There are many cities around the world that welcome and embrace the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. These cities have in fact improved and grown economically by attracting one of the most important and powerful social groups of the 21st century. Chains of hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, clothing stores and spas that cater to a new segment that is always looking for the best of the best. We took a number of factors into consideration in order to make this article, such as legal protection, social acceptance, LGBT nightlife and economic opportunities and created the list of 11 Most Gay-Friendly Cities In The World.
Toronto, Canada – Toronto is the largest city in Canada and has an interesting gay scene. It has some of the best gay bars in Canada and a huge pride parade. Toronto’s gay community offers a world of arts, culture and vivacious nightlife, with a vibrant gay village at the city’s core. The Village, located in Church-Wellesley, is the cultural hub of the city, bursting with galleries, theatres and gay-friendly businesses. Over the years the geographical range has expanded with the growth of the city. Now you’ll find queer-friendly establishments all over the city.
São Paulo, Brazil – Sao Paulo is not only Brazil’s economic hub and the largest city in South America, but it’s also the third-largest city in the world. Especially noteworthy for LGBT travelers is the fact that São Paulo hosts the biggest gay pride celebration on the planet. São Paulo’s first Gay Pride was in 1997 and attracted only 2000 people. Nowadays, the carnival-like Gay Pride Parade draws nearly four million people who crowd onto the main boulevard of Paulista Avenue and the surrounding streets. Gay nightclubs feature a wide variety of shows, with drag, male strip-tease, singers, performances and some of the best DJs anywhere. There are plenty of bathhouses and sex clubs too, often with bars and show nights as well.
London, UK – London is a sophisticated, multicultural, open-minded city, a place where everybody is welcome. It is home to Europe’s largest gay community. Pride London is a major event, there is an important Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and its gay nightlife is one of the world’s best. Old Compton Street and its surrounding area in SoHo is London’s gay epicenter, with gay bars and shops for every style and need. Soho, found to the west of the West End, is a popular spot where you’ll find many gay-owned clubs, restaurants and stores. Another similar area to check out is Old Compton Street. Another increasingly popular area is Vauxhall Village.
Madrid, Spain – Madrid has the largest gay community in Spain and one of the largest in Europe, with an estimated 500,000 LGBT people living in the city. Chueca is the center of the LGBT community where you’ll find the highest concentration of gay bars and night clubs. Chueca starts at Gran Via and runs north for 1km and it stretches east to west between Calle Hortaleza and Paseo de Recoletos. In this city, gay marriage is allowed and the gay community has influenced largely the city’s trendiest hotels, restaurants and shops. Every July Madrid hosts the largest gay pride in Europe. Madrid’s gay pride, called Orgullo, draws a crowd of nearly 2 million people.
Miami, USA – Miami has long been known as a popular and open destination for LGBT tourists looking to unwind, work on their tans, meet people and dine at the chicest restaurants. The LGBT community has always felt welcome in Miami. All year there are beaches popular with the gay crowd, nightclubs and venues, parties and more, but it’s the yearly Miami Beach Gay Pride Festival that brings everyone together in a colorful celebration and parade.
Amsterdam, Netherland – For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visitors and residents, Amsterdam is one of the most attractive cities in Europe. As such, it’s no small wonder that Amsterdam became so popular with gay visitors. For centuries ‘Amsterdammers’ have had a relaxed and tolerant attitude towards different lifestyles. ‘Live and let live’ is one of the city’s favorite sayings. Amsterdam is worldwide famous for its annual Canal Parade, 80 decorated boats sail along the Prinsengracht which sees the canals lined by over half a million spectators, demonstrates and celebrates the diversity of Holland’s gay and lesbian community. It is the largest gay pride event in the Netherlands, and one of the largest in the world.
Barcelona, Spain – To this day, along with Madrid, Barcelona remains one of the most liberal and gay-friendly cities anywhere in the world with many Spaniards relocating from some of the more conservative areas of the country to live their life here to the fullest. Catalonia, the state of Spain in which Barcelona is located, has passed in 2014 an anti-homophobia law that aims to defend LGBT rights. Thanks to this law, people physically or morally offending members of the LGBT community could be fined by up to 140,000 euros. There’s always something going on in the city, Gay cinema festivals or LGBT literature festivals or the famous Circuit Festival, the biggest Gay Festival in Europe every August. Make sure to visit Gayxample, Barcelona’s gay neighborhood with many gay and lesbian bars, clubs and restaurants.
