Our top 25 most gay friendly countries in the world 🏳️‍🌈

“Which is the most gay friendly country in the world Nomadic Boys?”

It’s a question we get asked a lot, which is why we initially published this article and have continued to update it every year. We can either look at it from our own personal perspective travelling as a gay couple, or from the point of view of LGBTQ locals by analysing a countries rights and laws.

Drawing from our wealth of experience from traveling to over 100 countries (including the ones in this list), along with our interviews with gay locals from each place we’ve visited, we have sat down to discuss, assess, review and discuss again what we think are the most gay-friendly countries in the world!

Pressure to keep up: status imbalance a major factor in stress in gay men

Striking findings contained in new study may broaden appreciation of unique stressors faced by gay and bisexual men

Those are the striking and potentially controversial findings of a study published in January in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that may broaden appreciation of the unique stressors faced by gay and bisexual men.

Gay and lesbian people have a more than fourfold higher rate of suicide than the general population. Among transgender people, the gulf is even wider. LGBTQ people are more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to experience depression and anxiety and to misuse substances, which can all fuel HIV risk.

Over the last two decades, an expanding body of scholarship has attributed these disparities to anti-LGBTQ stigma.

“But that argument feels not totally complete for many LGBTQ people,” says John Pachankis, an associate professor of public health and psychiatry at Yale and the lead author of the new study.

Travis Salway, an assistant professor of social epidemiology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, says the excessive suicide rate among sexual and gender minorities is “too large of a disparity for it to be explained, certainly by chance and probably by even one factor”.

Past research into such mental health disparities, both academics said, has typically overlooked drags on mental health that may come from within sexual and gender minority subcultures.

In 2017, the journalist Michael Hobbes bucked this trend in a deep dive for HuffPost into what he called an epidemic of gay loneliness. The article’s popularity among gay and bisexual men was a testament to a hunger for narratives that validate persistent feelings of unease about gay culture.

Pachankis’s paper represents the field of psychology catching up with something that to many has long been painfully self-evident: gay men can be awfully hard on each other. Moreover, as the paper suggests, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses can be profoundly taxing in ways unique to this segment of the population.

global divas: filipino gay men in the diaspora (john hope franklin center book) taschenbuch – 10. dezember 2003

challenges beliefs about the progressive development of a gay world and the eventual assimilation of all queer folks into gay modernity. Insisting that gay identity is not teleological but fraught with fissures, Martin Manalansan IV describes how Filipino gay immigrants, like many queers of color, are creating alternative paths to queer modernity and citizenship. He makes a compelling argument for the significance of diaspora and immigration as sites for investigating the complexities of gender, race, and sexuality.

Manalansan locates diasporic, transnational, and global dimensions of gay and other queer identities within a framework of quotidian struggles ranging from everyday domesticity to public engagements with racialized and gendered images to life-threatening situations involving AIDS. He reveals the gritty, mundane, and often contradictory deeds and utterances of Filipino gay men as key elements of queer globalization and transnationalism. Through careful and sensitive analysis of these men&;s lives and rituals, he demonstrates that transnational gay identity is not merely a consumable product or lifestyle, but rather a pivotal element in the multiple, shifting relationships that queer immigrants of color mobilize as they confront the tribulations of a changing world.

Germany quashes gay men’s convictions and offers compensation

The law, only fully repealed in West Germany in 1994, dates to 1871 but was rarely enforced until the Nazi era.

An estimated 5,000 surviving victims will receive €3,000 (£2,630; $3,350) in compensation along with €1,500 per year spent in jail.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas called the new law a „belated act of justice“.

It „created unimaginable suffering, which led to self-denial, sham marriages, harassment and blackmail“, he said.

The law, known as Paragraph 175, outlawed „sexual acts contrary to nature… be it between people of the male gender or between people and animals“.

Under the Nazis, the offence was punishable with 10 years of forced labour, with tens of thousands of men sent to prison or concentration camps, where many perished.

Between 1949 and 1969, when the law was relaxed, 50,000 men were prosecuted and there were a further 14,000 cases until 1994.

Forbidden love: the ww2 letters between two men

At the time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but those in the armed forces could be shot for having gay sex.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley’s death in 2008, are therefore unusual and shed an important light on homosexual relationships during the war.

Information gleaned from the letters indicate Mr Bradley was a reluctant soldier. He did not want to be in the Army, and even pretended to have epilepsy to avoid it.

His ruse did not work, though, and in 1939 he was stationed at Park Hall Camp in Oswestry, Shropshire, to train as an anti-aircraft gunner.

He was already in love with Gordon Bowsher. The pair had met on a houseboat holiday in Devon in 1938 when Mr Bowsher was in a relationship with Mr Bradley’s nephew.

Mr Bowsher was from a well-to-do family. His father ran a shipping company, and the Bowshers also owned tea plantations.

When war broke out a year later he trained as an infantryman and was stationed at locations across the country.

But life as a homosexual in the 1940s was incredibly difficult. Gay activity was a court-martial offence, jail sentences for so-called „gross indecency“ were common, and much of society strongly disapproved of same-sex relationships.

It was not until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that consenting men aged 21 and over were legally allowed to have gay relationships – and being openly gay in the armed services was not allowed until 2000.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley’s death in 2008, are rare because most homosexual couples would get rid of anything so incriminating, says gay rights activist Peter Roscoe.

In one letter Mr Bowsher urges his lover to „do one thing for me in deadly seriousness. I want all my letters destroyed. Please darling do this for me. Til then and forever I worship you.“

Mr Roscoe says the letters are inspiring in their positivity.

„There is a gay history and it isn’t always negative and tearful,“ he says. „So many stories are about arrests – Oscar Wilde, Reading Gaol and all those awful, awful stories.

„But despite all the awful circumstances, gay men and lesbians managed to rise above it all and have fascinating and good lives despite everything.“

Probably not. At one point, Mr Bradley was sent to Scotland on a mission to defend the Forth Bridge. He met and fell in love with two other men. Rather surprisingly, he wrote and told Mr Bowsher all about his romances north of the border. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Mr Bowsher took it all in his stride, writing that he „understood why they fell in love with you. After all, so did I“.

Although the couple wrote throughout the war, the letters stopped in 1945.

Mr Bowsher moved to California and became a well-known horse trainer. In a strange twist, he employed Sirhan Sirhan, who would go on to be convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy.

Mr Bradley was briefly entangled with the MP Sir Paul Latham, who was imprisoned in 1941 following a court martial for „improper conduct“ with three gunners and a civilian. Sir Paul was exposed after some „indiscreet letters“ were discovered.

Mr Bradley moved to Brighton and died in 2008. A house clearance company found the letters and sold them to a dealer specialising in military mail.

The letters were finally bought by Oswestry Town Museum, when curator Mark Hignett was searching on eBay for items connected with the town.

He bought just three at first, and says the content led him to believe a fond girlfriend or fiancé was the sender. There were queries about bed sheets, living conditions – and their dreams for their future life together.

When he spotted there were more for sale, he snapped them up too – and on transcribing the letters for a display in the museum, Mr Hignett and his colleagues discovered the truth. The „girlfriend“ was a boyfriend.

The revelation piqued Mr Hignett’s interest – he describes his experience as being similar to reading a book and finding the last page ripped out: „I just had to keep buying the letters to find out what happened next.“

Although he’s spent „thousands of pounds“ on the collection of more than 600 letters, he believes in terms of historical worth the correspondence is „invaluable“.

„Such letters are extremely rare because they were incriminating – gay men faced years in prison with or without hard labour,“ he says. „There was even the possibility that gay soldiers could have been shot.“

Work on a book is already under way at the museum, where the letters will also go on display.

Perhaps most poignantly, one of the letters contains the lines:

„Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.“

Where in the world are the happiest gay men?

Go north, boys! A global survey of gay men suggests you’ll find the happiest gay men on earth… in Iceland.

The world can be a dangerous place to be LGBT — some places more than others. In roughly one-third of all countries worldwide, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are considered criminals; homosexuality is punishable by death in seven countries. By contrast, many northern European countries are very accepting of homosexuality.

And so, as reports, it comes as no surprise that gay men are happiest in those welcoming locations, according to a new survey of 115,000 gay men around the world.

The Post reports Planet Romeo, an Amsterdam-based dating and community site and app, collaborated with Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany to carry out the online poll. Researchers combined rankings on public opinion, public behavior and life satisfaction — specifically, how gay men feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how gay men feel they are treated by other people, and how satisfied gay men are with their own lives, respectively — into one worldwide ranking, which they call The Gay Happiness Index. 

Coming in at number one in all the world as the country where gay men are the happiest is Iceland, followed by Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Uruguay, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Luxembourg (where the country’s out prime minister earlier this month became the first national leader in a legal same-sex marriage).

The United States ranks 26th on the list. The map below shows the highest-ranked countries appearing in green, with the lowest-ranked countries in red.

The 10 countries where gay men are the least happy, according to this ranking, are Kazakhstan, Ghana, Cameroon, Iran, Nigeria, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda.

In the top 20 happiest countries, 37 percent of respondents were currently in a committed relationship with another man, while 3 percent were in a relationship with a woman. In the 20 least happy countries, only 22 percent were in a committed relationship with a man, and 5 percent were in a relationship with a woman.

Researchers say 56 percent of respondents in the 20 „worst“ countries were also a lot more likely to say their parents were not accepting of their sexual orientation, compared with 20 percent who said the same of their parents in the 20 “best” countries.

While many societies are growing more accepting of homosexuality, gay men in some countries report that things actually have grown worse in the past few years. Uganda, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Nigeria and Ethiopia top this list, although the Post reports Russia, Turkey, and Hungary have also seen a negative trend in the index.

Why would people ‚choose‘ to be gay?

Those opposed to homosexuality regularly describe being gay as a choice, despite all evidence to the contrary. But what is never explained is why people would make this choice in the first place

I work in the field of psychiatry. I don’t bring this up when meeting people unless specifically asked, because very often people get a bit nervous if I do. There are doubtless many reasons for this, but one recurring paranoia among many I’ve met (all of whom were men, out of interest) is that I’m going to tell them that they’re gay. Because being gay is bad, apparently.

I’m not sure how these guys think homosexuality works or how you end up being gay, but one thing I can confirm is that it’s not my decision. I can’t go around dictating people’s sexual orientations because I’ve got some knowledge of mental and neurological processes. That would be classed as a very sinister superpower.

Besides, even if I did think they were gay, it’s certainly not something I’m going to bring up when first meeting someone, given how it’s a) irrelevant, and b) none of my damn business.

Others don’t feel the same though. Homosexual members of society can unfortunately expect to regularly be challenged, scrutinised and condemned by belligerent type who are seemingly convinced that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”.

This issue has come up again (for what is possibly the 12,456,987,332nd time) for several reasons. There was a recent study that suggests homosexuality is linked to the X chromosome, so is therefore genetic, ie inherent, not a choice. Also, UK prime minister David Cameron recently made comments that suggest he considers homosexuality the aforementioned “lifestyle choice” (although this could easily have been poorly chosen wording). On top of this, Stephen Fry has recently revealed his engagement to partner Elliot Spencer. A high-profile homosexual person doing this (or pretty much anything) is certain to get objections from those who “don’t approve”.

Debate around these things is inevitable, and so is the whole “being gay is a choice” accusation. But why is this so persistent? Those saying it seemingly believe it with all sincerity, but what’s the rationale? Basically, why would someone “choose” homosexuality, like you’d choose a new car or tattoo? As an aside, many point out that sexuality is actually a spectrum with many possible manifestations (eg bisexuality), but that doesn’t seem to be something considered in the “choice” argument.

Firstly, what makes people think homosexuality is a choice in the first place? Most cite religious beliefs, although the notion that religion is flat-out opposed to homosexuality is far from accuratemore uncertain as time progresses. Old style prejudice and paranoia seem to be more involved here.

You could also blame the media, and there may be some validity in this. The mainstream media has always been somewhat blunt or ham-fisted in its portrayal of even heterosexual relationships (for evidence of this, see pretty much any married couple in an advert), so it was a long shot that they’d show homosexuals accurately. There’s far too much of this to go into here, but one blatant example is the media’s use of lesbianism (which straight men find arousing) to drum up attention. Normally heterosexual characters suddenly displaying homosexual leanings when a boost in viewing figures are needed is a common trope these days, so you can sort of see how this might make some people think it’s a “choice”, if they lack more realistic examples.

While saying that sexuality is set in stone from birth is also not quite right, the main emphasis of those using the choice argument is that homosexuals have weighed up their options and consciously decided “I am going to be gay from now on”. Assuming this is true (which it clearly isn’t), WHY would they do this?

If we’re being generous, we could say the choice claim assumes that people have no sexual orientation up to the point where they choose one. And some people choose homosexuality. Presumably this is some time during adolescence when sexual maturity really kicks in, and you know what teenagers are like. Is choosing homosexuality just another example of a desire to not conform, like shaving your head or wearing outlandish clothes?

The trouble with this claim is that teenage rebellion is largely temporary; hair grows back, outfits can be changed. But those who “choose” homosexuality really seem to stick with it. So maybe it’s a “lifestyle” thing, as many claim? This suggests that those who are about to choose their sexual orientation look at the consequences of homosexuality and think it’s a better option. They see the oppressionsuicide ratesdiscrimination and harassmentinequalityincreased risk of mental health issues, or abandonment from your family; they see all this and think “I gotta get me some of that”? This seems, to put it mildly, unlikely.

Also, as many have pointed out, if sexual orientation is a choice, then you should feasibly be able to choose to be straight again if being gay isn’t “working out”. And logically, a straight person could become gay too. Yet this doesn’t seem to happen nearly as often as you’d expect. Comedian his book (which is great, I got it for Christmas), which is that if you genuinely believe sexuality is a choice, then you’re not actually straight, you just haven’t met anyone persuasive enough yet.

But those who argue that homosexuality is a choice invariably assert that it is a wrong choice. This suggests they believe that everyone is actually, at a fundamental level, heterosexual. So people who opt for homosexuality are consciously pursuing anything from intimate relationships to random sexual encounters with people they are not physically attracted to. Sex is a very powerful motivator, and it’s no doubt possible to have a sexual encounter with someone you’re not necessarily attracted to, but to such an extent as this? Constantly going against your most basic urges to stick to a choice you made at an unspecified point? The lifestyle would have to be very appealing to warrant this, and, as previously discussed, it doesn’t seem to be.

There’s undoubtedly a lot more to be considered that could be covered in a single post, so you could argue that this piece is a massive oversimplification of a very complex issue. And you’d be right, it is. But that’s true for the whole “choice” argument, so it’s oddly appropriate.

Overall, if homosexuality is chosen, the most logical reason people would make such a choice is that they’re attracted to people of the same gender. Hopefully you can see how this undermines the argument somewhat.

15 gay-friendly cities that lgbt travellers love

Looking for the most gay-friendly cities to visit on your next trip? We asked the top LGBT travel bloggers from around to world to recommend the cities and destinations they really love. From Pride festivals in Auckland to the clubs of Berlin, there’s a rainbow-coloured spectrum of inclusive destinations waiting to be discovered.

And with so many amazing Pride festivals taking place this summer, now is the perfect time to travel and connect with like-minded adventurers. So get ready to pack your bags as our blogger friends handpick the most LGBT friendly cities and destinations in the world.

Gay americans: government begins lgbt population count

It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people were arrested for crossing such lines before the turn of the 20th century, during which time some states allowed the sterilization of so-called perverts. It wasn’t until 1998, the year Google was invented, that the Supreme Court struck down any remaining bans on sex between men. The years since have brought a rapid social transformation, with LGBT Americans increasingly accepted throughout society and accorded many–though far from all–of its legal protections.

As the LGBT population moves into its full and equal place in public life, many people are asking an old question with new urgency: just how many LGBT Americans are there? After centuries in the shadows, many experts believe that we need a full accounting of the nation’s LGBT population and how they live for legal, economic and health reasons. Now, for the first time, a group of experts from 21 federal agencies are working on a project to figure out how to do just that. The results could pave the way for first-ever surveys of America’s sexual orientations and gender identities and influence everything from local laws to military policy to health care.

For many LGBT people, there is also a keen sense of dignity and power at stake in such research. “For decades our struggle has been to stop being invisible,” says San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, an openly gay lawmaker who is proposing this data be collected in the City by the Bay. “When you don’t have data about a community, at times it can seem like the community doesn’t exist.” The rub is that there’s less consensus about how to take a fuzzy rainbow and split it up into neat and tidy boxes, especially as the ways people identify continue to shift.

When pollsters asked Americans last year how they would identify on the Kinsey Scale—a six point rating spanning from “exclusively homosexual” to “exclusively heterosexual”—about a third of millennials pointed somewhere in the “non-binary” middle, compared to about 8% of people over the age of 45.

Many people aren’t even aware that they have a gender identity. Others are but don’t happen to identify as male or female. And though the answers to these questions have public policy implications, many feel they are private matters—perhaps ones they’ve had a hard time admitting to themselves or their families and have no intention of telling the government. Privacy concerns and terminology quandaries are among the issues that the federal working group, led out of the Office of Management and Budget, are working hard to figure out, as politicians across the nation argue that these demographics, and their struggles, must be recognized and researched.

“It’s high time for the LGBT community to count and be counted,” says California state assemblyman David Chiu, who proposed a law that will require state health agencies to start asking these questions. “Data saves lives,” he says. That is, if you can figure out how to get it.

It’s likely that you have never heard of Gary Gates, but the odds are good that you have come across one of his statistics. The former research director at UCLA’s Williams Institute, Gates is responsible for many of the best estimates we have about the size and scope of America’s LGBT population. When you ask Siri what percentage of the population is gay, she refers iPhone users to one of Gates’ papers. When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the 2015 opinion that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country, he quoted Gates’ research.

Any time you’ve read that there are an estimated 65,000 lesbian, gay or bisexual people in the military on active duty––a figure cited by countless media outlets in the run up to the 2010 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”––that’s his work. But even though LGBT people can participate more fully in public life, bans remain, like one on the open military service of transgender troops—part of the reason that estimates of how many of them there are range from 1,320 (according to a new RAND study) to 15,500 (according to a paper Gates wrote in 2014).

Gates first made a mark with his research a little over a decade ago. At the time, he says, “You had plenty of politicians who said, ‘I don’t have gay people in my district’ or ‘Gay people don’t live here’.” He proved those assertions wrong by publishing The Gay and Lesbian Atlas, which used data from a new U.S. Census question to show there were same-sex couples in 99.3% of the country’s counties. The Census did not outright ask about sexual orientation–a stance that hasn’t changed.

A spokesperson for the census says that at this time they have no plans to add questions about that or gender identity to their surveys, though they are participating in the federal working group. But in 1990 the census did add an “unmarried partner” category for the first time. The stated aim was to collect information on cohabiting heterosexual couples, but the question also revealed how many same-sex people who identified as partners were living together and where.

Gates mined this data from the 2000 Census to produce his geographical analysis, which was celebrated by LGBT people as confirmation that they were a legitimate voting bloc and politicians needed to take their concerns seriously. Today, many transgender people feel they need a similar affirmation. In heated political battles all over the country—largely over the use of public bathrooms—transgender advocates can be heard making arguments about their very existence that echo ones made by gay and lesbian Americans decades ago.

“We’re parts of cities. We have family members, co-workers and neighbors,” says Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center and a transgender man. “We know that we’re in every community and if we had data to actually back that up, it’d make us that much stronger.”

The number that gets quoted most often about the size of America’s transgender population—0.3%—also comes from Gates, but he’ll tell you it’s an educated guess largely based on two state-level surveys. Studies have estimated that anywhere from 0.1% to 2% of people are transgender, which is the difference between a political constituency of thousands and several million. And having a bigger number matters.

In the 1970s, the gay liberation movement was propelled by the still-popular–if not exactly rock solid–statistic that 1 in every 10 people is gay. “This is a period when gay people are really trying to claim their status just like any other minority, racial or religious,” says Yale historian George Chauncey. At a time when many people believed they didn’t know anyone who was homosexual, that figure portrayed them as the country’s second-largest minority and gave them political and economic clout.

The 1 in 10 figure was taken from a study done by pioneering sex research Alfred Kinsey, who found that 10% of males were “more or less exclusively homosexual” for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. More recent research by Gates and organizations such as Gallup suggest that about 5% of the population identifies as LGBT. But whether the “true” size of the LGBT population is 5% or 10% or 25%–as Americans estimated when Gallup asked them to guess its size–depends on what exactly you’re trying to measure.

The 5% figure is a pretty reliable estimate of how many people actively embrace one of those labels today, because Gallup has been including this question in their daily survey of 1,000 Americans for about four years. But if one is counting people who say they experience same-sex attraction, that figure can quickly double. “There are many populations that maybe would fit under that umbrella because of behavior but not any way they would personally self-identify,” says Dr. Karen Parker, who runs a newly created office at the National Institute of Health that is exclusively dedicated to research on sexual and gender minorities, known as SGM. For instance, her office–which was created because officials noticed health disparities affecting SGM and determined that the area was understudied–cares a lot more about actions associated with health risks than political identities. Advocacy groups, meanwhile, might like to claim that every last one of those “non-binary” millennials belongs in their tent.

There is no shortage of research to bolster the anecdotal stories of discrimination and outsized hardships LGBT people still experience. Studies of sample groups have found, for instance, that LGBT people face more barriers to getting healthcare than the general public and that transgender women of color are at greatly increased risk for physical assault. But experts say the true scope of those problems can only be fleshed out by large-scale data collection—and that such information will make it a lot easier to get the resources needed to fix problems like the extremely high rates of poverty experienced by transgender people and gaps in parental rights affecting gay couples with children, particularly if the numbers have the authority of being produced by the government itself.

“It’s important to know how many transgender veterans we’re serving, what kinds of care they’re accessing,” says Jillian Shipherd, who helps oversee LGBT patient care at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “And we just don’t know what that looks like in the V.A. right now because we don’t have the data.” Soon, Shipherd says the V.A. will add a gender identity demographic field to healthcare forms for the first time. And the data they gather could pay direct benefits.

Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in L.A. County, says that when a hospital like his can provide data showing that they serve thousands of transgender people in an area, that can help them win millions in federal grant money to provide services transgender people often need, like hormone replacement therapy or mental health services, or to train the hospital staff on competent LGBT care. As it stands, one can count the country’s community health centers that provide comprehensive transgender care on one hand, he says. And failure to get care is one reason the community’s attempted suicide rate is, according to one survey, a staggering 41%.

In speaking to some officials about quantifying the LGBT population, the whole thing can seem as simple as overcoming the sense that these are taboo subjects and adding a box to existing forms that already ask about things like race, gender and disability. Yet logistical details can be hard to crack, as the United States Chief Statistician Katherine Wallman knows from decades in the field.

Her team at the Office of Management and Budget is leading the federal government’s working group on how to best gather data about sexual orientation and gender identity. The OMB does not tell any government agencies that they need to collect certain types of data, but their experts do outline practices that ensure that, as Wallman puts it, “the numerators and denominators match” across government agencies. (Her office also approves questionnaires before they go out into the field.)

The technical experts representing the 21 agencies cover topics like health, labor and criminal justice, and they plan to produce guidance on data collection practices before the end of the year. In doing so, their work takes three main forms. One is getting smart people in a room and thinking about any issues that may need to be investigated. The second is doing those investigations, which might involve focus groups or other research with “real respondents.” Take the language preferences of different age groups.

Queer, for example, is more popular among millennials than Boomers, who might prefer the term transgendered, which often causes offense among the young. They also have to consider translations into several languages. Lately Wallman’s team has been working on the issue of how to deal with proxy reporting, the practice of calling up one person and asking them to relay the demographics of everyone in the household. “The one respondent in the household,” Wallman says, “may or may not have at their command information about the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone else in their household.” And along the way they reach out to the public for ideas and reactions.

Wallman says that though there has been a “simmer” of interest in this area for the past couple decades, it has erupted in the recent years, particularly after the 2010 census plans did not contain a way to account for same-sex couples who were not only living together but were also married, which was by then legal in a number of states. The Census Bureau is currently working on revising questions to “better distinguish opposite-sex and same-sex couples in both the married and unmarried categories,” says Jennifer Ortman, who oversees the bureau’s work on social characteristics.

While the census is not venturing into asking about sexual orientation or gender identity for now—a disappointment to many advocates—there will be plenty of precedents when and if they do get there. The Bureau of Justice Statistics plans to start asking these questions on their national victimization survey this summer. The NIH is already steaming ahead. Both California and New York are working to update their own forms for state-based surveys. And there’s reason to believe the census may come around. After all, Ortman says the Bureau’s mission is “to reflect the changes in household composition and family structure that we’re seeing” in the U.S. population. And LGBT Americans are becoming less invisible all the time.

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Americans are still divided on why people are gay

Potential Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson made news earlier this week when he said that being gay is a “choice,” but when it comes to public opinion, polls show that Americans remain divided over whether “nature” or “nurture” is ultimately responsible for sexual orientation.

Four-in-ten Americans (42%) said that being gay or lesbian is “just the way some choose to live,” while a similar share (41%) said that “people are born gay or lesbian,” according to the most recent Pew Research Center poll on the issue, conducted in 2013.

Fewer U.S. adults (8%) said that people are gay or lesbian due to their upbringing, while another one-in-ten (9%) said they didn’t know or declined to give a response.

People with the most education are the most likely to say that gays and lesbians were born that way. Indeed, 58% of Americans with a postgraduate degree say that people are born gay or lesbian, compared with just 35% of those with a high school diploma or less.

The percentage of all Americans who believe that people are born gay or lesbian has roughly doubled (from 20% to 41%) since 1985, when the question was asked in a Los Angeles Times survey.

More than three decades of Gallup polls also show a considerable rise in the view that being gay or lesbian is a product of “nature” rather than “nurture.” But the most recent survey, in 2014, still finds that the nation remains split in its feelings on the origins of sexual orientation.

The 2014 Gallup poll found that 42% of respondents said gay people are born that way, while 37% said people are gay due to “factors such as their upbringing and environment.” Gallup’s surveys ask the question somewhat differently than do Pew Research surveys; Gallup does not offer respondents the option to say that homosexuality is a choice.

In any case, the question is not settled for Americans or in the scientific community, where the ongoing search for a “gay gene” has yielded intriguing results that continue to be debated. Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association says that while there is no scientific consensus on the origins of sexual orientation, “most people experience little or no sense of choice” about it.

Why do so many gay people smoke?

If anyone has a reason to smoke, gay people do. Gays have higher rates of depression, and anxiety—all of which lead to the urge for a cigarette. And a tragically high number of gay people are told that they are diseased, aberrant, intrinsically disordered throughout their youths, fostering a self-loathing that can lead, if not to suicide, than to nearly suicidal activities.

It’s dismaying but not surprising, then, to learn from a new study that a startling 33 percent of LGBTQ people smoke—a rate 68 percent higher than the general U.S. population. Even worse, the LGBTQ community spends an astonishing $7.9 billion every year on tobacco, about 65 times the amount of money spent on all LGBTQ lobbying. And the numbers carry a dark footnote: HIV-positive smokers lose an average of 12.5 years off their lives, compared with 5.1 years lost for HIV-positive nonsmokers.

A decade ago, numbers like these would be utterly unremarkable. And even in 2014, they’ve generally been received with little more than a yawn. Smoking, after all, is one of the less harmful ways troubled gay people can destroy their bodies in a vain attempt to exorcise their demons. A pack of cigarettes is certainly less toxic than binge drinkingunprotected sex—all nostrums with which some suffering gays attempt to treat their mental wounds.

But tobacco isn’t all that much better. After so many years of over-earnest PSAs, it’s easy to write off the risk of cigarettes. The fact remains, however, that smoking—even occasional social smoking—is one of the most toxic, destructive, and ridiculously harmful things you can do to your body. One out of every five human deaths is due to smoking, and smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. A third of all cancer deaths every year are linked directly to smoking, while a full 85 percent of lung cancers in the United States are a result of tobacco use. And smoking destroys the body in myriad subtle but horrifying ways: Hindering kidney functionheart disease and stroke, ruining virtually every organ in the human body.

At this stage, of course, all Americans know that cigarettes kill you, LGBTQ people included—and in a sense, that’s part of the problem. We can wave CDC morbidity studies around all day, but a gay person struggling with self-loathing won’t particularly care. In fact, in a perverse way, the hazard is the draw for gay kids who see no reason to continue living. Merely reminding the LGBTQ community that smoking is awful will do nothing to curb it. The root of the problem—self-loathing cultivated by years of being told you’re a disordered monster—goes too deep to be resolved by scolding PSAs, tempting as that quick fix might seem.

Instead, the solution to the LGBTQ smoking crisis is, essentially, to do nothing—nothing more, that is, than we’re already doing to promote gay rights across the country. Every time a states’ citizens give the thumbs-up to gay marriage, every time a federal judge grants basic equality to gay people, a new generation of LGBTQ youth becomes a little less prone to self-hatred and self-destruction. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s insistence that gay people deserve equal dignity probably did more to curb smoking among gay youth than any anti-smoking ad ever could. As gay people become more accepted in mainstream life, so, too, will gay teens feel less tempted to exorcise their agony with risky behavior like smoking. But until gay people are truly welcomed in all facets of society, gay kids will keep turning to those vices that, in the midst of such overwhelming bleakness, provide a fleeting (and ruinous) moment of relief.

What makes a country gay friendly?

In this section, we explain and summarise how we put together this list. In a nutshell, we always start with the Spartacus index as a guide and also focus on the countries that have passed gay marriage laws. We then embellish this with our personal experience and also take into account any notable Gay Villages and annual queer events such as Pride.

🏳️‍🌈 Based on all of the above, the most gay friendly country in the world is…. 🏳️‍🌈

1. canada

It’s a no brainer for us, Canada is the most gay friendly country in the world. From our experience, unlike any other country we’ve visited, Canada goes over and above to welcome gay travellers. Where else in the world do you see the (straight white male) leader of a country leading a gay pride parade, waving a transgender flag, and crying out “Happy Pride”? We saw Justin Trudeau do this when we attended the Fierte gay pride in Montreal. It made our hairs stand on end with Pride to see this!

2. spain

Ask anyone what their favourite gay Pride event is and most will likely say Madrid. Ask any gay man where their favourite gay destination is in Europe and they will most likely include Sitges, Gran Canaria, Barcelona and/or Ibiza on their list. These two gay men certainly think so! Yes, we’re generalising a bit, but the point is that Spain has arguably the highest number of gay-friendly destinations.

Spain is a trailblazer when it comes to LGBTQ rights with an incredibly openminded society who embrace and celebrate diversity.

3. the netherlands

The first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, a place lauded for being a bedrock of tolerance and one of the most exciting gay travel destinations with a unique Pride event along the canals of Amsterdam. As my Dutch (straight) male friend so beautifully put it when I came out to him – “you don’t need to come out to me, Stefan – I’m from Holland, the most open-minded country in the world!”

4. united kingdom

The UK will always have a special place in our hearts, especially Stefan’s home city, London. This is where we met, back in February 2009 in Soho’s GAY Bar. London has one of the best gay scenes in the world with several gay villages spread all around the city. Outside of London, Brighton and Manchester are top gay destinations that we love.

The UK also has the MOST number of annual Pride events happening out of any other country in the world.

5. sweden

“Gay since 1944” is Sweden’s official gay slogan. A country that has its own gay slogan ffs – need we say more?! In actual fact we do: they nail it in Eurovision (Europe’s annual unofficial gay music festival!) every year and they gave us ABBA – the authors of THE best gay anthems! Sweden also has more Pride festivals per-capita in Sweden than anywhere else in the world, including the largest Pride in the Nordic countries – Stockholm Pride. In 2021, all eyes will be on Sweden as it co-hosts WorldPride in Malmo jointly with Copenhagen.

All eyes will be on Sweden as it hosts WorldPride 2021 in Malmo jointly with Copenhagen

6. germany

Germany has long been famous as being one of the gayest countries in the world especially because of the wide and diverse gay scene of Berlin. Unlike all the other European cities, which tend to have a rather limited scope for LGBTQ spaces, Berlin has a wide and diverse gay scene where everyone from the community can find refuge in.

Whether you’re a perky twink or a rough and ready leather daddy, there’s something for you in Berlin!

Germany also has an array of fabulous politicians including Berlin’s former Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, who outed himself with the famous words – “Ich bin schwul – und das ist auch gut so!” which translates as “I am gay – and that’s a good thing!”…we hear you girl!

7. australia

Over the last decade, Australia has grown more and more fabulous, with some of the most progressive LGBTQ laws in the world, lots of gay havens…and we already mentioned Mardi Gras, right? Back in 2017, the Australians were asked to vote on marriage equality and their response was a big resounding YES. So today, we say a big YES back to the Land Down Under!

The country that gave us Mardi Gras, Matthew Mitcham, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Speedos and my favourite ever diva, Ms Kylie Minogue!

8. taiwan

Whether or not you accept Taiwan as a “country” (it has its own set of laws, flag, military, currency and national anthem, so why not says we?), we cannot have a list of gay-friendly countries in the world and not include it. Taiwan is one place in the world we felt super comfortable and welcome as a gay couple wherever we went. It also says a lot that Taiwan has the largest gay festival in Asia (Taipei Pride) and one of the best gay scenes in all of Asia around the Ximen Red House in Taipei.

In 2019, it famously became the first (and to date, only!) place in Asia to legalise gay marriage.

9. colombia

Mention Colombia to someone and the Narcos Netflix show will inevitably come up in conversation. Over the past few decades, Colombia has completely revolutionised to become one of the most gay-friendly countries in Latin America, and in the world! The culture itself is saturated in all things we love – passionate Latino dancing, beautiful men, and sparkling wear, Colombia is fast becoming a haven for all LGBTQ travellers. Oh, and did we mention the massive Theatron gay club in Bogota?

With big hearts, and hips that don’t lie Colombians are one of the most LGBTQ accepting people in the world!

10. denmark

Denmark has, for many years, been a pink trailblazer, legalising love between two people of the same gender as far back as 1933. Then in 1989, it became the first country in the world to legally recognise registered gay partnerships. Whilst not known as being a party city or one with prominent LGBTQ events, we place Denmark high up on this list because all fabulous eyes will be on Copenhagen and Malmo over the next year when the two cities unite to host WorldPride 2021!

The famous home of Lego is Lonely Planet’s pick as the most gay-friendly place on Earth.

11. new zealand

New Zealand has for decades been one of the most gay and transgender friendly countries in the world. From as far back as 1993, they began passing super progressive anti-discrimination laws, such as removing the LGBTQ ban on the military, introducing the right to change legal gender, and introducing gay marriage.

New Zealand is renowed for having many openly gay ministers in its Parliament, like Grant Robertson, Louisa Wall, Charles, Chauvel and Georgina Beyer.

And can we take a moment to talk about how frickin’ amazing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is?! She became the country’s first leader to march in a gay Pride parade in Auckland in 2018 and is always speaking out in support of the New Zealand LGBTQ community.

12. iceland

Despite the ice in its name, these natives have hearts filled with warmth! Iceland for us is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world for so many reasons. Gay marriage was ticked off in June 2010 with a in the Icelandic Althing (the national parliament of Iceland). Normally in gay marriage debates, you have a sad minority droning on about how unnatural we are and how we pollute the sanctity of marriage etc etc… But not in Iceland! Gay marriage laws passed here with flying pink colours!

Gay marriage was ticked off in June 2010 with a unanimous vote in Parliament!

We also love that Iceland has featured so much in one of our favourite LGBTQ Netflix shows – “Sense8”, and they have LGBTQ events happening throughout the year, like Rainbow Reykjavik in the winter months.

13. portugal

Portugal’s pink standing has shot up massively over the past decade. After a long period of oppression during the “Estado Novo” years (between 1933-1974), Portugal has evolved massively. It began by decriminalising same gender relationships in 1982, before legalising gay marriage in 2010 (becoming country #8 to do so), adoption in 2016, and in 2011, it passed the  (one of the most advanced transgender friendly laws in the world). Portugal is also one of the few countries to have an outright ban in its constitution against discrimination towards LGBTQ people.

Let’s not forget, Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal’s super handsome football stud and recently voted …!

14. argentina

Argentina is a treat! We’ve been several times and each time we fall in love even more, especially with Buenos Aires. It’s not only a spectacular country to explore, it’s super gay friendly. To give you an idea, in 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage, making it the 10th in the world to do so, and the 2nd in the Americas (after Canada). It also has progressive laws for adoption, and when the gender identity laws were introduced in 2012, Argentina became the world’s most transgender-friendly country.

In 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage!

In the media, Argentina has long been a trailblazer in the latino world, featuring a transgender actress Florencia De La Vega actually playing an openly transgender character as far back as 2004 in the telenovela Los Roldán. Then in 2005 the television dating show 12 Corazones-Especial became the first in the country to exclusively feature gay men who kissed on camera – uncensored!

15. france

France has long held a belief of “laissez-faire” towards same-gender relationships, ie not interfering in matters that may seem too personal and respecting the privacy of others. For example, former President Mitterrand was able to have a mistress and illegitimate daughter during his 14 years in office without the media pestering him on the subject. If that had happened anywhere else in the world, it would have been a huge scandal!

France has long held a belief of “laissez-faire” towards same-gender relationships

The French in general don’t bat an eyelid if you tell them you’re gay and you will never have any problems with gay bashing in France unless you go to a low-income suburb areas where homophobia is a problem, which as a tourist, you’re unlikely to do.

16. finland

Every other gay bar we’ve been to in the world has Tom of Finland homoerotic art featured. You know the ones we mean – the images of masculinised muscly men, half nude, in super tight clothes, in suggestive positions! Like its neighbours, Finland is a trailblazer when it comes to LGBTQ rights, with strong anti-discrimination laws in place since the 1990s, long before most other countries. Gay marriage was introduced in 2017 and it has had progressive transgender friendly laws since 2002.

17. norway

When it comes to gay friendliness, the Norwegians have long been a trailblazer. In 1981, Norway became one of the first countries in the world to pass anti-discrimination laws. In terms of gay marriage, Norway made this law in 2009, and then in 2016, it became the 4th country in Europe to allow change of legal gender based solely on self-determination. Interestingly, Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, was one of the first-ever heads of state to lead a Pride parade when she led the Bergen Pride parade back in 2015. Norway was also ranked as the best country for LGBT workers.

18. malta

Malta’s track record towards LGBTQ people is pretty amazing! For instance, in 2017, The United Nation’s Head of Equality and Non-Discrimination (OHCHR), Charles Radcliffe, was full of praise for Malta, calling it “a beacon of human rights for LGBTIQ issues”. He also said that Malta has become the “gold standard” with regards to LGBTQI reforms.

19. austria

The home of Conchita Wurst was traditionally quite a conservative Catholic country, however, over the past decade, it has evolved massively to become a pink haven in Central Europe. You could say it… rose like a Phoenix? Austria passed gay marriage laws in 2019, along with an array of progressive transgender legislation. In the same year, the very picturesque capital, Vienna, hosted EuroPride for its second time – the first back in 2001.

The best part, when Conchita won, she held up the trophy and declared in support of our LGBTQ family: “We are unity and we are unstoppable!“

20. ireland

Irish society has recently transformed massively with regards to LGBTQ rights. What used to be a very conservative country, Ireland has certainly “come out of the closet” in relation to attitudes towards LGBTQ people. The Irish public as a whole has said “sashay away” to conservative attitudes and are embracing their spot as one of the world’s most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

In 2015, Ireland became the first nation in the world to legalise gay marriage on a national level by a popular vote.

21. uruguay

“In Uruguay, every guy is at least bi…” so said our friends in Montevideo when we first arrived. Whether or not there’s any truth in this, we certainly found Uruguay to be one of the most liberal and gay-friendly countries in the world. For a continent with such a strong influence from the Catholic Church, Uruguay has managed to cut away from this, with a strict separation of state and church dating back to the early 1900s.

“In Uruguay, every guy is at least bi…” so said our friends in Montevideo when we first arrived

This is what has allowed it to evolve into the liberal haven it is today. It became the 1st country in South America to introduce the Welfare State in the early 1900s, and recently introducing equal marriage laws in 2013.

22. belgium

Belgium’s LGBTQ history is enough to make it into any list of the gayest countries in the world. In 2003, it became the 2nd country to legalise gay marriage, as well as one of the first to pass transgender and anti-discrimination laws. Interestingly, Belgium was also the second country (after France) to decriminalise same gender relationships back in 1795.

Belgium has some of the best gay parties in Europe, including the monthly La Demence in Brussels, SPEK in Antwerp and the annual Unicorn Festival in July.

23. usa

Many may disagree with us placing the USA on this list at all but hear us out. The USA is a true dichotomy. On the one hand, it is arguably THE gayest country in the world – the place where the bulk of modern-day popular gay culture emanates from. On the other hand, there is a lot of homophobia, particularly in the middle Red States, which is why some would criticise us for including the USA in this list in the first place!

USA is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race

24. costa rica

Our new entry this year is the first country in Central America to legalise gay marriage: Costa Rica, we welcome you with wide-open arms! This is a very forward-thinking country that offers so much for LGBTQ tourists and has for many years been targeting gay travellers. Whilst the country doesn’t have much in terms of a gay scene or queer events, it’s certainly not shy of pretty landscapes and nature discoveries.

Costa Rica is the first country in Central America to have legalized gay marriage

25. south africa

Africa as a continent is still lagging behind a great deal in terms of its . However, South Africa really makes itself count as being the only African country represented on this list. In 1995, under Nelson Mandela, South Africa became the first country in the world to introduce LGBTQ rights in its constitution. It subsequently became one of the first countries to legalise gay marriage in 2006 and has very progressive transgender laws.

South Africa is the only gay friendly country on the African continent

Sources of stress

A small handful of papers have laid the groundwork for exploring the deleterious effects of stressors within the gay community. Pachankis’s study is the most rigorous yet.

The five-year study is based on five psychological studies, including four meticulously designed experiments with nine cohorts of gay and bisexual men.

Pachankis and his colleagues found that the stress gay and bisexual men reported experiencing related to their community’s preoccupation with sex, status and competition, as well as racism within their ranks, was associated with compromised mental health, especially for those lower on the gay-status totem pole.

These connections held even when the investigators controlled for traditional factors tied to the stress of being a stigmatized sexual minority as well as general life stress.

The study culminated with a series of experiments in which gay and bisexual men participated in a chat room with other men. When the participants experienced rejection from gay or bisexual men they perceived to be of superior status, because of a higher level of masculinity, attractiveness and income, this proved particularly stressful.

Such a status imbalance did not intensify feelings of rejection if the higher-status man was straight.

Rejection from gay and bisexual peers, Pachankis found in a follow-up study soon to be published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, was also associated with an increased likelihood that men would engage in sex that put them at risk for HIV.

This finding reveals an apparent blind spot in HIV prevention. The preponderance of stress-related psychological research about HIV risk among men who have sex with men has focused on stress related to anti-LGBTQ stigma and not on the effects, for example, of receiving persistent rejections and cutting or racist remarks on hook-up apps.

“In the HIV-risk article,” Pachankis says, “we repeatedly mention, ‘Why not look at the people gays are actually having sex with as sources of stress?’”

As the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper describes, men in all global cultures are inclined toward competitiveness and driven by a need to prove their manhood. Thus, any subculture composed entirely of the male sex – think the NFL or a frat house – is likely to be intrinsically status conscious.

Within gay male culture, such competition is compounded by the fact that members compete for social and sexual gain and for sex with each other.

Pachankis’s research suggests factors such as physique, income and race can be major sources of compare-and-despair anxieties that have become ever-more insidious as Instagram and apps such as Grindr and Scruff quantify with often excruciating and demoralizing precision where men stand in the pecking order.

Additionally, unlike their straight counterparts, sexual minority men can assess their own personal sexual status using standards they would apply to potential partners. This can create a mental feedback loop and give rise to a kind of sexual arms race. Body-conscious gay men often go to extensive lengths to outmatch competitors and attract higher-status men.

Such efforts can give rise to body dysmorphia, eating disorders and harmful use of anabolic steroids, says Aaron Blashill of San Diego State University, who researches body image among men who have sex with men.

Local men in his studies rarely report, he says, “‘I had a really difficult week because someone called me a fag.’ It’s much, much more common that folks are talking about intraminority stressors of a lot of dating apps, judgment, and sexual racism within the community.”

‘no silver bullet’

Historically, most psychological research into health and mental health disparities among sexual minorities has focused on the trauma of growing up and living in a homophobic society.

In 1957, psychologist Evelyn Hooker published a groundbreaking study that found homosexuals were psychologically healthy, comparable to heterosexuals in that regard. Such research would contribute to the watershed de-listing of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973.

Starting in the mid-1990s, researchers began to recognize that sexual minorities experience disproportionate rates of anxiety and substance use disorders, suicidal behaviors and ideations and depression, compared with heterosexuals.

In 2003 Ilan H Meyer, a University of California, Los Angeles psychiatric epidemiologist, established what is known as minority stress theory, which explains health and mental health disparities between sexual and gender minorities and the general population as a function of anti-LGBTQ stigma and prejudice.

Minority stress theory has proved influential in shaping LGBTQ civil rights campaigns and court cases as well as a prevailing media narrative that focuses on the harms a heterosexist, transphobic society inflicts on queer people.

Pachankis’s Personality and Social Psychology paper introduces a new paradigm he calls the “gay community stress theory” and which is meant to complement minority stress theory. The new theory provides a framework to explore many seldom-studied aspects of gay life that shape mental health.

“This paper and this work on intra-gay community stress,” Meyer says, “is definitely pointing to a problem that LGBTQ advocates and community centers and people who deal with therapy or reducing distress in these communities need to pay attention to.”

Pachankis, Meyer and others have nevertheless expressed concern that the new findings may be misconstrued or even deliberately misread and manipulated to serve an age-old narrative characterizing homosexuality as inherently damaging.

Pachankis pursued this line of research reluctantly, he says, after hearing repeated mention of the themes that would color his study from patients and participants in research. As a stigma researcher, the last thing he wanted was to provide society with a new basis for casting gay and bisexual men in a negative light.

“I would hope this set of findings would never compromise the drive for LGBTQ equality,” he says. “Every minority group must face stressors from within.”

“There may be people who try to misinterpret what this study means but the study’s findings also can support our work,” says Lambda Legal senior attorney Omar González-Pagán, who was on the legal team behind the supreme court case that legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

Travis Salway says Pachankis’s work represents “a very healthy process we need to go through as a community whereby we look inward and ask, ‘Hey, how are we doing around treating one another?’ And if we’re not doing a great job, there’s no silver bullet. But let’s at least start talk about it, rather than pretend that everything is Pollyanna.”

Skyler Jackson, a postdoctoral fellow under Pachankis who studies intersectionality, says he hopes that “in addition to making a splash in the general arena of LGBTQ health – and gay and bisexual men’s health specifically – gay community stress theory may generate new research directions among many other populations that are at risk for intraminority stress.”

To counter the impression that membership in the gay world is overwhelmingly deleterious, Pachankis emphasizes gay men’s considerable resilience and creativity in the face of great hardship and the myriad means by which gay men provide mutual caring and support against life stressors.

‚historic step‘

But the law also wrecked additional lives, say historians. Some men living in fear of being discovered or convicted committed suicide, they say. Others lost jobs or were forced into sham marriages.

The vote by the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will need to be approved by the Bundesrat upper house, though it is expected to be uncontroversial.

The law was welcomed by Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD).

„After long years of ignorance the victims of homophobic persecution are regaining their dignity. This is a historic step,“ it told the BBC.

„But the law also has serious gaps. The designated compensation payments are too low.“

It also criticised a change to the draft bill due to pressure from the conservative Christian Democratic Union party, which restricted eligibility for compensation to those who had sex with over-16s only (from over 14), saying it was discriminatory.

Introduction

Gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men are among the small number of remaining groups for whom HIV is uncontrolled or worsening worldwide. The inability to mount true-to-fact responses that are tailored to the sexual health needs of this community threatens to undermine gains made in reaching global HIV targets set by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. Moreover, in the premature and overly optimistic rush towards the “end of AIDS,” the gravity of the situation for gay and bisexual men is being ignored or downplayed.

In most parts of the world outside of Eastern and Southern Africa, HIV prevalence is less than 1% of the general adult population, whereas prevalence among men who have sex with men is well over 10% [1]. HIV epidemics in high-income countries are predominantly male and primarily driven by male-to-male sexual transmission [2]. In low- and middle-income countries, men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV compared with people in the general population and represent an estimated 10% of all new infections each year [3]. Although there have been recent and notable decreases in HIV incidence across several countries characterized as having generalized epidemics, prevalence and incidence is consistently higher and rising among men who have sex with men when compared with other groups [4–7].

Homophobia and sexual stigma can limit the provision and uptake of HIV prevention, treatment and care services [8–11]. Exclusion of men who have sex with men from participating in national AIDS planning processes has resulted in national plans that omit or neglect their HIV needs, which in turn contributes to inadequately funded, inaccessible and poorly targeted programmes [912]. Criminalization of homosexuality encourages human rights abuses, violence, discrimination and stigma, which worsen health disparities for men who have sex with men and their communities [13–15].

This report aims to draw attention to ongoing challenges faced by men who have sex with men in accessing the HIV services they need. The purpose of this paper is to use data gathered from a global online survey of men who have sex with men to describe HIV prevention and treatment cascades and examine their predictors in multivariable analyses. We hypothesized that for men who have sex with men in our sample: 1) sexual stigma (homophobia) and experiences of provider stigma would be negatively associated with perceived access to and utilization of services; 2) engagement with gay community and comfort with one’s healthcare provider would be positively associated with access to and utilization of services; and 3) HIV service utilization and positive health outcomes would be more likely if the service were delivered by a community-based organization that specifically focused on men who have sex with men or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT).

Results and discussion

A total of 4859 individuals provided consent to participate in the study and started the survey. For this analysis, we included participants with completed responses for questions of interest (n=2491, from 120 countries). The mean age of participants was 38 (standard deviation 12.4). Regionally, 58% of participants reported residing in Northern Europe, Western Europe or North America; 16% in Latin America; 7% in Asia; 5% in Eastern Europe or Central Asia; 5% in sub-Saharan Africa; 4% in Oceania; 2% in Central Europe; 2% in the Caribbean; and 1% in the Middle East or North Africa. Nearly all (99%) reported ever having an HIV test and receiving the test result; 30% of participants reported living with HIV (n=739). The analysis suggests significant gaps in the HIV prevention and treatment continuum for men who have sex with men (Figure 1). Among HIV-negative MSM (n=1717), 71% reported obtaining condoms in the past six months. Additionally, 73% of HIV-positive MSM reported being linked to HIV care, and 14% reported being virologically suppressed.

Prevention and treatment continuum among participants in the 2014 Global Men’s Health and Rights Study. The prevention end of the continuum is specific to HIV-negative study participants (n=1717); the treatment end is specific to participants living with HIV (n=739); service utilization steps were reported over the 12 months prior to when the survey was taken unless otherwise noted.

In the multivariable analyses focusing on the prevention end of the service continuum, participants who reported higher levels of engagement with the gay community were significantly more likely to have had an HIV test and received the result (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=1.67, confidence interval (CI)=1.38 to 2.03); to have participated in HIV prevention programmes three or more times in the past six months (if HIV negative) (aOR=3.35, CI=2.36 to 4.75); and to have reported ever using PrEP (aOR=2.7, CI=2.0 to 3.5). Additionally, along the treatment continuum, participants who reported higher levels of engagement with the gay community were significantly more likely to be retained in care (among men living with HIV) (aOR=2.46, CI=1.22 to 4.95). These findings are aligned with other research that shows provision of safe spaces and social support and the promotion of community coherence, participation and inclusion can help reduce HIV transmission among men who have sex with men [18–20]. Community-support such as gay- and bisexual-specific health promotion can have positive impacts, such as encouraging condom use through education and non-judgmental messaging about sex and sexuality [21,22].

Comfort with one’s healthcare provider was a significant predictor in the HIV prevention and treatment continuum. On the prevention end of the continuum, participants who felt more comfortable with their healthcare provider were more likely to have had an HIV test (aOR=1.22, CI=1.12 to 1.33) and to have reported ever using PrEP (aOR=1.4, CI=1.2 to 1.7). On the treatment end of the continuum, participants who felt more comfortable with their healthcare provider were more likely to be retained in care (aOR=1.18, CI=1.03 to 1.35).

Where men who have sex with men access their HIV services was also an important predictor, particularly on the prevention end of the continuum. The odds of being tested for HIV within the past 12 months (among those who had ever been tested) (aOR=1.63, CI=1.20 to 2.22) and participating in HIV prevention programmes (aOR=19.89, CI=13.42 to 29.49) were considerably higher for study participants who accessed these services from community-based organizations specifically focused on LGBT people. Previous research and normative guidance published by the United Nations Population Fund suggests that service utilization among men who have sex with men may be optimized when delivered by community-based organizations led by other gay or bisexual men [23].

In the multivariable analyses on the treatment end of the continuum, the odds of being linked to care (aOR=0.52, CI=0.31 to 0.86) and being virologically suppressed (aOR=0.44, CI=0.23 to 0.84) were significantly reduced by greater experiences of provider discrimination. Viral suppression was also negatively associated with sexual stigma (aOR=0.48, CI=0.29 to 0.82). Virologically suppressed men who have sex with men were significantly more likely to report having a regular healthcare provider (aOR=2.91, CI=1.20 to 7.07). Others in the field have also noted associations between discriminatory policies and higher HIV incidence and prevalence, limited healthcare options and reduced effectiveness of healthcare delivery [24,25]. Moreover, previous research has shown that men who have sex with men exhibit less health-seeking behaviour and greater levels of depressions, anxiety and substance misuse because of stigma [26]. Stigma and discrimination are compounded by the limited availability of sexual and reproductive health services, which increases HIV vulnerability among men who have sex with men, especially young gay and bisexual men [27,28].

Conclusions

Our study observed steep gaps in the prevention and care continuum for HIV-negative and HIV- positive men who have sex with men. As predicted, our findings suggest that sexual stigma and higher provider discrimination are independently associated with lower odds of perceived service access, HIV service utilization and virologic suppression. Conversely, accessing HIV services from LGBT-focused community-based organizations, engagement in the gay community and comfort with healthcare providers are independently associated with higher odds of achieving steps along the HIV prevention and treatment continuum. Taken together, these results highlight the need for a bolder, more evidence-driven global response to HIV that openly acknowledges gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men and their sexual health needs. A more effective response must ensure unimpeded access to and scale-up of targeted testing, PrEP and treatment programmes. HIV service approaches must be developed, updated and aligned with normative guidance endorsed by UN agencies [23]. In addition, leaders in the global response should work emphatically towards the following goals:

Full funding of comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes that are competently delivered and tailored to the needs of men who have sex with men. Funding levels should proactively: a) address the disproportionate HIV disease burden and increased HIV transmission rates among men who have sex with men; and b) support community-based and LGBT-led responses.

Ensuring access to non-stigmatizing healthcare. Healthcare workers need technical training and support to deliver high quality, evidence-informed and rights-based sexual health services for men who have sex with men.

The inclination of the global community to understate the problem of HIV among men who have sex with men is deeply troubling, especially in the context of our study’s findings and epidemiologic research documenting persistently high or worsening HIV incidence. Political rhetoric often misrepresents HIV epidemiology and renders gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men invisible. The 2016 Political Declaration on HIV, endorsed by the United Nations, is the most recent example [29]. The Declaration strips all references to concentrated HIV epidemics occurring among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men worldwide. The Declaration also fails to explicitly recognize the human rights and fundamental freedoms of men who have sex with men and the HIV-related strategies that most effectively meet their specific needs.

To meet accelerated global HIV targets, global leaders must adopt a differentiated response, in keeping with current epidemiologic trends and community-based research. The HIV- related needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be addressed openly, quickly and with sufficient resources to support evidence-based, community-led and human rights-affirming interventions at scale.

Acknowledgements

Sonya Arreola, MSMGF, Oakland, CA, and the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA, USA

Chris Beyrer, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

Tri D. Do, Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center, San Francisco, CA, USA

Pato Hebert, MSMGF, Oakland, CA, and New York University, Art and Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, New York City, NY, USA

Keletso Makofane, MSMGF, Johannesburg, South Africa

Ayden Scheim, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

The Advocacy Platform to Fast-track the Global HIV and Human Rights Responses for Gay, Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men

Authors‘ contributions

GA is the principal investigator of GMHR and was the lead writer. GMS is a co-principal investigator, led all data analysis and co-wrote the methods and results reported here. SA, TDD, KM and AS are co-principal investigators who assisted with the overall design of the study and offered feedback to the draft manuscript. CB reviewed the manuscript and offered feedback and guidance. Epidemiologic data reviewed, conclusions reached and recommendations offered were validated by the Advocacy Platform to Fast-track the Global HIV and Human Rights Responses for Gay, Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men. All authors have read and approved the final version.

Authors‘ information

George Ayala, PsyD, is the executive director of MSMGF. Dr. Ayala is a clinical psychologist by training. MSMGF works to encourage equitable sexual health services for gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men worldwide, through its advocacy, technical support programmes and community-based research.

wednesday 11 november marks 102 years since armistice day and the end of the great war.

Wednesday marks the 102nd anniversary of the end of World War I – the day the guns fell silent, the end of the war that was supposed to end all wars.

A total of about 70 million people were mobilised on all sides during a conflict which lasted 52 months. As many as 19 million are thought to have died, with a further 21 million injured.

By the law of averages – even if only two per cent of people are homosexual, and not the one in 10 that some people think – that means an awful lot of gay men fought and died. You do the maths.

They fought far from home, in places many of them could never have expected to see or had even heard of. They must have fought in the early battles such as La Cateau, Mons and on the Marne, at Cambria, at Ypres and killing fields of Verdun. They fought at the naval battle of Jutland, at Gallipoli and through the mud at Passchendaele. In the Sinai and what was then Palestine. All the while keeping their secret as their comrades talked about wives and girlfriends back home.

Some people hold the belief that the Great War sparked the modern gay rights movement. Laurie Marhoefer, an assistant professor of history at the University of Washington, said: “Gay soldiers who survived the blood-letting returned home convinced their governments owed them something – full citizenship.” In Germany, he added, organisations including the German League for Human Rights, which had about 100,000 members, called for some sort of gay equality.

The truth of the matter is most of those who survived faced the same old hatreds. In the UK, they remained outlaws for another 50 years while those high hopes in Germany were dashed by the rise of the Nazis.

Although it was not actually prohibited by British army regulations – that didn’t happen until 1955 – homosexuality was illegal throughout the UK so most gay soldiers kept their sexuality hidden, possibly adding to the misery they were already experiencing in the trenches of the Western Front: living, eating and sleeping in mud, plagued by rats and constantly under enemy fire and the threat of poisoned gas.

In addition, as the casualties mounted, there was a growing emphasis on men “doing their duty” by having more children to counter the falling male population. Being gay, therefore, was not only illegal but also seen as unpatriotic.

That said, homosexuality activity was “not exactly unknown” in the British army, according to historian A.D. Harvey.

War poets Wilfred Owen – who died a week before the armistice was signed and is famous for works such as ‚Anthem for Doomed Youth‘ and ‚Dulce et Decorum Est‘ – and Siegfried Sassoon, who survived the war and whose poems include ‚Suicide in the Trenches‘ and ‚Aftermath‘, were both gay, although it was not public knowledge at the time.

Shortly before his death, Owen sent a letter to a cousin, describing meeting two French girls who were attracted to him, causing jealousy among other officers. “The dramatic irony was too killing, considering certain other things, not possible to tell in a letter,” the poet wrote cryptically. He was killed in action on 4 November 1918 and is buried in Northern France. His mother received the telegram notifying her of his death a week later as church bells rang to mark the signing of the armistice.

Another war poet, Rupert Brooke, once called the most handsome young man in England, is said to have described himself as one half outright heterosexual, one quarter outright homosexual and one quarter “sentimental homosexual.”Brooke, best known for The Soldier (“If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is for ever England”) died of blood poisoning on a hospital ship, moored as part of the force attacking Gallipoli in 1915. He is buried in his corner of a foreign field: Skyros, in Greece.

Gay soldiers who were open about their sexuality were often ostracised and reported to their superior officers for “indecency”. At least 230 fighting men were court-martialled and sent to prison.

Others were tried and convicted in civilian courts. Lieutenant Wilfrid Marsden, of the Royal Flying Corps – which was soon to become the RAF – appeared at the Old Bailey in London in January 1916 and was sentenced to two years hard labour. A letter from a fellow officer, F.R. West, was found in his possession, detailing a liaison with another man. “He was perfectly charming and very affectionate. His legs, my dear, were too wonderful,” he wrote.

