By Briana Seftel
Check out these 11 destinations around the world that are especially welcoming!
Berlin, aka “The City of Freedom,” has shed its difficult past to become one of the most open and tolerant cities in the world. The LGBTQ scene is flourishing in the German capital with countless gay bars, gay clubs, museums, rainbow neighborhoods, and events. Every summer the Pride Weeks are celebrated with CSD Berlin as the highlight. More than 50 decorated floats and 750,000 people parade through Berlin towards the Brandenburg Gate.
New York City
As the birthplace of the gay pride movement, New York City has long been a safe haven for gay and lesbian travelers. To this day, visitors can head to Greenwich Village to see where the Stonewall riots occurred and pay their respects at the monument. Neighborhoods like the West Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen specifically cater to the gay community, while the annual Pride march in June is one of the biggest in the world.
Amsterdam’s legendary open-mindedness makes it one of the most accepting cities in the world. The Netherlands’ liberal attitude stretches as far back to the early 1800s, when homosexuality was decriminalized. In 2000, it became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Amsterdam’s red light district and legal use of cannabis give the city even more of a relaxed feel.
San Francisco was not only home to the Summer of Love, it was also the first gay destination in America. The first lesbian bar, Mona’s 440 Club, opened in San Francisco in 1936, while the rainbow flag was created by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. The Castro is the most prominent gay neighborhood and is home to the GLBT History Museum and the Castro Theatre, which hosts the annual LGBTQ film festival.
London is one big melting pot of cultures and happens to be home to Europe’s largest gay community. London’s Gay Pride event is one of the world's largest, while the neighborhood of Soho has long been London’s gay hub. Soho’s main drag, Brewer Street to Old Compton Street, is packed with sex shops, bars, and nightclubs including the infamous G-A-Y Bar.
Bohemian Barcelona, along with nearby Sitges, delights gay and lesbian travelers with its sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife. Barcelona neighborhoods L'Eixample and Gràcia are home to many clubs, bars, and restaurants that cater to the gay community. 35 miles southwest of Barcelona is the coastal city of Sitges, famous for its gay nightlife and Carnaval in February/March.
South Africa is currently the only country in Africa to legalize gay marriage. Johannesburg, its largest city, is the country's gay epicenter and is home to the annual Jo'Burg Pride event, the Out in Africa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and most of the annual Mr. Gay South Africa competitions.
It’s no surprise that the biggest city in Canada (named one of the happiest countries in the world) is also one of the most accepting. The Gay Village, or “The Village” as the locals call it, is a predominately gay neighborhood located in Toronto’s downtown. Centered at the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets, the area bursts with galleries, theaters, restaurants, bars and gay-friendly businesses.
Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage in July 2010, and its capital Buenos Aires reflects the country’s progressive attitude. Visitors can have the unique experience of attending a queer tango at La Marshall or Tango Queer (tango was originally danced with two men). In November, the city hosts Marcha del Orgullo Gay (Gay Pride Parade) that gets bigger every year.
Tel Aviv is a gay and lesbian haven in the center of conservative Middle East. Gay nightlife in the city centers on weekly parties, rather than certain events, while beaches like Hilton Beach attract a predominantly gay crowd. While Tel Aviv’s pride parade is one of the youngest, it has quickly become one of the most popular pride events in the world.
After the passing of the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015, Dublin quickly emerged as the gay capital of Ireland. With a small and friendly population, it’s not hard to see why Dublin would be one of the most inclusive cities in the world. A trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting the lounging Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square, across the street from his birthplace.