Landmark Lesbian Resort Opens Doors to Men

A cash-strapped lesbian resort in Key West has decided to open its doors to men for the first time.

Pearl's Rainbow has been lesbian-only since 2000, but the new policy at the guesthouse is "all welcome."

The 38-room inn's lesbian owner, Heather Carruthers, tells the Miami Herald the change was based both on business considerations - due to the down economy - and the request of some lesbian guests to bring male family members and friends.

With lesbian couples more welcomed at mainstream resorts, Carruthers says she's also facing more competition.

"They can hold hands whenever they want to," Carruthers says. "It's really the world we want to have. We don't necessarily want to be segregated.''

About 35 percent of the 210,000 annual overnight gay visitors to Key West now choose to stay at mainstream resorts such as Hyatt, Westin and Marriott, the newspaper reports.

Carruthers says she and other owners of gay and lesbian guesthouses have noticed a decline in guests since 2007.

She says even as her property broadens its clientele, guests will be required to sign a commitment at check-in stating they will be respectful to lesbian guests. "We won't tolerate intolerance," she says.

Pearl's was recently honored by Curve magazine as being the guesthouse with the greatest impact on lesbian culture.

For their part, some Pearl's guests aren't sure they like the rules change.

"I like it the way it is," Elizabeth Villanueva of Vancouver, Canada, tells the newspaper. "I have nothing against men, but we feel comfortable here."

The owner of three of the more than nine gay, male-only guesthouses in Key West says it's unlikely they'll similarly change policies to allow women.

Photo, NY Arthur, flickr
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