Gay Mexico City: Be Gay, Be Proud

Although Mexico is a deeply conservative country reined in by the Catholic Church, the macho attitude is not as empowered as it once was, leaving open lots of room for acceptance. Gay life thrives in major urban centers, and in Mexico City, the largest city in the world, it's no exception. Diverging from the predominant nationwide stance, the city assembly passed an initiative sanctioning same-sex partnerships the same legal benefits as traditional marriages, and anti-discrimination laws are enforced throughout the capital. The Zona Rosa, named after its pink-colored cobblestones, is the epicenter of the city's gay and lesbian scene with boutique hotels, fine dining, and, of course, the capital's most vibrant and decadent nightlife.

The ambience circulates around Amberes street where the legendary BGay BProud Café still serves café con leche to the loyal patrons chit-chatting the afternoon away. Foreigners can usually walk in here and leave feeling like compadres with more than a few friendly 20-something locals willing to dish on all the hidden secrets of the Zona: cabaret shows, backrooms, and the best tacos in the city. No translator necessary as the younger, hip Mexicans have begun adopting not only the language, but American culture in general. And make sure to pick up copies of "Ser Gay" and "Homópolis" to get information on all special parties and promotions.

With all the nightspot options, there is somewhat of a rivalry between the patrons of the many Cabare-Titos clubs, and those that frequent Living and Lipstick. Cabare-Titos, owned by Mexico's most famous drag queen, adds a more authentic Mexican flair with campy stage shows and Spanish pop, whereas Living and Lipstick are more upscale electronic dance havens built to emulate the nightlife temples of Berlin, Madrid, and New York.

With the growing gay and lesbian visibility, it's no surprise that the city's annual Gay Pride Parade in late June has become a spectacle with millions of participants garnering support from all the gay-friendly businesses and institutions. Arco Iris Tours specializes in special travel packages to accommodate your trip to Mexico City Pride.

Exploring Mexico City is simple, satisfying and full of surprises, much like taking a shot of tequila. Arriba! Abajo! Al centro! Pa'dentro!

Restaurants to check out