IThe year 2003 and my boyfriend and I were nervous at the hotel reception in Woodbridge, Suffolk. We can feel the cold disgust of fifty men at the desk when we ask for two rooms, not twin rooms. After we checked in, we were both worried: I was angry at how we were treated, while my partner believed we should “accept” it, “that’s all.”
At the time, there was little you could do about such obvious bias – at least on a daily basis. For gay-owned hotels and B&Bs, some relief can be found through listings in Gay Times. But, sadly, travel has long been an issue for LGBTQ + people, whether in the UK or abroad, where customs, legitimacy and local cultural norms still need to be considered.
In the last decade, of course, there have been positive changes. But we are still not there. A new survey by travel agency Booking.com found that 71% of British LGBTQ + travelers experience less than a welcome or uncomfortable experience, and 61% consider their safety and well-being when choosing a vacation destination.
And no matter how liberal a country may be, there is always some concern: the simple act of holding hands is something that non-LGBTQ + people can only think of or do without being aware of the immediate environment.
Thankfully, most of Europe is relatively safe. There are 10 places to consider this summer, except for the obvious queer mecca of London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Brighton.
Malta is one of the first EU countries to ban conversion practices, one of the world’s most LGBTQ-progressive nations. It is one of only five countries to equalize queer rights at the constitutional level and ranks first in ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Index, which ranks countries in LGBTQ + equality.
On my last visit, a gay guide showed me the winding medieval streets of Valeta and Rabat, the essential bars and restaurants from Michelin-starred Noni to the Mona Lisa Lounge drag bar, as well as the lively Paceville nightclub Michelangelo. Stay close to No. 11 (double from £ 121), a stylish “adult-only” boutique hotel. Pride runs full week (September 2-11), and EuroPride arrives in Valletta from September 7-17 next year, while one-off follows for LGBTQ + parties. s2s events On Facebook
In 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Two years later, Leo Varadkar became the world’s fourth most openly gay head of state, and Taoisech was elected. This feeling is filtered at many of Dublin’s LGBTQ-friendly establishments: two personal favorites, one of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods, the friendly Brunch Spot Social Fabric Cafe in Stoneybatter, and the Street 66 bar, a useful cocktail spot the night before at the prestigious LGBTQ + establishment. George.
There is also the gutter bookshop (named after the famous Oscar Wilde) owned by Southside gays and the weekly “Big Gay Disco” at Farrier & Draper. Or cross the river for an outhouse LGBTQ + romance resource cafe on Capitol Street and Pantybar, owned by Drag Queen, activist and artist Panti Bliss. The Dublin Pride runs from 22-28, with the main parade on the 25th – stay at the Temple Bar Inn in the center (double from £ 159).
As in other Scandinavian cities like Stockholm and Oslo, the high level of LGBTQ + integration means the business scene in the Danish capital is small. Enjoy brunch at the Oscar Bar and Caf, one of Europe’s oldest gay bars, CentralJornet, which hosts drag and Sunday jazz sessions throughout the year.
Other locations include Cristiania’s Bosehuset, theaters, performances, exhibitions and parties – the well-located boutique Hotel SP34 (double from £ 133) in the Latin Quarter. The Copenhagen Pride runs from August 15-21, while the MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ Film Festival, which began in 1986, runs from October 21-30. Locals call Copenhagen “Scandinavia’s LGBTQ + neighborhood”.
Although Edinburgh has long been a safe choice for LGBTQ + visitors, I love Glasgow’s crowded streets, diverse neighborhoods and fresh food scene (go to the lobo at the queer-friendly Strathbango for delicious little plates). The city’s oldest gay bar, The Waterloo, is half a century old, while another classic location is an underground bar, equally fun for drag or karaoke. The nearby Delmonica’s (locally known as “Del’s”) has been in Merchant City’s “Gay Triangle” since 1991.
To stay close, try the well-priced Brunswick Hotel (double the £ 50) on the street with rainbow flagged places. Another essentially “seriously free” LGBTQ + bookstore is class books: it’s extremely friendly and happily engaged. Pride Glasgow this Saturday, June 25th.
Italy still has a way of recognizing LGBTQ + residents in law: while gay relationships and civil unions are legal, marriage is not currently. But, unlike in many Italian cities, it is common to see gay couples holding hands or kissing in the fashion capital Milan. Visit Via Lecco around Porta Venezia with its quirky center – and the bar-restaurant Lecomilano, Bar Baso (try its signature Negroni Sbagliato), or the cozy Cafe-Bar Blanco.
