A gay cupbearer on Mount Olympus? Male lovers in the Trojan War? While tolerance is often presented as a sign of civilization’s advancement, a reading of Greek mythology reveals greater acceptance of homosexuality in ancient Athens than can be boasted within today’s world religions. These LGBT Greek gods and demigods prove gay culture is no modern invention. Above: Antonio Verrio, The Gods on Mount Olympus (1690-1694)
AchillesThe Greek hero Achilles was invulnerable excepting his famous weak heel, but a male shieldbearer broke through the warrior’s romantic defenses. While Homer never explicitly states a gay relationship between Achilles and sidekick Patroclus, many scholars read a romantic connection between the two, as only Patroclus ever drew out a compassionate side to the famously arrogant warrior. Patroclus’s death at the hands of Trojan Prince Hector sent Achilles into a rage in which he killed Hector and dragged his body around Troy. Other myths also disclose Achilles was struck by the beauty of Troilus, a Trojan prince. Above: Jean-Baptiste Regnault, Education of Achilles (1780-1790)
ZeusWhile a famous philanderer who sired countless demigods by every peasant girl in need of an explanation to her parents, Zeus famously selected the young mortal Ganymede to serve as his cupbearer on Mount Olympus. The relationship provided the foundation of the custom of paiderastia, the practice of Greek men at the time maintaining erotic relationships with adolescent boys on the side. Above: Zeus and Ganymede, artist and date unknown.
NarcissusA figure mostly known for his obsessive vanity, this son of a nymph and a river god would spend his last days gazing at his own reflection, but the first man he showed affection for was not himself. A myth traced in origin to the Boeotia region mentions a relationship between Narcissus and the smitten Ameinias, whom Narcissus would eventually grow tired of before sending him a sword as a kiss-off. Ameinias, desperately depressed over the rejection, killed himself. Above: Jean-George Vibert, Narcissus
ApolloThe sun god, one of the most important in all literature, was also quite the libertine. Besides dalliances with numerous nymphs, Apollo was also lover to Macedonian Prince Hyakinthos, who died catching a thrown discus, then turned by the god into the hyacinth flower. The Pseudo-Apollodorus also said Apollo had been with Thracian singer Thamyris in the first man-on-man relationship in history. And for those who think same-sex nuptials are a 21st-century invention, Apollo also was in a relationship with Hymen, the god of marriage. Above: Alexander Kiselev, Apollo and Hyacinth (1884)
ChrysippusEuripedes wrote that this divine Peloponnesian hero was on the way to compete in the Nemean Games when his Theban tutor Laius ran off with him and raped him. The incident drew a curse upon the city of Thebes. Above: Chrysippus, kidnapped by Laius, looks for his father Pelops running behind the chariot; Volute Krater image (320 B.C.)
HermesThe wing-heeled messenger of the gods was said in multiple myths to have male lovers. In a variation of the Hyacinth myth, it was Hermes’ lover Crocus who was killed by a discus thrown by a god before being turned into a flower. Some myths suggest a romantic relationship between Hermes and the hero Perseus. And while some stories list Daphnis, the inventor of pastoral poetry, as the son of Hermes, other sources claim him to be the god of speed’s favorite lover. Above: Logios Hermes (Hermes Orator); marble, Roman copy from the late first century B.C.-early second century A.D. after a Greek original of the fifth century B.C.
PanOf course, many mythological texts and artworks connect Daphnis to the satyr Pan, god of music. Pan frequently was depicted in sculpture chasing both women and men around with his always-erect penis and oversized scrotum. Half man. Half goat. Bisexual. Size queen. Above: Rossi Domenico, Pan and Apollo (circa 1704), engraving
DionysusBest known as the Greek god of wine, Dionysus was also the god of intersex and transgender people. Male lovers of the god included the satyr Ampelos and the famously handsome Adonis. He also once made a journey to Hades and was guided by the shepherd Prosymnus, who led the way in exchange for the chance to make love to the party god. When Prosymnus died before that deal would be consummated, the god created a wood phallus to ritually fulfill the promise, according to research by a number of Christian historians, including Hyginus and Arnobius. Above: Diego Velázquez, The Triumph of Bacchus, a.k.a. Dionysus (1629)
HeraclesThe famous hero had a number of male companions through his many trials. Among them: Abderos, who kept the mares of Diomedes for Heracles but was eaten by the beasts; Hylas, Heracles‘ companion when he sailed on the Argo, who was eventually kidnapped by nymphs in Mysia; and Iolaus, who help cauterize the necks of the hydra when Heracles famously chopped off the beast’s many heads. Indeed, the relationship with Iolaus was enshrined in Thebes, where male couples of the day could be found “exchanging vows and pledges with their beloved at his tomb,” according to historian Louis Crompton. Above: Hans Sebald Beham, Heracles and Iolaus dispatching the hydra with club and fire
PoseidonAccording to Pindar’s First Olympian Ode, Pelops, the king of Pisa, once shared “Aphrodite’s sweet gifts” with the ocean god himself. Pelops for a time was taken to Olympus by Poseidon and trained to drive the divine chariot. Above: Felice Giani, The Marriage of Poseidon and Amphitrite (1802-1805)
OrpheusThe legendary poet and musician may be best known for the story of his journey to the underworld to retrieve his wife, Eurydice; he failed to do so when he succumbed to temptation and looked at her before both had returned to the world of the living. According to Ovid, he never took another female lover after that — but did love other young men in Thrace. Spurned, Ciconian women would eventually tear Orpheus apart during a Bacchic orgy. Above: John Macallan Swan, Orpheus (1896)
HermaphroditusPerhaps the earliest literary reference to an intersex person concerns this child of Hermes and love goddess Aphrodite who as a youth encountered the nymph Salmacis, who attempted to seduce the youth and asked the gods that their forms be permanently joined. The creature of both sexes was frequently depicted in classical art as a figure with womanly breasts and form but with male genitalia. Above: Francois Joseph Navez, The Nymph Salmacis and Hermaphroditus
CallistoThis nymph follower of Artemis took a vow to remain a virgin and could not be tempted even by Zeus, at least in male form. But when Zeus disguised himself as Artemis, she was lured into the goddess’s embrace. Hesiod wrote that after this tryst was discovered, Callisto was turned into a bear before she gave birth to son Arcas. Callisto and Arcas were later put in the stars as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
ArtemisTwin sister to Apollo, the goddess was by differing accounts a nearly asexual virgin or a lesbian with many nymph lovers, including Cyrene, Atalanta, and Anticleia as well as moon goddess Dictynna. By some accounts, she was Callisto’s lover before the nymph was raped by Zeus. Researcher Johanna Hypatia-Cybelaia writes that lesbian and gay devotees worshipped her as Artemis Orthia, and that lesbian port Pamphilia referred to the goddess in hymn as Artemis Pergaea. Above: Peter Paul Rubens, Artemis and Callisto
The AmazonsThe original race of warrior women, the Amazons of myth lived in a society free of men, one where the powerful women would only have heterosexual sex once or twice a year — for reproductive purposes only — with male slaves abducted from neighboring villages or taken prisoner during wars, according to Strabo. So what happened the rest of the year? Well, many scholars suggest the idea of a lesbian culture is just modern fantasy, though there is art from the time that depicts Amazonian Queen Penthesilia accepting a love gift from a Thracian huntress. Above: Johann Georg Platzer, The Amazon Queen Thalestris in the Camp of Alexander the Great
TeiresiasThe blind prophet of Apollo was most famous in Greek myth for being transformed from a man into a woman for seven years. During his female years, Teiresias became a priestess of Hera, married, and even had children, according to Hesiod. Call him mythology’s original transgender person. After the gods changed him back, Zeus asked who enjoyed sex more, men or women. Teiresias revealed the ladies had it roughly 10 times better than the lads. Reporting this earned him a blinding by Hera. Above: Pentheus Scorns The Prophecies of Tiresias
AthenaThe goddess of wisdom and patron of Athens was a virgin by nearly every mythological account but did express a romantic attraction to the Attic maiden Myrmex. However, that ended poorly when Myrmex pretended to have invented the plow, one of Athena’s creations, and Athena turned the girl into an ant. Above: Athena, center, in a mural by John Singer Sargent
AphroditeWhile the goddess of love is not identified prominently as lesbian herself, the Greek poet Sappho (as in sapphic) of Lesbos (yes, as in lesbian) told many homoerotic tales and named Aphrodite as the greatest patron and ally of lesbians and homosexuals within the Greek pantheon of gods. Above: Enrique Simonet, El Juicio de Paris (1904)
ErosWhile the best-known myths of Eros depict the son of Aphrodite as a fertility god — the version that proved inspirational to the popularized Roman god Cupid — later Greek myths portrayed Eros as one of several winged erotes, and the one regarded as a protector of homosexual culture, according to research in the scholarly book Among Women: From the Homosocial to the Homoerotic in the Ancient World.
