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11 gay stories around the world from a straight point of view

11 gay stories around the world from a straight point of view

We talked to straight bloggers about their personal gay stories from around the world.

We do love a bit of romance. But we never shy away from a party or two. And the LGBT community around the world sure knows how to put on a party. Right?

We wanted to get the opinion from the other side. So we asked a few of our fellow straight blogger buddies about their encounters and gay stories around the world during their travels…

Gay stories around the world Malaysian drag queen
Straight Ally #1: Vanessa Workman…Our Aunty V

1. Meeting Malaysian Drag Queen: Shelah!

By Vanessa Workman of The Island Drum

A few years ago I had the opportunity to see the first comeback performance of Malaysia’s infamous Drag Queen Shelah!

And I got to meet her backstage. 

Being backstage always stirs the closet thespian in me, so meeting Shelah (AKA Edwin Sumun) pre-performance had me immediately lured into one of my ‘I wish I was a star’ moments.

gay stories around the world Kuala Lumpur Shelah! drag queen
Vanessa meeting Edwin Shelah! backstage

But hearing Edwin speak openly about his own career ups and downs, as well as the harsh realities of local ‘politics’, I could immediately sense the greater importance of Shelah’s art-imitating-life comedy, monologues and theatrical persona beyond simple celebrity.

It also helps when the persona is 6-feet high in heel, with a platinum blond afro, but you just don’t forget Edwin or Shelah either way.

Funny, insightful and entertaining, Shelah! inspires straights as well as gays to follow their heart.

If you’re in Kuala Lumpur be sure to check out one of her shows!

2. A random Turkish gay gathering in Istambul

By Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World

I hardly have to look for gay bars wherever I go. They just seem to find me…and each time I have a blast!

When I visited Istanbul in 2012, I met Julien at my hostel and together we set out to discover the city.

Hours went by and as we were making our way back to the hostel at 1 am we heard some (great) music in the distance. We followed the sound and reached a bar.

The few people there invited us to join their table. Beer was poured. Eventually more people passed by and they joined us too. The last to arrive, intrigued by the quick chatter, asked us how long Julien and I knew each other. That's when we realised that nobody knew anyone there. We had just randomly gathered.

And that’s when it also became clear that the only straight people at the bar were Julien and I.

Soon after, the owner suggested that we all move to a gay club. So we did, with a bunch of random people and partied the night away.

I boarded the flight a few hours later with one of the biggest headache I can remember. Julien and I have remained in touch since and we still laugh at that story.

For our fabulous female readers looking for tips and advice, check out this awesome post about solo female travel.

Claudia travel blogger gay scene Istanbul
Claudia the crazy cat lady with Julien discovering the scene in Istanbul

3. Experiencing Korean Pride in Seoul

By Chris Backe of One Weird Globe

Pride in Korea is a curious thing.

During my time in Korea (2008-2013), I attended multiple Pride events, although the photos have been intentionally blurred to avoid outing anyone (an actual requirement of photographers at these events).

Homosexuality, while not yet accepted by the mainstream and religious majorities, is slowly becoming a reality amongst the younger, less traditional generations. That said, being outed means you risk losing your job and problems with your family, made harder by the fact that there are very few support systems in place.

The annual Pride parade in Seoul is the needle that threads the dozens of patchwork organisations together, and as such is perhaps the best place to learn about the support systems available.

Unfortunately, more recent events have seen protests by a resilient conservative Christian following. The 2015 Pride parade was lucky to even go ahead.

If you do attend Seoul Pride, be mindful of the resistance, but keep a cool head. You will be with excellent company.

gay stories around the world gay pride Seoul South Korea
Experiencing gay pride in conservative Seoul, South Korea (faces deliberately blurred out)

4. Meeting Thai transgender in Bangkok

By Paula and Gordon of Contented Traveller

We met an American man in a bar in Bangkok who introduced us to his soon to be wife. She was a transgender woman, which is not uncommon in Thailand and Southeast Asia generally.

“Kathoey” is the Thai term for a transgender woman or an effeminate gay male in Thailand.

