The intoxicating, sprawling buzz of Mexico City has enthralled hedonists, foodies and culture buffs alike for centuries. Step foot in any of the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods to be met with a torrent of rich, cultural encounters and a complex history spanning Spanish colonial times and dating back to the ancient Aztec empire. Revel in Mexico City’s awe-inspiring contradictions; where high culture meets hazy, horn-honking squalor, and where, beneath the dominating shadow of the Catholic Church, you’ll be greeted with an open-minded Gay mecca of a million colours – showcased annually during Latin America’s largest Pride festival. Though long marred with crime and bad traffic, Mexico is continuously reinventing itself, boasting a fusion of boutique hotels, upscale nightlife offerings and a unique urban landscape that blends colonial heritage with modern innovation. For a look at what to do in Mexico City, read on for Mr Hudson’s ultimate Mexico City gay guide.
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Mexico’s top destinations for gay vacations
Call it an anomaly or call it irony: While debate and legal maneuvers roil around Prop. 8 in California, in Mexico — Catholic, traditional, macho Mexico — gay civil unions have been legalized in Mexico City and the entire northern border state of Coahila. Michoacán and Veracruz states are on the verge of passing similar measures, and gay rights legislation is under consideration in Colima, Jalisco, Guerrero and Puebla states.
To be sure, homosexuality is still fairly closeted — many gay Mexicans staunchly maintain a macho front, and the lesbian scene is still mostly underground — but in general Mexico’s attitude toward homosexuality is surprisingly liberal, especially in larger cities. Mexicans do prefer more discretion in public than we are accustomed to in the United States, but gay travelers will find a warm welcome in much of the country. In fact, PlanetOut, the San Francisco media company serving the gay and lesbian market, named Mexico its 2007 travel destination of the year.
Here’s a look at Mexico’s top gay destinations. (Please leave comments with your recommendations and experiences for a future column about lesser-known gay-friendly Mexican destinations.)
Puerto Vallarta „Vallarta“ is the jewel in Mexico’s coastal crown, drawing young and old, foreign and Mexican visitors alike. In addition to the lingering whiff of legend bestowed by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s steamy „Night of the Iguana“ affair half a lifetime ago, Puerto Vallarta’s beaches, walkable streets, sophisticated restaurants, varied nightlife and shopping add up to an unbeatable combination. As an added bonus the winter high season offers gay cruises, horseback riding, gay bingo, and strip and drag shows every night.
Although it has endured rampaging development in some areas, the cobblestone streets of the southern Zona Romantica district — variously known as Old Town, the South Side, Playa del Sol/Los Meurtos Beach or Olas Altas — still ooze charm. Luckily, this district hosts most of the gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses, including colorful bars like Frida’s Cantina and urbane martini lounges like GarboApaches Martini and Cocktail Bar is a lesbian-owned institution; similarly, woman-oriented Uncommon Grounds Chill Out Lounge is a monument to extravagant design. Blue Chairs and the adjacent Green Chairs are the prime gay spots on Los Muertos Beach. The dozen or more hotels catering to gay and lesbian guests range from the newish (and steepish) Casa Cupula to the budget-priced but still stylish Hotel Mercurio.
Cancún As Cancún’s master-planned glitter siphoned tourists from Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and other traditional beach resorts, those older spots filled the gap partly by appealing to gay visitors. Cancún has been playing catch-up in a big way though and is bidding to become the country’s No. 1 gay destination. For a major resort with no lodging marketed as gay-owned or gay-friendly and no official gay beach, it’s doing pretty well. Though laboring under a persistent, hyper-straight Spring Break image, Cancún has a thriving local gay scene. And though it is undeniably Mexico lite — some would say soulless — it claims some of Mexico’s best hotels and beaches, not to mention the best vacation package and airfare deals. Cancún also hosts the 5-year-old Cancún International Gay Festival in May and the Cancún Riviera Maya Gay Fall Festival in November.