IsisThe Egyptian goddess, also worshipped by Greeks, is known for solving a gender identity issue of yore. Iphis was born female but raised male by his mother, who concealed the truth because her husband wanted a male heir. Ultimately, Iphis fell in love with Ianthe, a woman, and was betrothed to her. Before the wedding, Iphis prayed in the Temple of Isis for a solution, and voila! she became a he. As noted on this may have been a heterosexual ending, but the love story was laced with LGBT themes. Above: Isis (seated right) welcoming the Greek heroine Io as she is borne into Egypt on the shoulders of the personified Nile, as depicted in a Roman wall painting from Pompeii.
Our top 25 most gay friendly countries in the world ?️?
“Which is the most gay friendly country in the world in 2020 Nomadic Boys?”
It’s a question we get asked a lot, which is why we initially published this article and have continued to update it every year. We can either look at it from our own personal perspective travelling as a gay couple, or from the point of view of LGBTQ locals by analysing a countries rights and laws.
Drawing from our wealth of experience from travelling to over 100 countries (including the ones in this list), along with our interviews with gay locals from each place we’ve visited, we have sat down to discuss, assess, review and discuss again what we think are the most gay-friendly countries in the world!
Origin and Meaning
1) Male usage of Gay f 
2) Irish pet form of Gabriel 
My personal research into homosexuality in the Viking Age shows clearly that the Vikings had words (and therefore mental constructs and concepts) of same-sex activity; however since the needs of agricultural/pastoral living require reproduction not only to work the farm but also to provide support for the parent in old age, it was expected that no matter what one’s affectional preferences were that each individual would marry and reproduce. There are no recorded instances of homosexual or lesbian couples in the Viking Age: moreover, the idea of living as an exclusively homosexual person did not exist in most cultures until present day Western civilization appeared. One’s sexual partners mattered little so long as one married, had children, and conformed at least on the surface to societal norms so as not to disturb the community. Those Scandinavians who attempted to avoid marriage because of their sexuality were penalized in law: a man who shunned marriage was termed fuðflogi (man who flees the female sex organ) while a woman who tried to avoid marriage was flannfluga (she who flees the male sex organ) (Jochens 65).
The evidence of the sagas and laws shows that male homosexuality was regarded in two lights: there was nothing at all strange or shameful about a man having intercourse with another man if he was in the active or „manly“ role, however the passive partner in homosexual intercourse was regarded with derision. It must be remembered, however, that the laws and sagas reflect the Christian consciousness of the Icelander or Norwegian of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, well after the pagan period. The myths and legends show that honored gods and heroes were believed to have taken part in homosexual acts, which may indicate that pre-Christian Viking Scandinavia was more tolerant of homosexuality, and history is altogether silent as to the practice of lesbianism in the Viking Age.
What makes a country gay friendly?
In this section, we explain and summarise how we put together this list. In a nutshell, we always start with the Spartacus index as a guide and also focus on the countries that have passed gay marriage laws. We then embellish this with our personal experience and also take into account any notable Gay Villages and annual queer events such as Pride.
?️? Based on all of the above, the most gay friendly country in the world is…. ?️?
It’s a no brainer for us, Canada is the most gay friendly country in the world. From our experience, unlike any other country we’ve visited, Canada goes over and above to welcome gay travellers. Where else in the world do you see the (straight white male) leader of a country leading a gay pride parade, waving a transgender flag, and crying out “Happy Pride”? We saw Justin Trudeau do this when we attended the Fierte gay pride in Montreal. It made our hairs stand on end with Pride to see this!
Ask anyone what their favourite gay Pride event is and most will likely say Madrid. Ask any gay man where their favourite gay destination is in Europe and they will most likely include Sitges, Gran Canaria, Barcelona and/or Ibiza on their list. These two gay men certainly think so! Yes, we’re generalising a bit, but the point is that Spain has arguably the highest number of gay-friendly destinations.
Spain is a trailblazer when it comes to LGBTQ rights with an incredibly openminded society who embrace and celebrate diversity.
3. The Netherlands
The first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, a place lauded for being a bedrock of tolerance and one of the most exciting gay travel destinations with a unique Pride event along the canals of Amsterdam. As my Dutch (straight) male friend so beautifully put it when I came out to him – “you don’t need to come out to me, Stefan – I’m from Holland, the most open-minded country in the world!”
4. United Kingdom
The UK will always have a special place in our hearts, especially Stefan’s home city, London. This is where we met, back in February 2009 in Soho’s GAY Bar. London has one of the best gay scenes in the world with several gay villages spread all around the city. Outside of London, Brighton and Manchester are top gay destinations that we love.
The UK also has the MOST number of annual Pride events happening out of any other country in the world.
“Gay since 1944” is Sweden’s official gay slogan. A country that has its own gay slogan ffs – need we say more?! In actual fact we do: they nail it in Eurovision (Europe’s annual unofficial gay music festival!) every year and they gave us ABBA – the authors of THE best gay anthems! Sweden also has more Pride festivals per-capita in Sweden than anywhere else in the world, including the largest Pride in the Nordic countries – Stockholm Pride. In 2021, all eyes will be on Sweden as it co-hosts WorldPride in Malmo jointly with Copenhagen.
All eyes will be on Sweden as it hosts WorldPride 2021 in Malmo jointly with Copenhagen
Germany has long been famous as being one of the gayest countries in the world especially because of the wide and diverse gay scene of Berlin. Unlike all the other European cities, which tend to have a rather limited scope for LGBTQ spaces, Berlin has a wide and diverse gay scene where everyone from the community can find refuge in.
Whether you’re a perky twink or a rough and ready leather daddy, there’s something for you in Berlin!
Germany also has an array of fabulous politicians including Berlin’s former Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, who outed himself with the famous words – “Ich bin schwul – und das ist auch gut so!” which translates as “I am gay – and that’s a good thing!”…we hear you girl!
Over the last decade, Australia has grown more and more fabulous, with some of the most progressive LGBTQ laws in the world, lots of gay havens…and we already mentioned Mardi Gras, right? Back in 2017, the Australians were asked to vote on marriage equality and their response was a big resounding YES. So today, we say a big YES back to the Land Down Under!
The country that gave us Mardi Gras, Matthew Mitcham, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Speedos and my favourite ever diva, Ms Kylie Minogue!
Whether or not you accept Taiwan as a “country” (it has its own set of laws, flag, military, currency and national anthem, so why not says we?), we cannot have a list of gay-friendly countries in the world and not include it. Taiwan is one place in the world we felt super comfortable and welcome as a gay couple wherever we went. It also says a lot that Taiwan has the largest gay festival in Asia (Taipei Pride) and one of the best gay scenes in all of Asia around the Ximen Red House in Taipei.
In 2019, it famously became the first (and to date, only!) place in Asia to legalise gay marriage.