The American man is gay and was unable to tell his conservative family in the States about this, despite being over 60. He intended to take his lady friend home to the US as his wife, and because she did not look like a man, the problem was solved for him.

She introduced us to many of the ladys at the bar. We asked one transgender lady whether she had had the gender reassignment surgery. We complimented her and had to admit that yes, her doctor was very skilled, indeed!

gay stories around the world Gay scene Bangkok ladyboys
Paula with her new friends in Bangkok

5. Marching in San Francisco Pride

By Megan MacNee of Traveling Nine to Fiver

San Francisco is one of my favourite cities. There's always something going on and plenty to do.

One of my favourite experiences was walking in the San Francisco Pride Parade in 2013 just two days after the US Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8, legalising gay marriage in California. The energy that filled this huge city was spectacular and amazing to be a part of.

We had State elects dancing in leather pants, and young and old singing along to Macklemore's Same Love.

We danced and sang, shouted and cheered!

After the parade, the city was still out and about, excited to celebrate. We ran into old friends, made plenty of new ones and celebrations continued on the BART (subway) ride back home.

It was an amazing day as well as an incredible opportunity to be a part of a big step forward for California: a decision, which helped pave the way for a much bigger nationwide moment (gay marriage) several years later!

gay stories around the world Gay Pride San Francisco 2013
Megan at the San Francisco Pride march in 2013 just after Prop 8 was overturned

6. Welcome to Glasgow… or should I say Glasgay…!

By Gemma from Two Scots Abroad

I spent much of my twenties in gay bars. Most notably the now defunct, “Utter Gutter” in Glasgow. This was the alternative queer disco night, playing the best electro music in the city. It was also an excuse for my friend Gordon to wear hot pants and leggings. I used to join in of course: the more glitter the better!

Another event which holds a special place in my heart in good old Glasgay is the drag fashion show / ball held at the Barras Art and Design (BAaD). I wore a plastic tartan dress with bouffant sleeves. My friend Nicola wore a Russian-esque fur hat and Gordon had terrible hair. Lady Munter (Menergy) compered and the media snapped hard.

Good memories!

gay stories around the world Glasgow gay scene
Some of Gemma's favourite memories from nights out at the Glasgow gay scene

7. A Spanish and French Pride experience at Murcia and Marseille

By Nat and Rob of Love and Road

We are a big fan of gay clubs and bars. Last summer in Europe, we travelled around France and Spain, which nicely coincided with the summer Pride festivities.

We went to Murcia, a small city in Southeast Spain, to visit a friend. Whilst out and about exploring the old medieval town, we stumbled upon a large group of beautiful girls and guys all dressed up, with really intense makeup, dancing away in what can be described as a sound truck! A lot of effort went into those costumes.

A month later we visited Marseille hoping to enjoy the French summer by the sea. The day we decided to visit the famous Vieux Port, we were pleasantly surprised to discover it coincided with the Marseille Pride Party. No doubt we got plenty of rosé and danced our socks off during the whole afternoon.

gay stories around the world Gay Pride Murcia Spain gay scene
Nat enjoying the atmosphere (and outfits) at Murcia Pride in Southeast Spain

8. Straight allies at Cologne Pride in Germany

By Margherita The Crowded Planet

Last summer, my husband and I took part in the #mygaypride campaign as ‘straight allies'.

I had been to several Prides before, but for him it was the first time and he didn't hide the fact that he was quite nervous.

We joined two Prides, one in Berlin and then in Cologne. Berlin Pride was fun, but Cologne was even better. It's hard to say why – the atmosphere was more joyful and careless. It felt like the whole city just wanted to have a good time.

Plus, we got to ride on the back of a float. It was hot, sweaty and cramped, but we danced like crazy for the whole afternoon. And we don't usually like dancing!

If you fancy having a great weekend, make sure you don't miss it! To read more, check out our post about Cologne Pride.