The best gay clubs are in the downtown area, about 15 minutes from the touristy Hotel Zone. Karamba, popular with a young, mixed international crowd, has been going strong for three decades and is known for its nightly stage shows and large dance floor. Smaller, down-and-dirty Picante has a tiny dance floor that is especially popular at the end of the night, when it’s full of a motley crowd of men, women, gays, straights, transvestites and drag queens. The unofficial gay beach, Playa Delfines is the longest and widest in the Hotel Zone, and it also seems to have the bluest skies and deepest-turquoise waters. While same-sex couples will feel comfortable in most Cancún hotels, the lush, hacienda-style Villas Tacul is especially gay-friendly.
Mexico City Yes, smog is a problem, and so is crime in some areas, but Mexico’s capital teems with colonial mansions, excavated pyramids, exceptional museums and galleries, and, well, life. Though it is still seeking a major following as a gay vacation destination, the city has a large gay and lesbian population, and it famously broke new ground by legalizing same-sex civil unions. Gay plays appear on local stages, and gay clubs are listed in newspaper entertainment sections. Trendy restaurants, relatively affordable luxury hotels, gay nightlife, a wealth of direct flights at tolerable prices and a huge annual Gay Pride parade are bringing more travelers into the fold.
About two dozen gay bars, discos and clubs flourish in the city, mostly in the Zona Rosa. Turnover is rapid, but rainbow flags signal the current contenders. The Living Room on Paseo de la Reforma has outlasted most other nightspots. Check the nightlife listings in Homópolis (Web site in Spanish), given out in stores and cafes around the Zona Rosa, for more clues. Specifically gay-oriented lodging is strangely lacking, but quietly gay-friendly hotels abound. The Centro Histórico, Zona Rosa and Polanco neighborhoods are nearest to the LGBT nightlife. Good choices include the ultra-chic Hotel Habita in Polanco, and the budget-priced, colonial-style Hotel Maria ChristinaHotel Catedral in the historic center. Enkidu, a forum for gay and lesbian tourists in the capital, also arranges homestays with gay or gay-friendly hosts.
With its jet-set history and a long-standing gay population, Acapulco jockeys with Puerto Vallarta for position as the crown jewel of the Pacific Coast. After years of losing ground to Vallarta, Cancún and Los Cabos, Acapulco has enjoyed a resurgence, partly because of its burgeoning gay scene. Gay-owned hotels and nightspots are in good supply, and the city’s chic restaurants multiply like bunnies, drawing congenial gay vacationers from Mexico and abroad. While hotels and businesses generally welcome same-sex couples, they do little to announce themselves as gay-friendly, and there’s no central source of information.
Acapulco’s gay beach is the stretch of famous Playa Condesa between Beto’s Restaurant and the Fiesta Americana Condesa. Few of the gay nightclubs have Web sites, but among the newer places are Shurakk, a sleek lounge that opened in 2007 in gay nightlife central, and the Cabaré-Tito Beach lounge (Web site in Spanish), not far from the gay beach, where the ambience is younger, more relaxed and more colorful than in the older places. A couple of long blocks uphill from the gay beach, Casa Condesa, one of the city’s gay guesthouses, has acquired a new owner who is devoted to personal service, plus a renovation that added a happy-hour gathering place. Mainstream hotels closest to the gay beach and nightlife are Fiesta Americana, Fiesta Inn, El Presidente and Calinda Beach.
Mexico’s second-largest city, fondly nicknamed „the San Francisco of Mexico,“ has a large and open gay scene, with a wealth of parties, clubs, saunas and tours appealing to local gays and visitors alike. Gays and lesbians are much in evidence downtown, especially in Plaza Tapatia, and the city has a gay radio show and a gay cultural center. While men dominate the scene in many gay destinations, lesbians play a particularly active role in Guadalajara.
