In a fast-paced world where traveling to space is the norm and politicians are targeting drag queens instead of gun control, it might help to have a little guidance when navigating where your next “hot girl summer” will be. We can’t deny that across the board, a Canadian summer is like no other – however, we’d like to make the argument that, whether you’re celebrating Pride or not, there are plenty of queer-friendly places around the world for you to explore.
A few things to keep in mind before you venture off…
While one specific country may not have laws that are in favour of LGBTQ2S+ folk, there are usually metropolitan cities where there is a higher level of tolerance. For example, Florianopolis is known as the “gay paradise” of Brazil, but, it’s important to mention that there are numerous well-documented cases of hate crimes against LGBTQ2S+ people across the country – especially against trans individuals.
On the flip side, though places like the United States and Australia have wider-spread laws protecting LGBTQ2S+ people, there are many pockets within the country (even within sprawling cities) that have countless cases of violence and hate speech.
We need to also examine privilege here…
Because our community is so wonderfully-colourful and diverse, it’s important to understand the social dynamics of a white person’s experience traveling abroad versus someone who identifies as BIPOC and/or trans/non-binary.
In my opinion, it’s not worth visiting if you have to hide or compromise how you want to live authentically.
So, while many gay people love to travel to places like Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan and Mexico, there are still systems in place to intentionally marginalize, isolate and harm those who don’t fit into the “tiny square box” of white, male and “passing.” (For those that don’t know, “passing” is a term used to describe a queer person that presents as traditionally heterosexual.)
For my BIPOC and trans/non-binary folk out there, take a bit of extra time researching the country you would like to visit. In my opinion, it’s not worth visiting if you have to hide or compromise how you want to live authentically.
Destinations for LGBTQ2S+ travellers
With all that being said, as beautifully-colourful and diverse the LGBTQ2S+ community is, there are equally as beautiful places around the world that match our vibrant energy. Below, here is a short list of those icons to consider visiting this summer.
Disclaimer: It’s important to note that the following list is not exhaustive. Many countries in the world have LGBTQ2S+-friendly cities, whereas the country’s laws or suburban areas do not have the same level of tolerance. It’s important to stay vigilant, know the laws of the country you’re visiting, but most of all, don’t compromise who you are – stay golden babes.
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If you’re into nightlife, you won’t be disappointed in the Netherlands. Rotterdam and especially Amsterdam have a massive queer-friendly club scene Europeans flock to every summer. If you’re into a little historical immersion, be sure to check out the Zeedijk neighbourhood next to The Red Light district.
Don’t quote us, but Spain might be the gayest country in Europe. The queer scene in cities like Barcelona and Seville aren’t exclusive to the night life; these cities (and many others) host cultural events that celebrate LGBTQ2S+ culture. We recommend visiting Stiges – it’s like the fire island, but better.
Bet you didn’t expect Chile to be on this list! Chile happens to be one of the more progressive countries in Latin America, with an ever-growing queer scene in the capital city of Santiago. Though there isn’t a dedicated district for LGBTQ2S+ people, the neighbourhoods of Bellavista and Lastarria – Bellas Artes see a considerable turnout for queer people.
The cities of Wellington and Auckland have a bustling “gay scene,” and the country itself has some of the strongest laws protecting LGBTQ2+ people anywhere in the world. If you can handle the 16+ hour flight, we’re sure this island of lush forest and glimmering shores will be the perfect gay getaway.
Colombia has long been associated with illicit drug trade and ongoing border disputes with Venezuela and Ecuador. It is important to know that beyond that narrative, there is a culturally rich LGBTQ2S+ community waiting for you in cities like Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin. Colombia has become somewhat of a “queer capital” in South America, making it one of the most attractive and safer places to visit in the continent.
I want to say that every gay man believes they are the centre of the world, so naturally Ecuador (being the centre of the world) is the perfect place for them to visit! Jokes aside, Ecuador — like Colombia and Chile — has a growing and vibrant queer-friendly scene. Rights for trans people and the right to marry are some of the strongest positions the government has taken in recent years. We recommend visiting places like Guayaquil, Quito and Banos… and if you’re feeling a little “adventurous,” Montanita.
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Have you ever been to Montevideo? Well you should. If you’re looking for an unexpected trip to a very queer-friendly tropical country, look no further than Uruguay. The capital Montevideo is a gorgeous coastal city with the best beach bars you can imagine. The neighbourhood of surrounding Rambla Francia will be your best option for prime nightlife.
Is it me, or has everyone in 2022 realized that Portugal is a pretty incredible country to visit? In the month of May alone, hundreds of thousands of people travelled to places like Lisboa, Algarve and Porto – many of who (one can only assume) were queer people looking to travel for the first time since the pandemic began. Portugal’s queer-friendly cities foster a strong sense of community with cultural events happening every year for LGBTQ2S+ people.
This beautiful little island nestled beneath China is a great and relatively safe country to visit in East Asia. Though there is still much work to be done to protect LGBTQ2S+ people, Taiwan has the most comprehensive laws in place to protect queer people. In 2020, Taipei led the a “global pride parade” when most countries were restricting public events due to COVID-19.
Though there are pockets within the vast and diverse continent of Africa that are queer tolerant, our research suggests that South Africa has the “safest” laws protecting queer people from hate speech and violence. Not to mention, if you’re itching to visit a continent that isn’t Europe, the southernmost point of Africa offers beautiful coastal cities with lots of outdoor activities for the nature junkies in places like Cape Town.
Even if none of these speak to you and you’re more of a homebody, we’re happy to say that Canada has reached top of the list of many human rights index sources that pertain to the safety and well-being of LGBTQ2S+ people. Besides, when you’re stuck in eight-plus months of perpetual frosty weather, it’s kind of nice to enjoy the summer heat from the comfort of your own home – while it lasts that is.
Final note: Please check your government website for the most up-to-date information on travel advisories and restrictions before departing. Keeping yourself safe should be the number one priority.