Exquisite food, impressive UNESCO sites, crazy nightlife and some of the most handsome guys to walk this planet…on the face of it, Lebanon is a gay man’s wet dream right? In some ways, it sure is! By Middle Eastern Arab standards, Lebanon is often regarded as a very liberal and progressive place. There’s even a vibrant gay scene in Beirut. We certainly rate Lebanon as one of the most gay friendly countries in the Arab world.
BUT: this is by Middle Eastern standards!
The Middle East is one part of the world where being openly gay can get you into a great deal of trouble (Israel, a gay paradise, being the sole exception). For example, in say, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran it’s a straight-up capital punishment. In places like Lebanon, Dubai or Abu Dhabi, being gay is very much an arrestable offence that can get you a prison sentence, a fine and deportation.
The purpose of this article is to describe our experience of travelling in Lebanon as a gay couple, present a balanced perspective and give advice for LGBTQ travellers who want to explore it. It is a stunning country, one that you won’t regret visiting…but this is still very much an Arab country where being gay is against the law. You will need to go back into the closet, avoid all PDAs, set all your social media to private and never post anything gay related online before or during your trip.
1 Day in lesbian Ljubljana might not seem like much time when, in fact, it’s quite enough to get acquainted with the city. And to help you make the very most of your time, I’ve put together the best 1 Day Ljubljana Itinerary. We recently spent just over 24 hours in Ljubljana, so we can share what we got up to, and what we consider to be the best places to visit in Ljubljana in a day. We cover all of the Ljubljana hotspots, where to eat, sleep, and party, as well as all of our top tips, to ensure you have the best possible time exploring the city.
It’s impossible to skip past Ljubljana when planning a trip to Slovenia. The capital serves as a gateway to Lake Bled, Triglav National Park, and other areas of the country. We knew very little about the city before our recent visit, but were thankful we took some time to look around. What we discovered didn’t feel like a city at all. Instead, Ljubljana (pronounced loob-yah-nah) appears like a whimsical little town. Legends of heroes and dragons add to its charm, and you can’t help but feel you’ve stepped into a make-believe children’s book.
Ljubljana is a small and compact city, but it has a lot to offer. On the one hand, you have beautiful architecture and charming cobbled streets. On the other, a more alternative side with its street art, cool restaurants, and quirky cafes. You can easily cover the main attractions in one day; however, if you find yourself with more time to spare, it won’t be wasted. We could never tire of relaxing days alongside the Ljubljanica River drinking coffee and immersing in the laidback vibe of the city.
…especially when you arrive at the Wittenbergplatz in gay old Schöneberg, to be greeted by the cutest, gayest, rainbow-clad super-kitsch kiosk of Fritz & Co selling particularly yummy currywurst German sausages. More about Fritz & Co below, but as our first impression of Berlin, we knew we were in for a gay old time here! Gay Berlin is notorious for being the city of sin – a truly liberal and diverse hub where anything goes. The absolute wurst…and we live for it!
Schöneberg is considered to be the main gay area of Berlin, the traditional heart and soul of Berlin’s LGBTQ gay community, where the bulk of its gay bars, clubs and hotels can be found. The city also has several other exciting gay neighbourhoods to check out, each with its own unique character, vibe and queer hangouts. The main ones are Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain.
We’ve been to Berlin several times and usually base ourselves somewhere in Schöneberg, which we love. For us, Schöneberg remains the best gay neighbourhood of Berlin – the true Queen of the Scene! We also love venturing out to the bars and parties happening in the other gay districts of Berlin such as Möbel Olfe in Kreuzberg, SchwuZ in Neukölln, Flax in Prenzlauer Berg, and the infamous Berghain inFriedrichshain. The Berghain super club is almost like an entire gay neighbourhood in its own right! This is reason alone why we rate Berlin as one of the top gay friendly vacation destinations in the world.
We’ve put all our notes and stories from our many travels to Berlin in this comprehensive gay guide to help inspire your own holiday to this crazy and super exciting city including the best of the gay scene, gay hotels, parties, events, things to do and more.
