While the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold same-sex marriage—now just called “marriage”—was a victory, bigotry is, sadly, alive and well. Recently, a gay couple was kicked out of their Galveston Airbnb due to the host’s “straight-friendly” home. Airbnb swiftly removed the host from its site, but it’s safe to say that traveling while gay still isn’t a walk in the park.
Despite the ongoing battle for equality, many destinations around the world have set the bar for safe and fun travel for members of the LGBTQ community. Grab your significant other and hit one of these five destinations.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Home to one of the world’s top gay beaches, Farme de Amoedo, and to one of the biggest Pride parades in the world, Rio de Janeiro has made a name for itself as one of Latin America’s best places for gay people to live and travel freely. Carnival brings thousands of gay Brazilians from across the country. Ipanema, the neighborhood that’s home to Farme de Amoedo, also has many gay-friendly cafes, restaurants and bars. Be on the lookout for GLS, an abbreviation for Gays, Lesbians and Sympathizers, which is a sign that any and all are welcome.
Just 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona, the town of Sitges is home to the prominent gay-friendly beach Playa de las Balmins. Sitges is also home to Spain’s first gay disco, which opened during 1980. As with most coastal cities in Spain, visitors enjoy beaches that are sometimes clothing-optional, as well as all sorts of events all year long. The city is a part of Europe’s Big Four, which also includes Mykonos, Ibiza and Gran Canaria, all key stops for same-sex travel.
It would be an injustice to forget the first nation in the world to legally recognize same-sex partnerships. Copenhagen, one of the most relaxing and visually arresting cities on earth, sits in the center of Denmark. Centralhjornet, Europe’s oldest openly gay bar, is there, along with Vesterbro, the city’s first red-light district. Gay-friendly accommodations, incomparable cocktail bars, cobblestone streets straight out of a fairytale, and an endless number of queer events makes this country a staple for travel. Don’t miss Rainbow Square, a recent addition near City Hall Tower that recognizes the journey toward equal rights.
Berlin proudly displays a gay history that dates back to the 1920s. The vibrant community is home to the districts of Schoneberg (host of Gay Pride), Prenzlauerberg and Kreuzberg, all of which are filled with bars, clubs and restaurants. There’s no “closing time” in Berlin, so the party never stops. The daring will want to visit for Easter Fetish Week, and try on leather at Folsom Europe. As a whole, by the way, Germany is known to be exceedingly tolerant and welcoming to its gay citizens.
San Francisco, California
The U.S. has its share of great places for same-sex travel too, and San Francisco is inarguably at the top of the list. Home to slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk, San Francisco is the epicenter of gay history in America, and the entire city is gay-friendly. Be sure to enjoy the Cruisin’ the Castro Tour, which includes stops to the Gold Rush in the Castro and the Rainbow Honor Walk.