Mention Colombia to someone and the Narcos Netflix show will inevitably come up in conversation. Over the past few decades, Colombia has completely revolutionised to become one of the most gay-friendly countries in Latin America, and in the world! The culture itself is saturated in all things we love – passionate Latino dancing, beautiful men, and sparkling wear, Colombia is fast becoming a haven for all LGBTQ travellers. Oh, and did we mention the massive Theatron gay club in Bogota?
With big hearts, and hips that don’t lie Colombians are one of the most LGBTQ accepting people in the world!
Denmark has, for many years, been a pink trailblazer, legalising love between two people of the same gender as far back as 1933. Then in 1989, it became the first country in the world to legally recognise registered gay partnerships. Whilst not known as being a party city or one with prominent LGBTQ events, we place Denmark high up on this list because all fabulous eyes will be on Copenhagen and Malmo over the next year when the two cities unite to host WorldPride 2021!
The famous home of Lego is Lonely Planet’s pick as the most gay-friendly place on Earth.
11. New Zealand
New Zealand has for decades been one of the most gay and transgender friendly countries in the world. From as far back as 1993, they began passing super progressive anti-discrimination laws, such as removing the LGBTQ ban on the military, introducing the right to change legal gender, and introducing gay marriage.
New Zealand is renowed for having many openly gay ministers in its Parliament, like Grant Robertson, Louisa Wall, Charles, Chauvel and Georgina Beyer.
And can we take a moment to talk about how frickin’ amazing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is?! She became the country’s first leader to march in a gay Pride parade in Auckland in 2018 and is always speaking out in support of the New Zealand LGBTQ community.
Despite the ice in its name, these natives have hearts filled with warmth! Iceland for us is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world for so many reasons. Gay marriage was ticked off in June 2010 with a in the Icelandic Althing (the national parliament of Iceland). Normally in gay marriage debates, you have a sad minority droning on about how unnatural we are and how we pollute the sanctity of marriage etc etc… But not in Iceland! Gay marriage laws passed here with flying pink colours!
Gay marriage was ticked off in June 2010 with a unanimous vote in Parliament!
We also love that Iceland has featured so much in one of our favourite LGBTQ Netflix shows – “Sense8”, and they have LGBTQ events happening throughout the year, like Rainbow Reykjavik in the winter months.
Portugal’s pink standing has shot up massively over the past decade. After a long period of oppression during the “Estado Novo” years (between 1933-1974), Portugal has evolved massively. It began by decriminalising same gender relationships in 1982, before legalising gay marriage in 2010 (becoming country #8 to do so), adoption in 2016, and in 2011, it passed the (one of the most advanced transgender friendly laws in the world). Portugal is also one of the few countries to have an outright ban in its constitution against discrimination towards LGBTQ people.
Let’s not forget, Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal’s super handsome football stud and recently voted …!
Argentina is a treat! We’ve been several times and each time we fall in love even more, especially with Buenos Aires. It’s not only a spectacular country to explore, it’s super gay friendly. To give you an idea, in 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage, making it the 10th in the world to do so, and the 2nd in the Americas (after Canada). It also has progressive laws for adoption, and when the gender identity laws were introduced in 2012, Argentina became the world’s most transgender-friendly country.
In 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage!
In the media, Argentina has long been a trailblazer in the latino world, featuring a transgender actress Florencia De La Vega actually playing an openly transgender character as far back as 2004 in the telenovela Los Roldán. Then in 2005 the television dating show 12 Corazones-Especial became the first in the country to exclusively feature gay men who kissed on camera – uncensored!
France has long held a belief of “laissez-faire” towards same-gender relationships, ie not interfering in matters that may seem too personal and respecting the privacy of others. For example, former President Mitterrand was able to have a mistress and illegitimate daughter during his 14 years in office without the media pestering him on the subject. If that had happened anywhere else in the world, it would have been a huge scandal!
France has long held a belief of “laissez-faire” towards same-gender relationships
The French in general don’t bat an eyelid if you tell them you’re gay and you will never have any problems with gay bashing in France unless you go to a low-income suburb areas where homophobia is a problem, which as a tourist, you’re unlikely to do.
Every other gay bar we’ve been to in the world has Tom of Finland homoerotic art featured. You know the ones we mean – the images of masculinised muscly men, half nude, in super tight clothes, in suggestive positions! Like its neighbours, Finland is a trailblazer when it comes to LGBTQ rights, with strong anti-discrimination laws in place since the 1990s, long before most other countries. Gay marriage was introduced in 2017 and it has had progressive transgender friendly laws since 2002.
Although Norway is the most expensive place we’ve ever been to, when it comes to gay friendliness, the Norwegians have long been a trailblazer. In 1981, Norway became one of the first countries in the world to pass anti-discrimination laws. In terms of gay marriage, Norway made this law in 2009, and then in 2016, it became the 4th country in Europe to allow change of legal gender based solely on self-determination. Norway was also ranked as the best country for LGBT workers.
Malta’s track record towards LGBTQ people is pretty amazing! For instance, in 2017, The United Nation’s Head of Equality and Non-Discrimination (OHCHR), Charles Radcliffe, was full of praise for Malta, calling it “a beacon of human rights for LGBTIQ issues”. He also said that Malta has become the “gold standard” with regards to LGBTQI reforms.
The home of Conchita Wurst was traditionally quite a conservative Catholic country, however, over the past decade, it has evolved massively to become a pink haven in Central Europe. You could say it… rose like a Phoenix? Austria passed gay marriage laws in 2019, along with an array of progressive transgender legislation. In the same year, the very picturesque capital, Vienna, hosted EuroPride for its second time – the first back in 2001.
The best part, when Conchita won, she held up the trophy and declared in support of our LGBTQ family: “We are unity and we are unstoppable!“
Irish society has recently transformed massively with regards to LGBTQ rights. What used to be a very conservative country, Ireland has certainly “come out of the closet” in relation to attitudes towards LGBTQ people. The Irish public as a whole has said “sashay away” to conservative attitudes and are embracing their spot as one of the world’s most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
In 2015, Ireland became the first nation in the world to legalise gay marriage on a national level by a popular vote.
“In Uruguay, every guy is at least bi…” so said our friends in Montevideo when we first arrived. Whether or not there’s any truth in this, we certainly found Uruguay to be one of the most liberal and gay-friendly countries in the world. For a continent with such a strong influence from the Catholic Church, Uruguay has managed to cut away from this, with a strict separation of state and church dating back to the early 1900s.
“In Uruguay, every guy is at least bi…” so said our friends in Montevideo when we first arrived
This is what has allowed it to evolve into the liberal haven it is today. It became the 1st country in South America to introduce the Welfare State in the early 1900s, and recently introducing equal marriage laws in 2013.
Belgium’s LGBTQ history is enough to make it into any list of the gayest countries in the world. In 2003, it became the 2nd country to legalise gay marriage, as well as one of the first to pass transgender and anti-discrimination laws. Interestingly, Belgium was also the second country (after France) to decriminalise same gender relationships back in 1795.
Belgium has some of the best gay parties in Europe, including the monthly La Demence in Brussels, SPEK in Antwerp and the annual Unicorn Festival in July.
Many may disagree with us placing the USA on this list at all but hear us out. The USA is a true dichotomy. On the one hand, it is arguably THE gayest country in the world – the place where the bulk of modern-day popular gay culture emanates from. On the other hand, there is a lot of homophobia, particularly in the middle Red States, which is why some would criticise us for including the USA in this list in the first place!
USA is the country that gave us the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ global movement, invented the rainbow flag, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race
24. Costa Rica
Our new entry this year is the first country in Central America to legalise gay marriage: Costa Rica, we welcome you with wide-open arms! This is a very forward-thinking country that offers so much for LGBTQ tourists and has for many years been targeting gay travellers. Whilst the country doesn’t have much in terms of a gay scene or queer events, it’s certainly not shy of pretty landscapes and nature discoveries.
