Welcome to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s gayest city, and second only to Rio as the gayest city in all of Latin America. This is a city that, amidst its staunch Catholic roots, has a history of LGBT rights that spans back decades. Add to that, year-round sunshine, gorgeous beaches, and friendly locals, Puerto Vallarta should definitely be on your list of gay cities to visit.
LGBT rights in Mexico
Same-sex activity has actually been decriminalised in Mexico since 1871 thanks to the French influence of the 19th century, and the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination was passed in 2003 to protect the rights and safety of LGBT citizens and visitors. In 2015 and 2016, same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption followed. But just how big of an impact do laws and declarations have on countries and cities with such a strong history of religion and masochism? Quite a lot actually.
Gay-friendly since 1980
Puerto Vallarta’s gay neighbourhood is in the city’s “Old Town”, also known as “The Romantic Zone”, which is where the gay community began buying land and properties back in the 80s alongside the retired Americans and Canadians. And where the gays go, gentrification quickly follows, and the Romantic Zone is now filled with bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.
How gay-friendly is Puerto Vallarta?
Far from being just accepting of the LGBT community, Puerto Vallarta revels in it, with one of its most popular and beautiful beaches belonging almost exclusively to the gays. Known as Playa de los Muertos – the beach of the dead – don’t let the name fool you as the scene on this beach is always very much alive.
The stretch of beach is also known as Blue Chairs, named after the many blue chairs set out on the beach by a gay resort of the same name. The concentration of gay-friendly beachfront hotels and beach clubs guarantees a high concentration of LGBT tourists, opening up the whole area to the advantages of being welcoming and accepting of gay travellers.
Macho men vs the gays
Mexican men have a reputation as being especially macho, and that could cause problems with gay travellers, tourists and locals. The conversations I had with local gay men very much left the impression that locals think gay tourists are great, but gay locals not so much. There is a macho man attitude that keeps many of the locals from accepting the LGBT lifestyle, however hostility and violence is still rare.
Like many parts of the world, tourism is so important in Puerto Vallarta that the same rules and attitudes don’t really apply to tourists. The gays made the city a thriving and inclusive community that draws in tourists from around the world, particularly the US and Canada.
As a gay tourist you will be welcomed with open arms, just bear in mind that if you’re trying to meet gay locals — especially those in smaller communities — they may be a little more hesitant and reserved.
Puerto Vallarta Gay Pride
A simple way to assess if a city is LGBT-friendly is whether or not they celebrate Pride. Puerto Vallarta doesn’t just acknowledge and celebrate Pride, they transform the entire city in a week-long gayfest that is the envy of all of Latin America (after Rio, maybe).
Puerto Vallarta Pride 2020 is set to be an 8-day event packed with arts and cultural events, concerts, films, plenty of beach parties and a parade that closes down the entire city.
Pride season events kick off, unsurprisingly, at the beach, with opening parties held at all the clubs and hotels along the beachfront, and the official opening party hosted at the Mantamar Beach Club. Endless crowds of gorgeous men in tiny tight white trunks will flock to the scene to celebrate LGBT-inclusivity with pride!
The main parade takes place on Saturday 23rd May from 6pm, leaving from the Hotel Rosita, followed by a party in the park at the Lazaro Cardenas Park Gardens. The whole of the gay district is closed off for a massive street party, with 20+ gay bars and clubs all getting involved. Each year the locals say that Puerto Vallarta Pride gets bigger and better, so it’s one that’s definitely not to be missed.
Vallarta Pride 2020 will run from May 18 until May 25.
ABOUT PUERTO VALLARTA
Puerto Vallarta, located in the state of Jalisco, is well-known for the preservation of its authentic Mexican traditions. The Pacific Coast port features 40 miles of coastline and a diverse topography, including tropical jungles, river beds, steep mountain sides and arid flatlands.
Tourist Board Website: www.visitpuertovallarta.com