October 11 marks National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate the brave decision to live openly as a member of the LGBTQ community. It is also a day meant to expand acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and raise awareness around the political and social pressures that keep many in the closet.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, we want to highlight the most gay-friendly cities from each major continent—destinations where the LGBTQ community is not just accepted, but warmly embraced.
If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community and love to travel, consider a journey to one of these destinations.
San Francisco, California—North America
There are few places in the world that embody LGBTQ acceptance more than San Francisco. In fact, the city is practically synonymous with the LGBTQ community and has long served as a beacon for queer culture.
The “City by the Bay” is home to one of the world’s most recognized centers of queer culture, the Castro. The historic LGBTQ neighborhood is now significantly more integrated, but it is still home to a large population of LGBTQ individuals. It is also home to the GLBT History Museum, which celebrates 100 years of queer culture in the city.
Buenos Aires, Argentina—South America
Sexy, sultry, and smart are all perfect ways to describe South America’s most gay-friendly city. Buenos Aires is a LGBTQ hot spot because of its gorgeous architecture, steamy nightlife, and mélange of romance cultures.
Whether attending a LGBTQ tango salon hosted by Tango Queer or enjoying drinks at a sidewalk café in the ultra-hip Palermo neighborhood, gay residents and travelers will find a city that feels welcoming and warm, if not downright steamy.
Viewfinder Tip: Coming out is a very personal—and potentially difficult—choice. If you or someone you care about is struggling to make this brave decision, there are resources to help.
As we wrote in our LGBTQ gay travel guide, Germany’s capital has played such a critical role in the global LGBTQ movement that the city is considered to be the center of gay culture in Europe.
Berlin is actually home to the first LGBTQ neighborhood in the world, Schöneberg. Beyond just being a historic haven for gay and trans individuals, the neighborhood—and greater Berlin—have shaped global queer culture and continue to be a driving force in shifting perceptions about the LGBTQ community.
Cape Town, South Africa—Africa
Cape Town is recognized as the “gay capital of Africa.” From the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) waterfront, home to the gay-friendly Table Bay Hotel, to trendy, well-heeled Camps Bay, the city offers a broad range of options for the LGBTQ community.
South Africa provides members of the LGBTQ community with a whole host of legal and constitutional protections. Those protections are celebrated every year in December at Mother City Queer Project’s massive costume party.
Bangkok is a thriving metropolitan city with a famous (or perhaps infamous) gay culture. Despite the notorious nightclubs and urban hubbub, the city has a rich culture that feels peaceful and welcoming.
While Bangkok is a popular LGBTQ travel destination with a vibrant gay scene, the city has a complex relationship with the LGBTQ community. On one hand, there is a strong and open transsexual community, with trans individuals even being represented in popular media, but—like many gay-friendly places around the world—the LGBTQ community is just now earning legal protections.
From the bustling gay scene around Oxford Street to the golden bodies of North Bondi Beach, Sydney has emerged as a world-class queer hot spot with a well-deserved reputation for embracing the LGBTQ community.
Sun-drenched Sydney hosts the largest gay pride celebration in the world, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Like Stonewall, the celebration has its roots in political activism. Now, every March, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ individuals and their allies come to commemorate and to celebrate the positive change the community has worked so hard for, while propelling toward even greater equality.
How do you celebrate National Coming Out Day?