West was dragged from the trenches in France, court-martialled and thrown out of the armed services.

At least two other gay men had been sentenced to hard labour in the spring of 1915. Frederic Llewellyn had fought in the Boer War at the beginning of the 20th Century before leaving the army then signing up again when war was declared in 1914. At the time of his arrest he was second in command of the 8th Battalion, the Oxford and Buckingham Light Infantry. He was tried and convicted on six counts of indecency. Meanwhile, Alfred Boyd, a lieutenant in the Territorials, was found guilty on nine charges.

To make matters worse, many gay servicemen were tormented by what they thought was a sickness or a vice and saw the war as a way to rid themselves of it.

Stephen Bourne, the author of Fighting Proud, tells of Edward Brittain, a soldier from Macclesfield, who earned the Military Cross for his gallantry during the terrible Battle of the Somme in 1916 – the first day of which remains the darkest day in British military history with almost 20,000 men being slaughtered and close to twice that number being wounded. All to gain just a few miles.

Brittain was killed in 1918 in the Battle of the Piave River, but after the war his sister Vera revealed that the day before he died her brother had been accused of homosexual activity, following the opening of a letter of his by the censor. Historians now believe he walked into the enemy gunfire as a form of suicide.

But gay men weren’t only serving in the British army. In Russia, an historian uncovered a letter sent by a petty officer to a psychiatrist in which he describes his attraction to other men he served with, his exhaustion from living a “strange life” and his desire to die on the battlefield, fighting against Germany.

The letter goes on to say: “At 15, I was working as a shop assistant and the owner [showed] me a collection of pornographic cards. After some time, I started experiencing attraction toward men, trying to seduce them, not understanding this terrible vice. Of course, I did this with great caution.

“Then I was drafted for military service, where I found a convenient setting for my fulfilment. I’ve never felt any attraction toward women and frequently entertained thoughts of suicide. Then war was declared and I was mobilised. My experiences at the front made me forget my rotten past but when I became a hero and was awarded the St George’s medal, I was ashamed, remembering my base and vile private life.

“Then I was wounded in a German trench. After two operations, I begged for death but life came back to me; my body didn’t quit.”

A story with a happier ending concerns architect and photographer Montague Glover, another recipient of the Military Cross. Born into the middle classes he was known to have had affairs with rent boys and young men from the supposedly lower classes – labourers, road-builders, dockers – in itself somewhat shocking for the time. But he met Ralph Hall in the 1930s and they went on live together for 50 years until Monty’s death in 1983.

When Ralph died four years later, Monty’s “gay family album” was discovered. It was packed with love letters, photos of their time together and snaps of other men dressed in army uniforms or just boxer shorts.

And while serving in Egypt celebrated author-to-be E.M. Forster had a three-year relationship with a young local, Mohammed el Adl. It ended in 1918 when Mohammed was forced to marry, but he never forgot his friend and named his son after his former lover. 

After his death in 1922, Mohammed’s widow sent Forster her husband’s gold ring as a keepsake. Legend has it that the author of the gay romance Maurice slept with it under his pillow every night.

Another gay man fighting at the Somme was future playwright and journalist Joseph Randall Ackerley. He lay wounded for six hours before being rescued but was injured again the following year. This time he was picked up by German stretcher-bearers and ended up in captivity.

In 1925, he published the outspokenly pro-gay play The Prisoners of War in which he is open about his sexuality, as he was in his later books and poems. He was warned by a publisher that the day after publishing My Dog Tulip (1956), “the police will be around to arrest you.”

Nonetheless, he refused to hide his sexuality and became one of the first high-profile gay personalities and, in 1942, spoke out against the unfair treatment of homosexuals. „I think that life is so important and, in its workings, so upsetting, that nobody should be spared, but that it should be rammed down their throats from morning to night,” he wrote. “And may those who cannot take it die of it; it is what we want.“

On the other side of the trenches, gay men also served in the Kaiser’s army. In the winter of 1915 an unknown German soldier died in a Russia field hospital, after being hit by shrapnel. Although his identity has never been uncovered, a letter to his boyfriend – identified only as S – revealed that he “craved a mouthful of decent water, of which there isn’t any here”.

But the letter concludes: “There is nothing to read, please send newspapers. But, above all, write very soon.”

That boyfriend had had to watch the man he loved go off to war, only to die alone and in pain, while S himself sat hundreds of miles away, unable to help or comfort him. It was later discovered that S’s replies never got through to his lover, lost in the chaos of war.

All in all, gay men fought gallantly and died for their countries. But officers who were found guilty of “indecency” and tried to re-enlist as “common soldiers” were referred to as the ‚Dirty Brigade‘.

How they were thought of may best be summed up in John Buchan’s 1916 novel Greemantle, a sort-of follow-up to the more famous The 39 Steps, when the hero sees the quarters of a German officer: “At first sight, you would have said it was a woman’s drawing room. But it wasn’t… I soon saw the difference… the queer other side to my host, that evil side that gossip had spoken of, not unknown in the German army.”

However, it was whispered in high circles that even the Secretary of State for War, Field Marshal Lord Kitchener – the one in the famous poster with his finger pointing out and the words ‚Your Country Needs You‘ – was having a love affair of his own with his military secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Oswald Fitzgerald…

1. main points

The proportion of the UK population aged 16 years and over identifying as heterosexual or straight has decreased from 94.4% in 2012 to 93.2% in 2017.

Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017, although the latest figure is unchanged from 2016.

In 2017, there were an estimated 1.1 million people aged 16 years and over identifying as LGB out of a UK population aged 16 years and over of 52.8 million.

Males (2.3%) were more likely to identify as LGB than females (1.8%) in 2017.

People aged 16 to 24 years were most likely to identify as LGB in 2017 (4.2%).

Regionally, people in London were most likely to identify as LGB (2.6%), with people in the North East and East of England the least likely (both 1.5%).

69.4% of people who identified themselves as LGB had a marital status of single (never married or in a civil partnership).

2. statistician’s comment

„We estimate that 4.2% of people aged 16 to 24 years identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, a higher proportion than for other older age groups. Around 7 in 10 of the lesbian, gay or bisexual population are single and have never married or registered a civil partnership. This reflects the younger age structure of this population and that legal unions for same-sex couples are relatively new. ”

Paula Guy, Population Statistics Division, Office for National Statistics.

Follow Population Statistics Division on Twitter @RichPereira_ONS

3. things you need to know about this release

In 2019 (publication of the 2017 data), the terminology in this release changed from “sexual identity” to “sexual orientation” to align with legislation (Equality Act 2010); sexual orientation is an umbrella concept, which encapsulates sexual identity, behaviour and attraction.

Although the terminology has changed, the data source and methodology used to produce the estimates remain consistent with previous years, ensuring a comparable time series of data is available back to 2012.

Sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK.

The measurement of sexual identity has been identified as the component of sexual orientation most closely related to experiences of disadvantage and discrimination1. Sexual identity does not necessarily reflect sexual attraction and/or sexual behaviour, which are separate concepts not currently measured by the Annual Population Survey.

The “other” category captures people who do not consider themselves to fit into the heterosexual or straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian categories. It might also include people who responded “other” for different reasons such as those who did not understand the terminology or who are against categorisation. There is currently no further breakdown of “other” collected in the Annual Population Survey so no assumptions can be made about the sexual orientation or gender identity of those responding “other”.

This bulletin presents the sexual orientation estimates as percentages. Estimates of the population numbers and measures of quality (to show the levels of uncertainty associated with survey estimates) are presented in the datasets. Users are advised to consult the quality measures when interpreting the estimates as some estimates are based on a relatively small sample.

Office for National Statistics has recommended a new voluntary question on sexual orientation for those aged 16 years and over for the England and Wales 2021 Census. The data gathered will make it easier to monitor inequalities under the anti-discrimination duties of the Equality Act 2010. Having an estimate of the size of the lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) community will allow charities, local and central government to target services effectively. For more information, see the Government white paper which was published in December 2018.

4. most of the uk population identifies as heterosexual or straight

In 2017, an estimated 93.2% of the UK population (49.2 million people) identified as heterosexual or straight, continuing the decline from 2012 (94.4%).

An estimated 2.0% of the population (1.1 million people) identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). As shown in Table 1, this comprised 1.3% identifying as gay or lesbian and 0.7% identifying as bisexual. The percentage in 2017 remains at similar levels to 2016.

A further 0.6% identified as “other”, meaning that they did not consider themselves to fit into the heterosexual or straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian categories. This proportion has increased since 2012 (0.3%). A further 4.1% refused, or did not know how, to identify themselves.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Download this chart figure 5: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by legal marital status, uk, 2017

In 2017, of those from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 6% identified themselves as gay or lesbian and bisexual (Figure 6). Due to small sample sizes, sexual orientation estimates by ethnic group have fluctuated year-on-year, with notable uncertainty around LGB estimates for all ethnic groups except White. Consequently, over the last five years, for the LGB population the only statistically significant change was for the White ethnic group, where the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

11. quality and methodology

Sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK. The sexual identity question is not asked by proxy. Proxy interviews are defined as those where answers are supplied by a third party, who is usually a member of the respondent’s household.

The sexual identity question is asked in both face-to-face and telephone interviews, at first personal contact. During the face-to-face interviews, adults were asked: „Which of the options on this show card best describes how you think of yourself?“ For telephone interviews, a slightly different way of collecting the information was used: „I will now read out a list of terms people sometimes use to describe how they think of themselves“. The list is read out to respondents twice. On the second reading, the respondent has to say „stop“ when an appropriate term they identified with is read out. In both modes, the order in which the terms appeared, or are read out, is unique for each household’s respondent to ensure confidentiality.

The „other“ option on the question is included to address the fact that not all people will consider they fall in the first three categories, that is, heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual.

The APS covers the household population but excludes people living in communal establishments with the exception of those in NHS housing and students in halls of residence (sampled via the private households of their parents). Members of the armed forces are only included in the APS if they live in private accommodation.

This bulletin presents percentages. Estimates of the population numbers and measures of quality (to show the levels of uncertainty associated with survey estimates) are presented in the datasets. Users are advised to consult the quality measures when interpreting the estimates as some estimates are based on a relatively small sample. As a result, these estimates are subject to uncertainty particularly when making comparisons, such as changes from one year to another. Therefore, annual changes and changes over five years identified in this report are described where appropriate as “statistically significant” – that means that there is likely to have been a real change in the underlying population proportions and that the difference we are observing is unlikely to be due to chance.

The Sexual orientation Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data

Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes sexual orientation estimates for the UK and constituent countries only. In April 2017, ONS published research findings from an experimental method to produce subnational sexual identity estimates.

The revisions policy for population statistics is available.

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The Country Ranking section is where you can see the bigger picture – quite literally.

This is the latest ILGA-Europe rating of 49 European countries.

The colour assigned to each country gives you an indication of where the countries are positioned on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality).

Just a note – this colour doesn’t change when you are arranging countries by individual categories. So, don’t be alarmed if the colours vary greatly among countries when you group them together in this way!

The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people. The ranking records a country’s legal standards for comparison with its European neighbours but the numbers only provide one part of the story. Our Annual Review gives a more nuanced, detailed overview of every country’s progress over the last twelve months and has a chapter dedicated to each country as well as developments at international level.

Tel aviv, israel

What can we say about this incredible city hasn’t already been said? We were midway through our year-long backpacking trip abroad when we decided upon our next stop: Israel. I (Emily) am fluent in Hebrew and have visited a few times before. I couldn’t wait to introduce Robyn to the culture, landscape, food (she’s a chef), and beauty of this country. From Haifa to the Golan, Jerusalem, and back to Tel Aviv, we explored Israel for a month, staying with friends and adventuring around.

Unbeknownst to us, our travels lined right up with Tel Aviv Pride. For anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community who are scoping out potential gay-friendly travel destinations where you can feel safe, and welcome… we cannot recommend Tel Aviv enough. This city is thriving with hip neighbourhoods full art, cuisine, nightlife, and of course, a proud and large LGBTQ presence. During Pride, all day and night, the city turns into one giant parade, with thousands of people marching and partying throughout the streets, all the way down to the beach. The energy is magnificent. Colors. Music. Celebration. Community. Dancing. Did we mention the beach? Go book that flight!

Amsterdam, the netherlands

Amsterdam has been our hometown for the past four years and is the (former) gay capital of Europe! In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the country is known for its tolerance. Our culture is about celebrating diversity and therefore our Pride Week is all about partying and less about protesting. In Amsterdam, the gay scene is mostly concentrated around the many gay bars in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, and we’ve had many fun parties at the Amstel Fifty Four on Wednesdays, the drinks night of student association A.S.V. Gay.

Berlin, germany

I love Berlin for the creative and open spirit that this city seems to nurture. It’s what made it a gay hotspot in the 1920s (Cabaret!) and continues to make it so special and unique for LGBTQ people today. There’s so much room in the city for so many different types of interests as well, which makes it really diverse for the many colors of the LGBT rainbow… with queer parties and meetups for just about every interest! There are great queer bars such as SilverFuture in Neukölln and Facciola in Kreuzberg, both with their flare and social atmospheres that make them great places for tourists, whilst mega techno clubs and parties (what guide to gay Berlin couldn’t include Berghain?!) still attract a mix of LGBT locals and tourists.

Berlin Pride, known as Christopher Street Day (CSD), takes place every July.

Brighton, united kingdom

Brighton: is there anywhere more gay-friendly in the UK? I think not. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to take the long drive south to see what all the fuss is about. So, for my birthday last year, my girlfriend Helen and I did just that. And FINALLY, I understood. Brighton is beautiful. Everything from the burnt out old pier to the Lanes is just perfection. With hundreds of bars, restaurants, and accommodation options to choose from, you’re never going to struggle for something to do, a good bite to eat and a place to stay. You’re also never going to struggle to feel accepted as this is undoubtedly one of the best gay cities around. So, if you’re looking for the perfect gay-friendly city for your next staycation, then Brighton it is! I know I’ll be back there again very soon.

Guadalajara, mexico

Guadalajara may be Mexico’s most gay-friendly city. Compared to other places in Mexico, it was the city where I saw the most signs of affection in public between same sex couples, and there are plenty of gay bars, clubs and parties for everyone. One of the best known is Voltio, which every Friday hosts the scandalous underwear party where men of all kinds strip down to their pants and get to know each other in this grungy, former warehouse. Despite only having started three years ago, it is home to one of the largest Pride events in Latin America, taking place every June with over 4000 participants. Finally, it’s not far from the famous Pacific beach towns in the Banderas Bay, including the super gay Puerto Vallarta.

Buenos aires, argentina

Argentina is extremely progressive with LGBT rights. It was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which included full adoption rights. The right to change legal gender has been in place since 2012 and anti-discrimination laws are in full force in Rosario and the big capital city, Buenos Aires.

We love Buenos Aires because it has one of the best gay scenes across Latin America, which is heavily supported by the government, in particular in August when it has its BADiversa week every August. The gay scene of Buenos Aires is quite spread out, but the focal point is in the large, residential neighbourhood of Palermo, plus a few places dotted about in super cool San Telmo and well-to-do Recoleta. Some of the best places to visit include Glam Club in Recoleta, Sitges bar in Palermo, Contramano bear club in Recoleta and Pride Café in San Telmo.

Our favourite memory from our travels in Buenos Aires is dancing the tango together as a same-sex couple at one of the queer milongas (a tango dance hall). There’s nothing more romantic than dancing this famous Argentinian/Uruguayan dance together and it was the best place to meet like-minded people. The two main queer tango milongas in the city are La Marshall (in San Telmo) and Tango Queer (in Recoleta).

Buenos Aires Gay Festival takes place every November.

Auckland, new zealand

New Zealand was the first international stop on our year-long journey abroad. We stayed with a friend in Auckland before moving onto Waitara, also on the North Island. Here we worked with renowned NZ photographer and LGBTQ+ activist Fiona Clarke (you should look her up) and then spent a month camping on the South Island. We knew Auckland would be something special but we had no idea just how unique our experience of the city, and with Fiona, would actually be!

Each year Auckland hosts a week of Pride events, one of which is called The Big Gay Out (as if New Zealand wasn’t already the most epic spot). TBGO, organised by New Zealand AIDS Foundation, is a free event that takes place in Coyle Park and is full of music, art vendors, food and dancing. We were excited to attend in 2016, especially when Emily (musician/songwriter Emily Kopp) was asked to play on the main stage! We had a beautiful time not only in Auckland but in all of New Zealand: the country is stunning and full of kind people. It’s a MUST SEE in our book.

Gran canaria, canary islands

Gran Canaria is an extremely famous destination throughout the year for European gays. This Spanish island is part of the Canary Islands, which lies off the coast of Africa, therefore guaranteed almost 365 days of great weather. Spain generally is a very gay-friendly destination, but Gran Canaria has always had a more tolerant attitude. During the harsh, repressive Franco years, the government turned a blind eye to homosexuality as the island was too far away from the mainland to bother with. From the 1960s, tourism really started to take off, attracting more and more foreigners and therefore even more tolerant attitudes.

We love Gran Canaria because there is a massive gay scene at Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles in the southern part of the island. The Yumbo Centre is the focal point for the area: a large shopping mall full of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shops, making it a gay man’s paradise. Slightly further south of this is the large gay beach at Kiosk #7. Gran Canaria also has several gay pride festivals happening throughout the year such as the Maspalomas Fetish Week in October, Maspalomas Winter Pride in November, Carnivals in February (both in Maspalomas and Las Palmas), Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and finally numerous bear parties in October and another in March.

One of our favourite experiences in Gran Canaria was taking a boat trip (run by Canarias Gay) with friends to the remote beach called Gui Gui. This is a clothing optional beach on the Western coast of the island, hidden away at the bottom of a Grande ravine. This was the perfect day trip and a more relaxing way to see a different side to this remarkable island.

Milan, italy

We love Milan because it has the best GLBT scene in Italy. There are plenty of bars, parties, cultural events and film exhibitions that focus on the gay community. We also love Milan because everyone is welcome! Most of the bars we like to drink at before going out are around Porta Venezia and at the heart of this area is Via Lecco. Here you will find a number of bars where you can have an “Aperitivo Italiano”, stay out late and meet the locals. During Pride, this street becomes the city’s Pride Square. All the gay events in Milan start from here and it’s also the best place to end the night at the most trendy clubs.

New york, usa

New York City is the ultimate LGBT travel destination with a little bit of something for everyone on the spectrum. There’s Hell’s Kitchen, where lots of gay guys hang out, or Henrietta Hudson in the Village, which is one of three remaining lesbian bars in the five boroughs. If the queer and transgender scene is more your speed, check out Wednesday nights at The Woods in Brooklyn. Not a drinker? No problem – head to Chelsea and have dinner at an LGBT-owned restaurant such as Elmo or Cafeteria. Don’t forget to check out the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art or join an LGBT history walking tours with Oscar Wilde Tours. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete with paying respects at The Stonewall Inn.

Rome, italy

Rome is an incredible city with tonnes of amazing places to take photos and historical sites that will take your breath away. Inclusive and international, the gay life in Rome is fun and easy-going. Both during international events or smaller local festivals, you will meet plenty of good-hearted people that will offer you to show you around. The heart of the gay life in Rome is Gay Street, right behind the Colosseum. This is the place locals prefer for a drink to start the night. You’ll find yourself talking to everyone and, with the night coming, you’ll want to discover one of the most popular Italian clubs: Muccassassina in winter and Gay Village in Summer.

Lisbon, portugal

One of the most amazingly gay-friendly cities I can recommend for LGBT travellers is Lisbon. As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is full of culture and nice spots to see and visit. The nightlife in Bairro Alto is really fun, and there are several gay-friendly pubs, discos and a sauna. But Lisbon gay life is not only limited to the city centre. Extended along the southern coast is the Costa da Caparica, a stunning place to enjoy the sea, with beautiful, long beaches and areas equipped for tourists. This region is served by a slow train that starts from Lisbon and travels along the coast. Beach 19 is a well-known gay beach and a great place to meet new people and have fun. Last but not least, the Portuguese people are very open-minded and LGBT people are free to be themselves.

Tokyo, japan

During our current world trip, we fell in love with Japan and especially with Tokyo. Previously, we’d heard about Japan’s crazy culture with its cosplay, maid and cat cafes and much more. But that’s not the best part of Japanese culture: it’s the people. Japanese people are the kindest and most polite people we have ever met. Culturally, they consider saying ‘no’ as impolite, but it’s also in their culture to be a little distant because of personal space. Therefore, public displays of affection (PDAs) and topics like sex and sexuality are things Japanese do not talk about, though gender norms are more fluid in Japan than elsewhere in the world.

Most LGBT-people in Japan are just ‘gay for the weekend’ and often even have a ‘normal’ family during the rest of the week. Nonetheless, it’s also in their culture to not openly judge people who do show PDAs or talk about their sexuality. Especially while drinking, Japanese people open up about these things and that might be the reason that Tokyo has more gay bars than London! These gay bars can be found in Tokyo’s gay area Shinjuku-nichōme, the perfect place to either find your special someone or to celebrate your love with your special someone. And in between all the gay bars we found the perfect place for us: bar Goldfinger, hosting women-only parties every Saturday night!

Washington dc, usa

Washington DC is an exciting place to visit and there’s an engaged local LGBT community. Beyond the history, you’ll find plenty of entertainment, shopping, dining and other recreational opportunities. Washington DC is also home to lots of great festivals and events like Chinese New Year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For LGBT specific events, check out the Best of Gay DC Awards in the fall or Capital Pride’s Holiday Heatwave in December. Visit DC in the summer to attend the Capital Pride Celebration or DC Black bear-magazine.com also has great neighborhoods like the trendy Shaw district or Logan Circle, with an upscale and elegant feel, including chic boutiques and wine bars. Or head to Columbia Heights to experience a strong Latino and hipster crowd with a mix of ethnic restaurants and cool taverns. To find the best gay hangouts, the top neighborhoods include the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle or Logan Circle with LGBT favorite spots like Cobalt, 30 Degrees, Green Lantern or DIK Bar.

Washington DC’s Capital Pride takes place every June.

Bangkok, thailand

Bangkok is an Asian megacity, bursting with energy and colour. Often overlooked by visitors eager to reach the glorious beaches of Southern Thailand, this capital city has life pulsating from its core. The traditional backpacker area is centred around Koh San Road but the real heart of authentic Bangkok beats from Silom. The city’s premier financial district by day, once the sun goes down the area is home to delectable street food, rooftop bars and Thailand’s prosperous and lively gay village. Bangkok is frantic yet spiritual; a place where you feel alive from the moment you arrive. Boredom isn’t an option in here: with its cavernous maze of sois (filled with more eateries than you could ever sample), the rich heritage of its royal past and thirst for modernisation, Bangkok is unique, crazy and utterly unforgettable.

Bangkok’s first gay pride parade is due to take place in 2018.

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On 25 March, 1969, Judy Garland took to the stage at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen. As she reached the crescendo of Over the Rainbow – the song which made her a global star aged just 17 – it was unknown to the audience that they were watching her final live performance. Four months later, 47 year-old Garland was found dead in Chelsea, London, after accidentally overdosing on the drugs she had self-medicated with since childhood. One of the headlines would read: “Judy’s voice stilled. The rainbow is gone.”

Fifty years on, Garland superfan Ross Semple, 27, still listens to that Copenhagen concert religiously. “I cry every time I listen to that recording,” he says. “The pain in her voice, knowing what was to come soon after, you can hear it all.” Having seen The Wizard of Oz as a child, Ross was further drawn towards Judy Garland in his late teens, around the same time he came out as gay. He began watching her films, listening to her music and learning about her life. “I want to know as much as I can about her,” he explains. “Because I want to be able to speak with authority about her and understand her, because she deserves that.”

Ross is far from the only gay man to feel such strong affinity with Garland’s work and life. Gay magazine The Advocate once called her the “Elvis of homosexuals”, and in a 1967 review of Garland’s concert at New York City’s Palace Theatre, Time Magazine observed that a “disproportionate part of her nightly claque” was gay. Two years earlier, Garland herself had been asked if at a San Francisco press conference if she minded having such a large gay following, to which she responded: “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people!”

Homosexuals understand suffering. and so does garland – esquire magazine, 1969

Journalist, author and self-confessed Garland devotee Robert Leleux wrote in the New York Times 2012 that the LGBTQ+ community’s love of Garland – which he dubbed “Judyism” – was becoming “little more than a cultural memory”. But now Judyism may be set to grip a whole new generation with the release of Judy, a biopic starring Renée Zellweger. Set in 1969, when Garland arrived in London for a five-week run of sold-out concerts, the film received rapturous reviews for Zellweger’s performance when it premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this month. The buzz surrounding the release, partnered with the 2018 remake of A Star is Born – the iconic showbiz drama that earned Garland an Academy Award nomination in 1954 – has brought her distinctly gay legacy back into focus.

In biopic Judy, Renée Zellweger plays Garland – and is a favourite for next year’s Oscars (Credit: David Hindley/ LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.” However queer historian Dr Justin Bengry warns against generalising in this way. “It’s important to ask: for whom is Judy Garland resonant, important and iconic?” he tells BBC Culture. “It seems to be a significant category of gay men, in particular, who are invested in celebrities or the camp aesthetic that Garland embodies. But it’s also important to recognise that they aren’t the totality of gay men.”

The camp that Bengry mentions is significant to Garland’s gay icon status. Queer film historian Jack Babuscio defines camp as “irony, aestheticism, theatricality and humour” – four pillars that form the foundation of Garland’s public persona. In fact, her life story is practically a blueprint for our modern understanding of what makes a gay icon. Analysing her story, from upbringing to death, helps us understand how and why some gay men look to famous women to help them navigate the world.

In 1922, Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm – named after her parents Frank and Ethel – in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. When Garland was four, the family moved to California following rumours that her father, a closeted bisexual, had made sexual advances towards young men. After the family settled in California, Ethel Gumm began to promote her daughters as a performing trio, known as The Gumm Sisters. It was Garland’s mother who first introduced her to drugs. According to Gerald Clarke, author of Garland biography Get Happy, Ethel would give her daughters pills in the morning and at night, saying “I’ve got to get those girls going!” Eventually, after her older sisters both married, Garland was signed by studio giant MGM as a teenager on a seven-year contract. At 17, she starred in her breakout role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. 

Like judy garland, gay men are brought up to be ordinary. one is not brought up gay – richard dyer

This period in Garland’s life, which mirrored closely the story of Dorothy, has contributed significantly to her status as a gay icon. Much like her gingham-dressed alter ego, swept away by the winds into a magical, Technicolor world, Garland was plucked from obscurity to become a cultural icon. In his book, Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, professor Richard Dyer observes some gay men identify with Garland’s rejection of the ordinariness that she seemed destined for as a child. He theorises that turning out to be abnormal after being “saturated with the values or ordinariness” is a point where Garland and Dorothy’s stories align with the experience of some gay men, encouraging those who perceive themselves as ‘different’ to gravitate towards her.

Garland’s arrival as a major Hollywood star was complicated by a series of disastrous personal relationships, most notably with herself. From a young age, her self-image was relentlessly criticised by film executives who believed that she was unattractive. Alongside her mother, MGM executives controlled her image and encouraged her to take drugs to stay slim. Critical acclaim for her stand-out performances in Meet Me in St Louis and Till the Clouds Roll By coincided with praise of her ‘radiant’ appearance. But low points in Garland’s career were often accompanied by drastic weight gain and there were high-profile suicide attempts.

Garland’s coming-of-age mirrored the story of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – both were ordinary girls swept into a world of Technicolor and magic (Credit: Alamy)

However Garland’s body struggles arguably made her a figure of endearment. As culture journalist Anne Helen Petersen told Karina Longworth in a 2014 episode of her podcast You Must Remember This: “Judy didn’t look like the rest of the MGM stars. She became this avatar for the rejected: not sexy enough, not pretty enough.” This physical insecurity is something that many gay men can identify with, in particular, as a demographic more likely to battle body dysmorphia, harm their bodies, attempt suicide suffer from eating disorders. In the book, Changing Gay Male Identities, Dr Andrew Cooper suggests that the body can be a complex battleground for many gay men: that the body becomes a key site for projecting a “successful” sense of self to gay peers, but also for embodying success in the eyes of wider society. With this in mind, is it any wonder gay men relate to Garland’s desire to stay slim and successful?

Garland’s professional and personal lives were both defined by turbulence. She married five times and two of her husbands were, like her father, suspected of being gay or bisexual. Garland first married at 19 when she eloped to Las Vegas with musician David Rose. A year later, when she fell pregnant, her mother convinced her to have an illegal abortion. Drugs and financial instability were a near-constant presence in her life and she was suspended numerous times by MGM for missing shoot days or being incoherent, intoxicated and abusive on set. At 28, she was eventually dropped by MGM shortly after being replaced by Ginger Rogers on The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Garland’s lead role in 1954’s A Star is Born was a comeback moment. At 32, she had already been divorced twice and suffered numerous breakdowns. The high-budget project was seen as her final throw of the dice in Hollywood. Garland’s portrayal of Esther Blodgett, an aspiring singer who becomes tortured by her love interest’s addiction issues, is regarded as one of the greatest film performances of all time. In one pivotal scene, she says: “You don’t know what it’s like to watch someone you love crumble away – bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes – and stand there helpless… I hate his promises to stop, I hate going home at night and listening to his lies. I hate him for failing and I hate me too.” It is hard to listen to these words without connecting them to her own addiction struggles.

It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was. it’s a disservice to her body of work – ross semple

Yet the critical acclaim Garland received for A Star is Born was tarnished by its commercial underperformance. Deemed too long, the film had to be cut considerably, leading to a botched edit that left viewers underwhelmed. It flopped at the box office and Warner Bros then cancelled the lucrative multi-film deal Garland had signed with them. She was widely expected to take home the Academy Award for her role in the film, with reporters even waiting by her hospital bedside to capture her reaction as she prepared to give birth. But the Oscar ended up going to Grace Kelly, signalling that Garland’s Hollywood star was not going to be reignited after all.

At this point, the motif of Garland as a ‘survivor’ becomes central to her gay appeal. A Star is Born further blurred the line between her work and life, with Richard Dyer identifying this as the moment where Garland’s image of being “damaged goods” becomes an essential part of her star persona and gay icon status. He argues that, from then on, Garland’s work and life tells a story of survival, and of someone trying to assert some form of control in a world that was set up to destroy her. 

Garland had a comeback moment in 1954 showbiz drama A Star is Born – but it was short-lived (Credit: Alamy)

Like a true survivor, Garland rebounded from the commercial failure of A Star is Born. She found a new niche as a live singer, performing in a drug-induced haze on an endless tour after financial troubles left her permanently broke. Audiences, many of whom were gay, roared with laughter at her quick wit and gave her the validation for her performing that she had always craved. A live recording of her 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York won four Grammys, including album of the year, making Garland the first woman to win the award.

Superfan Semple describes a tension between his admiration for Garland’s work and his fascination with her life story. “It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was,” he says. “Because her performances were so brilliant and she made some beautiful films. It’s a disservice to her body of work to paint her as solely a tragic figure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with the story behind the curtain too.” He also observes that the gay love for “survivor” women who have been cast aside continues today. “Female pop acts who are largely forgotten by mainstream society still headline Pride events every year,” he says. “Judy was an early incarnation of that.”

Some gay men find more affinity in straight female stars than they do in those from their own community, a process that queer academic José Muñoz calls “disidentification”. He thinks that LGBTQ+ people often assign queerness to characters or stories that are not explicitly queer as a “coping mechanism”. As an example, Muñoz suggests that when a gay man “identified” with Garland, he was “writing his way into the mainstream culture in which his own story could never be told.”

Gay men often reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as the cast members of netflix’s queer eye

But contrastingly, in the book How to be Gay, queer historian David Halperin describes a tension with the “mainstream” that leads gay men to be “highly critical, if not contemptuous, of their own artists, writers and filmmakers”. He says that gay men often fail to warm to gay characters and celebrities because they “don’t often like the representations of gay men that gay men produce.” Halperin suggests that this is because most mainstream representations of gay men, from pop culture to politics, pander to “acceptable” heterosexual norms. He draws a key distinction between gay culture – where “conventional” white gay men are dominant – and gay subculture – where women, drag queens, queer people of colour and trans people are more visible. This causes some gay men to reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as, to use two very current examples, the cast members of Netflix’s Queer Eye and gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig. Instead many embrace subcultural – and in their eyes, more subversive – female narratives like Garland’s.

As seen in the new film Judy, Garland found a new niche as a live singer towards the end of her life (Credit: David Hindley / LD Entertainment/ Roadside Attractions)

So, depending on which way you look at it, “disidentifying” with Garland is either gay men’s way of feeling aligned to mainstream culture – or, in fact, rejecting it wholesale.

It is an unavoidable truth that Garland’s tragic and untimely death has also contributed to her status as a gay icon, making her a timeless figure. On the day of Garland’s funeral, gay men lined the streets and wept for her. Dyer notes that, at the time, gathering to watch Garland’s funeral gave them “permission to be gay in public for once.” But decades later, you don’t have to look far to see how Garland was the first in a continuing lineage of ‘tragic’ female celebrities who have acquired the status of gay icons.

Queens would come to a judy garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it – dr michael bronski

Elements of Garland’s story can be found in that of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her mistreatment at the hands of the press; Princess Margaret, with her ongoing substance issues, and marriage to an exploitative man who was rumoured to be gay; and Britney Spears, whose child stardom culminated in a very public divorce and mental health struggles. From Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Kesha, to Lily Allen, Demi Lovato and Garland’s own daughter Liza Minnelli, women continue to be exploited, damaged and, in the worst cases, destroyed by fame.

Gay men need to be mindful of our own culpability in this cycle. ‘Friend of Dorothy’ has long been a popular code word for gay men, but not all friends of Dorothy were friends of Judy. As Dr Michael Bronski, a Harvard University professor and the author of books on gay culture a recent article on the dark side of “stan” (superfan) culture: „There is a long history of gay male fan culture latching onto famous women and then turning on them. Queens would come to a Judy Garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it. The women have changed – it’s no longer Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. But the dynamic remains in Western culture.”

Bronski is right: that pattern didn’t end with Garland’s death. Whether it’s Katy Perry becoming, as journalist Brian O’Flynn writes, “gay Twitter’s punching bag”, or gay fans dressing as ‘bald Britney’ for Halloween and turning up to meet-and-greets dressed in costume from Spears’s infamous 2007 breakdown, gay men can be increasingly fickle towards famous women.

As a former child sat who has endured mental health struggles, Britney Spears is one of many female celebrities whose experiences recall Garland’s (Credit: Alamy)

Idolising these women is one thing, but we shouldn’t treat them like playthings for our entertainment. The personal troubles of women like Winona Ryder, Amanda Bynes or Naomi Campbell might generate funny punchlines, but they’re also real-life problems. When push comes to shove, are gay men really there for the women we claim to worship? 

On screen too, there are several works in the gay pop-cultural canon that glorify destructive female behaviour – while being financed and created by men. Mommie Dearest, a biopic of screen icon Joan Crawford, which portrays her as an abusive mother, is a gay classic. And from the streets of Wisteria Lane to Big Little Lies and the Real Housewives franchise, pop-culture encourages us to love female characters when they’re screaming hysterically, so we can condense their pain into hilariously camp GIFs and say “yassss kween” as they smash up their surroundings.

Camp is a huge part of what draws gay men towards women like Garland. There is camp to be found in her tragedy, her successes and her bad behaviour. But some, such as gay author Andrew Britton have argued that the existence of camp actually depends on the restrictive gender dynamics that it claims to oppose. Much has been written about the suppressive effect of the “male gaze” on women, but surely the “gay gaze” is also to blame.

Fifty years after Garland’s death, her legacy lives on. Many gay men turn to women like Judy Garland to help them navigate their own experiences of the world. But we should also reflect on the way we treat them. Because if we don’t commit to treating the icons who we love with compassion, or creating the “kinder, gentler world” Garland once said she longed for, then are we much better than the people who tried to break her?

Judy is released in the US and Canada on 27 September and in the UK and Ireland on 4 October

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See the world with gay friends

Interested in seeing the world with like-minded LGBT jet setters? Our friends at Out Adventures are the premiere providers of gay & lesbian tours, cruises and active adventures. Their slick and sublime escapes run twelve months per year, across all seven continents. Check out their website to see where they’re off to next.

Discover gay canada

No tour operator knows The Great White North quite like our Canuck friends at Out Adventures. Based in Toronto, these always-apologetic travel experts have been running both private and group tours through Canada for over ten years. Whether you’re looking to surmount the Rockies, discover Toronto’s underground gay scene, or witness Fierte Montreal, contact these guys for insider tips and tricks. Here’s to The True North, Strong & Gay. Sorry!

Lgbtq rights in canada

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017.

The gay scene in canada

Almost every city in Canada has a thriving gay scene, complete with rainbow crossings and numerous gay events taking place throughout the year. The main ones are the Church & Wellesley , Le Village Gai gay village of Montreal, The Village of Ottowa, the Davie Village and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.

Gay events in canada

Canada is one of the few countries that hosts its own national Pride event – “Canada Pride”. The first one took place in Montreal in 2017. The next one is scheduled to be in Winnipeg for 2022. Speaking of Pride, Toronto Pride is one of the largest in the world, attracting almost 1.5 million people each year. Back in 2014, Toronto also hosted WorldPride.

Almost every city in Canada has an annual Pride event, often strongly supported by the local government. Beyond the Pride events, Canada also has many gay ski-based events taking place in January including the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, the Tremblant Gay Ski Week and the Quebec Gay Ski Week. Other prominent LGBTQ events in Canada include the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in May and Montreal’s Black & Blue Festival in October.

Gay travel to canada

As a gay couple, we felt completely safe in all the places we visited in Canada. This is also one of the rare countries in the world where we felt confident enough to hold hands in public, almost everywhere!

In terms of touristic highlights, Canada has some of the best ski resorts in the world, a stunning landscape in the Canadian Rookies, whale watching experiences near Vancouver Island, impressive National Parks like Gros Morne and Nahanni, and of course, the famous Niagara Falls.

Did you know? Canada created the first gay currency! In 2019, Canada unveiled a new $1 coin (loonie) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, becoming the first country in the world to honour our LGBTQ community on its currency.

Lgbtq rights in spain

Spain legalized homosexuality in 1979 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 1995, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2005, Spain became the 3rd country in the world to legalize gay marriage (after Holland and Belgium). Spain then went on to introduce the right to change legal gender, then in 2006 allowed transgender people to register their preferred gender in public documents such as birth certificates, ID cards and passports without having to undergo any surgery. This right was extended to include transgender minors who are “mature enough”.

The gay scene in spain

All the main cities in Spain have a vibrant gay scene, usually concentrated in a gay village or street. The main ones include Chueca in Madrid, Gaixample in Barcelona, the Maspalomas gay area in Gran Canaria street). Other smaller cities in Spain have an exciting gay scene, which includes Benidorm’s Old Town area, La Nogalera in Torremolinos, Barrio del Carmen in Valencia and Calle de la Virgen in Ibiza.

Gay events in spain

Almost all the cities in Spain have a Pride event, the most famous is, of course, Madrid Pride. It is lauded for being one of the largest gay Pride events in the world especially in 2017 when it hosted WorldPride. Other prominent Pride events in Spain take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Maspalomas, Ibizia, Benidorm, Valencia, Bilbao and Manilva.

Spain has many other gay events happening throughout the year to look out for. Some of the best ones include the WE Party in Madrid, Circuit Barcelona, Bear Pride Barcelona, Snow Gay Weekend, Sitges Bear Week and Delice Dream in Torremolinos.

Gay travel to spain

Spain is just bursting with culture, ranking as the 3rd country in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – a total of 48. Amongst these are Gaudi’s iconic buildings in Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita of Córdoba (the largest mosque in the world). In terms of museums, there’s the world-famous Museo del Prado of Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And then there’s the food! From the world-famous paellas, tortillas, churos, gazpachos, jamons and our favourite, the tasty, juicy Spanish chorizo sausages.

As a gay couple in Spain, we were in paradise! It is a destination pretty much made for us, with some of the best gay beaches in Europe, brilliant parties for everyone and a very openminded populace. Even in the more rural areas, we felt completely safe, which is quite rare for most countries further down in this list. In short, Spain, like Canada, ticks all the boxes and we LOVE it!

Did you know? Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous gay Spanish celeb and one of the best directors in the world. His first few films in the 1980s characterised the sense of liberal revolution and political freedom Spain was going through. He then went on to direct classics including Volver, All About My Mother and Bad Education.

Lgbtq rights in the netherlands

The Netherlands is the ultimate LGBTQ trailblazer! Homosexuality was legalized back in 1811, but the big headline is that it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2001! In relation to anti-discrimination laws, the Netherlands has everything under the sun to protect its LGBTQ community including laws to combat hate-speech based on who we love, gender identity and gender expression. The Netherlands also permits LGBT people to openly serve in the Dutch army.

In relation to transgender rights, the Netherlands is a bit more conservative. Whilst it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2014, it only recognises a third gender option after a successful court petition.

The gay scene in the netherlands

You’ll find the best of the Netherlands‘ gay scene in the capital city, Amsterdam, specifically in the Reguliersdwarsstraat gay village. Here there are many gay cafes, shops, bars, clubs and parties to check out, like Prik, SoHo, Cafe Reality, Club NYX, Bear Necessity and Club YOLO – to name just a few! Outside of Amsterdam, cities like Rotterdam have a handful of gay hangouts, but nothing on par with Amsterdam. Find out more in our detailed .

Gay events in the netherlands

Amsterdam Pride is well known for being one of the most unique Pride events in the world because instead of taking place on the streets, a parade of floats proceeds through the city on boats along the famous canals. Other annual gay events in Amsterdam include Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March, Amsterdam Leather Pride in October and the IQMF (International Queer & Migrant Film Festival) in December.

Gay travel to the netherlands

There are few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking in the streets holding hands outside of the gay village, and The Netherlands is one of them! When it comes to tolerance, openmindedness and equality, we found the Netherlands to be one of the most culturally liberal and diverse places in the world. It’s certainly the most progressive country we’ve travelled to, which is why we love it!

Travel highlights of the Netherlands include the canals of Amsterdam, along with the capital’s art and cultural museums like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum. Other Dutch highlights include tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and of course the infamous Coffee Shops!

Did you know? in 1987, the Netherlands unveiled the “Homomonument”, which was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians persecuted during WW2.

Lgbtq rights in united kingdom

England/Wales legalized homosexuality in 1967, Scotland in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982. Between 2004-2008, the UK passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, which included allowing LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2014, England/Wales/Scotland . Northern Ireland subsequently followed in 2020. More recently, the UK has implemented laws that require schools to teach children that it’s ok to be gay!

The UK has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2005. Whilst there isn’t a third gender recognised in law, the title “Mx” is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people.

The gay scene in united kingdom

Alongside Australia, the USA and Spain, the UK has one of the highest numbers of recognised gay villages in the world! London alone has several, including Soho, Vauxhall and Clapham. Manchester and Brighton are often regarded as one of the best cities in the world for gay people to live, both with large LGBTQ communities and an (Manchester) and a fabulous community concentrated in Kemptown (Brighton).

Almost all the other cities of the UK have a recognised gay village or area including Hurst Street in Birmingham, The Triangle in Bournemouth, Old Market in Bristol, Lower Briggate/The Calls in Leeds, the Liverpool Gay Quarter, the Pink Triangle of Newcastle, Broughton Street in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s Merchant City Pink Triangle and the streets of Charles Street + Churchill Way in Cardiff.

Gay events in united kingdom

The UK has the highest number of Pride events out of any country in the world, with almost every city leading their own event usually during the summer months. Brighton Pride and Manchester Pride (both in August) are often regarded as the best Pride events in Europe. London Pride in early July is the largest, attracting 1.5 million people. The 2012 London Pride was the most famous when it coincided with the year the city hosted the Olympic Games and also hosted WorldPride.

Gay travel to united kingdom

The UK offers so much for gay tourists such as fulfilling your Harry Potter fantasy at the Warner Bros. Studio, as well as discovering Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the stunning Lake District in Northern England, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and many many more gems.

We’ve never experienced homophobia from any of the places we stayed at and LOVE that the government invests heavily in LGBTQ tourism via the excellent efforts made by Visit Britain. After all, this is the country that gave us Alan Turing, Sir Elton John, Freddy Mercury and many many more fabulous icons!

Did you know? In 2018, the UK saw the first Royal gay wedding when the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle.

Lgbtq rights in sweden

Sweden legalized homosexuality in 1944, hence the “gay since 1944” slogan! They introduced one of the most comprehensive sets of anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s, which included laws against hate speech and allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. The right to change legal gender was also introduced in the 1970s in Sweden.

Gay marriage was passed in 2009 although gay unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1995. In relation to transgender rights, Sweden does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, but in 2017, it declassified “transgender identity” as an illness.

The gay scene in sweden

We’ll be honest, we were a bit underwhelmed by the gay scene in Sweden. There are of course several gay bars and clubs, mainly in the big cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, however nothing on par with other gay cities like Barcelona, Berlin or London. There are no official gay villages or gay areas in any of the cities in Stockholm. This probably shows that Sweden is so gay friendly, that it does not need its own gay enclave.

Gay events in sweden

Stockholm Pride is the big one, which is also the largest Pride in the Nordic countries. Other LGBTQ annual highlights include the Stockholm Rainbow Weekend which coincides with the city’s Pride and West Pride in Gothenburg. Sweden prides itself on the fact that no Swede has to travel far for a Pride event, because there is one in almost every town and city! In 2021, Malmo will be the place to be when it cohosts WorldPride with Copenhagen!

Gay travel to sweden

From the famous Northern Lights in the winter months to the hidden alleyways in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden packs a punch! is big on LGBTQ travel and invests a lot in promoting the country as a top gay destination, even hosting EuroPride in 1998, 2008 and 2018. We felt totally safe in Sweden and comfortable holding hands in public in most places we visited. The Swedes are an extremely chilled and open-minded bunch who won’t give two hoots about two men expressing PDAs!

Did you know? Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest (the massive unofficial annual gay European music festival). Not only did Sweden give us ABBA in 1974 but they’ve also won it 6 times. Also – Måns Zelmerlöw…

Lgbtq rights in germany

Ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, Germany powered ahead to become an LGBTQ paradise. Germany passed a full set of anti-discrimination laws from 2006, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the military, the right to change legal gender and laws preventing hate crimes based on gender or orientation.

In 2017, Germany legalized gay marriages, and more recently, in 2019 Germany formally recognized a third gender option,

The gay scene in germany

Most of the big cities of Germany have a terrific gay scene. We particularly love the exciting and vibrant gay nightlife of Berlin. We love it! It’s so wide and diverse, where everyone from our LGBTQ community can find their tribe. Schöneberg was the first-ever gay village in the world when it took off as an LGBTQ mecca in the 1920s. Since then, so many cities around the globe have adopted a similar model where the gay community can share a safe space and support local queer businesses.

Other cities with an exciting gay scene include Cologne, Lange Reihe in Hamburg, Nordend in Frankfurt, Glockenbachviertel in Munich and Gurlam Ziegelviertel in Fürstenzell.

Gay events in germany

Berlin Pride is the largest gay event in Germany, attracting around 1 million people each year. Note that in Germany, Prides are referred to as “CSD”, which stands for “Christopher Street Day” – named after the street where the Stonewall riots in NYC took place in 1969. Hamburg and Cologne are the other two main Pride or CSD events in Germany. Other gay events in Germany include the Carnival Cologne in February, the Munich Gay Oktoberfest in October and Heavenue Gay Christmas market in December.

Gay travel to germany

Germany offers a lot for LGBTQ tourists, especially Berlin, a city steeped with history from the Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag Building and Berlin Wall Memorial. Other touristic highlights include the Cologne Cathedral, the Black Forest in southwest Germany and the super picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. Each city heavily invests in LGBTQ tourism, especially .

We absolutely love love LOVE Berlin – it feels like it’s a city that is literally MADE for gays! Anything goes in Berlin and you can have as much fun here as you want to, no limits! It’s also culturally rich with so much to do. It goes without saying that we felt very comfortable with PDAs in Berlin and the other big cities we visited in Germany.

Did you know? Berlin had the first gay village ever? Back in the late 1800s, the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, was founded in Schöneberg. Over the subsequent few decades, Schöneberg became the heart and soul of Germany’s LGBTQ gay community. It was the Gay Village capital of the world in the 1920s!

Lgbtq rights in australia

Australia legalized homosexuality in 1997 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2010. Australia also has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2013 and has formally recognised a third gender option since 2003.

The gay scene in australia

Every big city in Australia has a vibrant gay scene with a large, active LGBTQ community, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is so gay that a 2016 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how the LGBTQ community was spread out around the city in a “Rainbow Ribbon” starting from Pott Point, going out to Elizabeth Bay, down to Darlinghurst, Surry Hill, Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Alexandria and round to Newtown. As such Sydney has one of the most exciting gay scenes in the world including the Obelisk gay beach.

Melbourne doesn’t have a central gay area like many cities but most of its main gay scenes are located around the three inner city areas of St Kilda East, Prahran/South Yarra and Fitzroy/Collingwood. Other cities with a notable gay village/scene include Brisbane, Perth and the capital, Canberra.

Gay events in australia

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the most famous and electrifying LGBTQ festivals in the world. It takes place in late February, attracting thousands of people from all around the world, with headliners such as Cher, Kylie, George Michael and Sam Smith. And it’s going to get even BIGGER come 2023 when Sydney’s Mardi Gras hosts WorldPride!

Melbourne’s equivalent is the Midsumma Festival, which goes on for 22 days spread over January and February. Other notable LGBTQ events in Australia include Pride in the Park Perth, Wagga Mardi Gras, Broome Pride, ChillOut Daylesford, the Big Gay Day Brisbane in March and the awesome Broken Heels Festival in September.

Gay travel to australia

Our ultimate gay Aussie fantasy is to rent a dramatic pink camper and pay homage to Priscilla, travelling across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs and spread fabuloussness across the country.

Other touristic highlights for gay travellers to Australia (beyond Mardi Gras of course!) include The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Did you know? Australia is soooo gay that it even secured itself a spot in the annual Eurovision Songcontest. Check out the for the reason behind this quirky decision, which whether or not you agree with it, we LOVE it and warmly welcome them into our big gay European arms!

Lgbtq rights in taiwan

Taiwan legalized homosexuality in…oh it was never illegal! From 2002, Taiwan began to introduce anti-discrimination laws beginning with the right for LGB people (ie not transgender people) to openly serve in the military. Despite the army ban for transgender people, Taiwan has introduced comprehensive laws relating to hate crimes, indirect discrimination and more.

Taiwan is most famous for becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2019. Taiwan is also positioning itself to become a transgender haven by introducing a third gender option on all ID documents in late 2020.

The gay scene in taiwan

Ximen in Taipei is the main gay scene with loads of gay bars clustered together. There are more gay places dotted around the city but the bulk is around Ximen’s gay neighborhood. Other cities in Taiwan have a few gay scenes, but nothing on par with Ximen. Read more about what gay life in Taiwan is like in our .

Gay events in taiwan

Taipei Pride is not only the main LGBTQ event in Taiwan, but the largest in all of Asia attracting around 200,000 people! It takes place in October and includes a number of other gay parties like Formosa and the WOW Pool Party. Other cities in Taiwan host smaller, more local Pride events, in particular Kaohsiung City and Taichung City Pride.

Gay travel to taiwan

Taiwan is a foodie destination! If, like us, you love Asian food, Taiwan is a place you need to visit. Other touristic highlights in Taiwan include the Taipei 101, Taroko National Park, the Sun Moon Lake, the Yushan National Park, the Rainbow Village in Taichung City, and of course the food – check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei for example!

As a gay couple travelling in Taiwan, we loved it. We felt so welcomed everywhere. We can totally understand why it is regarded as such a pink haven in Asia. The Taiwanese are very open-minded and tolerant, easily topping our list of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia.

Did you know? Taiwan is so gay, it even has a gay god with its own temple! The Rabbit Gay Temple was built to commemorate Tu’er Shen (The Rabbit God) who manages the love and relationships between gay partners helps those looking for love. It was founded in 2006 by Lu Wei-ming and as far as we are aware, it is the world’s only shrine for an LGBTQ god.

Explore colombia on a gay tour

Out Adventures‘ brand new Colombia tour is hotter than Maluma! Beginning in Bogotá, the carefree escape will have you shaking your arepa at the largest LGBTQ club in the Americas, hiking humid jungles in Tayrona National Park and soaking up the country’s sand, sun and sea in coastal Cartagena. The optional gay salsa class, food tour and snorkeling excursion make this adventure muy caliente!

Lgbtq rights in colombia

LGBTQ rights in Colombia are super-advanced by Latin American standards! It Colombia legalized homosexuality in 1981 and then started introducing anti-discrimination laws in all areas (employment, goods, services etc) from 2011 onwards, which also included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. In 2016 Colombia became the 4th country in Latin America to legalise gay marriages following a 6-3 vote in the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

In relation to transgender rights, Colombia allows the right to change legal gender without psychiatric or physical evaluations. Whilst it does not yet formally recognise a third gender, it does allow a “neutral” or blank space regarding gender to be inserted on birth certificates.

Find our about what the gay life is like for locals in Colombia in our from Barranquilla.

The gay scene in colombia

Bogota’s Chapinero is one of our favourite gay villages, mainly because of Theatron. It’s a massive gay club that can fit up to 5,000. Every Saturday evening, the gay community comes alive here. We’d happily book a flight over in a heartbeat just to party at Theatron! Chapinero also has many other gay hangouts, which you can read more about in our .

Other cities in Colombia have a large gay scene, in particular Medellin. Cartagena, Cali and Barranquilla also have a smaller gay scene.

Gay events in colombia

Bogota Pride in June and the Barranquilla Carnival in February are the most famous. Almost all the other cities have a Pride event, usually in June. Cartagena Pride is another notable gay event in August because it also coincides with the Circuit-style “Rumours Festival”. Other events in Colombia to look out for which aren’t expressly gay but are popular with the LGBTQ community include Medellin’s Flower Festival in August and the Cali Salsa Festival in June.

Gay travel to colombia

Some of our favourite travel highlights include the coffee region, the Cocora Valley, the Salt Cathedral, the Caño Cristales Rainbow River, Cartagena old town and the Tayrona National Park.

As a gay couple, we had no issues in Colombia and felt accepted everywhere. In one hotel in Medellin, we noticed a sign in the lift showing the penalties the police could give you for certain crimes. One of these included a fine for shouting homophobic abuse to others in public! The only thing we’d say in Colombia, which is the case for many countries in Latin America is that the machismo culture is prevalent in rural areas, particularly along the coast. However, we didn’t encounter this on our travels in Colombia as we just avoided them. Read more in our Colombia gay travel guide.

Did you know? In October 2019, Ms Claudia López Hernández became the first woman and first lesbian to be elected mayor in Bogota. The mayor of Bogota is widely considered the second most important political post in Colombia after the President, which is a big deal for the LGBTQ community in Colombia!

Lgbtq rights in denmark

Denmark blitzes LGBTQ rights so effortlessly. It’s famous for being one of the most socially liberal countries in the world. The right to change legal gender was introduced way back in 1929 and homosexuality was legalized 4 years later. Then in 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise gay unions. Denmark also has very progressive anti-discrimination laws, which it started introducing in the late 1980s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Danish army. More recently, gay marriage was legalized in 2012 and in 2014, Denmark became a trans haven by formally recognising a third gender “X” option in passports.

The gay scene in denmark

The main gay scene is in the Straedet area of Copenhagen, which is where we saw lots of couples walking hand in hand, however, we could have done this in most parts of Denmark without any problems. Aarhus is another cool city in Denmark to check out with a smaller but just as exciting gay scene.

Gay travel to denmark

Some of our favourite touristic highlights in Denmark included Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Nyhavn Canal and Harbour, the Amalienborg Winter Palace and the LEGO House in Billund.

As a gay couple in Copenhagen, we felt completely safe and free; public displays of affections were never an issue for us anywhere in Denmark. We loved being able to stroll through Tivoli Gardens holding hands, not having to first carry out a detailed risk assessment!

Did you know? Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen is the world’s oldest gay bar. It opened in 1917 and is still going strong today!

Lgbtq rights in new zealand

New Zealand legalized homosexuality for men in 1986 (for women it was never illegal). They introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as far back as 1993 and legalized gay marriage in 2013. In terms of the military, LGBT people have been allowed to openly serve in the New Zealand army since 1993. New Zealand introduced the right to change legal gender in 1993 and also officially recognises a non-binary gender.

The gay scene in new zealand

The main gay scene and LGBTQ community is focused in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, most of the hangouts and community are based in and around Karangahape Road and Ponsonby. In Wellington, it’s largely in Wellington Central. Other cities around the country will have a few gay/gay friendly places to check out.

Gay events in new zealand

Pride events have been taking place in New Zealand since the 1970s. The main ones are the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February, Wellington International Pride Parade in March, Christchurch Pride in March and North Canterbury Pride, also in March. Another one to look out for is the Gay Ski Week in August/September. What we love most about the Pride events in New Zealand is that although they’re small, everyone in the community gets involved, even the Prime Minister!

Gay travel to new zealand

When it come to gay travel, New Zealand is wow personified. Touristic highlights include the Fiordland National Park, the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, and of course, the Hobbiton Movie Set in Hinuera. Not only is New Zealand a stunning country to visit, it’s super gay friendly, everywhere! New Zealanders have embraced change openly and with much enthusiasm. This is one place in the world where PDAs shouldn’t be a problem anywhere in the country.

Did you know In 1995, Georgina Beyer became the world’s first openly transgender mayor (of Carterton), as well as the world’s first openly transgender Member of Parliament.

Explore iconic iceland on a gay tour

Glaciers, geysers and cosmopolitan Reykjavik await on an all-gay tour of The Land of Fire & Ice with our friends at Out Adventures. Annually in March, they host a short and sweet escape snaking through Iceland’s otherworldly countryside with a chance to see The Northern Lights. And in August, they offer a sizzling summer tour featuring a South Shore Safari that wraps up back in Reykjavik just in time for ‘The Biggest Small Pride in the World‘.

Lgbtq rights in iceland

Iceland legalized homosexuality in 1940 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1996-2018. Gay marriage was voted unanimously by parliament in 2010. In relation to the military, Iceland is a country that doesn’t have an armed force. Iceland formally recognises a third gender option by placing an X on official documents. Interestingly, just like the gay marriage law in 2010, the Icelandic law that formally recognised the third gender option was passed unanimously in the Icelandic Parliament!

Gay travel to iceland

Iceland should be on every LGBTQ traveller’s bucket list, with incredible wonders to behold like the Blue Lagoon, spectacular geysers, the Northern Lights, the Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve, the Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park, the Skaftafell Ice Cave and the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church.

When it comes to welcoming LGBTQ tourists, Iceland is one place that nails it. It’s a pink haven, full stop! No issue with homophobia here. The Icelanders are one very open-minded bunch. They are laid back, easy-going and famous for their quirky sense of humour! Also be sure to check out the awesome Pink Iceland who not only do a phenomenal job marketing the country as an international LGBTQ destination, but also sponsor the main gay events in Iceland.

Portugal lgbtq tour

Want to visit the land of cod, custard tarts and Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, our friends at Out Adventures are hosting a sumptuous journey that ticks off Lisbon, Porto and the Douro Valley. Highlights include a private tour of Sintra, a day sipping & supping in wine country, historic tram tours and an invigorating speed boat experience. For all the nitty-gritty details, jump over to their site. And don’t forget to mention we sent you—you just might get a special deal. *wink*

Lgbtq rights in portugal

Portugal legalized homosexuality in 1982 and they introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2010 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1999. Sadly, Portugal still has a ban on transgender people from serving in the Portuguese army. Portugal introduced the right to change legal gender in 2011 and formally allows people to self-identify their gender.

The gay scene in portugal

Lisbon has a fantastic gay scene with many gay bars, clubs and parties particularly around the Bairro Alto and Principe Real areas. We love that there is a gay beach just outside of Lisbon called Beach 19. Porto is another popular tourist hotspot north of Lisbon with an active gay scene, particularly around the Galaria de Paris area. Down towards the south in the Algarve, there are gay scenes in Albufeira, Tavira and Portimão.

Gay events in portugal

There are 2 main annual gay events in Portugal that take place in the capital. The first is the colourful Lisbon Pride in June. The second is the Lisbon Bear Pride in May. The Lisbon Gay Film Festival is another excellent annual LGBTQ event in Portugal to look out for.

Gay travel to portugal

Touristic highlights include Lisbon’s Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Torre de Belém, the Convento do Cristo, hiking in the Gerês Mountain Range and the stunning UNESCO listed Castelo de Guimarães.