San Francisco, USA – San Francisco is probably the gay capital of America. The LGBT community in San Francisco is one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world, and is one of the most important in the history of LGBT rights and activism. For decades, the city by the Bay has been a global focus for gay nightlife, culture and politics. Visitors today can explore the Castro, where it all began. Castro is one of the first gay neighborhoods in the United States. it remains one of the most prominent symbols of LGBT activism and events in the world. LGBT life here is not limited to the Castro neighborhood, though that’s a tourist draw for good reason — it’s a queer Disneyland. San Francisco is home to more nightlife than you can shake a go-go boy at, as well as vibrant bear and transexual communities. If you’re gay, chances are you’ve either been to San Francisco or plan to sometime in your life. It is Gay Mecca after all. Recent population demographics indicate that more than 15% of the population of San Francisco is gay and here are even more drag queens per square foot than anywhere else in the world.
New York City, USA – New York is like no other city on earth. The diversity, the culture, the style. New York is definitely a city in a class all its own. Fashion, theatre, advertising and the arts have perpetuated New York into one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Gay life is everywhere in New York City. Nightlife is vivid and overwhelming. You can choose from endless variations on gay bars and clubs: from muscle mary clubs to cabaret piano bars, local intimate bars to trendy gay lounges. In Manhattan, the gay scene is concentrated in a couple of neighborhoods. In Greenwich Village lays the origin of gay pride, where the Stonewall riots in Christopher Street awakened gay emancipation. The new gay hot spot is in Hell’s Kitchen, it’s full of trendy gay bars, restaurants and clubs. Chelsea neighborhood also offers a wide selection of gay venues concentrated around 8th Avenue.
Berlin, Germany – In the 1920s (the Golden Twenties) Berlin was seen as the city with the most lively and advanced gay subculture in Europe. Today, Berlin sits as the gay capital of Europe. The breadth of its gay nightlife, the strength of its culture, and the ever tested and changing community norms have easily eclipsed the city’s continental urban neighbors. It is pretty much a non-stop party, from the saunas, darkrooms, bars, clubs, cafés, festivals, balls, carnivals and celebrations a hedonist’s paradise, a sensualist’s haven, an aesthete’s delight and a raver’s Mecca, all in one package. The party scene is so diverse and innovative and celebrates any fetish! That is where the Folsom Europe fair takes place in September and the Lesbian and Gay City Festival every June, Europe’s largest street party of its kind, being held in the traditional gay area around Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg since 1993.
Tel Aviv, Israel – Right at the heart of the Middle East, lies a city called Tel Aviv. A bubble of sanity in an otherwise difficult and tense area. Tel Aviv, a city blessed with year-round sunshine and white sandy beaches, is one of the most liberal cities in the world. It is the most gay-friendly city, not only in the Middle East but in the entire world. This vibrant city is an undisputed queer capital of the Middle East, It offers a 24/7 non-stop activities, all year round great weather, great food, gay beaches and infinite of gay bars and night clubs. Every June Tel Aviv is celebrating the Gay Pride week, week of celebrations and happenings throughout the city with Pride Expo (Gay Culture Fair), LGBT Theater festival, LGBT Film Festival and the famous Pride Parade which is one of the most colorful gay parades in the world.
Just So You Know…
- June is Pride Month, a time of celebration for the LGBT community worldwide. And every year, cities all around the world organize month-long festivities to commemorate and support sexual and gender minorities’ liberation.
- The rainbow flag as a gay pride symbol made its debut at the San Francisco Pride Parade in 1978. Harvey Milk asked his good friend Gilbert Baker to design a unifying symbol for the gay community and the rainbow flag was the result.
- The first lesbian bar, Mona’s 440 Club, opened in San Francisco in 1936.
- Homosexual men in 1900s London made up an entire slang language (called Polari) so they could communicate in public without fear of being arrested.
- In 1972, Sweden became the first country to allow citizens to change their gender legally.
- The largest rainbow flag used in a Pride celebration was unfurled in Key West, Florida for the flag’s 25th anniversary in 2003. The flag was one and a 2,011 meter long and 4.9 meters wide and stretched across the entire island.