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Pearl's Rainbow, Key West's landmark lesbian guesthouse, goes 'all-welcome' -- allows men

BY CAMMY CLARK, cclark@MiamiHerald.com

KEY WEST -- Guests lounge around the pool at Pearl's Rainbow, soaking up the sunshine and tropical vibes typical of a Southernmost guesthouse. Not a man is in sight -- and that's the way these vacationers like it.

But over this Thanksgiving weekend, Key West's only lesbian-exclusive resort is going ``all welcome.''

The decision was made public about the same time Pearl's Rainbow was honored in October by Curve, the best-selling lesbian magazine, as the guesthouse that had the greatest impact on lesbian culture over the past 20 years.

Pearl's Rainbow's lesbian owner, Heather Carruthers, said it was a business decision based on tough economic realities, the request of some lesbian guests who would like to bring male family members or friends -- and on some good news. Lesbians are being more accepted and feel more comfortable in the mainstream these days.

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

But that does not seem to be the case for gay men, even in super-gay-friendly Key West, a city of about 25,000 with a gay police chief, gay president of the Rotary Club, more than 400 members of its gay chamber of commerce and several elected gay officials -- including Carruthers, a Monroe County commissioner.

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