Costa Rica is the first country in Central America to have legalized gay marriage
25. South Africa
Africa as a continent is still lagging behind a great deal in terms of its . However, South Africa really makes itself count as being the only African country represented on this list. In 1995, under Nelson Mandela, South Africa became the first country in the world to introduce LGBTQ rights in its constitution. It subsequently became one of the first countries to legalise gay marriage in 2006 and has very progressive transgender laws.
South Africa is the only gay friendly country on the African continent
6. The Feelings Are the Same(1972)
Interview-based documentary about gay and lesbian relationships in Danish society. Excerpt from press release: Homosexuality is a way of life among several others. For some it is a choice, … See full summary »
El día a día de Bent, que es gay: su complicada relación con su madre, una bailarina de cabared, y su círculo de amigos, que en gran parte son gays como él.
Director:Edward Fleming | Stars:Frits Helmuth, Bodil Kjer, Preben Kaas, Poul-Kristian
When a married doctor brings home a gay medical student that he’s smitten with, his wife goes along and the three try to build a non-traditional relationship. Then society’s homophobia intervenes.
Directors:Petter Vennerød, Svend Wam | Stars:Bjørn Skagestad, Kjersti Døvigen, Sossen Krohg, Knut Husebø
17. Friends Forever(1986)
Sixteen year old Kristian is very shy, and is struggling to adjust to his new Copenhagen school. He makes friends with two very different boys, nonconformist Henrik, and bullying clique leader Patrick, who he soon discovers is gay.
Director:Stefan Henszelman | Stars:Claus Bender Mortensen, Thomas Elholm, Thomas Sigsgaard, Lars Kylmann Jacobsen
Tom of Finland is one of the gay world’s few authentic icons. His drawings have had an enormous influence on gay identity. Tom’s ultimate leather men are known and seen everywhere. They are… See full summary »
Director:Ilppo Pohjola | Stars:Tom of Finland, Robert Henry Mizer, Nayland Blake, Durk Dehner
34. I Love Who I Want to Love(1999)
Young gay and lesbian Norwegians share their experiences of coming out. As a counterpoint, the candid opinions of a number of their less enlightened peers are also included.
Bjørn-Erik was a 19 year old devoted Christian. When he determined that he was gay who decided to kill himself rather than living a „dirty and sinful“ life. Through excerpts from his diary … See full summary »
Jakob proposes to his boyfriend, Jørgen, during a party in their apartment. He later kisses Caroline, the wife of Jørgen’s brother. It becomes an affair.
Director:Hella Joof | Stars:Mads Mikkelsen, Charlotte Munck, Troels Lyby, Jesper Lohmann
Three teenagers express their thoughts about bi- and homosexuality.
Director:Cecilia Neant-Falk | Stars:Eva Dahlgren, Natalie Durbeej, Ulf Ekman, Malena Ivarsson
45. Hrein og bein(2003)
Nine Icelandic gay teens tell us about their lives in their frozen corner of the world. Feeling excluded, experimenting with drugs and sex, finding others like themselves, self hatred, … See full summary »
Directors:Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir, Þorvaldur Kristinsson | Stars:Alfred Hauksson, Ásthór Heimisson Heimer, Heidar Reyr Ágústsson
Longtime couple Venla and Antero come to a serious impasse. After years with Antero, Venla wants to start a family, but her boyfriend, worried that parenthood will stifle his speed-skating … See full summary »
Director:Aleksi Salmenperä | Stars:Minna Haapkylä, Kari-Pekka Toivonen, Minttu Mustakallio, Tommi Eronen
49. The Big Day(2005)
A wedding planer in Copenhagen ends falling for her most important client even though she’s already engaged. At the same time her two gay employees also have their ups and downs in relationships. How will it end?
Director:Morten Arnfred | Stars:Louise Mieritz, Christian Tafdrup, Henrik Prip, Frank Thiel
The star player of Icelands top football team causes a stir when he admits to being gay to his team mates and then goes on a journey to discover himself (with the help of the local press). … See full summary »
Director:Róbert I. Douglas | Stars:Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Helgi Björnsson, Arnmundur Ernst Björnsson, Lilja Nótt Þórarinsdóttir
A tragicomedy focused on the relationship between the owner of a beauty clinic and a transgender woman.
Director:Pernille Fischer Christensen | Stars:Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Frank Thiel, Elsebeth Steentoft
52. Keillers park(2006)
A married man and a free spirit find love – and tragedy – in this powerful, bittersweet gay love story that was inspired by a real-life 1997 hate crime.
Director:Susanna Edwards | Stars:Mårten Klingberg, Pjotr Giro, Robert Jelinek, Gösta Bredefeldt
16-year-old Carsten just started dating Melissa. He is introduced to her sweet and likable parents, who kindly welcome their first son in law. On a weekend in their summerhouse it turns out… See full summary »
Director:Christian Tafdrup | Stars:Allan Hyde, Julie Grundtvig Wester, Lars Brygmann, Ellen Hillingsø
59. Patrik, Age 1.5(2008)
A Swedish gay couple adopt what they think is an 18-month-old orphan, only to meet their new son, a 15-year-old homophobic delinquent.
Director:Ella Lemhagen | Stars:Gustaf Skarsgård, Torkel Petersson, Tom Ljungman, Amanda Davin
73. Kiss Me(2011)
A young woman engaged to be married finds herself in an affair with her soon-to-be stepmother’s lesbian daughter.
Director:Alexandra-Therese Keining | Stars:Ruth Vega Fernandez, Liv Mjönes, Krister Henriksson, Lena Endre
Hello, My Name Is Lesbian shows modern lesbian lifestyle and culture in all it’s diversity as it is lived in one of the most sexually liberated countries in the world. Set against historic … See full summary »
82. Dyke Hard(2014)
A lesbian rock band sets off on a road trip to a battle of the bands in the big city. A mysterious billionaire with an army of ninjas, cyborgs and roller derby girls is doing everything to … See full summary »
Director:Bitte Andersson | Stars:Peggy Sands, Alle Eriksson, M. Wågensjö, Lina Kurttila
A gritty story taking place in Stockholm, about the passionate love between the self-abusive Sebastian who wants to be a woman, and the easy-going Andreas who is certainly not gay.
Director:Ester Martin Bergsmark | Stars:Saga Becker, Iggy Malmborg, Shima Niavarani, Mattias Åhlén
89. Holy Mess(2015)
A gay couple invites their somewhat homophobic families to meet for the first time during Christmas celebration. And they have a special gift in store for them.
Director:Helena Bergström | Stars:Robert Gustafsson, Maria Lundqvist, Anastasios Soulis, Anton Lundqvist
Old Norse Terminology Regarding Homosexuality and Related Concepts
The Old Norse word used in the law code and literature for an insult was níð , which may be defined as „libel, insult, scorn, lawlessness, cowardice, sexual perversion, homosexuality“ (Markey 75). From níð are derived such words as níðvisur („insulting verses“), níðskald („insult-poet“), níðingr („coward, outlaw“), griðníðingr („truce-breaker“), níðstông („scorn-pole“) (Markey 75, 79 & 80; Sørenson 29), also níða („to perform níð poetry“), tunguníð („verbal níð“), tréníð („timber níð“, carved or sculpted representations of men involved in a homosexual act, related to niíðstông, above) (Sørenson 28-29). Níð was part of a family of concepts which all have connotations of passive male homosexuality, such as: ergi or regi (nouns) and argr or ragr (the adjective form of ergi) („willing or inclined to play or interested in playing the female part in sexual relations with another man, unmanly, effeminate, cowardly“); ergjask („to become argr“); rassragr („arse-ragr“); stroðinn and sorðinn („sexually used by a man“) and sansorðinn („demonstrably sexually used by another man“) (Sørenson 17-18, 80). A man who is a seiðmaðr (one who practices women’s magic) who is argr is called seiðskratti (Sørenson 63).
