Argentina is one of the most gay friendly countries in the world.
It was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which also included full adoption rights. This made it the 2nd in the entire continent (after Canada) and 10th in the world. The right to change legal gender has been in place since 2012 and in the same year, legislation was introduced adding life imprisonment to hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
“Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, which also included full adoption rights.”
Buenos Aires in particular is home to a very active gay scene, particularly across Palermo, where we met local boy Juanjo, or Juan for short. Juan agreed to give us this interview to tell us about what it's like growing up as a gay man in Argentina.
Buenos dias Juan! Introduce yourself:
Hola chicos, my name is Juan Morilla, but my friends call me John. I am a 20-year-old drama student from Buenos Aires.
Are you out to your friends and family?
Yes, my family and closest friends know I’m gay. I came out to them 2 months ago, but it was easy. My parents were very understanding, although it was harder for me to accept it at first because I felt I was a bad son.
Why do you think Argentina and Buenos Aires is so gay friendly?
We had a very repressive dictatorship in 1976-1981. During this period, we faced a great deal of terror and brutality. After the military dictatorship fell in 1983, there was an explosion in the arts and a sexual revolution in all spheres. The first gay bar opened in 1983, LGBT rights movements were allowed to be established and in 1992, President Carlos Menem signed a decree promising equal protection to gays.
In addition, the government and our media have historically done a great deal to combat discrimination and give a voice to the gay community. For example, transsexual actress Florencia De La Vega played a transvestite in the 2004 soap opera Los Roldán and in 2005 the television dating show 12 Corazones-Especial became the first in the country to exclusively feature gay men who kissed on camera. It was uncensored!
Things like this helped show our society that homosexuality is not a perversion and in fact we are just the same as heterosexuals.
Heading to Buenos Aires soon
Discover the best gay hangouts in the city, where to eat, activities to do, travel tips in our gay travel guide to Buenos Aires
What’s it like growing up as gay in Argentina?
I am fortunate because Buenos Aires is a very gay friendly city and I have never experienced any homophobia. It took me quite a while to accept being gay because I am an only child and my parents are a bit conservative.
Growing up, I didn't want to be a minority in society and instead aspired to be what I thought was the stereotypical male with a car, sexy blond wife, 2 children, a nice house, a van and a golden retriever. My parents and friends around me are very accepting and I have never had to hide my sexuality to anyone.
What are your favourite gay bars and clubs in Buenos Aires?
My favourites are Glam club in Recoleta and Peuteo gay bar in Palermo.
We also have monthly/fortnightly parties in Buenos Aires like Plop! It's a lot of fun, plays the best music and attracts many sexy guys. For more information, I recommend this excellent gay guide to Buenos Aires by two cheeky friends of mine(!)
What’s the best way for gay travellers to meet gay locals like you?
The best way is via apps like Manhunt, Grindr, Hornet, Happn and Tinder. Also, we Argentinians love our social media a lot, especially Instagram – get in touch with me on my Instagram profile.
Where would you take a date for a romantic weekend?
For me I would visit an estancia in the countryside outside the city, like Puesto Viejo in Cañueles. This is a large polo club with a boutique hotel, outdoor infinity pool and really beautiful gardens. On a hot summer's day in February/March, it's nice to just come here to chill with your lover.
Are there any gay events not to miss in Argentina?
There are a few that come to mind:
- Vendimia gay festival: in early March, there is the annual famous wine harvesting festival in Mendoza called Vandimia, which concludes with a large gay party. Sadly, there is very little up-to-date information online confirming the official dates for the gay Vendimia and they are not advertised until last minute. Best advice is to reach out to the Mendoza Tourism board via their Facebook page.
- Asterisco LGBTIQ Film Festival: in July, we have our annual gay Film Festival, which is definitely worth checking out if you're in the city.
- Orgullo Buenos Aires: Orgullo is our annual gay pride, going strong since 1992. It takes place on the first Saturday of November and last year's event attracted a massive crowd of more than 200,000 people!
Are there any famous Argentinian gay icons?
My favourite gay icon is Evita, especially after the famous Madonna musical was made. Many Argentinian gay guys love her and visit her grave at the Recoleta Cemetery to pay their respects.
A more less known but extremely important gay icon for us is Carlos Jáuregui who died in 1996. He was an activist for gay rights during the 1980s and 1990s. He led the way for much of what we have achieved today. He is like our own Harvey Milk. I am so proud that my city will be celebrating him by naming a new subway station after him.
And finally, are there any important gay slang words that LGBT travellers need to learn?
Ha ha ha, yes, of course! We have our own gay slang in Buenos Aires. For example a “tetera” is a cruising place and taxi boys are the name for escort boys.
Another popular one is “chongo” used to describe very macho acting guys and so we tease each other and feminise the word to call ourselves “chongas” or “chongitas”!
For more inspiration:
Like this post? Pin it
OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS
⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.
⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers (gay or not) can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.
⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where gay dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.
⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.
⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.
This article contains affiliate links. If you click on them, we may receive compensation which keeps our website alive and helps us bring you to more destinations.