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Families in the Desert – October 26-28

Families in the Desert is a unique experience that brings together families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents from across the West Coast and beyond for a weekend getaway. The event is designed to offer LGBT parents and their children the chance to celebrate their diversity, connect with their community, and join in conversations about our efforts for family equality.

Families in the Desert 2012 will be held Friday October 26 – Sunday, October 28 at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert.

Families in the Desert is three-day weekend full of family-friendly events – Parent & Youth Cafés, musical performances, children’s book reading and more!

The 2012 Families in the Desert is being presented as part of a series of community events that will honor Family Equality Council’s 30th anniversary – a yearlong national celebration during which we will unveil a renewed commitment to create a better world for our community of LGBT families.

During the Families in the Desert weekend, LGBT families and friends will gather for Families in the Desert 2012 in the glorious Palm Springs area – a beautiful and scenic location, rich with a long history of welcoming the LGBT community.

The 2012 Families in the Desert’s unique blend of the vacation experience and family-style programming will include:
•Parent & Youth Cafés
•Family-style meals
•Activity options, like swimming, hiking, tennis, and badminton
•Arts and crafts
•Seasonal events, like a costume contest, face-painting and prize giveaways
•A magical Saturday Night family event
•And fun galore!

This is a getaway for LGBT families like no other – see you in Palm Springs!

Special Guests

A.J. Walkley is the author of Queer Greer and an out and proud bisexual. As an advocate for sexual diversity, LGBT and bisexual rights, Walkley has spoken from East Coast to West Coast about equality for all sexualities and gender identities. She wrote Queer Greer about a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality after realizing the lack of literature available for LGBT teens, specifically bisexual teens, and aimed to publish the book she would have wanted to have read when coming into her own sexuality in high school and college. Walkley also wrote and edited for Rainbow Rumpus for two years from 2007-2009, understanding the needs of LGBT-headed families. Originally from Connecticut, Walkley currently resides in Phoenix, AZ, where she writes for The Huffington Post about LGBT-related issues.

David Ellis is the managing partner of Ellis & Ellis CPAs, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience in the practice of divorce, LGBT, and other family tax matters. His clients include a public company, and he is a tax advisor to the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Guardian. The firm also provides other general tax services and IRS representation. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California in Communications Arts and Sciences. He is a popular writer and speaker on various tax subjects, and has provided continuing education services to other CPAs and tax professionals in the area of divorce taxation.


Elana Pianko joined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney to pioneer the creation of socially responsible financial investment strategies for high net worth clients, corporations and foundations. She believes that corporate responsibility and greater societal concerns should be integral to the investment decision-making process. Elana’s goal is to help preserve and grow her clients’ wealth utilizing socially responsible investment strategies to help ensure a better world for future generations. Elana sits on the Advisory Council for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Investment with Impact and has earned her Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor designation. Her key clients are socially responsible investors, domestic partners, business owners, women, families, foundations and corporations.

Amity P. Buxton, PhD, Founder of the Straight Spouse Network and member of Family Equality’s Emeritus Board, has taught almost every grade from preschool to graduate school and trained teachers K-12. Since 1986, she’s written, researched, given workshops, and presented about effects on families when a husband or wife comes out. This year, two co-authored books were published: Herbert the Hedgehog: A Story about Acceptance and Unseen-Unheard: The Journey of Straight Spouses.