The long list of gay clubs and bars ranges from the electronica-oriented Angel’s Bar and Disco to the huge Monica’s Disco (Web site in Spanish), with its Latin rhythms. Look for „La Guia Rosa“ or „Zona Gay“ for the scoop on bars and events. The robust list of gay-friendly lodging includes the luxurious, movie-themed La Perla Bed & Breakfast and the pleasant, colonial-style Hotel San Francisco, both in Guadalajara’s Centro in the midst of dozens of gay clubs and bars. In Tlaquepaque, an artsy colonial pueblo a couple of miles from the city center, the intimate Villa del Ensueño occupies a restored 19th century hacienda.
Tour operators and packagersMexGay VacationsTurismo Diferente (Grupo Cabaré-Tito’s travel division)
Christine Delsol is a former San Francisco Chronicle Travel editor and is a frequent contributor to Travel and the Mexico Mix column on SFGate. She also co-writes the Central Coasting column on SFGate.
Christine is the author of „Pauline Frommer’s Cancun & the Yucatan“ and co-author of „Frommer’s Mexico“ and „Frommer’s Cancun & the Yucatan.“ Her work also appears in Alaska Airlines Magazine and other publications, as well as on bear-magazine.com, bear-magazine.com and bear-magazine.com
Gay guide mexico
In Mexiko gilt (sowohl f�r Hetero- als auch Homosexuelle) jeglicher sexuelle Kontakt mit einer minderj�hrigen Person als Missbrauch. Das Schutzalter liegt bei Frauen und M�nnern bei 18 Jahren, und die Freiheit, sexuelle Neigungen auszuleben, wird von der Verfassung gesch�tzt. In einem katholischen Land wie Mexiko hat man gegen�ber Homosexualit�t immer noch Vorurteile. Seitdem die konservative Regierung 2001 an die Macht kam, haben reaktion�re katholische Ansichten wieder zugenommen. Trotzdem gibt es wenigstens in den gro�en St�dten eine tolerante Grundstimmung. Im Juni 2003 wurde das Bundesgesetz gegen Diskriminierung angenommen, das sich sexueller Minderheiten annimmt und die Bildung eines Nationalrates vorsieht, der jegliche Ans�tze von Diskriminierung schon im Keim ersticken soll. Im Mai 2009 hob der Stadtrat von Puerto Vallarta den Artikel 40, Paragraf XIV des Strafgesetztes auf, der das �ffentliche Praktizieren von abnormalen sexuellen Handlungen verbot. Dieses Gesetz erm�glichte der Polizei den Missbrauch, einschlie�lich der Verhaftung von Schwulen und Lesben wegen einfacher Zeichen der Zuneigung, wie H�ndchen halten oder einem Kuss in der �ffentlichkeit. 2013 haben mehrere Bundesstaaten die Homoehe eingef�hrt bzw. sind diese vor Gericht erfolgreich durchgesetzt worden. Das Jahr war ebenso bedeutsam in der Hinsicht, dass mit Benjamin Medrano der erste offen schwule B�rgermeister der Stadt Fresnillo gew�hlt worden ist. 2015 erkl�rte Mexikos H�chste Gericht das Eheverbot f�r Schwule und Lesben f�r verfassungswidrig, weil es gegen den Gleichbehandlungsgrundsatz versto�e. Da diese Entscheidung jedoch nicht automatisch die Rechtslage der einzelnen Bundesstaaten aufhebt, muss jeder die Ehe f�r alle separat einf�hren � mittlerweile ist dies in 13 der 31 Staaten geschehen. Darunter auch Chihuahua � hier befindet sich mit der �Zona Rosa� in Namikipa ein schwules Zentrum mit �ber 50 Schwulenbars und -clubs. Als schwulenfreundlichstes Reiseziel gilt jedoch Puerto Vallarta, weshalb es auch das �San Francisco von Mexiko� genannt wird. Der Badeort bietet eine gro�e Schwulenszene, die �Zona Rom�ntica�, mit Hotels, Resorts, Schwulenclubs und einem schwulen Strandabschnitt. Mexiko ist ein echtes Paradies f�r Touristen und hat wundersch�ne Str�nde, eindrucksvolle Berge, weite Landschaften vom s�dlichen Dschungel bis zur W�ste im Norden, eine tausendj�hrige Geschichte und eine lebhafte und bunte Gesellschaft, die aus der Mischung von drei verschiedenen Kulturen entstanden ist. Pulsierende moderne Gro�st�dte, faszinierende kleine Koloniald�rfer und arch�ologische Fundorte machen das Land zu einem kontrastreichen Reiseziel. Schon allein die mexikanische K�che lohnt einen Besuch im Land.