Where is the main area of Gay Berlin?
The main gay area of Berlin is based in Schöneberg. It is the traditional heart and soul of Berlin’s LGBTQ gay community, dating back to 1897 when the world’s first-ever LGBTQ organisation was founded right here: the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. From this point on, the area blossomed, becoming the Gay Village capital of the world.
The main gay area in Madrid is called Chueca and is named after Federico Chueca who could be considered Madrids first gay icon. The area spans about 1km north of Gran Via (one of the main streets) and east to west between Calle Hortaleza and Paseo de Recoletos. The main bulk of gay bars in Chueca are found within ten minutes walking distance of Plaza De Chueca – where the metro station is found.
Chueca is walkable from the ‘city centre’ (Plaza Del Sol) or just a couple of metro stops.
It is obvious you have arrived in the gay district given that the walls of the metro station in Chueca are painted floor to ceiling in rainbows!
However, it’s not all about Chueca as you will find gay bars scattered all across the city as far as Lavapies. Equally, when it comes to large gay events and parties in Madrid, the venues are sometimes scattered around but easily accessible.
What Are Madrid Gay Bars Like?
If you have travelled to Spain before you will know they do things differently here. Whereas your night might start at 10/11pm in the UK or US, the main gay bars and clubs in Madrid are just opening their doors at 1/2am, getting busy at 3am and continuing until 6/7am in the morning.
Malaysians are obsessed with food. And we totally get it – the entire country is a non-stop feast of delicious food. There are legit 5 meal times in Malaysia – breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper.
Beyond the foodie paradise that is Malaysia, we discovered a lot about this magnificent and super diverse country during our 3-month trip here as a gay couple. But the one uniting thing about all Malaysians is their immense pride in their food! Every Malaysian has strong opinions about where to find the best laksa or from which city you can find the tastiest rendang!
A word of warning to our fellow LGBTQ travellers – it is illegal to be gay in Malaysia. It is an Islamic influenced country, so homosexuality is very much taboo. Therefore it goes without saying you should avoid any acts of activism or public displays of affection here. But having said that, despite the awful anti-gay law, there is a fabulous large LGBTQ community throughout the country, especially in Kuala Lumpur, with a small and underground gay scene. We made a lot of local gay friends throughout Malaysia who we love dearly. It is through their eyes we discovered the gay scene of the country and also the more unique facets of Malaysian culture, which forms the backbone of this article.
These are our 10 interesting facts about Malaysia:
Malaysians Are Obsessed With Food
As foodies, this is one of our favourite interesting facts about Malaysia. Everywhere across the country you’ll find hawker stalls selling a range of delicious freshly made foods like laksa, Indian inspired roti canai, the national dish: nasi lemak, and so much more. The entire country is a haven for foodies, particularly Penang which is a melting pot for Indian, Chinese and Southeast influences.
“OMG you two: careful you don’t get caned for being gay!”
A rather extreme reaction by some of our friends when we told them we’re going to Indonesia, but one we understand.
On the one hand, when it comes to LGBTQ rights in Indonesia, there are none. The government heavily panders to religious extremists and in the ultra-conservative province of Aceh, homosexuality is punishable with up to 100 public lashes with a rattan cane, which also applies to foreigners!
Yet, on the other hand, this is (officially!) a secular country with no anti-gay laws in place (outside of places like Aceh), it has the right to change legal gender (with judicial approval) and don’t forget, this is the home to one of the LGBTQ hotspots in Asia: Bali!
That’s right, this small island in Southeast Indonesia is not only a pink haven in this very conservative country but also a popular gay holiday destination in Asia. When we visited Bali, we met local boy Joko who now lives and works in Bali. Originally from Java Island, Joko moved to Bali for a better life. In this interview about gay life in Indonesia, he tells us more about what it was like for him growing up and the gay scene of Bali. However, Joko has requested that he is kept anonymous for security, much like our article with Kaluu about gay Sri Lanka.
