When we think of gay-friendly cities, the usual suspects cited – the capitals, if you may — are usually San Francisco, Berlin, Los Angeles, Paris, New York, London, Amsterdam, right? I wanted to get away from the obvious choices, and… get away to destinations that are getting more and more attention… and deserve it! I also wanted to span the globe so here goes!
Buenos Aires, Argentina
We start our trip around the world in South America. Beautiful, vibrant, and progressive, Buenos Aires is not only the capital of Argentina, but also one of Latin America’s gay capitals. This title was confirmed when Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, but Buenos Aires’ gay-friendly restaurants and bars – not all concentrated in one gay ghetto – didn’t just pop up five years ago. Buenos Aires has long been a hot place to visit, not only during November’s Marcha del Orgullo Gay or its Queer Tango Festival.
From South America, we fly over to Oceania. The capital of the state of Victoria, on the Southeast coast of Australia, Melbourne offers a diverse cultural experience, including fascinating architecture that blends state-of-the-art modernism and classic masterpieces. Melbourne is not flamboyant like some of our gay capitals, but its gay scene is hopping, and locals are both gay-tolerant and gay-friendly. Many consider it Australia’s best-kept secret.
From Australia, we visit another country in the British Commonwealth, but a bilingual city that prides itself (no pun intended) on being the capital of diversity. In Montreal, Québec, Canada, you will find the best of France with beautiful European inspired architecture, and the best of English and North American culture. Not to mention the best bars, saunas, clubs, and gay Village with great, affordable hotels, food and… a hot assortment of men!
Hong Kong, China
From North American’s French capital, we hop over to Hong Kong, a bustling Asian island that encompasses the best of the Orient and the best of western culture. Hong Kong can seem like a fish out of water in this list, but it is becoming a great tourist attraction for gays throughout the world. Hong Kong’s citizens are sweet, friendly (not just gay-friendly) and more and more open to the world. A great place to really lose yourself in a different universe.
From Hong Kong, we return to Europe for a tryst in Copenhagen, Denmark, which hosted the World Outgames in 2009. Its catchphrase for this huge event was “Love of Freedom. Freedom to Love”, and Copenhagen lives up to it more than ever. Its citizens are open-minded, relaxed and tolerant, which makes it a great place to be for tourists as well as locals.
A small hop and a skip away from Denmark is Iceland and its amazing capital, Reyjavik, that has everybody talking these days… gays and straights alike! The Eyjafjallajokull volcano attracted attention to the country when it paralyzed the airline industry in Europe for weeks a few years back, but that freak incident also allowed us to be intrigued by this paradise-like place. Not to mention that its great landscapes have been the natural sets of many movies, including Star Wars and Interstellar. Iceland is the best “Moon décor” you will ever see!
Tel Aviv, Israel
After visiting the highest European capital to the North, let’s head to Israel and the city of Tel Aviv where the gay scene is vibrant year long, the nightlife is joyful, the restaurants and boutiques are chic and wonderful. Tel Aviv’s streets offer great clubs and sweet cafés. You can also partake in great gay and lesbian festivals, LGBT pride, as well as arts and culture manifestations. A great place to discover.
Cape Town, South Africa
From Israel, let’s go to South Africa. Although it has been sadly known for its oppressive regimes and violence, South Africa and its fascinating capital, Cape Town, have become surprisingly open and progressive very quickly. You can now marry your same-sex partner there — or visit one of the clubs in the Sea Point or Waterkant “gayborhoods” if you are mostly looking to hook up. There are also amazing wineries to visit and beautiful people to discover.
From Africa, we return to Europe and the beautiful Barcelona, host of the 1992 Olympic Games. Barcelona has long had the reputation of having a fully integrated and vibrant yet relaxed gay scene. Although some parts of the city seem to be more frequented by the gay community than others, the whole city is a popular destination because of the locals’ openness, hospitality and warmth. A delightful place to be… and to live.
As long as we are surrounded by Spanish, why not finish our trip by flying back to South America? This time, let’s hit Montevideo, in the smallest Latin country on the continent, Uruguay. Although the Catholic Church is omnipresent, Uruguay is considered the most progressive country in South America. It is a great place to visit, even though some say it is easier to find sex there than to find love. Hum…