We love Lisbon and know that many other gay guys feel the same way. It’s like the next Madrid! It’s a very gay friendly city, English is well spoken, the gay scene is fantastic, a gay beach is right on your doorstep, and the guys are smoking hot! The Portuguese generally have a very open-minded attitude and made us feel extremely welcome.

Did you know? Portugal is often touted as being one of the most gay friendly countries in the world in various surveys. What sums it up best is this beautiful and inspiring video by gay couple, Lorenzo and Pedro, who filmed people’s reactions as they walked the streets of Lisbon holding hands:

Lgbtq rights in argentina

Argentina legalized homosexuality in 1887 and are currently developing a set of anti-discrimination laws that are being implemented in Rosario and Buenos Aires, hopefully soon nationwide. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009.

The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2012, which allows transgender people to identify with their chosen gender on official documents without first having to receive hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery or psychiatric counselling. Read more about Argentina LGBTQ rights here.

The gay scene in argentina

We love the gay scene in Buenos Aires. It has heaps of bars and clubs spread out between Palermo and San Telmo like Glam, Sitges and Peuteo. We also love Buenos Aires because of the queer milongas (tango dance halls) where you can learn to dance queer tango. Most other cities in Argentina have a gay scene, such as Mendoza and . The city of Rosario is considered the most gay-friendly and liberal-minded place in Argentina, often leading the way for proactive change. 

Gay events in argentina

The main gay event in Argentina is Buenos Aires Pride in November which is one of the . The Queer Tango Festival is another fascinating queer event, so unique to Argentina. In the wine capital of Mendoza, there is a gay segment in the annual grape harvesting festival in February called Vendimia.

We also love that the government actively supports and funds gay events, in particular, the GNetwork360 conference every August.

Gay travel to argentina

Touristic not-to-miss highlights of Argentina include the stunning Iguazu Falls, queer tango in Buenos Aires, wine tasting in Mendoza, trekking in El Chalten, getting up close with penguins in Punta Tombo and going to the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia. We have always felt welcomed everywhere during  and love returning here.

Did you know? Argentina jointly invented the tango (a UNESCO listed Cultural Heritage) with Uruguay. But did you also know that this sultry dance was initially between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s as a way to prep each other for when they could later get with a woman?

Today the culture of queer tango has prevailed so much that Milongas (tango halls) specialising in Queer Tango have mushroomed around the world, least of all in Buenos Aires. It’s become so popular that there is even a Queer Tango Festival in November in the Argentinian capital, as well as in cities around the world, particularly in Berlin, Rome, Munich and Paris. Read more about it in our article about our experience learning to learn to dance tango as a gay couple.

Lgbtq rights in france

France legalized homosexuality in 1791. They introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1982-2012. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the French armed forces. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2017 without needing to undergo surgery or receive a medical diagnosis.

France does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender. However, in 2010, France became the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Gay events in france

Paris Pride is the main gay event in France, as well as Magical Pride in Disneyland Paris. Most of the other cities have a Pride parade including Biarritz, Arras, Lyon and Toulouse. France is also famous for its gay ski festivals in March. The main ones are the European Gay Ski Week and the European Snow Pride.

Gay travel to france

France is the #1 touristic destination in the world for good reason! From culturally rich UNESCO listed sites to a world-class cuisine, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and smoking hot lovers…France really has it all! Our favourite not-to-miss highlights of France include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles Palace, the Côte d’Azur, Mont Saint-Michel, the Loire Valley Châteaux, Provence lavender fields and Mont-Blanc – the highest peak in Europe (4,810m / 15,780 ft).

When it comes to seeing gay couples holding hands in public, most French won’t bat an eyelid. The laissez-faire attitude is really a thing here!

Did you know? Just when you thought the French couldn’t get any gayer, along comes a gay bakery in Paris that makes baguettes in the shape of a ding-a-ling, La Baguette Magique!

Get frosty in finland

Embrace winter on Out Adventures‘ hot new Finnish foray. The all-gay tour kicks off in Helsinki before flying north towards the arctic circle. In our opinion, the best part of this adventure is the wide range of snowy excursions. For example, you can take the reins on an actual dog-sled in the icy Laplands, seek out The Northern Lights on a snowmobile safari, and even endure a polar plunge in the Arctic Ocean. Oh, and best of all, you’ll slumber in a glass-roofed cabin while admiring Aurora Borealis above.

Lgbtq rights in finland

Finland legalized homosexuality in 1911 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1995-2005. Gay marriage was legalised in 2017 and LGBT people are allowed to openly serve in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2002. However, sterilization is required, and transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender. Finland does not have legal recognition of non-binary gender. Find out more about Finland‘ LGBTQ rights here.

Gay events in finland

The main LGBTQ events in Finland are the Helsinki Pride Week in June and the Ruka Ski Pride in April. Other cities have a Pride event, such as Pirkanmaan Pride in June, Tampere and Turku. Whilst the gay scene of Helsinki is quite small, the Pride in June is super popular, attracting crowds of around 100,000.

Gay travel to finland

We think Finland as a gay destination is totally underrated. As well as the Northern Lights, this is one place where being gay has become so normalised that we felt totally safe to walk the streets almost anywhere holding hands, knowing that no one would bat an eyelid! Remember this is the home of the highly masculinized and suggestive homoerotic Tom of Finland art.

Other touristic highlights of Finland include the Suomenlinna Fortress, Rovaniemi and the Arctic, the Åland Archipelago, the Northern Lights, Turku, Porvoo and Lake Saimaa.

Did you know? Even the postage stamps in Finland are gay! The famous Tom of Finland was immortalised in postage stamps in 2014. Whilst they’re not the first stamps to depict suggestive art, they are certainly the first ever to depict homo suggestive art! 

Push yourself on a gay hike in norway

ATTN: Gay Hikers. The intrepid crew at Out Adventures are hosting perhaps the most physically challenging gay tour we’ve ever seen. On this sweaty scamper, you’ll reach Nordic Nirvana while surmounting mountains, kayaking fjords and trekking glaciers. Those who persevere will be rewarded with up-close views of Norway’s world-famous natural wonders like Trolltunga and Preikestolen plateau. Are you ready?

Oslo is the capital and main gay hub of the country. It has quite a big gay scene with numerous queer events taking place. But you need to bring a LOT of cash to get by here, it sure ain’t cheap!

Lgbtq rights in norway

Norway legalized homosexuality in 1972 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 1981-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2008 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1979. Norway introduced the right to change legal gender in 2016 and since 2013 doesn’t require sterilization for this. In 2016, Norway passed a law allowing the change of legal gender for transgender people solely based on self-determination.

Gay events in norway

Oslo Pride Festival in June is the main gay event in Norway attracting around 250,000 people each year. Most cities also have a pride event, the main ones include Bergen Pride May, the Lillehammer Winter Pride in February, Skeive Sorlandsdager in August and the Tromso Arctic Pride in November.

A very unique annual LGBTQ event is the Raballder Sports Cup – a gay sports event for handball! Also there’s the Sápmi Pride which takes place across Finland, Sweden and Norway each year.

Gay travel to norway

Norway is beautiful. Whilst there’s not much of a gay scene here or large gay events taking place, it sure packs a punch in terms of natural beauty, especially the Northern Lights. Just remember to bring money – lots of it! To give you an idea, the average pint of beer is around $10…!

Travel highlights include cosmopolitan Oslo, the endless snow-capped mountains peaks, deep fjords like Sognefjord, also the Pulpit Rock, Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands and the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen.

Lgbtq rights in malta

Malta legalized homosexuality in 1973 and have been introducing anti anti-discrimination laws since 2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2002. Sadly transgender people are banned from serving openly in the Maltese army.

Malta introduced the right to change legal gender in 2015. Malta has had legal recognition of a non-binary gender since 2017.

The gay scene in malta

Malta is a tiny island country in the Mediterranean south of Italy, with a population of just under half a million, therefore it’s too small to have a gay village. There are a handful of gay bars and clubs in Malta such as the Birdcage Lounge and Michelangelo gay club. There are also a few gay friendly hangouts dotted around the capital Valletta.

Gay travel to malta

Valletta is one of our favourite European capital cities. It’s a small walled UNESCO listed city, which you can walk around in a few hours. Every corner is full of history and culture. Other highlights include The Three Cities, Mdina, the Dingli Cliffs, Comino, Riviera Beach and Gozo.

We loved Malta and can see why many people rate it as the most gay friendly country in Europe. It has very lax laws and nobody cared about two men displaying PDAs.

Did you know? Malta is the most famous non-winner of Eurovision. Every year we get excited to see who will represent them. From cutie Fabrizio Faniello, Ira Losco and our favourite, the gorgeous Chiara:

Lgbtq rights in austria

Austria legalized homosexuality in 1971 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 2004-2017. Gay marriage was legalized in 2019 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. Austria introduced the right to change legal gender in 2009 and since 2019 it formally recognises a non-binary gender.

Gay events in austria

Vienna Pride in June is the main one, which has hosted EuroPride twice – in 2001 and 2019. Vienna Pride includes the Regenbogenparade, the “Rainbow Parade”. Other LGBTQ events in Austria include the Gay Snow Happening in March, the Pink Lake Festival in August, Ski Pride in April, the CSD Bregenz Pride in June and Linz Pride in June.

Gay travel to austria

Vienna is stunning and a city bursting with culture and history. This is a city that used to be the cultural capital of Europe several hundred years ago, especially in the classical music scene. Austria is the home of Mozart – specifically the picture-perfect Salzburg. Other highlights of Austria include The Vienna Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace, Hallstatt and Belvedere Palace.

We felt welcomed everywhere we went in Vienna and felt comfortable holding hands in public. Whilst the gay scene is small, there is a sizeable LGBTQ community and a handful of places to check out.

Did you know? Conchita Wurst is one of the most famous gay Austrians ever. His real name is Thomas Neuwirth who became famous for representing Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Songcontest and winning it with the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” dressed in full drag as Conchita, but with a beard! For many of us, it was the first time we saw a professional drag queen with a full beard on TV!.

Lgbtq rights in ireland

Ireland legalized homosexuality in 1993 and introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1998-2015. Gay marriage was legalized in 2015 and the right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year. Transgender people in Ireland can self-declare their gender for the purpose of updating passports, driving licences, obtaining new birth certificates and getting married.

Strong Catholic beliefs still continue to encourage homophobia in the more rural areas and older generations, but the change is exciting to watch! And then, of course, they are the undisputed Eurovision champions, having won the competition a record-breaking 7 times. A country that has won the gay Olympics the most times is certainly going to be pretty gay!

Gay events in ireland

Dublin Pride in June is the main LGBTQ event in Ireland. Other cities with Pride events include Cork Pride in July, Limerick Pride in July, Carlow Pride in July, Mayo Pride in July and Sligo Pride in August. Dublin also hosts lots of other LGBTQ events including the Dublin Bear Events in March and Trans Pride Dublin in July.

Gay travel to ireland

Ireland is gorgeous! The capital, Dublin, is a treat – it was even designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Other highlights of Ireland include The Cliffs of Moher, Dublin’s Grafton Street, The Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, The Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, The Dingle Peninsula, The Aran Islands, and more.

We’ve been to Ireland many times and can definitely see a change over the past few decades as the country has quickly evolved to embrace LGBTQ rights and welcome gay tourists.

Did you know? In 2017, an openly gay man, Leo Varadkar, became the “Taoiseach” (ie the Prime Minister) of Ireland. We saw Leo Varadkar in person, marching in the Canada Pride in Montreal in 2017 alongside Justin Trudeau, and love that he frequently stands up for LGBTQ rights, particularly when he met conservative Mike Pence in 2019.

Lgbtq rights in uruguay

Uruguay legalized homosexuality in 1934 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009. The right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year as well as the on official documents.

The gay scene in uruguay

The majority of the gay scene in Uruguay is in Montevideo, which includes Chains Pub, Bar Rodo, Il Tempo and Cain Club. Punta del Este also has a few gay friendly hangouts including the Soho Bar. Just note, Uruguayans head out late – dinner is around 9pm, bars get busy after 11pm and don’t even think about going to a club before 1am!

Gay events in uruguay

The two main ones gay events in Uruguay are Montevideo Pride in September and Punta Pride in the summer months of February. Both are low key affairs, but we love them because the entire local community gets involved – families, babies and even dogs! The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is very active in promoting local LGBTQ-friendly businesses in Uruguay. They have an annual conference every September, which also includes a mini-festival and parties.

Gay travel to uruguay

Touristic highlights of Uruguay include the picturesque UNESCO listed town of Colonia del Sacramento, the Salto del Penitente, Pan de Azúcar, Montevideo’s cutesy old town, Punta del Diablo, Cabo Polonio, Laguna de Castillos, Punta Ballena and the beachfront of Punta del Este.

Uruguay is often described as a “sleepy” country with the most laidback people on the planet. We can definitely agree with that. No one anywhere in the country gave two hoots about seeing two men holding hands in public. This is definitely one very tolerant and progressive country. Find out more about gay travel to Uruguay.

Did you know? Uruguay has an all-male clothing-optional guesthouse just outside of Punta del Este called Undarius! It’s super gay, complete with purple decor and balconies that are lit up rainbow lights. It’s also conveniently located close to the gay naturist beach of Chihuahua.

Lgbtq rights in belgium

Belgium legalized homosexuality in 1795 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2014. Gay marriage was legalized in 2003 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2007.

Whilst Belgium does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, many Belgian hospitals (such as the Ghent University Hospital) are famous for their specialisation in gender reassignment surgery. So much so that many transgender people from France go there for surgery due to a lack of accepting hospitals in France.

Gay events in belgium

The main Pride events are The Belgian Pride Brussels in May, Pride Ghent in May, Antwerp Pride in August and the Darklands Antwerpen in March. Other awesome queer events to look out for in Belgium include the Belgium Leatherpride in February, the Unicorn Festival in Antwerp in July and monthly dance parties like La Demence (the largest in Europe), and SPEK.

Gay travel to belgium

We’ve been several times to Belgium as a gay couple – either on a city break to Brussels and Bruges and once on a Flanders Field “pilgrimage” to see the former WW1 battlegrounds. We’ve loved it each time, especially my chips-loving-Frenchman! Belgium is overall very welcoming for gay travellers. When it comes to holding hands in public, we didn’t feel as comfortable as in other countries. Whilst the Belgium are generally tolerant and openminded, homophobia has grown recently in Belgium.

Belgium is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and as headquarters of the European Union and NATO. Touristic highlights include the Grand Palace in Brussels, the Canals and Belfry of Bruges, the Battlefields of Flanders, Ghent’s Gravensteen and Old Town, the Horta Museum and Town Houses, the Basilica of Bruges, Meuse Valley, Mons Old Town, and more.

Did you know? Belgium has also had its fair share of openly gay politicians, including the world’s second openly gay head of government, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo (2011-2014). We also love that Belgium has a “Rainbow Cops” police force who are specifically trained to handle LGBTQ issues.

Lgbtq rights in usa

The USA actually only legalized homosexuality in 2003 following the Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision, though some States did so a lot sooner, starting with Illinois back in 1961. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized in the USA, which was monumental and groundbreaking, inspiring many other countries to follow suit! More recently, in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in the Bostock v Clayton County case that federal civil rights law do protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

Transgender rights in usa

The US is a dichotomy when it comes to . On the one hand, there are trans havens with the most progressive transgender laws on the planet, formally allowing a nonbinary gender marker on ID documents. These include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, District of Colombia, Washington State, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – also hopefully soon in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia and Illinois. Sadly, on the other hand, there are a handful of homophobic States one would take caution to avoid!

The gay scene in usa

The USA leads the way when it comes to gay villages and gay scenes. It’s huge here. Almost every State has a gay village in its main cities, even places like Texas, which have the Montrose gay village in Houston!

Some of the gay heartlands in the USA include , Provincetown in Massachusetts, Fire Island in New York, Chelsea in NY, Guerneville in California, Castro in San Francisco, The South End in Boston, West Hollywood in LA, Boystown in Chicago, Capitol Hill in Denver, Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, Hillcrest in San Diego, Ogunquit in Maine, New Hope in Pennsylvania, Key West in Florida, Asbury Park in New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and so so many more! Read more in our detailed guide to some of the – most of which are in the States!

Gay events in usa

The USA has some of the biggest LGBTQ events in the world. The most famous is , which is also the home of the modern-day gay rights movement. In 2019, NYC hosted WorldPride, which attracted around 5 million people, making it the largest gay Pride event ever!

Other notable gay events in the US include San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair in September, the Capital Trans Pride in May in Washington, the New Orleans Mardi Gras in February, the Aspen Gay Ski Week in January and Miami Beach Pride in April. This is just a small selection of the many different LGBTQ events taking place across the USA every year!

Gay travel to usa

The USA offers so much for LGBTQ travellers. Touristic highlights include the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Yellowstone National Park, Disney and Universal theme parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Glacier National Park, Waikiki, Las Vegas and many more…

We’ll be honest, when we visited Florida as a gay couple during the Trump years, we were absolutely terrified and agreed to act as “friends” in places we weren’t sure. Upon arrival, the (straight white) guy at the immigration desk could see us nervously looking at each other, smiled at us then warmly asked, “are you boys married yet?” and proceeded to welcome us into the USA.

On the other extreme, when taking a photograph on Miami Beach’s rainbow crossing, a man rolled down his window and shouted, “Move out of the way, fa*gots!” This summed up the USA for us – on the one hand, it’s THE gayest nation on the planet, but on the other hand, it is riddled with pockets of pretty extreme homophobia.

Did you know? The Stonewall Riots were largely thanks to the efforts of an African American transgender woman from New Jersey, Ms Marsha P. Johnson. In June 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York, 23-year old Marsha was one of the key figures who stood up to the police during the raids, resisted arrest and therefore led to the pivotal Stonewall protests soon after.

Lgbtq rights in costa rica

Costa Rica began its fabulous journey back in 1911 when it legalized homosexuality. It is the latest member to our exclusive Gay Marriage Club after it legalized gay marriages in 2020. Just like Canada, Costa Rica was a trailblazer in relation to anti-discrimination laws, which it introduced in 1998. This included allowing LGBT people to openly serve openly in the civil defence Public Force (Costa Rica doesn’t have an army).

When it comes to transgender rights, Costa Rica introduced the right to change gender in 2018 recognises transgender people’s gender identity on ID cards.

Gay travel to costa rica

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. Travel highlights include the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde and the Cloud Forests, the Dominical, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, the Tortuguero National Park, the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park.

Costa Rica has come a long way over the past decade and whilst it may still retain a strong influence from the conservative Catholic Church, attitudes are quickly evolving and the country has for years been embracing LGBTQ tourism.

Did you know? Costa Rica has had its fair share of openly gay politicians. In April 2013, Carmen Muñoz became the first openly lesbian member of the country’s Legislative Assembly. In May 2018, Enrique Sánchez became the first openly gay congressman in Costa Rica.

Go wild in south africa

Check out this South Africa gay tour by Out Adventures. It begins in Zimbabwe where you’ll witness the power and beauty of Victoria Falls. Then it’s off to Botswana and South Africa for authentic safaris in private game reserves. Finally, you’ll spend four full days soaking up the culture and cuisine of gorgeous gay Cape Town. If that itinerary doesn’t spark your sense of adventure, we don’t know what will!

Lgbtq rights in south africa

South Africa shooketh the LGBTQ world in the 1990s! It became the first country to enshrine full anti-discrimination laws in its Constitution. Up until that point, no other country had ever done this before – a trailblazer not only in Africa but across the entire world! This included allowed LGBT people to openly serve in the army. It didn’t stop there, South Africa went on to introduce the right to change legal gender in 2003 and legalized gay marriages in 2006.

The gay scene in south africa

Cape Town and Johannesburg have the largest LGBTQ communities in South Africa each with an exciting gay scene. Cape Town has a gay village in De Waterkant as well as in Green Point and Sea Point. Over in Johannesburg, whilst there is no gay village, there are many gay places spread out across the city, particularly in Melville, Parkhurst and Rosebank. Other cities in South Africa with a small gay scene include Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban, Berea and Stellenbosch.

Gay events in south africa

South Africa see Pride events happening in most of the cities. The Johannesburg and Cape Town Prides are the best ones. Johannesburg Pride happens in October and has been nicknamed the “Pride of Africa“ because it is the largest (and one of the fewest) in the entire continent. Cape Town Pride is also a Mardi Gras festival and happens in February.

Other prominent Pride events in South Africa include the Pretoria LGBTQI Gay Pride in October, Durban Pride in June, Mzansi Pride Johannesburg in April and the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride in Port Elizabeth in November.

Gay travel to south africa

South Africa almost ticks all the boxes – stunning destination to visit, a large, active LGBTQ community, and lots of queer hangouts and events happening. The only downside is the violent crime so prevalent around the country which makes it a little big dangerous for all travellers whether straight or gay. Obviously, if you stick to the areas you know are safe, it’s absolutely fine!

South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise, with some of the best safaris in the world. Other touristic highlights include the Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Stellenbosch, The Drakensberg, The Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and Robben Island.

Did you know? Nelson Mandela is often regarded as the Grandfather of LGBTQ rights. When he became President in 1994, he immediately pushed for one of the most progressive constitutions the world has ever seen – the first one ever to outlaw discrimination based on who we love. Big Daddy Nelson, we salut you!

– Israel: Tel Aviv is one of the gayest places on the planet and Tel Aviv Pride one of the best prides in the world! Israel sadly has rejected gay marriage 5 times but since 2006 it recognises gay marriages from abroad.

Gay tour of thailand

Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!

– Thailand: Thailand is super gay! Bangkok has one of the best gay scenes in the world and we love it. Phuket and Pattaya also have large queer scenes, and islands like Koh Samui even have their own annual Pride. Thailand was set to introduce civil union laws in 2020 but gay marriage is still a long way off. Read more about Bangkok in our gay travel guide to Bangkok.

Stefan arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog bear-magazine.com As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .

hello! as a gay brazilian, i think it’s important to mention that our most relevant national laws of lgbt+ interest happened at the initiative of the supreme court, since we never had presidents who openly advocated for lgbt + rights (gay marriage was legalized in 2010, during a supposedly progressive government, and the ban on homo/transphobia in 2019, during our current and pathetic government). it’s also worth noting that, last year, the most voted councilor in the country was a transgender woman 😉 cheers

Thanks for this Flavio! Will take it into account when we update this article next.

I would remove Argentina from the list. As a gay Argentinian, my couple and I have been rejected from many Motels just for being gay in many States (provincias), outside of Buenos Aires or CABA. If you are a gay tourist you shouldn’t out yourself unless you are staying in Capital, and even in CABA, many homophobic attacks occur everyday. Don’t even think to tell anybody you are gay if you visit the North of my country, people are ultra conservative.

Please remove Argentina from this list, our current president Alberto Fernandez have used many offensive slang in public social media, like Twitter, the fact that we have „progressist“ laws is just a depiction of hypocrisy and mirrors and smoke casted by our corrupt goverment.

Really sorry to read that! Will definitely keep it in mind when we come to update the list. For the record, we had a very positive experience traveling in Argentina as a gay couple.

I think you never went to Brazil then, for it not to be in the list. It was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage and adoption, the first to make homophobia a specific crime and hosts the biggest gay pride parade in the world in São Paulo, with over 4 million people

We love Brazil, but with all the homophobia Bolsanero has spouted, not sure we agree.

I dream to be in Spain,but when I see that Canada its the first for most gay friendly i change little mind haha, but its to far from my county, Spain to , but more near then bear-magazine.com from Albania , here its to difficult to live life free, 🚫🤦‍♂️I hope that in the future i will live in bear-magazine.com im a little shocked that i didnt see the Brazil in this list , haha , i have see from post that this county accept lgbt, and there have a lot people from community lgbt, and i like brazilians😛But your post will make people to think better where to start a new life, its helpful , thank you man

We used to have Brazil on the list, but with the onset of Bolsanero, we revised that! We can’t WAIT to put Brazil back in this list 🙂

Thank you so much for making this. I don’t know a place I would go to when I turn 18 (cause family) so thank you:)

Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.

Erhöhen sie ihren einkauf

In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‚enigma machine‘ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem ‚Keep the Home Fires Burning‘, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream bear-magazine.com book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

Pressestimmen

„To summarise, this is an excellent book that captures the untold lives of gay personnel throughout the world wars…I hope that this title encourages readers to share LGBT stories within their own family histories.“

“ pulls together previously published vignettes into a highly readable volume, and is well placed to bring the story of gay service-men to a wider public audience.“

„Bourne’s valuable and easy-to-read book is not quite a collection of ‚untold‘ stories, as in the sub-title. Rather it gathers under-told stories, and those not previously collected together to give a coherent collective account of GBTQI men in wars.“

Introduction

Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men are among the small number of groups for whom HIV remains uncontrolled worldwide. Although there have been recent and notable decreases in HIV incidence across several countries, prevalence and incidence is consistently higher or rising among men who have sex with men when compared with other groups.

Results

Higher provider discrimination and sexual stigma were associated with lower odds of perceived access to services, service utilization and virologic suppression. Conversely, accessing services from community-based organizations focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; greater engagement in gay community; and comfort with healthcare providers were associated with higher odds of achieving steps along the prevention and treatment continuum.

Conclusions

To meet accelerated global HIV targets, global leaders must adopt a differentiated and bolder response, in keeping with current epidemiologic trends and community-based research. The HIV-related needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be addressed openly, quickly and with sufficient resources to support evidence-based, community-led and human rights-affirming interventions at scale.

Measures

Participants completed a 30-minute questionnaire including items about demographics (e.g. age, country of residence, sexual orientation, ability to meet one’s basic financial needs, healthcare coverage, having a regular healthcare provider); HIV status; sexual stigma or homophobia (seven items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of stigma or homophobia, α=0.8534 – e.g. “In your country, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a natural expression of sexuality in men, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a perversion?”); comfort with one’s healthcare provider (three items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of comfort, α=0.8657 – e.g. “In your country, how comfortable do you feel discussing your sexual health concerns with your healthcare provider?”); experiences of provider discrimination (five items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of discrimination, α=0.8703 – e.g. “In the last six months, has a healthcare provider treated you poorly because you are gay/MSM?); and engagement with the gay community (10 items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of engagement, α=0.7304 – e.g. “During the last six months, how often have you participated in a gay men’s/MSM support group?”).

Main outcomes

The primary outcomes in this study are access to HIV prevention and treatment services (e.g. “In your community, how accessible is free or affordable HIV testing?”) and HIV prevention and treatment service utilization. Service utilization was assessed with questions such as “When was your last HIV test? In the last six months, how frequently have you been tested for HIV?” (dichotomized as having had an HIV test in the last 12 months versus not having been tested within the last 12 months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you obtained condoms?” (dichotomized as having obtained condoms at least once versus never obtaining condoms in the past six months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you participated in HIV/risk-prevention programmes for gay men/MSM?” (dichotomized as having participated in HIV programmes three or more times versus less). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was assessed as lifetime use with the following question: “Have you ever taken HIV medications before potentially being exposed to HIV, because you thought it would reduce your chances of getting HIV?” Participants were considered to have used PrEP if they responded “yes” to this question.

Among those living with HIV, linkage to care was assessed with the following question: “When you were diagnosed, did someone help you get into HIV care?” Participants were considered to have been linked to care if they reported being linked within 12 months or sooner after their HIV diagnosis. Retention in care was assessed with the following question: “How many HIV-related healthcare visits have you had in the last six months?” Participants were considered as being retained in care if they reported having more than two visits. Viral load was assessed with the following question: “What is your current viral load?” This was recorded for the outcome of virologic suppression; participants who reported either having less than 200 copies/mL or having undetectable viral load were considered virologically suppressed.

Using the primary outcomes, MSMGF adopted an intervention-centric approach to construct the HIV prevention and treatment continuum described in this report. We used this approach to highlight low service utilization for each intervention type [16], acknowledging the following: 1) the heterogeneity of prevention needs represented among diverse groups of men who have sex with men; and 2) the complex web of interacting HIV prevention modalities [17]. The number of participants who tested for HIV and received results served as the denominator for determining steps along the cascade. On the prevention end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-negative men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported obtaining condoms in the last six months. On the treatment end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-positive men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported being linked to care.

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DID YOU KNOW…in February 2009 Iceland famously elected the world’s first-ever openly gay national leader: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. She then went on to marry her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir in 2010, which made Iceland a popular gay wedding destination. And if Iceland couldn’t get any gayer, the former (straight!) mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, famously attended the 2010 Reykjavík Pride Parade dressed in full drag as Miss Reykjavík! 

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Did you know? On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBTQ rights, refugees and tolerance, which went viral, receiving over 3 million views. Part of the speech reads as follows:

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We challenge you to point us to such a large country the size of Europe (in both size and population), that has paved the way forward with LGBTQ rights but doesn’t also have a dichotomy between safe pink havens and ultra-homophobic areas?

For us we have to recognise that this is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage in 2015 has had (and continues to have!) a monumental domino effect around the world.

If we were to take certain States (like NYC or California) as standalone, they’d be up there at the top battling it out with Canada and Spain, which is why we place it further down. But this doesn’t escape the fact that the USA is pretty much the epicentre of the gay world!

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Download this chart figure 3: uk countries by lesbian, gay or bisexual population, 2017

Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK household population identifying as LGB has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017. The proportion in Wales increased by 0.7%, England and Scotland both increased by 0.5% and Northern Ireland by 0.1%. Of all these changes, only the increases seen for the UK, England and Wales were statistically significant.

Regionally (Figure 4), London continued to have the highest proportion of people identifying as LGB in 2017 (2.6%). The North East and East of England both had the lowest proportion (1.5%).

The relatively high proportion of people identifying as LGB in London can be explained by the younger age structure and the diversity of the population. The median age of the population in London was 35.1 years in 2017, compared with 41.9 years in the North East and 41.6 years in the East of England.

The South West was the region that saw the largest change in the percentage identifying as LGB over the last five years, from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.4% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 5: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by legal marital status, uk, 2017

In 2017, of those from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 6% identified themselves as gay or lesbian and bisexual (Figure 6). Due to small sample sizes, sexual orientation estimates by ethnic group have fluctuated year-on-year, with notable uncertainty around LGB estimates for all ethnic groups except White. Consequently, over the last five years, for the LGB population the only statistically significant change was for the White ethnic group, where the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

8. population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual are most likely to have a marital status of single (never married or civil partnered)

In 2017, around 69% of those identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) stated they had never married or entered into a civil partnership (Figure 5). This is a higher percentage than those identifying as heterosexual or straight (34%). Reasons for this might include:

those identifying as LGB having a younger age structure than those who identify as heterosexual or straight

legal unions for same-sex couples having only become available relatively recently

Those who had a legal marital status of single may be in same-sex cohabiting couples. In the UK, 0.5% of families were same-sex cohabiting couple families in 2017.

11. quality and methodology

Sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK. The sexual identity question is not asked by proxy. Proxy interviews are defined as those where answers are supplied by a third party, who is usually a member of the respondent’s household.

The sexual identity question is asked in both face-to-face and telephone interviews, at first personal contact. During the face-to-face interviews, adults were asked: „Which of the options on this show card best describes how you think of yourself?“ For telephone interviews, a slightly different way of collecting the information was used: „I will now read out a list of terms people sometimes use to describe how they think of themselves“. The list is read out to respondents twice. On the second reading, the respondent has to say „stop“ when an appropriate term they identified with is read out. In both modes, the order in which the terms appeared, or are read out, is unique for each household’s respondent to ensure confidentiality.

The „other“ option on the question is included to address the fact that not all people will consider they fall in the first three categories, that is, heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual.

The APS covers the household population but excludes people living in communal establishments with the exception of those in NHS housing and students in halls of residence (sampled via the private households of their parents). Members of the armed forces are only included in the APS if they live in private accommodation.

This bulletin presents percentages. Estimates of the population numbers and measures of quality (to show the levels of uncertainty associated with survey estimates) are presented in the datasets. Users are advised to consult the quality measures when interpreting the estimates as some estimates are based on a relatively small sample. As a result, these estimates are subject to uncertainty particularly when making comparisons, such as changes from one year to another. Therefore, annual changes and changes over five years identified in this report are described where appropriate as “statistically significant” – that means that there is likely to have been a real change in the underlying population proportions and that the difference we are observing is unlikely to be due to chance.

The Sexual orientation Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data

Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes sexual orientation estimates for the UK and constituent countries only. In April 2017, ONS published research findings from an experimental method to produce subnational sexual identity estimates.

The revisions policy for population statistics is available.

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The Country Ranking section is where you can see the bigger picture – quite literally.

This is the latest ILGA-Europe rating of 49 European countries.

The colour assigned to each country gives you an indication of where the countries are positioned on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality).

Just a note – this colour doesn’t change when you are arranging countries by individual categories. So, don’t be alarmed if the colours vary greatly among countries when you group them together in this way!

The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people. The ranking records a country’s legal standards for comparison with its European neighbours but the numbers only provide one part of the story. Our Annual Review gives a more nuanced, detailed overview of every country’s progress over the last twelve months and has a chapter dedicated to each country as well as developments at international level.

Tel aviv, israel

What can we say about this incredible city hasn’t already been said? We were midway through our year-long backpacking trip abroad when we decided upon our next stop: Israel. I (Emily) am fluent in Hebrew and have visited a few times before. I couldn’t wait to introduce Robyn to the culture, landscape, food (she’s a chef), and beauty of this country. From Haifa to the Golan, Jerusalem, and back to Tel Aviv, we explored Israel for a month, staying with friends and adventuring around.

Unbeknownst to us, our travels lined right up with Tel Aviv Pride. For anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community who are scoping out potential gay-friendly travel destinations where you can feel safe, and welcome… we cannot recommend Tel Aviv enough. This city is thriving with hip neighbourhoods full art, cuisine, nightlife, and of course, a proud and large LGBTQ presence. During Pride, all day and night, the city turns into one giant parade, with thousands of people marching and partying throughout the streets, all the way down to the beach. The energy is magnificent. Colors. Music. Celebration. Community. Dancing. Did we mention the beach? Go book that flight!

Amsterdam, the netherlands

Amsterdam has been our hometown for the past four years and is the (former) gay capital of Europe! In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the country is known for its tolerance. Our culture is about celebrating diversity and therefore our Pride Week is all about partying and less about protesting. In Amsterdam, the gay scene is mostly concentrated around the many gay bars in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, and we’ve had many fun parties at the Amstel Fifty Four on Wednesdays, the drinks night of student association A.S.V. Gay.

Berlin, germany

I love Berlin for the creative and open spirit that this city seems to nurture. It’s what made it a gay hotspot in the 1920s (Cabaret!) and continues to make it so special and unique for LGBTQ people today. There’s so much room in the city for so many different types of interests as well, which makes it really diverse for the many colors of the LGBT rainbow… with queer parties and meetups for just about every interest! There are great queer bars such as SilverFuture in Neukölln and Facciola in Kreuzberg, both with their flare and social atmospheres that make them great places for tourists, whilst mega techno clubs and parties (what guide to gay Berlin couldn’t include Berghain?!) still attract a mix of LGBT locals and tourists.

Berlin Pride, known as Christopher Street Day (CSD), takes place every July.

Brighton, united kingdom

Brighton: is there anywhere more gay-friendly in the UK? I think not. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to take the long drive south to see what all the fuss is about. So, for my birthday last year, my girlfriend Helen and I did just that. And FINALLY, I understood. Brighton is beautiful. Everything from the burnt out old pier to the Lanes is just perfection. With hundreds of bars, restaurants, and accommodation options to choose from, you’re never going to struggle for something to do, a good bite to eat and a place to stay. You’re also never going to struggle to feel accepted as this is undoubtedly one of the best gay cities around. So, if you’re looking for the perfect gay-friendly city for your next staycation, then Brighton it is! I know I’ll be back there again very soon.

Guadalajara, mexico

Guadalajara may be Mexico’s most gay-friendly city. Compared to other places in Mexico, it was the city where I saw the most signs of affection in public between same sex couples, and there are plenty of gay bars, clubs and parties for everyone. One of the best known is Voltio, which every Friday hosts the scandalous underwear party where men of all kinds strip down to their pants and get to know each other in this grungy, former warehouse. Despite only having started three years ago, it is home to one of the largest Pride events in Latin America, taking place every June with over 4000 participants. Finally, it’s not far from the famous Pacific beach towns in the Banderas Bay, including the super gay Puerto Vallarta.

Buenos aires, argentina

Argentina is extremely progressive with LGBT rights. It was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which included full adoption rights. The right to change legal gender has been in place since 2012 and anti-discrimination laws are in full force in Rosario and the big capital city, Buenos Aires.

We love Buenos Aires because it has one of the best gay scenes across Latin America, which is heavily supported by the government, in particular in August when it has its BADiversa week every August. The gay scene of Buenos Aires is quite spread out, but the focal point is in the large, residential neighbourhood of Palermo, plus a few places dotted about in super cool San Telmo and well-to-do Recoleta. Some of the best places to visit include Glam Club in Recoleta, Sitges bar in Palermo, Contramano bear club in Recoleta and Pride Café in San Telmo.

Our favourite memory from our travels in Buenos Aires is dancing the tango together as a same-sex couple at one of the queer milongas (a tango dance hall). There’s nothing more romantic than dancing this famous Argentinian/Uruguayan dance together and it was the best place to meet like-minded people. The two main queer tango milongas in the city are La Marshall (in San Telmo) and Tango Queer (in Recoleta).

Buenos Aires Gay Festival takes place every November.

Auckland, new zealand

New Zealand was the first international stop on our year-long journey abroad. We stayed with a friend in Auckland before moving onto Waitara, also on the North Island. Here we worked with renowned NZ photographer and LGBTQ+ activist Fiona Clarke (you should look her up) and then spent a month camping on the South Island. We knew Auckland would be something special but we had no idea just how unique our experience of the city, and with Fiona, would actually be!

Each year Auckland hosts a week of Pride events, one of which is called The Big Gay Out (as if New Zealand wasn’t already the most epic spot). TBGO, organised by New Zealand AIDS Foundation, is a free event that takes place in Coyle Park and is full of music, art vendors, food and dancing. We were excited to attend in 2016, especially when Emily (musician/songwriter Emily Kopp) was asked to play on the main stage! We had a beautiful time not only in Auckland but in all of New Zealand: the country is stunning and full of kind people. It’s a MUST SEE in our book.

Gran canaria, canary islands

Gran Canaria is an extremely famous destination throughout the year for European gays. This Spanish island is part of the Canary Islands, which lies off the coast of Africa, therefore guaranteed almost 365 days of great weather. Spain generally is a very gay-friendly destination, but Gran Canaria has always had a more tolerant attitude. During the harsh, repressive Franco years, the government turned a blind eye to homosexuality as the island was too far away from the mainland to bother with. From the 1960s, tourism really started to take off, attracting more and more foreigners and therefore even more tolerant attitudes.

We love Gran Canaria because there is a massive gay scene at Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles in the southern part of the island. The Yumbo Centre is the focal point for the area: a large shopping mall full of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shops, making it a gay man’s paradise. Slightly further south of this is the large gay beach at Kiosk #7. Gran Canaria also has several gay pride festivals happening throughout the year such as the Maspalomas Fetish Week in October, Maspalomas Winter Pride in November, Carnivals in February (both in Maspalomas and Las Palmas), Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and finally numerous bear parties in October and another in March.

One of our favourite experiences in Gran Canaria was taking a boat trip (run by Canarias Gay) with friends to the remote beach called Gui Gui. This is a clothing optional beach on the Western coast of the island, hidden away at the bottom of a Grande ravine. This was the perfect day trip and a more relaxing way to see a different side to this remarkable island.

Milan, italy

We love Milan because it has the best GLBT scene in Italy. There are plenty of bars, parties, cultural events and film exhibitions that focus on the gay community. We also love Milan because everyone is welcome! Most of the bars we like to drink at before going out are around Porta Venezia and at the heart of this area is Via Lecco. Here you will find a number of bars where you can have an “Aperitivo Italiano”, stay out late and meet the locals. During Pride, this street becomes the city’s Pride Square. All the gay events in Milan start from here and it’s also the best place to end the night at the most trendy clubs.

New york, usa

New York City is the ultimate LGBT travel destination with a little bit of something for everyone on the spectrum. There’s Hell’s Kitchen, where lots of gay guys hang out, or Henrietta Hudson in the Village, which is one of three remaining lesbian bars in the five boroughs. If the queer and transgender scene is more your speed, check out Wednesday nights at The Woods in Brooklyn. Not a drinker? No problem – head to Chelsea and have dinner at an LGBT-owned restaurant such as Elmo or Cafeteria. Don’t forget to check out the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art or join an LGBT history walking tours with Oscar Wilde Tours. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete with paying respects at The Stonewall Inn.

Rome, italy

Rome is an incredible city with tonnes of amazing places to take photos and historical sites that will take your breath away. Inclusive and international, the gay life in Rome is fun and easy-going. Both during international events or smaller local festivals, you will meet plenty of good-hearted people that will offer you to show you around. The heart of the gay life in Rome is Gay Street, right behind the Colosseum. This is the place locals prefer for a drink to start the night. You’ll find yourself talking to everyone and, with the night coming, you’ll want to discover one of the most popular Italian clubs: Muccassassina in winter and Gay Village in Summer.

Lisbon, portugal

One of the most amazingly gay-friendly cities I can recommend for LGBT travellers is Lisbon. As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is full of culture and nice spots to see and visit. The nightlife in Bairro Alto is really fun, and there are several gay-friendly pubs, discos and a sauna. But Lisbon gay life is not only limited to the city centre. Extended along the southern coast is the Costa da Caparica, a stunning place to enjoy the sea, with beautiful, long beaches and areas equipped for tourists. This region is served by a slow train that starts from Lisbon and travels along the coast. Beach 19 is a well-known gay beach and a great place to meet new people and have fun. Last but not least, the Portuguese people are very open-minded and LGBT people are free to be themselves.

Tokyo, japan

During our current world trip, we fell in love with Japan and especially with Tokyo. Previously, we’d heard about Japan’s crazy culture with its cosplay, maid and cat cafes and much more. But that’s not the best part of Japanese culture: it’s the people. Japanese people are the kindest and most polite people we have ever met. Culturally, they consider saying ‘no’ as impolite, but it’s also in their culture to be a little distant because of personal space. Therefore, public displays of affection (PDAs) and topics like sex and sexuality are things Japanese do not talk about, though gender norms are more fluid in Japan than elsewhere in the world.

Most LGBT-people in Japan are just ‘gay for the weekend’ and often even have a ‘normal’ family during the rest of the week. Nonetheless, it’s also in their culture to not openly judge people who do show PDAs or talk about their sexuality. Especially while drinking, Japanese people open up about these things and that might be the reason that Tokyo has more gay bars than London! These gay bars can be found in Tokyo’s gay area Shinjuku-nichōme, the perfect place to either find your special someone or to celebrate your love with your special someone. And in between all the gay bars we found the perfect place for us: bar Goldfinger, hosting women-only parties every Saturday night!

Washington dc, usa

Washington DC is an exciting place to visit and there’s an engaged local LGBT community. Beyond the history, you’ll find plenty of entertainment, shopping, dining and other recreational opportunities. Washington DC is also home to lots of great festivals and events like Chinese New Year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For LGBT specific events, check out the Best of Gay DC Awards in the fall or Capital Pride’s Holiday Heatwave in December. Visit DC in the summer to attend the Capital Pride Celebration or DC Black bear-magazine.com also has great neighborhoods like the trendy Shaw district or Logan Circle, with an upscale and elegant feel, including chic boutiques and wine bars. Or head to Columbia Heights to experience a strong Latino and hipster crowd with a mix of ethnic restaurants and cool taverns. To find the best gay hangouts, the top neighborhoods include the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle or Logan Circle with LGBT favorite spots like Cobalt, 30 Degrees, Green Lantern or DIK Bar.

Washington DC’s Capital Pride takes place every June.

Bangkok, thailand

Bangkok is an Asian megacity, bursting with energy and colour. Often overlooked by visitors eager to reach the glorious beaches of Southern Thailand, this capital city has life pulsating from its core. The traditional backpacker area is centred around Koh San Road but the real heart of authentic Bangkok beats from Silom. The city’s premier financial district by day, once the sun goes down the area is home to delectable street food, rooftop bars and Thailand’s prosperous and lively gay village. Bangkok is frantic yet spiritual; a place where you feel alive from the moment you arrive. Boredom isn’t an option in here: with its cavernous maze of sois (filled with more eateries than you could ever sample), the rich heritage of its royal past and thirst for modernisation, Bangkok is unique, crazy and utterly unforgettable.

Bangkok’s first gay pride parade is due to take place in 2018.

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On 25 March, 1969, Judy Garland took to the stage at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen. As she reached the crescendo of Over the Rainbow – the song which made her a global star aged just 17 – it was unknown to the audience that they were watching her final live performance. Four months later, 47 year-old Garland was found dead in Chelsea, London, after accidentally overdosing on the drugs she had self-medicated with since childhood. One of the headlines would read: “Judy’s voice stilled. The rainbow is gone.”

Fifty years on, Garland superfan Ross Semple, 27, still listens to that Copenhagen concert religiously. “I cry every time I listen to that recording,” he says. “The pain in her voice, knowing what was to come soon after, you can hear it all.” Having seen The Wizard of Oz as a child, Ross was further drawn towards Judy Garland in his late teens, around the same time he came out as gay. He began watching her films, listening to her music and learning about her life. “I want to know as much as I can about her,” he explains. “Because I want to be able to speak with authority about her and understand her, because she deserves that.”

Ross is far from the only gay man to feel such strong affinity with Garland’s work and life. Gay magazine The Advocate once called her the “Elvis of homosexuals”, and in a 1967 review of Garland’s concert at New York City’s Palace Theatre, Time Magazine observed that a “disproportionate part of her nightly claque” was gay. Two years earlier, Garland herself had been asked if at a San Francisco press conference if she minded having such a large gay following, to which she responded: “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people!”

Homosexuals understand suffering. and so does garland – esquire magazine, 1969

Journalist, author and self-confessed Garland devotee Robert Leleux wrote in the New York Times 2012 that the LGBTQ+ community’s love of Garland – which he dubbed “Judyism” – was becoming “little more than a cultural memory”. But now Judyism may be set to grip a whole new generation with the release of Judy, a biopic starring Renée Zellweger. Set in 1969, when Garland arrived in London for a five-week run of sold-out concerts, the film received rapturous reviews for Zellweger’s performance when it premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this month. The buzz surrounding the release, partnered with the 2018 remake of A Star is Born – the iconic showbiz drama that earned Garland an Academy Award nomination in 1954 – has brought her distinctly gay legacy back into focus.

In biopic Judy, Renée Zellweger plays Garland – and is a favourite for next year’s Oscars (Credit: David Hindley/ LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.” However queer historian Dr Justin Bengry warns against generalising in this way. “It’s important to ask: for whom is Judy Garland resonant, important and iconic?” he tells BBC Culture. “It seems to be a significant category of gay men, in particular, who are invested in celebrities or the camp aesthetic that Garland embodies. But it’s also important to recognise that they aren’t the totality of gay men.”

The camp that Bengry mentions is significant to Garland’s gay icon status. Queer film historian Jack Babuscio defines camp as “irony, aestheticism, theatricality and humour” – four pillars that form the foundation of Garland’s public persona. In fact, her life story is practically a blueprint for our modern understanding of what makes a gay icon. Analysing her story, from upbringing to death, helps us understand how and why some gay men look to famous women to help them navigate the world.

In 1922, Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm – named after her parents Frank and Ethel – in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. When Garland was four, the family moved to California following rumours that her father, a closeted bisexual, had made sexual advances towards young men. After the family settled in California, Ethel Gumm began to promote her daughters as a performing trio, known as The Gumm Sisters. It was Garland’s mother who first introduced her to drugs. According to Gerald Clarke, author of Garland biography Get Happy, Ethel would give her daughters pills in the morning and at night, saying “I’ve got to get those girls going!” Eventually, after her older sisters both married, Garland was signed by studio giant MGM as a teenager on a seven-year contract. At 17, she starred in her breakout role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. 

Like judy garland, gay men are brought up to be ordinary. one is not brought up gay – richard dyer

This period in Garland’s life, which mirrored closely the story of Dorothy, has contributed significantly to her status as a gay icon. Much like her gingham-dressed alter ego, swept away by the winds into a magical, Technicolor world, Garland was plucked from obscurity to become a cultural icon. In his book, Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, professor Richard Dyer observes some gay men identify with Garland’s rejection of the ordinariness that she seemed destined for as a child. He theorises that turning out to be abnormal after being “saturated with the values or ordinariness” is a point where Garland and Dorothy’s stories align with the experience of some gay men, encouraging those who perceive themselves as ‘different’ to gravitate towards her.

Garland’s arrival as a major Hollywood star was complicated by a series of disastrous personal relationships, most notably with herself. From a young age, her self-image was relentlessly criticised by film executives who believed that she was unattractive. Alongside her mother, MGM executives controlled her image and encouraged her to take drugs to stay slim. Critical acclaim for her stand-out performances in Meet Me in St Louis and Till the Clouds Roll By coincided with praise of her ‘radiant’ appearance. But low points in Garland’s career were often accompanied by drastic weight gain and there were high-profile suicide attempts.

Garland’s coming-of-age mirrored the story of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – both were ordinary girls swept into a world of Technicolor and magic (Credit: Alamy)

However Garland’s body struggles arguably made her a figure of endearment. As culture journalist Anne Helen Petersen told Karina Longworth in a 2014 episode of her podcast You Must Remember This: “Judy didn’t look like the rest of the MGM stars. She became this avatar for the rejected: not sexy enough, not pretty enough.” This physical insecurity is something that many gay men can identify with, in particular, as a demographic more likely to battle body dysmorphia, harm their bodies, attempt suicide suffer from eating disorders. In the book, Changing Gay Male Identities, Dr Andrew Cooper suggests that the body can be a complex battleground for many gay men: that the body becomes a key site for projecting a “successful” sense of self to gay peers, but also for embodying success in the eyes of wider society. With this in mind, is it any wonder gay men relate to Garland’s desire to stay slim and successful?

Garland’s professional and personal lives were both defined by turbulence. She married five times and two of her husbands were, like her father, suspected of being gay or bisexual. Garland first married at 19 when she eloped to Las Vegas with musician David Rose. A year later, when she fell pregnant, her mother convinced her to have an illegal abortion. Drugs and financial instability were a near-constant presence in her life and she was suspended numerous times by MGM for missing shoot days or being incoherent, intoxicated and abusive on set. At 28, she was eventually dropped by MGM shortly after being replaced by Ginger Rogers on The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Garland’s lead role in 1954’s A Star is Born was a comeback moment. At 32, she had already been divorced twice and suffered numerous breakdowns. The high-budget project was seen as her final throw of the dice in Hollywood. Garland’s portrayal of Esther Blodgett, an aspiring singer who becomes tortured by her love interest’s addiction issues, is regarded as one of the greatest film performances of all time. In one pivotal scene, she says: “You don’t know what it’s like to watch someone you love crumble away – bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes – and stand there helpless… I hate his promises to stop, I hate going home at night and listening to his lies. I hate him for failing and I hate me too.” It is hard to listen to these words without connecting them to her own addiction struggles.

It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was. it’s a disservice to her body of work – ross semple

Yet the critical acclaim Garland received for A Star is Born was tarnished by its commercial underperformance. Deemed too long, the film had to be cut considerably, leading to a botched edit that left viewers underwhelmed. It flopped at the box office and Warner Bros then cancelled the lucrative multi-film deal Garland had signed with them. She was widely expected to take home the Academy Award for her role in the film, with reporters even waiting by her hospital bedside to capture her reaction as she prepared to give birth. But the Oscar ended up going to Grace Kelly, signalling that Garland’s Hollywood star was not going to be reignited after all.

At this point, the motif of Garland as a ‘survivor’ becomes central to her gay appeal. A Star is Born further blurred the line between her work and life, with Richard Dyer identifying this as the moment where Garland’s image of being “damaged goods” becomes an essential part of her star persona and gay icon status. He argues that, from then on, Garland’s work and life tells a story of survival, and of someone trying to assert some form of control in a world that was set up to destroy her. 

Garland had a comeback moment in 1954 showbiz drama A Star is Born – but it was short-lived (Credit: Alamy)

Like a true survivor, Garland rebounded from the commercial failure of A Star is Born. She found a new niche as a live singer, performing in a drug-induced haze on an endless tour after financial troubles left her permanently broke. Audiences, many of whom were gay, roared with laughter at her quick wit and gave her the validation for her performing that she had always craved. A live recording of her 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York won four Grammys, including album of the year, making Garland the first woman to win the award.

Superfan Semple describes a tension between his admiration for Garland’s work and his fascination with her life story. “It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was,” he says. “Because her performances were so brilliant and she made some beautiful films. It’s a disservice to her body of work to paint her as solely a tragic figure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with the story behind the curtain too.” He also observes that the gay love for “survivor” women who have been cast aside continues today. “Female pop acts who are largely forgotten by mainstream society still headline Pride events every year,” he says. “Judy was an early incarnation of that.”

Some gay men find more affinity in straight female stars than they do in those from their own community, a process that queer academic José Muñoz calls “disidentification”. He thinks that LGBTQ+ people often assign queerness to characters or stories that are not explicitly queer as a “coping mechanism”. As an example, Muñoz suggests that when a gay man “identified” with Garland, he was “writing his way into the mainstream culture in which his own story could never be told.”

Gay men often reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as the cast members of netflix’s queer eye

But contrastingly, in the book How to be Gay, queer historian David Halperin describes a tension with the “mainstream” that leads gay men to be “highly critical, if not contemptuous, of their own artists, writers and filmmakers”. He says that gay men often fail to warm to gay characters and celebrities because they “don’t often like the representations of gay men that gay men produce.” Halperin suggests that this is because most mainstream representations of gay men, from pop culture to politics, pander to “acceptable” heterosexual norms. He draws a key distinction between gay culture – where “conventional” white gay men are dominant – and gay subculture – where women, drag queens, queer people of colour and trans people are more visible. This causes some gay men to reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as, to use two very current examples, the cast members of Netflix’s Queer Eye and gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig. Instead many embrace subcultural – and in their eyes, more subversive – female narratives like Garland’s.

As seen in the new film Judy, Garland found a new niche as a live singer towards the end of her life (Credit: David Hindley / LD Entertainment/ Roadside Attractions)

So, depending on which way you look at it, “disidentifying” with Garland is either gay men’s way of feeling aligned to mainstream culture – or, in fact, rejecting it wholesale.

It is an unavoidable truth that Garland’s tragic and untimely death has also contributed to her status as a gay icon, making her a timeless figure. On the day of Garland’s funeral, gay men lined the streets and wept for her. Dyer notes that, at the time, gathering to watch Garland’s funeral gave them “permission to be gay in public for once.” But decades later, you don’t have to look far to see how Garland was the first in a continuing lineage of ‘tragic’ female celebrities who have acquired the status of gay icons.

Queens would come to a judy garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it – dr michael bronski

Elements of Garland’s story can be found in that of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her mistreatment at the hands of the press; Princess Margaret, with her ongoing substance issues, and marriage to an exploitative man who was rumoured to be gay; and Britney Spears, whose child stardom culminated in a very public divorce and mental health struggles. From Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Kesha, to Lily Allen, Demi Lovato and Garland’s own daughter Liza Minnelli, women continue to be exploited, damaged and, in the worst cases, destroyed by fame.

Gay men need to be mindful of our own culpability in this cycle. ‘Friend of Dorothy’ has long been a popular code word for gay men, but not all friends of Dorothy were friends of Judy. As Dr Michael Bronski, a Harvard University professor and the author of books on gay culture a recent article on the dark side of “stan” (superfan) culture: „There is a long history of gay male fan culture latching onto famous women and then turning on them. Queens would come to a Judy Garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it. The women have changed – it’s no longer Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. But the dynamic remains in Western culture.”

Bronski is right: that pattern didn’t end with Garland’s death. Whether it’s Katy Perry becoming, as journalist Brian O’Flynn writes, “gay Twitter’s punching bag”, or gay fans dressing as ‘bald Britney’ for Halloween and turning up to meet-and-greets dressed in costume from Spears’s infamous 2007 breakdown, gay men can be increasingly fickle towards famous women.

As a former child sat who has endured mental health struggles, Britney Spears is one of many female celebrities whose experiences recall Garland’s (Credit: Alamy)

Idolising these women is one thing, but we shouldn’t treat them like playthings for our entertainment. The personal troubles of women like Winona Ryder, Amanda Bynes or Naomi Campbell might generate funny punchlines, but they’re also real-life problems. When push comes to shove, are gay men really there for the women we claim to worship? 

On screen too, there are several works in the gay pop-cultural canon that glorify destructive female behaviour – while being financed and created by men. Mommie Dearest, a biopic of screen icon Joan Crawford, which portrays her as an abusive mother, is a gay classic. And from the streets of Wisteria Lane to Big Little Lies and the Real Housewives franchise, pop-culture encourages us to love female characters when they’re screaming hysterically, so we can condense their pain into hilariously camp GIFs and say “yassss kween” as they smash up their surroundings.

Camp is a huge part of what draws gay men towards women like Garland. There is camp to be found in her tragedy, her successes and her bad behaviour. But some, such as gay author Andrew Britton have argued that the existence of camp actually depends on the restrictive gender dynamics that it claims to oppose. Much has been written about the suppressive effect of the “male gaze” on women, but surely the “gay gaze” is also to blame.

Fifty years after Garland’s death, her legacy lives on. Many gay men turn to women like Judy Garland to help them navigate their own experiences of the world. But we should also reflect on the way we treat them. Because if we don’t commit to treating the icons who we love with compassion, or creating the “kinder, gentler world” Garland once said she longed for, then are we much better than the people who tried to break her?

Judy is released in the US and Canada on 27 September and in the UK and Ireland on 4 October

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See the world with gay friends

Interested in seeing the world with like-minded LGBT jet setters? Our friends at Out Adventures are the premiere providers of gay & lesbian tours, cruises and active adventures. Their slick and sublime escapes run twelve months per year, across all seven continents. Check out their website to see where they’re off to next.

Discover gay canada

No tour operator knows The Great White North quite like our Canuck friends at Out Adventures. Based in Toronto, these always-apologetic travel experts have been running both private and group tours through Canada for over ten years. Whether you’re looking to surmount the Rockies, discover Toronto’s underground gay scene, or witness Fierte Montreal, contact these guys for insider tips and tricks. Here’s to The True North, Strong & Gay. Sorry!

Lgbtq rights in canada

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017.

The gay scene in canada

Almost every city in Canada has a thriving gay scene, complete with rainbow crossings and numerous gay events taking place throughout the year. The main ones are the Church & Wellesley , Le Village Gai gay village of Montreal, The Village of Ottowa, the Davie Village and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.

Gay events in canada

Canada is one of the few countries that hosts its own national Pride event – “Canada Pride”. The first one took place in Montreal in 2017. The next one is scheduled to be in Winnipeg for 2022. Speaking of Pride, Toronto Pride is one of the largest in the world, attracting almost 1.5 million people each year. Back in 2014, Toronto also hosted WorldPride.

Almost every city in Canada has an annual Pride event, often strongly supported by the local government. Beyond the Pride events, Canada also has many gay ski-based events taking place in January including the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, the Tremblant Gay Ski Week and the Quebec Gay Ski Week. Other prominent LGBTQ events in Canada include the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in May and Montreal’s Black & Blue Festival in October.

Gay travel to canada

As a gay couple, we felt completely safe in all the places we visited in Canada. This is also one of the rare countries in the world where we felt confident enough to hold hands in public, almost everywhere!

In terms of touristic highlights, Canada has some of the best ski resorts in the world, a stunning landscape in the Canadian Rookies, whale watching experiences near Vancouver Island, impressive National Parks like Gros Morne and Nahanni, and of course, the famous Niagara Falls.

Did you know? Canada created the first gay currency! In 2019, Canada unveiled a new $1 coin (loonie) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, becoming the first country in the world to honour our LGBTQ community on its currency.

Lgbtq rights in spain

Spain legalized homosexuality in 1979 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 1995, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2005, Spain became the 3rd country in the world to legalize gay marriage (after Holland and Belgium). Spain then went on to introduce the right to change legal gender, then in 2006 allowed transgender people to register their preferred gender in public documents such as birth certificates, ID cards and passports without having to undergo any surgery. This right was extended to include transgender minors who are “mature enough”.

The gay scene in spain

All the main cities in Spain have a vibrant gay scene, usually concentrated in a gay village or street. The main ones include Chueca in Madrid, Gaixample in Barcelona, the Maspalomas gay area in Gran Canaria street). Other smaller cities in Spain have an exciting gay scene, which includes Benidorm’s Old Town area, La Nogalera in Torremolinos, Barrio del Carmen in Valencia and Calle de la Virgen in Ibiza.