LGBT or gay travel is different from normal travel. I wish it weren’t but sadly that’s the reality we live with. Your sexuality, appearance and mannerism can have a significant impact on your experience. Travelling becomes especially tricky if you are from a minority group. It gets even harder if you are ‘visibly’ LGBTQ+ and harder still if you’re part of the ethnic minorities or BAME group.
I wanted to share my take on the idea of gay travel or LGBT travel and things I do to stay safe with a fulfilling experience while travelling.
What is Queer Travel?
Gay travel or LGBT travel is the experience gay or LGBT people have while travelling. It is not about heading to gay exclusive resorts or gay-only cruises nor is it about heading to the gay bars, clubs and saunas in any location only. It is about culture, thrill, excitement, learning but also about exposure to other countries, places and people. The challenge comes from other people mostly not from the LGBT community.
Personally, I’m not a club or bar person and prefer sitting quietly next to the rivers with a drink than the loudness of bars. I prefer meeting local guys over apps like Grindr and Scruff. I love my sunrise and sunset experiences than hungover mornings in bed.
I have divided this article into four sections; research, safety, local LGBT support and exposure.
Should I Travel to Countries Where It’s Illegal to Be Gay?
Yes, yes and yes! I have heard it countless times that we must save our rainbow dollars and not head to any country where homosexuality is illegal. I understand there is a lot of anger and trauma behind this reason but the reason I am so passionately in favour of this idea is that it helps the local LGBT communities. Most of the times, governments in strictest of countries do not touch tourists on such issues to avoid losing tourism income. We must use this opportunity to support local LGBT population, bring them to exposure and help their fight against repression BUT safely. Your safety is the most important thing and you should avoid unnecessary risks for this cause. I have added some resources at the end which you can provide to locals for help and support.
What Research Should I Do?
Every country you are headed to has two things that need to be researched; legality of homosexuality which is easy and the social attitudes to it, which is wayyyy harder. Countries like Georgia and Armenia have legalised homosexuality but it is still a taboo topic with hostile attitude from locals. Reception to gay travel/LGBT travel also varies within bigger countries like the USA. Luckily the internet is my friend and I have some great resources when it comes to doing this research.
Disclaimer: I do acknowledge that I am a masculine-ish tall, athletic white-passing guy with privilege so my experience is not going to be the same as others but I still find these resources to be a good starting point. The rest you can only find when you arrive.
Legality of Homosexuality
I found some very useful sources which provide free information on LGBT rights, criminalisation and discrimination. My favourite most is Equaldex. Just click on any country on the map and it will show you the details of various aspects including the age of consent and prison sentence if applicable. It is a handy guide and regularly updated.
Like I mentioned before, it is difficult to gauge the attitude of locals unless you get there. A good starting point is Global Divide on Homosexuality from the Pew Research Centre. It has data from 39 countries that provide a general guide.
Blogs like mine are also a great source of information and you can get a firsthand account of gay travellers. There’s quite a variety of gay travel bloggers so you are bound to get some good information. I mostly post about the safety and attitudes as part of my city and country guides including my experience. An example is here for Ukraine.
Another great source is the Venture feature on Scruff App. It is useful to connect with locals and you can see who else is heading to the destination in the same dates. The Explore option lets you choose to interact with local guys on Scruff but limited to a few profiles, Grindr has this feature only for Premium customers and it also excludes countries where homosexuality is illegal from Explore feature (like Iran, Pakistan, Uganda etc.).
I usually talk to locals and it has helped me immensely not only to get a sense of what to expect but also to make great friends and travel companions. These apps do have a useful part of play in gay travel/LGBT travel indeed.
Another useful place to check with people who have already been to your destination is the LGBTQ Travel Group on Facebook. It gives a fairly good idea of others’ experiences.
If you are looking for more details, you can find the Harvard Guide for gay travel/LGBT travel here, it is primarily for their staff and students but it is very helpful if you are looking for more resources.