Attitudes About Homosexuality Introduced By Christianity
The secular laws of Viking Age Iceland do not mention homosexuality. The only place where homosexuality is documentably prohibited is by the Christian Church. The Icelandic Homily Book (ca. 1200 C.E.) has a sermon which states that among grave sins are „those appalling secret sins perpetrated by men who respect men no more than women, or violate quadrupeds.“ Bishop Þorlákr Þórhallson of Skáholt’s Penetential (ca. 1178-1193 C.E.) lists penances of nine or ten years that include flogging for „adultery between males, or that committed by men on quadrupeds,“ and says of lesbianism that „if women satisfy each other they shall be ordered the same penance as men who perform the most hideous adultery between them or with a quadruped.“ (Sørenson 26) Christian belief condemns both the active and passive roles of homosexual intercourse, whereas the pagan Scandinavians attached disapproval only to the male who was homosexually passive.
Viking Attitudes About Homosexuality and Manliness
Homosexuality was not regarded by the Viking peoples as being evil, perverted, innately against the laws of nature or any of the other baggage about the concept that Christian belief has provided Western culture. Rather, it was felt that a man who subjected himself to another in sexual affairs would do the same in other areas, being a follower rather than a leader, and allowing others to do his thinking or fighting for him. Thus, homosexual sex was not what was condemned, but rather the failure to stand for one’s self and make one’s own decisions, to fight one’s own fights, which went directly against the Nordic ethic of self-reliance. (Sørenson 20).
Being used homosexually by another man was equated with cowardice because of the custom of sexual aggression against vanquished foes. This practice is documented in Sturlunga saga, most notably in Guðmundar saga dýra where Guðmundr takes captive a man and his wife, and plans for both the woman and the man to be raped as a means of sexual humiliation (Ok var þat við orð at leggja Þórunni í rekkju hjá einhverjum gárungi, en gera þat vi Bjôrn prest, at þat þætti eigi minni svívirðing.) (Sørenson 82, 111; Sturlunga saga, I, 201). In addition to rape, defeated enemies were frequently castrated, again testified to in several places by Sturlunga saga. Grágás records that a klámhogg or „shame-stroke“ on the buttocks was, along with castration, a „major wound“ (hin meiri sár), ranked with wounds that penetrated the brain, abdomen, or marrow: the klámhogg was thus equated with castration as „unmanning“ the victim, and classed with wounds that cause major penetrations of the body, strongly suggesting that the term refers to rape or forced anal sex such as was inflicted on a defeated combatant (Sørenson 68). It is not known how widespread the practice of raping defeated foes actually was, or if it existed before the advent of Christianity, but in other cultures which have had as strong an ethic of masculine aggression as existed among the Vikings, the rape of defeated foemen was obligatory.
The attitude that homosexual usage of an enemy was a means of humiliation in turn would have weighed heavily against men in homosexual relationships: if it was a shameful humiliation of an enemy, performing intercourse with a beloved friend would have been regarded as a the worst sort of betrayal or lack of loyalty (Sørenson 28). Since all the references in literature and especially insults indicate that to be sansorðinn, ragr, níðingr or to be accused of ergi is to be a man who is the passive recipient of anal sex, we do not know if the Vikings regarded oral sex between men unfavorably or not (or, in fact, how they regarded oral sex in general, no matter who, male or female, was doing it, or to whom, male or female, it was being done).
It is interesting to note that the Vikings considered that old age caused a man to become argr. A well-known proverb stated svá ergisk hverr sem eldisk, „everyone gets argr as he gets older.“ This possibly could point to an increasing acceptance of homosexuality after a man had raised a family and grew older (Sørenson 20), although a man such as the chieftain Snorri goði who fathered 22 children, the last at the age of 77 (just before he died), certainly proves that a man never was really too old to father children! (Jochens 81). For a man who could not have children (whether due to impotence, sterility, age, etc.) homosexual relations may have been acceptable. One slang term for such a man seems to have been kottrinn inn blauði, or „soft cat“ as reported in Stúfs þáttr, an epilogue to Laxdæla saga, in a conversation between the Norwegian king Haraldr harðráði and Stúfr, the son of Þórðr kottr (Þórðr the Cat): puzzled by the unusual nickname, Haraldr asks Stúfr whether his father Þórðr was kottrinn inn hvati eða inn blauði, „the hard or the soft cat.“ Stúfr declines to answer despite the implied insult, but the king admits that his question was foolish because „the person who is soft (blauðr) could not be a father“ (Jochens 76).
Insults Alleging Homosexuality
There is ample documentation of homosexuality in insults. Judging by the literature, the Vikings were the „rednecks“ of medieval Europe… if you went into the mead hall and called a man a faggot, he’d do the same thing that any good ol‘ boy at a Texas cowboy bar would do. The end result would be a big axe in your head instead of a big cowboy boot in your face, but the idea is the same. Furthermore, in every one of the instances where níð or ergi is encountered as an accusation, no one seriously believes that the accused party is in fact homosexual: the charge is symbolic, rather like calling a modern redneck „queer“ to provoke him to fight. (Sørenson 20)
Because, then as now, some sorts of insults were „fightin‘ words“ or even killing words, Scandinavian law codes made certain types of insults illegal, and either condoned the victim’s slaying of the slanderer or penalized the utterance of insults with outlawry. The Gulaþing Law of Norway (ca. 100-1200 C.E.) Says:
Similarly, the Icelandic law code Grágás (ca. 1100-1200 C.E.) has:
The Frostaþing Law likewise tells us that it is fullréttisorð (verbal offenses for which full compensation or fines must be paid to the injured party) to compare a man to a dog, or to call him sannsorðinn (demonstrably homosexually used by another man), but goes on to penalize as hálfréttisorð (requiring one-half compensation) terms which in our culture would almost be considered complementary, including comparing a man with a bull, a stallion, or other male animal (Sørenson 16).
Many exchanges of insults are to be found in the Poetic Edda, particularly in Hárbarðljóð , a man-matching between Óðinn and Thórr; Lokasenna, in which Loki insults the Norse gods; Helgakviða Hundingsbana in the exchange of deadly insults between Sinfjotli and Guðmundr; Helgakviða Hjorvarðssonar in the exchange of threats between Atli and the giantess Hrimgerð. Other instances may be found in the sagas such as Egils saga Skallagrimssonar and Vatnsdæla saga.
Insults directed at men come in several varieties. Taunts might sneer at a man’s poverty, as Óðinn does when he tells Thórr that he is „but a barefoot beggar with his buttocks shining through his breeches“ (Hárbarðljóð 6), or declare a man to be a cuckold (Hárbarðljóð 48, Lokasenna 40). Some insults were scatological:
Insults of this nature seem to have been merely rude or disgusting. More serious were those which were mentioned in the laws, concerning cowardice or unmanly behavior. Cowardice was perhaps the lesser of the two types of insults, although the categories blur:
Other insults alleging craven behavior may be found in Hárbarðljóð 27 and 51, as well as Lokasenna 13 and 15.
More dangerous still were insults that called a man „gelding,“ implying cowardice as well as touching on the connotations of sexual perversity connected with the horse, as in the insult where Hrimgerð calls Atli „a gelding who is a coward, whinnying loudly like a stallion but with his heart in his hinder part“ (Helgakviða Hjorvarþssonar 20).
The very deadliest of insults were those which attributed effeminate behavior or sexual perversion to the victim. Accusations of seiðr, women’s magic or witchcraft, implied that the practitioner played the woman’s part in the sexual act (Sturluson, Prose Edda, 66-68). Óðinn, a practitioner of seiðr, was often taunted with the fact, although this insult is found in other contexts as well (Lokasenna 24, Helgakviða Hundingsbana 38). Similarly, an insult might call a man a mare, either directly or via a kenning such as „Grani’s bride“ — Grani being the famous stallion belonging to Sigfried the Dragonslayer (Helgakviða Hundingsbana 42). Loki’s shapeshifting into the form of a mare may have resulted in the best of horses, Óðinn’s mount Sleipnir, but the implication of (at best) bisexuality was an inescapable slur on Loki’s reputation ever after (Markey, 79). As the Gulaþing Law states, it was equally insulting to liken a man to any creature that bears young. One of the more comprehensive insults of this class is to be found in Helgakviða Hundingsbana:
This was directed at Guðmundr Granmatsson, one of King Helgi’s captains and a formidable warrior!