Gay events in spain

Almost all the cities in Spain have a Pride event, the most famous is, of course, Madrid Pride. It is lauded for being one of the largest gay Pride events in the world especially in 2017 when it hosted WorldPride. Other prominent Pride events in Spain take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Maspalomas, Ibizia, Benidorm, Valencia, Bilbao and Manilva.

Spain has many other gay events happening throughout the year to look out for. Some of the best ones include the WE Party in Madrid, Circuit Barcelona, Bear Pride Barcelona, Snow Gay Weekend, Sitges Bear Week and Delice Dream in Torremolinos.

Gay travel to spain

Spain is just bursting with culture, ranking as the 3rd country in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – a total of 48. Amongst these are Gaudi’s iconic buildings in Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita of Córdoba (the largest mosque in the world). In terms of museums, there’s the world-famous Museo del Prado of Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And then there’s the food! From the world-famous paellas, tortillas, churos, gazpachos, jamons and our favourite, the tasty, juicy Spanish chorizo sausages.

As a gay couple in Spain, we were in paradise! It is a destination pretty much made for us, with some of the best gay beaches in Europe, brilliant parties for everyone and a very openminded populace. Even in the more rural areas, we felt completely safe, which is quite rare for most countries further down in this list. In short, Spain, like Canada, ticks all the boxes and we LOVE it!

Did you know? Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous gay Spanish celeb and one of the best directors in the world. His first few films in the 1980s characterised the sense of liberal revolution and political freedom Spain was going through. He then went on to direct classics including Volver, All About My Mother and Bad Education.

Lgbtq rights in the netherlands

The Netherlands is the ultimate LGBTQ trailblazer! Homosexuality was legalized back in 1811, but the big headline is that it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2001! In relation to anti-discrimination laws, the Netherlands has everything under the sun to protect its LGBTQ community including laws to combat hate-speech based on who we love, gender identity and gender expression. The Netherlands also permits LGBT people to openly serve in the Dutch army.

In relation to transgender rights, the Netherlands is a bit more conservative. Whilst it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2014, it only recognises a third gender option after a successful court petition.

The gay scene in the netherlands

You’ll find the best of the Netherlands‘ gay scene in the capital city, Amsterdam, specifically in the Reguliersdwarsstraat gay village. Here there are many gay cafes, shops, bars, clubs and parties to check out, like Prik, SoHo, Cafe Reality, Club NYX, Bear Necessity and Club YOLO – to name just a few! Outside of Amsterdam, cities like Rotterdam have a handful of gay hangouts, but nothing on par with Amsterdam. Find out more in our detailed .

Gay events in the netherlands

Amsterdam Pride is well known for being one of the most unique Pride events in the world because instead of taking place on the streets, a parade of floats proceeds through the city on boats along the famous canals. Other annual gay events in Amsterdam include Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March, Amsterdam Leather Pride in October and the IQMF (International Queer & Migrant Film Festival) in December.

Gay travel to the netherlands

There are few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking in the streets holding hands outside of the gay village, and The Netherlands is one of them! When it comes to tolerance, openmindedness and equality, we found the Netherlands to be one of the most culturally liberal and diverse places in the world. It’s certainly the most progressive country we’ve travelled to, which is why we love it!

Travel highlights of the Netherlands include the canals of Amsterdam, along with the capital’s art and cultural museums like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum. Other Dutch highlights include tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and of course the infamous Coffee Shops!

Did you know? in 1987, the Netherlands unveiled the “Homomonument”, which was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians persecuted during WW2.

Lgbtq rights in united kingdom

England/Wales legalized homosexuality in 1967, Scotland in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982. Between 2004-2008, the UK passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, which included allowing LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2014, England/Wales/Scotland . Northern Ireland subsequently followed in 2020. More recently, the UK has implemented laws that require schools to teach children that it’s ok to be gay!

The UK has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2005. Whilst there isn’t a third gender recognised in law, the title “Mx” is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people.

The gay scene in united kingdom

Alongside Australia, the USA and Spain, the UK has one of the highest numbers of recognised gay villages in the world! London alone has several, including Soho, Vauxhall and Clapham. Manchester and Brighton are often regarded as one of the best cities in the world for gay people to live, both with large LGBTQ communities and an (Manchester) and a fabulous community concentrated in Kemptown (Brighton).

Almost all the other cities of the UK have a recognised gay village or area including Hurst Street in Birmingham, The Triangle in Bournemouth, Old Market in Bristol, Lower Briggate/The Calls in Leeds, the Liverpool Gay Quarter, the Pink Triangle of Newcastle, Broughton Street in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s Merchant City Pink Triangle and the streets of Charles Street + Churchill Way in Cardiff.

Gay events in united kingdom

The UK has the highest number of Pride events out of any country in the world, with almost every city leading their own event usually during the summer months. Brighton Pride and Manchester Pride (both in August) are often regarded as the best Pride events in Europe. London Pride in early July is the largest, attracting 1.5 million people. The 2012 London Pride was the most famous when it coincided with the year the city hosted the Olympic Games and also hosted WorldPride.

Gay travel to united kingdom

The UK offers so much for gay tourists such as fulfilling your Harry Potter fantasy at the Warner Bros. Studio, as well as discovering Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the stunning Lake District in Northern England, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and many many more gems.

We’ve never experienced homophobia from any of the places we stayed at and LOVE that the government invests heavily in LGBTQ tourism via the excellent efforts made by Visit Britain. After all, this is the country that gave us Alan Turing, Sir Elton John, Freddy Mercury and many many more fabulous icons!

Did you know? In 2018, the UK saw the first Royal gay wedding when the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle.

Lgbtq rights in sweden

Sweden legalized homosexuality in 1944, hence the “gay since 1944” slogan! They introduced one of the most comprehensive sets of anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s, which included laws against hate speech and allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. The right to change legal gender was also introduced in the 1970s in Sweden.

Gay marriage was passed in 2009 although gay unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1995. In relation to transgender rights, Sweden does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, but in 2017, it declassified “transgender identity” as an illness.

The gay scene in sweden

We’ll be honest, we were a bit underwhelmed by the gay scene in Sweden. There are of course several gay bars and clubs, mainly in the big cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, however nothing on par with other gay cities like Barcelona, Berlin or London. There are no official gay villages or gay areas in any of the cities in Stockholm. This probably shows that Sweden is so gay friendly, that it does not need its own gay enclave.

Gay events in sweden

Stockholm Pride is the big one, which is also the largest Pride in the Nordic countries. Other LGBTQ annual highlights include the Stockholm Rainbow Weekend which coincides with the city’s Pride and West Pride in Gothenburg. Sweden prides itself on the fact that no Swede has to travel far for a Pride event, because there is one in almost every town and city! In 2021, Malmo will be the place to be when it cohosts WorldPride with Copenhagen!

Gay travel to sweden

From the famous Northern Lights in the winter months to the hidden alleyways in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden packs a punch! is big on LGBTQ travel and invests a lot in promoting the country as a top gay destination, even hosting EuroPride in 1998, 2008 and 2018. We felt totally safe in Sweden and comfortable holding hands in public in most places we visited. The Swedes are an extremely chilled and open-minded bunch who won’t give two hoots about two men expressing PDAs!

Did you know? Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest (the massive unofficial annual gay European music festival). Not only did Sweden give us ABBA in 1974 but they’ve also won it 6 times. Also – Måns Zelmerlöw…

Lgbtq rights in germany

Ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, Germany powered ahead to become an LGBTQ paradise. Germany passed a full set of anti-discrimination laws from 2006, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the military, the right to change legal gender and laws preventing hate crimes based on gender or orientation.

In 2017, Germany legalized gay marriages, and more recently, in 2019 Germany formally recognized a third gender option,

The gay scene in germany

Most of the big cities of Germany have a terrific gay scene. We particularly love the exciting and vibrant gay nightlife of Berlin. We love it! It’s so wide and diverse, where everyone from our LGBTQ community can find their tribe. Schöneberg was the first-ever gay village in the world when it took off as an LGBTQ mecca in the 1920s. Since then, so many cities around the globe have adopted a similar model where the gay community can share a safe space and support local queer businesses.

Other cities with an exciting gay scene include Cologne, Lange Reihe in Hamburg, Nordend in Frankfurt, Glockenbachviertel in Munich and Gurlam Ziegelviertel in Fürstenzell.

Gay events in germany

Berlin Pride is the largest gay event in Germany, attracting around 1 million people each year. Note that in Germany, Prides are referred to as “CSD”, which stands for “Christopher Street Day” – named after the street where the Stonewall riots in NYC took place in 1969. Hamburg and Cologne are the other two main Pride or CSD events in Germany. Other gay events in Germany include the Carnival Cologne in February, the Munich Gay Oktoberfest in October and Heavenue Gay Christmas market in December.

Gay travel to germany

Germany offers a lot for LGBTQ tourists, especially Berlin, a city steeped with history from the Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag Building and Berlin Wall Memorial. Other touristic highlights include the Cologne Cathedral, the Black Forest in southwest Germany and the super picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. Each city heavily invests in LGBTQ tourism, especially .

We absolutely love love LOVE Berlin – it feels like it’s a city that is literally MADE for gays! Anything goes in Berlin and you can have as much fun here as you want to, no limits! It’s also culturally rich with so much to do. It goes without saying that we felt very comfortable with PDAs in Berlin and the other big cities we visited in Germany.

Did you know? Berlin had the first gay village ever? Back in the late 1800s, the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, was founded in Schöneberg. Over the subsequent few decades, Schöneberg became the heart and soul of Germany’s LGBTQ gay community. It was the Gay Village capital of the world in the 1920s!

Lgbtq rights in australia

Australia legalized homosexuality in 1997 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2010. Australia also has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2013 and has formally recognised a third gender option since 2003.

The gay scene in australia

Every big city in Australia has a vibrant gay scene with a large, active LGBTQ community, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is so gay that a 2016 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how the LGBTQ community was spread out around the city in a “Rainbow Ribbon” starting from Pott Point, going out to Elizabeth Bay, down to Darlinghurst, Surry Hill, Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Alexandria and round to Newtown. As such Sydney has one of the most exciting gay scenes in the world including the Obelisk gay beach.

Melbourne doesn’t have a central gay area like many cities but most of its main gay scenes are located around the three inner city areas of St Kilda East, Prahran/South Yarra and Fitzroy/Collingwood. Other cities with a notable gay village/scene include Brisbane, Perth and the capital, Canberra.

Gay events in australia

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the most famous and electrifying LGBTQ festivals in the world. It takes place in late February, attracting thousands of people from all around the world, with headliners such as Cher, Kylie, George Michael and Sam Smith. And it’s going to get even BIGGER come 2023 when Sydney’s Mardi Gras hosts WorldPride!

Melbourne’s equivalent is the Midsumma Festival, which goes on for 22 days spread over January and February. Other notable LGBTQ events in Australia include Pride in the Park Perth, Wagga Mardi Gras, Broome Pride, ChillOut Daylesford, the Big Gay Day Brisbane in March and the awesome Broken Heels Festival in September.

Gay travel to australia

Our ultimate gay Aussie fantasy is to rent a dramatic pink camper and pay homage to Priscilla, travelling across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs and spread fabuloussness across the country.

Other touristic highlights for gay travellers to Australia (beyond Mardi Gras of course!) include The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Did you know? Australia is soooo gay that it even secured itself a spot in the annual Eurovision Songcontest. Check out the for the reason behind this quirky decision, which whether or not you agree with it, we LOVE it and warmly welcome them into our big gay European arms!

Lgbtq rights in taiwan

Taiwan legalized homosexuality in…oh it was never illegal! From 2002, Taiwan began to introduce anti-discrimination laws beginning with the right for LGB people (ie not transgender people) to openly serve in the military. Despite the army ban for transgender people, Taiwan has introduced comprehensive laws relating to hate crimes, indirect discrimination and more.

Taiwan is most famous for becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2019. Taiwan is also positioning itself to become a transgender haven by introducing a third gender option on all ID documents in late 2020.

The gay scene in taiwan

Ximen in Taipei is the main gay scene with loads of gay bars clustered together. There are more gay places dotted around the city but the bulk is around Ximen’s gay neighborhood. Other cities in Taiwan have a few gay scenes, but nothing on par with Ximen. Read more about what gay life in Taiwan is like in our .

Gay events in taiwan

Taipei Pride is not only the main LGBTQ event in Taiwan, but the largest in all of Asia attracting around 200,000 people! It takes place in October and includes a number of other gay parties like Formosa and the WOW Pool Party. Other cities in Taiwan host smaller, more local Pride events, in particular Kaohsiung City and Taichung City Pride.

Gay travel to taiwan

Taiwan is a foodie destination! If, like us, you love Asian food, Taiwan is a place you need to visit. Other touristic highlights in Taiwan include the Taipei 101, Taroko National Park, the Sun Moon Lake, the Yushan National Park, the Rainbow Village in Taichung City, and of course the food – check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei for example!

As a gay couple travelling in Taiwan, we loved it. We felt so welcomed everywhere. We can totally understand why it is regarded as such a pink haven in Asia. The Taiwanese are very open-minded and tolerant, easily topping our list of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia.

Did you know? Taiwan is so gay, it even has a gay god with its own temple! The Rabbit Gay Temple was built to commemorate Tu’er Shen (The Rabbit God) who manages the love and relationships between gay partners helps those looking for love. It was founded in 2006 by Lu Wei-ming and as far as we are aware, it is the world’s only shrine for an LGBTQ god.

Explore colombia on a gay tour

Out Adventures‘ brand new Colombia tour is hotter than Maluma! Beginning in Bogotá, the carefree escape will have you shaking your arepa at the largest LGBTQ club in the Americas, hiking humid jungles in Tayrona National Park and soaking up the country’s sand, sun and sea in coastal Cartagena. The optional gay salsa class, food tour and snorkeling excursion make this adventure muy caliente!

Lgbtq rights in colombia

LGBTQ rights in Colombia are super-advanced by Latin American standards! It Colombia legalized homosexuality in 1981 and then started introducing anti-discrimination laws in all areas (employment, goods, services etc) from 2011 onwards, which also included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. In 2016 Colombia became the 4th country in Latin America to legalise gay marriages following a 6-3 vote in the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

In relation to transgender rights, Colombia allows the right to change legal gender without psychiatric or physical evaluations. Whilst it does not yet formally recognise a third gender, it does allow a “neutral” or blank space regarding gender to be inserted on birth certificates.

Find our about what the gay life is like for locals in Colombia in our from Barranquilla.

The gay scene in colombia

Bogota’s Chapinero is one of our favourite gay villages, mainly because of Theatron. It’s a massive gay club that can fit up to 5,000. Every Saturday evening, the gay community comes alive here. We’d happily book a flight over in a heartbeat just to party at Theatron! Chapinero also has many other gay hangouts, which you can read more about in our .

Other cities in Colombia have a large gay scene, in particular Medellin. Cartagena, Cali and Barranquilla also have a smaller gay scene.

Gay events in colombia

Bogota Pride in June and the Barranquilla Carnival in February are the most famous. Almost all the other cities have a Pride event, usually in June. Cartagena Pride is another notable gay event in August because it also coincides with the Circuit-style “Rumours Festival”. Other events in Colombia to look out for which aren’t expressly gay but are popular with the LGBTQ community include Medellin’s Flower Festival in August and the Cali Salsa Festival in June.

Gay travel to colombia

Some of our favourite travel highlights include the coffee region, the Cocora Valley, the Salt Cathedral, the Caño Cristales Rainbow River, Cartagena old town and the Tayrona National Park.

As a gay couple, we had no issues in Colombia and felt accepted everywhere. In one hotel in Medellin, we noticed a sign in the lift showing the penalties the police could give you for certain crimes. One of these included a fine for shouting homophobic abuse to others in public! The only thing we’d say in Colombia, which is the case for many countries in Latin America is that the machismo culture is prevalent in rural areas, particularly along the coast. However, we didn’t encounter this on our travels in Colombia as we just avoided them. Read more in our Colombia gay travel guide.

Did you know? In October 2019, Ms Claudia López Hernández became the first woman and first lesbian to be elected mayor in Bogota. The mayor of Bogota is widely considered the second most important political post in Colombia after the President, which is a big deal for the LGBTQ community in Colombia!

Lgbtq rights in denmark

Denmark blitzes LGBTQ rights so effortlessly. It’s famous for being one of the most socially liberal countries in the world. The right to change legal gender was introduced way back in 1929 and homosexuality was legalized 4 years later. Then in 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise gay unions. Denmark also has very progressive anti-discrimination laws, which it started introducing in the late 1980s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Danish army. More recently, gay marriage was legalized in 2012 and in 2014, Denmark became a trans haven by formally recognising a third gender “X” option in passports.

The gay scene in denmark

The main gay scene is in the Straedet area of Copenhagen, which is where we saw lots of couples walking hand in hand, however, we could have done this in most parts of Denmark without any problems. Aarhus is another cool city in Denmark to check out with a smaller but just as exciting gay scene.

Gay travel to denmark

Some of our favourite touristic highlights in Denmark included Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Nyhavn Canal and Harbour, the Amalienborg Winter Palace and the LEGO House in Billund.

As a gay couple in Copenhagen, we felt completely safe and free; public displays of affections were never an issue for us anywhere in Denmark. We loved being able to stroll through Tivoli Gardens holding hands, not having to first carry out a detailed risk assessment!

Did you know? Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen is the world’s oldest gay bar. It opened in 1917 and is still going strong today!

Lgbtq rights in new zealand

New Zealand legalized homosexuality for men in 1986 (for women it was never illegal). They introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as far back as 1993 and legalized gay marriage in 2013. In terms of the military, LGBT people have been allowed to openly serve in the New Zealand army since 1993. New Zealand introduced the right to change legal gender in 1993 and also officially recognises a non-binary gender.

The gay scene in new zealand

The main gay scene and LGBTQ community is focused in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, most of the hangouts and community are based in and around Karangahape Road and Ponsonby. In Wellington, it’s largely in Wellington Central. Other cities around the country will have a few gay/gay friendly places to check out.

Gay events in new zealand

Pride events have been taking place in New Zealand since the 1970s. The main ones are the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February, Wellington International Pride Parade in March, Christchurch Pride in March and North Canterbury Pride, also in March. Another one to look out for is the Gay Ski Week in August/September. What we love most about the Pride events in New Zealand is that although they’re small, everyone in the community gets involved, even the Prime Minister!

Gay travel to new zealand

When it come to gay travel, New Zealand is wow personified. Touristic highlights include the Fiordland National Park, the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, and of course, the Hobbiton Movie Set in Hinuera. Not only is New Zealand a stunning country to visit, it’s super gay friendly, everywhere! New Zealanders have embraced change openly and with much enthusiasm. This is one place in the world where PDAs shouldn’t be a problem anywhere in the country.

Did you know In 1995, Georgina Beyer became the world’s first openly transgender mayor (of Carterton), as well as the world’s first openly transgender Member of Parliament.

Explore iconic iceland on a gay tour

Glaciers, geysers and cosmopolitan Reykjavik await on an all-gay tour of The Land of Fire & Ice with our friends at Out Adventures. Annually in March, they host a short and sweet escape snaking through Iceland’s otherworldly countryside with a chance to see The Northern Lights. And in August, they offer a sizzling summer tour featuring a South Shore Safari that wraps up back in Reykjavik just in time for ‘The Biggest Small Pride in the World‘.

Lgbtq rights in iceland

Iceland legalized homosexuality in 1940 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1996-2018. Gay marriage was voted unanimously by parliament in 2010. In relation to the military, Iceland is a country that doesn’t have an armed force. Iceland formally recognises a third gender option by placing an X on official documents. Interestingly, just like the gay marriage law in 2010, the Icelandic law that formally recognised the third gender option was passed unanimously in the Icelandic Parliament!

Gay travel to iceland

Iceland should be on every LGBTQ traveller’s bucket list, with incredible wonders to behold like the Blue Lagoon, spectacular geysers, the Northern Lights, the Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve, the Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park, the Skaftafell Ice Cave and the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church.

When it comes to welcoming LGBTQ tourists, Iceland is one place that nails it. It’s a pink haven, full stop! No issue with homophobia here. The Icelanders are one very open-minded bunch. They are laid back, easy-going and famous for their quirky sense of humour! Also be sure to check out the awesome Pink Iceland who not only do a phenomenal job marketing the country as an international LGBTQ destination, but also sponsor the main gay events in Iceland.

Portugal lgbtq tour

Want to visit the land of cod, custard tarts and Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, our friends at Out Adventures are hosting a sumptuous journey that ticks off Lisbon, Porto and the Douro Valley. Highlights include a private tour of Sintra, a day sipping & supping in wine country, historic tram tours and an invigorating speed boat experience. For all the nitty-gritty details, jump over to their site. And don’t forget to mention we sent you—you just might get a special deal. *wink*

Lgbtq rights in portugal

Portugal legalized homosexuality in 1982 and they introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2010 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1999. Sadly, Portugal still has a ban on transgender people from serving in the Portuguese army. Portugal introduced the right to change legal gender in 2011 and formally allows people to self-identify their gender.

The gay scene in portugal

Lisbon has a fantastic gay scene with many gay bars, clubs and parties particularly around the Bairro Alto and Principe Real areas. We love that there is a gay beach just outside of Lisbon called Beach 19. Porto is another popular tourist hotspot north of Lisbon with an active gay scene, particularly around the Galaria de Paris area. Down towards the south in the Algarve, there are gay scenes in Albufeira, Tavira and Portimão.

Gay events in portugal

There are 2 main annual gay events in Portugal that take place in the capital. The first is the colourful Lisbon Pride in June. The second is the Lisbon Bear Pride in May. The Lisbon Gay Film Festival is another excellent annual LGBTQ event in Portugal to look out for.

Gay travel to portugal

Touristic highlights include Lisbon’s Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Torre de Belém, the Convento do Cristo, hiking in the Gerês Mountain Range and the stunning UNESCO listed Castelo de Guimarães.

We love Lisbon and know that many other gay guys feel the same way. It’s like the next Madrid! It’s a very gay friendly city, English is well spoken, the gay scene is fantastic, a gay beach is right on your doorstep, and the guys are smoking hot! The Portuguese generally have a very open-minded attitude and made us feel extremely welcome.

Did you know? Portugal is often touted as being one of the most gay friendly countries in the world in various surveys. What sums it up best is this beautiful and inspiring video by gay couple, Lorenzo and Pedro, who filmed people’s reactions as they walked the streets of Lisbon holding hands:

Lgbtq rights in argentina

Argentina legalized homosexuality in 1887 and are currently developing a set of anti-discrimination laws that are being implemented in Rosario and Buenos Aires, hopefully soon nationwide. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009.

The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2012, which allows transgender people to identify with their chosen gender on official documents without first having to receive hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery or psychiatric counselling. Read more about Argentina LGBTQ rights here.

The gay scene in argentina

We love the gay scene in Buenos Aires. It has heaps of bars and clubs spread out between Palermo and San Telmo like Glam, Sitges and Peuteo. We also love Buenos Aires because of the queer milongas (tango dance halls) where you can learn to dance queer tango. Most other cities in Argentina have a gay scene, such as Mendoza and . The city of Rosario is considered the most gay-friendly and liberal-minded place in Argentina, often leading the way for proactive change. 

Gay events in argentina

The main gay event in Argentina is Buenos Aires Pride in November which is one of the . The Queer Tango Festival is another fascinating queer event, so unique to Argentina. In the wine capital of Mendoza, there is a gay segment in the annual grape harvesting festival in February called Vendimia.

We also love that the government actively supports and funds gay events, in particular, the GNetwork360 conference every August.

Gay travel to argentina

Touristic not-to-miss highlights of Argentina include the stunning Iguazu Falls, queer tango in Buenos Aires, wine tasting in Mendoza, trekking in El Chalten, getting up close with penguins in Punta Tombo and going to the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia. We have always felt welcomed everywhere during  and love returning here.

Did you know? Argentina jointly invented the tango (a UNESCO listed Cultural Heritage) with Uruguay. But did you also know that this sultry dance was initially between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s as a way to prep each other for when they could later get with a woman?

Today the culture of queer tango has prevailed so much that Milongas (tango halls) specialising in Queer Tango have mushroomed around the world, least of all in Buenos Aires. It’s become so popular that there is even a Queer Tango Festival in November in the Argentinian capital, as well as in cities around the world, particularly in Berlin, Rome, Munich and Paris. Read more about it in our article about our experience learning to learn to dance tango as a gay couple.

Lgbtq rights in france

France legalized homosexuality in 1791. They introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1982-2012. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the French armed forces. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2017 without needing to undergo surgery or receive a medical diagnosis.

France does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender. However, in 2010, France became the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Gay events in france

Paris Pride is the main gay event in France, as well as Magical Pride in Disneyland Paris. Most of the other cities have a Pride parade including Biarritz, Arras, Lyon and Toulouse. France is also famous for its gay ski festivals in March. The main ones are the European Gay Ski Week and the European Snow Pride.

Gay travel to france

France is the #1 touristic destination in the world for good reason! From culturally rich UNESCO listed sites to a world-class cuisine, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and smoking hot lovers…France really has it all! Our favourite not-to-miss highlights of France include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles Palace, the Côte d’Azur, Mont Saint-Michel, the Loire Valley Châteaux, Provence lavender fields and Mont-Blanc – the highest peak in Europe (4,810m / 15,780 ft).

When it comes to seeing gay couples holding hands in public, most French won’t bat an eyelid. The laissez-faire attitude is really a thing here!

Did you know? Just when you thought the French couldn’t get any gayer, along comes a gay bakery in Paris that makes baguettes in the shape of a ding-a-ling, La Baguette Magique!

Get frosty in finland

Embrace winter on Out Adventures‘ hot new Finnish foray. The all-gay tour kicks off in Helsinki before flying north towards the arctic circle. In our opinion, the best part of this adventure is the wide range of snowy excursions. For example, you can take the reins on an actual dog-sled in the icy Laplands, seek out The Northern Lights on a snowmobile safari, and even endure a polar plunge in the Arctic Ocean. Oh, and best of all, you’ll slumber in a glass-roofed cabin while admiring Aurora Borealis above.

Lgbtq rights in finland

Finland legalized homosexuality in 1911 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1995-2005. Gay marriage was legalised in 2017 and LGBT people are allowed to openly serve in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2002. However, sterilization is required, and transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender. Finland does not have legal recognition of non-binary gender. Find out more about Finland‘ LGBTQ rights here.

Gay events in finland

The main LGBTQ events in Finland are the Helsinki Pride Week in June and the Ruka Ski Pride in April. Other cities have a Pride event, such as Pirkanmaan Pride in June, Tampere and Turku. Whilst the gay scene of Helsinki is quite small, the Pride in June is super popular, attracting crowds of around 100,000.

Gay travel to finland

We think Finland as a gay destination is totally underrated. As well as the Northern Lights, this is one place where being gay has become so normalised that we felt totally safe to walk the streets almost anywhere holding hands, knowing that no one would bat an eyelid! Remember this is the home of the highly masculinized and suggestive homoerotic Tom of Finland art.

Other touristic highlights of Finland include the Suomenlinna Fortress, Rovaniemi and the Arctic, the Åland Archipelago, the Northern Lights, Turku, Porvoo and Lake Saimaa.

Did you know? Even the postage stamps in Finland are gay! The famous Tom of Finland was immortalised in postage stamps in 2014. Whilst they’re not the first stamps to depict suggestive art, they are certainly the first ever to depict homo suggestive art! 

Push yourself on a gay hike in norway

ATTN: Gay Hikers. The intrepid crew at Out Adventures are hosting perhaps the most physically challenging gay tour we’ve ever seen. On this sweaty scamper, you’ll reach Nordic Nirvana while surmounting mountains, kayaking fjords and trekking glaciers. Those who persevere will be rewarded with up-close views of Norway’s world-famous natural wonders like Trolltunga and Preikestolen plateau. Are you ready?

Oslo is the capital and main gay hub of the country. It has quite a big gay scene with numerous queer events taking place. But you need to bring a LOT of cash to get by here, it sure ain’t cheap!

Lgbtq rights in norway

Norway legalized homosexuality in 1972 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 1981-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2008 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1979. Norway introduced the right to change legal gender in 2016 and since 2013 doesn’t require sterilization for this. In 2016, Norway passed a law allowing the change of legal gender for transgender people solely based on self-determination.

Gay events in norway

Oslo Pride Festival in June is the main gay event in Norway attracting around 250,000 people each year. Most cities also have a pride event, the main ones include Bergen Pride May, the Lillehammer Winter Pride in February, Skeive Sorlandsdager in August and the Tromso Arctic Pride in November.

A very unique annual LGBTQ event is the Raballder Sports Cup – a gay sports event for handball! Also there’s the Sápmi Pride which takes place across Finland, Sweden and Norway each year.

Gay travel to norway

Norway is beautiful. Whilst there’s not much of a gay scene here or large gay events taking place, it sure packs a punch in terms of natural beauty, especially the Northern Lights. Just remember to bring money – lots of it! To give you an idea, the average pint of beer is around $10…!

Travel highlights include cosmopolitan Oslo, the endless snow-capped mountains peaks, deep fjords like Sognefjord, also the Pulpit Rock, Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands and the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen.

Lgbtq rights in malta

Malta legalized homosexuality in 1973 and have been introducing anti anti-discrimination laws since 2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2002. Sadly transgender people are banned from serving openly in the Maltese army.

Malta introduced the right to change legal gender in 2015. Malta has had legal recognition of a non-binary gender since 2017.

The gay scene in malta

Malta is a tiny island country in the Mediterranean south of Italy, with a population of just under half a million, therefore it’s too small to have a gay village. There are a handful of gay bars and clubs in Malta such as the Birdcage Lounge and Michelangelo gay club. There are also a few gay friendly hangouts dotted around the capital Valletta.

Gay travel to malta

Valletta is one of our favourite European capital cities. It’s a small walled UNESCO listed city, which you can walk around in a few hours. Every corner is full of history and culture. Other highlights include The Three Cities, Mdina, the Dingli Cliffs, Comino, Riviera Beach and Gozo.

We loved Malta and can see why many people rate it as the most gay friendly country in Europe. It has very lax laws and nobody cared about two men displaying PDAs.

Did you know? Malta is the most famous non-winner of Eurovision. Every year we get excited to see who will represent them. From cutie Fabrizio Faniello, Ira Losco and our favourite, the gorgeous Chiara:

Lgbtq rights in austria

Austria legalized homosexuality in 1971 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 2004-2017. Gay marriage was legalized in 2019 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. Austria introduced the right to change legal gender in 2009 and since 2019 it formally recognises a non-binary gender.

Gay events in austria

Vienna Pride in June is the main one, which has hosted EuroPride twice – in 2001 and 2019. Vienna Pride includes the Regenbogenparade, the “Rainbow Parade”. Other LGBTQ events in Austria include the Gay Snow Happening in March, the Pink Lake Festival in August, Ski Pride in April, the CSD Bregenz Pride in June and Linz Pride in June.

Gay travel to austria

Vienna is stunning and a city bursting with culture and history. This is a city that used to be the cultural capital of Europe several hundred years ago, especially in the classical music scene. Austria is the home of Mozart – specifically the picture-perfect Salzburg. Other highlights of Austria include The Vienna Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace, Hallstatt and Belvedere Palace.

We felt welcomed everywhere we went in Vienna and felt comfortable holding hands in public. Whilst the gay scene is small, there is a sizeable LGBTQ community and a handful of places to check out.

Did you know? Conchita Wurst is one of the most famous gay Austrians ever. His real name is Thomas Neuwirth who became famous for representing Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Songcontest and winning it with the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” dressed in full drag as Conchita, but with a beard! For many of us, it was the first time we saw a professional drag queen with a full beard on TV!.

Lgbtq rights in ireland

Ireland legalized homosexuality in 1993 and introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1998-2015. Gay marriage was legalized in 2015 and the right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year. Transgender people in Ireland can self-declare their gender for the purpose of updating passports, driving licences, obtaining new birth certificates and getting married.

Strong Catholic beliefs still continue to encourage homophobia in the more rural areas and older generations, but the change is exciting to watch! And then, of course, they are the undisputed Eurovision champions, having won the competition a record-breaking 7 times. A country that has won the gay Olympics the most times is certainly going to be pretty gay!

Gay events in ireland

Dublin Pride in June is the main LGBTQ event in Ireland. Other cities with Pride events include Cork Pride in July, Limerick Pride in July, Carlow Pride in July, Mayo Pride in July and Sligo Pride in August. Dublin also hosts lots of other LGBTQ events including the Dublin Bear Events in March and Trans Pride Dublin in July.

Gay travel to ireland

Ireland is gorgeous! The capital, Dublin, is a treat – it was even designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Other highlights of Ireland include The Cliffs of Moher, Dublin’s Grafton Street, The Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, The Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, The Dingle Peninsula, The Aran Islands, and more.

We’ve been to Ireland many times and can definitely see a change over the past few decades as the country has quickly evolved to embrace LGBTQ rights and welcome gay tourists.

Did you know? In 2017, an openly gay man, Leo Varadkar, became the “Taoiseach” (ie the Prime Minister) of Ireland. We saw Leo Varadkar in person, marching in the Canada Pride in Montreal in 2017 alongside Justin Trudeau, and love that he frequently stands up for LGBTQ rights, particularly when he met conservative Mike Pence in 2019.

Lgbtq rights in uruguay

Uruguay legalized homosexuality in 1934 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009. The right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year as well as the on official documents.

The gay scene in uruguay

The majority of the gay scene in Uruguay is in Montevideo, which includes Chains Pub, Bar Rodo, Il Tempo and Cain Club. Punta del Este also has a few gay friendly hangouts including the Soho Bar. Just note, Uruguayans head out late – dinner is around 9pm, bars get busy after 11pm and don’t even think about going to a club before 1am!

Gay events in uruguay

The two main ones gay events in Uruguay are Montevideo Pride in September and Punta Pride in the summer months of February. Both are low key affairs, but we love them because the entire local community gets involved – families, babies and even dogs! The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is very active in promoting local LGBTQ-friendly businesses in Uruguay. They have an annual conference every September, which also includes a mini-festival and parties.

Gay travel to uruguay

Touristic highlights of Uruguay include the picturesque UNESCO listed town of Colonia del Sacramento, the Salto del Penitente, Pan de Azúcar, Montevideo’s cutesy old town, Punta del Diablo, Cabo Polonio, Laguna de Castillos, Punta Ballena and the beachfront of Punta del Este.

Uruguay is often described as a “sleepy” country with the most laidback people on the planet. We can definitely agree with that. No one anywhere in the country gave two hoots about seeing two men holding hands in public. This is definitely one very tolerant and progressive country. Find out more about gay travel to Uruguay.

Did you know? Uruguay has an all-male clothing-optional guesthouse just outside of Punta del Este called Undarius! It’s super gay, complete with purple decor and balconies that are lit up rainbow lights. It’s also conveniently located close to the gay naturist beach of Chihuahua.

Lgbtq rights in belgium

Belgium legalized homosexuality in 1795 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2014. Gay marriage was legalized in 2003 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2007.

Whilst Belgium does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, many Belgian hospitals (such as the Ghent University Hospital) are famous for their specialisation in gender reassignment surgery. So much so that many transgender people from France go there for surgery due to a lack of accepting hospitals in France.

Gay events in belgium

The main Pride events are The Belgian Pride Brussels in May, Pride Ghent in May, Antwerp Pride in August and the Darklands Antwerpen in March. Other awesome queer events to look out for in Belgium include the Belgium Leatherpride in February, the Unicorn Festival in Antwerp in July and monthly dance parties like La Demence (the largest in Europe), and SPEK.

Gay travel to belgium

We’ve been several times to Belgium as a gay couple – either on a city break to Brussels and Bruges and once on a Flanders Field “pilgrimage” to see the former WW1 battlegrounds. We’ve loved it each time, especially my chips-loving-Frenchman! Belgium is overall very welcoming for gay travellers. When it comes to holding hands in public, we didn’t feel as comfortable as in other countries. Whilst the Belgium are generally tolerant and openminded, homophobia has grown recently in Belgium.

Belgium is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and as headquarters of the European Union and NATO. Touristic highlights include the Grand Palace in Brussels, the Canals and Belfry of Bruges, the Battlefields of Flanders, Ghent’s Gravensteen and Old Town, the Horta Museum and Town Houses, the Basilica of Bruges, Meuse Valley, Mons Old Town, and more.

Did you know? Belgium has also had its fair share of openly gay politicians, including the world’s second openly gay head of government, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo (2011-2014). We also love that Belgium has a “Rainbow Cops” police force who are specifically trained to handle LGBTQ issues.

Lgbtq rights in usa

The USA actually only legalized homosexuality in 2003 following the Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision, though some States did so a lot sooner, starting with Illinois back in 1961. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized in the USA, which was monumental and groundbreaking, inspiring many other countries to follow suit! More recently, in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in the Bostock v Clayton County case that federal civil rights law do protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

Transgender rights in usa

The US is a dichotomy when it comes to . On the one hand, there are trans havens with the most progressive transgender laws on the planet, formally allowing a nonbinary gender marker on ID documents. These include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, District of Colombia, Washington State, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – also hopefully soon in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia and Illinois. Sadly, on the other hand, there are a handful of homophobic States one would take caution to avoid!

The gay scene in usa

The USA leads the way when it comes to gay villages and gay scenes. It’s huge here. Almost every State has a gay village in its main cities, even places like Texas, which have the Montrose gay village in Houston!

Some of the gay heartlands in the USA include , Provincetown in Massachusetts, Fire Island in New York, Chelsea in NY, Guerneville in California, Castro in San Francisco, The South End in Boston, West Hollywood in LA, Boystown in Chicago, Capitol Hill in Denver, Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, Hillcrest in San Diego, Ogunquit in Maine, New Hope in Pennsylvania, Key West in Florida, Asbury Park in New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and so so many more! Read more in our detailed guide to some of the – most of which are in the States!

Gay events in usa

The USA has some of the biggest LGBTQ events in the world. The most famous is , which is also the home of the modern-day gay rights movement. In 2019, NYC hosted WorldPride, which attracted around 5 million people, making it the largest gay Pride event ever!

Other notable gay events in the US include San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair in September, the Capital Trans Pride in May in Washington, the New Orleans Mardi Gras in February, the Aspen Gay Ski Week in January and Miami Beach Pride in April. This is just a small selection of the many different LGBTQ events taking place across the USA every year!

Gay travel to usa

The USA offers so much for LGBTQ travellers. Touristic highlights include the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Yellowstone National Park, Disney and Universal theme parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Glacier National Park, Waikiki, Las Vegas and many more…

We’ll be honest, when we visited Florida as a gay couple during the Trump years, we were absolutely terrified and agreed to act as “friends” in places we weren’t sure. Upon arrival, the (straight white) guy at the immigration desk could see us nervously looking at each other, smiled at us then warmly asked, “are you boys married yet?” and proceeded to welcome us into the USA.

On the other extreme, when taking a photograph on Miami Beach’s rainbow crossing, a man rolled down his window and shouted, “Move out of the way, fa*gots!” This summed up the USA for us – on the one hand, it’s THE gayest nation on the planet, but on the other hand, it is riddled with pockets of pretty extreme homophobia.

Did you know? The Stonewall Riots were largely thanks to the efforts of an African American transgender woman from New Jersey, Ms Marsha P. Johnson. In June 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York, 23-year old Marsha was one of the key figures who stood up to the police during the raids, resisted arrest and therefore led to the pivotal Stonewall protests soon after.

Lgbtq rights in costa rica

Costa Rica began its fabulous journey back in 1911 when it legalized homosexuality. It is the latest member to our exclusive Gay Marriage Club after it legalized gay marriages in 2020. Just like Canada, Costa Rica was a trailblazer in relation to anti-discrimination laws, which it introduced in 1998. This included allowing LGBT people to openly serve openly in the civil defence Public Force (Costa Rica doesn’t have an army).

When it comes to transgender rights, Costa Rica introduced the right to change gender in 2018 recognises transgender people’s gender identity on ID cards.

Gay travel to costa rica

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. Travel highlights include the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde and the Cloud Forests, the Dominical, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, the Tortuguero National Park, the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park.

Costa Rica has come a long way over the past decade and whilst it may still retain a strong influence from the conservative Catholic Church, attitudes are quickly evolving and the country has for years been embracing LGBTQ tourism.

Did you know? Costa Rica has had its fair share of openly gay politicians. In April 2013, Carmen Muñoz became the first openly lesbian member of the country’s Legislative Assembly. In May 2018, Enrique Sánchez became the first openly gay congressman in Costa Rica.

Go wild in south africa

Check out this South Africa gay tour by Out Adventures. It begins in Zimbabwe where you’ll witness the power and beauty of Victoria Falls. Then it’s off to Botswana and South Africa for authentic safaris in private game reserves. Finally, you’ll spend four full days soaking up the culture and cuisine of gorgeous gay Cape Town. If that itinerary doesn’t spark your sense of adventure, we don’t know what will!

Lgbtq rights in south africa

South Africa shooketh the LGBTQ world in the 1990s! It became the first country to enshrine full anti-discrimination laws in its Constitution. Up until that point, no other country had ever done this before – a trailblazer not only in Africa but across the entire world! This included allowed LGBT people to openly serve in the army. It didn’t stop there, South Africa went on to introduce the right to change legal gender in 2003 and legalized gay marriages in 2006.

The gay scene in south africa

Cape Town and Johannesburg have the largest LGBTQ communities in South Africa each with an exciting gay scene. Cape Town has a gay village in De Waterkant as well as in Green Point and Sea Point. Over in Johannesburg, whilst there is no gay village, there are many gay places spread out across the city, particularly in Melville, Parkhurst and Rosebank. Other cities in South Africa with a small gay scene include Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban, Berea and Stellenbosch.

Gay events in south africa

South Africa see Pride events happening in most of the cities. The Johannesburg and Cape Town Prides are the best ones. Johannesburg Pride happens in October and has been nicknamed the “Pride of Africa“ because it is the largest (and one of the fewest) in the entire continent. Cape Town Pride is also a Mardi Gras festival and happens in February.

Other prominent Pride events in South Africa include the Pretoria LGBTQI Gay Pride in October, Durban Pride in June, Mzansi Pride Johannesburg in April and the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride in Port Elizabeth in November.

Gay travel to south africa

South Africa almost ticks all the boxes – stunning destination to visit, a large, active LGBTQ community, and lots of queer hangouts and events happening. The only downside is the violent crime so prevalent around the country which makes it a little big dangerous for all travellers whether straight or gay. Obviously, if you stick to the areas you know are safe, it’s absolutely fine!

South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise, with some of the best safaris in the world. Other touristic highlights include the Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Stellenbosch, The Drakensberg, The Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and Robben Island.

Did you know? Nelson Mandela is often regarded as the Grandfather of LGBTQ rights. When he became President in 1994, he immediately pushed for one of the most progressive constitutions the world has ever seen – the first one ever to outlaw discrimination based on who we love. Big Daddy Nelson, we salut you!

– Israel: Tel Aviv is one of the gayest places on the planet and Tel Aviv Pride one of the best prides in the world! Israel sadly has rejected gay marriage 5 times but since 2006 it recognises gay marriages from abroad.

Gay tour of thailand

Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!

– Thailand: Thailand is super gay! Bangkok has one of the best gay scenes in the world and we love it. Phuket and Pattaya also have large queer scenes, and islands like Koh Samui even have their own annual Pride. Thailand was set to introduce civil union laws in 2020 but gay marriage is still a long way off. Read more about Bangkok in our gay travel guide to Bangkok.

Stefan arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog bear-magazine.com As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .

hello! as a gay brazilian, i think it’s important to mention that our most relevant national laws of lgbt+ interest happened at the initiative of the supreme court, since we never had presidents who openly advocated for lgbt + rights (gay marriage was legalized in 2010, during a supposedly progressive government, and the ban on homo/transphobia in 2019, during our current and pathetic government). it’s also worth noting that, last year, the most voted councilor in the country was a transgender woman 😉 cheers

Thanks for this Flavio! Will take it into account when we update this article next.

I would remove Argentina from the list. As a gay Argentinian, my couple and I have been rejected from many Motels just for being gay in many States (provincias), outside of Buenos Aires or CABA. If you are a gay tourist you shouldn’t out yourself unless you are staying in Capital, and even in CABA, many homophobic attacks occur everyday. Don’t even think to tell anybody you are gay if you visit the North of my country, people are ultra conservative.

Please remove Argentina from this list, our current president Alberto Fernandez have used many offensive slang in public social media, like Twitter, the fact that we have „progressist“ laws is just a depiction of hypocrisy and mirrors and smoke casted by our corrupt goverment.

Really sorry to read that! Will definitely keep it in mind when we come to update the list. For the record, we had a very positive experience traveling in Argentina as a gay couple.

I think you never went to Brazil then, for it not to be in the list. It was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage and adoption, the first to make homophobia a specific crime and hosts the biggest gay pride parade in the world in São Paulo, with over 4 million people

We love Brazil, but with all the homophobia Bolsanero has spouted, not sure we agree.

I dream to be in Spain,but when I see that Canada its the first for most gay friendly i change little mind haha, but its to far from my county, Spain to , but more near then bear-magazine.com from Albania , here its to difficult to live life free, 🚫🤦‍♂️I hope that in the future i will live in bear-magazine.com im a little shocked that i didnt see the Brazil in this list , haha , i have see from post that this county accept lgbt, and there have a lot people from community lgbt, and i like brazilians😛But your post will make people to think better where to start a new life, its helpful , thank you man

We used to have Brazil on the list, but with the onset of Bolsanero, we revised that! We can’t WAIT to put Brazil back in this list 🙂

Thank you so much for making this. I don’t know a place I would go to when I turn 18 (cause family) so thank you:)

Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.

Erhöhen sie ihren einkauf

In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‚enigma machine‘ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem ‚Keep the Home Fires Burning‘, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream bear-magazine.com book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

Pressestimmen

„To summarise, this is an excellent book that captures the untold lives of gay personnel throughout the world wars…I hope that this title encourages readers to share LGBT stories within their own family histories.“

“ pulls together previously published vignettes into a highly readable volume, and is well placed to bring the story of gay service-men to a wider public audience.“

„Bourne’s valuable and easy-to-read book is not quite a collection of ‚untold‘ stories, as in the sub-title. Rather it gathers under-told stories, and those not previously collected together to give a coherent collective account of GBTQI men in wars.“

Introduction

Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men are among the small number of groups for whom HIV remains uncontrolled worldwide. Although there have been recent and notable decreases in HIV incidence across several countries, prevalence and incidence is consistently higher or rising among men who have sex with men when compared with other groups.

Results

Higher provider discrimination and sexual stigma were associated with lower odds of perceived access to services, service utilization and virologic suppression. Conversely, accessing services from community-based organizations focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; greater engagement in gay community; and comfort with healthcare providers were associated with higher odds of achieving steps along the prevention and treatment continuum.

Conclusions

To meet accelerated global HIV targets, global leaders must adopt a differentiated and bolder response, in keeping with current epidemiologic trends and community-based research. The HIV-related needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be addressed openly, quickly and with sufficient resources to support evidence-based, community-led and human rights-affirming interventions at scale.

Measures

Participants completed a 30-minute questionnaire including items about demographics (e.g. age, country of residence, sexual orientation, ability to meet one’s basic financial needs, healthcare coverage, having a regular healthcare provider); HIV status; sexual stigma or homophobia (seven items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of stigma or homophobia, α=0.8534 – e.g. “In your country, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a natural expression of sexuality in men, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a perversion?”); comfort with one’s healthcare provider (three items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of comfort, α=0.8657 – e.g. “In your country, how comfortable do you feel discussing your sexual health concerns with your healthcare provider?”); experiences of provider discrimination (five items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of discrimination, α=0.8703 – e.g. “In the last six months, has a healthcare provider treated you poorly because you are gay/MSM?); and engagement with the gay community (10 items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of engagement, α=0.7304 – e.g. “During the last six months, how often have you participated in a gay men’s/MSM support group?”).

Main outcomes

The primary outcomes in this study are access to HIV prevention and treatment services (e.g. “In your community, how accessible is free or affordable HIV testing?”) and HIV prevention and treatment service utilization. Service utilization was assessed with questions such as “When was your last HIV test? In the last six months, how frequently have you been tested for HIV?” (dichotomized as having had an HIV test in the last 12 months versus not having been tested within the last 12 months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you obtained condoms?” (dichotomized as having obtained condoms at least once versus never obtaining condoms in the past six months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you participated in HIV/risk-prevention programmes for gay men/MSM?” (dichotomized as having participated in HIV programmes three or more times versus less). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was assessed as lifetime use with the following question: “Have you ever taken HIV medications before potentially being exposed to HIV, because you thought it would reduce your chances of getting HIV?” Participants were considered to have used PrEP if they responded “yes” to this question.

Among those living with HIV, linkage to care was assessed with the following question: “When you were diagnosed, did someone help you get into HIV care?” Participants were considered to have been linked to care if they reported being linked within 12 months or sooner after their HIV diagnosis. Retention in care was assessed with the following question: “How many HIV-related healthcare visits have you had in the last six months?” Participants were considered as being retained in care if they reported having more than two visits. Viral load was assessed with the following question: “What is your current viral load?” This was recorded for the outcome of virologic suppression; participants who reported either having less than 200 copies/mL or having undetectable viral load were considered virologically suppressed.

Using the primary outcomes, MSMGF adopted an intervention-centric approach to construct the HIV prevention and treatment continuum described in this report. We used this approach to highlight low service utilization for each intervention type [16], acknowledging the following: 1) the heterogeneity of prevention needs represented among diverse groups of men who have sex with men; and 2) the complex web of interacting HIV prevention modalities [17]. The number of participants who tested for HIV and received results served as the denominator for determining steps along the cascade. On the prevention end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-negative men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported obtaining condoms in the last six months. On the treatment end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-positive men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported being linked to care.

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DID YOU KNOW…in February 2009 Iceland famously elected the world’s first-ever openly gay national leader: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. She then went on to marry her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir in 2010, which made Iceland a popular gay wedding destination. And if Iceland couldn’t get any gayer, the former (straight!) mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, famously attended the 2010 Reykjavík Pride Parade dressed in full drag as Miss Reykjavík! 

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Did you know? On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBTQ rights, refugees and tolerance, which went viral, receiving over 3 million views. Part of the speech reads as follows:

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We challenge you to point us to such a large country the size of Europe (in both size and population), that has paved the way forward with LGBTQ rights but doesn’t also have a dichotomy between safe pink havens and ultra-homophobic areas?

For us we have to recognise that this is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage in 2015 has had (and continues to have!) a monumental domino effect around the world.

If we were to take certain States (like NYC or California) as standalone, they’d be up there at the top battling it out with Canada and Spain, which is why we place it further down. But this doesn’t escape the fact that the USA is pretty much the epicentre of the gay world!

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Download this chart figure 3: uk countries by lesbian, gay or bisexual population, 2017

Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK household population identifying as LGB has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017. The proportion in Wales increased by 0.7%, England and Scotland both increased by 0.5% and Northern Ireland by 0.1%. Of all these changes, only the increases seen for the UK, England and Wales were statistically significant.

Regionally (Figure 4), London continued to have the highest proportion of people identifying as LGB in 2017 (2.6%). The North East and East of England both had the lowest proportion (1.5%).

The relatively high proportion of people identifying as LGB in London can be explained by the younger age structure and the diversity of the population. The median age of the population in London was 35.1 years in 2017, compared with 41.9 years in the North East and 41.6 years in the East of England.

The South West was the region that saw the largest change in the percentage identifying as LGB over the last five years, from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.4% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 5: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by legal marital status, uk, 2017

In 2017, of those from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 6% identified themselves as gay or lesbian and bisexual (Figure 6). Due to small sample sizes, sexual orientation estimates by ethnic group have fluctuated year-on-year, with notable uncertainty around LGB estimates for all ethnic groups except White. Consequently, over the last five years, for the LGB population the only statistically significant change was for the White ethnic group, where the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

7. people in london are most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual

In 2017, the percentage of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) was similar for England (2.1%), Scotland (1.9%) and Wales (2.0%). Northern Ireland had the lowest percentage of all UK countries with 1.2% of the household population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (Figure 3).

8. population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual are most likely to have a marital status of single (never married or civil partnered)

In 2017, around 69% of those identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) stated they had never married or entered into a civil partnership (Figure 5). This is a higher percentage than those identifying as heterosexual or straight (34%). Reasons for this might include:

those identifying as LGB having a younger age structure than those who identify as heterosexual or straight

legal unions for same-sex couples having only become available relatively recently

Those who had a legal marital status of single may be in same-sex cohabiting couples. In the UK, 0.5% of families were same-sex cohabiting couple families in 2017.

11. quality and methodology

Sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK. The sexual identity question is not asked by proxy. Proxy interviews are defined as those where answers are supplied by a third party, who is usually a member of the respondent’s household.

The sexual identity question is asked in both face-to-face and telephone interviews, at first personal contact. During the face-to-face interviews, adults were asked: „Which of the options on this show card best describes how you think of yourself?“ For telephone interviews, a slightly different way of collecting the information was used: „I will now read out a list of terms people sometimes use to describe how they think of themselves“. The list is read out to respondents twice. On the second reading, the respondent has to say „stop“ when an appropriate term they identified with is read out. In both modes, the order in which the terms appeared, or are read out, is unique for each household’s respondent to ensure confidentiality.

The „other“ option on the question is included to address the fact that not all people will consider they fall in the first three categories, that is, heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual.

The APS covers the household population but excludes people living in communal establishments with the exception of those in NHS housing and students in halls of residence (sampled via the private households of their parents). Members of the armed forces are only included in the APS if they live in private accommodation.

This bulletin presents percentages. Estimates of the population numbers and measures of quality (to show the levels of uncertainty associated with survey estimates) are presented in the datasets. Users are advised to consult the quality measures when interpreting the estimates as some estimates are based on a relatively small sample. As a result, these estimates are subject to uncertainty particularly when making comparisons, such as changes from one year to another. Therefore, annual changes and changes over five years identified in this report are described where appropriate as “statistically significant” – that means that there is likely to have been a real change in the underlying population proportions and that the difference we are observing is unlikely to be due to chance.

The Sexual orientation Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data

Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes sexual orientation estimates for the UK and constituent countries only. In April 2017, ONS published research findings from an experimental method to produce subnational sexual identity estimates.

The revisions policy for population statistics is available.

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The Country Ranking section is where you can see the bigger picture – quite literally.

This is the latest ILGA-Europe rating of 49 European countries.

The colour assigned to each country gives you an indication of where the countries are positioned on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality).

Just a note – this colour doesn’t change when you are arranging countries by individual categories. So, don’t be alarmed if the colours vary greatly among countries when you group them together in this way!

The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people. The ranking records a country’s legal standards for comparison with its European neighbours but the numbers only provide one part of the story. Our Annual Review gives a more nuanced, detailed overview of every country’s progress over the last twelve months and has a chapter dedicated to each country as well as developments at international level.

Tel aviv, israel

What can we say about this incredible city hasn’t already been said? We were midway through our year-long backpacking trip abroad when we decided upon our next stop: Israel. I (Emily) am fluent in Hebrew and have visited a few times before. I couldn’t wait to introduce Robyn to the culture, landscape, food (she’s a chef), and beauty of this country. From Haifa to the Golan, Jerusalem, and back to Tel Aviv, we explored Israel for a month, staying with friends and adventuring around.

Unbeknownst to us, our travels lined right up with Tel Aviv Pride. For anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community who are scoping out potential gay-friendly travel destinations where you can feel safe, and welcome… we cannot recommend Tel Aviv enough. This city is thriving with hip neighbourhoods full art, cuisine, nightlife, and of course, a proud and large LGBTQ presence. During Pride, all day and night, the city turns into one giant parade, with thousands of people marching and partying throughout the streets, all the way down to the beach. The energy is magnificent. Colors. Music. Celebration. Community. Dancing. Did we mention the beach? Go book that flight!

Amsterdam, the netherlands

Amsterdam has been our hometown for the past four years and is the (former) gay capital of Europe! In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the country is known for its tolerance. Our culture is about celebrating diversity and therefore our Pride Week is all about partying and less about protesting. In Amsterdam, the gay scene is mostly concentrated around the many gay bars in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, and we’ve had many fun parties at the Amstel Fifty Four on Wednesdays, the drinks night of student association A.S.V. Gay.

Berlin, germany

I love Berlin for the creative and open spirit that this city seems to nurture. It’s what made it a gay hotspot in the 1920s (Cabaret!) and continues to make it so special and unique for LGBTQ people today. There’s so much room in the city for so many different types of interests as well, which makes it really diverse for the many colors of the LGBT rainbow… with queer parties and meetups for just about every interest! There are great queer bars such as SilverFuture in Neukölln and Facciola in Kreuzberg, both with their flare and social atmospheres that make them great places for tourists, whilst mega techno clubs and parties (what guide to gay Berlin couldn’t include Berghain?!) still attract a mix of LGBT locals and tourists.

Berlin Pride, known as Christopher Street Day (CSD), takes place every July.

Brighton, united kingdom

Brighton: is there anywhere more gay-friendly in the UK? I think not. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to take the long drive south to see what all the fuss is about. So, for my birthday last year, my girlfriend Helen and I did just that. And FINALLY, I understood. Brighton is beautiful. Everything from the burnt out old pier to the Lanes is just perfection. With hundreds of bars, restaurants, and accommodation options to choose from, you’re never going to struggle for something to do, a good bite to eat and a place to stay. You’re also never going to struggle to feel accepted as this is undoubtedly one of the best gay cities around. So, if you’re looking for the perfect gay-friendly city for your next staycation, then Brighton it is! I know I’ll be back there again very soon.

Guadalajara, mexico

Guadalajara may be Mexico’s most gay-friendly city. Compared to other places in Mexico, it was the city where I saw the most signs of affection in public between same sex couples, and there are plenty of gay bars, clubs and parties for everyone. One of the best known is Voltio, which every Friday hosts the scandalous underwear party where men of all kinds strip down to their pants and get to know each other in this grungy, former warehouse. Despite only having started three years ago, it is home to one of the largest Pride events in Latin America, taking place every June with over 4000 participants. Finally, it’s not far from the famous Pacific beach towns in the Banderas Bay, including the super gay Puerto Vallarta.

Buenos aires, argentina

Argentina is extremely progressive with LGBT rights. It was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which included full adoption rights. The right to change legal gender has been in place since 2012 and anti-discrimination laws are in full force in Rosario and the big capital city, Buenos Aires.

We love Buenos Aires because it has one of the best gay scenes across Latin America, which is heavily supported by the government, in particular in August when it has its BADiversa week every August. The gay scene of Buenos Aires is quite spread out, but the focal point is in the large, residential neighbourhood of Palermo, plus a few places dotted about in super cool San Telmo and well-to-do Recoleta. Some of the best places to visit include Glam Club in Recoleta, Sitges bar in Palermo, Contramano bear club in Recoleta and Pride Café in San Telmo.

Our favourite memory from our travels in Buenos Aires is dancing the tango together as a same-sex couple at one of the queer milongas (a tango dance hall). There’s nothing more romantic than dancing this famous Argentinian/Uruguayan dance together and it was the best place to meet like-minded people. The two main queer tango milongas in the city are La Marshall (in San Telmo) and Tango Queer (in Recoleta).

Buenos Aires Gay Festival takes place every November.

Auckland, new zealand

New Zealand was the first international stop on our year-long journey abroad. We stayed with a friend in Auckland before moving onto Waitara, also on the North Island. Here we worked with renowned NZ photographer and LGBTQ+ activist Fiona Clarke (you should look her up) and then spent a month camping on the South Island. We knew Auckland would be something special but we had no idea just how unique our experience of the city, and with Fiona, would actually be!

Each year Auckland hosts a week of Pride events, one of which is called The Big Gay Out (as if New Zealand wasn’t already the most epic spot). TBGO, organised by New Zealand AIDS Foundation, is a free event that takes place in Coyle Park and is full of music, art vendors, food and dancing. We were excited to attend in 2016, especially when Emily (musician/songwriter Emily Kopp) was asked to play on the main stage! We had a beautiful time not only in Auckland but in all of New Zealand: the country is stunning and full of kind people. It’s a MUST SEE in our book.

