”.

    Del Shores

  2. oncemorewithfeeling says

    If she supports fiscal responsibility and smaller government, then why would she support the Republican party?

    Apparently, not having to obey any rules as a guardian of the PUBLIC airwaves was more important to her than not stabbing her family, friends, neighbors and customers in the back.

    Glad she was called out, glad she’s changed her ways, and not impressed with the reason for her deathbed conversion, which can be summed up in the only word that’s important to her: money.

  3. Michael says

    I’m very happy about this. Some of the most soulful films I’ve seen have been LGBT focused.

  4. Craig says

    This is a woman who just can’t say “no.” It seems she donates to anybody who asks for money. Luckily most of her conservative donations have been complete failures.

  5. anon says

    Her stated reasons for donating to right-wing republican causes are “fiscal”. So, what sis she donate money to Prop 8 for? Her explanation makes no sense. Sounds to me like she is just trying to save her business.

  6. GregV says

    I became a fan of Sordid Lives at that theater. I later did a serious monolog from that movie as my final project in an acting class (Ty describing his experience with a friend who had AIDS), and my instructor (who said he’d never heard of Del Shores before) said it was brilliant.
    When you went to Palm Springs, you had to see Sordid Lives at the Camelot; it had become a community experience where much of the audience had memorized every hilarious inflection.
    As for the donations, it does seem naive to give to a phone caller saying he’s going to use the money to “protect families” (since those of us who get attacked by such organizations know all too well that such buzzwords are usually code speak for attacking OTHER people’s families.
    But it sound like she’s figuring this out and trying to do the right thing now. And ONLY because of that, I would go back to the Camelot.

  7. Joe in Ct says

    To those of you too young to know this, the Republican party once stood for fiscally conservative principals, smaller government, for getting government out of people’s lives, for fewer regulations and for capitalism. So, it’s not unusual for someone like this lady (who is in her 90s) to think that hasn’t changed. But, of course it has.

    The Republican party, which began to pander to social conservatives and evangelicals in the mid 1980s to win elections, has evolved to become what it is today a dysfunctional, extremist, scary mess. I am not defending her political contributions, but you have to understand the context of her experience to appreciate that what she may have thought she was supporting turned out to be something that you, me and other people of conscience know is intolerant, hateful and indefensible.

    It sounds like this woman is no longer living in a bubble and is aware of her mistakes. I believe what she’s saying and I think it is overly simplistic and a bit crass to say she’s had a change of heart solely because of the money or to save her business. Those who say that are expressing their anger in the most cynical way possible.

  8. Jim says

    So if sometimes you rent your business premises to gay people, you must therefore permanently surrender your right to support political causes that some gay people may dislike and you get hounded in the press until you confess your “offenses” and acquiesce to a public shaming? This is vicious bullying, contemptible and outrageous. We’d be screaming bloody murder if somebody did this to a gay business person. Shame on us.

  9. anon says

    @JIM…. She can do whatever she wants to as a business owner. And, by the same rights, tjhe public can make their own decisions as to whether they want to support her business or not. It goes BOTH WAYS.

  10. Pete N SFO says

    I think part of the reaction comes from the disbelief that someone so supportive of gay people & the community could support people that are so in contrary of our civil rights.

    Most people see this as eye-opening & take Ms. Supple at her word. It’s not so much a ‘difference of opinion’ or simply politics, it’s actively funding our discrimination. It’s the idea that someone so ‘with us’ could also be ‘so against us’. Not vicious, more matter of fact, I could never support my own discrimination.

  11. Paul R says

    It kind of just sounds like she’s a rich old woman who gives money to basically anyone. And the list of liberal donations is a lot longer than the list of conservative ones. Obviously the Koch brothers and Prop 8 are odious, but maybe she’s just a slightly senile woman who attended a party or fundraiser or was prompted by a friend to donate. It doesn’t seem like she has any concerns about money (much less saving her business—she’s rich as hell and in her 90s) and just writes checks to whoever asks for them.

  12. Bill says

    @Paul R.: I’ve gotten phone calls allegedly from the Gallop Poll and refused to answer any questions, telling them that in a country that should be named “Scams R Us”, I wouldn’t trust some unknown person who called me with the time of day, and that I had no way of verifying that it really was a call from the Gallop Poll. I’m fed up with all the telemarketing calls and figure that only lever I can pull to get that to change is to not cooperate with anyone who calls. If enough people do that, large organizations with some clout might start pressuring the government to really do something about the problem.

    She may not be as cynical. Also, given her age, she could have been fooled. My idea of what an organization that was really trying to “protect marriage” would be doing is to provide free services to couples who are having problems staying together, particularly if they have children. That’s not what “Protect Marriage” does, hence my default of not giving a brass farthing to anyone I don’t know who calls and asks for money.

  13. litper says

    She donated to Prop.8 and some of the most anti-gay republicans. That’s not just “fiscal” thing.

  14. Bill says

    @litper: You need to know when she donated to the Prop 8 campaign and whether it was through an intermediary that misled her about where the money was going. You can have quite a number of initiatives on the ballot, and it can take a while to sort them out when people refer to them by number. It’s believable that she was tricked, particularly if the donation was made a couple of months before the campaign started in earnest.

    Also, did she donate directly to these politicians or did she donate to a PAC, which could have a misleading name?

  15. travshad says

    Her donation to support Prop 8 was originally made under the name of her home owner’s association instead of her own name. She corrected after there were complaints to the association.

  16. United Citizen says

    The Prop 8 thing pisses me off but I can kind of sort of buy the argument that it was “confusing”. (Sort of. I also think it’s a convenient excuse for many cads.)

    The thousands of dollars towards Citizens United however is astonishing. This is not the cause of an old school Republican; anyone who supports the Koch Brothers and especially this particular cause is anti-American in my opinion.

    As a person who works in the entertainment industry and lives part-time in Palm Springs, the Camelot will no longer be a place for my spouse and I to go see films. I also will not go to any film festivals held there.

    I won’t demonize Mrs. Supple but I will not frequent anyplace she is associated with whether or not Del loves her.

  17. Eric says

    Damn it. I was supposed to go see I Am Divine there this afternoon. It opens today.

    Can I write a check to The Trevor Fund or something to clear my conscience?

  18. says

    We should be erecting a monument to Mr and Mrs Supple. They’ve donated far more to the LGBT community in Palm Springs than she has to Republican causes. (OK, maybe the statues could have a 1 degree tilt to the right.)
    They are heroes.

  19. jamal49 says

    Fun reading everyone’s contortions to bend over backwards and defend this rather two-faced wealthy but hypocritical woman.

  20. United Citizen says

    Gene: Perhaps we can replace the outgoing Marilyn statue at Tahquitz with one of Mrs. Supple hiking up her dress and taking a piss on America in honor of her Citizens United support.

  21. Bill says

    @jamal49: it is not “contortions”. It’s hard to see why a person would be donating a lot to LGBT groups and also to the “protect marriage” creeps unless it was a case of being confused or misled.

    Plus she’s old enough to be slowing down mentally.