Historically, South America has been far from known as a destination that welcomes and understands gender identity and sexuality with the Catholic Church’s longtime influence on the region – however; in recent years there have been many movements within South America both culturally and politically, and with outspoken younger generations and widespread discussions on social media, there are many destinations in South America that have risen to the top as world leaders in advocating for the inclusivity of LGBTQ+ communities in their legislation and culture.
Beyond its strides as becoming a more culturally accepting destination, if there is one thing that South America knows how to do – it’s throw a party. When it comes to gay pride, South America puts some of the most grandiose celebrations in the world, compelling activists and revelers from around the globe to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in living color. LGBTQ+ Pride in South America has celebrations that easily rival those in North America and West Europe, and these vibrant celebrations are full of energy and messages of love and acceptance.
It’s important to note that pride celebrations in South America take place year round, and not just in June. South American summer is North American winter, so you may be in luck if you’re looking to catch a pride celebration during popular North American holidays like Thanksgiving.
If you’re looking for a place to celebrate Pride in South America, Kuoda has put together a list of our top three recommendations that are a guaranteed good time for those looking to party, spread the love and feel welcomed within the LGBTQ+ communities of these incredible destinations.
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Marcha del Orgullo a Pride is Argentina’s largest LGBTQ event. It initially began as a protest march in 1992 with just 300 people in attendance, most wearing masks to go incognito for safety. Today it has grown to become one of the most popular gay pride parades in South America, hosting 100,000-200,000 people from all over the world each year.
The parade takes place during the month of November and starts just outside the famous Casa Rosada in the Plaza de Mayo. The party then makes its way up the 11 blocks of Avenida de Mayo to the Plaza Congreso, where a public concert takes place. While you’re visiting for Pride, make sure to also experience the Queer Tango Festival and the Asterisco Film Festival, which celebrates sexual diversity with its cinema series as Buenos Aires is world famous for its arts, culture and cinema.
Buenos Aires has a vibrant gay scene, and the rich tango culture in San Telmo is known for its many gay milongas, or tango dance halls. After celebrating Pride in Argentina, you will have no doubt that this destination is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly places in the world.
2. Bogota, Colombia
Colombia has made incredible strides in becoming one of the safest and most progressive destinations in South America. As of 2016, gay marriage was legalized as well as same-sex adoption, but Pride marches have been happening in the city for long before that. Bogota specifically has made some groundbreaking milestones towards LGBTQ+ rights and visibility, including the right for trans individuals over the age of 18 to legally change their gender on their identification documents as of 2015 and more recently in 2019, the election of Claudia López as Bogota’s first woman and openly lesbian mayor.
The first gay pride march in Colombia took place in Bogota around 1982, with a mere 32 people marching and nearly 100 policemen attending for crowd control. The parade halted for several years due to instability in the region before taking place again in 1997, after which it became an annual event.
Today, gay Pride Day is celebrated throughout the country in late June and early July, with parades taking place in most of the big cities including Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena, with the largest parade being the the Orgullo Gay march in Bogotá, which draws over 50,000 people and spans from Parque Nacional to Plaza de Bolivar, where political speeches are followed by live music.
Music and dance are at the core essence of Colombian culture, with Colombian music and artists being known worldwide– and Bogota Pride knows how to bring a party. Botoga is home to the largest gay club in South America, Theatron, where revelers go to enjoy the Pride after parties at the huge nightclub complex which has 13 different gay clubs spread over 5 floors.
Those visiting Pride should be sure to check out Bogota’s Chapinero neighborhood, home to just about one hundred gay-friendly bars, restaurants, and clubs. The two we would like to mention and highlight here are Estación Café and Theatron, the largest LGBTQ+ club in Latin America. Aside from throwing internationally-known parties, Theatron also partners with local NGOs like Profamilia and Colombia Diversa in Colombia, continually fighting for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility.
3. Santiago, Chile
Santiago de Chile has undergone a cultural revolution in the past 40 years. From the stark contrast of the Pinochet dictatorship to modern cities like Santiago have gained impressive ground towards LGBTQ+ rights and equality in just a few decades. Recently, in January 2020, the Chilean senate made history when they approved to legalize same-sex marriage. The president’s central office called the Palacio de la Moneda dons bright rainbow colors on May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia.
On the whole, Santiago is such a vibrant and welcoming city, with the hub of queer culture and nightlife in the bustling Bellavista neighborhood. Bellavista is the most concentrated gay area of Santiago, where the majority of the city’s gay bars, clubs and hotels can be found. Bombero Nuñez is the most central gay street of the Bellavista neighborhood which is where we recommend staying if you’re in town for Pride celebrations.
Santiago Pride takes place in late June/ early July and their last parade in 2019 drew crowds of 130,000 in the streets of Santiago for the largest Pride celebration in Chilean history. One of the city’s most attended Pride marches, the day saw Santiago’s queers, gays, transgenders, non-binaries and more come together in a parade of music and color. If you attend Santiago Pride, you’re likely to see a float filled with transformistas leading the parade downtown while the queens screamed from the mics, “If you don’t have a supportive family, we’re your mothers now,” in Spanish.
Beyond Pride, Santiago has year-round LGBTQ+ celebrations and festivals including the LGBTQ Film Festival in October/ November and the Open Mind Fest electronic dance concert in November put on by the Movilh group, one of Chile’s most active LGBTQ+ community organizations.
Celebrating LGTBQ+ Pride in South America brings together the region’s love of music, dance and celebrations and its many strides to LGBTQ+ inclusivity and acceptance. The vibrant LGBTQ+ communities in South America have fought hard in recent decades for recognition, equality and acceptance and each celebration of Pride brings together the community in ways that go beyond just dancing and parties and affirms the solidarity that the queer communities and their allies have in the region. If you’re looking to experience Pride in one of these destinations, our travel experts at Kuoda are here to ensure your trip is as personalized, enjoyable, and safe as possible while getting you access to your destination’s top Pride parades, celebrations and events happening while you’re in town.