Safety and LGBTQ+ Travel
Safety is the most important aspect while travelling. It is sometimes irrelevant how exotic or amazing a place is if you aren’t feeling safe. Gay travel/LGBT travel is an amazing and rewarding experience when you know your rights. It helps you choose if you’d like to come out or be diplomatic about your sexuality or just straight away deny it.
I wrote an article that details all precautions including apps, you can use to stay safe. I follow some of these precautions religiously to ensure I have a safe trip, you can find the details here along with a youtube video. While it is for solo travellers, it is equally relevant to LGBT travel.
I also found an amazing in-depth guide from ManAboutTheWorld, it is very detailed and covers many topics including Trans Travel which is a very interesting read. It made me appreciate the courage of our trans friends who still face enormous challenges for simple things in life like travelling.
Support Local Queer Community & Businesss
Gay Travel/LGBT travel is a huge industry and we must use it to support our own community around the world. Most of these communities live underground and you can only be part of the scene if you know someone local. While planning a trip, I try my best to spend money at LGBT venues, book tours with LGBT friendly or LGBT owned businesses. BUT…
Say No to Rainbow Capitalism
Not every company with a pride flag sticker at the door is an ally. Most big chains use it as part of corporate diversity agendas with no actual support for LGBT employees. Another type is the set of companies which exploit the LGBT community to bring in business.
A good example is Misterbnb. As much as I loved the idea, it has been executed pretty badly. The rental prices for literally the same listings on Airbnb are cheaper. They also have horrible customer service (personal experience first hand during a trip) and the worst part was when they decided to keep the service charges for all cancelled bookings due to COVID 19 crisis. All these things point out to rainbow capitalism and a company exploiting LGBT community by throwing a rainbow flag in our faces. My recommendation is to stay away.
Supporting LGBTQ Businesses
LGBT communities around the world are small parts of a bigger network and we must support them. This is especially essential for underground communities where LGBT activist or members are shunned by their families and/or the society in general. I love exploring local spaces, especially in marginalised communities because this interaction is really beneficial both ways. I get to count my blessings for the freedom and the realisation that the fight is not over yet and they get a ray of hope and some support needed. Gay travel/LGBT travel is the perfect way to support multiple industries.
If you are an LGBT business and want to add your link below please contact me.
If you are not comfortable where you’re staying, it can be a big strain on your trip and the annoying part is, it doesn’t go away until you leave. Luckily help is at hand in terms of platforms that provide listings that are with gay or LGBT friendly or establishments that are run by LGBT owners. Is there a better way to feel better than getting the security AND supporting LGBT hotel industry as well!
I really like PurpleRoofs, it is a great platform where you can check places and most of them come with a discount as well. It is especially great for the Americas.
Out Adventures is an LGBT company for tours. You can find more details on their website here.
Another great source is Go Overseas the LGBT section, more details here.
I am not a cruise person but a google search reveals plenty of LGBT cruises. The one that stood out is Atlantis Cruises, they seem to be the pioneers of LGBT cruises.
LGBT Hospitality, Bars & Clubs
Travel Gay publishes a list of all LGBT venues in a city including restaurants, bars and clubs and it is regularly updated. You can check it here.
Blogs are also very helpful in providing details of LGBT venues and events especially their experience.
Exposure and Ambassadorship
Gay travel/LGBT travel is an opportunity to increase exposure to LGBT lives but we must do this safely. There is something very liberating about changing people’s minds about their ideas of LGBT people. This is particularly important for countries where homosexuality is a taboo subject.
If I feel comfortable, I mention it to people I meet but only in a safe way after winning their trust, if I don’t feel comfortable I have a conversation after my return. It has worked really well a lot of the time and I have won some great friends who were happy to know a gay person. The Middle East responds very well to this methodology especially.
The second part of this is to help the local community by providing them exposure to mental and sexual health resources. My favourite website that provides good information is Hard Cell. it explores and provides information on most sexual behaviours including fetishes. It also provides information on sexual health and use of drugs. It is a great one-stop-shop for gay sex information.