Gay Pride Cologne gay scene Berlin Germany
Margherita and Nick in Dresden preparing to board the train for Cologne gay pride

9. Spotting Sir Ian McKellen at New York City Pride

By Carole Meyers of Berkeley and Beyond

The first Gay Pride Parade I saw was in New York City. I remember loving the D*kes on Bikes.

Since then I’ve also seen the parade several times in San Francisco, my home town. Last summer I happened to be in NYC again during pride season and headed out to see it once more.

This was a particularly festive parade because it coincided with the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision extending equal marriage rights to all 50 states.

I found a prime spot at the crossing between Christopher and Hudson streets. Although I didn’t see the D*kes on Bikes this time, I did see Grand Marshall Sir Ian McKellen ride up late to join in mid-parade to do his honorary duties.

Unfortunately the only image I captured of him was his waving arm hiding his face as he stood through the open roof of a Fiat 500. But the car does have a banner proclaiming that it is indeed him!

The sidewalks were packed, and I was proud to be among the celebrants along with my husband and daughter’s family.

gay stories around the world New York City gay pride
Spotting Sir Ian McKellen at the New York City Pride Parade

10. Canadian Stiletto races at Fierte Montreal Pride

By Susan Moore of Solo Trips and Tips

I love Montréal for its sheer diversity of people. My first trip there in August 2011 happened to coincide with the huge Fierté Montréal Pride, a week-long celebration of the LGBT community. 

Thousands of spectators line the streets on parade day. I loved that it was a family friendly event with people of all ages and walks of life.

Some of my favourites from the parade were the guys dressed up as royalty, like the Queen waving to her people. I was amazed by very tall guys (with great legs!) walking/running around in stiletto heels – how on earth do they do that?!

My all-time fave was the banjo playing dude wearing nothing but a canoe!

You don’t have to be gay or parle français to enjoy Fierte Montréal Pride.

11. A wild night out at Sydney's Mardi Gras

By Stuart and Eloise of Am I Nearly There Yet?

When you're living in Sydney, it's impossible not to be drawn into one of its largest annual events! The Sydney Mardi Gras is the annual LGBT pride event held every March and attended by hundreds and thousands of people from all over.

Sydney's Oxford Street is the focal point for the packed bars, saucy shows and everything in-between!

Armed with rainbow flags and a bottle of vodka, we hit the ꜱtriþ on the Saturday for a show before the main parade began. It was in full swing by 5pm. We saw a drag show (a first for both of us), then got totally immersed with the outside crowd, watching the passing floats and enjoying the chaos.

It was such an amazing night out.

Get down there early if you want a spot at the front. And prepare yourself for a wild night! 

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out reputable travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft, or a cancellation? Many gay travelers forget about it and regret it when something happens. Better to pay a small price and have peace of mind and not worry.

Stefan Arestis

Hey everyone, I'm Stefan, the curly-haired Greek flavor behind the gay travel blog Nomadic Boys. Together with my other half, I have explored more than 90 countries across 5 continents. What I love most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, learning new cultures. I've written about LGBTQ travel in numerous online publications such as Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times and Pink News as well as for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Check my full bio here.


Saturday 14th of March 2020

"as he stood through the open roof of a white VW"... sorry to be a nitpicker but that clearly is a Fiat 500.

Stefan Arestis

Sunday 15th of March 2020

Thanks for spotting that - corrected :)


Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

Great stuff guys! Travel ON!

Nomadic boys

Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

Thanks David :)


Monday 29th of February 2016

If anyone is interested in helping the oppressed gay youth of South Korea, GlobalGiving is a portal to this group doing good work there

Nomadic boys

Tuesday 1st of March 2016

Thanks RakSiam

Fred in Motul

Monday 29th of February 2016

What great stories. Thanks for collecting and sharing them. You guys are great! Keep it up.

Fred in Motul

Nomadic boys

Tuesday 1st of March 2016

Thanks Fred ;)

Edsel Laitila

Monday 29th of February 2016

I will never change my mind on you guys. You guys are the coolest dudes I've ever met. Keep it up. Your made for each other.

Nomadic boys

Monday 29th of February 2016

Awww thanks Edsel xxxxxxx