Top gay-friendly destinations

Published 03/12/2012 by Sensi Boutique

1. San Francisco, USA

Image by tedeytan

Rainbow flags adorn apartment windows and bar entrances in many San Francisco neighbourhoods, with nearly every bar and  business in the Castro catering to gays and lesbians. Pride Week is capped by  the often-outrageous ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Parade’ – where half a million people party in the street on the last Sunday in June. Also  in June is the long-running queer film festival.

2. Sydney, Australia

Image by acon online

Hey, in Sydney  gay is the new straight. Gay and lesbian culture forms a vocal, vital,  well-organised and colourful part of Sydney’s social fabric. Host of the 2002  Gay Games, Sydney also plays host to Australia’s biggest annual tourist event – the Mardi Gras. The joy-filled hedonism-meets-political-protest parade is  attended by more than half a million people. Beach life also reigns here, so  boys should buff up before hitting the sand.

3. Brighton, England


Image by Dominic’s pics

Perhaps it’s Brighton’s long-time association with the theatre, but for  more than 100 years the city has been a gay haven. The vibrant queer community  is made-up of 40,000 residents – almost a quarter of the total population.  Kemptown (aka Camptown) is where it’s all at, with a rank of gay-owned bars,  hotels, cafés, bookshops and saunas. There’s even a ‘Gay’s the Word’ walking  tour.

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Image by cgeorgatou

Touted as the gay and lesbian capital of Europe, partisan estimates put the  proportion of gay and lesbian people in Amsterdam at 20% to 30%. Though the figures are probably  exaggerated, there’s no underestimating the number of venues for gays and  lesbians. There are more than 100 bars and nightclubs, gay hotels, bookshops,  sport clubs, choirs and support services. Amsterdam hosts the only water-borne  gay-pride parade in the world, held on the canals on the first Saturday in  August. Even bigger is Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) on 30 April around  the Homomonument – dedicated to those who were persecuted by the Nazis for their  sexual preferences.

5. Berlin, Germany

Image by jÖrg

Berlin’s legendary liberalism has spawned one of the world’s  biggest gay and lesbian scenes. Openly gay mayor Klaus Wowereit outed himself  with the now-popular words: ‘I’m gay, and that’s a good thing’. As befits  Berlin’s decentralised nature, the city has no dedicated gay ghetto although it  contains a number of established scenes. Huge crowds turn out in early June for Schwul-Lesbisches Strassenfest (Gay-Lesbian Street Fair), which is  basically a warm-up for Christopher Street Day later that month.

6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Do as the Love Boat used to, and dock in the world famous resort town of Puerto  Vallarta. The gay scene here is pumping, with accommodations, tours, cruises  and a variety of venues all catering to the gay market. Meet amigos in town  (with cobblestone streets and red-roofed adobe-style buildings) at one of the  many martini bars, strip clubs or drag shows. And strut or sloth on one of the  glorious white-sand beaches.

7. New York City, USA

New  York’s Chelsea and Greenwich Village are synonymous with gay life,  possessing a thriving out-there scene. A number of quieter clubs and bars  continue to flourish further uptown in Chelsea as well. Every scene, from art to  fashion, is hot in New York – and the gay scene is no exception, with great  galleries, bars and clubs. June sees the obligatory Gay Pride parade attracting  revellers from around the world.

8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

During Carnaval (February or March), thousands of expatriate Brazilian and  gringo gays fly in to take part in the fun, with transvestites stealing the show  at most balls. Outside Carnaval the gay scene is active, though less visible  than in cities such as San Francisco and Sydney. The gay capital of Latin  America is a mostly integrated scene, with the Entertainment sections of local  newspapers and magazines branding establishments ‘GLS’: Gays, Lesbians and  Sympathisers.

9. Prague, Czech Republic

The beguiling bohemian city of Prague inspired Kafka to warn visitors: ‘this little mother  has claws’. Its maze of medieval lanes keeps a bevy of bars catering to all  fancies: from leather through to rent boy. The cradle of Czech culture, Prague  also stages a gay and lesbian film festival annually in November. Despite the  city’s wholesale acceptance of same-sex partnerships, there’s a segregated gay  scene, and public displays of affection are generally ill advised.

10. Bangkok, Thailand

There’s no ‘gay movement’ as such in Bangkok, as there’s no antigay establishment to move  against. Thai culture is generally accepting of male and female homosexuality;  however, public displays of affection per se are mostly frowned upon.  The fairly prominent scene centres on the proliferation of bars, often enlivened  by high camp cabaret.

Lonely Planet guides are also gay-friendly, containing information on the  gay and lesbian establishments you can visit on your trips. Buy our guides here.

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2 comments on “Top gay-friendly destinations

  • Reblogged this on From the mind of Del… and commented:
    Your comments (optional)I’m surprise that they didn’t include the island of Viegues, PR or gay San Juan. But at least now I have more places to put on my must visit list. Thanks for sharing!

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