I also found that people are very shy about these things so I’d always recommend using condoms with you. Please remember a lot of these people have no access to sexual health screening and you could be giving them a lot of trouble for a hookup. Prep DOES NOT prevent other STI’s and a lot of countries in the Middle East do full health screens including checks for STI’s before employment. If caught punishments are severe. Very important for Syphilis especially.
For mental health, I have struggled to find anything that is free but this is a good starting guide from Mind.
Being able to travel freely, without prejudice and all this work is a dream of mine one day, I hope it comes true soon but until then the fight must continue. A safe gay travel trip is an amazing thing that will win you many friends, just be yourself, relax and enjoy.
This article was written by Usman at Brown Boy Travels. All views expressed in this article are the author’s.
I am a hippie in a suit essentially. I have made it my mission to see every country in the world balancing it with a full time banking job. I practice Ashtanga yoga with passion and don’t believe in borders. I mostly travel solo and encourage it as well because it helped me immensely with my mental health. Obsessed with history, architecture, food, yoga, sunsets, beaches, local traditions & festivals, I love exploring every place like a local while making friends in every corner of the world. Join me on the journey one beautiful place at a time…
Is Arab street the most colorful neighborhood in Singapore? For me, I think it is. I went there once during my trip – and boy – the street is as colorful as the rainbow!
It brought me back to the times I was in the souqs (markets) in Marrakech, Fez, Jeddah, Cairo, Beirut, and Istanbul.
Well, this street is not exactly what it’s like in the Middle East, but there are familiar scenes and things that reminded of getting lost in the souqs.
Arab Street in Singapore is just a tiny neighborhood. In fact, if you go in there just for your Instagram photos, thirty minutes will be enough. That, of course, if you are that kind of traveler who came for the colorful shots and not for the destination.
Before leaving the UK we lived in Manchester, the gay capital of the North, for 10 years and absolutely loved this city we came to call home.
Manchester has been named amongst the Top 10 most exciting cities in the world, according to a recent poll by Time Out and is an incredibly gay friendly city.
Manchester has been one of the top gay destinations in the UK for a long time. It has one of the UK’s largest gay prides and one of the best gay scenes (Canal Street).
Here is our mini guide to the best gay bars in Manchester (and gay clubs).
The Gay Village Manchester
One of the things we love the most about Manchester and why it is one of the best gay cities in the UK is Manchester’s Gay Village.
Manchesters Gay Village is made up of Canal Street and a few surrounding streets. This is in the very centre of the city, minutes away from the main train station (Manchester Piccadilly).
Canal Street is full of gay bars from the start to the very end of the street.
We love the fact that everything is so close together and that you can easily do a bar crawl and not have to travel or get taxis between bars like you need to in some other cities.
Read on for the best gay bars in Manchester:
Every time we have been to G-A-Y we have had the best night. The music varies on each floor but you can always guarantee the best of pop, 90’s and current chart toppers will be played somewhere (which we love).
Drinks are reasonably priced here too and the crowd is typically quite young and trendy.
My adventurous trek to Mt Batur volcano to watch the sunrise was all worth it!
“Sunrise trek to Mount Batur? Why not? Ok, sign me in!” Those were the words I uttered when a tour agent asked if I’d be interested. Of course, I paid the tour right away without qualms. You see – I love a mountain climb. I always do. At my age right now (I’m not really that old hag yet), I know, I’d be slower than I used to be.
For me, it’s all about proper breathing when trekking/climbing/hiking a mountain. And of course – keeping a distance from the person you are following with. I find that if I hike closer behind someone, I’m pressured/forced to keep up – and I won’t enjoy the journey anymore. So, I want to be the last one in a group.
Mount Batur Volcano Trek Tour
Based in Ubud, I was picked up at my accommodation at 2:15 AM. Then, they served us a pre-breakfast food: banana pancakes and coffee/tea. Right after that, we’re off to the base of Mt. Batur. When we arrived there, two guides met us (a group of 9) and briefed us about safety. They then each gave us a small flashlight for the trek.
At 3:40, we started our trek in the darkness. Under the star-filled skies, the adventurous climb was off to a good start.