In pagan Scandinavia, a ritual form of insult was also practiced at times, the erection of a níðstông or scorn-pole. This ritual had five basic elements:
Mention of this ritual is made in Book V of Saxo Grammaticus‘ Gesta Danorum and in chapter 33 of Vatnsdæla saga, but the most complete description is given in Egils saga Skallagrimssonar:
Lesbians in Viking Scandinavia
There is little mention in the sources regarding lesbianism in the Viking Age. When the feminine form of the word argr, (org), is used about a woman, it does not indicate that she is homosexual, but rather lecherous or immodest. (Sørenson 18). Staðarhólsbók, one of the existing versions of Grágás, prohibits a woman from wearing male clothing, from cutting her hair like a man, bearing arms, or in general behaving like a man (chapters 155 and 254), however it does not mention behaving sexually in the male role. After the onset of Christianity, of course, lovemaking between women was condemned by the Church as mentioned above. During the Viking Age, however, women were in short supply, at least in Iceland. Exposure of infants (barnaútburðr) was a Viking Age practice, and female infants were preferentially exposed, leaving fewer women (Jochens 86). This meant that every woman who survived to reproductive age was going to be married to at least one man in her lifetime and would bear his children unless she were barren. This gave women quite a lot of their apparent power as reflected in the sagas, as a woman could control her husband quite well by threatening divorce (Clover 182).
However, men also could have concubines so long as these were lower class (thrall) women (Karras). In many societies when there are several women living in a household who are all sexually tied to a single man, especially when the woman had no say in the arrangement of marriage or concubinage, then lesbian relationships could and did exist. There is good reason to see an almost „harem“ atmosphere prevailing among the Vikings… the women tended to gather in the kvenna hús (women’s quarters) (Jochens 80), or in the dyngja (weaving room) where a man could not go without accruing shame for unmanly interests excepting only truly mighty —i.e., virile— heroes. Helgi Hundingsbana was able to hide disguised as a maid in the kvenna hús, but for any lesser man such an act would have been regarded as cowardice, and the man who braved the dyngja would have been labeled as níðingr and ragrmann simply because the location was so strongly associated with women’s activity and central role in the society as weavers (Helgakviða Hundingsbana II 1-5). In most societies where polygamy is common and women are denied sexual outlets other than their husband, there is frequently lesbian activity to fill not only sexual but also emotional needs. If a husband had objected to his wife having a lesbian relationship, there would have been little he could have done about it, as she could always divorce him if he complained. This gave women, lesbians or not, quite a bit of power due to the relative scarcity of marriagable women, so long as they fulfilled their societal roles as wives and mothers.
Homosexuality and the Gods, Priests, and Heroes
Another aspect to the question of homosexuality is the fact that certain of the gods, heroes and highly respected priests of the gods, apparently indulged in homosexual, „unmanly“ or „questionable“ practices. Loki, of course, is clearly bisexual as he certainly took the female role sexually at least during the encounter with the giant’s stallion in Gylfaginning, which says that „Loki had had such dealings with Svaðilfari (the stallion) that sometime later he bore a foal,“ the most wonderful of all horses, Óðinn’s eight-legged steed Sleipnir (Sturluson, Prose Edda, 68).
Óðinn himself, the Allfather and King of the Gods, was justly accused of ergi or unmanliness because of his practice of seiðr or women’s magic, as learned from the goddess Freyja. We are not certain what it is about seiðr that made it „unmanly“ for a man to practice the art: it could be anything from the idea of cowardice as a result of being able to harm your enemies through magic rather than in open battle, to overt sexual rituals involving the seiðr-practitioner as the passive sexual partner, or even as the passive homosexual partner. Ynglingasaga explains:
Apparently homosexuals had a role within the worship of the Vanic gods. The Christian chronicler Saxo Grammaticus scornfully reported in his Gesta Danorum that some priests of Freyr used „effeminate gestures and the clapping of the mimes on stage and . . . the unmanly clatter of the bells.“ Dumézil sees evidence for a group of priests of Njôrðr and Freyr who were honored, yet seem to have engaged in acts of argr, and who may have worn their hair in styles reserved normally only for women or even dressed themselves as women (Dumézil 115).
One might assume that the morals expected of gods cannot necessarily be applied for humans. However, there were likewise a number of heroes known to have been guilty of ergi such as Helgi Hundingsbana (see above). Another famous ragr hero is the famous Icelandic hero Grettir, who in the poem Grettisfærsla is said to have had sexual intercourse with „maidens and widows, everyone’s wives, farmers‘ sons, deans and courtiers, abbots and abbesses, cows and calves, indeed with near all living creatures,“ (Sørenson 18) yet no one attached opprobrium to Grettir because of his vast, and omnisexual, prowess.
Other evidences of the acceptance of homosexuality in some circumstances at least is provided by the fact that apparently there were some men who acted as homosexual concubines or prostitutes. Olkofra þáttr, a short tale preserved in the manuscript Moðruvallabók (ca. mid 14th century C.E.) preserves the term argaskattr, which has the sense of „a fixed rate or other payment made to an argr man for his sexual performance“ and further indicates that the worth of such a payment was very low indeed. (Sørenson, 34-35). It would be logical to conclude that, like other concubines, these men selling sex to other men would have been of the lowest social class, thralls (Karras).
Overall, it is most important to realize that our written records of the Viking Age typically date from 200 to 300 years AFTER the events described. If you ask a room full of Americans to describe for you, in detail, the life of George Washington, you will be able to elicit no more than a handful of „facts,“ most of which will be demonstrably false… and we have classes and are forced to study Washington! This does not bode well for the accuracy of the saga accounts in regards to ancient practice. Accounts written in 1200-1300 were also written by Christian men, using the Christian technology of writing, and whose worldview would have roundly condemned homosexuality. Homosexuality did not have a good reputation during the Viking age as portrayed by the Christian writers. If homosexuals enjoyed a better reputation earlier than these accounts, we have no record of it, as the „golden age“ of the culture probably occurred between 600 and 800, before the actual start of the Viking Age proper, and is unrecorded except dimly through legends.
See the world with gay friends
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Discover gay Canada
No tour operator knows The Great White North quite like our Canuck friends at Out Adventures. Based in Toronto, these always-apologetic travel experts have been running both private and group tours through Canada for over ten years. Whether you’re looking to surmount the Rockies, discover Toronto’s underground gay scene, or witness Fierte Montreal, contact these guys for insider tips and tricks. Here’s to The True North, Strong & Gay. Sorry!
LGBTQ rights in Canada
When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Canada is a true trailblazer, which speaks volumes about how much it protects its LGBTQ community. The State of Quebec banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 becoming the first jurisdiction ever to do so! Canada then went on to become one of the first countries to pass an advanced set of anti-discrimination laws nationwide in the 1990s, which included allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the Canadian military. In 2005 it became the 1st country in the Americas and the 4th in the world (after Holland, Belgium and Spain) to legalise gay marriage. Canada also has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world. For example, the right to change legal gender is possible without the requirement of having to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they have formally recognised a third gender option since 2017.
The gay scene in Canada
Almost every city in Canada has a thriving gay scene, complete with rainbow crossings and numerous gay events taking place throughout the year. The main ones are the Church & Wellesley , Le Village Gai gay village of Montreal, The Village of Ottowa, the Davie Village and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.
Gay events in Canada
Canada is one of the few countries that hosts its own national Pride event – “Canada Pride”. The first one took place in Montreal in 2017. The next one is scheduled to be in Winnipeg for 2022. Speaking of Pride, Toronto Pride is one of the largest in the world, attracting almost 1.5 million people each year. Back in 2014, Toronto also hosted WorldPride.