Gran canaria, canary islands

Gran Canaria is an extremely famous destination throughout the year for European gays. This Spanish island is part of the Canary Islands, which lies off the coast of Africa, therefore guaranteed almost 365 days of great weather. Spain generally is a very gay-friendly destination, but Gran Canaria has always had a more tolerant attitude. During the harsh, repressive Franco years, the government turned a blind eye to homosexuality as the island was too far away from the mainland to bother with. From the 1960s, tourism really started to take off, attracting more and more foreigners and therefore even more tolerant attitudes.

We love Gran Canaria because there is a massive gay scene at Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles in the southern part of the island. The Yumbo Centre is the focal point for the area: a large shopping mall full of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shops, making it a gay man’s paradise. Slightly further south of this is the large gay beach at Kiosk #7. Gran Canaria also has several gay pride festivals happening throughout the year such as the Maspalomas Fetish Week in October, Maspalomas Winter Pride in November, Carnivals in February (both in Maspalomas and Las Palmas), Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and finally numerous bear parties in October and another in March.

One of our favourite experiences in Gran Canaria was taking a boat trip (run by Canarias Gay) with friends to the remote beach called Gui Gui. This is a clothing optional beach on the Western coast of the island, hidden away at the bottom of a Grande ravine. This was the perfect day trip and a more relaxing way to see a different side to this remarkable island.

Milan, italy

We love Milan because it has the best GLBT scene in Italy. There are plenty of bars, parties, cultural events and film exhibitions that focus on the gay community. We also love Milan because everyone is welcome! Most of the bars we like to drink at before going out are around Porta Venezia and at the heart of this area is Via Lecco. Here you will find a number of bars where you can have an “Aperitivo Italiano”, stay out late and meet the locals. During Pride, this street becomes the city’s Pride Square. All the gay events in Milan start from here and it’s also the best place to end the night at the most trendy clubs.

New york, usa

New York City is the ultimate LGBT travel destination with a little bit of something for everyone on the spectrum. There’s Hell’s Kitchen, where lots of gay guys hang out, or Henrietta Hudson in the Village, which is one of three remaining lesbian bars in the five boroughs. If the queer and transgender scene is more your speed, check out Wednesday nights at The Woods in Brooklyn. Not a drinker? No problem – head to Chelsea and have dinner at an LGBT-owned restaurant such as Elmo or Cafeteria. Don’t forget to check out the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art or join an LGBT history walking tours with Oscar Wilde Tours. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete with paying respects at The Stonewall Inn.

Rome, italy

Rome is an incredible city with tonnes of amazing places to take photos and historical sites that will take your breath away. Inclusive and international, the gay life in Rome is fun and easy-going. Both during international events or smaller local festivals, you will meet plenty of good-hearted people that will offer you to show you around. The heart of the gay life in Rome is Gay Street, right behind the Colosseum. This is the place locals prefer for a drink to start the night. You’ll find yourself talking to everyone and, with the night coming, you’ll want to discover one of the most popular Italian clubs: Muccassassina in winter and Gay Village in Summer.

Lisbon, portugal

One of the most amazingly gay-friendly cities I can recommend for LGBT travellers is Lisbon. As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is full of culture and nice spots to see and visit. The nightlife in Bairro Alto is really fun, and there are several gay-friendly pubs, discos and a sauna. But Lisbon gay life is not only limited to the city centre. Extended along the southern coast is the Costa da Caparica, a stunning place to enjoy the sea, with beautiful, long beaches and areas equipped for tourists. This region is served by a slow train that starts from Lisbon and travels along the coast. Beach 19 is a well-known gay beach and a great place to meet new people and have fun. Last but not least, the Portuguese people are very open-minded and LGBT people are free to be themselves.

Tokyo, japan

During our current world trip, we fell in love with Japan and especially with Tokyo. Previously, we’d heard about Japan’s crazy culture with its cosplay, maid and cat cafes and much more. But that’s not the best part of Japanese culture: it’s the people. Japanese people are the kindest and most polite people we have ever met. Culturally, they consider saying ‘no’ as impolite, but it’s also in their culture to be a little distant because of personal space. Therefore, public displays of affection (PDAs) and topics like sex and sexuality are things Japanese do not talk about, though gender norms are more fluid in Japan than elsewhere in the world.

Most LGBT-people in Japan are just ‘gay for the weekend’ and often even have a ‘normal’ family during the rest of the week. Nonetheless, it’s also in their culture to not openly judge people who do show PDAs or talk about their sexuality. Especially while drinking, Japanese people open up about these things and that might be the reason that Tokyo has more gay bars than London! These gay bars can be found in Tokyo’s gay area Shinjuku-nichōme, the perfect place to either find your special someone or to celebrate your love with your special someone. And in between all the gay bars we found the perfect place for us: bar Goldfinger, hosting women-only parties every Saturday night!

Washington dc, usa

Washington DC is an exciting place to visit and there’s an engaged local LGBT community. Beyond the history, you’ll find plenty of entertainment, shopping, dining and other recreational opportunities. Washington DC is also home to lots of great festivals and events like Chinese New Year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For LGBT specific events, check out the Best of Gay DC Awards in the fall or Capital Pride’s Holiday Heatwave in December. Visit DC in the summer to attend the Capital Pride Celebration or DC Black bear-magazine.com also has great neighborhoods like the trendy Shaw district or Logan Circle, with an upscale and elegant feel, including chic boutiques and wine bars. Or head to Columbia Heights to experience a strong Latino and hipster crowd with a mix of ethnic restaurants and cool taverns. To find the best gay hangouts, the top neighborhoods include the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle or Logan Circle with LGBT favorite spots like Cobalt, 30 Degrees, Green Lantern or DIK Bar.

Washington DC’s Capital Pride takes place every June.

Bangkok, thailand

Bangkok is an Asian megacity, bursting with energy and colour. Often overlooked by visitors eager to reach the glorious beaches of Southern Thailand, this capital city has life pulsating from its core. The traditional backpacker area is centred around Koh San Road but the real heart of authentic Bangkok beats from Silom. The city’s premier financial district by day, once the sun goes down the area is home to delectable street food, rooftop bars and Thailand’s prosperous and lively gay village. Bangkok is frantic yet spiritual; a place where you feel alive from the moment you arrive. Boredom isn’t an option in here: with its cavernous maze of sois (filled with more eateries than you could ever sample), the rich heritage of its royal past and thirst for modernisation, Bangkok is unique, crazy and utterly unforgettable.

Bangkok’s first gay pride parade is due to take place in 2018.

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On 25 March, 1969, Judy Garland took to the stage at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen. As she reached the crescendo of Over the Rainbow – the song which made her a global star aged just 17 – it was unknown to the audience that they were watching her final live performance. Four months later, 47 year-old Garland was found dead in Chelsea, London, after accidentally overdosing on the drugs she had self-medicated with since childhood. One of the headlines would read: “Judy’s voice stilled. The rainbow is gone.”

Fifty years on, Garland superfan Ross Semple, 27, still listens to that Copenhagen concert religiously. “I cry every time I listen to that recording,” he says. “The pain in her voice, knowing what was to come soon after, you can hear it all.” Having seen The Wizard of Oz as a child, Ross was further drawn towards Judy Garland in his late teens, around the same time he came out as gay. He began watching her films, listening to her music and learning about her life. “I want to know as much as I can about her,” he explains. “Because I want to be able to speak with authority about her and understand her, because she deserves that.”

Ross is far from the only gay man to feel such strong affinity with Garland’s work and life. Gay magazine The Advocate once called her the “Elvis of homosexuals”, and in a 1967 review of Garland’s concert at New York City’s Palace Theatre, Time Magazine observed that a “disproportionate part of her nightly claque” was gay. Two years earlier, Garland herself had been asked if at a San Francisco press conference if she minded having such a large gay following, to which she responded: “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people!”

Homosexuals understand suffering. and so does garland – esquire magazine, 1969

Journalist, author and self-confessed Garland devotee Robert Leleux wrote in the New York Times 2012 that the LGBTQ+ community’s love of Garland – which he dubbed “Judyism” – was becoming “little more than a cultural memory”. But now Judyism may be set to grip a whole new generation with the release of Judy, a biopic starring Renée Zellweger. Set in 1969, when Garland arrived in London for a five-week run of sold-out concerts, the film received rapturous reviews for Zellweger’s performance when it premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this month. The buzz surrounding the release, partnered with the 2018 remake of A Star is Born – the iconic showbiz drama that earned Garland an Academy Award nomination in 1954 – has brought her distinctly gay legacy back into focus.

In biopic Judy, Renée Zellweger plays Garland – and is a favourite for next year’s Oscars (Credit: David Hindley/ LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.” However queer historian Dr Justin Bengry warns against generalising in this way. “It’s important to ask: for whom is Judy Garland resonant, important and iconic?” he tells BBC Culture. “It seems to be a significant category of gay men, in particular, who are invested in celebrities or the camp aesthetic that Garland embodies. But it’s also important to recognise that they aren’t the totality of gay men.”

The camp that Bengry mentions is significant to Garland’s gay icon status. Queer film historian Jack Babuscio defines camp as “irony, aestheticism, theatricality and humour” – four pillars that form the foundation of Garland’s public persona. In fact, her life story is practically a blueprint for our modern understanding of what makes a gay icon. Analysing her story, from upbringing to death, helps us understand how and why some gay men look to famous women to help them navigate the world.

In 1922, Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm – named after her parents Frank and Ethel – in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. When Garland was four, the family moved to California following rumours that her father, a closeted bisexual, had made sexual advances towards young men. After the family settled in California, Ethel Gumm began to promote her daughters as a performing trio, known as The Gumm Sisters. It was Garland’s mother who first introduced her to drugs. According to Gerald Clarke, author of Garland biography Get Happy, Ethel would give her daughters pills in the morning and at night, saying “I’ve got to get those girls going!” Eventually, after her older sisters both married, Garland was signed by studio giant MGM as a teenager on a seven-year contract. At 17, she starred in her breakout role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. 

Like judy garland, gay men are brought up to be ordinary. one is not brought up gay – richard dyer

This period in Garland’s life, which mirrored closely the story of Dorothy, has contributed significantly to her status as a gay icon. Much like her gingham-dressed alter ego, swept away by the winds into a magical, Technicolor world, Garland was plucked from obscurity to become a cultural icon. In his book, Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, professor Richard Dyer observes some gay men identify with Garland’s rejection of the ordinariness that she seemed destined for as a child. He theorises that turning out to be abnormal after being “saturated with the values or ordinariness” is a point where Garland and Dorothy’s stories align with the experience of some gay men, encouraging those who perceive themselves as ‘different’ to gravitate towards her.

Garland’s arrival as a major Hollywood star was complicated by a series of disastrous personal relationships, most notably with herself. From a young age, her self-image was relentlessly criticised by film executives who believed that she was unattractive. Alongside her mother, MGM executives controlled her image and encouraged her to take drugs to stay slim. Critical acclaim for her stand-out performances in Meet Me in St Louis and Till the Clouds Roll By coincided with praise of her ‘radiant’ appearance. But low points in Garland’s career were often accompanied by drastic weight gain and there were high-profile suicide attempts.

Garland’s coming-of-age mirrored the story of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – both were ordinary girls swept into a world of Technicolor and magic (Credit: Alamy)

However Garland’s body struggles arguably made her a figure of endearment. As culture journalist Anne Helen Petersen told Karina Longworth in a 2014 episode of her podcast You Must Remember This: “Judy didn’t look like the rest of the MGM stars. She became this avatar for the rejected: not sexy enough, not pretty enough.” This physical insecurity is something that many gay men can identify with, in particular, as a demographic more likely to battle body dysmorphia, harm their bodies, attempt suicide suffer from eating disorders. In the book, Changing Gay Male Identities, Dr Andrew Cooper suggests that the body can be a complex battleground for many gay men: that the body becomes a key site for projecting a “successful” sense of self to gay peers, but also for embodying success in the eyes of wider society. With this in mind, is it any wonder gay men relate to Garland’s desire to stay slim and successful?

Garland’s professional and personal lives were both defined by turbulence. She married five times and two of her husbands were, like her father, suspected of being gay or bisexual. Garland first married at 19 when she eloped to Las Vegas with musician David Rose. A year later, when she fell pregnant, her mother convinced her to have an illegal abortion. Drugs and financial instability were a near-constant presence in her life and she was suspended numerous times by MGM for missing shoot days or being incoherent, intoxicated and abusive on set. At 28, she was eventually dropped by MGM shortly after being replaced by Ginger Rogers on The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Garland’s lead role in 1954’s A Star is Born was a comeback moment. At 32, she had already been divorced twice and suffered numerous breakdowns. The high-budget project was seen as her final throw of the dice in Hollywood. Garland’s portrayal of Esther Blodgett, an aspiring singer who becomes tortured by her love interest’s addiction issues, is regarded as one of the greatest film performances of all time. In one pivotal scene, she says: “You don’t know what it’s like to watch someone you love crumble away – bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes – and stand there helpless… I hate his promises to stop, I hate going home at night and listening to his lies. I hate him for failing and I hate me too.” It is hard to listen to these words without connecting them to her own addiction struggles.

It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was. it’s a disservice to her body of work – ross semple

Yet the critical acclaim Garland received for A Star is Born was tarnished by its commercial underperformance. Deemed too long, the film had to be cut considerably, leading to a botched edit that left viewers underwhelmed. It flopped at the box office and Warner Bros then cancelled the lucrative multi-film deal Garland had signed with them. She was widely expected to take home the Academy Award for her role in the film, with reporters even waiting by her hospital bedside to capture her reaction as she prepared to give birth. But the Oscar ended up going to Grace Kelly, signalling that Garland’s Hollywood star was not going to be reignited after all.

At this point, the motif of Garland as a ‘survivor’ becomes central to her gay appeal. A Star is Born further blurred the line between her work and life, with Richard Dyer identifying this as the moment where Garland’s image of being “damaged goods” becomes an essential part of her star persona and gay icon status. He argues that, from then on, Garland’s work and life tells a story of survival, and of someone trying to assert some form of control in a world that was set up to destroy her. 

Garland had a comeback moment in 1954 showbiz drama A Star is Born – but it was short-lived (Credit: Alamy)

Like a true survivor, Garland rebounded from the commercial failure of A Star is Born. She found a new niche as a live singer, performing in a drug-induced haze on an endless tour after financial troubles left her permanently broke. Audiences, many of whom were gay, roared with laughter at her quick wit and gave her the validation for her performing that she had always craved. A live recording of her 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York won four Grammys, including album of the year, making Garland the first woman to win the award.

Superfan Semple describes a tension between his admiration for Garland’s work and his fascination with her life story. “It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was,” he says. “Because her performances were so brilliant and she made some beautiful films. It’s a disservice to her body of work to paint her as solely a tragic figure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with the story behind the curtain too.” He also observes that the gay love for “survivor” women who have been cast aside continues today. “Female pop acts who are largely forgotten by mainstream society still headline Pride events every year,” he says. “Judy was an early incarnation of that.”

Some gay men find more affinity in straight female stars than they do in those from their own community, a process that queer academic José Muñoz calls “disidentification”. He thinks that LGBTQ+ people often assign queerness to characters or stories that are not explicitly queer as a “coping mechanism”. As an example, Muñoz suggests that when a gay man “identified” with Garland, he was “writing his way into the mainstream culture in which his own story could never be told.”

Gay men often reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as the cast members of netflix’s queer eye

But contrastingly, in the book How to be Gay, queer historian David Halperin describes a tension with the “mainstream” that leads gay men to be “highly critical, if not contemptuous, of their own artists, writers and filmmakers”. He says that gay men often fail to warm to gay characters and celebrities because they “don’t often like the representations of gay men that gay men produce.” Halperin suggests that this is because most mainstream representations of gay men, from pop culture to politics, pander to “acceptable” heterosexual norms. He draws a key distinction between gay culture – where “conventional” white gay men are dominant – and gay subculture – where women, drag queens, queer people of colour and trans people are more visible. This causes some gay men to reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as, to use two very current examples, the cast members of Netflix’s Queer Eye and gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig. Instead many embrace subcultural – and in their eyes, more subversive – female narratives like Garland’s.

As seen in the new film Judy, Garland found a new niche as a live singer towards the end of her life (Credit: David Hindley / LD Entertainment/ Roadside Attractions)

So, depending on which way you look at it, “disidentifying” with Garland is either gay men’s way of feeling aligned to mainstream culture – or, in fact, rejecting it wholesale.

It is an unavoidable truth that Garland’s tragic and untimely death has also contributed to her status as a gay icon, making her a timeless figure. On the day of Garland’s funeral, gay men lined the streets and wept for her. Dyer notes that, at the time, gathering to watch Garland’s funeral gave them “permission to be gay in public for once.” But decades later, you don’t have to look far to see how Garland was the first in a continuing lineage of ‘tragic’ female celebrities who have acquired the status of gay icons.

Queens would come to a judy garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it – dr michael bronski

Elements of Garland’s story can be found in that of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her mistreatment at the hands of the press; Princess Margaret, with her ongoing substance issues, and marriage to an exploitative man who was rumoured to be gay; and Britney Spears, whose child stardom culminated in a very public divorce and mental health struggles. From Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Kesha, to Lily Allen, Demi Lovato and Garland’s own daughter Liza Minnelli, women continue to be exploited, damaged and, in the worst cases, destroyed by fame.

Gay men need to be mindful of our own culpability in this cycle. ‘Friend of Dorothy’ has long been a popular code word for gay men, but not all friends of Dorothy were friends of Judy. As Dr Michael Bronski, a Harvard University professor and the author of books on gay culture a recent article on the dark side of “stan” (superfan) culture: „There is a long history of gay male fan culture latching onto famous women and then turning on them. Queens would come to a Judy Garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it. The women have changed – it’s no longer Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. But the dynamic remains in Western culture.”

Bronski is right: that pattern didn’t end with Garland’s death. Whether it’s Katy Perry becoming, as journalist Brian O’Flynn writes, “gay Twitter’s punching bag”, or gay fans dressing as ‘bald Britney’ for Halloween and turning up to meet-and-greets dressed in costume from Spears’s infamous 2007 breakdown, gay men can be increasingly fickle towards famous women.

As a former child sat who has endured mental health struggles, Britney Spears is one of many female celebrities whose experiences recall Garland’s (Credit: Alamy)

Idolising these women is one thing, but we shouldn’t treat them like playthings for our entertainment. The personal troubles of women like Winona Ryder, Amanda Bynes or Naomi Campbell might generate funny punchlines, but they’re also real-life problems. When push comes to shove, are gay men really there for the women we claim to worship? 

On screen too, there are several works in the gay pop-cultural canon that glorify destructive female behaviour – while being financed and created by men. Mommie Dearest, a biopic of screen icon Joan Crawford, which portrays her as an abusive mother, is a gay classic. And from the streets of Wisteria Lane to Big Little Lies and the Real Housewives franchise, pop-culture encourages us to love female characters when they’re screaming hysterically, so we can condense their pain into hilariously camp GIFs and say “yassss kween” as they smash up their surroundings.

Camp is a huge part of what draws gay men towards women like Garland. There is camp to be found in her tragedy, her successes and her bad behaviour. But some, such as gay author Andrew Britton have argued that the existence of camp actually depends on the restrictive gender dynamics that it claims to oppose. Much has been written about the suppressive effect of the “male gaze” on women, but surely the “gay gaze” is also to blame.

Fifty years after Garland’s death, her legacy lives on. Many gay men turn to women like Judy Garland to help them navigate their own experiences of the world. But we should also reflect on the way we treat them. Because if we don’t commit to treating the icons who we love with compassion, or creating the “kinder, gentler world” Garland once said she longed for, then are we much better than the people who tried to break her?

Judy is released in the US and Canada on 27 September and in the UK and Ireland on 4 October

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Twitter.

See the world with gay friends

Interested in seeing the world with like-minded LGBT jet setters? Our friends at Out Adventures are the premiere providers of gay & lesbian tours, cruises and active adventures. Their slick and sublime escapes run twelve months per year, across all seven continents. Check out their website to see where they’re off to next.

Discover gay canada

No tour operator knows The Great White North quite like our Canuck friends at Out Adventures. Based in Toronto, these always-apologetic travel experts have been running both private and group tours through Canada for over ten years. Whether you’re looking to surmount the Rockies, discover Toronto’s underground gay scene, or witness Fierte Montreal, contact these guys for insider tips and tricks. Here’s to The True North, Strong & Gay. Sorry!

Lgbtq rights in canada

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017.

The gay scene in canada

Almost every city in Canada has a thriving gay scene, complete with rainbow crossings and numerous gay events taking place throughout the year. The main ones are the Church & Wellesley , Le Village Gai gay village of Montreal, The Village of Ottowa, the Davie Village and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.

Gay events in canada

Canada is one of the few countries that hosts its own national Pride event – “Canada Pride”. The first one took place in Montreal in 2017. The next one is scheduled to be in Winnipeg for 2022. Speaking of Pride, Toronto Pride is one of the largest in the world, attracting almost 1.5 million people each year. Back in 2014, Toronto also hosted WorldPride.

Almost every city in Canada has an annual Pride event, often strongly supported by the local government. Beyond the Pride events, Canada also has many gay ski-based events taking place in January including the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, the Tremblant Gay Ski Week and the Quebec Gay Ski Week. Other prominent LGBTQ events in Canada include the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in May and Montreal’s Black & Blue Festival in October.

Gay travel to canada

As a gay couple, we felt completely safe in all the places we visited in Canada. This is also one of the rare countries in the world where we felt confident enough to hold hands in public, almost everywhere!

In terms of touristic highlights, Canada has some of the best ski resorts in the world, a stunning landscape in the Canadian Rookies, whale watching experiences near Vancouver Island, impressive National Parks like Gros Morne and Nahanni, and of course, the famous Niagara Falls.

Did you know? Canada created the first gay currency! In 2019, Canada unveiled a new $1 coin (loonie) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, becoming the first country in the world to honour our LGBTQ community on its currency.

Lgbtq rights in spain

Spain legalized homosexuality in 1979 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 1995, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2005, Spain became the 3rd country in the world to legalize gay marriage (after Holland and Belgium). Spain then went on to introduce the right to change legal gender, then in 2006 allowed transgender people to register their preferred gender in public documents such as birth certificates, ID cards and passports without having to undergo any surgery. This right was extended to include transgender minors who are “mature enough”.

The gay scene in spain

All the main cities in Spain have a vibrant gay scene, usually concentrated in a gay village or street. The main ones include Chueca in Madrid, Gaixample in Barcelona, the Maspalomas gay area in Gran Canaria street). Other smaller cities in Spain have an exciting gay scene, which includes Benidorm’s Old Town area, La Nogalera in Torremolinos, Barrio del Carmen in Valencia and Calle de la Virgen in Ibiza.

Gay events in spain

Almost all the cities in Spain have a Pride event, the most famous is, of course, Madrid Pride. It is lauded for being one of the largest gay Pride events in the world especially in 2017 when it hosted WorldPride. Other prominent Pride events in Spain take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Maspalomas, Ibizia, Benidorm, Valencia, Bilbao and Manilva.

Spain has many other gay events happening throughout the year to look out for. Some of the best ones include the WE Party in Madrid, Circuit Barcelona, Bear Pride Barcelona, Snow Gay Weekend, Sitges Bear Week and Delice Dream in Torremolinos.

Gay travel to spain

Spain is just bursting with culture, ranking as the 3rd country in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – a total of 48. Amongst these are Gaudi’s iconic buildings in Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita of Córdoba (the largest mosque in the world). In terms of museums, there’s the world-famous Museo del Prado of Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And then there’s the food! From the world-famous paellas, tortillas, churos, gazpachos, jamons and our favourite, the tasty, juicy Spanish chorizo sausages.

As a gay couple in Spain, we were in paradise! It is a destination pretty much made for us, with some of the best gay beaches in Europe, brilliant parties for everyone and a very openminded populace. Even in the more rural areas, we felt completely safe, which is quite rare for most countries further down in this list. In short, Spain, like Canada, ticks all the boxes and we LOVE it!

Did you know? Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous gay Spanish celeb and one of the best directors in the world. His first few films in the 1980s characterised the sense of liberal revolution and political freedom Spain was going through. He then went on to direct classics including Volver, All About My Mother and Bad Education.

Lgbtq rights in the netherlands

The Netherlands is the ultimate LGBTQ trailblazer! Homosexuality was legalized back in 1811, but the big headline is that it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2001! In relation to anti-discrimination laws, the Netherlands has everything under the sun to protect its LGBTQ community including laws to combat hate-speech based on who we love, gender identity and gender expression. The Netherlands also permits LGBT people to openly serve in the Dutch army.

In relation to transgender rights, the Netherlands is a bit more conservative. Whilst it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2014, it only recognises a third gender option after a successful court petition.

The gay scene in the netherlands

You’ll find the best of the Netherlands‘ gay scene in the capital city, Amsterdam, specifically in the Reguliersdwarsstraat gay village. Here there are many gay cafes, shops, bars, clubs and parties to check out, like Prik, SoHo, Cafe Reality, Club NYX, Bear Necessity and Club YOLO – to name just a few! Outside of Amsterdam, cities like Rotterdam have a handful of gay hangouts, but nothing on par with Amsterdam. Find out more in our detailed .

Gay events in the netherlands

Amsterdam Pride is well known for being one of the most unique Pride events in the world because instead of taking place on the streets, a parade of floats proceeds through the city on boats along the famous canals. Other annual gay events in Amsterdam include Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March, Amsterdam Leather Pride in October and the IQMF (International Queer & Migrant Film Festival) in December.

Gay travel to the netherlands

There are few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking in the streets holding hands outside of the gay village, and The Netherlands is one of them! When it comes to tolerance, openmindedness and equality, we found the Netherlands to be one of the most culturally liberal and diverse places in the world. It’s certainly the most progressive country we’ve travelled to, which is why we love it!

Travel highlights of the Netherlands include the canals of Amsterdam, along with the capital’s art and cultural museums like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum. Other Dutch highlights include tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and of course the infamous Coffee Shops!

Did you know? in 1987, the Netherlands unveiled the “Homomonument”, which was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians persecuted during WW2.

Lgbtq rights in united kingdom

England/Wales legalized homosexuality in 1967, Scotland in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982. Between 2004-2008, the UK passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, which included allowing LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2014, England/Wales/Scotland . Northern Ireland subsequently followed in 2020. More recently, the UK has implemented laws that require schools to teach children that it’s ok to be gay!

The UK has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2005. Whilst there isn’t a third gender recognised in law, the title “Mx” is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people.

The gay scene in united kingdom

Alongside Australia, the USA and Spain, the UK has one of the highest numbers of recognised gay villages in the world! London alone has several, including Soho, Vauxhall and Clapham. Manchester and Brighton are often regarded as one of the best cities in the world for gay people to live, both with large LGBTQ communities and an (Manchester) and a fabulous community concentrated in Kemptown (Brighton).

Almost all the other cities of the UK have a recognised gay village or area including Hurst Street in Birmingham, The Triangle in Bournemouth, Old Market in Bristol, Lower Briggate/The Calls in Leeds, the Liverpool Gay Quarter, the Pink Triangle of Newcastle, Broughton Street in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s Merchant City Pink Triangle and the streets of Charles Street + Churchill Way in Cardiff.

Gay events in united kingdom

The UK has the highest number of Pride events out of any country in the world, with almost every city leading their own event usually during the summer months. Brighton Pride and Manchester Pride (both in August) are often regarded as the best Pride events in Europe. London Pride in early July is the largest, attracting 1.5 million people. The 2012 London Pride was the most famous when it coincided with the year the city hosted the Olympic Games and also hosted WorldPride.

Gay travel to united kingdom

The UK offers so much for gay tourists such as fulfilling your Harry Potter fantasy at the Warner Bros. Studio, as well as discovering Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the stunning Lake District in Northern England, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and many many more gems.

We’ve never experienced homophobia from any of the places we stayed at and LOVE that the government invests heavily in LGBTQ tourism via the excellent efforts made by Visit Britain. After all, this is the country that gave us Alan Turing, Sir Elton John, Freddy Mercury and many many more fabulous icons!

Did you know? In 2018, the UK saw the first Royal gay wedding when the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle.

Lgbtq rights in sweden

Sweden legalized homosexuality in 1944, hence the “gay since 1944” slogan! They introduced one of the most comprehensive sets of anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s, which included laws against hate speech and allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. The right to change legal gender was also introduced in the 1970s in Sweden.

Gay marriage was passed in 2009 although gay unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1995. In relation to transgender rights, Sweden does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, but in 2017, it declassified “transgender identity” as an illness.

The gay scene in sweden

We’ll be honest, we were a bit underwhelmed by the gay scene in Sweden. There are of course several gay bars and clubs, mainly in the big cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, however nothing on par with other gay cities like Barcelona, Berlin or London. There are no official gay villages or gay areas in any of the cities in Stockholm. This probably shows that Sweden is so gay friendly, that it does not need its own gay enclave.

Gay events in sweden

Stockholm Pride is the big one, which is also the largest Pride in the Nordic countries. Other LGBTQ annual highlights include the Stockholm Rainbow Weekend which coincides with the city’s Pride and West Pride in Gothenburg. Sweden prides itself on the fact that no Swede has to travel far for a Pride event, because there is one in almost every town and city! In 2021, Malmo will be the place to be when it cohosts WorldPride with Copenhagen!

Gay travel to sweden

From the famous Northern Lights in the winter months to the hidden alleyways in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden packs a punch! is big on LGBTQ travel and invests a lot in promoting the country as a top gay destination, even hosting EuroPride in 1998, 2008 and 2018. We felt totally safe in Sweden and comfortable holding hands in public in most places we visited. The Swedes are an extremely chilled and open-minded bunch who won’t give two hoots about two men expressing PDAs!

Did you know? Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest (the massive unofficial annual gay European music festival). Not only did Sweden give us ABBA in 1974 but they’ve also won it 6 times. Also – Måns Zelmerlöw…

Lgbtq rights in germany

Ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, Germany powered ahead to become an LGBTQ paradise. Germany passed a full set of anti-discrimination laws from 2006, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the military, the right to change legal gender and laws preventing hate crimes based on gender or orientation.

In 2017, Germany legalized gay marriages, and more recently, in 2019 Germany formally recognized a third gender option,

The gay scene in germany

Most of the big cities of Germany have a terrific gay scene. We particularly love the exciting and vibrant gay nightlife of Berlin. We love it! It’s so wide and diverse, where everyone from our LGBTQ community can find their tribe. Schöneberg was the first-ever gay village in the world when it took off as an LGBTQ mecca in the 1920s. Since then, so many cities around the globe have adopted a similar model where the gay community can share a safe space and support local queer businesses.

Other cities with an exciting gay scene include Cologne, Lange Reihe in Hamburg, Nordend in Frankfurt, Glockenbachviertel in Munich and Gurlam Ziegelviertel in Fürstenzell.

Gay events in germany

Berlin Pride is the largest gay event in Germany, attracting around 1 million people each year. Note that in Germany, Prides are referred to as “CSD”, which stands for “Christopher Street Day” – named after the street where the Stonewall riots in NYC took place in 1969. Hamburg and Cologne are the other two main Pride or CSD events in Germany. Other gay events in Germany include the Carnival Cologne in February, the Munich Gay Oktoberfest in October and Heavenue Gay Christmas market in December.

Gay travel to germany

Germany offers a lot for LGBTQ tourists, especially Berlin, a city steeped with history from the Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag Building and Berlin Wall Memorial. Other touristic highlights include the Cologne Cathedral, the Black Forest in southwest Germany and the super picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. Each city heavily invests in LGBTQ tourism, especially .

We absolutely love love LOVE Berlin – it feels like it’s a city that is literally MADE for gays! Anything goes in Berlin and you can have as much fun here as you want to, no limits! It’s also culturally rich with so much to do. It goes without saying that we felt very comfortable with PDAs in Berlin and the other big cities we visited in Germany.

Did you know? Berlin had the first gay village ever? Back in the late 1800s, the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, was founded in Schöneberg. Over the subsequent few decades, Schöneberg became the heart and soul of Germany’s LGBTQ gay community. It was the Gay Village capital of the world in the 1920s!

Lgbtq rights in australia

Australia legalized homosexuality in 1997 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2010. Australia also has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2013 and has formally recognised a third gender option since 2003.

The gay scene in australia

Every big city in Australia has a vibrant gay scene with a large, active LGBTQ community, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is so gay that a 2016 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how the LGBTQ community was spread out around the city in a “Rainbow Ribbon” starting from Pott Point, going out to Elizabeth Bay, down to Darlinghurst, Surry Hill, Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Alexandria and round to Newtown. As such Sydney has one of the most exciting gay scenes in the world including the Obelisk gay beach.

Melbourne doesn’t have a central gay area like many cities but most of its main gay scenes are located around the three inner city areas of St Kilda East, Prahran/South Yarra and Fitzroy/Collingwood. Other cities with a notable gay village/scene include Brisbane, Perth and the capital, Canberra.

Gay events in australia

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the most famous and electrifying LGBTQ festivals in the world. It takes place in late February, attracting thousands of people from all around the world, with headliners such as Cher, Kylie, George Michael and Sam Smith. And it’s going to get even BIGGER come 2023 when Sydney’s Mardi Gras hosts WorldPride!

Melbourne’s equivalent is the Midsumma Festival, which goes on for 22 days spread over January and February. Other notable LGBTQ events in Australia include Pride in the Park Perth, Wagga Mardi Gras, Broome Pride, ChillOut Daylesford, the Big Gay Day Brisbane in March and the awesome Broken Heels Festival in September.

Gay travel to australia

Our ultimate gay Aussie fantasy is to rent a dramatic pink camper and pay homage to Priscilla, travelling across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs and spread fabuloussness across the country.

Other touristic highlights for gay travellers to Australia (beyond Mardi Gras of course!) include The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Did you know? Australia is soooo gay that it even secured itself a spot in the annual Eurovision Songcontest. Check out the for the reason behind this quirky decision, which whether or not you agree with it, we LOVE it and warmly welcome them into our big gay European arms!

Lgbtq rights in taiwan

Taiwan legalized homosexuality in…oh it was never illegal! From 2002, Taiwan began to introduce anti-discrimination laws beginning with the right for LGB people (ie not transgender people) to openly serve in the military. Despite the army ban for transgender people, Taiwan has introduced comprehensive laws relating to hate crimes, indirect discrimination and more.

Taiwan is most famous for becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2019. Taiwan is also positioning itself to become a transgender haven by introducing a third gender option on all ID documents in late 2020.

The gay scene in taiwan

Ximen in Taipei is the main gay scene with loads of gay bars clustered together. There are more gay places dotted around the city but the bulk is around Ximen’s gay neighborhood. Other cities in Taiwan have a few gay scenes, but nothing on par with Ximen. Read more about what gay life in Taiwan is like in our .

Gay events in taiwan

Taipei Pride is not only the main LGBTQ event in Taiwan, but the largest in all of Asia attracting around 200,000 people! It takes place in October and includes a number of other gay parties like Formosa and the WOW Pool Party. Other cities in Taiwan host smaller, more local Pride events, in particular Kaohsiung City and Taichung City Pride.

Gay travel to taiwan

Taiwan is a foodie destination! If, like us, you love Asian food, Taiwan is a place you need to visit. Other touristic highlights in Taiwan include the Taipei 101, Taroko National Park, the Sun Moon Lake, the Yushan National Park, the Rainbow Village in Taichung City, and of course the food – check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei for example!

As a gay couple travelling in Taiwan, we loved it. We felt so welcomed everywhere. We can totally understand why it is regarded as such a pink haven in Asia. The Taiwanese are very open-minded and tolerant, easily topping our list of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia.

Did you know? Taiwan is so gay, it even has a gay god with its own temple! The Rabbit Gay Temple was built to commemorate Tu’er Shen (The Rabbit God) who manages the love and relationships between gay partners helps those looking for love. It was founded in 2006 by Lu Wei-ming and as far as we are aware, it is the world’s only shrine for an LGBTQ god.

Explore colombia on a gay tour

Out Adventures‘ brand new Colombia tour is hotter than Maluma! Beginning in Bogotá, the carefree escape will have you shaking your arepa at the largest LGBTQ club in the Americas, hiking humid jungles in Tayrona National Park and soaking up the country’s sand, sun and sea in coastal Cartagena. The optional gay salsa class, food tour and snorkeling excursion make this adventure muy caliente!

Lgbtq rights in colombia

LGBTQ rights in Colombia are super-advanced by Latin American standards! It Colombia legalized homosexuality in 1981 and then started introducing anti-discrimination laws in all areas (employment, goods, services etc) from 2011 onwards, which also included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. In 2016 Colombia became the 4th country in Latin America to legalise gay marriages following a 6-3 vote in the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

In relation to transgender rights, Colombia allows the right to change legal gender without psychiatric or physical evaluations. Whilst it does not yet formally recognise a third gender, it does allow a “neutral” or blank space regarding gender to be inserted on birth certificates.

Find our about what the gay life is like for locals in Colombia in our from Barranquilla.

The gay scene in colombia

Bogota’s Chapinero is one of our favourite gay villages, mainly because of Theatron. It’s a massive gay club that can fit up to 5,000. Every Saturday evening, the gay community comes alive here. We’d happily book a flight over in a heartbeat just to party at Theatron! Chapinero also has many other gay hangouts, which you can read more about in our .

Other cities in Colombia have a large gay scene, in particular Medellin. Cartagena, Cali and Barranquilla also have a smaller gay scene.

Gay events in colombia

Bogota Pride in June and the Barranquilla Carnival in February are the most famous. Almost all the other cities have a Pride event, usually in June. Cartagena Pride is another notable gay event in August because it also coincides with the Circuit-style “Rumours Festival”. Other events in Colombia to look out for which aren’t expressly gay but are popular with the LGBTQ community include Medellin’s Flower Festival in August and the Cali Salsa Festival in June.

Gay travel to colombia

Some of our favourite travel highlights include the coffee region, the Cocora Valley, the Salt Cathedral, the Caño Cristales Rainbow River, Cartagena old town and the Tayrona National Park.

As a gay couple, we had no issues in Colombia and felt accepted everywhere. In one hotel in Medellin, we noticed a sign in the lift showing the penalties the police could give you for certain crimes. One of these included a fine for shouting homophobic abuse to others in public! The only thing we’d say in Colombia, which is the case for many countries in Latin America is that the machismo culture is prevalent in rural areas, particularly along the coast. However, we didn’t encounter this on our travels in Colombia as we just avoided them. Read more in our Colombia gay travel guide.

Did you know? In October 2019, Ms Claudia López Hernández became the first woman and first lesbian to be elected mayor in Bogota. The mayor of Bogota is widely considered the second most important political post in Colombia after the President, which is a big deal for the LGBTQ community in Colombia!

Lgbtq rights in denmark

Denmark blitzes LGBTQ rights so effortlessly. It’s famous for being one of the most socially liberal countries in the world. The right to change legal gender was introduced way back in 1929 and homosexuality was legalized 4 years later. Then in 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise gay unions. Denmark also has very progressive anti-discrimination laws, which it started introducing in the late 1980s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Danish army. More recently, gay marriage was legalized in 2012 and in 2014, Denmark became a trans haven by formally recognising a third gender “X” option in passports.

The gay scene in denmark

The main gay scene is in the Straedet area of Copenhagen, which is where we saw lots of couples walking hand in hand, however, we could have done this in most parts of Denmark without any problems. Aarhus is another cool city in Denmark to check out with a smaller but just as exciting gay scene.

Gay travel to denmark

Some of our favourite touristic highlights in Denmark included Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Nyhavn Canal and Harbour, the Amalienborg Winter Palace and the LEGO House in Billund.

As a gay couple in Copenhagen, we felt completely safe and free; public displays of affections were never an issue for us anywhere in Denmark. We loved being able to stroll through Tivoli Gardens holding hands, not having to first carry out a detailed risk assessment!

Did you know? Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen is the world’s oldest gay bar. It opened in 1917 and is still going strong today!

Lgbtq rights in new zealand

New Zealand legalized homosexuality for men in 1986 (for women it was never illegal). They introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as far back as 1993 and legalized gay marriage in 2013. In terms of the military, LGBT people have been allowed to openly serve in the New Zealand army since 1993. New Zealand introduced the right to change legal gender in 1993 and also officially recognises a non-binary gender.

The gay scene in new zealand

The main gay scene and LGBTQ community is focused in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, most of the hangouts and community are based in and around Karangahape Road and Ponsonby. In Wellington, it’s largely in Wellington Central. Other cities around the country will have a few gay/gay friendly places to check out.

Gay events in new zealand

Pride events have been taking place in New Zealand since the 1970s. The main ones are the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February, Wellington International Pride Parade in March, Christchurch Pride in March and North Canterbury Pride, also in March. Another one to look out for is the Gay Ski Week in August/September. What we love most about the Pride events in New Zealand is that although they’re small, everyone in the community gets involved, even the Prime Minister!

Gay travel to new zealand

When it come to gay travel, New Zealand is wow personified. Touristic highlights include the Fiordland National Park, the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, and of course, the Hobbiton Movie Set in Hinuera. Not only is New Zealand a stunning country to visit, it’s super gay friendly, everywhere! New Zealanders have embraced change openly and with much enthusiasm. This is one place in the world where PDAs shouldn’t be a problem anywhere in the country.

Did you know In 1995, Georgina Beyer became the world’s first openly transgender mayor (of Carterton), as well as the world’s first openly transgender Member of Parliament.

Explore iconic iceland on a gay tour

Glaciers, geysers and cosmopolitan Reykjavik await on an all-gay tour of The Land of Fire & Ice with our friends at Out Adventures. Annually in March, they host a short and sweet escape snaking through Iceland’s otherworldly countryside with a chance to see The Northern Lights. And in August, they offer a sizzling summer tour featuring a South Shore Safari that wraps up back in Reykjavik just in time for ‘The Biggest Small Pride in the World‘.

Lgbtq rights in iceland

Iceland legalized homosexuality in 1940 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1996-2018. Gay marriage was voted unanimously by parliament in 2010. In relation to the military, Iceland is a country that doesn’t have an armed force. Iceland formally recognises a third gender option by placing an X on official documents. Interestingly, just like the gay marriage law in 2010, the Icelandic law that formally recognised the third gender option was passed unanimously in the Icelandic Parliament!

Gay travel to iceland

Iceland should be on every LGBTQ traveller’s bucket list, with incredible wonders to behold like the Blue Lagoon, spectacular geysers, the Northern Lights, the Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve, the Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park, the Skaftafell Ice Cave and the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church.

When it comes to welcoming LGBTQ tourists, Iceland is one place that nails it. It’s a pink haven, full stop! No issue with homophobia here. The Icelanders are one very open-minded bunch. They are laid back, easy-going and famous for their quirky sense of humour! Also be sure to check out the awesome Pink Iceland who not only do a phenomenal job marketing the country as an international LGBTQ destination, but also sponsor the main gay events in Iceland.

Portugal lgbtq tour

Want to visit the land of cod, custard tarts and Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, our friends at Out Adventures are hosting a sumptuous journey that ticks off Lisbon, Porto and the Douro Valley. Highlights include a private tour of Sintra, a day sipping & supping in wine country, historic tram tours and an invigorating speed boat experience. For all the nitty-gritty details, jump over to their site. And don’t forget to mention we sent you—you just might get a special deal. *wink*

Lgbtq rights in portugal

Portugal legalized homosexuality in 1982 and they introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2010 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1999. Sadly, Portugal still has a ban on transgender people from serving in the Portuguese army. Portugal introduced the right to change legal gender in 2011 and formally allows people to self-identify their gender.

The gay scene in portugal

Lisbon has a fantastic gay scene with many gay bars, clubs and parties particularly around the Bairro Alto and Principe Real areas. We love that there is a gay beach just outside of Lisbon called Beach 19. Porto is another popular tourist hotspot north of Lisbon with an active gay scene, particularly around the Galaria de Paris area. Down towards the south in the Algarve, there are gay scenes in Albufeira, Tavira and Portimão.

Gay events in portugal

There are 2 main annual gay events in Portugal that take place in the capital. The first is the colourful Lisbon Pride in June. The second is the Lisbon Bear Pride in May. The Lisbon Gay Film Festival is another excellent annual LGBTQ event in Portugal to look out for.

Gay travel to portugal

Touristic highlights include Lisbon’s Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Torre de Belém, the Convento do Cristo, hiking in the Gerês Mountain Range and the stunning UNESCO listed Castelo de Guimarães.

We love Lisbon and know that many other gay guys feel the same way. It’s like the next Madrid! It’s a very gay friendly city, English is well spoken, the gay scene is fantastic, a gay beach is right on your doorstep, and the guys are smoking hot! The Portuguese generally have a very open-minded attitude and made us feel extremely welcome.

Did you know? Portugal is often touted as being one of the most gay friendly countries in the world in various surveys. What sums it up best is this beautiful and inspiring video by gay couple, Lorenzo and Pedro, who filmed people’s reactions as they walked the streets of Lisbon holding hands:

Lgbtq rights in argentina

Argentina legalized homosexuality in 1887 and are currently developing a set of anti-discrimination laws that are being implemented in Rosario and Buenos Aires, hopefully soon nationwide. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009.

The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2012, which allows transgender people to identify with their chosen gender on official documents without first having to receive hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery or psychiatric counselling. Read more about Argentina LGBTQ rights here.

The gay scene in argentina

We love the gay scene in Buenos Aires. It has heaps of bars and clubs spread out between Palermo and San Telmo like Glam, Sitges and Peuteo. We also love Buenos Aires because of the queer milongas (tango dance halls) where you can learn to dance queer tango. Most other cities in Argentina have a gay scene, such as Mendoza and . The city of Rosario is considered the most gay-friendly and liberal-minded place in Argentina, often leading the way for proactive change. 

Gay events in argentina

The main gay event in Argentina is Buenos Aires Pride in November which is one of the . The Queer Tango Festival is another fascinating queer event, so unique to Argentina. In the wine capital of Mendoza, there is a gay segment in the annual grape harvesting festival in February called Vendimia.

We also love that the government actively supports and funds gay events, in particular, the GNetwork360 conference every August.

Gay travel to argentina

Touristic not-to-miss highlights of Argentina include the stunning Iguazu Falls, queer tango in Buenos Aires, wine tasting in Mendoza, trekking in El Chalten, getting up close with penguins in Punta Tombo and going to the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia. We have always felt welcomed everywhere during  and love returning here.

Did you know? Argentina jointly invented the tango (a UNESCO listed Cultural Heritage) with Uruguay. But did you also know that this sultry dance was initially between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s as a way to prep each other for when they could later get with a woman?

Today the culture of queer tango has prevailed so much that Milongas (tango halls) specialising in Queer Tango have mushroomed around the world, least of all in Buenos Aires. It’s become so popular that there is even a Queer Tango Festival in November in the Argentinian capital, as well as in cities around the world, particularly in Berlin, Rome, Munich and Paris. Read more about it in our article about our experience learning to learn to dance tango as a gay couple.

Lgbtq rights in france

France legalized homosexuality in 1791. They introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1982-2012. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the French armed forces. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2017 without needing to undergo surgery or receive a medical diagnosis.

France does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender. However, in 2010, France became the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Gay events in france

Paris Pride is the main gay event in France, as well as Magical Pride in Disneyland Paris. Most of the other cities have a Pride parade including Biarritz, Arras, Lyon and Toulouse. France is also famous for its gay ski festivals in March. The main ones are the European Gay Ski Week and the European Snow Pride.

Gay travel to france

France is the #1 touristic destination in the world for good reason! From culturally rich UNESCO listed sites to a world-class cuisine, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and smoking hot lovers…France really has it all! Our favourite not-to-miss highlights of France include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles Palace, the Côte d’Azur, Mont Saint-Michel, the Loire Valley Châteaux, Provence lavender fields and Mont-Blanc – the highest peak in Europe (4,810m / 15,780 ft).

When it comes to seeing gay couples holding hands in public, most French won’t bat an eyelid. The laissez-faire attitude is really a thing here!

Did you know? Just when you thought the French couldn’t get any gayer, along comes a gay bakery in Paris that makes baguettes in the shape of a ding-a-ling, La Baguette Magique!

Get frosty in finland

Embrace winter on Out Adventures‘ hot new Finnish foray. The all-gay tour kicks off in Helsinki before flying north towards the arctic circle. In our opinion, the best part of this adventure is the wide range of snowy excursions. For example, you can take the reins on an actual dog-sled in the icy Laplands, seek out The Northern Lights on a snowmobile safari, and even endure a polar plunge in the Arctic Ocean. Oh, and best of all, you’ll slumber in a glass-roofed cabin while admiring Aurora Borealis above.

Lgbtq rights in finland

Finland legalized homosexuality in 1911 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1995-2005. Gay marriage was legalised in 2017 and LGBT people are allowed to openly serve in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2002. However, sterilization is required, and transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender. Finland does not have legal recognition of non-binary gender. Find out more about Finland‘ LGBTQ rights here.

Gay events in finland

The main LGBTQ events in Finland are the Helsinki Pride Week in June and the Ruka Ski Pride in April. Other cities have a Pride event, such as Pirkanmaan Pride in June, Tampere and Turku. Whilst the gay scene of Helsinki is quite small, the Pride in June is super popular, attracting crowds of around 100,000.

Gay travel to finland

We think Finland as a gay destination is totally underrated. As well as the Northern Lights, this is one place where being gay has become so normalised that we felt totally safe to walk the streets almost anywhere holding hands, knowing that no one would bat an eyelid! Remember this is the home of the highly masculinized and suggestive homoerotic Tom of Finland art.

Other touristic highlights of Finland include the Suomenlinna Fortress, Rovaniemi and the Arctic, the Åland Archipelago, the Northern Lights, Turku, Porvoo and Lake Saimaa.

Did you know? Even the postage stamps in Finland are gay! The famous Tom of Finland was immortalised in postage stamps in 2014. Whilst they’re not the first stamps to depict suggestive art, they are certainly the first ever to depict homo suggestive art! 

Push yourself on a gay hike in norway

ATTN: Gay Hikers. The intrepid crew at Out Adventures are hosting perhaps the most physically challenging gay tour we’ve ever seen. On this sweaty scamper, you’ll reach Nordic Nirvana while surmounting mountains, kayaking fjords and trekking glaciers. Those who persevere will be rewarded with up-close views of Norway’s world-famous natural wonders like Trolltunga and Preikestolen plateau. Are you ready?

Oslo is the capital and main gay hub of the country. It has quite a big gay scene with numerous queer events taking place. But you need to bring a LOT of cash to get by here, it sure ain’t cheap!

Lgbtq rights in norway

Norway legalized homosexuality in 1972 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 1981-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2008 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1979. Norway introduced the right to change legal gender in 2016 and since 2013 doesn’t require sterilization for this. In 2016, Norway passed a law allowing the change of legal gender for transgender people solely based on self-determination.

Gay events in norway

Oslo Pride Festival in June is the main gay event in Norway attracting around 250,000 people each year. Most cities also have a pride event, the main ones include Bergen Pride May, the Lillehammer Winter Pride in February, Skeive Sorlandsdager in August and the Tromso Arctic Pride in November.

A very unique annual LGBTQ event is the Raballder Sports Cup – a gay sports event for handball! Also there’s the Sápmi Pride which takes place across Finland, Sweden and Norway each year.

Gay travel to norway

Norway is beautiful. Whilst there’s not much of a gay scene here or large gay events taking place, it sure packs a punch in terms of natural beauty, especially the Northern Lights. Just remember to bring money – lots of it! To give you an idea, the average pint of beer is around $10…!

Travel highlights include cosmopolitan Oslo, the endless snow-capped mountains peaks, deep fjords like Sognefjord, also the Pulpit Rock, Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands and the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen.

Lgbtq rights in malta

Malta legalized homosexuality in 1973 and have been introducing anti anti-discrimination laws since 2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2002. Sadly transgender people are banned from serving openly in the Maltese army.

Malta introduced the right to change legal gender in 2015. Malta has had legal recognition of a non-binary gender since 2017.

The gay scene in malta

Malta is a tiny island country in the Mediterranean south of Italy, with a population of just under half a million, therefore it’s too small to have a gay village. There are a handful of gay bars and clubs in Malta such as the Birdcage Lounge and Michelangelo gay club. There are also a few gay friendly hangouts dotted around the capital Valletta.

Gay travel to malta

Valletta is one of our favourite European capital cities. It’s a small walled UNESCO listed city, which you can walk around in a few hours. Every corner is full of history and culture. Other highlights include The Three Cities, Mdina, the Dingli Cliffs, Comino, Riviera Beach and Gozo.

We loved Malta and can see why many people rate it as the most gay friendly country in Europe. It has very lax laws and nobody cared about two men displaying PDAs.

Did you know? Malta is the most famous non-winner of Eurovision. Every year we get excited to see who will represent them. From cutie Fabrizio Faniello, Ira Losco and our favourite, the gorgeous Chiara:

Lgbtq rights in austria

Austria legalized homosexuality in 1971 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 2004-2017. Gay marriage was legalized in 2019 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. Austria introduced the right to change legal gender in 2009 and since 2019 it formally recognises a non-binary gender.

Gay events in austria

Vienna Pride in June is the main one, which has hosted EuroPride twice – in 2001 and 2019. Vienna Pride includes the Regenbogenparade, the “Rainbow Parade”. Other LGBTQ events in Austria include the Gay Snow Happening in March, the Pink Lake Festival in August, Ski Pride in April, the CSD Bregenz Pride in June and Linz Pride in June.

Gay travel to austria

Vienna is stunning and a city bursting with culture and history. This is a city that used to be the cultural capital of Europe several hundred years ago, especially in the classical music scene. Austria is the home of Mozart – specifically the picture-perfect Salzburg. Other highlights of Austria include The Vienna Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace, Hallstatt and Belvedere Palace.

We felt welcomed everywhere we went in Vienna and felt comfortable holding hands in public. Whilst the gay scene is small, there is a sizeable LGBTQ community and a handful of places to check out.

Did you know? Conchita Wurst is one of the most famous gay Austrians ever. His real name is Thomas Neuwirth who became famous for representing Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Songcontest and winning it with the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” dressed in full drag as Conchita, but with a beard! For many of us, it was the first time we saw a professional drag queen with a full beard on TV!.

Lgbtq rights in ireland

Ireland legalized homosexuality in 1993 and introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1998-2015. Gay marriage was legalized in 2015 and the right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year. Transgender people in Ireland can self-declare their gender for the purpose of updating passports, driving licences, obtaining new birth certificates and getting married.

Strong Catholic beliefs still continue to encourage homophobia in the more rural areas and older generations, but the change is exciting to watch! And then, of course, they are the undisputed Eurovision champions, having won the competition a record-breaking 7 times. A country that has won the gay Olympics the most times is certainly going to be pretty gay!

Gay events in ireland

Dublin Pride in June is the main LGBTQ event in Ireland. Other cities with Pride events include Cork Pride in July, Limerick Pride in July, Carlow Pride in July, Mayo Pride in July and Sligo Pride in August. Dublin also hosts lots of other LGBTQ events including the Dublin Bear Events in March and Trans Pride Dublin in July.

Gay travel to ireland

Ireland is gorgeous! The capital, Dublin, is a treat – it was even designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Other highlights of Ireland include The Cliffs of Moher, Dublin’s Grafton Street, The Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, The Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, The Dingle Peninsula, The Aran Islands, and more.

We’ve been to Ireland many times and can definitely see a change over the past few decades as the country has quickly evolved to embrace LGBTQ rights and welcome gay tourists.

Did you know? In 2017, an openly gay man, Leo Varadkar, became the “Taoiseach” (ie the Prime Minister) of Ireland. We saw Leo Varadkar in person, marching in the Canada Pride in Montreal in 2017 alongside Justin Trudeau, and love that he frequently stands up for LGBTQ rights, particularly when he met conservative Mike Pence in 2019.

Lgbtq rights in uruguay

Uruguay legalized homosexuality in 1934 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009. The right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year as well as the on official documents.

The gay scene in uruguay

The majority of the gay scene in Uruguay is in Montevideo, which includes Chains Pub, Bar Rodo, Il Tempo and Cain Club. Punta del Este also has a few gay friendly hangouts including the Soho Bar. Just note, Uruguayans head out late – dinner is around 9pm, bars get busy after 11pm and don’t even think about going to a club before 1am!

Gay events in uruguay

The two main ones gay events in Uruguay are Montevideo Pride in September and Punta Pride in the summer months of February. Both are low key affairs, but we love them because the entire local community gets involved – families, babies and even dogs! The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is very active in promoting local LGBTQ-friendly businesses in Uruguay. They have an annual conference every September, which also includes a mini-festival and parties.

Gay travel to uruguay

Touristic highlights of Uruguay include the picturesque UNESCO listed town of Colonia del Sacramento, the Salto del Penitente, Pan de Azúcar, Montevideo’s cutesy old town, Punta del Diablo, Cabo Polonio, Laguna de Castillos, Punta Ballena and the beachfront of Punta del Este.

Uruguay is often described as a “sleepy” country with the most laidback people on the planet. We can definitely agree with that. No one anywhere in the country gave two hoots about seeing two men holding hands in public. This is definitely one very tolerant and progressive country. Find out more about gay travel to Uruguay.

Did you know? Uruguay has an all-male clothing-optional guesthouse just outside of Punta del Este called Undarius! It’s super gay, complete with purple decor and balconies that are lit up rainbow lights. It’s also conveniently located close to the gay naturist beach of Chihuahua.

Lgbtq rights in belgium

Belgium legalized homosexuality in 1795 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2014. Gay marriage was legalized in 2003 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2007.

Whilst Belgium does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, many Belgian hospitals (such as the Ghent University Hospital) are famous for their specialisation in gender reassignment surgery. So much so that many transgender people from France go there for surgery due to a lack of accepting hospitals in France.

Gay events in belgium

The main Pride events are The Belgian Pride Brussels in May, Pride Ghent in May, Antwerp Pride in August and the Darklands Antwerpen in March. Other awesome queer events to look out for in Belgium include the Belgium Leatherpride in February, the Unicorn Festival in Antwerp in July and monthly dance parties like La Demence (the largest in Europe), and SPEK.

Gay travel to belgium

We’ve been several times to Belgium as a gay couple – either on a city break to Brussels and Bruges and once on a Flanders Field “pilgrimage” to see the former WW1 battlegrounds. We’ve loved it each time, especially my chips-loving-Frenchman! Belgium is overall very welcoming for gay travellers. When it comes to holding hands in public, we didn’t feel as comfortable as in other countries. Whilst the Belgium are generally tolerant and openminded, homophobia has grown recently in Belgium.

Belgium is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and as headquarters of the European Union and NATO. Touristic highlights include the Grand Palace in Brussels, the Canals and Belfry of Bruges, the Battlefields of Flanders, Ghent’s Gravensteen and Old Town, the Horta Museum and Town Houses, the Basilica of Bruges, Meuse Valley, Mons Old Town, and more.

Did you know? Belgium has also had its fair share of openly gay politicians, including the world’s second openly gay head of government, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo (2011-2014). We also love that Belgium has a “Rainbow Cops” police force who are specifically trained to handle LGBTQ issues.

Lgbtq rights in usa

The USA actually only legalized homosexuality in 2003 following the Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision, though some States did so a lot sooner, starting with Illinois back in 1961. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized in the USA, which was monumental and groundbreaking, inspiring many other countries to follow suit! More recently, in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in the Bostock v Clayton County case that federal civil rights law do protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

Transgender rights in usa

The US is a dichotomy when it comes to . On the one hand, there are trans havens with the most progressive transgender laws on the planet, formally allowing a nonbinary gender marker on ID documents. These include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, District of Colombia, Washington State, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – also hopefully soon in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia and Illinois. Sadly, on the other hand, there are a handful of homophobic States one would take caution to avoid!

The gay scene in usa

The USA leads the way when it comes to gay villages and gay scenes. It’s huge here. Almost every State has a gay village in its main cities, even places like Texas, which have the Montrose gay village in Houston!

Some of the gay heartlands in the USA include , Provincetown in Massachusetts, Fire Island in New York, Chelsea in NY, Guerneville in California, Castro in San Francisco, The South End in Boston, West Hollywood in LA, Boystown in Chicago, Capitol Hill in Denver, Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, Hillcrest in San Diego, Ogunquit in Maine, New Hope in Pennsylvania, Key West in Florida, Asbury Park in New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and so so many more! Read more in our detailed guide to some of the – most of which are in the States!

Gay events in usa

The USA has some of the biggest LGBTQ events in the world. The most famous is , which is also the home of the modern-day gay rights movement. In 2019, NYC hosted WorldPride, which attracted around 5 million people, making it the largest gay Pride event ever!

Other notable gay events in the US include San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair in September, the Capital Trans Pride in May in Washington, the New Orleans Mardi Gras in February, the Aspen Gay Ski Week in January and Miami Beach Pride in April. This is just a small selection of the many different LGBTQ events taking place across the USA every year!

