Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gay-friendly places to go


Homosexuality was still officially illegal in one part of Australia - Tasmania - as late as 1997, but times had already changed in other parts of the country by then. Sydney, for example, has long played host to the world’s biggest gay parade each year: the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in the gay district of Darlinghurst.


San Francisco has a rich history of gay rights. In the gay district known as The Castro, rainbow flags fly proudly all year long, bearing witness to this long tradition of emancipation. Fifteen percent of the city’s residents identify themselves as homosexual, the highest proportion in the United States.


The German capital’s gay friendly reputation is very much on the rise. Berlin is home to countless alternative bars, clubs and entertainment venues: an open, creative atmosphere where gay men and lesbians feel very much at home.
Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit is openly gay and is known for coining the coming-out phrase “Ich bin schwul - und das ist auch gut so” (“I’m gay – and that’s just fine”). The city also boasts an senior citizens' home for homosexual residents. The main gay district is in Schöneberg, near Nollendorfplatz.


Sexuality simply isn’t an issue in New York, according to British newspaper The Independent. The Big Apple is “a place where lesbians and gay men of all ages and races are so integrated into work and political culture that their sexuality is often the least significant thing about them”. Gay life abounds in Chelsea and Greenwich Village.


The district of Le Marais (French for “The Marsh”) is buzzing with gay life and a host of bars, cabaret venues and nightclubs. The district’s resplendent gay scene centres on the streets Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and Vieille du Temple.
This is also where you will find Europe’s biggest gay club, Le Dépôt. Lesbians should head for Rue des Ecouffes, south of Le Marais.


Not an urban metropolis but an idyllic Greek island in the Aegean Sea. As far back as the 1960s Mykonos was renowned for its tolerant attitude to homosexuals of both genders and for its exuberant nightlife.
Nude sunbathing on some beaches is regarded as perfectly acceptable. As one travel agent puts it “All accommodation here is gay friendly, for without gay tourism Mykonos would be empty”.


For many years Amsterdam was traditionally touted as the Gay Capital of the World. But the Dutch capital’s gay and lesbian community believe the city’s tolerant reputation has taken quite a beating in recent years.
In fact, 75 percent reckon the city barely deserves the title despite its being the city to perform the world’s first gay marriage on 1 April 2001. Political party D66 wants the city’s Homo Monument placed on the European Cultural Heritage list.


Many Israelis take a tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, even if gay marriage is seen as out of the question on religious grounds.
Tel Aviv has always had a reputation for its vibrant nightlife, which has become even more flamboyant since the tourist industry discovered the gay market. A concerted effort is being made to improve the gay-friendly atmosphere of the city’s beaches and nightclubs.


The Catalan capital’s tolerant attitude to gays and lesbians dates back to the Franco dictatorship. Homosexuality was officially outlawed then, but the gay community found acceptance in Barcelona.
Nowadays same sex couples can even get married in Spain. Barcelona’s gay district is L'Eixample, dubbed GayEixample by the locals.


The South African city is one of the most gay-friendly in the southern hemisphere. Waterkant Village is Cape Town’s “gay village”. The beach at Clifton 3 (the 3rd beach at Clifton) is another popular place to be. The highlight of the year is December’s Mother City Queer Project: an enormous, dazzling gay costume ball.

Day Opening - December 21

Venice exactly one year ago...