Almost every city in Canada has an annual Pride event, often strongly supported by the local government. Beyond the Pride events, Canada also has many gay ski-based events taking place in January including the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, the Tremblant Gay Ski Week and the Quebec Gay Ski Week. Other prominent LGBTQ events in Canada include the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival in May and Montreal’s Black & Blue Festival in October.
Gay travel to Canada
As a gay couple, we felt completely safe in all the places we visited in Canada. This is also one of the rare countries in the world where we felt confident enough to hold hands in public, almost everywhere!
In terms of touristic highlights, Canada has some of the best ski resorts in the world, a stunning landscape in the Canadian Rookies, whale watching experiences near Vancouver Island, impressive National Parks like Gros Morne and Nahanni, and of course, the famous Niagara Falls.
Did you know? Canada created the first gay currency! In 2019, Canada unveiled a new $1 coin (loonie) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, becoming the first country in the world to honour our LGBTQ community on its currency.
LGBTQ rights in Spain
Spain legalized homosexuality in 1979 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 1995, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2005, Spain became the 3rd country in the world to legalize gay marriage (after Holland and Belgium). Spain then went on to introduce the right to change legal gender, then in 2006 allowed transgender people to register their preferred gender in public documents such as birth certificates, ID cards and passports without having to undergo any surgery. This right was extended to include transgender minors who are “mature enough”.
The gay scene in Spain
All the main cities in Spain have a vibrant gay scene, usually concentrated in a gay village or street. The main ones include Chueca in Madrid, Gaixample in Barcelona, the Maspalomas gay area in Gran Canaria street). Other smaller cities in Spain have an exciting gay scene, which includes Benidorm’s Old Town area, La Nogalera in Torremolinos, Barrio del Carmen in Valencia and Calle de la Virgen in Ibiza.
Gay events in Spain
Almost all the cities in Spain have a Pride event, the most famous is, of course, Madrid Pride. It is lauded for being one of the largest gay Pride events in the world especially in 2017 when it hosted WorldPride. Other prominent Pride events in Spain take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Maspalomas, Ibizia, Benidorm, Valencia, Bilbao and Manilva.
Spain has many other gay events happening throughout the year to look out for. Some of the best ones include the WE Party in Madrid, Circuit Barcelona, Bear Pride Barcelona, Snow Gay Weekend, Sitges Bear Week and Delice Dream in Torremolinos.
Gay travel to Spain
Spain is just bursting with culture, ranking as the 3rd country in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – a total of 48. Amongst these are Gaudi’s iconic buildings in Barcelona like the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita of Córdoba (the largest mosque in the world). In terms of museums, there’s the world-famous Museo del Prado of Madrid and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And then there’s the food! From the world-famous paellas, tortillas, churos, gazpachos, jamons and our favourite, the tasty, juicy Spanish chorizo sausages.
As a gay couple in Spain, we were in paradise! It is a destination pretty much made for us, with some of the best gay beaches in Europe, brilliant parties for everyone and a very openminded populace. Even in the more rural areas, we felt completely safe, which is quite rare for most countries further down in this list. In short, Spain, like Canada, ticks all the boxes and we LOVE it!
Did you know? Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous gay Spanish celeb and one of the best directors in the world. His first few films in the 1980s characterised the sense of liberal revolution and political freedom Spain was going through. He then went on to direct classics including Volver, All About My Mother and Bad Education.
LGBTQ rights in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the ultimate LGBTQ trailblazer! Homosexuality was legalized back in 1811, but the big headline is that it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2001! In relation to anti-discrimination laws, the Netherlands has everything under the sun to protect its LGBTQ community including laws to combat hate-speech based on who we love, gender identity and gender expression. The Netherlands also permits LGBT people to openly serve in the Dutch army.
In relation to transgender rights, the Netherlands is a bit more conservative. Whilst it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2014, it only recognises a third gender option after a successful court petition.
The gay scene in the Netherlands
You’ll find the best of the Netherlands‘ gay scene in the capital city, Amsterdam, specifically in the Reguliersdwarsstraat gay village. Here there are many gay cafes, shops, bars, clubs and parties to check out, like Prik, SoHo, Cafe Reality, Club NYX, Bear Necessity and Club YOLO – to name just a few! Outside of Amsterdam, cities like Rotterdam have a handful of gay hangouts, but nothing on par with Amsterdam. Find out more in our detailed .
Gay events in the Netherlands
Amsterdam Pride is well known for being one of the most unique Pride events in the world because instead of taking place on the streets, a parade of floats proceeds through the city on boats along the famous canals. Other annual gay events in Amsterdam include Amsterdam Bear Weekend in March, Amsterdam Leather Pride in October and the IQMF (International Queer & Migrant Film Festival) in December.
Gay travel to the Netherlands
There are few places in the world where we feel comfortable walking in the streets holding hands outside of the gay village, and The Netherlands is one of them! When it comes to tolerance, openmindedness and equality, we found the Netherlands to be one of the most culturally liberal and diverse places in the world. It’s certainly the most progressive country we’ve travelled to, which is why we love it!
Travel highlights of the Netherlands include the canals of Amsterdam, along with the capital’s art and cultural museums like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough Museum. Other Dutch highlights include tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and of course the infamous Coffee Shops!
Did you know? in 1987, the Netherlands unveiled the “Homomonument”, which was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians persecuted during WW2.
LGBTQ rights in United Kingdom
England/Wales legalized homosexuality in 1967, Scotland in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982. Between 2004-2008, the UK passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, which included allowing LGBT persons to openly serve in the army. In 2014, England/Wales/Scotland . Northern Ireland subsequently followed in 2020. More recently, the UK has implemented laws that require schools to teach children that it’s ok to be gay!
The UK has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2005. Whilst there isn’t a third gender recognised in law, the title “Mx” is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people.
The gay scene in United Kingdom
Alongside Australia, the USA and Spain, the UK has one of the highest numbers of recognised gay villages in the world! London alone has several, including Soho, Vauxhall and Clapham. Manchester and Brighton are often regarded as one of the best cities in the world for gay people to live, both with large LGBTQ communities and an (Manchester) and a fabulous community concentrated in Kemptown (Brighton).
Almost all the other cities of the UK have a recognised gay village or area including Hurst Street in Birmingham, The Triangle in Bournemouth, Old Market in Bristol, Lower Briggate/The Calls in Leeds, the Liverpool Gay Quarter, the Pink Triangle of Newcastle, Broughton Street in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s Merchant City Pink Triangle and the streets of Charles Street + Churchill Way in Cardiff.
Gay events in United Kingdom
The UK has the highest number of Pride events out of any country in the world, with almost every city leading their own event usually during the summer months. Brighton Pride and Manchester Pride (both in August) are often regarded as the best Pride events in Europe. London Pride in early July is the largest, attracting 1.5 million people. The 2012 London Pride was the most famous when it coincided with the year the city hosted the Olympic Games and also hosted WorldPride.
Gay travel to United Kingdom
The UK offers so much for gay tourists such as fulfilling your Harry Potter fantasy at the Warner Bros. Studio, as well as discovering Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the stunning Lake District in Northern England, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and many many more gems.
We’ve never experienced homophobia from any of the places we stayed at and LOVE that the government invests heavily in LGBTQ tourism via the excellent efforts made by Visit Britain. After all, this is the country that gave us Alan Turing, Sir Elton John, Freddy Mercury and many many more fabulous icons!
Did you know? In 2018, the UK saw the first Royal gay wedding when the Queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle.
LGBTQ rights in Sweden
Sweden legalized homosexuality in 1944, hence the “gay since 1944” slogan! They introduced one of the most comprehensive sets of anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s, which included laws against hate speech and allowing LGBT people to openly serve in the army. The right to change legal gender was also introduced in the 1970s in Sweden.
Gay marriage was passed in 2009 although gay unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1995. In relation to transgender rights, Sweden does not (yet) officially have legal recognition of non-binary gender, but in 2017, it declassified “transgender identity” as an illness.