Gay travel to usa

The USA offers so much for LGBTQ travellers. Touristic highlights include the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Yellowstone National Park, Disney and Universal theme parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Glacier National Park, Waikiki, Las Vegas and many more…

We’ll be honest, when we visited Florida as a gay couple during the Trump years, we were absolutely terrified and agreed to act as “friends” in places we weren’t sure. Upon arrival, the (straight white) guy at the immigration desk could see us nervously looking at each other, smiled at us then warmly asked, “are you boys married yet?” and proceeded to welcome us into the USA.

On the other extreme, when taking a photograph on Miami Beach’s rainbow crossing, a man rolled down his window and shouted, “Move out of the way, fa*gots!” This summed up the USA for us – on the one hand, it’s THE gayest nation on the planet, but on the other hand, it is riddled with pockets of pretty extreme homophobia.

Did you know? The Stonewall Riots were largely thanks to the efforts of an African American transgender woman from New Jersey, Ms Marsha P. Johnson. In June 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York, 23-year old Marsha was one of the key figures who stood up to the police during the raids, resisted arrest and therefore led to the pivotal Stonewall protests soon after.

Lgbtq rights in costa rica

Costa Rica began its fabulous journey back in 1911 when it legalized homosexuality. It is the latest member to our exclusive Gay Marriage Club after it legalized gay marriages in 2020. Just like Canada, Costa Rica was a trailblazer in relation to anti-discrimination laws, which it introduced in 1998. This included allowing LGBT people to openly serve openly in the civil defence Public Force (Costa Rica doesn’t have an army).

When it comes to transgender rights, Costa Rica introduced the right to change gender in 2018 recognises transgender people’s gender identity on ID cards.

Gay travel to costa rica

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. Travel highlights include the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde and the Cloud Forests, the Dominical, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, the Tortuguero National Park, the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park.

Costa Rica has come a long way over the past decade and whilst it may still retain a strong influence from the conservative Catholic Church, attitudes are quickly evolving and the country has for years been embracing LGBTQ tourism.

Did you know? Costa Rica has had its fair share of openly gay politicians. In April 2013, Carmen Muñoz became the first openly lesbian member of the country’s Legislative Assembly. In May 2018, Enrique Sánchez became the first openly gay congressman in Costa Rica.

Go wild in south africa

Check out this South Africa gay tour by Out Adventures. It begins in Zimbabwe where you’ll witness the power and beauty of Victoria Falls. Then it’s off to Botswana and South Africa for authentic safaris in private game reserves. Finally, you’ll spend four full days soaking up the culture and cuisine of gorgeous gay Cape Town. If that itinerary doesn’t spark your sense of adventure, we don’t know what will!

Lgbtq rights in south africa

South Africa shooketh the LGBTQ world in the 1990s! It became the first country to enshrine full anti-discrimination laws in its Constitution. Up until that point, no other country had ever done this before – a trailblazer not only in Africa but across the entire world! This included allowed LGBT people to openly serve in the army. It didn’t stop there, South Africa went on to introduce the right to change legal gender in 2003 and legalized gay marriages in 2006.

The gay scene in south africa

Cape Town and Johannesburg have the largest LGBTQ communities in South Africa each with an exciting gay scene. Cape Town has a gay village in De Waterkant as well as in Green Point and Sea Point. Over in Johannesburg, whilst there is no gay village, there are many gay places spread out across the city, particularly in Melville, Parkhurst and Rosebank. Other cities in South Africa with a small gay scene include Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban, Berea and Stellenbosch.

Gay events in south africa

South Africa see Pride events happening in most of the cities. The Johannesburg and Cape Town Prides are the best ones. Johannesburg Pride happens in October and has been nicknamed the “Pride of Africa“ because it is the largest (and one of the fewest) in the entire continent. Cape Town Pride is also a Mardi Gras festival and happens in February.

Other prominent Pride events in South Africa include the Pretoria LGBTQI Gay Pride in October, Durban Pride in June, Mzansi Pride Johannesburg in April and the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride in Port Elizabeth in November.

Gay travel to south africa

South Africa almost ticks all the boxes – stunning destination to visit, a large, active LGBTQ community, and lots of queer hangouts and events happening. The only downside is the violent crime so prevalent around the country which makes it a little big dangerous for all travellers whether straight or gay. Obviously, if you stick to the areas you know are safe, it’s absolutely fine!

South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise, with some of the best safaris in the world. Other touristic highlights include the Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Stellenbosch, The Drakensberg, The Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and Robben Island.

Did you know? Nelson Mandela is often regarded as the Grandfather of LGBTQ rights. When he became President in 1994, he immediately pushed for one of the most progressive constitutions the world has ever seen – the first one ever to outlaw discrimination based on who we love. Big Daddy Nelson, we salut you!

– Israel: Tel Aviv is one of the gayest places on the planet and Tel Aviv Pride one of the best prides in the world! Israel sadly has rejected gay marriage 5 times but since 2006 it recognises gay marriages from abroad.

Gay tour of thailand

Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!

– Thailand: Thailand is super gay! Bangkok has one of the best gay scenes in the world and we love it. Phuket and Pattaya also have large queer scenes, and islands like Koh Samui even have their own annual Pride. Thailand was set to introduce civil union laws in 2020 but gay marriage is still a long way off. Read more about Bangkok in our gay travel guide to Bangkok.

Stefan arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog bear-magazine.com As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .

hello! as a gay brazilian, i think it’s important to mention that our most relevant national laws of lgbt+ interest happened at the initiative of the supreme court, since we never had presidents who openly advocated for lgbt + rights (gay marriage was legalized in 2010, during a supposedly progressive government, and the ban on homo/transphobia in 2019, during our current and pathetic government). it’s also worth noting that, last year, the most voted councilor in the country was a transgender woman 😉 cheers

Thanks for this Flavio! Will take it into account when we update this article next.

I would remove Argentina from the list. As a gay Argentinian, my couple and I have been rejected from many Motels just for being gay in many States (provincias), outside of Buenos Aires or CABA. If you are a gay tourist you shouldn’t out yourself unless you are staying in Capital, and even in CABA, many homophobic attacks occur everyday. Don’t even think to tell anybody you are gay if you visit the North of my country, people are ultra conservative.

Please remove Argentina from this list, our current president Alberto Fernandez have used many offensive slang in public social media, like Twitter, the fact that we have „progressist“ laws is just a depiction of hypocrisy and mirrors and smoke casted by our corrupt goverment.

Really sorry to read that! Will definitely keep it in mind when we come to update the list. For the record, we had a very positive experience traveling in Argentina as a gay couple.

I think you never went to Brazil then, for it not to be in the list. It was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage and adoption, the first to make homophobia a specific crime and hosts the biggest gay pride parade in the world in São Paulo, with over 4 million people

We love Brazil, but with all the homophobia Bolsanero has spouted, not sure we agree.

I dream to be in Spain,but when I see that Canada its the first for most gay friendly i change little mind haha, but its to far from my county, Spain to , but more near then bear-magazine.com from Albania , here its to difficult to live life free, 🚫🤦‍♂️I hope that in the future i will live in bear-magazine.com im a little shocked that i didnt see the Brazil in this list , haha , i have see from post that this county accept lgbt, and there have a lot people from community lgbt, and i like brazilians😛But your post will make people to think better where to start a new life, its helpful , thank you man

We used to have Brazil on the list, but with the onset of Bolsanero, we revised that! We can’t WAIT to put Brazil back in this list 🙂

Thank you so much for making this. I don’t know a place I would go to when I turn 18 (cause family) so thank you:)

Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.

Erhöhen sie ihren einkauf

In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‚enigma machine‘ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem ‚Keep the Home Fires Burning‘, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream bear-magazine.com book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

Pressestimmen

„To summarise, this is an excellent book that captures the untold lives of gay personnel throughout the world wars…I hope that this title encourages readers to share LGBT stories within their own family histories.“

“ pulls together previously published vignettes into a highly readable volume, and is well placed to bring the story of gay service-men to a wider public audience.“

„Bourne’s valuable and easy-to-read book is not quite a collection of ‚untold‘ stories, as in the sub-title. Rather it gathers under-told stories, and those not previously collected together to give a coherent collective account of GBTQI men in wars.“

Introduction

Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men are among the small number of groups for whom HIV remains uncontrolled worldwide. Although there have been recent and notable decreases in HIV incidence across several countries, prevalence and incidence is consistently higher or rising among men who have sex with men when compared with other groups.

Results

Higher provider discrimination and sexual stigma were associated with lower odds of perceived access to services, service utilization and virologic suppression. Conversely, accessing services from community-based organizations focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; greater engagement in gay community; and comfort with healthcare providers were associated with higher odds of achieving steps along the prevention and treatment continuum.

Conclusions

To meet accelerated global HIV targets, global leaders must adopt a differentiated and bolder response, in keeping with current epidemiologic trends and community-based research. The HIV-related needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be addressed openly, quickly and with sufficient resources to support evidence-based, community-led and human rights-affirming interventions at scale.

Measures

Participants completed a 30-minute questionnaire including items about demographics (e.g. age, country of residence, sexual orientation, ability to meet one’s basic financial needs, healthcare coverage, having a regular healthcare provider); HIV status; sexual stigma or homophobia (seven items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of stigma or homophobia, α=0.8534 – e.g. “In your country, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a natural expression of sexuality in men, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a perversion?”); comfort with one’s healthcare provider (three items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of comfort, α=0.8657 – e.g. “In your country, how comfortable do you feel discussing your sexual health concerns with your healthcare provider?”); experiences of provider discrimination (five items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of discrimination, α=0.8703 – e.g. “In the last six months, has a healthcare provider treated you poorly because you are gay/MSM?); and engagement with the gay community (10 items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of engagement, α=0.7304 – e.g. “During the last six months, how often have you participated in a gay men’s/MSM support group?”).

Main outcomes

The primary outcomes in this study are access to HIV prevention and treatment services (e.g. “In your community, how accessible is free or affordable HIV testing?”) and HIV prevention and treatment service utilization. Service utilization was assessed with questions such as “When was your last HIV test? In the last six months, how frequently have you been tested for HIV?” (dichotomized as having had an HIV test in the last 12 months versus not having been tested within the last 12 months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you obtained condoms?” (dichotomized as having obtained condoms at least once versus never obtaining condoms in the past six months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you participated in HIV/risk-prevention programmes for gay men/MSM?” (dichotomized as having participated in HIV programmes three or more times versus less). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was assessed as lifetime use with the following question: “Have you ever taken HIV medications before potentially being exposed to HIV, because you thought it would reduce your chances of getting HIV?” Participants were considered to have used PrEP if they responded “yes” to this question.

Among those living with HIV, linkage to care was assessed with the following question: “When you were diagnosed, did someone help you get into HIV care?” Participants were considered to have been linked to care if they reported being linked within 12 months or sooner after their HIV diagnosis. Retention in care was assessed with the following question: “How many HIV-related healthcare visits have you had in the last six months?” Participants were considered as being retained in care if they reported having more than two visits. Viral load was assessed with the following question: “What is your current viral load?” This was recorded for the outcome of virologic suppression; participants who reported either having less than 200 copies/mL or having undetectable viral load were considered virologically suppressed.

Using the primary outcomes, MSMGF adopted an intervention-centric approach to construct the HIV prevention and treatment continuum described in this report. We used this approach to highlight low service utilization for each intervention type [16], acknowledging the following: 1) the heterogeneity of prevention needs represented among diverse groups of men who have sex with men; and 2) the complex web of interacting HIV prevention modalities [17]. The number of participants who tested for HIV and received results served as the denominator for determining steps along the cascade. On the prevention end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-negative men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported obtaining condoms in the last six months. On the treatment end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-positive men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported being linked to care.

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DID YOU KNOW…in February 2009 Iceland famously elected the world’s first-ever openly gay national leader: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. She then went on to marry her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir in 2010, which made Iceland a popular gay wedding destination. And if Iceland couldn’t get any gayer, the former (straight!) mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, famously attended the 2010 Reykjavík Pride Parade dressed in full drag as Miss Reykjavík! 

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Did you know? On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBTQ rights, refugees and tolerance, which went viral, receiving over 3 million views. Part of the speech reads as follows:

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We challenge you to point us to such a large country the size of Europe (in both size and population), that has paved the way forward with LGBTQ rights but doesn’t also have a dichotomy between safe pink havens and ultra-homophobic areas?

For us we have to recognise that this is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage in 2015 has had (and continues to have!) a monumental domino effect around the world.

If we were to take certain States (like NYC or California) as standalone, they’d be up there at the top battling it out with Canada and Spain, which is why we place it further down. But this doesn’t escape the fact that the USA is pretty much the epicentre of the gay world!

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Download this chart figure 3: uk countries by lesbian, gay or bisexual population, 2017

Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK household population identifying as LGB has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017. The proportion in Wales increased by 0.7%, England and Scotland both increased by 0.5% and Northern Ireland by 0.1%. Of all these changes, only the increases seen for the UK, England and Wales were statistically significant.

Regionally (Figure 4), London continued to have the highest proportion of people identifying as LGB in 2017 (2.6%). The North East and East of England both had the lowest proportion (1.5%).

The relatively high proportion of people identifying as LGB in London can be explained by the younger age structure and the diversity of the population. The median age of the population in London was 35.1 years in 2017, compared with 41.9 years in the North East and 41.6 years in the East of England.

The South West was the region that saw the largest change in the percentage identifying as LGB over the last five years, from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.4% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 5: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by legal marital status, uk, 2017

In 2017, of those from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 6% identified themselves as gay or lesbian and bisexual (Figure 6). Due to small sample sizes, sexual orientation estimates by ethnic group have fluctuated year-on-year, with notable uncertainty around LGB estimates for all ethnic groups except White. Consequently, over the last five years, for the LGB population the only statistically significant change was for the White ethnic group, where the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

6. younger people are more likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual than any other age group

In 2017 in the UK, 16- to 24-year-olds were the age group most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) (4.2%). This figure comprises 1.9% identifying as gay or lesbian and 2.3% identifying as bisexual. The youngest age group was the only age group to have a larger proportion identifying as bisexual than gay or lesbian. The 16- to 24-year-olds were the only age group for which more women (4.7%) identified as LGB than men (3.7%); this was driven by a larger proportion of women identifying as bisexual in this age group than in older age groups.

The 16 to 24 age group had the highest percentage of people identifying themselves in “other” (0.9%) and “don’t know or refuse” (5.3%) categories.

As in previous years, older age groups were more likely to identify as heterosexual or straight. Only 0.7% of the population aged 65 years and over identified as LGB in 2017 (Figure 2). One reason for this pattern may be that younger people could be more likely to explore their sexuality combined with more social acceptability of sexual identities today and the ability to express these.

7. people in london are most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual

In 2017, the percentage of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) was similar for England (2.1%), Scotland (1.9%) and Wales (2.0%). Northern Ireland had the lowest percentage of all UK countries with 1.2% of the household population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (Figure 3).

8. population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual are most likely to have a marital status of single (never married or civil partnered)

In 2017, around 69% of those identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) stated they had never married or entered into a civil partnership (Figure 5). This is a higher percentage than those identifying as heterosexual or straight (34%). Reasons for this might include:

those identifying as LGB having a younger age structure than those who identify as heterosexual or straight

legal unions for same-sex couples having only become available relatively recently

Those who had a legal marital status of single may be in same-sex cohabiting couples. In the UK, 0.5% of families were same-sex cohabiting couple families in 2017.

11. quality and methodology

Sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK. The sexual identity question is not asked by proxy. Proxy interviews are defined as those where answers are supplied by a third party, who is usually a member of the respondent’s household.

The sexual identity question is asked in both face-to-face and telephone interviews, at first personal contact. During the face-to-face interviews, adults were asked: „Which of the options on this show card best describes how you think of yourself?“ For telephone interviews, a slightly different way of collecting the information was used: „I will now read out a list of terms people sometimes use to describe how they think of themselves“. The list is read out to respondents twice. On the second reading, the respondent has to say „stop“ when an appropriate term they identified with is read out. In both modes, the order in which the terms appeared, or are read out, is unique for each household’s respondent to ensure confidentiality.

The „other“ option on the question is included to address the fact that not all people will consider they fall in the first three categories, that is, heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual.

The APS covers the household population but excludes people living in communal establishments with the exception of those in NHS housing and students in halls of residence (sampled via the private households of their parents). Members of the armed forces are only included in the APS if they live in private accommodation.

This bulletin presents percentages. Estimates of the population numbers and measures of quality (to show the levels of uncertainty associated with survey estimates) are presented in the datasets. Users are advised to consult the quality measures when interpreting the estimates as some estimates are based on a relatively small sample. As a result, these estimates are subject to uncertainty particularly when making comparisons, such as changes from one year to another. Therefore, annual changes and changes over five years identified in this report are described where appropriate as “statistically significant” – that means that there is likely to have been a real change in the underlying population proportions and that the difference we are observing is unlikely to be due to chance.

The Sexual orientation Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data

Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes sexual orientation estimates for the UK and constituent countries only. In April 2017, ONS published research findings from an experimental method to produce subnational sexual identity estimates.

The revisions policy for population statistics is available.

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The Country Ranking section is where you can see the bigger picture – quite literally.

This is the latest ILGA-Europe rating of 49 European countries.

The colour assigned to each country gives you an indication of where the countries are positioned on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality).

Just a note – this colour doesn’t change when you are arranging countries by individual categories. So, don’t be alarmed if the colours vary greatly among countries when you group them together in this way!

The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people. The ranking records a country’s legal standards for comparison with its European neighbours but the numbers only provide one part of the story. Our Annual Review gives a more nuanced, detailed overview of every country’s progress over the last twelve months and has a chapter dedicated to each country as well as developments at international level.

Tel aviv, israel

What can we say about this incredible city hasn’t already been said? We were midway through our year-long backpacking trip abroad when we decided upon our next stop: Israel. I (Emily) am fluent in Hebrew and have visited a few times before. I couldn’t wait to introduce Robyn to the culture, landscape, food (she’s a chef), and beauty of this country. From Haifa to the Golan, Jerusalem, and back to Tel Aviv, we explored Israel for a month, staying with friends and adventuring around.

Unbeknownst to us, our travels lined right up with Tel Aviv Pride. For anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community who are scoping out potential gay-friendly travel destinations where you can feel safe, and welcome… we cannot recommend Tel Aviv enough. This city is thriving with hip neighbourhoods full art, cuisine, nightlife, and of course, a proud and large LGBTQ presence. During Pride, all day and night, the city turns into one giant parade, with thousands of people marching and partying throughout the streets, all the way down to the beach. The energy is magnificent. Colors. Music. Celebration. Community. Dancing. Did we mention the beach? Go book that flight!

Amsterdam, the netherlands

Amsterdam has been our hometown for the past four years and is the (former) gay capital of Europe! In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the country is known for its tolerance. Our culture is about celebrating diversity and therefore our Pride Week is all about partying and less about protesting. In Amsterdam, the gay scene is mostly concentrated around the many gay bars in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, and we’ve had many fun parties at the Amstel Fifty Four on Wednesdays, the drinks night of student association A.S.V. Gay.

Berlin, germany

I love Berlin for the creative and open spirit that this city seems to nurture. It’s what made it a gay hotspot in the 1920s (Cabaret!) and continues to make it so special and unique for LGBTQ people today. There’s so much room in the city for so many different types of interests as well, which makes it really diverse for the many colors of the LGBT rainbow… with queer parties and meetups for just about every interest! There are great queer bars such as SilverFuture in Neukölln and Facciola in Kreuzberg, both with their flare and social atmospheres that make them great places for tourists, whilst mega techno clubs and parties (what guide to gay Berlin couldn’t include Berghain?!) still attract a mix of LGBT locals and tourists.

Berlin Pride, known as Christopher Street Day (CSD), takes place every July.

Brighton, united kingdom

Brighton: is there anywhere more gay-friendly in the UK? I think not. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to take the long drive south to see what all the fuss is about. So, for my birthday last year, my girlfriend Helen and I did just that. And FINALLY, I understood. Brighton is beautiful. Everything from the burnt out old pier to the Lanes is just perfection. With hundreds of bars, restaurants, and accommodation options to choose from, you’re never going to struggle for something to do, a good bite to eat and a place to stay. You’re also never going to struggle to feel accepted as this is undoubtedly one of the best gay cities around. So, if you’re looking for the perfect gay-friendly city for your next staycation, then Brighton it is! I know I’ll be back there again very soon.

Guadalajara, mexico

Guadalajara may be Mexico’s most gay-friendly city. Compared to other places in Mexico, it was the city where I saw the most signs of affection in public between same sex couples, and there are plenty of gay bars, clubs and parties for everyone. One of the best known is Voltio, which every Friday hosts the scandalous underwear party where men of all kinds strip down to their pants and get to know each other in this grungy, former warehouse. Despite only having started three years ago, it is home to one of the largest Pride events in Latin America, taking place every June with over 4000 participants. Finally, it’s not far from the famous Pacific beach towns in the Banderas Bay, including the super gay Puerto Vallarta.

Buenos aires, argentina

Argentina is extremely progressive with LGBT rights. It was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which included full adoption rights. The right to change legal gender has been in place since 2012 and anti-discrimination laws are in full force in Rosario and the big capital city, Buenos Aires.

We love Buenos Aires because it has one of the best gay scenes across Latin America, which is heavily supported by the government, in particular in August when it has its BADiversa week every August. The gay scene of Buenos Aires is quite spread out, but the focal point is in the large, residential neighbourhood of Palermo, plus a few places dotted about in super cool San Telmo and well-to-do Recoleta. Some of the best places to visit include Glam Club in Recoleta, Sitges bar in Palermo, Contramano bear club in Recoleta and Pride Café in San Telmo.

Our favourite memory from our travels in Buenos Aires is dancing the tango together as a same-sex couple at one of the queer milongas (a tango dance hall). There’s nothing more romantic than dancing this famous Argentinian/Uruguayan dance together and it was the best place to meet like-minded people. The two main queer tango milongas in the city are La Marshall (in San Telmo) and Tango Queer (in Recoleta).

Buenos Aires Gay Festival takes place every November.

Auckland, new zealand

New Zealand was the first international stop on our year-long journey abroad. We stayed with a friend in Auckland before moving onto Waitara, also on the North Island. Here we worked with renowned NZ photographer and LGBTQ+ activist Fiona Clarke (you should look her up) and then spent a month camping on the South Island. We knew Auckland would be something special but we had no idea just how unique our experience of the city, and with Fiona, would actually be!

Each year Auckland hosts a week of Pride events, one of which is called The Big Gay Out (as if New Zealand wasn’t already the most epic spot). TBGO, organised by New Zealand AIDS Foundation, is a free event that takes place in Coyle Park and is full of music, art vendors, food and dancing. We were excited to attend in 2016, especially when Emily (musician/songwriter Emily Kopp) was asked to play on the main stage! We had a beautiful time not only in Auckland but in all of New Zealand: the country is stunning and full of kind people. It’s a MUST SEE in our book.

Gran canaria, canary islands

Gran Canaria is an extremely famous destination throughout the year for European gays. This Spanish island is part of the Canary Islands, which lies off the coast of Africa, therefore guaranteed almost 365 days of great weather. Spain generally is a very gay-friendly destination, but Gran Canaria has always had a more tolerant attitude. During the harsh, repressive Franco years, the government turned a blind eye to homosexuality as the island was too far away from the mainland to bother with. From the 1960s, tourism really started to take off, attracting more and more foreigners and therefore even more tolerant attitudes.

We love Gran Canaria because there is a massive gay scene at Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles in the southern part of the island. The Yumbo Centre is the focal point for the area: a large shopping mall full of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shops, making it a gay man’s paradise. Slightly further south of this is the large gay beach at Kiosk #7. Gran Canaria also has several gay pride festivals happening throughout the year such as the Maspalomas Fetish Week in October, Maspalomas Winter Pride in November, Carnivals in February (both in Maspalomas and Las Palmas), Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and finally numerous bear parties in October and another in March.

One of our favourite experiences in Gran Canaria was taking a boat trip (run by Canarias Gay) with friends to the remote beach called Gui Gui. This is a clothing optional beach on the Western coast of the island, hidden away at the bottom of a Grande ravine. This was the perfect day trip and a more relaxing way to see a different side to this remarkable island.

Milan, italy

We love Milan because it has the best GLBT scene in Italy. There are plenty of bars, parties, cultural events and film exhibitions that focus on the gay community. We also love Milan because everyone is welcome! Most of the bars we like to drink at before going out are around Porta Venezia and at the heart of this area is Via Lecco. Here you will find a number of bars where you can have an “Aperitivo Italiano”, stay out late and meet the locals. During Pride, this street becomes the city’s Pride Square. All the gay events in Milan start from here and it’s also the best place to end the night at the most trendy clubs.

New york, usa

New York City is the ultimate LGBT travel destination with a little bit of something for everyone on the spectrum. There’s Hell’s Kitchen, where lots of gay guys hang out, or Henrietta Hudson in the Village, which is one of three remaining lesbian bars in the five boroughs. If the queer and transgender scene is more your speed, check out Wednesday nights at The Woods in Brooklyn. Not a drinker? No problem – head to Chelsea and have dinner at an LGBT-owned restaurant such as Elmo or Cafeteria. Don’t forget to check out the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art or join an LGBT history walking tours with Oscar Wilde Tours. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete with paying respects at The Stonewall Inn.

Rome, italy

Rome is an incredible city with tonnes of amazing places to take photos and historical sites that will take your breath away. Inclusive and international, the gay life in Rome is fun and easy-going. Both during international events or smaller local festivals, you will meet plenty of good-hearted people that will offer you to show you around. The heart of the gay life in Rome is Gay Street, right behind the Colosseum. This is the place locals prefer for a drink to start the night. You’ll find yourself talking to everyone and, with the night coming, you’ll want to discover one of the most popular Italian clubs: Muccassassina in winter and Gay Village in Summer.

Lisbon, portugal

One of the most amazingly gay-friendly cities I can recommend for LGBT travellers is Lisbon. As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is full of culture and nice spots to see and visit. The nightlife in Bairro Alto is really fun, and there are several gay-friendly pubs, discos and a sauna. But Lisbon gay life is not only limited to the city centre. Extended along the southern coast is the Costa da Caparica, a stunning place to enjoy the sea, with beautiful, long beaches and areas equipped for tourists. This region is served by a slow train that starts from Lisbon and travels along the coast. Beach 19 is a well-known gay beach and a great place to meet new people and have fun. Last but not least, the Portuguese people are very open-minded and LGBT people are free to be themselves.

Tokyo, japan

During our current world trip, we fell in love with Japan and especially with Tokyo. Previously, we’d heard about Japan’s crazy culture with its cosplay, maid and cat cafes and much more. But that’s not the best part of Japanese culture: it’s the people. Japanese people are the kindest and most polite people we have ever met. Culturally, they consider saying ‘no’ as impolite, but it’s also in their culture to be a little distant because of personal space. Therefore, public displays of affection (PDAs) and topics like sex and sexuality are things Japanese do not talk about, though gender norms are more fluid in Japan than elsewhere in the world.

Most LGBT-people in Japan are just ‘gay for the weekend’ and often even have a ‘normal’ family during the rest of the week. Nonetheless, it’s also in their culture to not openly judge people who do show PDAs or talk about their sexuality. Especially while drinking, Japanese people open up about these things and that might be the reason that Tokyo has more gay bars than London! These gay bars can be found in Tokyo’s gay area Shinjuku-nichōme, the perfect place to either find your special someone or to celebrate your love with your special someone. And in between all the gay bars we found the perfect place for us: bar Goldfinger, hosting women-only parties every Saturday night!

Washington dc, usa

Washington DC is an exciting place to visit and there’s an engaged local LGBT community. Beyond the history, you’ll find plenty of entertainment, shopping, dining and other recreational opportunities. Washington DC is also home to lots of great festivals and events like Chinese New Year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For LGBT specific events, check out the Best of Gay DC Awards in the fall or Capital Pride’s Holiday Heatwave in December. Visit DC in the summer to attend the Capital Pride Celebration or DC Black bear-magazine.com also has great neighborhoods like the trendy Shaw district or Logan Circle, with an upscale and elegant feel, including chic boutiques and wine bars. Or head to Columbia Heights to experience a strong Latino and hipster crowd with a mix of ethnic restaurants and cool taverns. To find the best gay hangouts, the top neighborhoods include the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle or Logan Circle with LGBT favorite spots like Cobalt, 30 Degrees, Green Lantern or DIK Bar.

Washington DC’s Capital Pride takes place every June.

Bangkok, thailand

Bangkok is an Asian megacity, bursting with energy and colour. Often overlooked by visitors eager to reach the glorious beaches of Southern Thailand, this capital city has life pulsating from its core. The traditional backpacker area is centred around Koh San Road but the real heart of authentic Bangkok beats from Silom. The city’s premier financial district by day, once the sun goes down the area is home to delectable street food, rooftop bars and Thailand’s prosperous and lively gay village. Bangkok is frantic yet spiritual; a place where you feel alive from the moment you arrive. Boredom isn’t an option in here: with its cavernous maze of sois (filled with more eateries than you could ever sample), the rich heritage of its royal past and thirst for modernisation, Bangkok is unique, crazy and utterly unforgettable.

Bangkok’s first gay pride parade is due to take place in 2018.

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On 25 March, 1969, Judy Garland took to the stage at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen. As she reached the crescendo of Over the Rainbow – the song which made her a global star aged just 17 – it was unknown to the audience that they were watching her final live performance. Four months later, 47 year-old Garland was found dead in Chelsea, London, after accidentally overdosing on the drugs she had self-medicated with since childhood. One of the headlines would read: “Judy’s voice stilled. The rainbow is gone.”

Fifty years on, Garland superfan Ross Semple, 27, still listens to that Copenhagen concert religiously. “I cry every time I listen to that recording,” he says. “The pain in her voice, knowing what was to come soon after, you can hear it all.” Having seen The Wizard of Oz as a child, Ross was further drawn towards Judy Garland in his late teens, around the same time he came out as gay. He began watching her films, listening to her music and learning about her life. “I want to know as much as I can about her,” he explains. “Because I want to be able to speak with authority about her and understand her, because she deserves that.”

Ross is far from the only gay man to feel such strong affinity with Garland’s work and life. Gay magazine The Advocate once called her the “Elvis of homosexuals”, and in a 1967 review of Garland’s concert at New York City’s Palace Theatre, Time Magazine observed that a “disproportionate part of her nightly claque” was gay. Two years earlier, Garland herself had been asked if at a San Francisco press conference if she minded having such a large gay following, to which she responded: “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people!”

Homosexuals understand suffering. and so does garland – esquire magazine, 1969

Journalist, author and self-confessed Garland devotee Robert Leleux wrote in the New York Times 2012 that the LGBTQ+ community’s love of Garland – which he dubbed “Judyism” – was becoming “little more than a cultural memory”. But now Judyism may be set to grip a whole new generation with the release of Judy, a biopic starring Renée Zellweger. Set in 1969, when Garland arrived in London for a five-week run of sold-out concerts, the film received rapturous reviews for Zellweger’s performance when it premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this month. The buzz surrounding the release, partnered with the 2018 remake of A Star is Born – the iconic showbiz drama that earned Garland an Academy Award nomination in 1954 – has brought her distinctly gay legacy back into focus.

In biopic Judy, Renée Zellweger plays Garland – and is a favourite for next year’s Oscars (Credit: David Hindley/ LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.” However queer historian Dr Justin Bengry warns against generalising in this way. “It’s important to ask: for whom is Judy Garland resonant, important and iconic?” he tells BBC Culture. “It seems to be a significant category of gay men, in particular, who are invested in celebrities or the camp aesthetic that Garland embodies. But it’s also important to recognise that they aren’t the totality of gay men.”

The camp that Bengry mentions is significant to Garland’s gay icon status. Queer film historian Jack Babuscio defines camp as “irony, aestheticism, theatricality and humour” – four pillars that form the foundation of Garland’s public persona. In fact, her life story is practically a blueprint for our modern understanding of what makes a gay icon. Analysing her story, from upbringing to death, helps us understand how and why some gay men look to famous women to help them navigate the world.

In 1922, Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm – named after her parents Frank and Ethel – in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. When Garland was four, the family moved to California following rumours that her father, a closeted bisexual, had made sexual advances towards young men. After the family settled in California, Ethel Gumm began to promote her daughters as a performing trio, known as The Gumm Sisters. It was Garland’s mother who first introduced her to drugs. According to Gerald Clarke, author of Garland biography Get Happy, Ethel would give her daughters pills in the morning and at night, saying “I’ve got to get those girls going!” Eventually, after her older sisters both married, Garland was signed by studio giant MGM as a teenager on a seven-year contract. At 17, she starred in her breakout role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. 

Like judy garland, gay men are brought up to be ordinary. one is not brought up gay – richard dyer

This period in Garland’s life, which mirrored closely the story of Dorothy, has contributed significantly to her status as a gay icon. Much like her gingham-dressed alter ego, swept away by the winds into a magical, Technicolor world, Garland was plucked from obscurity to become a cultural icon. In his book, Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, professor Richard Dyer observes some gay men identify with Garland’s rejection of the ordinariness that she seemed destined for as a child. He theorises that turning out to be abnormal after being “saturated with the values or ordinariness” is a point where Garland and Dorothy’s stories align with the experience of some gay men, encouraging those who perceive themselves as ‘different’ to gravitate towards her.

Garland’s arrival as a major Hollywood star was complicated by a series of disastrous personal relationships, most notably with herself. From a young age, her self-image was relentlessly criticised by film executives who believed that she was unattractive. Alongside her mother, MGM executives controlled her image and encouraged her to take drugs to stay slim. Critical acclaim for her stand-out performances in Meet Me in St Louis and Till the Clouds Roll By coincided with praise of her ‘radiant’ appearance. But low points in Garland’s career were often accompanied by drastic weight gain and there were high-profile suicide attempts.

Garland’s coming-of-age mirrored the story of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – both were ordinary girls swept into a world of Technicolor and magic (Credit: Alamy)

However Garland’s body struggles arguably made her a figure of endearment. As culture journalist Anne Helen Petersen told Karina Longworth in a 2014 episode of her podcast You Must Remember This: “Judy didn’t look like the rest of the MGM stars. She became this avatar for the rejected: not sexy enough, not pretty enough.” This physical insecurity is something that many gay men can identify with, in particular, as a demographic more likely to battle body dysmorphia, harm their bodies, attempt suicide suffer from eating disorders. In the book, Changing Gay Male Identities, Dr Andrew Cooper suggests that the body can be a complex battleground for many gay men: that the body becomes a key site for projecting a “successful” sense of self to gay peers, but also for embodying success in the eyes of wider society. With this in mind, is it any wonder gay men relate to Garland’s desire to stay slim and successful?

Garland’s professional and personal lives were both defined by turbulence. She married five times and two of her husbands were, like her father, suspected of being gay or bisexual. Garland first married at 19 when she eloped to Las Vegas with musician David Rose. A year later, when she fell pregnant, her mother convinced her to have an illegal abortion. Drugs and financial instability were a near-constant presence in her life and she was suspended numerous times by MGM for missing shoot days or being incoherent, intoxicated and abusive on set. At 28, she was eventually dropped by MGM shortly after being replaced by Ginger Rogers on The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Garland’s lead role in 1954’s A Star is Born was a comeback moment. At 32, she had already been divorced twice and suffered numerous breakdowns. The high-budget project was seen as her final throw of the dice in Hollywood. Garland’s portrayal of Esther Blodgett, an aspiring singer who becomes tortured by her love interest’s addiction issues, is regarded as one of the greatest film performances of all time. In one pivotal scene, she says: “You don’t know what it’s like to watch someone you love crumble away – bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes – and stand there helpless… I hate his promises to stop, I hate going home at night and listening to his lies. I hate him for failing and I hate me too.” It is hard to listen to these words without connecting them to her own addiction struggles.

It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was. it’s a disservice to her body of work – ross semple

Yet the critical acclaim Garland received for A Star is Born was tarnished by its commercial underperformance. Deemed too long, the film had to be cut considerably, leading to a botched edit that left viewers underwhelmed. It flopped at the box office and Warner Bros then cancelled the lucrative multi-film deal Garland had signed with them. She was widely expected to take home the Academy Award for her role in the film, with reporters even waiting by her hospital bedside to capture her reaction as she prepared to give birth. But the Oscar ended up going to Grace Kelly, signalling that Garland’s Hollywood star was not going to be reignited after all.

At this point, the motif of Garland as a ‘survivor’ becomes central to her gay appeal. A Star is Born further blurred the line between her work and life, with Richard Dyer identifying this as the moment where Garland’s image of being “damaged goods” becomes an essential part of her star persona and gay icon status. He argues that, from then on, Garland’s work and life tells a story of survival, and of someone trying to assert some form of control in a world that was set up to destroy her. 

Garland had a comeback moment in 1954 showbiz drama A Star is Born – but it was short-lived (Credit: Alamy)

Like a true survivor, Garland rebounded from the commercial failure of A Star is Born. She found a new niche as a live singer, performing in a drug-induced haze on an endless tour after financial troubles left her permanently broke. Audiences, many of whom were gay, roared with laughter at her quick wit and gave her the validation for her performing that she had always craved. A live recording of her 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York won four Grammys, including album of the year, making Garland the first woman to win the award.

Superfan Semple describes a tension between his admiration for Garland’s work and his fascination with her life story. “It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was,” he says. “Because her performances were so brilliant and she made some beautiful films. It’s a disservice to her body of work to paint her as solely a tragic figure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with the story behind the curtain too.” He also observes that the gay love for “survivor” women who have been cast aside continues today. “Female pop acts who are largely forgotten by mainstream society still headline Pride events every year,” he says. “Judy was an early incarnation of that.”

Some gay men find more affinity in straight female stars than they do in those from their own community, a process that queer academic José Muñoz calls “disidentification”. He thinks that LGBTQ+ people often assign queerness to characters or stories that are not explicitly queer as a “coping mechanism”. As an example, Muñoz suggests that when a gay man “identified” with Garland, he was “writing his way into the mainstream culture in which his own story could never be told.”

Gay men often reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as the cast members of netflix’s queer eye

But contrastingly, in the book How to be Gay, queer historian David Halperin describes a tension with the “mainstream” that leads gay men to be “highly critical, if not contemptuous, of their own artists, writers and filmmakers”. He says that gay men often fail to warm to gay characters and celebrities because they “don’t often like the representations of gay men that gay men produce.” Halperin suggests that this is because most mainstream representations of gay men, from pop culture to politics, pander to “acceptable” heterosexual norms. He draws a key distinction between gay culture – where “conventional” white gay men are dominant – and gay subculture – where women, drag queens, queer people of colour and trans people are more visible. This causes some gay men to reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as, to use two very current examples, the cast members of Netflix’s Queer Eye and gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig. Instead many embrace subcultural – and in their eyes, more subversive – female narratives like Garland’s.

As seen in the new film Judy, Garland found a new niche as a live singer towards the end of her life (Credit: David Hindley / LD Entertainment/ Roadside Attractions)

So, depending on which way you look at it, “disidentifying” with Garland is either gay men’s way of feeling aligned to mainstream culture – or, in fact, rejecting it wholesale.

It is an unavoidable truth that Garland’s tragic and untimely death has also contributed to her status as a gay icon, making her a timeless figure. On the day of Garland’s funeral, gay men lined the streets and wept for her. Dyer notes that, at the time, gathering to watch Garland’s funeral gave them “permission to be gay in public for once.” But decades later, you don’t have to look far to see how Garland was the first in a continuing lineage of ‘tragic’ female celebrities who have acquired the status of gay icons.

Queens would come to a judy garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it – dr michael bronski

Elements of Garland’s story can be found in that of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her mistreatment at the hands of the press; Princess Margaret, with her ongoing substance issues, and marriage to an exploitative man who was rumoured to be gay; and Britney Spears, whose child stardom culminated in a very public divorce and mental health struggles. From Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Kesha, to Lily Allen, Demi Lovato and Garland’s own daughter Liza Minnelli, women continue to be exploited, damaged and, in the worst cases, destroyed by fame.

Gay men need to be mindful of our own culpability in this cycle. ‘Friend of Dorothy’ has long been a popular code word for gay men, but not all friends of Dorothy were friends of Judy. As Dr Michael Bronski, a Harvard University professor and the author of books on gay culture a recent article on the dark side of “stan” (superfan) culture: „There is a long history of gay male fan culture latching onto famous women and then turning on them. Queens would come to a Judy Garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it. The women have changed – it’s no longer Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. But the dynamic remains in Western culture.”

Bronski is right: that pattern didn’t end with Garland’s death. Whether it’s Katy Perry becoming, as journalist Brian O’Flynn writes, “gay Twitter’s punching bag”, or gay fans dressing as ‘bald Britney’ for Halloween and turning up to meet-and-greets dressed in costume from Spears’s infamous 2007 breakdown, gay men can be increasingly fickle towards famous women.

As a former child sat who has endured mental health struggles, Britney Spears is one of many female celebrities whose experiences recall Garland’s (Credit: Alamy)

Idolising these women is one thing, but we shouldn’t treat them like playthings for our entertainment. The personal troubles of women like Winona Ryder, Amanda Bynes or Naomi Campbell might generate funny punchlines, but they’re also real-life problems. When push comes to shove, are gay men really there for the women we claim to worship? 

On screen too, there are several works in the gay pop-cultural canon that glorify destructive female behaviour – while being financed and created by men. Mommie Dearest, a biopic of screen icon Joan Crawford, which portrays her as an abusive mother, is a gay classic. And from the streets of Wisteria Lane to Big Little Lies and the Real Housewives franchise, pop-culture encourages us to love female characters when they’re screaming hysterically, so we can condense their pain into hilariously camp GIFs and say “yassss kween” as they smash up their surroundings.

Camp is a huge part of what draws gay men towards women like Garland. There is camp to be found in her tragedy, her successes and her bad behaviour. But some, such as gay author Andrew Britton have argued that the existence of camp actually depends on the restrictive gender dynamics that it claims to oppose. Much has been written about the suppressive effect of the “male gaze” on women, but surely the “gay gaze” is also to blame.

Fifty years after Garland’s death, her legacy lives on. Many gay men turn to women like Judy Garland to help them navigate their own experiences of the world. But we should also reflect on the way we treat them. Because if we don’t commit to treating the icons who we love with compassion, or creating the “kinder, gentler world” Garland once said she longed for, then are we much better than the people who tried to break her?

Judy is released in the US and Canada on 27 September and in the UK and Ireland on 4 October

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See the world with gay friends

Interested in seeing the world with like-minded LGBT jet setters? Our friends at Out Adventures are the premiere providers of gay & lesbian tours, cruises and active adventures. Their slick and sublime escapes run twelve months per year, across all seven continents. Check out their website to see where they’re off to next.

Discover gay canada

No tour operator knows The Great White North quite like our Canuck friends at Out Adventures. Based in Toronto, these always-apologetic travel experts have been running both private and group tours through Canada for over ten years. Whether you’re looking to surmount the Rockies, discover Toronto’s underground gay scene, or witness Fierte Montreal, contact these guys for insider tips and tricks. Here’s to The True North, Strong & Gay. Sorry!

Lgbtq rights in canada

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017.

The gay scene in canada

Almost every city in Canada has a thriving gay scene, complete with rainbow crossings and numerous gay events taking place throughout the year. The main ones are the Church & Wellesley , Le Village Gai gay village of Montreal, The Village of Ottowa, the Davie Village and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.

Gay events in canada

Canada is one of the few countries that hosts its own national Pride event – “Canada Pride”. The first one took place in Montreal in 2017. The next one is scheduled to be in Winnipeg for 2022. Speaking of Pride, Toronto Pride is one of the largest in the world, attracting almost 1.5 million people each year. Back in 2014, Toronto also hosted WorldPride.

Almost every city in Canada has an annual Pride event, often strongly supported by the local government. Beyond the Pride events, Canada also has many gay ski-based events taking place in January including the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, the Tremblant Gay Ski Week and the Quebec Gay Ski Week. Other prominent LGBTQ events in Canada include the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in May and Montreal’s Black & Blue Festival in October.

Gay travel to canada

As a gay couple, we felt completely safe in all the places we visited in Canada. This is also one of the rare countries in the world where we felt confident enough to hold hands in public, almost everywhere!

In terms of touristic highlights, Canada has some of the best ski resorts in the world, a stunning landscape in the Canadian Rookies, whale watching experiences near Vancouver Island, impressive National Parks like Gros Morne and Nahanni, and of course, the famous Niagara Falls.

Did you know? Canada created the first gay currency! In 2019, Canada unveiled a new $1 coin (loonie) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, becoming the first country in the world to honour our LGBTQ community on its currency.

Lgbtq rights in spain

Spain legalized homosexuality in 1979 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 1995, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2005, Spain became the 3rd country in the world to legalize gay marriage (after Holland and Belgium). Spain then went on to introduce the right to change legal gender, then in 2006 allowed transgender people to register their preferred gender in public documents such as birth certificates, ID cards and passports without having to undergo any surgery. This right was extended to include transgender minors who are “mature enough”.

The gay scene in spain

All the main cities in Spain have a vibrant gay scene, usually concentrated in a gay village or street. The main ones include Chueca in Madrid, Gaixample in Barcelona, the Maspalomas gay area in Gran Canaria street). Other smaller cities in Spain have an exciting gay scene, which includes Benidorm’s Old Town area, La Nogalera in Torremolinos, Barrio del Carmen in Valencia and Calle de la Virgen in Ibiza.

Gay events in spain

Almost all the cities in Spain have a Pride event, the most famous is, of course, Madrid Pride. It is lauded for being one of the largest gay Pride events in the world especially in 2017 when it hosted WorldPride. Other prominent Pride events in Spain take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Maspalomas, Ibizia, Benidorm, Valencia, Bilbao and Manilva.

Spain has many other gay events happening throughout the year to look out for. Some of the best ones include the WE Party in Madrid, Circuit Barcelona, Bear Pride Barcelona, Snow Gay Weekend, Sitges Bear Week and Delice Dream in Torremolinos.

Gay travel to spain

Spain is just bursting with culture, ranking as the 3rd country in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – a total of 48. Amongst these are Gaudi’s iconic buildings in Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita of Córdoba (the largest mosque in the world). In terms of museums, there’s the world-famous Museo del Prado of Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And then there’s the food! From the world-famous paellas, tortillas, churos, gazpachos, jamons and our favourite, the tasty, juicy Spanish chorizo sausages.

As a gay couple in Spain, we were in paradise! It is a destination pretty much made for us, with some of the best gay beaches in Europe, brilliant parties for everyone and a very openminded populace. Even in the more rural areas, we felt completely safe, which is quite rare for most countries further down in this list. In short, Spain, like Canada, ticks all the boxes and we LOVE it!

Did you know? Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous gay Spanish celeb and one of the best directors in the world. His first few films in the 1980s characterised the sense of liberal revolution and political freedom Spain was going through. He then went on to direct classics including Volver, All About My Mother and Bad Education.

Lgbtq rights in the netherlands

The Netherlands is the ultimate LGBTQ trailblazer! Homosexuality was legalized back in 1811, but the big headline is that it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2001! In relation to anti-discrimination laws, the Netherlands has everything under the sun to protect its LGBTQ community including laws to combat hate-speech based on who we love, gender identity and gender expression. The Netherlands also permits LGBT people to openly serve in the Dutch army.

In relation to transgender rights, the Netherlands is a bit more conservative. Whilst it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2014, it only recognises a third gender option after a successful court petition.

The gay scene in the netherlands

You’ll find the best of the Netherlands‘ gay scene in the capital city, Amsterdam, specifically in the Reguliersdwarsstraat gay village. Here there are many gay cafes, shops, bars, clubs and parties to check out, like Prik, SoHo, Cafe Reality, Club NYX, Bear Necessity and Club YOLO – to name just a few! Outside of Amsterdam, cities like Rotterdam have a handful of gay hangouts, but nothing on par with Amsterdam. Find out more in our detailed .

Gay events in the netherlands

Amsterdam Pride is well known for being one of the most unique Pride events in the world because instead of taking place on the streets, a parade of floats proceeds through the city on boats along the famous canals. Other annual gay events in Amsterdam include Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March, Amsterdam Leather Pride in October and the IQMF (International Queer & Migrant Film Festival) in December.

Gay travel to the netherlands

There are few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking in the streets holding hands outside of the gay village, and The Netherlands is one of them! When it comes to tolerance, openmindedness and equality, we found the Netherlands to be one of the most culturally liberal and diverse places in the world. It’s certainly the most progressive country we’ve travelled to, which is why we love it!

Travel highlights of the Netherlands include the canals of Amsterdam, along with the capital’s art and cultural museums like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum. Other Dutch highlights include tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and of course the infamous Coffee Shops!

Did you know? in 1987, the Netherlands unveiled the “Homomonument”, which was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians persecuted during WW2.

Lgbtq rights in united kingdom

England/Wales legalized homosexuality in 1967, Scotland in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982. Between 2004-2008, the UK passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, which included allowing LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2014, England/Wales/Scotland . Northern Ireland subsequently followed in 2020. More recently, the UK has implemented laws that require schools to teach children that it’s ok to be gay!

The UK has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2005. Whilst there isn’t a third gender recognised in law, the title “Mx” is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people.

The gay scene in united kingdom

Alongside Australia, the USA and Spain, the UK has one of the highest numbers of recognised gay villages in the world! London alone has several, including Soho, Vauxhall and Clapham. Manchester and Brighton are often regarded as one of the best cities in the world for gay people to live, both with large LGBTQ communities and an (Manchester) and a fabulous community concentrated in Kemptown (Brighton).

Almost all the other cities of the UK have a recognised gay village or area including Hurst Street in Birmingham, The Triangle in Bournemouth, Old Market in Bristol, Lower Briggate/The Calls in Leeds, the Liverpool Gay Quarter, the Pink Triangle of Newcastle, Broughton Street in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s Merchant City Pink Triangle and the streets of Charles Street + Churchill Way in Cardiff.

Gay events in united kingdom

The UK has the highest number of Pride events out of any country in the world, with almost every city leading their own event usually during the summer months. Brighton Pride and Manchester Pride (both in August) are often regarded as the best Pride events in Europe. London Pride in early July is the largest, attracting 1.5 million people. The 2012 London Pride was the most famous when it coincided with the year the city hosted the Olympic Games and also hosted WorldPride.

Gay travel to united kingdom

The UK offers so much for gay tourists such as fulfilling your Harry Potter fantasy at the Warner Bros. Studio, as well as discovering Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the stunning Lake District in Northern England, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and many many more gems.

We’ve never experienced homophobia from any of the places we stayed at and LOVE that the government invests heavily in LGBTQ tourism via the excellent efforts made by Visit Britain. After all, this is the country that gave us Alan Turing, Sir Elton John, Freddy Mercury and many many more fabulous icons!

Did you know? In 2018, the UK saw the first Royal gay wedding when the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle.

Lgbtq rights in sweden

Sweden legalized homosexuality in 1944, hence the “gay since 1944” slogan! They introduced one of the most comprehensive sets of anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s, which included laws against hate speech and allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. The right to change legal gender was also introduced in the 1970s in Sweden.

Gay marriage was passed in 2009 although gay unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1995. In relation to transgender rights, Sweden does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, but in 2017, it declassified “transgender identity” as an illness.

The gay scene in sweden

We’ll be honest, we were a bit underwhelmed by the gay scene in Sweden. There are of course several gay bars and clubs, mainly in the big cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, however nothing on par with other gay cities like Barcelona, Berlin or London. There are no official gay villages or gay areas in any of the cities in Stockholm. This probably shows that Sweden is so gay friendly, that it does not need its own gay enclave.

Gay events in sweden

Stockholm Pride is the big one, which is also the largest Pride in the Nordic countries. Other LGBTQ annual highlights include the Stockholm Rainbow Weekend which coincides with the city’s Pride and West Pride in Gothenburg. Sweden prides itself on the fact that no Swede has to travel far for a Pride event, because there is one in almost every town and city! In 2021, Malmo will be the place to be when it cohosts WorldPride with Copenhagen!

Gay travel to sweden

From the famous Northern Lights in the winter months to the hidden alleyways in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden packs a punch! is big on LGBTQ travel and invests a lot in promoting the country as a top gay destination, even hosting EuroPride in 1998, 2008 and 2018. We felt totally safe in Sweden and comfortable holding hands in public in most places we visited. The Swedes are an extremely chilled and open-minded bunch who won’t give two hoots about two men expressing PDAs!

Did you know? Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest (the massive unofficial annual gay European music festival). Not only did Sweden give us ABBA in 1974 but they’ve also won it 6 times. Also – Måns Zelmerlöw…

Lgbtq rights in germany

Ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, Germany powered ahead to become an LGBTQ paradise. Germany passed a full set of anti-discrimination laws from 2006, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the military, the right to change legal gender and laws preventing hate crimes based on gender or orientation.

In 2017, Germany legalized gay marriages, and more recently, in 2019 Germany formally recognized a third gender option,

The gay scene in germany

Most of the big cities of Germany have a terrific gay scene. We particularly love the exciting and vibrant gay nightlife of Berlin. We love it! It’s so wide and diverse, where everyone from our LGBTQ community can find their tribe. Schöneberg was the first-ever gay village in the world when it took off as an LGBTQ mecca in the 1920s. Since then, so many cities around the globe have adopted a similar model where the gay community can share a safe space and support local queer businesses.

Other cities with an exciting gay scene include Cologne, Lange Reihe in Hamburg, Nordend in Frankfurt, Glockenbachviertel in Munich and Gurlam Ziegelviertel in Fürstenzell.

Gay events in germany

Berlin Pride is the largest gay event in Germany, attracting around 1 million people each year. Note that in Germany, Prides are referred to as “CSD”, which stands for “Christopher Street Day” – named after the street where the Stonewall riots in NYC took place in 1969. Hamburg and Cologne are the other two main Pride or CSD events in Germany. Other gay events in Germany include the Carnival Cologne in February, the Munich Gay Oktoberfest in October and Heavenue Gay Christmas market in December.

Gay travel to germany

Germany offers a lot for LGBTQ tourists, especially Berlin, a city steeped with history from the Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag Building and Berlin Wall Memorial. Other touristic highlights include the Cologne Cathedral, the Black Forest in southwest Germany and the super picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. Each city heavily invests in LGBTQ tourism, especially .

We absolutely love love LOVE Berlin – it feels like it’s a city that is literally MADE for gays! Anything goes in Berlin and you can have as much fun here as you want to, no limits! It’s also culturally rich with so much to do. It goes without saying that we felt very comfortable with PDAs in Berlin and the other big cities we visited in Germany.

Did you know? Berlin had the first gay village ever? Back in the late 1800s, the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, was founded in Schöneberg. Over the subsequent few decades, Schöneberg became the heart and soul of Germany’s LGBTQ gay community. It was the Gay Village capital of the world in the 1920s!

Lgbtq rights in australia

Australia legalized homosexuality in 1997 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2010. Australia also has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2013 and has formally recognised a third gender option since 2003.

The gay scene in australia

Every big city in Australia has a vibrant gay scene with a large, active LGBTQ community, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is so gay that a 2016 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how the LGBTQ community was spread out around the city in a “Rainbow Ribbon” starting from Pott Point, going out to Elizabeth Bay, down to Darlinghurst, Surry Hill, Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Alexandria and round to Newtown. As such Sydney has one of the most exciting gay scenes in the world including the Obelisk gay beach.

Melbourne doesn’t have a central gay area like many cities but most of its main gay scenes are located around the three inner city areas of St Kilda East, Prahran/South Yarra and Fitzroy/Collingwood. Other cities with a notable gay village/scene include Brisbane, Perth and the capital, Canberra.

Gay events in australia

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the most famous and electrifying LGBTQ festivals in the world. It takes place in late February, attracting thousands of people from all around the world, with headliners such as Cher, Kylie, George Michael and Sam Smith. And it’s going to get even BIGGER come 2023 when Sydney’s Mardi Gras hosts WorldPride!

Melbourne’s equivalent is the Midsumma Festival, which goes on for 22 days spread over January and February. Other notable LGBTQ events in Australia include Pride in the Park Perth, Wagga Mardi Gras, Broome Pride, ChillOut Daylesford, the Big Gay Day Brisbane in March and the awesome Broken Heels Festival in September.

Gay travel to australia

Our ultimate gay Aussie fantasy is to rent a dramatic pink camper and pay homage to Priscilla, travelling across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs and spread fabuloussness across the country.

Other touristic highlights for gay travellers to Australia (beyond Mardi Gras of course!) include The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Did you know? Australia is soooo gay that it even secured itself a spot in the annual Eurovision Songcontest. Check out the for the reason behind this quirky decision, which whether or not you agree with it, we LOVE it and warmly welcome them into our big gay European arms!

Lgbtq rights in taiwan

Taiwan legalized homosexuality in…oh it was never illegal! From 2002, Taiwan began to introduce anti-discrimination laws beginning with the right for LGB people (ie not transgender people) to openly serve in the military. Despite the army ban for transgender people, Taiwan has introduced comprehensive laws relating to hate crimes, indirect discrimination and more.

Taiwan is most famous for becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2019. Taiwan is also positioning itself to become a transgender haven by introducing a third gender option on all ID documents in late 2020.

The gay scene in taiwan

Ximen in Taipei is the main gay scene with loads of gay bars clustered together. There are more gay places dotted around the city but the bulk is around Ximen’s gay neighborhood. Other cities in Taiwan have a few gay scenes, but nothing on par with Ximen. Read more about what gay life in Taiwan is like in our .

Gay events in taiwan

Taipei Pride is not only the main LGBTQ event in Taiwan, but the largest in all of Asia attracting around 200,000 people! It takes place in October and includes a number of other gay parties like Formosa and the WOW Pool Party. Other cities in Taiwan host smaller, more local Pride events, in particular Kaohsiung City and Taichung City Pride.

Gay travel to taiwan

Taiwan is a foodie destination! If, like us, you love Asian food, Taiwan is a place you need to visit. Other touristic highlights in Taiwan include the Taipei 101, Taroko National Park, the Sun Moon Lake, the Yushan National Park, the Rainbow Village in Taichung City, and of course the food – check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei for example!

As a gay couple travelling in Taiwan, we loved it. We felt so welcomed everywhere. We can totally understand why it is regarded as such a pink haven in Asia. The Taiwanese are very open-minded and tolerant, easily topping our list of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia.

Did you know? Taiwan is so gay, it even has a gay god with its own temple! The Rabbit Gay Temple was built to commemorate Tu’er Shen (The Rabbit God) who manages the love and relationships between gay partners helps those looking for love. It was founded in 2006 by Lu Wei-ming and as far as we are aware, it is the world’s only shrine for an LGBTQ god.

Explore colombia on a gay tour

Out Adventures‘ brand new Colombia tour is hotter than Maluma! Beginning in Bogotá, the carefree escape will have you shaking your arepa at the largest LGBTQ club in the Americas, hiking humid jungles in Tayrona National Park and soaking up the country’s sand, sun and sea in coastal Cartagena. The optional gay salsa class, food tour and snorkeling excursion make this adventure muy caliente!

Lgbtq rights in colombia

LGBTQ rights in Colombia are super-advanced by Latin American standards! It Colombia legalized homosexuality in 1981 and then started introducing anti-discrimination laws in all areas (employment, goods, services etc) from 2011 onwards, which also included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. In 2016 Colombia became the 4th country in Latin America to legalise gay marriages following a 6-3 vote in the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

In relation to transgender rights, Colombia allows the right to change legal gender without psychiatric or physical evaluations. Whilst it does not yet formally recognise a third gender, it does allow a “neutral” or blank space regarding gender to be inserted on birth certificates.

Find our about what the gay life is like for locals in Colombia in our from Barranquilla.

The gay scene in colombia

Bogota’s Chapinero is one of our favourite gay villages, mainly because of Theatron. It’s a massive gay club that can fit up to 5,000. Every Saturday evening, the gay community comes alive here. We’d happily book a flight over in a heartbeat just to party at Theatron! Chapinero also has many other gay hangouts, which you can read more about in our .

Other cities in Colombia have a large gay scene, in particular Medellin. Cartagena, Cali and Barranquilla also have a smaller gay scene.

Gay events in colombia

Bogota Pride in June and the Barranquilla Carnival in February are the most famous. Almost all the other cities have a Pride event, usually in June. Cartagena Pride is another notable gay event in August because it also coincides with the Circuit-style “Rumours Festival”. Other events in Colombia to look out for which aren’t expressly gay but are popular with the LGBTQ community include Medellin’s Flower Festival in August and the Cali Salsa Festival in June.