For a great night out there is a warehouse club magazine, a toilet with a weird name, or Club Plastic: started in 1980, the club has been the haunt of Madonna, Freddie Mercury and Elton John. Meanwhile, Gate Party is a monthly choir event with light shows, drama sets, dancers and performers. Pride continues until the July 2 parade, which draws nearly 100,000 people. Sweetly named Too Cute 2b Str8 (double from £ 67), comfortable adults only stay at B&B.
On my last visit to Birmingham, rainbow flags were seen everywhere, and the historic gay village, its bars, shops and cafes, largely centered on Hurst Street, looked huge. Before having a drink at Missing, the sidewalk or the lesbian bar The Fox, start with Bibimbap at the Korean restaurant Topoki and dance at the city’s oldest gay club, the legendary Nightingale Club in 1969.
This summer’s hot LGBTQ + event, Fears Healing Garden of Bob (June 27-July 17): Part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, is an artistic response to this summer’s Commonwealth Games, “What the British Empire tried (and failed) to stamp out.” Celebrating that. . Participants from South Africa, Ghana, Canada, India and Australia will have artworks, exhibitions, drag and creative club nights. Meanwhile, Birmingham Pride takes place on 24 and 25 September. Try the Apartment Hotel Stay Cool (double from £ 99) for a central pad with hidden city views.
Most of the Mediterranean islands, as we have seen with Malta, are safe havens for LGBTQ + travelers, from fictional Ibiza to Gran Canaria. Greece is thinking ahead in its LGBTQ + rights: Male and female homosexuality has been legal in Greece for over 70 years. Mykonos’ representative as a fantastic paradise dates back to the 1970s, when Jackie Onassis became a regular visitor (she first visited in 1961), before it flourished as a gay resort in the 1980s, accommodating a large number of male clients.
In 2022, you can hang out at the established hotspot Jackie O, Bar Porta or Castro and stay in Super Paradise (double from £ 249) useful for the island’s main LGBTQ + beach. The biggest gay dance festival of the season is XLSIOR, with around 30,000 people (August 17-24) participating.
For many gay men of a certain age, Finland is associated with the iconic Finnish-skinned hero Tom, whose books say homosexuality was still illegal before 1971. Now you can take a tour of where author Tuko Laxonen spent his entire adult life, crossing the Consulate (People’s Square) in front of Parliament, which was once a secret meeting point for gay men.
LGBTQ + karaoke fans should check out Manus Street, an alcoholic institution; Other places of interest are Street Pride in the Campy District, and a combined Kvääristö for queer women, transgender, and non-binary people. You may also be able to join the Helsinki Homoinvasio (Helsinki Gay Attack), which aims to “shake up the gay scene” with random straight bars. Meanwhile, the Helsinki Pride, which runs from June 27 to July 3, regularly attracts 100,000 visitors. Stay at LGBTQ-friendly design Hotel Klaus K (room from £ 80).
Like Malta and Denmark, Belgium scores high in its LGBTQ + rights protection. Surprisingly, homosexuality was legalized in 1795, while it was the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. Brussels as its quaint capital, the industrial waterside city of Antwerp, famous as the fashion hub. , Is equally inclusive.
Cartonen Dozen is the only LGBTQ + bookstore in Flanders, in the Zurenburg district, while the popular “Safe Haven” Hessenhuis Cafe, which opened in 1993, is housed in a nearly 500-year-old building. Late-night owls should head to Cargo Club or Fetish Club The Boots, while the Antwerp Pride runs through August 10-15. Stay at the Boulevard Leopold (double from £ 108) in the Jewish Quarter, whose original LGBTQ + owners spent nine months converting a three-story 1890 Flemish townhouse into a beautiful deco palace.
The facts are staggering: the 500,000-strong queer population (according to City Hall) is Spain’s most queer-friendly city – even though Barcelona and Sitges are enjoying a high profile among many LGBTQ + holidaymakers. Meanwhile, Madrid Pride (July 1-10) is the second largest in the world (after San Francisco) and the largest in Europe, attracting more than 1.5 million people each year, including 300,000 foreign visitors.
Spain itself is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world: homosexuality was legalized in 1979, and it was the third country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005. The first stop should be the “Gaborhood” of Madrid. “Including points and bars and venues around the Plaza de Chue (don’t forget the deliciously decorated food stalls and the recently renovated Mercado San Anton for the terrace terrace). Letras’ “heterofriendly” adults only stay at the Excel Hotel (double from £ 65).