Argentinians are super passionate about their meat and it shows: their steak is world-famous! This is largely due to the abundance of cows. According to the Cattle Network, Argentina is 1 of 5 countries in the world (along with Uruguay, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia) which has more cows than people.
Recently, a 99-year-old Scottish man proved to the world he can still tango, stunning crowds at the World Championship. It just goes to show how timeless this UNESCO listed dance is. From its seductive roots to its resonance in pop culture, tango has proved time and time again that it is a dance for the ages.
Cut to Seb and I nervously walking into the dance studio for our first queer tango lesson. We’d managed to find time in the middle of sightseeing around Buenos Aires, dead excited to learn queer Tango and honour the Latin culture. Well, what we expected to be an easy-going afternoon, filled with laughter and cheer, turned out to be exhausting! But it certainly was the most romantic, sensual and intimate dance we’ve ever experienced in our 10 years together. With the tango, you have to give passion. You have to tell a story. It’s emotional. Powerful. And it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted…
The Origins of Gay Tango
Initially, in the 1880s, tango was originally danced between 2 men in the back alleys of Buenos Aires. This is because there was a shortage of women at the time amongst the immigrant population. Therefore, the only way for men to get with a woman was either via prostitution or to impress her with some sultry dance moves. Therefore, the men practised with each other!
Sadly, since the late 1800s, same-sex tango dancing got lost in Buenos Aires… until the 2000s, when queer tango milongas (tango clubs) started to pop up, offering classes for the LGBTQ community.
We love Argentina. It’s got it all: hot guys, delicious food, loads of cute boys, stunning scenery, a huge diversity of wildlife…and did we mention it has the hottest guys on the planet…?!!
Above all else, Argentina is one of the most gay-friendly countries in Latin America and in our opinion, one of the most gay-friendly in the world. It’s a very easy country for gay travellers to explore, with many top not-to-miss highlights to check out. Most of the big cities also have fun gay scenes, particularly Buenos Aires, which has one of the best on the continent.
During our big trip in Latin America, we’ve travelled at length around Argentina, all the way from the Iguazu Falls in the north right down to the Patagonian tip at the other end. Based on our first-hand experience, we’ve put together our comprehensive country guide to Argentina for gay travellers to help inspire your trip here.
LGBTQ+ Rights in Gay Argentina
Despite the strong influence of the Catholic Church, Argentina has one of the most progressive LGBTQ rights in the world. Homosexuality was legalised back in 1887 and in 2010 it became the first country in South America to legalise same-sex marriage, which included adoption rights. Argentina is also one of the most trans-friendly countries in the world, allowing you to change your legal gender without having to undergo hormone therapy, surgery or any psychiatric diagnosis. Rosario, in particular, is famous for being a trans person haven in Argentina.
With regards to the army, gay men and lesbians have been allowed to openly serve since 2009. Sadly, the same law does not (yet) apply for transgender people. Finally, whilst anti-discrimination laws are lacking across parts of Argentina, Rosario and Buenos Aires have their own in place. However, in 2012, legislation was introduced adding life imprisonment to hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
Fresh off the plane, our Porteño friends Pablo and Gustavo welcomed us, and took us straight to the Pepo Pepona, a gay restaurant in Palermo so we could have our first taster of the famous Argentinian steak.
Just as we were tucking into our bife de chorizo, the restaurant’s entertainment started: a handsome (extremely well endowed!) Argentinian lad came gyrating from table to table, quickly losing all his clothes…
The famous Iguazu Falls are a bucket-list item for many travellers, both gay and straight. This amazing sight is the largest waterfall system in the world and absolutely breathtaking up close as you watch thousands of gallons of water plummeting into the foam.
The falls straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil, which means you can stay in either country if you want to visit the waterfalls. It can be confusing to figure out which side is best, or even how to understand the differences, but don’t worry, ’cause we’re here to help!
This is our gay travel guide to Iguazu Falls and the surrounding area. Here you can find out our personal top picks for gay friendly accommodation, gay bars, clubs and restaurants around Iguazu Falls.
The two sides of the Iguazu Falls
So, first things first, these spectacular waterfalls have a few names. In English, we call them “Iguazu Falls” and the surrounding area, the “Iguazu National Park”. Both Argentina and Brazil have cities very close by, each of which are the perfect base when visiting the falls. In Brazil, the city is “Foz do Iguaçu” whereas in Argentina it is “Puerto Iguazú”.
Travelling between the two towns over the border is easy. You can either go by taxi or public bus. The entire trip shouldn’t take more than an hour. Remember to have your passport with you and to have already organised any visa requirements you may need for Brazil and Argentina.
Mendoza is the wine capital of Argentina. All those different Malbecs you tried at your favourite parilla in Buenos Aires (ours was Nicasia) were produced right here.
The region around Mendoza is the largest wine-producing area in Latin America and recognised as one of the wine capitals of the world. Most visitors head here for a wine pilgrimage, visiting the many bodegas and do lots of wine tasting. The city also has a small gay scene worth checking out but for us the real highlight was cycling around the beautiful countryside of Mendoza going from one bodega to another.
If you’re heading to Mendoza in February/March, be sure to check out the “Vendimia” grape harvesting festival. The city also has a gay festival alongside the Vendimia, which is one of the largest LGBTQ events in Argentina after Buenos Aires Pride. Check out Mendoza Tourism’s Facebook page for the latest information about it.
