Gay Buenos Aires: Heart Beat of Latin America

There is but one simple requirement to fall in love with Buenos Aires: blood coursing through your veins. A healthy blood supply will propel your feet as you walk for miles admiring the historic architecture and grand public spaces. It will feed your brain as the endless cultural offering provoke your imagination. And it will, of course, fuel your libido while dancing until dawn to sultry latin beats alongside the gorgeous Porteos (Argentines born in BsAs) and the cosmopolitan mix from around the globe.

In fact the Portenos joke about just how gay the great city has become in a relatively short period. In 2004 Buenos Aires became the first city in Latin America to legalize civil unions, and a steady sexual liberalization has allowed not only locals but also gay visitors to enjoy all the city has to offer without fear. The next logical step came in July 2010 when Argentina became the tenth country in the world to grant full marriage and adoption equality to gay and lesbian couples; a far cry from the fascist dictatorships that ruled the country in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

BsAs is divided into 48 barrios, several of which gather the gay-friendly hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs into a few square blocks. Not surprisingly, they are also barrios where the historical sites and cultural offerings are clustered. Thus you will find yourself right at home in posh Recoleta, trendy Palermo, tango-inspired San Telmo, and the bubbling Microcentro (downtown). Other barrios such as Belgrano, Nuez, Barrio Norte, and even the traditional Colegiales are also of interest and increasingly gay-infused.

All of these barrios feature many strutting straight guys sporting skin-tight pink T-shirts, designer jeans and trendy haircuts. Don't be confused: Native Argentines maintain a complicated relationship between outward appearance and inner machismo, a balance they claim women enjoy. Whatever! If there is one place that embodies the cultural tensions between European and Latin American societies, it's Buenos Aires, so just savor the contradictions, including a social scene that defies the normal gay/straight conventions, Latin at heart and European in spirit.

Restaurants to check out