Whether or not it’s ok to be gay abroad varies wherever you are in the world. In some countries it’s so acceptable there’s barely a need for a scene, whereas in others you can still be stoned to death for what’s perceived as a heinous crime against God (or whichever version of God is applicable). Even in countries like the USA, it can vary between state, you wouldn’t want to get caught with your pants down in Texas, for instance.
It obviously therefore pays to do a little research before you go, so here is a selection of city guides from across the globe which will help you on your way.
Here are a few destinations to keep in mind and are excellent for the gay traveller.
Berlin is possibly the gayest city in Europe. It has a Gay Museum, Archive and Library, in the Schwules Museum, which has excellent resources relating to gay cultural history, and during the summer a section of Berlin’s huge central park is swathed with nude sunbathers, so many of whom are gay that the park is known in local circles as “Queens’ Meadow”.
In 2001 it voted in a gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, who, when he came out in the run-up to the mayoral elections, delivered the phrase that has now entered common gay parlance in Germany: “Ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so.” – “I’m gay, and it’s ok that way”.
Where it’s at.
Berlin’s gay scene spills out from legions of gay and lesbian bars. Anyone who’s witnessed the full outrageous spectacle of the city’s CSD Pride parade will know it’s a city where pretty much anything goes. But because Berlin is such a tolerant town, the scene is not limited to exclusively gay bars or venues. In reality, gay life is just another feature of the richness, color and vibrancy of this amazing city.
The action extends to a few areas. Nollendorfplatz, to the west of the city, is perhaps the city’s most overtly male ‘gay area’. It has a series of important gay landmarks, including Bruno – perhaps the biggest gay-interest store in Europe.
Schöneberg, in the south-west of the city, is another prominent gay area which contains the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of streets Motzstr., Fuggerstr., and Eisenacherstr., the CSD Pride offices and Mann O Meter, Berlin’s LGBT information centre, whilst the Kreuzberg (to the south-east) scene is perhaps described as more alternative and gay-friendly.
When to go.
If you want to keep abreast of the latest developments, listings and all other information, Berlin has two main magazines, Siegessaule and ‘Sergeij’, which are published monthly and can be found in newsagents across the city.
As a gay and lesbian destination, London needs very little introduction to the discerning visitor. Soho is a name known across the globe and the city’s scene boasts a sheer quantity of exciting bars and clubs that few other cities in Europe can compete with.
Where it’s at.
If Soho, London’s gay village in the West End, is the symbolic heart of the city’s gay community, then its backbone is Old Compton Street. A long strip of gay bars, restaurants, clothing and book shops, it’s a haven of tolerance and laid-back al-fresco drinking and dining.
Whilst much of the action has been traditionally focused on Soho, there are also burgeoning gay scenes in Earl’s Court and in the painfully trendy areas of Shoreditch, Hoxton to the east, and Vauxhall.
If it’s a new frock you need, bargains can be found with many markets across the city, the hotbed of mainstream retail that is Oxford St and more high-class stuff in the flashy boutiques and fashion houses of Bond Street, Chelsea and Knightsbridge.
When to come.
England’s weather doesn’t have the best reputation on earth but it’s hot in the summer so come then if you want to drink, dine and people watch al fresco, otherwise you can re-enact scenes from Bridget Jones’s Diary midwinter with a big coat or some skimpy knickers, whichever you prefer.
Acting as the highlight of London’s gay calendar, the annual London Pride LGBT cultural festival, which traditionally takes place from mid-June to early-July, is among the largest and most exhilarating of its kind.
Outside of London, the United Kingdom has one of the largest gay and lesbian communities anywhere in the world, and there are two other gay scenes of notable size in the seaside town of Brighton and on Manchester’s Canal Street.
SAN FRANCISCO, USA
San Fran is probably the most gayest city in North America! Check out this vine of one of the recent parades the city hosts yearly.
San Francisco is apparently 15% gay according to the Gay Travel website gaytravel.com which is something of a record in the USA. There are many different neighbourhoods that cater to gay solo travellers but ground zero for the gay community in SF is Castro which has all the trappings you’d expect from a liberal area.
However don’t let Castro consume all your time in San Francisco as the city is very liberal, in fact the whole of California is pretty accepting of everyone, whatever their background or sexual orientation!
Beyond the Castro district there are many bars, restaurants and clubs that cater for the gay travellers so like we said, don’t be afraid to explore the city as there are heaps of easy ways to get around such as the tram network.
The San Fran area can be chilly in the winter time with the fog rolling in from the bay but it is a a year round destination.
SOME OTHER PLACES TO CONSIDER
Gay Bangkok, Thailand – Oh Bangkok! What a city to travel too and hang out in! Thai culture is pretty liberal and with a massive trans-gender scene it is a great gay destination. The city is the hottest on the planet according to wikipeadia Bangkok.
Gay Sydney, Australia – Probably the gay capital of the Southern Hemisphere, has a very open and relaxed view to pretty much everything. You might not get the liberal vibe in other parts of Australia though such as Brisbane which suffers from the true blue Aussie masochism.
Gay Auckland, NZ – Just a few hours flight from Sydney, Auckland is like a younger cousin of the big Aussie cities but also hosts a very liberal population. It is the largest Polynesian city in the world.
Of course there are some destinations that gay folk may never consider travelling too but on their own they may have a different perspective.
— Guardian Travel (@GuardianTravel) October 20, 2014