I know what you are thinking. GLBTQ community in Argentina? It might surprise some but this Latin American, 90% Catholic, conservative country has one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world – Buenos Aires. It has become a top destination for gay travelers, keeping up with cities like Berlin and Rio de Janeiro. Its popularity is greatly attributed to the incredible night life in the city, but also for the great cultural activities.
For gay visitors to know – you might not see a whole lot of same-sex couples walking hand in hand down the street during the day, but you will definitely find hundreds of “gay-tastic” things to do. I wanted to go through a couple different topics that will help you be informed about gay Buenos Aires and to prepare for your trip.
Gay Marriage and Adoption
It has been one year since Argentina officially legalized same sex marriage back in July of 2010, which makes it the first of its kind in Latin American, and even other places in the world (Take that New York!). Since then, gay people have been getting married left and right. Along with gay marriage also came gay adoption, where couples can legally adopt a child together. As you guess, this was a huge step forward for GLBTQ rights in Argentina.
Important to know if you are gay and want to get married – at least one person in the couple has to be Argentine or at least have residency here. Ricky Martin (who is from Puerto Rico) already tried to come get married to his boyfriend but unfortunately he was rejected. Not even his star power could get around that.
Gay Events and Activities
Although Argentina is the tango capital of the world, traditionally it is a very heteronormative dance where a strong male dancer leads the female dance. In the last few years, however, gay tango (or queer tango) has become quite popular and has even started many more cities around the world. In Buenos Aires not only can you take queer tango lessons, but there are also gay milongas (or dance halls) and even a gay tango festival. The 5th annual queer tango festival will take place in November of this year.
Gay Pride Parade
Every November Buenos Aires hosts an incredible Gay Pride Parade (Marcha de Orgullo Gay). People gather at Plaza de Mayo and the march (and of course dance!) their way to the national congress building. It is a great event to take part in and an Expanish intern wrote about it last year for an article for our blog, so check it out.
A GLBTQ film festival that takes place in June each year. It has feature films and shorts from all over the world and the audience gets to vote for their favorite.
Gay Bars and Nightlife
As any Argentine can tell you, gay or straight, there is definitely no lack of bars or clubs in the city. No matter what neighborhood you live in, you will find a whole lot to do in terms of night life, including many different types of gay and gay-friendly places. Instead of being a full-out gay locale, many bars and clubs have gay parties on certain nights. This is also important to point out, so make sure to show up on the correct night! Here are just a few of your options:
Av. Costanera Norte y Av. Sarmiento (Mandalay Complex)
One of the best gay parties in the city (only on Saturday nights). You will find all types of people here and they have a great outdoor area, but only during the summer. You will need (and want) to take a taxi there and back as it is off a main road that is not close to bus or subway lines.
Federico Lacroze & Alvarez Tomas, Chacarita
Where you can go at the age of 25 and still feel like a creepy old guy? Fiest Plop. It is a party on Fridays where lots of super young people, both men and women, go and dance the night away. Some looks suspiciously underage, but it is great because at 3am there is always a mediocre drag performance that never disappoints.
Balcarce 563, San Telmo
One of the newest and swankiest bars in Buenos Aires has a gay night on Fridays, this place is located in San Telmo. The drinks might be expensive, but you will find lots of pretty people here to look at.
Av. Córdoba 4119, Palermo
A great bar, named after a gay town in Spain, where you will find frequent drag shows during the week. Most important – there is an open bar on Friday nights.
Federico Lacroze & Alvarez Tomas, Chacarita
Ambar La Fox was a famous Argentine actress in the 60´s and she fittingly has a gay party named after her. This is just on Saturday nights and get ready for a long line to get in. This is the same location as Fiesta Plop, just a different night.
Gascon 1040, Palermo/Almagro
Amerika is one of the classic gay and straight-friendly clubs in the city. It is a popular place for large groups of gay and straight friends to go to where everyone can have a fun time. You might see one or two straight guys who go to show their female friends how progressive they are, which in my opinion is still a good thing.
Cabrera 3046, Palermo Viejo
This is a smaller club that is popular on Thursdays. It is a good way to start off the weekend and hopefully make it to Spanish classes the next day.
Alsina 975, Monserrat
Lonely Planet calls this an “exclusive gay bar-restaurant”. It is a bar that essentially turns into a night club after 2am. Wednesday night is Chuecas Chicas for the lesbian crowd. It also houses the first gay bookstore in Buenos Aires.
Lavalle 345, Downtown
A club in downtown Buenos Aires that has three different areas with different feels and music.
Cabrera 4390, Palermo
This is a popular gay and lesbian bar in Palermo that has been around for 15 years. It attracts mainly lesbians, but of course is man-friendly. Two important things – it has karaoke and drag shows.
Venezuela 649, San Telmo
A gay hotel in San Telmo that has pool parties on hot summer days. It is also straight-friendly, so feel free to take advantage of the pool access even if you are not interested in meeting gay men. I have a straight friend who would go all the time just to go swimming and she commented that she would be one of the only people using the pool since all the gays were “busy staring at each other”.
Viamonte 2168, Recoleta
This bar attracts a young gay crowd and is popular for transexuals and transvestites.
Buenos Aires is known to be a city where its citizens are very politicized and involved in the community. There are many gay organizations that have been around for years that do a lot of great things for the GLBTQ community Argentina, so I wanted to include a few.
CHA is a GLBTQ organization that was founded in 1984 and it is one of the oldest in the country. It acts as a center that promotes human rights and health, a GLBTQ database and it provides free legal advising and mental health services, including a 24/7 helpline.
The Federación Argentina LGBT is actually a group of organizations that was founded in 2006. With its network, it has quickly grown to become one of the most voiced GLBT organizations in Argentina.
The ATTTA is a national network of coordinators that strive to wipe out stigmas, discrimination and transphobia.
JAG is a group of Argentines whose goal is to integrate gays and lesbians into the Jewish community in Argentina. They do events, seminars and activities to promote this. They also organize dinners for all the high holidays, so if you are jewish and/or gay (or just interested in attending) feel free to contact them.
Recently the Argentina Independent, an English-language newspaper, did a piece on Malva, a 90-year-old transvestite who has recently published her autobiography. She retells her memories of breaking gender boundries in the 40s and 50s here in the city. I recommend that you check it out here, especially for the great pictures they posted.