This guest post was written by Caroline Lloyd.
Let’s face it: vacationing as an LGBT couple presents some unique challenges. Given stark cultural differences, many LGBT travelers tend to avoid destinations such as Russia, ninety percent of Africa, nearly all of the Middle East and parts of Asia. Certainly, many of us manage to visit these places all the same – but the restrictions on actually being comfortably out are a drag at best, and actively dangerous at worst. So we’ve put our heads together to come up with the best, most-LGBT friendly holiday destinations on Earth: the places where you can not only be yourself, you can do so as lavishly or as low-key as you want. Ladies and gents, we give you:
The Netherlands is the cradle of gay rights in Europe, being the first place on Earth to recognize same-sex marriage and legalizing homosexual relationships as far back as 1811. Today, 90% of Dutch people consider homosexuality to be acceptable – with even the most-outrageous queen of high-camp guaranteed to barely raise an eyebrow. Aside from being almost totally gay-friendly, Amsterdam also features more LGBT friendly events and establishments than most continents host. Plus, everyone speaks English. What’s not to like?
Brighton is the epicenter of the LGBT culture in the UK – a stance that has had some excellent knock-on effects. Brightonians are regularly polled as the happiest people in the whole of Britain, and it’s not hard to see why. The clubs are fun, the parties last all night, and some of the most-progressive legislation in the country allows for a more comfortable setting for the LGBT population, thanks primarily to the local Green party. Those less-interested in wild decadence can head to the seafront – a classic slice of British seaside nostalgia and the setting for Graham Greene’s infamous gritty novel Brighton Rock.
The most gay-friendly city in Australia, Sydney is the destination of choice for anyone wishing to experience the ‘scene’ in all its retro pomp and glory. The setting for camp-classic Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sydney is awash with burlesque nights, cabaret, and thumping gay discos – all catering to the LGBT crowd. Oxford Street and nearby Darlinghurst are the epicenters of this garish brilliance with an emphasis on hedonism and parties to match London’s Soho. Others with a slightly-less extravagant outlook may prefer to head elsewhere and there is plenty to see as Sydney is host to some of the most brilliant seaside views and sightseeing you’ll find.
One of the focal-points of LGBT rights movement in South America, Buenos Aires hosts one of the biggest Pride events in the Southern Hemisphere every year. There are a decent number of gay bars, but what’s great about the Argentinian capital (outside of the festival season) is how low-key it is. Gay men and women tend to congregate around outdoor cafes and chic restaurants rather than hosting wild parties like its Carnival year-round. This quiet attitude has nothing to do with discrimination: locals are uniformly friendly, polite and tend to view homosexuality as normal. Buenos Aires has become the LGBT destination for those of us who are past the heavy partying and now just want to relax and be themselves. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Mexico City is a haven of tolerance in a country with a generally negative attitude toward homosexuality. Noisy, chaotic and often quite populous, the Mexican capital is all shades of crazy, and visitors have the choice of either partying amid the Zona Rosa’s patchwork of gay-friendly clubs, cafes and bars or simply sticking to the low-key tourist trail. Those who wish to venture outside the city should head to nearby LGBT party-capital Guadalajara or coastal Veracruz.