6 Gay-Friendly Cities to Visit

Hey, straight cis people aren’t the only ones who need a vacation! Of course they generally don’t have to wonder if they might get beaten or killed on vacation just for holding hands with their partner or wearing clothes closest to their own gender identity. Still, LGBT tourism has becoming a thriving new business advent with cities around the world hoping to capitalize on wealthy queers looking for a fun getaway. In fact, many tourism websites of major cities now feature small blurbs about things for the LGBT traveler to enjoy. So whether you’re looking for international drag scenes, gay history, museums, nightclubs, or all of the above, here are six of the best gay cities to visit.

Prague, Czech Republic

While not quite as flashy or expensive as some other European tourist destinations, Prague is still a popular city for tourism due to its long history and breathtaking architecture. However, despite the breadth of history on display, Prague is still a remarkably progressive city within a country that has been generally progressive since the fall of communism, especially when compared to some of its close neighbors. Registered partnerships for gay couples were first introduced in the Czech Republic way back in 2006, and Prague held its first Pride Parade in 2011. Not to mention, the Czech Republic has been home to the huge annual multi-city queer film festival, the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, for the last 17 years.

Philadelphia, USA

Philadelphia has had a thriving gay scene that dates back to the 1930s and ’40s, beginning with a few discrete bars and coffeehouses before emerging into a full-on “Gayborhood”, as it is affectionately known, with nightclubs, performance centres, bars, restraunts, and shops. In 2004 the city of Brotherly Love put out one of the first ever tourism ads directed toward LGBT folks, featuring the tagline “Get Your History Straight, and Your Nightlife Gay.”

Berlin, Germany

Prior to the Nazis, Berlin actually had a vibrant LGBT scene, with famous cabarets and a cosmopolitan flair for the diverse, not to mention the Institute for the Science of Sexuality (whose papers of groundbreaking research on gender and sexuality were all burned in 1933). It was a hub for gay European expats and artists such as the famous English writer Christopher Isherwood. Today, Berlin has revived this spirit with museums, arts institutions, clubs, and many queer bookstores.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio has always been a popular tourist spot in general, especially for LGBT folks. In fact, it’s been estimated that around a million LGBT people visit Rio de Janeiro every year, and it’s not hard to see why. With its incredible beaches, rich nightlife with clubs and bars, many shops, luxury hotels, and historical neighborhoods, Rio de Janeiro has earned its well-deserved spot on many lists as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Rio also has one of the biggest Pride Parades in the world and even gay-specific activities during the famous Rio Carnival.

Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is frequently cited as being one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Africa. Indeed, the post-apartheid constitution, written in 1994, outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and in 1998 the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that a law prohibiting consensual gay sex was unconstitutional, and South Africa has had marriage equality since 2005. Within Cape Town you can find beaches, nightclubs, and other fun attractions. Additionally, since 1994 Cape Town has hosted the Mother City Queer Project, a yearly costume festival meant to celebrate the multiple and diverse queer communities in Cape Town.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

You might think that the much larger tourist attractions of cities like Guadalajara and Acapulco would be on this list, but in recent years Puerto Vallarta has become a beacon of LGBT tourism in Mexico, attracting both international visitors as well as domestic tourists. Sitting right on the western coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta boasts beautiful beaches, pride celebrations since 2013, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Photobombing Tourists: A Torontonian’s Guide

If you live in Toronto, listen up. This is important. I’m about to tell you where to find the finest photobombing locations in the city. (Are you taking notes? You should be taking notes.)

Toronto was packed with visitors this summer, and as great as it was to welcome a bunch of international peeps to our beautiful home turf, it was also annoying AF and we’re glad it’s calmed down a bit. Thankfully, after working in the Distillery District (quite possibly the most touristy corner of the city), I discovered the most satisfying way to put up with the rush: photobombing.

Here’s a Torontonian’s cheat sheet to the absolute best places to ruin tourists’ photos, ordered from easiest to hardest. The goal is to find yourself popping up in as many foreign Instagram feeds as humanly possible. Now run, children! Photobomb like you’ve never photobombed before.

Photo By Amanda Storey

The “Love Locks” installation at the Distillery District

Bridal parties, couples in love, besties — all the most annoying people stop to snap photos, usually bothering innocent pedestrians to take their picture. My suggestion: take a running jump and go full-on starfish in front of the camera before sprinting out of sight.

The new “Toronto” sign at Nathan Phillips

It’s here to stay, so take full advantage of it.

The CN Tower (of course)

This is a classic. Stop by the foot of the CN Tower at any day, any time, and you’ll find clusters of people bending over their iPhones to get that perfect shot of their faces blocking most of the building. The trick is to push your head through their huddle just as they’re snapping the selfie.

The sculpture outside the AGO

Henry Moore’s “Large Two Forms” attracts many a selfie-taker, mostly prospective OCAD students visiting the campus and first-time Toronto tourists. Hide in between the two big chunks that take up the bronze sculpture — no one will notice you’ve added yourself to the picture until it’s too late for retakes.

The “You’ve Changed” mural on Queen West

Tourists and resident hipsters alike can be discovered Instagramming this mural on the CAMH property. Make sure you’re a part of it before they lay on that Mayfair.

The floor of Reunion Island Coffee 

This is a trickier one, seeing as it’s literally the floor. If you live in Toronto, surely your Instagram feed has been flooded with shots of the infamous “COFFEE” tiled floor at this hip coffee joint. The shot of the photographer’s pretty shoes against the black and white tiles is so been there-done that, so it’s your turn to make things more interesting. Maybe poke your foot into the frame at the last second? Or even your face, if you want to get all next-level about it.

On the ferry ride to the Island

It’s just too easy. Look around you; surely there are couples everywhere snapping photos of each other looking out at the horizon.

EdgeWalk at the CN Tower

This is for the hardcore photobombers. It’ll cost you, but it’ll be worth it.