The 10 best gay tourist spots in mexico city
Mexico City is one of Latin America’s 10 most visited cities by the LGBT community, and it’s easy to see why
According to data from the Secretary of Tourism, Mexico receives about 3.5 million visitors per year who are part of the LGBT community, many of whom make a beeline for Mexico City. It’s not difficult to see why.
The city has witnessed the growth of gay nightlife, from legendary bars such as El Nueve in the 70s to places such as La Purísima and the Marra which now rule the parties. The Zona Rosa, which emerged during the 50s, and the República de Cuba road in the centre of town are both landmarks in the city when it comes to going out.
All of this, in addition the 40 years of LGBTTTI Pride March celebration in Mexico City, shows that it’s not a coincidence that this is one of the cities with the biggest cultural and entertainment offering for the LGBT community. We’re listing the 10 best gay tourist spots that will take you by surprise if you’re visiting the city for the first time.
The best hotels in mexico city
Kicking off our Mexico City gay travel guide is a roundup of its top hotels. And, spread across two floors of a 17th century palace in the city’s dynamic Centro Historico, Downtown Mexico is a verified catch. Artfully balancing elegant colonial-era architecture with modern and indigenous design, this hotel will instantly charm guests with its ornate stonework, wrought iron staircase and leafy courtyard garden before treating you to modernist stylings and eye-pleasing geometric patterns within the rooms and the terracotta rooftop terrace complete with sleek concrete pool overlooking the domes and spires of Mexico City’s phenomenal cityscape.
Equally as charming with its rich details and dreamy décor is Casa Decu located in the artsy La Condesa neighbourhood. Enter to the sweet smell of florals and complimentary fruits before climbing the statement spiral staircase up to your room. Ornate tiling runs through the hotel, starting in the cosy courtyard area at ground level, leading all the way up to the expansive rooftop on the fifth floor. Between La Condesa and Doctores neighbourhoods, you’ll find the luxury city hideout of Nima Local House Hotel. Simultaneously stylish yet homely, Nima will charm with its warm, knowledgeable staff and elegant stucco interiors which open out onto wrought iron, leaf-fringed balconies.
Claim a piece of prime real estate in the ritzy Polanco district, by booking with Pug Seal Hospitality Boutique, a heritage bed and breakfast located in a 1940s neo-colonial mansion. Crafted by Mexican design studio ROCOCO, Pug Seal’s rooms aim to emote feelings of nostalgia and serenity. And while all rooms are sublime, ranging from junior to master suites and covering all budgets, the Tennyson and Anatole France collections, in particular, are sumptuous as they come. In the same neighbourhood, surrounded by luxurious shops, galleries and fine restaurants, is another of Mexico City’s top hotels; Las Alcobas DF. Voted as one of the best time and time again, as well as running award-winning restaurant Dulce Patria, Las Alcobas can provide private terraces with stellar views.
Mexico city nightlife
Fast gaining a reputation for one of the best queer travel destinations, there is no shortage of LGBT nightlife in Mexico City, particularly in the charmingly named Zona Rosa (or Pink Zone). Although having faded slightly since its dazzling heyday, the area’s numerous gay bars and clubs still draw a nice crowd of revellers. Close by, the more low-key districts of Roma and La Condesa may be preferred for chic early evening drinks. Both areas are filled with fancy LGBT-friendly bars and lively cafés frequented by gorgeous clientele in lush green surroundings.