Gay travel to colombia

Some of our favourite travel highlights include the coffee region, the Cocora Valley, the Salt Cathedral, the Caño Cristales Rainbow River, Cartagena old town and the Tayrona National Park.

As a gay couple, we had no issues in Colombia and felt accepted everywhere. In one hotel in Medellin, we noticed a sign in the lift showing the penalties the police could give you for certain crimes. One of these included a fine for shouting homophobic abuse to others in public! The only thing we’d say in Colombia, which is the case for many countries in Latin America is that the machismo culture is prevalent in rural areas, particularly along the coast. However, we didn’t encounter this on our travels in Colombia as we just avoided them. Read more in our Colombia gay travel guide.

Did you know? In October 2019, Ms Claudia López Hernández became the first woman and first lesbian to be elected mayor in Bogota. The mayor of Bogota is widely considered the second most important political post in Colombia after the President, which is a big deal for the LGBTQ community in Colombia!

Lgbtq rights in denmark

Denmark blitzes LGBTQ rights so effortlessly. It’s famous for being one of the most socially liberal countries in the world. The right to change legal gender was introduced way back in 1929 and homosexuality was legalized 4 years later. Then in 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise gay unions. Denmark also has very progressive anti-discrimination laws, which it started introducing in the late 1980s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Danish army. More recently, gay marriage was legalized in 2012 and in 2014, Denmark became a trans haven by formally recognising a third gender “X” option in passports.

The gay scene in denmark

The main gay scene is in the Straedet area of Copenhagen, which is where we saw lots of couples walking hand in hand, however, we could have done this in most parts of Denmark without any problems. Aarhus is another cool city in Denmark to check out with a smaller but just as exciting gay scene.

Gay travel to denmark

Some of our favourite touristic highlights in Denmark included Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Nyhavn Canal and Harbour, the Amalienborg Winter Palace and the LEGO House in Billund.

As a gay couple in Copenhagen, we felt completely safe and free; public displays of affections were never an issue for us anywhere in Denmark. We loved being able to stroll through Tivoli Gardens holding hands, not having to first carry out a detailed risk assessment!

Did you know? Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen is the world’s oldest gay bar. It opened in 1917 and is still going strong today!

Lgbtq rights in new zealand

New Zealand legalized homosexuality for men in 1986 (for women it was never illegal). They introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as far back as 1993 and legalized gay marriage in 2013. In terms of the military, LGBT people have been allowed to openly serve in the New Zealand army since 1993. New Zealand introduced the right to change legal gender in 1993 and also officially recognises a non-binary gender.

The gay scene in new zealand

The main gay scene and LGBTQ community is focused in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, most of the hangouts and community are based in and around Karangahape Road and Ponsonby. In Wellington, it’s largely in Wellington Central. Other cities around the country will have a few gay/gay friendly places to check out.

Gay events in new zealand

Pride events have been taking place in New Zealand since the 1970s. The main ones are the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February, Wellington International Pride Parade in March, Christchurch Pride in March and North Canterbury Pride, also in March. Another one to look out for is the Gay Ski Week in August/September. What we love most about the Pride events in New Zealand is that although they’re small, everyone in the community gets involved, even the Prime Minister!

Gay travel to new zealand

When it come to gay travel, New Zealand is wow personified. Touristic highlights include the Fiordland National Park, the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, and of course, the Hobbiton Movie Set in Hinuera. Not only is New Zealand a stunning country to visit, it’s super gay friendly, everywhere! New Zealanders have embraced change openly and with much enthusiasm. This is one place in the world where PDAs shouldn’t be a problem anywhere in the country.

Did you know In 1995, Georgina Beyer became the world’s first openly transgender mayor (of Carterton), as well as the world’s first openly transgender Member of Parliament.

Explore iconic iceland on a gay tour

Glaciers, geysers and cosmopolitan Reykjavik await on an all-gay tour of The Land of Fire & Ice with our friends at Out Adventures. Annually in March, they host a short and sweet escape snaking through Iceland’s otherworldly countryside with a chance to see The Northern Lights. And in August, they offer a sizzling summer tour featuring a South Shore Safari that wraps up back in Reykjavik just in time for ‘The Biggest Small Pride in the World‘.

Lgbtq rights in iceland

Iceland legalized homosexuality in 1940 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1996-2018. Gay marriage was voted unanimously by parliament in 2010. In relation to the military, Iceland is a country that doesn’t have an armed force. Iceland formally recognises a third gender option by placing an X on official documents. Interestingly, just like the gay marriage law in 2010, the Icelandic law that formally recognised the third gender option was passed unanimously in the Icelandic Parliament!

Gay travel to iceland

Iceland should be on every LGBTQ traveller’s bucket list, with incredible wonders to behold like the Blue Lagoon, spectacular geysers, the Northern Lights, the Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve, the Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park, the Skaftafell Ice Cave and the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church.

When it comes to welcoming LGBTQ tourists, Iceland is one place that nails it. It’s a pink haven, full stop! No issue with homophobia here. The Icelanders are one very open-minded bunch. They are laid back, easy-going and famous for their quirky sense of humour! Also be sure to check out the awesome Pink Iceland who not only do a phenomenal job marketing the country as an international LGBTQ destination, but also sponsor the main gay events in Iceland.

Portugal lgbtq tour

Want to visit the land of cod, custard tarts and Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, our friends at Out Adventures are hosting a sumptuous journey that ticks off Lisbon, Porto and the Douro Valley. Highlights include a private tour of Sintra, a day sipping & supping in wine country, historic tram tours and an invigorating speed boat experience. For all the nitty-gritty details, jump over to their site. And don’t forget to mention we sent you—you just might get a special deal. *wink*

Lgbtq rights in portugal

Portugal legalized homosexuality in 1982 and they introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2010 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1999. Sadly, Portugal still has a ban on transgender people from serving in the Portuguese army. Portugal introduced the right to change legal gender in 2011 and formally allows people to self-identify their gender.

The gay scene in portugal

Lisbon has a fantastic gay scene with many gay bars, clubs and parties particularly around the Bairro Alto and Principe Real areas. We love that there is a gay beach just outside of Lisbon called Beach 19. Porto is another popular tourist hotspot north of Lisbon with an active gay scene, particularly around the Galaria de Paris area. Down towards the south in the Algarve, there are gay scenes in Albufeira, Tavira and Portimão.

Gay events in portugal

There are 2 main annual gay events in Portugal that take place in the capital. The first is the colourful Lisbon Pride in June. The second is the Lisbon Bear Pride in May. The Lisbon Gay Film Festival is another excellent annual LGBTQ event in Portugal to look out for.

Gay travel to portugal

Touristic highlights include Lisbon’s Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Torre de Belém, the Convento do Cristo, hiking in the Gerês Mountain Range and the stunning UNESCO listed Castelo de Guimarães.

We love Lisbon and know that many other gay guys feel the same way. It’s like the next Madrid! It’s a very gay friendly city, English is well spoken, the gay scene is fantastic, a gay beach is right on your doorstep, and the guys are smoking hot! The Portuguese generally have a very open-minded attitude and made us feel extremely welcome.

Did you know? Portugal is often touted as being one of the most gay friendly countries in the world in various surveys. What sums it up best is this beautiful and inspiring video by gay couple, Lorenzo and Pedro, who filmed people’s reactions as they walked the streets of Lisbon holding hands:

Lgbtq rights in argentina

Argentina legalized homosexuality in 1887 and are currently developing a set of anti-discrimination laws that are being implemented in Rosario and Buenos Aires, hopefully soon nationwide. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009.

The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2012, which allows transgender people to identify with their chosen gender on official documents without first having to receive hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery or psychiatric counselling. Read more about Argentina LGBTQ rights here.

The gay scene in argentina

We love the gay scene in Buenos Aires. It has heaps of bars and clubs spread out between Palermo and San Telmo like Glam, Sitges and Peuteo. We also love Buenos Aires because of the queer milongas (tango dance halls) where you can learn to dance queer tango. Most other cities in Argentina have a gay scene, such as Mendoza and . The city of Rosario is considered the most gay-friendly and liberal-minded place in Argentina, often leading the way for proactive change. 

Gay events in argentina

The main gay event in Argentina is Buenos Aires Pride in November which is one of the . The Queer Tango Festival is another fascinating queer event, so unique to Argentina. In the wine capital of Mendoza, there is a gay segment in the annual grape harvesting festival in February called Vendimia.

We also love that the government actively supports and funds gay events, in particular, the GNetwork360 conference every August.

Gay travel to argentina

Touristic not-to-miss highlights of Argentina include the stunning Iguazu Falls, queer tango in Buenos Aires, wine tasting in Mendoza, trekking in El Chalten, getting up close with penguins in Punta Tombo and going to the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia. We have always felt welcomed everywhere during  and love returning here.

Did you know? Argentina jointly invented the tango (a UNESCO listed Cultural Heritage) with Uruguay. But did you also know that this sultry dance was initially between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s as a way to prep each other for when they could later get with a woman?

Today the culture of queer tango has prevailed so much that Milongas (tango halls) specialising in Queer Tango have mushroomed around the world, least of all in Buenos Aires. It’s become so popular that there is even a Queer Tango Festival in November in the Argentinian capital, as well as in cities around the world, particularly in Berlin, Rome, Munich and Paris. Read more about it in our article about our experience learning to learn to dance tango as a gay couple.

Lgbtq rights in france

France legalized homosexuality in 1791. They introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1982-2012. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the French armed forces. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2017 without needing to undergo surgery or receive a medical diagnosis.

France does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender. However, in 2010, France became the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Gay events in france

Paris Pride is the main gay event in France, as well as Magical Pride in Disneyland Paris. Most of the other cities have a Pride parade including Biarritz, Arras, Lyon and Toulouse. France is also famous for its gay ski festivals in March. The main ones are the European Gay Ski Week and the European Snow Pride.

Gay travel to france

France is the #1 touristic destination in the world for good reason! From culturally rich UNESCO listed sites to a world-class cuisine, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and smoking hot lovers…France really has it all! Our favourite not-to-miss highlights of France include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles Palace, the Côte d’Azur, Mont Saint-Michel, the Loire Valley Châteaux, Provence lavender fields and Mont-Blanc – the highest peak in Europe (4,810m / 15,780 ft).

When it comes to seeing gay couples holding hands in public, most French won’t bat an eyelid. The laissez-faire attitude is really a thing here!

Did you know? Just when you thought the French couldn’t get any gayer, along comes a gay bakery in Paris that makes baguettes in the shape of a ding-a-ling, La Baguette Magique!

Get frosty in finland

Embrace winter on Out Adventures‘ hot new Finnish foray. The all-gay tour kicks off in Helsinki before flying north towards the arctic circle. In our opinion, the best part of this adventure is the wide range of snowy excursions. For example, you can take the reins on an actual dog-sled in the icy Laplands, seek out The Northern Lights on a snowmobile safari, and even endure a polar plunge in the Arctic Ocean. Oh, and best of all, you’ll slumber in a glass-roofed cabin while admiring Aurora Borealis above.

Lgbtq rights in finland

Finland legalized homosexuality in 1911 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1995-2005. Gay marriage was legalised in 2017 and LGBT people are allowed to openly serve in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2002. However, sterilization is required, and transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender. Finland does not have legal recognition of non-binary gender. Find out more about Finland‘ LGBTQ rights here.

Gay events in finland

The main LGBTQ events in Finland are the Helsinki Pride Week in June and the Ruka Ski Pride in April. Other cities have a Pride event, such as Pirkanmaan Pride in June, Tampere and Turku. Whilst the gay scene of Helsinki is quite small, the Pride in June is super popular, attracting crowds of around 100,000.

Gay travel to finland

We think Finland as a gay destination is totally underrated. As well as the Northern Lights, this is one place where being gay has become so normalised that we felt totally safe to walk the streets almost anywhere holding hands, knowing that no one would bat an eyelid! Remember this is the home of the highly masculinized and suggestive homoerotic Tom of Finland art.

Other touristic highlights of Finland include the Suomenlinna Fortress, Rovaniemi and the Arctic, the Åland Archipelago, the Northern Lights, Turku, Porvoo and Lake Saimaa.

Did you know? Even the postage stamps in Finland are gay! The famous Tom of Finland was immortalised in postage stamps in 2014. Whilst they’re not the first stamps to depict suggestive art, they are certainly the first ever to depict homo suggestive art! 

Push yourself on a gay hike in norway

ATTN: Gay Hikers. The intrepid crew at Out Adventures are hosting perhaps the most physically challenging gay tour we’ve ever seen. On this sweaty scamper, you’ll reach Nordic Nirvana while surmounting mountains, kayaking fjords and trekking glaciers. Those who persevere will be rewarded with up-close views of Norway’s world-famous natural wonders like Trolltunga and Preikestolen plateau. Are you ready?

Oslo is the capital and main gay hub of the country. It has quite a big gay scene with numerous queer events taking place. But you need to bring a LOT of cash to get by here, it sure ain’t cheap!

Lgbtq rights in norway

Norway legalized homosexuality in 1972 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 1981-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2008 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1979. Norway introduced the right to change legal gender in 2016 and since 2013 doesn’t require sterilization for this. In 2016, Norway passed a law allowing the change of legal gender for transgender people solely based on self-determination.

Gay events in norway

Oslo Pride Festival in June is the main gay event in Norway attracting around 250,000 people each year. Most cities also have a pride event, the main ones include Bergen Pride May, the Lillehammer Winter Pride in February, Skeive Sorlandsdager in August and the Tromso Arctic Pride in November.

A very unique annual LGBTQ event is the Raballder Sports Cup – a gay sports event for handball! Also there’s the Sápmi Pride which takes place across Finland, Sweden and Norway each year.

Gay travel to norway

Norway is beautiful. Whilst there’s not much of a gay scene here or large gay events taking place, it sure packs a punch in terms of natural beauty, especially the Northern Lights. Just remember to bring money – lots of it! To give you an idea, the average pint of beer is around $10…!

Travel highlights include cosmopolitan Oslo, the endless snow-capped mountains peaks, deep fjords like Sognefjord, also the Pulpit Rock, Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands and the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen.

Lgbtq rights in malta

Malta legalized homosexuality in 1973 and have been introducing anti anti-discrimination laws since 2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2002. Sadly transgender people are banned from serving openly in the Maltese army.

Malta introduced the right to change legal gender in 2015. Malta has had legal recognition of a non-binary gender since 2017.

The gay scene in malta

Malta is a tiny island country in the Mediterranean south of Italy, with a population of just under half a million, therefore it’s too small to have a gay village. There are a handful of gay bars and clubs in Malta such as the Birdcage Lounge and Michelangelo gay club. There are also a few gay friendly hangouts dotted around the capital Valletta.

Gay travel to malta

Valletta is one of our favourite European capital cities. It’s a small walled UNESCO listed city, which you can walk around in a few hours. Every corner is full of history and culture. Other highlights include The Three Cities, Mdina, the Dingli Cliffs, Comino, Riviera Beach and Gozo.

We loved Malta and can see why many people rate it as the most gay friendly country in Europe. It has very lax laws and nobody cared about two men displaying PDAs.

Did you know? Malta is the most famous non-winner of Eurovision. Every year we get excited to see who will represent them. From cutie Fabrizio Faniello, Ira Losco and our favourite, the gorgeous Chiara:

Lgbtq rights in austria

Austria legalized homosexuality in 1971 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 2004-2017. Gay marriage was legalized in 2019 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. Austria introduced the right to change legal gender in 2009 and since 2019 it formally recognises a non-binary gender.

Gay events in austria

Vienna Pride in June is the main one, which has hosted EuroPride twice – in 2001 and 2019. Vienna Pride includes the Regenbogenparade, the “Rainbow Parade”. Other LGBTQ events in Austria include the Gay Snow Happening in March, the Pink Lake Festival in August, Ski Pride in April, the CSD Bregenz Pride in June and Linz Pride in June.

Gay travel to austria

Vienna is stunning and a city bursting with culture and history. This is a city that used to be the cultural capital of Europe several hundred years ago, especially in the classical music scene. Austria is the home of Mozart – specifically the picture-perfect Salzburg. Other highlights of Austria include The Vienna Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace, Hallstatt and Belvedere Palace.

We felt welcomed everywhere we went in Vienna and felt comfortable holding hands in public. Whilst the gay scene is small, there is a sizeable LGBTQ community and a handful of places to check out.

Did you know? Conchita Wurst is one of the most famous gay Austrians ever. His real name is Thomas Neuwirth who became famous for representing Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Songcontest and winning it with the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” dressed in full drag as Conchita, but with a beard! For many of us, it was the first time we saw a professional drag queen with a full beard on TV!.

Lgbtq rights in ireland

Ireland legalized homosexuality in 1993 and introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1998-2015. Gay marriage was legalized in 2015 and the right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year. Transgender people in Ireland can self-declare their gender for the purpose of updating passports, driving licences, obtaining new birth certificates and getting married.

Strong Catholic beliefs still continue to encourage homophobia in the more rural areas and older generations, but the change is exciting to watch! And then, of course, they are the undisputed Eurovision champions, having won the competition a record-breaking 7 times. A country that has won the gay Olympics the most times is certainly going to be pretty gay!

Gay events in ireland

Dublin Pride in June is the main LGBTQ event in Ireland. Other cities with Pride events include Cork Pride in July, Limerick Pride in July, Carlow Pride in July, Mayo Pride in July and Sligo Pride in August. Dublin also hosts lots of other LGBTQ events including the Dublin Bear Events in March and Trans Pride Dublin in July.

Gay travel to ireland

Ireland is gorgeous! The capital, Dublin, is a treat – it was even designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Other highlights of Ireland include The Cliffs of Moher, Dublin’s Grafton Street, The Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, The Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, The Dingle Peninsula, The Aran Islands, and more.

We’ve been to Ireland many times and can definitely see a change over the past few decades as the country has quickly evolved to embrace LGBTQ rights and welcome gay tourists.

Did you know? In 2017, an openly gay man, Leo Varadkar, became the “Taoiseach” (ie the Prime Minister) of Ireland. We saw Leo Varadkar in person, marching in the Canada Pride in Montreal in 2017 alongside Justin Trudeau, and love that he frequently stands up for LGBTQ rights, particularly when he met conservative Mike Pence in 2019.

Lgbtq rights in uruguay

Uruguay legalized homosexuality in 1934 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009. The right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year as well as the on official documents.

The gay scene in uruguay

The majority of the gay scene in Uruguay is in Montevideo, which includes Chains Pub, Bar Rodo, Il Tempo and Cain Club. Punta del Este also has a few gay friendly hangouts including the Soho Bar. Just note, Uruguayans head out late – dinner is around 9pm, bars get busy after 11pm and don’t even think about going to a club before 1am!

Gay events in uruguay

The two main ones gay events in Uruguay are Montevideo Pride in September and Punta Pride in the summer months of February. Both are low key affairs, but we love them because the entire local community gets involved – families, babies and even dogs! The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is very active in promoting local LGBTQ-friendly businesses in Uruguay. They have an annual conference every September, which also includes a mini-festival and parties.

Gay travel to uruguay

Touristic highlights of Uruguay include the picturesque UNESCO listed town of Colonia del Sacramento, the Salto del Penitente, Pan de Azúcar, Montevideo’s cutesy old town, Punta del Diablo, Cabo Polonio, Laguna de Castillos, Punta Ballena and the beachfront of Punta del Este.

Uruguay is often described as a “sleepy” country with the most laidback people on the planet. We can definitely agree with that. No one anywhere in the country gave two hoots about seeing two men holding hands in public. This is definitely one very tolerant and progressive country. Find out more about gay travel to Uruguay.

Did you know? Uruguay has an all-male clothing-optional guesthouse just outside of Punta del Este called Undarius! It’s super gay, complete with purple decor and balconies that are lit up rainbow lights. It’s also conveniently located close to the gay naturist beach of Chihuahua.

Lgbtq rights in belgium

Belgium legalized homosexuality in 1795 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2014. Gay marriage was legalized in 2003 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2007.

Whilst Belgium does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, many Belgian hospitals (such as the Ghent University Hospital) are famous for their specialisation in gender reassignment surgery. So much so that many transgender people from France go there for surgery due to a lack of accepting hospitals in France.

Gay events in belgium

The main Pride events are The Belgian Pride Brussels in May, Pride Ghent in May, Antwerp Pride in August and the Darklands Antwerpen in March. Other awesome queer events to look out for in Belgium include the Belgium Leatherpride in February, the Unicorn Festival in Antwerp in July and monthly dance parties like La Demence (the largest in Europe), and SPEK.

Gay travel to belgium

We’ve been several times to Belgium as a gay couple – either on a city break to Brussels and Bruges and once on a Flanders Field “pilgrimage” to see the former WW1 battlegrounds. We’ve loved it each time, especially my chips-loving-Frenchman! Belgium is overall very welcoming for gay travellers. When it comes to holding hands in public, we didn’t feel as comfortable as in other countries. Whilst the Belgium are generally tolerant and openminded, homophobia has grown recently in Belgium.

Belgium is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and as headquarters of the European Union and NATO. Touristic highlights include the Grand Palace in Brussels, the Canals and Belfry of Bruges, the Battlefields of Flanders, Ghent’s Gravensteen and Old Town, the Horta Museum and Town Houses, the Basilica of Bruges, Meuse Valley, Mons Old Town, and more.

Did you know? Belgium has also had its fair share of openly gay politicians, including the world’s second openly gay head of government, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo (2011-2014). We also love that Belgium has a “Rainbow Cops” police force who are specifically trained to handle LGBTQ issues.

Lgbtq rights in usa

The USA actually only legalized homosexuality in 2003 following the Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision, though some States did so a lot sooner, starting with Illinois back in 1961. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized in the USA, which was monumental and groundbreaking, inspiring many other countries to follow suit! More recently, in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in the Bostock v Clayton County case that federal civil rights law do protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

Transgender rights in usa

The US is a dichotomy when it comes to . On the one hand, there are trans havens with the most progressive transgender laws on the planet, formally allowing a nonbinary gender marker on ID documents. These include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, District of Colombia, Washington State, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – also hopefully soon in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia and Illinois. Sadly, on the other hand, there are a handful of homophobic States one would take caution to avoid!

The gay scene in usa

The USA leads the way when it comes to gay villages and gay scenes. It’s huge here. Almost every State has a gay village in its main cities, even places like Texas, which have the Montrose gay village in Houston!

Some of the gay heartlands in the USA include , Provincetown in Massachusetts, Fire Island in New York, Chelsea in NY, Guerneville in California, Castro in San Francisco, The South End in Boston, West Hollywood in LA, Boystown in Chicago, Capitol Hill in Denver, Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, Hillcrest in San Diego, Ogunquit in Maine, New Hope in Pennsylvania, Key West in Florida, Asbury Park in New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and so so many more! Read more in our detailed guide to some of the – most of which are in the States!

Gay events in usa

The USA has some of the biggest LGBTQ events in the world. The most famous is , which is also the home of the modern-day gay rights movement. In 2019, NYC hosted WorldPride, which attracted around 5 million people, making it the largest gay Pride event ever!

Other notable gay events in the US include San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair in September, the Capital Trans Pride in May in Washington, the New Orleans Mardi Gras in February, the Aspen Gay Ski Week in January and Miami Beach Pride in April. This is just a small selection of the many different LGBTQ events taking place across the USA every year!

Gay travel to usa

The USA offers so much for LGBTQ travellers. Touristic highlights include the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Yellowstone National Park, Disney and Universal theme parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Glacier National Park, Waikiki, Las Vegas and many more…

We’ll be honest, when we visited Florida as a gay couple during the Trump years, we were absolutely terrified and agreed to act as “friends” in places we weren’t sure. Upon arrival, the (straight white) guy at the immigration desk could see us nervously looking at each other, smiled at us then warmly asked, “are you boys married yet?” and proceeded to welcome us into the USA.

On the other extreme, when taking a photograph on Miami Beach’s rainbow crossing, a man rolled down his window and shouted, “Move out of the way, fa*gots!” This summed up the USA for us – on the one hand, it’s THE gayest nation on the planet, but on the other hand, it is riddled with pockets of pretty extreme homophobia.

Did you know? The Stonewall Riots were largely thanks to the efforts of an African American transgender woman from New Jersey, Ms Marsha P. Johnson. In June 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York, 23-year old Marsha was one of the key figures who stood up to the police during the raids, resisted arrest and therefore led to the pivotal Stonewall protests soon after.

Lgbtq rights in costa rica

Costa Rica began its fabulous journey back in 1911 when it legalized homosexuality. It is the latest member to our exclusive Gay Marriage Club after it legalized gay marriages in 2020. Just like Canada, Costa Rica was a trailblazer in relation to anti-discrimination laws, which it introduced in 1998. This included allowing LGBT people to openly serve openly in the civil defence Public Force (Costa Rica doesn’t have an army).

When it comes to transgender rights, Costa Rica introduced the right to change gender in 2018 recognises transgender people’s gender identity on ID cards.

Gay travel to costa rica

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. Travel highlights include the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde and the Cloud Forests, the Dominical, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, the Tortuguero National Park, the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park.

Costa Rica has come a long way over the past decade and whilst it may still retain a strong influence from the conservative Catholic Church, attitudes are quickly evolving and the country has for years been embracing LGBTQ tourism.

Did you know? Costa Rica has had its fair share of openly gay politicians. In April 2013, Carmen Muñoz became the first openly lesbian member of the country’s Legislative Assembly. In May 2018, Enrique Sánchez became the first openly gay congressman in Costa Rica.

Go wild in south africa

Check out this South Africa gay tour by Out Adventures. It begins in Zimbabwe where you’ll witness the power and beauty of Victoria Falls. Then it’s off to Botswana and South Africa for authentic safaris in private game reserves. Finally, you’ll spend four full days soaking up the culture and cuisine of gorgeous gay Cape Town. If that itinerary doesn’t spark your sense of adventure, we don’t know what will!

Lgbtq rights in south africa

South Africa shooketh the LGBTQ world in the 1990s! It became the first country to enshrine full anti-discrimination laws in its Constitution. Up until that point, no other country had ever done this before – a trailblazer not only in Africa but across the entire world! This included allowed LGBT people to openly serve in the army. It didn’t stop there, South Africa went on to introduce the right to change legal gender in 2003 and legalized gay marriages in 2006.

The gay scene in south africa

Cape Town and Johannesburg have the largest LGBTQ communities in South Africa each with an exciting gay scene. Cape Town has a gay village in De Waterkant as well as in Green Point and Sea Point. Over in Johannesburg, whilst there is no gay village, there are many gay places spread out across the city, particularly in Melville, Parkhurst and Rosebank. Other cities in South Africa with a small gay scene include Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban, Berea and Stellenbosch.

Gay events in south africa

South Africa see Pride events happening in most of the cities. The Johannesburg and Cape Town Prides are the best ones. Johannesburg Pride happens in October and has been nicknamed the “Pride of Africa“ because it is the largest (and one of the fewest) in the entire continent. Cape Town Pride is also a Mardi Gras festival and happens in February.

Other prominent Pride events in South Africa include the Pretoria LGBTQI Gay Pride in October, Durban Pride in June, Mzansi Pride Johannesburg in April and the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride in Port Elizabeth in November.

Gay travel to south africa

South Africa almost ticks all the boxes – stunning destination to visit, a large, active LGBTQ community, and lots of queer hangouts and events happening. The only downside is the violent crime so prevalent around the country which makes it a little big dangerous for all travellers whether straight or gay. Obviously, if you stick to the areas you know are safe, it’s absolutely fine!

South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise, with some of the best safaris in the world. Other touristic highlights include the Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Stellenbosch, The Drakensberg, The Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and Robben Island.

Did you know? Nelson Mandela is often regarded as the Grandfather of LGBTQ rights. When he became President in 1994, he immediately pushed for one of the most progressive constitutions the world has ever seen – the first one ever to outlaw discrimination based on who we love. Big Daddy Nelson, we salut you!

– Israel: Tel Aviv is one of the gayest places on the planet and Tel Aviv Pride one of the best prides in the world! Israel sadly has rejected gay marriage 5 times but since 2006 it recognises gay marriages from abroad.

Gay tour of thailand

Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!

– Thailand: Thailand is super gay! Bangkok has one of the best gay scenes in the world and we love it. Phuket and Pattaya also have large queer scenes, and islands like Koh Samui even have their own annual Pride. Thailand was set to introduce civil union laws in 2020 but gay marriage is still a long way off. Read more about Bangkok in our gay travel guide to Bangkok.

Stefan arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog bear-magazine.com As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .

hello! as a gay brazilian, i think it’s important to mention that our most relevant national laws of lgbt+ interest happened at the initiative of the supreme court, since we never had presidents who openly advocated for lgbt + rights (gay marriage was legalized in 2010, during a supposedly progressive government, and the ban on homo/transphobia in 2019, during our current and pathetic government). it’s also worth noting that, last year, the most voted councilor in the country was a transgender woman 😉 cheers

Thanks for this Flavio! Will take it into account when we update this article next.

I would remove Argentina from the list. As a gay Argentinian, my couple and I have been rejected from many Motels just for being gay in many States (provincias), outside of Buenos Aires or CABA. If you are a gay tourist you shouldn’t out yourself unless you are staying in Capital, and even in CABA, many homophobic attacks occur everyday. Don’t even think to tell anybody you are gay if you visit the North of my country, people are ultra conservative.

Please remove Argentina from this list, our current president Alberto Fernandez have used many offensive slang in public social media, like Twitter, the fact that we have „progressist“ laws is just a depiction of hypocrisy and mirrors and smoke casted by our corrupt goverment.

Really sorry to read that! Will definitely keep it in mind when we come to update the list. For the record, we had a very positive experience traveling in Argentina as a gay couple.

I think you never went to Brazil then, for it not to be in the list. It was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage and adoption, the first to make homophobia a specific crime and hosts the biggest gay pride parade in the world in São Paulo, with over 4 million people

We love Brazil, but with all the homophobia Bolsanero has spouted, not sure we agree.

I dream to be in Spain,but when I see that Canada its the first for most gay friendly i change little mind haha, but its to far from my county, Spain to , but more near then bear-magazine.com from Albania , here its to difficult to live life free, 🚫🤦‍♂️I hope that in the future i will live in bear-magazine.com im a little shocked that i didnt see the Brazil in this list , haha , i have see from post that this county accept lgbt, and there have a lot people from community lgbt, and i like brazilians😛But your post will make people to think better where to start a new life, its helpful , thank you man

We used to have Brazil on the list, but with the onset of Bolsanero, we revised that! We can’t WAIT to put Brazil back in this list 🙂

Thank you so much for making this. I don’t know a place I would go to when I turn 18 (cause family) so thank you:)

Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.

Erhöhen sie ihren einkauf

In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‚enigma machine‘ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem ‚Keep the Home Fires Burning‘, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream bear-magazine.com book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

Pressestimmen

„To summarise, this is an excellent book that captures the untold lives of gay personnel throughout the world wars…I hope that this title encourages readers to share LGBT stories within their own family histories.“

“ pulls together previously published vignettes into a highly readable volume, and is well placed to bring the story of gay service-men to a wider public audience.“

„Bourne’s valuable and easy-to-read book is not quite a collection of ‚untold‘ stories, as in the sub-title. Rather it gathers under-told stories, and those not previously collected together to give a coherent collective account of GBTQI men in wars.“

Introduction

Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men are among the small number of groups for whom HIV remains uncontrolled worldwide. Although there have been recent and notable decreases in HIV incidence across several countries, prevalence and incidence is consistently higher or rising among men who have sex with men when compared with other groups.

Results

Higher provider discrimination and sexual stigma were associated with lower odds of perceived access to services, service utilization and virologic suppression. Conversely, accessing services from community-based organizations focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; greater engagement in gay community; and comfort with healthcare providers were associated with higher odds of achieving steps along the prevention and treatment continuum.

Conclusions

To meet accelerated global HIV targets, global leaders must adopt a differentiated and bolder response, in keeping with current epidemiologic trends and community-based research. The HIV-related needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be addressed openly, quickly and with sufficient resources to support evidence-based, community-led and human rights-affirming interventions at scale.

Measures

Participants completed a 30-minute questionnaire including items about demographics (e.g. age, country of residence, sexual orientation, ability to meet one’s basic financial needs, healthcare coverage, having a regular healthcare provider); HIV status; sexual stigma or homophobia (seven items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of stigma or homophobia, α=0.8534 – e.g. “In your country, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a natural expression of sexuality in men, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a perversion?”); comfort with one’s healthcare provider (three items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of comfort, α=0.8657 – e.g. “In your country, how comfortable do you feel discussing your sexual health concerns with your healthcare provider?”); experiences of provider discrimination (five items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of discrimination, α=0.8703 – e.g. “In the last six months, has a healthcare provider treated you poorly because you are gay/MSM?); and engagement with the gay community (10 items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of engagement, α=0.7304 – e.g. “During the last six months, how often have you participated in a gay men’s/MSM support group?”).

Main outcomes

The primary outcomes in this study are access to HIV prevention and treatment services (e.g. “In your community, how accessible is free or affordable HIV testing?”) and HIV prevention and treatment service utilization. Service utilization was assessed with questions such as “When was your last HIV test? In the last six months, how frequently have you been tested for HIV?” (dichotomized as having had an HIV test in the last 12 months versus not having been tested within the last 12 months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you obtained condoms?” (dichotomized as having obtained condoms at least once versus never obtaining condoms in the past six months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you participated in HIV/risk-prevention programmes for gay men/MSM?” (dichotomized as having participated in HIV programmes three or more times versus less). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was assessed as lifetime use with the following question: “Have you ever taken HIV medications before potentially being exposed to HIV, because you thought it would reduce your chances of getting HIV?” Participants were considered to have used PrEP if they responded “yes” to this question.

Among those living with HIV, linkage to care was assessed with the following question: “When you were diagnosed, did someone help you get into HIV care?” Participants were considered to have been linked to care if they reported being linked within 12 months or sooner after their HIV diagnosis. Retention in care was assessed with the following question: “How many HIV-related healthcare visits have you had in the last six months?” Participants were considered as being retained in care if they reported having more than two visits. Viral load was assessed with the following question: “What is your current viral load?” This was recorded for the outcome of virologic suppression; participants who reported either having less than 200 copies/mL or having undetectable viral load were considered virologically suppressed.

Using the primary outcomes, MSMGF adopted an intervention-centric approach to construct the HIV prevention and treatment continuum described in this report. We used this approach to highlight low service utilization for each intervention type [16], acknowledging the following: 1) the heterogeneity of prevention needs represented among diverse groups of men who have sex with men; and 2) the complex web of interacting HIV prevention modalities [17]. The number of participants who tested for HIV and received results served as the denominator for determining steps along the cascade. On the prevention end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-negative men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported obtaining condoms in the last six months. On the treatment end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-positive men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported being linked to care.

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DID YOU KNOW…in February 2009 Iceland famously elected the world’s first-ever openly gay national leader: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. She then went on to marry her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir in 2010, which made Iceland a popular gay wedding destination. And if Iceland couldn’t get any gayer, the former (straight!) mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, famously attended the 2010 Reykjavík Pride Parade dressed in full drag as Miss Reykjavík! 

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Did you know? On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBTQ rights, refugees and tolerance, which went viral, receiving over 3 million views. Part of the speech reads as follows:

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We challenge you to point us to such a large country the size of Europe (in both size and population), that has paved the way forward with LGBTQ rights but doesn’t also have a dichotomy between safe pink havens and ultra-homophobic areas?

For us we have to recognise that this is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage in 2015 has had (and continues to have!) a monumental domino effect around the world.

If we were to take certain States (like NYC or California) as standalone, they’d be up there at the top battling it out with Canada and Spain, which is why we place it further down. But this doesn’t escape the fact that the USA is pretty much the epicentre of the gay world!

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Download this chart figure 3: uk countries by lesbian, gay or bisexual population, 2017

Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK household population identifying as LGB has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017. The proportion in Wales increased by 0.7%, England and Scotland both increased by 0.5% and Northern Ireland by 0.1%. Of all these changes, only the increases seen for the UK, England and Wales were statistically significant.

Regionally (Figure 4), London continued to have the highest proportion of people identifying as LGB in 2017 (2.6%). The North East and East of England both had the lowest proportion (1.5%).

The relatively high proportion of people identifying as LGB in London can be explained by the younger age structure and the diversity of the population. The median age of the population in London was 35.1 years in 2017, compared with 41.9 years in the North East and 41.6 years in the East of England.

The South West was the region that saw the largest change in the percentage identifying as LGB over the last five years, from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.4% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 5: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by legal marital status, uk, 2017

In 2017, of those from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 6% identified themselves as gay or lesbian and bisexual (Figure 6). Due to small sample sizes, sexual orientation estimates by ethnic group have fluctuated year-on-year, with notable uncertainty around LGB estimates for all ethnic groups except White. Consequently, over the last five years, for the LGB population the only statistically significant change was for the White ethnic group, where the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Source: Office for National Statistics – Annual Population Survey

Quality measures (including confidence intervals and coefficient of variance) for the estimates are displayed within the reference bear-magazine.com may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

5. a higher proportion of men than women identify as gay or lesbian

Around 1.7% of males identified themselves as gay or lesbian in 2017 compared with 0.9% of females. Conversely, 0.9% of females identified themselves as bisexual compared with 0.6% of males (Figure 1) – no change for either sex on the percentage identifying as bisexual in 2016.

6. younger people are more likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual than any other age group

In 2017 in the UK, 16- to 24-year-olds were the age group most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) (4.2%). This figure comprises 1.9% identifying as gay or lesbian and 2.3% identifying as bisexual. The youngest age group was the only age group to have a larger proportion identifying as bisexual than gay or lesbian. The 16- to 24-year-olds were the only age group for which more women (4.7%) identified as LGB than men (3.7%); this was driven by a larger proportion of women identifying as bisexual in this age group than in older age groups.

The 16 to 24 age group had the highest percentage of people identifying themselves in “other” (0.9%) and “don’t know or refuse” (5.3%) categories.

As in previous years, older age groups were more likely to identify as heterosexual or straight. Only 0.7% of the population aged 65 years and over identified as LGB in 2017 (Figure 2). One reason for this pattern may be that younger people could be more likely to explore their sexuality combined with more social acceptability of sexual identities today and the ability to express these.

7. people in london are most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual

In 2017, the percentage of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) was similar for England (2.1%), Scotland (1.9%) and Wales (2.0%). Northern Ireland had the lowest percentage of all UK countries with 1.2% of the household population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (Figure 3).

8. population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual are most likely to have a marital status of single (never married or civil partnered)

In 2017, around 69% of those identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) stated they had never married or entered into a civil partnership (Figure 5). This is a higher percentage than those identifying as heterosexual or straight (34%). Reasons for this might include:

those identifying as LGB having a younger age structure than those who identify as heterosexual or straight

legal unions for same-sex couples having only become available relatively recently

Those who had a legal marital status of single may be in same-sex cohabiting couples. In the UK, 0.5% of families were same-sex cohabiting couple families in 2017.

11. quality and methodology

Sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK. The sexual identity question is not asked by proxy. Proxy interviews are defined as those where answers are supplied by a third party, who is usually a member of the respondent’s household.

The sexual identity question is asked in both face-to-face and telephone interviews, at first personal contact. During the face-to-face interviews, adults were asked: „Which of the options on this show card best describes how you think of yourself?“ For telephone interviews, a slightly different way of collecting the information was used: „I will now read out a list of terms people sometimes use to describe how they think of themselves“. The list is read out to respondents twice. On the second reading, the respondent has to say „stop“ when an appropriate term they identified with is read out. In both modes, the order in which the terms appeared, or are read out, is unique for each household’s respondent to ensure confidentiality.

The „other“ option on the question is included to address the fact that not all people will consider they fall in the first three categories, that is, heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual.

The APS covers the household population but excludes people living in communal establishments with the exception of those in NHS housing and students in halls of residence (sampled via the private households of their parents). Members of the armed forces are only included in the APS if they live in private accommodation.

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The Country Ranking section is where you can see the bigger picture – quite literally.

This is the latest ILGA-Europe rating of 49 European countries.

The colour assigned to each country gives you an indication of where the countries are positioned on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality).

Just a note – this colour doesn’t change when you are arranging countries by individual categories. So, don’t be alarmed if the colours vary greatly among countries when you group them together in this way!

The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people. The ranking records a country’s legal standards for comparison with its European neighbours but the numbers only provide one part of the story. Our Annual Review gives a more nuanced, detailed overview of every country’s progress over the last twelve months and has a chapter dedicated to each country as well as developments at international level.

Tel aviv, israel

What can we say about this incredible city hasn’t already been said? We were midway through our year-long backpacking trip abroad when we decided upon our next stop: Israel. I (Emily) am fluent in Hebrew and have visited a few times before. I couldn’t wait to introduce Robyn to the culture, landscape, food (she’s a chef), and beauty of this country. From Haifa to the Golan, Jerusalem, and back to Tel Aviv, we explored Israel for a month, staying with friends and adventuring around.

Unbeknownst to us, our travels lined right up with Tel Aviv Pride. For anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community who are scoping out potential gay-friendly travel destinations where you can feel safe, and welcome… we cannot recommend Tel Aviv enough. This city is thriving with hip neighbourhoods full art, cuisine, nightlife, and of course, a proud and large LGBTQ presence. During Pride, all day and night, the city turns into one giant parade, with thousands of people marching and partying throughout the streets, all the way down to the beach. The energy is magnificent. Colors. Music. Celebration. Community. Dancing. Did we mention the beach? Go book that flight!

Amsterdam, the netherlands

Amsterdam has been our hometown for the past four years and is the (former) gay capital of Europe! In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the country is known for its tolerance. Our culture is about celebrating diversity and therefore our Pride Week is all about partying and less about protesting. In Amsterdam, the gay scene is mostly concentrated around the many gay bars in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, and we’ve had many fun parties at the Amstel Fifty Four on Wednesdays, the drinks night of student association A.S.V. Gay.

Berlin, germany

I love Berlin for the creative and open spirit that this city seems to nurture. It’s what made it a gay hotspot in the 1920s (Cabaret!) and continues to make it so special and unique for LGBTQ people today. There’s so much room in the city for so many different types of interests as well, which makes it really diverse for the many colors of the LGBT rainbow… with queer parties and meetups for just about every interest! There are great queer bars such as SilverFuture in Neukölln and Facciola in Kreuzberg, both with their flare and social atmospheres that make them great places for tourists, whilst mega techno clubs and parties (what guide to gay Berlin couldn’t include Berghain?!) still attract a mix of LGBT locals and tourists.

Berlin Pride, known as Christopher Street Day (CSD), takes place every July.

Brighton, united kingdom

Brighton: is there anywhere more gay-friendly in the UK? I think not. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to take the long drive south to see what all the fuss is about. So, for my birthday last year, my girlfriend Helen and I did just that. And FINALLY, I understood. Brighton is beautiful. Everything from the burnt out old pier to the Lanes is just perfection. With hundreds of bars, restaurants, and accommodation options to choose from, you’re never going to struggle for something to do, a good bite to eat and a place to stay. You’re also never going to struggle to feel accepted as this is undoubtedly one of the best gay cities around. So, if you’re looking for the perfect gay-friendly city for your next staycation, then Brighton it is! I know I’ll be back there again very soon.

Guadalajara, mexico

Guadalajara may be Mexico’s most gay-friendly city. Compared to other places in Mexico, it was the city where I saw the most signs of affection in public between same sex couples, and there are plenty of gay bars, clubs and parties for everyone. One of the best known is Voltio, which every Friday hosts the scandalous underwear party where men of all kinds strip down to their pants and get to know each other in this grungy, former warehouse. Despite only having started three years ago, it is home to one of the largest Pride events in Latin America, taking place every June with over 4000 participants. Finally, it’s not far from the famous Pacific beach towns in the Banderas Bay, including the super gay Puerto Vallarta.

Buenos aires, argentina

Argentina is extremely progressive with LGBT rights. It was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which included full adoption rights. The right to change legal gender has been in place since 2012 and anti-discrimination laws are in full force in Rosario and the big capital city, Buenos Aires.

We love Buenos Aires because it has one of the best gay scenes across Latin America, which is heavily supported by the government, in particular in August when it has its BADiversa week every August. The gay scene of Buenos Aires is quite spread out, but the focal point is in the large, residential neighbourhood of Palermo, plus a few places dotted about in super cool San Telmo and well-to-do Recoleta. Some of the best places to visit include Glam Club in Recoleta, Sitges bar in Palermo, Contramano bear club in Recoleta and Pride Café in San Telmo.

Our favourite memory from our travels in Buenos Aires is dancing the tango together as a same-sex couple at one of the queer milongas (a tango dance hall). There’s nothing more romantic than dancing this famous Argentinian/Uruguayan dance together and it was the best place to meet like-minded people. The two main queer tango milongas in the city are La Marshall (in San Telmo) and Tango Queer (in Recoleta).

Buenos Aires Gay Festival takes place every November.

Auckland, new zealand

New Zealand was the first international stop on our year-long journey abroad. We stayed with a friend in Auckland before moving onto Waitara, also on the North Island. Here we worked with renowned NZ photographer and LGBTQ+ activist Fiona Clarke (you should look her up) and then spent a month camping on the South Island. We knew Auckland would be something special but we had no idea just how unique our experience of the city, and with Fiona, would actually be!

Each year Auckland hosts a week of Pride events, one of which is called The Big Gay Out (as if New Zealand wasn’t already the most epic spot). TBGO, organised by New Zealand AIDS Foundation, is a free event that takes place in Coyle Park and is full of music, art vendors, food and dancing. We were excited to attend in 2016, especially when Emily (musician/songwriter Emily Kopp) was asked to play on the main stage! We had a beautiful time not only in Auckland but in all of New Zealand: the country is stunning and full of kind people. It’s a MUST SEE in our book.

Gran canaria, canary islands

Gran Canaria is an extremely famous destination throughout the year for European gays. This Spanish island is part of the Canary Islands, which lies off the coast of Africa, therefore guaranteed almost 365 days of great weather. Spain generally is a very gay-friendly destination, but Gran Canaria has always had a more tolerant attitude. During the harsh, repressive Franco years, the government turned a blind eye to homosexuality as the island was too far away from the mainland to bother with. From the 1960s, tourism really started to take off, attracting more and more foreigners and therefore even more tolerant attitudes.

We love Gran Canaria because there is a massive gay scene at Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles in the southern part of the island. The Yumbo Centre is the focal point for the area: a large shopping mall full of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shops, making it a gay man’s paradise. Slightly further south of this is the large gay beach at Kiosk #7. Gran Canaria also has several gay pride festivals happening throughout the year such as the Maspalomas Fetish Week in October, Maspalomas Winter Pride in November, Carnivals in February (both in Maspalomas and Las Palmas), Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and finally numerous bear parties in October and another in March.

One of our favourite experiences in Gran Canaria was taking a boat trip (run by Canarias Gay) with friends to the remote beach called Gui Gui. This is a clothing optional beach on the Western coast of the island, hidden away at the bottom of a Grande ravine. This was the perfect day trip and a more relaxing way to see a different side to this remarkable island.

Milan, italy

We love Milan because it has the best GLBT scene in Italy. There are plenty of bars, parties, cultural events and film exhibitions that focus on the gay community. We also love Milan because everyone is welcome! Most of the bars we like to drink at before going out are around Porta Venezia and at the heart of this area is Via Lecco. Here you will find a number of bars where you can have an “Aperitivo Italiano”, stay out late and meet the locals. During Pride, this street becomes the city’s Pride Square. All the gay events in Milan start from here and it’s also the best place to end the night at the most trendy clubs.

New york, usa

New York City is the ultimate LGBT travel destination with a little bit of something for everyone on the spectrum. There’s Hell’s Kitchen, where lots of gay guys hang out, or Henrietta Hudson in the Village, which is one of three remaining lesbian bars in the five boroughs. If the queer and transgender scene is more your speed, check out Wednesday nights at The Woods in Brooklyn. Not a drinker? No problem – head to Chelsea and have dinner at an LGBT-owned restaurant such as Elmo or Cafeteria. Don’t forget to check out the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art or join an LGBT history walking tours with Oscar Wilde Tours. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete with paying respects at The Stonewall Inn.

Rome, italy

Rome is an incredible city with tonnes of amazing places to take photos and historical sites that will take your breath away. Inclusive and international, the gay life in Rome is fun and easy-going. Both during international events or smaller local festivals, you will meet plenty of good-hearted people that will offer you to show you around. The heart of the gay life in Rome is Gay Street, right behind the Colosseum. This is the place locals prefer for a drink to start the night. You’ll find yourself talking to everyone and, with the night coming, you’ll want to discover one of the most popular Italian clubs: Muccassassina in winter and Gay Village in Summer.

Lisbon, portugal

One of the most amazingly gay-friendly cities I can recommend for LGBT travellers is Lisbon. As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is full of culture and nice spots to see and visit. The nightlife in Bairro Alto is really fun, and there are several gay-friendly pubs, discos and a sauna. But Lisbon gay life is not only limited to the city centre. Extended along the southern coast is the Costa da Caparica, a stunning place to enjoy the sea, with beautiful, long beaches and areas equipped for tourists. This region is served by a slow train that starts from Lisbon and travels along the coast. Beach 19 is a well-known gay beach and a great place to meet new people and have fun. Last but not least, the Portuguese people are very open-minded and LGBT people are free to be themselves.

Tokyo, japan

During our current world trip, we fell in love with Japan and especially with Tokyo. Previously, we’d heard about Japan’s crazy culture with its cosplay, maid and cat cafes and much more. But that’s not the best part of Japanese culture: it’s the people. Japanese people are the kindest and most polite people we have ever met. Culturally, they consider saying ‘no’ as impolite, but it’s also in their culture to be a little distant because of personal space. Therefore, public displays of affection (PDAs) and topics like sex and sexuality are things Japanese do not talk about, though gender norms are more fluid in Japan than elsewhere in the world.

Most LGBT-people in Japan are just ‘gay for the weekend’ and often even have a ‘normal’ family during the rest of the week. Nonetheless, it’s also in their culture to not openly judge people who do show PDAs or talk about their sexuality. Especially while drinking, Japanese people open up about these things and that might be the reason that Tokyo has more gay bars than London! These gay bars can be found in Tokyo’s gay area Shinjuku-nichōme, the perfect place to either find your special someone or to celebrate your love with your special someone. And in between all the gay bars we found the perfect place for us: bar Goldfinger, hosting women-only parties every Saturday night!

Washington dc, usa

Washington DC is an exciting place to visit and there’s an engaged local LGBT community. Beyond the history, you’ll find plenty of entertainment, shopping, dining and other recreational opportunities. Washington DC is also home to lots of great festivals and events like Chinese New Year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For LGBT specific events, check out the Best of Gay DC Awards in the fall or Capital Pride’s Holiday Heatwave in December. Visit DC in the summer to attend the Capital Pride Celebration or DC Black bear-magazine.com also has great neighborhoods like the trendy Shaw district or Logan Circle, with an upscale and elegant feel, including chic boutiques and wine bars. Or head to Columbia Heights to experience a strong Latino and hipster crowd with a mix of ethnic restaurants and cool taverns. To find the best gay hangouts, the top neighborhoods include the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle or Logan Circle with LGBT favorite spots like Cobalt, 30 Degrees, Green Lantern or DIK Bar.

Washington DC’s Capital Pride takes place every June.

Bangkok, thailand

Bangkok is an Asian megacity, bursting with energy and colour. Often overlooked by visitors eager to reach the glorious beaches of Southern Thailand, this capital city has life pulsating from its core. The traditional backpacker area is centred around Koh San Road but the real heart of authentic Bangkok beats from Silom. The city’s premier financial district by day, once the sun goes down the area is home to delectable street food, rooftop bars and Thailand’s prosperous and lively gay village. Bangkok is frantic yet spiritual; a place where you feel alive from the moment you arrive. Boredom isn’t an option in here: with its cavernous maze of sois (filled with more eateries than you could ever sample), the rich heritage of its royal past and thirst for modernisation, Bangkok is unique, crazy and utterly unforgettable.

Bangkok’s first gay pride parade is due to take place in 2018.

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On 25 March, 1969, Judy Garland took to the stage at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen. As she reached the crescendo of Over the Rainbow – the song which made her a global star aged just 17 – it was unknown to the audience that they were watching her final live performance. Four months later, 47 year-old Garland was found dead in Chelsea, London, after accidentally overdosing on the drugs she had self-medicated with since childhood. One of the headlines would read: “Judy’s voice stilled. The rainbow is gone.”

Fifty years on, Garland superfan Ross Semple, 27, still listens to that Copenhagen concert religiously. “I cry every time I listen to that recording,” he says. “The pain in her voice, knowing what was to come soon after, you can hear it all.” Having seen The Wizard of Oz as a child, Ross was further drawn towards Judy Garland in his late teens, around the same time he came out as gay. He began watching her films, listening to her music and learning about her life. “I want to know as much as I can about her,” he explains. “Because I want to be able to speak with authority about her and understand her, because she deserves that.”

Ross is far from the only gay man to feel such strong affinity with Garland’s work and life. Gay magazine The Advocate once called her the “Elvis of homosexuals”, and in a 1967 review of Garland’s concert at New York City’s Palace Theatre, Time Magazine observed that a “disproportionate part of her nightly claque” was gay. Two years earlier, Garland herself had been asked if at a San Francisco press conference if she minded having such a large gay following, to which she responded: “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people!”

Homosexuals understand suffering. and so does garland – esquire magazine, 1969

Journalist, author and self-confessed Garland devotee Robert Leleux wrote in the New York Times 2012 that the LGBTQ+ community’s love of Garland – which he dubbed “Judyism” – was becoming “little more than a cultural memory”. But now Judyism may be set to grip a whole new generation with the release of Judy, a biopic starring Renée Zellweger. Set in 1969, when Garland arrived in London for a five-week run of sold-out concerts, the film received rapturous reviews for Zellweger’s performance when it premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this month. The buzz surrounding the release, partnered with the 2018 remake of A Star is Born – the iconic showbiz drama that earned Garland an Academy Award nomination in 1954 – has brought her distinctly gay legacy back into focus.

In biopic Judy, Renée Zellweger plays Garland – and is a favourite for next year’s Oscars (Credit: David Hindley/ LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.” However queer historian Dr Justin Bengry warns against generalising in this way. “It’s important to ask: for whom is Judy Garland resonant, important and iconic?” he tells BBC Culture. “It seems to be a significant category of gay men, in particular, who are invested in celebrities or the camp aesthetic that Garland embodies. But it’s also important to recognise that they aren’t the totality of gay men.”

The camp that Bengry mentions is significant to Garland’s gay icon status. Queer film historian Jack Babuscio defines camp as “irony, aestheticism, theatricality and humour” – four pillars that form the foundation of Garland’s public persona. In fact, her life story is practically a blueprint for our modern understanding of what makes a gay icon. Analysing her story, from upbringing to death, helps us understand how and why some gay men look to famous women to help them navigate the world.

In 1922, Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm – named after her parents Frank and Ethel – in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. When Garland was four, the family moved to California following rumours that her father, a closeted bisexual, had made sexual advances towards young men. After the family settled in California, Ethel Gumm began to promote her daughters as a performing trio, known as The Gumm Sisters. It was Garland’s mother who first introduced her to drugs. According to Gerald Clarke, author of Garland biography Get Happy, Ethel would give her daughters pills in the morning and at night, saying “I’ve got to get those girls going!” Eventually, after her older sisters both married, Garland was signed by studio giant MGM as a teenager on a seven-year contract. At 17, she starred in her breakout role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. 

Like judy garland, gay men are brought up to be ordinary. one is not brought up gay – richard dyer

This period in Garland’s life, which mirrored closely the story of Dorothy, has contributed significantly to her status as a gay icon. Much like her gingham-dressed alter ego, swept away by the winds into a magical, Technicolor world, Garland was plucked from obscurity to become a cultural icon. In his book, Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, professor Richard Dyer observes some gay men identify with Garland’s rejection of the ordinariness that she seemed destined for as a child. He theorises that turning out to be abnormal after being “saturated with the values or ordinariness” is a point where Garland and Dorothy’s stories align with the experience of some gay men, encouraging those who perceive themselves as ‘different’ to gravitate towards her.

Garland’s arrival as a major Hollywood star was complicated by a series of disastrous personal relationships, most notably with herself. From a young age, her self-image was relentlessly criticised by film executives who believed that she was unattractive. Alongside her mother, MGM executives controlled her image and encouraged her to take drugs to stay slim. Critical acclaim for her stand-out performances in Meet Me in St Louis and Till the Clouds Roll By coincided with praise of her ‘radiant’ appearance. But low points in Garland’s career were often accompanied by drastic weight gain and there were high-profile suicide attempts.

Garland’s coming-of-age mirrored the story of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – both were ordinary girls swept into a world of Technicolor and magic (Credit: Alamy)

However Garland’s body struggles arguably made her a figure of endearment. As culture journalist Anne Helen Petersen told Karina Longworth in a 2014 episode of her podcast You Must Remember This: “Judy didn’t look like the rest of the MGM stars. She became this avatar for the rejected: not sexy enough, not pretty enough.” This physical insecurity is something that many gay men can identify with, in particular, as a demographic more likely to battle body dysmorphia, harm their bodies, attempt suicide suffer from eating disorders. In the book, Changing Gay Male Identities, Dr Andrew Cooper suggests that the body can be a complex battleground for many gay men: that the body becomes a key site for projecting a “successful” sense of self to gay peers, but also for embodying success in the eyes of wider society. With this in mind, is it any wonder gay men relate to Garland’s desire to stay slim and successful?

Garland’s professional and personal lives were both defined by turbulence. She married five times and two of her husbands were, like her father, suspected of being gay or bisexual. Garland first married at 19 when she eloped to Las Vegas with musician David Rose. A year later, when she fell pregnant, her mother convinced her to have an illegal abortion. Drugs and financial instability were a near-constant presence in her life and she was suspended numerous times by MGM for missing shoot days or being incoherent, intoxicated and abusive on set. At 28, she was eventually dropped by MGM shortly after being replaced by Ginger Rogers on The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Garland’s lead role in 1954’s A Star is Born was a comeback moment. At 32, she had already been divorced twice and suffered numerous breakdowns. The high-budget project was seen as her final throw of the dice in Hollywood. Garland’s portrayal of Esther Blodgett, an aspiring singer who becomes tortured by her love interest’s addiction issues, is regarded as one of the greatest film performances of all time. In one pivotal scene, she says: “You don’t know what it’s like to watch someone you love crumble away – bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes – and stand there helpless… I hate his promises to stop, I hate going home at night and listening to his lies. I hate him for failing and I hate me too.” It is hard to listen to these words without connecting them to her own addiction struggles.

It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was. it’s a disservice to her body of work – ross semple

Yet the critical acclaim Garland received for A Star is Born was tarnished by its commercial underperformance. Deemed too long, the film had to be cut considerably, leading to a botched edit that left viewers underwhelmed. It flopped at the box office and Warner Bros then cancelled the lucrative multi-film deal Garland had signed with them. She was widely expected to take home the Academy Award for her role in the film, with reporters even waiting by her hospital bedside to capture her reaction as she prepared to give birth. But the Oscar ended up going to Grace Kelly, signalling that Garland’s Hollywood star was not going to be reignited after all.

At this point, the motif of Garland as a ‘survivor’ becomes central to her gay appeal. A Star is Born further blurred the line between her work and life, with Richard Dyer identifying this as the moment where Garland’s image of being “damaged goods” becomes an essential part of her star persona and gay icon status. He argues that, from then on, Garland’s work and life tells a story of survival, and of someone trying to assert some form of control in a world that was set up to destroy her. 

Garland had a comeback moment in 1954 showbiz drama A Star is Born – but it was short-lived (Credit: Alamy)

Like a true survivor, Garland rebounded from the commercial failure of A Star is Born. She found a new niche as a live singer, performing in a drug-induced haze on an endless tour after financial troubles left her permanently broke. Audiences, many of whom were gay, roared with laughter at her quick wit and gave her the validation for her performing that she had always craved. A live recording of her 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York won four Grammys, including album of the year, making Garland the first woman to win the award.

Superfan Semple describes a tension between his admiration for Garland’s work and his fascination with her life story. “It annoys me when she gets boiled down to just how tragic she was,” he says. “Because her performances were so brilliant and she made some beautiful films. It’s a disservice to her body of work to paint her as solely a tragic figure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with the story behind the curtain too.” He also observes that the gay love for “survivor” women who have been cast aside continues today. “Female pop acts who are largely forgotten by mainstream society still headline Pride events every year,” he says. “Judy was an early incarnation of that.”