The gay scene in Sweden
We’ll be honest, we were a bit underwhelmed by the gay scene in Sweden. There are of course several gay bars and clubs, mainly in the big cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, however nothing on par with other gay cities like Barcelona, Berlin or London. There are no official gay villages or gay areas in any of the cities in Stockholm. This probably shows that Sweden is so gay friendly, that it does not need its own gay enclave.
Gay events in Sweden
Stockholm Pride is the big one, which is also the largest Pride in the Nordic countries. Other LGBTQ annual highlights include the Stockholm Rainbow Weekend which coincides with the city’s Pride and West Pride in Gothenburg. Sweden prides itself on the fact that no Swede has to travel far for a Pride event, because there is one in almost every town and city! In 2021, Malmo will be the place to be when it cohosts WorldPride with Copenhagen!
Gay travel to Sweden
From the famous Northern Lights in the winter months to the hidden alleyways in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden packs a punch! is big on LGBTQ travel and invests a lot in promoting the country as a top gay destination, even hosting EuroPride in 1998, 2008 and 2018. We felt totally safe in Sweden and comfortable holding hands in public in most places we visited. The Swedes are an extremely chilled and open-minded bunch who won’t give two hoots about two men expressing PDAs!
Did you know? Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest (the massive unofficial annual gay European music festival). Not only did Sweden give us ABBA in 1974 but they’ve also won it 6 times. Also – Måns Zelmerlöw…
LGBTQ rights in Germany
Ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, Germany powered ahead to become an LGBTQ paradise. Germany passed a full set of anti-discrimination laws from 2006, which included the right for LGBT persons to openly serve in the military, the right to change legal gender and laws preventing hate crimes based on gender or orientation.
In 2017, Germany legalized gay marriages, and more recently, in 2019 Germany formally recognized a third gender option,
The gay scene in Germany
Most of the big cities of Germany have a terrific gay scene. We particularly love the exciting and vibrant gay nightlife of Berlin. We love it! It’s so wide and diverse, where everyone from our LGBTQ community can find their tribe. Schöneberg was the first-ever gay village in the world when it took off as an LGBTQ mecca in the 1920s. Since then, so many cities around the globe have adopted a similar model where the gay community can share a safe space and support local queer businesses.
Other cities with an exciting gay scene include Cologne, Lange Reihe in Hamburg, Nordend in Frankfurt, Glockenbachviertel in Munich and Gurlam Ziegelviertel in Fürstenzell.
Gay events in Germany
Berlin Pride is the largest gay event in Germany, attracting around 1 million people each year. Note that in Germany, Prides are referred to as “CSD”, which stands for “Christopher Street Day” – named after the street where the Stonewall riots in NYC took place in 1969. Hamburg and Cologne are the other two main Pride or CSD events in Germany. Other gay events in Germany include the Carnival Cologne in February, the Munich Gay Oktoberfest in October and Heavenue Gay Christmas market in December.
Gay travel to Germany
Germany offers a lot for LGBTQ tourists, especially Berlin, a city steeped with history from the Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag Building and Berlin Wall Memorial. Other touristic highlights include the Cologne Cathedral, the Black Forest in southwest Germany and the super picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. Each city heavily invests in LGBTQ tourism, especially .
We absolutely love love LOVE Berlin – it feels like it’s a city that is literally MADE for gays! Anything goes in Berlin and you can have as much fun here as you want to, no limits! It’s also culturally rich with so much to do. It goes without saying that we felt very comfortable with PDAs in Berlin and the other big cities we visited in Germany.
Did you know? Berlin had the first gay village ever? Back in the late 1800s, the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, was founded in Schöneberg. Over the subsequent few decades, Schöneberg became the heart and soul of Germany’s LGBTQ gay community. It was the Gay Village capital of the world in the 1920s!
LGBTQ rights in Australia
Australia legalized homosexuality in 1997 and passed a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws in 2013. Gay marriage was legalized in 2017 and LGBT people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 2010. Australia also has very progressive transgender laws, which includes the right to change legal gender since 2013 and has formally recognised a third gender option since 2003.
The gay scene in Australia
Every big city in Australia has a vibrant gay scene with a large, active LGBTQ community, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney is so gay that a 2016 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how the LGBTQ community was spread out around the city in a “Rainbow Ribbon” starting from Pott Point, going out to Elizabeth Bay, down to Darlinghurst, Surry Hill, Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Alexandria and round to Newtown. As such Sydney has one of the most exciting gay scenes in the world including the Obelisk gay beach.
Melbourne doesn’t have a central gay area like many cities but most of its main gay scenes are located around the three inner city areas of St Kilda East, Prahran/South Yarra and Fitzroy/Collingwood. Other cities with a notable gay village/scene include Brisbane, Perth and the capital, Canberra.
Gay events in Australia
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the most famous and electrifying LGBTQ festivals in the world. It takes place in late February, attracting thousands of people from all around the world, with headliners such as Cher, Kylie, George Michael and Sam Smith. And it’s going to get even BIGGER come 2023 when Sydney’s Mardi Gras hosts WorldPride!
Melbourne’s equivalent is the Midsumma Festival, which goes on for 22 days spread over January and February. Other notable LGBTQ events in Australia include Pride in the Park Perth, Wagga Mardi Gras, Broome Pride, ChillOut Daylesford, the Big Gay Day Brisbane in March and the awesome Broken Heels Festival in September.
Gay travel to Australia
Our ultimate gay Aussie fantasy is to rent a dramatic pink camper and pay homage to Priscilla, travelling across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs and spread fabuloussness across the country.
Other touristic highlights for gay travellers to Australia (beyond Mardi Gras of course!) include The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Ocean Road and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Did you know? Australia is soooo gay that it even secured itself a spot in the annual Eurovision Songcontest. Check out the for the reason behind this quirky decision, which whether or not you agree with it, we LOVE it and warmly welcome them into our big gay European arms!
LGBTQ rights in Taiwan
Taiwan legalized homosexuality in…oh it was never illegal! From 2002, Taiwan began to introduce anti-discrimination laws beginning with the right for LGB people (ie not transgender people) to openly serve in the military. Despite the army ban for transgender people, Taiwan has introduced comprehensive laws relating to hate crimes, indirect discrimination and more.
Taiwan is most famous for becoming the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2019. Taiwan is also positioning itself to become a transgender haven by introducing a third gender option on all ID documents in late 2020.
The gay scene in Taiwan
Ximen in Taipei is the main gay scene with loads of gay bars clustered together. There are more gay places dotted around the city but the bulk is around Ximen’s gay neighborhood. Other cities in Taiwan have a few gay scenes, but nothing on par with Ximen. Read more about what gay life in Taiwan is like in our .
Gay events in Taiwan
Taipei Pride is not only the main LGBTQ event in Taiwan, but the largest in all of Asia attracting around 200,000 people! It takes place in October and includes a number of other gay parties like Formosa and the WOW Pool Party. Other cities in Taiwan host smaller, more local Pride events, in particular Kaohsiung City and Taichung City Pride.
Gay travel to Taiwan
Taiwan is a foodie destination! If, like us, you love Asian food, Taiwan is a place you need to visit. Other touristic highlights in Taiwan include the Taipei 101, Taroko National Park, the Sun Moon Lake, the Yushan National Park, the Rainbow Village in Taichung City, and of course the food – check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei for example!
As a gay couple travelling in Taiwan, we loved it. We felt so welcomed everywhere. We can totally understand why it is regarded as such a pink haven in Asia. The Taiwanese are very open-minded and tolerant, easily topping our list of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia.
Did you know? Taiwan is so gay, it even has a gay god with its own temple! The Rabbit Gay Temple was built to commemorate Tu’er Shen (The Rabbit God) who manages the love and relationships between gay partners helps those looking for love. It was founded in 2006 by Lu Wei-ming and as far as we are aware, it is the world’s only shrine for an LGBTQ god.