World Traveler: Tour de Men
Our annual travel guide to exotic places by way of the guys you might meet once you get there.
By Mike Fleming
Your global boyfriends await at each of our 2017 travel pit stops, from sultry St. Maarten to crisp, clean Vancouver and Geneva, and from the Australian Outback to lively Buenos Aries and Tokyo.
Pack your bags, gentlemen, and meet our fantasy tour guides as we go around the world in datable gays.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Your Porteno, as Buenos Aires residents call themselves, can be self-assured but insecure at the same time, eager to please you with his mix of European and South American roots in the city, the wine and the people.
The gorgeous architecture is similarly diverse in gay neighborhoods like Recoleta, Palermo, and San Telmo. One minute, it’s like a contemporary American scene, the next you’re in Old Paris. Then you notice that signature Portenos behavior – insane driving, the passionate way he moves his hands when he speaks, and the obsession he has with close family and friends.
Gay life has been part of the fabric of the city since the formation of its first openly gay group in 1969. It’s likely the most liberal and pro-gay city in Latin America. Since 1996, anti-gay discrimination is illegal, but follow your man’s lead on behaviors in certain areas. Marriage equality is the law of the land as of 2010.
Porteños men kiss on the cheek to greet each other, both gay and straight. Enjoy that, and ask to visit Glam Club for dancing, Sitges for drag, Flux for happy hour, and Pride Café or Parilla Miranda for dinner and drinks.
St. Maarten, Virgin Islands
The guy you meet here, like his home, is split between his Dutch and French sensibilities. Pack your passport to get on this island, and then let him take you on a whirlwind romance of dramatic cliffs, winding roads and hilly sunsets.
Closed in by cliffs, the gay Cupecoy Beach on the Dutch side of the island is clothing optional. It’s in a super fancy area with a thriving condo market, the world-class Blue Mall luxury shopping center and the Christian Dior Spa.
On the French side, do dinner and drag at L’Escargot with amazing French cuisine in a dive-tastic Creole cottage that includes a cabaret seven nights a week.
The Gay & Lesbian Travel Association has checked out and approved accommodations at Sonesta and Westin Dawn Beach on the Dutch side, but most gay tourists go French at La Samanna. It regularly hosts famous faces like Anderson Cooper and Donatella Versace. That’s where you and your local lad can enjoy tennis, spa, a full gym and VIP cabanas.
Ask him to take a daytrip to Saba, the sister island vying for gayest of the region with an openly gay commissioner, director of tourism, and member of the island council, all of whom are pushing for marriage equality.
Vancouver, British Columbia
One of the most gay-welcoming cities in the world introduces you to an urbane, educated, most-likely well-off man who knows the ins and outs of his ocean-wrapped, snow-capped city.
Start in one of two distinctly different gayborhoods. The West End and Commercial Drive are both home to gay residents and a number of gay restaurants, boutiques, pubs and coffee shops. The West End is on the downtown peninsula with tree-lined streets, beaches and funky stores. “The Drive” is more multi-cultural and bohemian. It’s a little more lesbian-centric and holds its own Pride festival each year.
Weddings are always in season, with unforgettable views and venues like the Teahouse in Stanley Park or Windows on the Bay.
There are more than 30 “TAG Approved” gay-friendly hotels in Vancouver, the most of any city in Canada. Some of the more popular and more unique offerings include the trendy 2400 Motel, the out of this world views of Coast Coal Harbor, the ocean-side Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier, and the quaint intimacy of The Burrard.
For something different, dine out at eateries like The Parker for vegetarian fare, The Observatory Restaurant for mountain views, and Dinner at the Birdcage or Vancouver Fan Club for drag dining.
What’s your idea of the perfect day date? Your Vancouver man is ready with a scenic trip on a floatplane, an epic road trip up into the mountains, or a relaxing ferry ride through stunning vistas like Victoria Island on the Strait of Georgia.
Like the urban jungle he lives in, your date in Tokyo is a mass of contradictions and dichotomies. It’s the reality of this emerging modern culture in a strictly conservative country that he’s likely buttoned up and closeted at a desk by day and letting it all hang out in the city’s vibrant bar culture by night.
In a blink, he can take you from the chaos of crowds, skyscrapers and neon billboards to the serenity of tree-lined streets, sakura blossoms and secluded udon shops for noodles. And though many westerners don’t realize it, there is amazing skiing on the peaks of Mount Takeo, only 30 miles away. You’ll want to soak up all of it.
Two neighborhoods play host to the gay scene. Shinjuku is the better known and most crowded, and Ni-Chome is known for having the highest concentration of small, densely packed gay bars in the world. Eat at the Aiiro Café, which has locations in both neighborhoods. Other restaurants in the gay districts include Ippudo for ramen, Yuian for Isakaya, and Cocolo for Japanese-Western fusion.
Most gay Japanese men are still limited to express their sexual orientation within the confines of these few small blocks. They love visitors, and many of the bars have eager bartenders who speak fluent English. Ask to visit clubs including Dragon Men, Arty Farty, GB and Kinsmen.
Ni-Chome is also great for boutiques and shops, and Shinjuku hosts stores for major men’s fashion brands like Comme des Garcons, which is now based there.
The natural beauty, the Old World charm, the liberal sophistication. Oh, and the city too. The boyfriend you find in Geneva is everything that this city has to offer in one perfect package.
One of the most live-and-let-live places on the planet, prepare to fall in love. Oh, and the guys too. Geneva is nestled between the majestic Alps and the Jura Mountains. Considered the most “French” of the Swiss destinations, it’s smaller than its sister Zurich but more multicultural.
You’ll stroll hand-in-hand through the International Quarter near the main train station, set to whisk you away to day trips and other European destinations. Once there, you and your handsome tour guide can easily walk to most places within the city, rent bicycles, or book boat and ferry tours of the area.
The Pont du Mont Blanc has been a gay meeting place for generations. There’s a pebbly beach, pedestrian and café-lined streets, and a cruisy park at the land’s end point. Eat at Buvette des Bains des Paquis, a gay restaurant with waterside seating.
Gay clubs are plentiful. Favorites include L’Aiglon, which is a café by day and bar by night, La Garconniere for drag, Le Declic for lounging, and La Bretelle for the artsy crowd. Geneva also has a reputation for a large number of gay spas, saunas and baths. Shopping includes the superstore Manor and Substation, a gay adult store.
You’ve heard that it’s the journey, not the destination. Well, in South Australia, it’s both. Like the planes, trains and automobiles you’ll take to get here, your gay guide has to know the big city, but also be rugged enough to know his way around the Outback as well. Win-win.
Start in Melbourne, which may be smaller than Sydney but is the country’s cultural capital. Your guy here knows his way around cafes, art galleries and a welcoming, multicultural atmosphere. Gay neighborhoods here are Fitzroy, St. Kilda and Carlton, and you’ll want to see them all.
Drink at Sircuit Bar, Chasers and The Peel. Eat at Chin Chin or the Flower Drum for Asian flair, and Ten Lost Tribes for tapas and coffee. Stay at The Laird or 169 Drummond exclusively for gay clientele, and visit the gay Sandridge Beach.
Once you’ve soaked up all the gay you can handle, the real adventure begins. While it’s not gay per se, the Australian Outback with your cute-accented man will be the adventure of a lifetime. Travel from Melbourne to the port town of Adelaide, then catch a ride to the even more remote Alice Springs, where guided walkabouts are the local industry of choice.