Some gay men find more affinity in straight female stars than they do in those from their own community, a process that queer academic José Muñoz calls “disidentification”. He thinks that LGBTQ+ people often assign queerness to characters or stories that are not explicitly queer as a “coping mechanism”. As an example, Muñoz suggests that when a gay man “identified” with Garland, he was “writing his way into the mainstream culture in which his own story could never be told.”

Gay men often reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as the cast members of netflix’s queer eye

But contrastingly, in the book How to be Gay, queer historian David Halperin describes a tension with the “mainstream” that leads gay men to be “highly critical, if not contemptuous, of their own artists, writers and filmmakers”. He says that gay men often fail to warm to gay characters and celebrities because they “don’t often like the representations of gay men that gay men produce.” Halperin suggests that this is because most mainstream representations of gay men, from pop culture to politics, pander to “acceptable” heterosexual norms. He draws a key distinction between gay culture – where “conventional” white gay men are dominant – and gay subculture – where women, drag queens, queer people of colour and trans people are more visible. This causes some gay men to reject gay cultural figures that they perceive as geared towards straight people – such as, to use two very current examples, the cast members of Netflix’s Queer Eye and gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig. Instead many embrace subcultural – and in their eyes, more subversive – female narratives like Garland’s.

As seen in the new film Judy, Garland found a new niche as a live singer towards the end of her life (Credit: David Hindley / LD Entertainment/ Roadside Attractions)

So, depending on which way you look at it, “disidentifying” with Garland is either gay men’s way of feeling aligned to mainstream culture – or, in fact, rejecting it wholesale.

It is an unavoidable truth that Garland’s tragic and untimely death has also contributed to her status as a gay icon, making her a timeless figure. On the day of Garland’s funeral, gay men lined the streets and wept for her. Dyer notes that, at the time, gathering to watch Garland’s funeral gave them “permission to be gay in public for once.” But decades later, you don’t have to look far to see how Garland was the first in a continuing lineage of ‘tragic’ female celebrities who have acquired the status of gay icons.

Queens would come to a judy garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it – dr michael bronski

Elements of Garland’s story can be found in that of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her mistreatment at the hands of the press; Princess Margaret, with her ongoing substance issues, and marriage to an exploitative man who was rumoured to be gay; and Britney Spears, whose child stardom culminated in a very public divorce and mental health struggles. From Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Kesha, to Lily Allen, Demi Lovato and Garland’s own daughter Liza Minnelli, women continue to be exploited, damaged and, in the worst cases, destroyed by fame.

Gay men need to be mindful of our own culpability in this cycle. ‘Friend of Dorothy’ has long been a popular code word for gay men, but not all friends of Dorothy were friends of Judy. As Dr Michael Bronski, a Harvard University professor and the author of books on gay culture a recent article on the dark side of “stan” (superfan) culture: „There is a long history of gay male fan culture latching onto famous women and then turning on them. Queens would come to a Judy Garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it. The women have changed – it’s no longer Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. But the dynamic remains in Western culture.”

Bronski is right: that pattern didn’t end with Garland’s death. Whether it’s Katy Perry becoming, as journalist Brian O’Flynn writes, “gay Twitter’s punching bag”, or gay fans dressing as ‘bald Britney’ for Halloween and turning up to meet-and-greets dressed in costume from Spears’s infamous 2007 breakdown, gay men can be increasingly fickle towards famous women.

As a former child sat who has endured mental health struggles, Britney Spears is one of many female celebrities whose experiences recall Garland’s (Credit: Alamy)

Idolising these women is one thing, but we shouldn’t treat them like playthings for our entertainment. The personal troubles of women like Winona Ryder, Amanda Bynes or Naomi Campbell might generate funny punchlines, but they’re also real-life problems. When push comes to shove, are gay men really there for the women we claim to worship? 

On screen too, there are several works in the gay pop-cultural canon that glorify destructive female behaviour – while being financed and created by men. Mommie Dearest, a biopic of screen icon Joan Crawford, which portrays her as an abusive mother, is a gay classic. And from the streets of Wisteria Lane to Big Little Lies and the Real Housewives franchise, pop-culture encourages us to love female characters when they’re screaming hysterically, so we can condense their pain into hilariously camp GIFs and say “yassss kween” as they smash up their surroundings.

Camp is a huge part of what draws gay men towards women like Garland. There is camp to be found in her tragedy, her successes and her bad behaviour. But some, such as gay author Andrew Britton have argued that the existence of camp actually depends on the restrictive gender dynamics that it claims to oppose. Much has been written about the suppressive effect of the “male gaze” on women, but surely the “gay gaze” is also to blame.

Fifty years after Garland’s death, her legacy lives on. Many gay men turn to women like Judy Garland to help them navigate their own experiences of the world. But we should also reflect on the way we treat them. Because if we don’t commit to treating the icons who we love with compassion, or creating the “kinder, gentler world” Garland once said she longed for, then are we much better than the people who tried to break her?

Judy is released in the US and Canada on 27 September and in the UK and Ireland on 4 October

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Interested in seeing the world with like-minded LGBT jet setters? Our friends at Out Adventures are the premiere providers of gay & lesbian tours, cruises and active adventures. Their slick and sublime escapes run twelve months per year, across all seven continents. Check out their website to see where they’re off to next.

Discover gay canada

No tour operator knows The Great White North quite like our Canuck friends at Out Adventures. Based in Toronto, these always-apologetic travel experts have been running both private and group tours through Canada for over ten years. Whether you’re looking to surmount the Rockies, discover Toronto’s underground gay scene, or witness Fierte Montreal, contact these guys for insider tips and tricks. Here’s to The True North, Strong & Gay. Sorry!

Lgbtq rights in canada

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017.

The gay scene in canada

Almost every city in Canada has a thriving gay scene, complete with rainbow crossings and numerous gay events taking place throughout the year. The main ones are the Church & Wellesley , Le Village Gai gay village of Montreal, The Village of Ottowa, the Davie Village and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.

Gay events in canada

Canada is one of the few countries that hosts its own national Pride event – “Canada Pride”. The first one took place in Montreal in 2017. The next one is scheduled to be in Winnipeg for 2022. Speaking of Pride, Toronto Pride is one of the largest in the world, attracting almost 1.5 million people each year. Back in 2014, Toronto also hosted WorldPride.

Almost every city in Canada has an annual Pride event, often strongly supported by the local government. Beyond the Pride events, Canada also has many gay ski-based events taking place in January including the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, the Tremblant Gay Ski Week and the Quebec Gay Ski Week. Other prominent LGBTQ events in Canada include the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in May and Montreal’s Black & Blue Festival in October.

Gay travel to canada

As a gay couple, we felt completely safe in all the places we visited in Canada. This is also one of the rare countries in the world where we felt confident enough to hold hands in public, almost everywhere!

In terms of touristic highlights, Canada has some of the best ski resorts in the world, a stunning landscape in the Canadian Rookies, whale watching experiences near Vancouver Island, impressive National Parks like Gros Morne and Nahanni, and of course, the famous Niagara Falls.

Did you know? Canada created the first gay currency! In 2019, Canada unveiled a new $1 coin (loonie) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, becoming the first country in the world to honour our LGBTQ community on its currency.

Lgbtq rights in spain

Spain legalized homosexuality in 1979 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 1995, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2005, Spain became the 3rd country in the world to legalize gay marriage (after Holland and Belgium). Spain then went on to introduce the right to change legal gender, then in 2006 allowed transgender people to register their preferred gender in public documents such as birth certificates, ID cards and passports without having to undergo any surgery. This right was extended to include transgender minors who are “mature enough”.

The gay scene in spain

All the main cities in Spain have a vibrant gay scene, usually concentrated in a gay village or street. The main ones include Chueca in Madrid, Gaixample in Barcelona, the Maspalomas gay area in Gran Canaria street). Other smaller cities in Spain have an exciting gay scene, which includes Benidorm’s Old Town area, La Nogalera in Torremolinos, Barrio del Carmen in Valencia and Calle de la Virgen in Ibiza.

Gay events in spain

Almost all the cities in Spain have a Pride event, the most famous is, of course, Madrid Pride. It is lauded for being one of the largest gay Pride events in the world especially in 2017 when it hosted WorldPride. Other prominent Pride events in Spain take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Maspalomas, Ibizia, Benidorm, Valencia, Bilbao and Manilva.

Spain has many other gay events happening throughout the year to look out for. Some of the best ones include the WE Party in Madrid, Circuit Barcelona, Bear Pride Barcelona, Snow Gay Weekend, Sitges Bear Week and Delice Dream in Torremolinos.

Gay travel to spain

Spain is just bursting with culture, ranking as the 3rd country in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – a total of 48. Amongst these are Gaudi’s iconic buildings in Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita of Córdoba (the largest mosque in the world). In terms of museums, there’s the world-famous Museo del Prado of Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And then there’s the food! From the world-famous paellas, tortillas, churos, gazpachos, jamons and our favourite, the tasty, juicy Spanish chorizo sausages.

As a gay couple in Spain, we were in paradise! It is a destination pretty much made for us, with some of the best gay beaches in Europe, brilliant parties for everyone and a very openminded populace. Even in the more rural areas, we felt completely safe, which is quite rare for most countries further down in this list. In short, Spain, like Canada, ticks all the boxes and we LOVE it!

Did you know? Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous gay Spanish celeb and one of the best directors in the world. His first few films in the 1980s characterised the sense of liberal revolution and political freedom Spain was going through. He then went on to direct classics including Volver, All About My Mother and Bad Education.

Lgbtq rights in the netherlands

The Netherlands is the ultimate LGBTQ trailblazer! Homosexuality was legalized back in 1811, but the big headline is that it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2001! In relation to anti-discrimination laws, the Netherlands has everything under the sun to protect its LGBTQ community including laws to combat hate-speech based on who we love, gender identity and gender expression. The Netherlands also permits LGBT people to openly serve in the Dutch army.

In relation to transgender rights, the Netherlands is a bit more conservative. Whilst it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2014, it only recognises a third gender option after a successful court petition.

The gay scene in the netherlands

You’ll find the best of the Netherlands‘ gay scene in the capital city, Amsterdam, specifically in the Reguliersdwarsstraat gay village. Here there are many gay cafes, shops, bars, clubs and parties to check out, like Prik, SoHo, Cafe Reality, Club NYX, Bear Necessity and Club YOLO – to name just a few! Outside of Amsterdam, cities like Rotterdam have a handful of gay hangouts, but nothing on par with Amsterdam. Find out more in our detailed .

Gay events in the netherlands

Amsterdam Pride is well known for being one of the most unique Pride events in the world because instead of taking place on the streets, a parade of floats proceeds through the city on boats along the famous canals. Other annual gay events in Amsterdam include Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March, Amsterdam Leather Pride in October and the IQMF (International Queer & Migrant Film Festival) in December.

Gay travel to the netherlands

There are few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking in the streets holding hands outside of the gay village, and The Netherlands is one of them! When it comes to tolerance, openmindedness and equality, we found the Netherlands to be one of the most culturally liberal and diverse places in the world. It’s certainly the most progressive country we’ve travelled to, which is why we love it!

Travel highlights of the Netherlands include the canals of Amsterdam, along with the capital’s art and cultural museums like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum. Other Dutch highlights include tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and of course the infamous Coffee Shops!

Did you know? in 1987, the Netherlands unveiled the “Homomonument”, which was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians persecuted during WW2.

Lgbtq rights in united kingdom

England/Wales legalized homosexuality in 1967, Scotland in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982. Between 2004-2008, the UK passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, which included allowing LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2014, England/Wales/Scotland . Northern Ireland subsequently followed in 2020. More recently, the UK has implemented laws that require schools to teach children that it’s ok to be gay!

The UK has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2005. Whilst there isn’t a third gender recognised in law, the title “Mx” is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people.

The gay scene in united kingdom

Alongside Australia, the USA and Spain, the UK has one of the highest numbers of recognised gay villages in the world! London alone has several, including Soho, Vauxhall and Clapham. Manchester and Brighton are often regarded as one of the best cities in the world for gay people to live, both with large LGBTQ communities and an (Manchester) and a fabulous community concentrated in Kemptown (Brighton).

Almost all the other cities of the UK have a recognised gay village or area including Hurst Street in Birmingham, The Triangle in Bournemouth, Old Market in Bristol, Lower Briggate/The Calls in Leeds, the Liverpool Gay Quarter, the Pink Triangle of Newcastle, Broughton Street in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s Merchant City Pink Triangle and the streets of Charles Street + Churchill Way in Cardiff.

Gay events in united kingdom

The UK has the highest number of Pride events out of any country in the world, with almost every city leading their own event usually during the summer months. Brighton Pride and Manchester Pride (both in August) are often regarded as the best Pride events in Europe. London Pride in early July is the largest, attracting 1.5 million people. The 2012 London Pride was the most famous when it coincided with the year the city hosted the Olympic Games and also hosted WorldPride.

Gay travel to united kingdom

The UK offers so much for gay tourists such as fulfilling your Harry Potter fantasy at the Warner Bros. Studio, as well as discovering Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the stunning Lake District in Northern England, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and many many more gems.

We’ve never experienced homophobia from any of the places we stayed at and LOVE that the government invests heavily in LGBTQ tourism via the excellent efforts made by Visit Britain. After all, this is the country that gave us Alan Turing, Sir Elton John, Freddy Mercury and many many more fabulous icons!

Did you know? In 2018, the UK saw the first Royal gay wedding when the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle.

Lgbtq rights in sweden

Sweden legalized homosexuality in 1944, hence the “gay since 1944” slogan! They introduced one of the most comprehensive sets of anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s, which included laws against hate speech and allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. The right to change legal gender was also introduced in the 1970s in Sweden.

Gay marriage was passed in 2009 although gay unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1995. In relation to transgender rights, Sweden does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, but in 2017, it declassified “transgender identity” as an illness.

The gay scene in sweden

We’ll be honest, we were a bit underwhelmed by the gay scene in Sweden. There are of course several gay bars and clubs, mainly in the big cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, however nothing on par with other gay cities like Barcelona, Berlin or London. There are no official gay villages or gay areas in any of the cities in Stockholm. This probably shows that Sweden is so gay friendly, that it does not need its own gay enclave.

Gay events in sweden

Stockholm Pride is the big one, which is also the largest Pride in the Nordic countries. Other LGBTQ annual highlights include the Stockholm Rainbow Weekend which coincides with the city’s Pride and West Pride in Gothenburg. Sweden prides itself on the fact that no Swede has to travel far for a Pride event, because there is one in almost every town and city! In 2021, Malmo will be the place to be when it cohosts WorldPride with Copenhagen!

Gay travel to sweden

From the famous Northern Lights in the winter months to the hidden alleyways in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden packs a punch! is big on LGBTQ travel and invests a lot in promoting the country as a top gay destination, even hosting EuroPride in 1998, 2008 and 2018. We felt totally safe in Sweden and comfortable holding hands in public in most places we visited. The Swedes are an extremely chilled and open-minded bunch who won’t give two hoots about two men expressing PDAs!

Did you know? Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest (the massive unofficial annual gay European music festival). Not only did Sweden give us ABBA in 1974 but they’ve also won it 6 times. Also – Måns Zelmerlöw…

Lgbtq rights in germany

Ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, Germany powered ahead to become an LGBTQ paradise. Germany passed a full set of anti-discrimination laws from 2006, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the military, the right to change legal gender and laws preventing hate crimes based on gender or orientation.

In 2017, Germany legalized gay marriages, and more recently, in 2019 Germany formally recognized a third gender option,

The gay scene in germany

Most of the big cities of Germany have a terrific gay scene. We particularly love the exciting and vibrant gay nightlife of Berlin. We love it! It’s so wide and diverse, where everyone from our LGBTQ community can find their tribe. Schöneberg was the first-ever gay village in the world when it took off as an LGBTQ mecca in the 1920s. Since then, so many cities around the globe have adopted a similar model where the gay community can share a safe space and support local queer businesses.

Other cities with an exciting gay scene include Cologne, Lange Reihe in Hamburg, Nordend in Frankfurt, Glockenbachviertel in Munich and Gurlam Ziegelviertel in Fürstenzell.

Gay events in germany

Berlin Pride is the largest gay event in Germany, attracting around 1 million people each year. Note that in Germany, Prides are referred to as “CSD”, which stands for “Christopher Street Day” – named after the street where the Stonewall riots in NYC took place in 1969. Hamburg and Cologne are the other two main Pride or CSD events in Germany. Other gay events in Germany include the Carnival Cologne in February, the Munich Gay Oktoberfest in October and Heavenue Gay Christmas market in December.

Gay travel to germany

Germany offers a lot for LGBTQ tourists, especially Berlin, a city steeped with history from the Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag Building and Berlin Wall Memorial. Other touristic highlights include the Cologne Cathedral, the Black Forest in southwest Germany and the super picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. Each city heavily invests in LGBTQ tourism, especially .

We absolutely love love LOVE Berlin – it feels like it’s a city that is literally MADE for gays! Anything goes in Berlin and you can have as much fun here as you want to, no limits! It’s also culturally rich with so much to do. It goes without saying that we felt very comfortable with PDAs in Berlin and the other big cities we visited in Germany.

Did you know? Berlin had the first gay village ever? Back in the late 1800s, the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, was founded in Schöneberg. Over the subsequent few decades, Schöneberg became the heart and soul of Germany’s LGBTQ gay community. It was the Gay Village capital of the world in the 1920s!

Lgbtq rights in australia

Australia legalized homosexuality in 1997 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2010. Australia also has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2013 and has formally recognised a third gender option since 2003.

The gay scene in australia

Every big city in Australia has a vibrant gay scene with a large, active LGBTQ community, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is so gay that a 2016 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how the LGBTQ community was spread out around the city in a “Rainbow Ribbon” starting from Pott Point, going out to Elizabeth Bay, down to Darlinghurst, Surry Hill, Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Alexandria and round to Newtown. As such Sydney has one of the most exciting gay scenes in the world including the Obelisk gay beach.

Melbourne doesn’t have a central gay area like many cities but most of its main gay scenes are located around the three inner city areas of St Kilda East, Prahran/South Yarra and Fitzroy/Collingwood. Other cities with a notable gay village/scene include Brisbane, Perth and the capital, Canberra.

Gay events in australia

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the most famous and electrifying LGBTQ festivals in the world. It takes place in late February, attracting thousands of people from all around the world, with headliners such as Cher, Kylie, George Michael and Sam Smith. And it’s going to get even BIGGER come 2023 when Sydney’s Mardi Gras hosts WorldPride!

Melbourne’s equivalent is the Midsumma Festival, which goes on for 22 days spread over January and February. Other notable LGBTQ events in Australia include Pride in the Park Perth, Wagga Mardi Gras, Broome Pride, ChillOut Daylesford, the Big Gay Day Brisbane in March and the awesome Broken Heels Festival in September.

Gay travel to australia

Our ultimate gay Aussie fantasy is to rent a dramatic pink camper and pay homage to Priscilla, travelling across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs and spread fabuloussness across the country.

Other touristic highlights for gay travellers to Australia (beyond Mardi Gras of course!) include The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Did you know? Australia is soooo gay that it even secured itself a spot in the annual Eurovision Songcontest. Check out the for the reason behind this quirky decision, which whether or not you agree with it, we LOVE it and warmly welcome them into our big gay European arms!

Lgbtq rights in taiwan

Taiwan legalized homosexuality in…oh it was never illegal! From 2002, Taiwan began to introduce anti-discrimination laws beginning with the right for LGB people (ie not transgender people) to openly serve in the military. Despite the army ban for transgender people, Taiwan has introduced comprehensive laws relating to hate crimes, indirect discrimination and more.

Taiwan is most famous for becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2019. Taiwan is also positioning itself to become a transgender haven by introducing a third gender option on all ID documents in late 2020.

The gay scene in taiwan

Ximen in Taipei is the main gay scene with loads of gay bars clustered together. There are more gay places dotted around the city but the bulk is around Ximen’s gay neighborhood. Other cities in Taiwan have a few gay scenes, but nothing on par with Ximen. Read more about what gay life in Taiwan is like in our .

Gay events in taiwan

Taipei Pride is not only the main LGBTQ event in Taiwan, but the largest in all of Asia attracting around 200,000 people! It takes place in October and includes a number of other gay parties like Formosa and the WOW Pool Party. Other cities in Taiwan host smaller, more local Pride events, in particular Kaohsiung City and Taichung City Pride.

Gay travel to taiwan

Taiwan is a foodie destination! If, like us, you love Asian food, Taiwan is a place you need to visit. Other touristic highlights in Taiwan include the Taipei 101, Taroko National Park, the Sun Moon Lake, the Yushan National Park, the Rainbow Village in Taichung City, and of course the food – check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei for example!

As a gay couple travelling in Taiwan, we loved it. We felt so welcomed everywhere. We can totally understand why it is regarded as such a pink haven in Asia. The Taiwanese are very open-minded and tolerant, easily topping our list of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia.

Did you know? Taiwan is so gay, it even has a gay god with its own temple! The Rabbit Gay Temple was built to commemorate Tu’er Shen (The Rabbit God) who manages the love and relationships between gay partners helps those looking for love. It was founded in 2006 by Lu Wei-ming and as far as we are aware, it is the world’s only shrine for an LGBTQ god.

Explore colombia on a gay tour

Out Adventures‘ brand new Colombia tour is hotter than Maluma! Beginning in Bogotá, the carefree escape will have you shaking your arepa at the largest LGBTQ club in the Americas, hiking humid jungles in Tayrona National Park and soaking up the country’s sand, sun and sea in coastal Cartagena. The optional gay salsa class, food tour and snorkeling excursion make this adventure muy caliente!

Lgbtq rights in colombia

LGBTQ rights in Colombia are super-advanced by Latin American standards! It Colombia legalized homosexuality in 1981 and then started introducing anti-discrimination laws in all areas (employment, goods, services etc) from 2011 onwards, which also included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. In 2016 Colombia became the 4th country in Latin America to legalise gay marriages following a 6-3 vote in the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

In relation to transgender rights, Colombia allows the right to change legal gender without psychiatric or physical evaluations. Whilst it does not yet formally recognise a third gender, it does allow a “neutral” or blank space regarding gender to be inserted on birth certificates.

Find our about what the gay life is like for locals in Colombia in our from Barranquilla.

The gay scene in colombia

Bogota’s Chapinero is one of our favourite gay villages, mainly because of Theatron. It’s a massive gay club that can fit up to 5,000. Every Saturday evening, the gay community comes alive here. We’d happily book a flight over in a heartbeat just to party at Theatron! Chapinero also has many other gay hangouts, which you can read more about in our .

Other cities in Colombia have a large gay scene, in particular Medellin. Cartagena, Cali and Barranquilla also have a smaller gay scene.

Gay events in colombia

Bogota Pride in June and the Barranquilla Carnival in February are the most famous. Almost all the other cities have a Pride event, usually in June. Cartagena Pride is another notable gay event in August because it also coincides with the Circuit-style “Rumours Festival”. Other events in Colombia to look out for which aren’t expressly gay but are popular with the LGBTQ community include Medellin’s Flower Festival in August and the Cali Salsa Festival in June.

Gay travel to colombia

Some of our favourite travel highlights include the coffee region, the Cocora Valley, the Salt Cathedral, the Caño Cristales Rainbow River, Cartagena old town and the Tayrona National Park.

As a gay couple, we had no issues in Colombia and felt accepted everywhere. In one hotel in Medellin, we noticed a sign in the lift showing the penalties the police could give you for certain crimes. One of these included a fine for shouting homophobic abuse to others in public! The only thing we’d say in Colombia, which is the case for many countries in Latin America is that the machismo culture is prevalent in rural areas, particularly along the coast. However, we didn’t encounter this on our travels in Colombia as we just avoided them. Read more in our Colombia gay travel guide.

Did you know? In October 2019, Ms Claudia López Hernández became the first woman and first lesbian to be elected mayor in Bogota. The mayor of Bogota is widely considered the second most important political post in Colombia after the President, which is a big deal for the LGBTQ community in Colombia!

Lgbtq rights in denmark

Denmark blitzes LGBTQ rights so effortlessly. It’s famous for being one of the most socially liberal countries in the world. The right to change legal gender was introduced way back in 1929 and homosexuality was legalized 4 years later. Then in 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise gay unions. Denmark also has very progressive anti-discrimination laws, which it started introducing in the late 1980s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Danish army. More recently, gay marriage was legalized in 2012 and in 2014, Denmark became a trans haven by formally recognising a third gender “X” option in passports.

The gay scene in denmark

The main gay scene is in the Straedet area of Copenhagen, which is where we saw lots of couples walking hand in hand, however, we could have done this in most parts of Denmark without any problems. Aarhus is another cool city in Denmark to check out with a smaller but just as exciting gay scene.

Gay travel to denmark

Some of our favourite touristic highlights in Denmark included Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Nyhavn Canal and Harbour, the Amalienborg Winter Palace and the LEGO House in Billund.

As a gay couple in Copenhagen, we felt completely safe and free; public displays of affections were never an issue for us anywhere in Denmark. We loved being able to stroll through Tivoli Gardens holding hands, not having to first carry out a detailed risk assessment!

Did you know? Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen is the world’s oldest gay bar. It opened in 1917 and is still going strong today!

Lgbtq rights in new zealand

New Zealand legalized homosexuality for men in 1986 (for women it was never illegal). They introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as far back as 1993 and legalized gay marriage in 2013. In terms of the military, LGBT people have been allowed to openly serve in the New Zealand army since 1993. New Zealand introduced the right to change legal gender in 1993 and also officially recognises a non-binary gender.

The gay scene in new zealand

The main gay scene and LGBTQ community is focused in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, most of the hangouts and community are based in and around Karangahape Road and Ponsonby. In Wellington, it’s largely in Wellington Central. Other cities around the country will have a few gay/gay friendly places to check out.

Gay events in new zealand

Pride events have been taking place in New Zealand since the 1970s. The main ones are the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February, Wellington International Pride Parade in March, Christchurch Pride in March and North Canterbury Pride, also in March. Another one to look out for is the Gay Ski Week in August/September. What we love most about the Pride events in New Zealand is that although they’re small, everyone in the community gets involved, even the Prime Minister!

Gay travel to new zealand

When it come to gay travel, New Zealand is wow personified. Touristic highlights include the Fiordland National Park, the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, and of course, the Hobbiton Movie Set in Hinuera. Not only is New Zealand a stunning country to visit, it’s super gay friendly, everywhere! New Zealanders have embraced change openly and with much enthusiasm. This is one place in the world where PDAs shouldn’t be a problem anywhere in the country.

Did you know In 1995, Georgina Beyer became the world’s first openly transgender mayor (of Carterton), as well as the world’s first openly transgender Member of Parliament.

Explore iconic iceland on a gay tour

Glaciers, geysers and cosmopolitan Reykjavik await on an all-gay tour of The Land of Fire & Ice with our friends at Out Adventures. Annually in March, they host a short and sweet escape snaking through Iceland’s otherworldly countryside with a chance to see The Northern Lights. And in August, they offer a sizzling summer tour featuring a South Shore Safari that wraps up back in Reykjavik just in time for ‘The Biggest Small Pride in the World‘.

Lgbtq rights in iceland

Iceland legalized homosexuality in 1940 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1996-2018. Gay marriage was voted unanimously by parliament in 2010. In relation to the military, Iceland is a country that doesn’t have an armed force. Iceland formally recognises a third gender option by placing an X on official documents. Interestingly, just like the gay marriage law in 2010, the Icelandic law that formally recognised the third gender option was passed unanimously in the Icelandic Parliament!

Gay travel to iceland

Iceland should be on every LGBTQ traveller’s bucket list, with incredible wonders to behold like the Blue Lagoon, spectacular geysers, the Northern Lights, the Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve, the Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park, the Skaftafell Ice Cave and the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church.

When it comes to welcoming LGBTQ tourists, Iceland is one place that nails it. It’s a pink haven, full stop! No issue with homophobia here. The Icelanders are one very open-minded bunch. They are laid back, easy-going and famous for their quirky sense of humour! Also be sure to check out the awesome Pink Iceland who not only do a phenomenal job marketing the country as an international LGBTQ destination, but also sponsor the main gay events in Iceland.

Portugal lgbtq tour

Want to visit the land of cod, custard tarts and Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, our friends at Out Adventures are hosting a sumptuous journey that ticks off Lisbon, Porto and the Douro Valley. Highlights include a private tour of Sintra, a day sipping & supping in wine country, historic tram tours and an invigorating speed boat experience. For all the nitty-gritty details, jump over to their site. And don’t forget to mention we sent you—you just might get a special deal. *wink*

Lgbtq rights in portugal

Portugal legalized homosexuality in 1982 and they introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2010 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1999. Sadly, Portugal still has a ban on transgender people from serving in the Portuguese army. Portugal introduced the right to change legal gender in 2011 and formally allows people to self-identify their gender.

The gay scene in portugal

Lisbon has a fantastic gay scene with many gay bars, clubs and parties particularly around the Bairro Alto and Principe Real areas. We love that there is a gay beach just outside of Lisbon called Beach 19. Porto is another popular tourist hotspot north of Lisbon with an active gay scene, particularly around the Galaria de Paris area. Down towards the south in the Algarve, there are gay scenes in Albufeira, Tavira and Portimão.

Gay events in portugal

There are 2 main annual gay events in Portugal that take place in the capital. The first is the colourful Lisbon Pride in June. The second is the Lisbon Bear Pride in May. The Lisbon Gay Film Festival is another excellent annual LGBTQ event in Portugal to look out for.

Gay travel to portugal

Touristic highlights include Lisbon’s Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Torre de Belém, the Convento do Cristo, hiking in the Gerês Mountain Range and the stunning UNESCO listed Castelo de Guimarães.

We love Lisbon and know that many other gay guys feel the same way. It’s like the next Madrid! It’s a very gay friendly city, English is well spoken, the gay scene is fantastic, a gay beach is right on your doorstep, and the guys are smoking hot! The Portuguese generally have a very open-minded attitude and made us feel extremely welcome.

Did you know? Portugal is often touted as being one of the most gay friendly countries in the world in various surveys. What sums it up best is this beautiful and inspiring video by gay couple, Lorenzo and Pedro, who filmed people’s reactions as they walked the streets of Lisbon holding hands:

Lgbtq rights in argentina

Argentina legalized homosexuality in 1887 and are currently developing a set of anti-discrimination laws that are being implemented in Rosario and Buenos Aires, hopefully soon nationwide. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009.

The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2012, which allows transgender people to identify with their chosen gender on official documents without first having to receive hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery or psychiatric counselling. Read more about Argentina LGBTQ rights here.

The gay scene in argentina

We love the gay scene in Buenos Aires. It has heaps of bars and clubs spread out between Palermo and San Telmo like Glam, Sitges and Peuteo. We also love Buenos Aires because of the queer milongas (tango dance halls) where you can learn to dance queer tango. Most other cities in Argentina have a gay scene, such as Mendoza and . The city of Rosario is considered the most gay-friendly and liberal-minded place in Argentina, often leading the way for proactive change. 

Gay events in argentina

The main gay event in Argentina is Buenos Aires Pride in November which is one of the . The Queer Tango Festival is another fascinating queer event, so unique to Argentina. In the wine capital of Mendoza, there is a gay segment in the annual grape harvesting festival in February called Vendimia.

We also love that the government actively supports and funds gay events, in particular, the GNetwork360 conference every August.

Gay travel to argentina

Touristic not-to-miss highlights of Argentina include the stunning Iguazu Falls, queer tango in Buenos Aires, wine tasting in Mendoza, trekking in El Chalten, getting up close with penguins in Punta Tombo and going to the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia. We have always felt welcomed everywhere during  and love returning here.

Did you know? Argentina jointly invented the tango (a UNESCO listed Cultural Heritage) with Uruguay. But did you also know that this sultry dance was initially between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s as a way to prep each other for when they could later get with a woman?

Today the culture of queer tango has prevailed so much that Milongas (tango halls) specialising in Queer Tango have mushroomed around the world, least of all in Buenos Aires. It’s become so popular that there is even a Queer Tango Festival in November in the Argentinian capital, as well as in cities around the world, particularly in Berlin, Rome, Munich and Paris. Read more about it in our article about our experience learning to learn to dance tango as a gay couple.

Lgbtq rights in france

France legalized homosexuality in 1791. They introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1982-2012. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the French armed forces. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2017 without needing to undergo surgery or receive a medical diagnosis.

France does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender. However, in 2010, France became the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Gay events in france

Paris Pride is the main gay event in France, as well as Magical Pride in Disneyland Paris. Most of the other cities have a Pride parade including Biarritz, Arras, Lyon and Toulouse. France is also famous for its gay ski festivals in March. The main ones are the European Gay Ski Week and the European Snow Pride.

Gay travel to france

France is the #1 touristic destination in the world for good reason! From culturally rich UNESCO listed sites to a world-class cuisine, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and smoking hot lovers…France really has it all! Our favourite not-to-miss highlights of France include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles Palace, the Côte d’Azur, Mont Saint-Michel, the Loire Valley Châteaux, Provence lavender fields and Mont-Blanc – the highest peak in Europe (4,810m / 15,780 ft).

When it comes to seeing gay couples holding hands in public, most French won’t bat an eyelid. The laissez-faire attitude is really a thing here!

Did you know? Just when you thought the French couldn’t get any gayer, along comes a gay bakery in Paris that makes baguettes in the shape of a ding-a-ling, La Baguette Magique!

Get frosty in finland

Embrace winter on Out Adventures‘ hot new Finnish foray. The all-gay tour kicks off in Helsinki before flying north towards the arctic circle. In our opinion, the best part of this adventure is the wide range of snowy excursions. For example, you can take the reins on an actual dog-sled in the icy Laplands, seek out The Northern Lights on a snowmobile safari, and even endure a polar plunge in the Arctic Ocean. Oh, and best of all, you’ll slumber in a glass-roofed cabin while admiring Aurora Borealis above.

Lgbtq rights in finland

Finland legalized homosexuality in 1911 and they introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 1995-2005. Gay marriage was legalised in 2017 and LGBT people are allowed to openly serve in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2002. However, sterilization is required, and transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender. Finland does not have legal recognition of non-binary gender. Find out more about Finland‘ LGBTQ rights here.

Gay events in finland

The main LGBTQ events in Finland are the Helsinki Pride Week in June and the Ruka Ski Pride in April. Other cities have a Pride event, such as Pirkanmaan Pride in June, Tampere and Turku. Whilst the gay scene of Helsinki is quite small, the Pride in June is super popular, attracting crowds of around 100,000.

Gay travel to finland

We think Finland as a gay destination is totally underrated. As well as the Northern Lights, this is one place where being gay has become so normalised that we felt totally safe to walk the streets almost anywhere holding hands, knowing that no one would bat an eyelid! Remember this is the home of the highly masculinized and suggestive homoerotic Tom of Finland art.

Other touristic highlights of Finland include the Suomenlinna Fortress, Rovaniemi and the Arctic, the Åland Archipelago, the Northern Lights, Turku, Porvoo and Lake Saimaa.

Did you know? Even the postage stamps in Finland are gay! The famous Tom of Finland was immortalised in postage stamps in 2014. Whilst they’re not the first stamps to depict suggestive art, they are certainly the first ever to depict homo suggestive art! 

Push yourself on a gay hike in norway

ATTN: Gay Hikers. The intrepid crew at Out Adventures are hosting perhaps the most physically challenging gay tour we’ve ever seen. On this sweaty scamper, you’ll reach Nordic Nirvana while surmounting mountains, kayaking fjords and trekking glaciers. Those who persevere will be rewarded with up-close views of Norway’s world-famous natural wonders like Trolltunga and Preikestolen plateau. Are you ready?

Oslo is the capital and main gay hub of the country. It has quite a big gay scene with numerous queer events taking place. But you need to bring a LOT of cash to get by here, it sure ain’t cheap!

Lgbtq rights in norway

Norway legalized homosexuality in 1972 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 1981-2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2008 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1979. Norway introduced the right to change legal gender in 2016 and since 2013 doesn’t require sterilization for this. In 2016, Norway passed a law allowing the change of legal gender for transgender people solely based on self-determination.

Gay events in norway

Oslo Pride Festival in June is the main gay event in Norway attracting around 250,000 people each year. Most cities also have a pride event, the main ones include Bergen Pride May, the Lillehammer Winter Pride in February, Skeive Sorlandsdager in August and the Tromso Arctic Pride in November.

A very unique annual LGBTQ event is the Raballder Sports Cup – a gay sports event for handball! Also there’s the Sápmi Pride which takes place across Finland, Sweden and Norway each year.

Gay travel to norway

Norway is beautiful. Whilst there’s not much of a gay scene here or large gay events taking place, it sure packs a punch in terms of natural beauty, especially the Northern Lights. Just remember to bring money – lots of it! To give you an idea, the average pint of beer is around $10…!

Travel highlights include cosmopolitan Oslo, the endless snow-capped mountains peaks, deep fjords like Sognefjord, also the Pulpit Rock, Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands and the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen.

Lgbtq rights in malta

Malta legalized homosexuality in 1973 and have been introducing anti anti-discrimination laws since 2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGB people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2002. Sadly transgender people are banned from serving openly in the Maltese army.

Malta introduced the right to change legal gender in 2015. Malta has had legal recognition of a non-binary gender since 2017.

The gay scene in malta

Malta is a tiny island country in the Mediterranean south of Italy, with a population of just under half a million, therefore it’s too small to have a gay village. There are a handful of gay bars and clubs in Malta such as the Birdcage Lounge and Michelangelo gay club. There are also a few gay friendly hangouts dotted around the capital Valletta.

Gay travel to malta

Valletta is one of our favourite European capital cities. It’s a small walled UNESCO listed city, which you can walk around in a few hours. Every corner is full of history and culture. Other highlights include The Three Cities, Mdina, the Dingli Cliffs, Comino, Riviera Beach and Gozo.

We loved Malta and can see why many people rate it as the most gay friendly country in Europe. It has very lax laws and nobody cared about two men displaying PDAs.

Did you know? Malta is the most famous non-winner of Eurovision. Every year we get excited to see who will represent them. From cutie Fabrizio Faniello, Ira Losco and our favourite, the gorgeous Chiara:

Lgbtq rights in austria

Austria legalized homosexuality in 1971 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination between 2004-2017. Gay marriage was legalized in 2019 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. Austria introduced the right to change legal gender in 2009 and since 2019 it formally recognises a non-binary gender.

Gay events in austria

Vienna Pride in June is the main one, which has hosted EuroPride twice – in 2001 and 2019. Vienna Pride includes the Regenbogenparade, the “Rainbow Parade”. Other LGBTQ events in Austria include the Gay Snow Happening in March, the Pink Lake Festival in August, Ski Pride in April, the CSD Bregenz Pride in June and Linz Pride in June.

Gay travel to austria

Vienna is stunning and a city bursting with culture and history. This is a city that used to be the cultural capital of Europe several hundred years ago, especially in the classical music scene. Austria is the home of Mozart – specifically the picture-perfect Salzburg. Other highlights of Austria include The Vienna Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace, Hallstatt and Belvedere Palace.

We felt welcomed everywhere we went in Vienna and felt comfortable holding hands in public. Whilst the gay scene is small, there is a sizeable LGBTQ community and a handful of places to check out.

Did you know? Conchita Wurst is one of the most famous gay Austrians ever. His real name is Thomas Neuwirth who became famous for representing Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Songcontest and winning it with the song “Rise Like A Phoenix” dressed in full drag as Conchita, but with a beard! For many of us, it was the first time we saw a professional drag queen with a full beard on TV!.

Lgbtq rights in ireland

Ireland legalized homosexuality in 1993 and introduced one of the most comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws between 1998-2015. Gay marriage was legalized in 2015 and the right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year. Transgender people in Ireland can self-declare their gender for the purpose of updating passports, driving licences, obtaining new birth certificates and getting married.

Strong Catholic beliefs still continue to encourage homophobia in the more rural areas and older generations, but the change is exciting to watch! And then, of course, they are the undisputed Eurovision champions, having won the competition a record-breaking 7 times. A country that has won the gay Olympics the most times is certainly going to be pretty gay!

Gay events in ireland

Dublin Pride in June is the main LGBTQ event in Ireland. Other cities with Pride events include Cork Pride in July, Limerick Pride in July, Carlow Pride in July, Mayo Pride in July and Sligo Pride in August. Dublin also hosts lots of other LGBTQ events including the Dublin Bear Events in March and Trans Pride Dublin in July.

Gay travel to ireland

Ireland is gorgeous! The capital, Dublin, is a treat – it was even designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Other highlights of Ireland include The Cliffs of Moher, Dublin’s Grafton Street, The Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, The Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, The Dingle Peninsula, The Aran Islands, and more.

We’ve been to Ireland many times and can definitely see a change over the past few decades as the country has quickly evolved to embrace LGBTQ rights and welcome gay tourists.

Did you know? In 2017, an openly gay man, Leo Varadkar, became the “Taoiseach” (ie the Prime Minister) of Ireland. We saw Leo Varadkar in person, marching in the Canada Pride in Montreal in 2017 alongside Justin Trudeau, and love that he frequently stands up for LGBTQ rights, particularly when he met conservative Mike Pence in 2019.

Lgbtq rights in uruguay

Uruguay legalized homosexuality in 1934 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2004. Gay marriage was legalized in 2013 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2009. The right to change legal gender was introduced in the same year as well as the on official documents.

The gay scene in uruguay

The majority of the gay scene in Uruguay is in Montevideo, which includes Chains Pub, Bar Rodo, Il Tempo and Cain Club. Punta del Este also has a few gay friendly hangouts including the Soho Bar. Just note, Uruguayans head out late – dinner is around 9pm, bars get busy after 11pm and don’t even think about going to a club before 1am!

Gay events in uruguay

The two main ones gay events in Uruguay are Montevideo Pride in September and Punta Pride in the summer months of February. Both are low key affairs, but we love them because the entire local community gets involved – families, babies and even dogs! The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is very active in promoting local LGBTQ-friendly businesses in Uruguay. They have an annual conference every September, which also includes a mini-festival and parties.

Gay travel to uruguay

Touristic highlights of Uruguay include the picturesque UNESCO listed town of Colonia del Sacramento, the Salto del Penitente, Pan de Azúcar, Montevideo’s cutesy old town, Punta del Diablo, Cabo Polonio, Laguna de Castillos, Punta Ballena and the beachfront of Punta del Este.

Uruguay is often described as a “sleepy” country with the most laidback people on the planet. We can definitely agree with that. No one anywhere in the country gave two hoots about seeing two men holding hands in public. This is definitely one very tolerant and progressive country. Find out more about gay travel to Uruguay.

Did you know? Uruguay has an all-male clothing-optional guesthouse just outside of Punta del Este called Undarius! It’s super gay, complete with purple decor and balconies that are lit up rainbow lights. It’s also conveniently located close to the gay naturist beach of Chihuahua.

Lgbtq rights in belgium

Belgium legalized homosexuality in 1795 and introduced comprehensive anti-discrimination laws between 2003-2014. Gay marriage was legalized in 2003 and LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. The right to change legal gender was introduced in 2007.

Whilst Belgium does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, many Belgian hospitals (such as the Ghent University Hospital) are famous for their specialisation in gender reassignment surgery. So much so that many transgender people from France go there for surgery due to a lack of accepting hospitals in France.

Gay events in belgium

The main Pride events are The Belgian Pride Brussels in May, Pride Ghent in May, Antwerp Pride in August and the Darklands Antwerpen in March. Other awesome queer events to look out for in Belgium include the Belgium Leatherpride in February, the Unicorn Festival in Antwerp in July and monthly dance parties like La Demence (the largest in Europe), and SPEK.

Gay travel to belgium

We’ve been several times to Belgium as a gay couple – either on a city break to Brussels and Bruges and once on a Flanders Field “pilgrimage” to see the former WW1 battlegrounds. We’ve loved it each time, especially my chips-loving-Frenchman! Belgium is overall very welcoming for gay travellers. When it comes to holding hands in public, we didn’t feel as comfortable as in other countries. Whilst the Belgium are generally tolerant and openminded, homophobia has grown recently in Belgium.

Belgium is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and as headquarters of the European Union and NATO. Touristic highlights include the Grand Palace in Brussels, the Canals and Belfry of Bruges, the Battlefields of Flanders, Ghent’s Gravensteen and Old Town, the Horta Museum and Town Houses, the Basilica of Bruges, Meuse Valley, Mons Old Town, and more.

Did you know? Belgium has also had its fair share of openly gay politicians, including the world’s second openly gay head of government, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo (2011-2014). We also love that Belgium has a “Rainbow Cops” police force who are specifically trained to handle LGBTQ issues.

Lgbtq rights in usa

The USA actually only legalized homosexuality in 2003 following the Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision, though some States did so a lot sooner, starting with Illinois back in 1961. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized in the USA, which was monumental and groundbreaking, inspiring many other countries to follow suit! More recently, in June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in the Bostock v Clayton County case that federal civil rights law do protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

Transgender rights in usa

The US is a dichotomy when it comes to . On the one hand, there are trans havens with the most progressive transgender laws on the planet, formally allowing a nonbinary gender marker on ID documents. These include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, District of Colombia, Washington State, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – also hopefully soon in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia and Illinois. Sadly, on the other hand, there are a handful of homophobic States one would take caution to avoid!

The gay scene in usa

The USA leads the way when it comes to gay villages and gay scenes. It’s huge here. Almost every State has a gay village in its main cities, even places like Texas, which have the Montrose gay village in Houston!

Some of the gay heartlands in the USA include , Provincetown in Massachusetts, Fire Island in New York, Chelsea in NY, Guerneville in California, Castro in San Francisco, The South End in Boston, West Hollywood in LA, Boystown in Chicago, Capitol Hill in Denver, Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, Hillcrest in San Diego, Ogunquit in Maine, New Hope in Pennsylvania, Key West in Florida, Asbury Park in New Jersey, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and so so many more! Read more in our detailed guide to some of the – most of which are in the States!

Gay events in usa

The USA has some of the biggest LGBTQ events in the world. The most famous is , which is also the home of the modern-day gay rights movement. In 2019, NYC hosted WorldPride, which attracted around 5 million people, making it the largest gay Pride event ever!

Other notable gay events in the US include San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair in September, the Capital Trans Pride in May in Washington, the New Orleans Mardi Gras in February, the Aspen Gay Ski Week in January and Miami Beach Pride in April. This is just a small selection of the many different LGBTQ events taking place across the USA every year!

Gay travel to usa

The USA offers so much for LGBTQ travellers. Touristic highlights include the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Yellowstone National Park, Disney and Universal theme parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Glacier National Park, Waikiki, Las Vegas and many more…

We’ll be honest, when we visited Florida as a gay couple during the Trump years, we were absolutely terrified and agreed to act as “friends” in places we weren’t sure. Upon arrival, the (straight white) guy at the immigration desk could see us nervously looking at each other, smiled at us then warmly asked, “are you boys married yet?” and proceeded to welcome us into the USA.

On the other extreme, when taking a photograph on Miami Beach’s rainbow crossing, a man rolled down his window and shouted, “Move out of the way, fa*gots!” This summed up the USA for us – on the one hand, it’s THE gayest nation on the planet, but on the other hand, it is riddled with pockets of pretty extreme homophobia.

Did you know? The Stonewall Riots were largely thanks to the efforts of an African American transgender woman from New Jersey, Ms Marsha P. Johnson. In June 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York, 23-year old Marsha was one of the key figures who stood up to the police during the raids, resisted arrest and therefore led to the pivotal Stonewall protests soon after.

Lgbtq rights in costa rica

Costa Rica began its fabulous journey back in 1911 when it legalized homosexuality. It is the latest member to our exclusive Gay Marriage Club after it legalized gay marriages in 2020. Just like Canada, Costa Rica was a trailblazer in relation to anti-discrimination laws, which it introduced in 1998. This included allowing LGBT people to openly serve openly in the civil defence Public Force (Costa Rica doesn’t have an army).

When it comes to transgender rights, Costa Rica introduced the right to change gender in 2018 recognises transgender people’s gender identity on ID cards.

Gay travel to costa rica

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. Travel highlights include the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde and the Cloud Forests, the Dominical, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, the Tortuguero National Park, the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park.

Costa Rica has come a long way over the past decade and whilst it may still retain a strong influence from the conservative Catholic Church, attitudes are quickly evolving and the country has for years been embracing LGBTQ tourism.

Did you know? Costa Rica has had its fair share of openly gay politicians. In April 2013, Carmen Muñoz became the first openly lesbian member of the country’s Legislative Assembly. In May 2018, Enrique Sánchez became the first openly gay congressman in Costa Rica.

Go wild in south africa

Check out this South Africa gay tour by Out Adventures. It begins in Zimbabwe where you’ll witness the power and beauty of Victoria Falls. Then it’s off to Botswana and South Africa for authentic safaris in private game reserves. Finally, you’ll spend four full days soaking up the culture and cuisine of gorgeous gay Cape Town. If that itinerary doesn’t spark your sense of adventure, we don’t know what will!

Lgbtq rights in south africa

South Africa shooketh the LGBTQ world in the 1990s! It became the first country to enshrine full anti-discrimination laws in its Constitution. Up until that point, no other country had ever done this before – a trailblazer not only in Africa but across the entire world! This included allowed LGBT people to openly serve in the army. It didn’t stop there, South Africa went on to introduce the right to change legal gender in 2003 and legalized gay marriages in 2006.

The gay scene in south africa

Cape Town and Johannesburg have the largest LGBTQ communities in South Africa each with an exciting gay scene. Cape Town has a gay village in De Waterkant as well as in Green Point and Sea Point. Over in Johannesburg, whilst there is no gay village, there are many gay places spread out across the city, particularly in Melville, Parkhurst and Rosebank. Other cities in South Africa with a small gay scene include Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban, Berea and Stellenbosch.

Gay events in south africa

South Africa see Pride events happening in most of the cities. The Johannesburg and Cape Town Prides are the best ones. Johannesburg Pride happens in October and has been nicknamed the “Pride of Africa“ because it is the largest (and one of the fewest) in the entire continent. Cape Town Pride is also a Mardi Gras festival and happens in February.

Other prominent Pride events in South Africa include the Pretoria LGBTQI Gay Pride in October, Durban Pride in June, Mzansi Pride Johannesburg in April and the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride in Port Elizabeth in November.

Gay travel to south africa

South Africa almost ticks all the boxes – stunning destination to visit, a large, active LGBTQ community, and lots of queer hangouts and events happening. The only downside is the violent crime so prevalent around the country which makes it a little big dangerous for all travellers whether straight or gay. Obviously, if you stick to the areas you know are safe, it’s absolutely fine!

South Africa is a nature lover’s paradise, with some of the best safaris in the world. Other touristic highlights include the Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Stellenbosch, The Drakensberg, The Garden Route, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and Robben Island.

Did you know? Nelson Mandela is often regarded as the Grandfather of LGBTQ rights. When he became President in 1994, he immediately pushed for one of the most progressive constitutions the world has ever seen – the first one ever to outlaw discrimination based on who we love. Big Daddy Nelson, we salut you!

– Israel: Tel Aviv is one of the gayest places on the planet and Tel Aviv Pride one of the best prides in the world! Israel sadly has rejected gay marriage 5 times but since 2006 it recognises gay marriages from abroad.

Gay tour of thailand

Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!

– Thailand: Thailand is super gay! Bangkok has one of the best gay scenes in the world and we love it. Phuket and Pattaya also have large queer scenes, and islands like Koh Samui even have their own annual Pride. Thailand was set to introduce civil union laws in 2020 but gay marriage is still a long way off. Read more about Bangkok in our gay travel guide to Bangkok.

Stefan arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog bear-magazine.com As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .

hello! as a gay brazilian, i think it’s important to mention that our most relevant national laws of lgbt+ interest happened at the initiative of the supreme court, since we never had presidents who openly advocated for lgbt + rights (gay marriage was legalized in 2010, during a supposedly progressive government, and the ban on homo/transphobia in 2019, during our current and pathetic government). it’s also worth noting that, last year, the most voted councilor in the country was a transgender woman 😉 cheers

Thanks for this Flavio! Will take it into account when we update this article next.

I would remove Argentina from the list. As a gay Argentinian, my couple and I have been rejected from many Motels just for being gay in many States (provincias), outside of Buenos Aires or CABA. If you are a gay tourist you shouldn’t out yourself unless you are staying in Capital, and even in CABA, many homophobic attacks occur everyday. Don’t even think to tell anybody you are gay if you visit the North of my country, people are ultra conservative.

Please remove Argentina from this list, our current president Alberto Fernandez have used many offensive slang in public social media, like Twitter, the fact that we have „progressist“ laws is just a depiction of hypocrisy and mirrors and smoke casted by our corrupt goverment.

Really sorry to read that! Will definitely keep it in mind when we come to update the list. For the record, we had a very positive experience traveling in Argentina as a gay couple.

I think you never went to Brazil then, for it not to be in the list. It was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage and adoption, the first to make homophobia a specific crime and hosts the biggest gay pride parade in the world in São Paulo, with over 4 million people

We love Brazil, but with all the homophobia Bolsanero has spouted, not sure we agree.

I dream to be in Spain,but when I see that Canada its the first for most gay friendly i change little mind haha, but its to far from my county, Spain to , but more near then bear-magazine.com from Albania , here its to difficult to live life free, 🚫🤦‍♂️I hope that in the future i will live in bear-magazine.com im a little shocked that i didnt see the Brazil in this list , haha , i have see from post that this county accept lgbt, and there have a lot people from community lgbt, and i like brazilians😛But your post will make people to think better where to start a new life, its helpful , thank you man

We used to have Brazil on the list, but with the onset of Bolsanero, we revised that! We can’t WAIT to put Brazil back in this list 🙂

Thank you so much for making this. I don’t know a place I would go to when I turn 18 (cause family) so thank you:)

Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.

Erhöhen sie ihren einkauf

In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‚enigma machine‘ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem ‚Keep the Home Fires Burning‘, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream bear-magazine.com book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

Pressestimmen

„To summarise, this is an excellent book that captures the untold lives of gay personnel throughout the world wars…I hope that this title encourages readers to share LGBT stories within their own family histories.“

“ pulls together previously published vignettes into a highly readable volume, and is well placed to bring the story of gay service-men to a wider public audience.“

„Bourne’s valuable and easy-to-read book is not quite a collection of ‚untold‘ stories, as in the sub-title. Rather it gathers under-told stories, and those not previously collected together to give a coherent collective account of GBTQI men in wars.“

Introduction

Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men are among the small number of groups for whom HIV remains uncontrolled worldwide. Although there have been recent and notable decreases in HIV incidence across several countries, prevalence and incidence is consistently higher or rising among men who have sex with men when compared with other groups.

Results

Higher provider discrimination and sexual stigma were associated with lower odds of perceived access to services, service utilization and virologic suppression. Conversely, accessing services from community-based organizations focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; greater engagement in gay community; and comfort with healthcare providers were associated with higher odds of achieving steps along the prevention and treatment continuum.

Conclusions

To meet accelerated global HIV targets, global leaders must adopt a differentiated and bolder response, in keeping with current epidemiologic trends and community-based research. The HIV-related needs of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men must be addressed openly, quickly and with sufficient resources to support evidence-based, community-led and human rights-affirming interventions at scale.

Measures

Participants completed a 30-minute questionnaire including items about demographics (e.g. age, country of residence, sexual orientation, ability to meet one’s basic financial needs, healthcare coverage, having a regular healthcare provider); HIV status; sexual stigma or homophobia (seven items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of stigma or homophobia, α=0.8534 – e.g. “In your country, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a natural expression of sexuality in men, how many people believe that male homosexuality is a perversion?”); comfort with one’s healthcare provider (three items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of comfort, α=0.8657 – e.g. “In your country, how comfortable do you feel discussing your sexual health concerns with your healthcare provider?”); experiences of provider discrimination (five items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of discrimination, α=0.8703 – e.g. “In the last six months, has a healthcare provider treated you poorly because you are gay/MSM?); and engagement with the gay community (10 items with Likert-like responses, with greater values indicating a higher degree of engagement, α=0.7304 – e.g. “During the last six months, how often have you participated in a gay men’s/MSM support group?”).

Main outcomes

The primary outcomes in this study are access to HIV prevention and treatment services (e.g. “In your community, how accessible is free or affordable HIV testing?”) and HIV prevention and treatment service utilization. Service utilization was assessed with questions such as “When was your last HIV test? In the last six months, how frequently have you been tested for HIV?” (dichotomized as having had an HIV test in the last 12 months versus not having been tested within the last 12 months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you obtained condoms?” (dichotomized as having obtained condoms at least once versus never obtaining condoms in the past six months); “In the last six months, how frequently have you participated in HIV/risk-prevention programmes for gay men/MSM?” (dichotomized as having participated in HIV programmes three or more times versus less). Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was assessed as lifetime use with the following question: “Have you ever taken HIV medications before potentially being exposed to HIV, because you thought it would reduce your chances of getting HIV?” Participants were considered to have used PrEP if they responded “yes” to this question.

Among those living with HIV, linkage to care was assessed with the following question: “When you were diagnosed, did someone help you get into HIV care?” Participants were considered to have been linked to care if they reported being linked within 12 months or sooner after their HIV diagnosis. Retention in care was assessed with the following question: “How many HIV-related healthcare visits have you had in the last six months?” Participants were considered as being retained in care if they reported having more than two visits. Viral load was assessed with the following question: “What is your current viral load?” This was recorded for the outcome of virologic suppression; participants who reported either having less than 200 copies/mL or having undetectable viral load were considered virologically suppressed.

Using the primary outcomes, MSMGF adopted an intervention-centric approach to construct the HIV prevention and treatment continuum described in this report. We used this approach to highlight low service utilization for each intervention type [16], acknowledging the following: 1) the heterogeneity of prevention needs represented among diverse groups of men who have sex with men; and 2) the complex web of interacting HIV prevention modalities [17]. The number of participants who tested for HIV and received results served as the denominator for determining steps along the cascade. On the prevention end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-negative men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported obtaining condoms in the last six months. On the treatment end, the constructed continuum focused on HIV-positive men who have sex with men and began with the number of men who reported being linked to care.

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DID YOU KNOW…in February 2009 Iceland famously elected the world’s first-ever openly gay national leader: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. She then went on to marry her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir in 2010, which made Iceland a popular gay wedding destination. And if Iceland couldn’t get any gayer, the former (straight!) mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, famously attended the 2010 Reykjavík Pride Parade dressed in full drag as Miss Reykjavík! 

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Did you know? On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBTQ rights, refugees and tolerance, which went viral, receiving over 3 million views. Part of the speech reads as follows:

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We challenge you to point us to such a large country the size of Europe (in both size and population), that has paved the way forward with LGBTQ rights but doesn’t also have a dichotomy between safe pink havens and ultra-homophobic areas?

For us we have to recognise that this is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage in 2015 has had (and continues to have!) a monumental domino effect around the world.

If we were to take certain States (like NYC or California) as standalone, they’d be up there at the top battling it out with Canada and Spain, which is why we place it further down. But this doesn’t escape the fact that the USA is pretty much the epicentre of the gay world!

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Download this chart figure 3: uk countries by lesbian, gay or bisexual population, 2017

Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK household population identifying as LGB has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017. The proportion in Wales increased by 0.7%, England and Scotland both increased by 0.5% and Northern Ireland by 0.1%. Of all these changes, only the increases seen for the UK, England and Wales were statistically significant.

Regionally (Figure 4), London continued to have the highest proportion of people identifying as LGB in 2017 (2.6%). The North East and East of England both had the lowest proportion (1.5%).

The relatively high proportion of people identifying as LGB in London can be explained by the younger age structure and the diversity of the population. The median age of the population in London was 35.1 years in 2017, compared with 41.9 years in the North East and 41.6 years in the East of England.

The South West was the region that saw the largest change in the percentage identifying as LGB over the last five years, from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.4% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 5: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by legal marital status, uk, 2017

In 2017, of those from mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 6% identified themselves as gay or lesbian and bisexual (Figure 6). Due to small sample sizes, sexual orientation estimates by ethnic group have fluctuated year-on-year, with notable uncertainty around LGB estimates for all ethnic groups except White. Consequently, over the last five years, for the LGB population the only statistically significant change was for the White ethnic group, where the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2017.

Download this chart figure 6: lesbian, gay or bisexual population by ethnicity, uk, 2017

Figure 7 shows that those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to identify as LGB (2.5%) compared with those in intermediate or routine and manual occupations.

A higher proportion in managerial and professional occupations (1.9%) identify as gay or lesbian but a lower proportion (0.5%) identify as bisexual than other National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) groups.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

Notes:

0.1% of respondents to the Annual Population Survey did not have an ethnicity recorded, but no-one in this group identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Confidence intervals are presented on the graph to give an estimated range of values within which the actual value is likely to fall 95% of the time.

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