There are a variety of different accommodation options in and around Mendoza, with most places being friendly and relaxed towards gay travellers. Atfer spending 2 weeks in the wine region of Argentina, we’ve put together in this post our favourite Mendoza gay hotels, which we found to be welcoming towards us as a gay couple and were clearly used to hosting LGBTQ travellers.
Best Area to Stay in Mendoza
Mendoza isn’t huge, which makes it pretty easy to choose the area you’d most like to stay. For us it came down to deciding whether we’d base ourselves in downtown or in the surrounding countryside:
Downtown Mendoza: if you want to be in the heart of the action, close to restaurants and the nightlife then you’ll want to stay in the downtown area of Mendoza city. It’s easy to get around the city by foot and you can take a tour to the wineries in the surrounding countryside.
Countryside of Mendoza: if you’re looking for a more romantic stay and really want to experience the wine country of Mendoza, then you should choose one of the gorgeous wine hotels located outside the city, in Lujan de Cuyo or further in the Uco Valley. Here you’ll really be able to relax and enjoy plenty of wine tasting.
Are you wondering where the best place in Argentina is to find young, gay Argentinian boys? Well, the answer is Córdoba! The city is famous for having Argentina’s oldest university and as a result, there is a large student population which means a vibrant nightlife including a small but exciting gay scene.
As well as the nightlife, Córdoba offers plenty of beautiful architecture, particularly the many religious buildings such as the popular Cathedral of Córdoba. Another popular sight is the Jesuit Block, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which contains the old headquarters of the university, the National School of Monserrat and the Domestic Chapel.
Cordoba has a decent offering of gay friendly accommodations. Having spent a few months travelling across the country, we had ample time sampling the best places to stay in Cordoba. Here’s our roundup of our 5 favourite gay friendly Cordoba hotels, for all budgets.
Where to stay in Córdoba
Córdoba is the second most populous city in Argentina after Buenos Aires and is located on the banks of the Suquía River. There’s no metro system as of yet, but you will be able to get around the city easily using buses or trolleybuses. Here’s a quick summary to the best gay friendly neighbourhoods to stay in.
Güemes: Güemes is our favourite gay friendly neighbourhood, it’s bohemian and lively with a more alternative nightlife scene than the city centre. This is where you will find the majority of Córdoba’s gay bars, discos and clubs as well as a craft fair (The Paseo de las Artes) during the daytime. If you want to be right in the heart of the gay area in Córdoba, stay at the lovely Windsor Hotel & Tower.
Buenos Aires is home to one of the best gay scenes of South America. Gay Buenos Aires is massive, spread mainly across Palermo and other neighbourhoods like San Telmo and Recoleta. There are gay hangouts to suit everyone, whether you’re into bears, twinks, tango, want to watch a drag show or just a place to chill and jiggy to a bit of Kylie or Madonna.
What constitutes a “gay bar” is a bit blurred in Buenos Aires because here they don’t go out till late and most bars/cafes double up as dancing venues.
For our list of the 15 best gay bars in Buenos Aires, we’ve also included clubs, gay milongas (tango halls), restobars and cafes – basically our favourite gay hangouts that we loved going to each time we visited Buenos Aires.
Where is the gay scene of Buenos Aires?
The main gay area of Buenos Aires is in Palermo, where the majority of the LGBTQ hangouts can be found like Pepo Pepona, Sitges, Work and Peuteo.
You can also find pockets of fabulousness in the affluent Recoleta neighbourhood where the Contramano bear club is, as well as the more pop/twink Glam disco.
Our personal favourite neighbourhood of Buenos Aires is San Telmo, where you can find the famous Sunday market and the excellent Pride gay cafe. San Telmo is also the traditional tango heart of the city, with some of the best milongas, including a few queer ones, which we’ve included in this list.
What’s it like to conquer Buenos Aires in 60 hours? Picture sitting down to a nine-course meal, complete with wine pairings, and being told that you have 15 minutes to consume it all before a cranky waiter clears the table and shoos you out of the restaurant.
This was my challenge in Argentina’s capital and South America’s second-largest city. I had visions of bursting into airport swinging a suitcase singing “What’s new Buenos Aires?” and then hopping through the city with the speed of a gazelle doped up on a combination 1970s black market diet pills and Mountain Dew.
I would jump from the posh, Parisian-styled Recoleta neighborhood to the working-class and colorful La Boca without a wasted second. I would turn into an exploring machine, albeit an exploring machine with a propensity to linger on a corner singing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” to stray cats. I had a strict itinerary and I was ready for business. Yes, my friends, Buenos Aires would be mine in 60 hours.
During our travels in Latin America, we went to some pretty awesome gay pride events, particularly in Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay.
The most famous is of course in Sao Paolo, which is the largest in the world – these guys sure know how to put on a decent party. Here are our top gay pride events we discovered in Latin America during our travels, which you also need to check out.
São Paulo Pride in Brazil
In all lists about the largest gay pride events, the “Parada do Orgulho LGBT de São Paulo” always comes out top: it is famous for having the largest gay pride festival in the world, with estimates of around 5 million people attending – simply incredible!
It all began in 1997 as a modest political march by the LGBTQ “Paulistas” (local nickname for the people of São Paulo). Today the São Paulo Pride has mushroomed into one mammoth colourful pink event, whilst still retaining a strong political stance, particularly in light of the high levels of homophobic violence across the country.
São Paulo Pride takes place in June. We recommend checking their Facebook events page for the most up-to-date information about the next event.
We got excited when one of our favourite Netflix shows, “Sense8” used Sao Paolo pride for sexy Lito to come out, then publicly kissed Hernando in front of everybody. The cast even attended the 2016 parade and had their own raunchy float.