For a much-needed hit of mezcal, Mexico City has a plethora of cocktail bars that can arrange a fix. Contemporary speakeasy Jules Basement is a great first choice, where customers holding a reservation can enter through the sliding refrigerator door down into a low-lit basement to enjoy sublime drinks and intimate conversation. For something a little more frisky but just as mysterious, the Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar will not disappoint. Secretively located in Colonia Juarez, this speakeasy cocktail bar is accessible through a cute, boldly painted restaurant where a staff member will then flip open a false wall to let you in. With its luxurious leather chairs pulled up to the marble bar as well as booths and a private room, it’s little wonder that customers are asked to keep schtum about its whereabouts.
Those staying in swanky Polanco until late will want to get acquainted with Guilt, a somewhat posh gay club playing electronic house
Reminiscent of a French New Orleans bordello, the Maison Artemisia is another exceptional cocktail joint, enchanting patrons with plush velvet furnishings and a candle-lit bar that serves up absinthe the traditional way; dripped onto a sugar cube by meticulous bartenders. As well as a fine cocktail list, their in-house vermouth is definitely a talking point. Up on the terrace rooftops of Polanco’s Habita Hotel is a classy little rooftop bar known as Area. Boasting a breath-taking view of the Mexico City skyline and a pool, Area is a great place to come before sundown, coupling sunbathing with cocktails. When darkness falls, you may want to stick around for its transformation into an upscale ‘Electronic Bar’ where the city’s elite congregate to enjoy fine drinks in the flickering light of a 12-foot fireplace.
Those staying in swanky Polanco until late will want to get acquainted with Guilt, a somewhat posh gay club playing electronic house, pop and retro hits to a fun crowd in smoky settings. Only open on Saturdays, the awesome music at Guilt makes up for the pricing and the smoke! Wrapping up our Mexico City gay nightlife guide is pop-up gay night VD+, hosted at various locations around the city and offering sexy go-go dancers, drag performances and motifs to awaken the senses. Check their Facebook page for events you won’t want to miss!
Gay travel index
Amsterdam Bangkok Barcelona Berlin Bremen Brighton Brussels Buenos Aires Chicago Columbus Denver D�sseldorf Frankfurt Freiburg Hannover Hamburg K�ln Las Vegas Lisbon London Los Angeles Manchester Mannheim Melbourne Miami Beach Minneapolis Montr�al M�nchen New Orleans New York Orlando Palm Springs Paris Perth Philadelphia Phuket Praha Rome San Diego San Francisco Stuttgart Toronto Vancouver Wien Z�rich
3. baños finisterre
It’s a classic in the Mexico City gay community. Practically any day of the week there’s something going on, although the days of most affluence and movement (literally) are Saturdays and Sundays at 8 in the morning. Yes, 8 a.m. Finisterre functions as an afterhours bar after the gay clubs close their doors. At Finisterre, you’ll see men of all ages, sizes, complexions and professions. A good portion of them walk around in the buff.
5. el baile de los 41
Here is where it all began. At one side of the Centro Cultural José Martí, you’ll find a plaque that features a relief of Reynaldo Velázquez, which commemorates the most famous story in Mexico’s history of homosexual discrimination. What we are certain of is that on Sunday morning, on the November 18, 1901, there was a political raid in La Paz street (currently known as Ezequiel Montes), in the Tabacalera neighborhood, when a woman complained about the noise that her neighbors were making. It turned out to be a gay party, which was scandalized in the press.
8. la purísima
Before entering, a spectacular phrase framed in lights welcomes you with the only entry requirement: „Pare de Sufrir!!“ (Stop suffering). There is one tiny gripe: even this spot couldn’t make the miracle of gays listening to actually good music happen. There comes a time every night where the most stereotypical pop in all of Mexican LGBT, Gloria Trevi, starts blaring. It’s a bummer because most of the night there is good house and pop music playing. Either way, we’ll put up with the occasional Gloria Trevi for the size of this dance floor alone.
10. museo de la mujer
It’s the headquarters of the Mexican Seminario Histórico LGBTTTI and involves the diversity applauded by the gay community, as well as workshops, conferences and film showings directed at the LGBT public as their daily bread. There’s a permanent exhibition with themes on equality, universal harmony, the dual cosmovision of ancient Mexico, as well as liberty and education.