Gay Guide Mexico City
A Mexico City gay guide is much easier to write than one for the entire country. CDMX has been at the forefront of LGBT+ issue for years. Here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling to the eighth-largest city in the world.
Status of Gay Rights in Mexico City
By American standards, Mexico City is surprisingly progressive. Here’s how it compares to one of our most progressive states – California.
|Sodomy Laws||Decriminalized (1871)||Overturned (1975)|
|Same-Sex Marriage||Legal (2009)||Legal (2008)|
|Gay Anti-Discrimination Law||Passed (2003)||Passed (1992)|
|Trans Anti-Discrimination Law||None||Passed (2012)|
|MSM Blood Donation||Legal (2012)||1 Year Deferral|
|First Pride Parade||1978||1970|
|Conversion Therapy||Legal||Banned for Minors (2012)|
|Adoption||Joint Adoption||Single & Joint Adoption|
Mexico City is on par with California on most LGBT+ issues, and more progressive than both the U.S. and Mexico at large.
Religion and Beliefs
Mexico’s culture is inseparable from religion. According to a 2010 census, over 90% of Mexicans identify as Christian, with the vast majority belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. That said, there’s a difference between being culturally Catholic and being a practicing Catholic. Although agnostic now, I was raised Catholic, and I can still identify with that religion’s culture of crushing guilt.
If same-sex marriage is a barometer for public opinion on LGBT+ rights, then Mexico is trending in the right direction. Based on a 2014 poll from Pew:
- 42% of Mexican Catholics oppose same-sex marriage
- 63% of Mexicans 18-34 support same-sex marriage
- 40% of Mexicans 35+ support same-sex marriage
It’s worth noting that in the same poll, Mexicans held more positive attitudes toward same-sex marriage than Hispanics in the U.S. Also, this is a relatively old sampling – and is of the entire country. Mexico City is almost certainly more progressive.
One crucial fact of Mexican culture is machismo. Gender roles can have an outsized function in this country. For some, a man’s most significant offense can be not “acting” like a man (being a top is okay, being a bottom isn’t). This places more effeminate gay people at risk of harassment, as well as transgender women. Ironically, this can mean lesbian relationships are safer than other kinds in the LGBT+ community.
Mexico is evolving on LGBT+ issues – and Mexico City is at the forefront.
Mexico City’s Gay Neighborhood
Modern LGBT+ laws have given a significant boost to Mexico City’s gay neighborhood, Zona Rosa. This heavily-policed zone is a safe place for public displays of affection. As the largest gay-friendly area in the city, you’ll find dozens of gay bars to explore. Some have a cover, but everything tends to be crazy cheap by America’s big-city standards.
Go and have fun, but be smart. There are still seedier spots in the area, places you don’t want to go. Check these gay bars out:
- Kinky Bar
- Tom’s Leather Bar
- Boy Bar
Gay-Friendly Places to Stay
A few of Mexico City’s best neighborhoods are in this area too. I’d suggest an AirBnB for that real “local” feeling – and because they’re insanely awesome and cheap as hell.
- Roma Norte
The Gay Bathhouse of Mexico City
Sodome is tops the list of gay bathhouses in Mexico City. This posh spot for cruising has a bar, sauna, steam room, maze, dark room, foam room, and dance floor. It takes a lot of courage to walk into a space like this, especially if you’ve never been in a bathhouse. For Americans abroad, it’s an experience worth having. Go with a few friends – a foreign sex club isn’t safe for a solo traveler. Otherwise get your freak on, dude.
5 Tips for Safe Travel if You’re Gay or Trans* in Mexico City
Download a map of the area
This is a no-brainer and necessity for traveling abroad. On Google Maps, you can download a section of any area for offline use. This is essential. I’ve also created a custom Mexico City gay guide map, with highlights of gay bars, landmarks, and other LGBT stuff.
Take an Uber at night
In “10 Must-Do Things in Mexico City,” I said you should take the public transit. This remains true. But at night, be smart and use an Uber. They’re absurdly cheap and ubiquitous in CDMX. Many locals will recommend the pink-white cabs, like the one pictured above. In my experience, they’re more expensive, less efficient, and less reputable. Just do an Uber.
Know basic Spanish
Spanish was always my worst subject in school, so I know your pain. But a little practice will make your trip more accessible and enjoyable. It may seem obvious, but language is a way of life. By learning the language, you can experience cultures and destinations on a whole new level. At the very least, make sure you have Google translator with offline files for Spanish. I was still able to hold meaningful conversations using the app.
Be mindful of blending in
Transgender and non-conforming people face some of the greatest dangers in travel. If you’re one of them, I don’t have to tell you. Use caution and be mindful of Mexico’s higher expectations for gender roles. That said, CDMX is not a backward city.
In the modern and urban areas, public displays of affection are usually fine. But generally speaking, I try to keep a low profile when traveling – hat, sunglasses, and everyday clothing. In Mexico City, pretty much everyone wears pants, no matter the temperature. Pack accordingly. Leave the flip flops at home and walk with confidence.
If possible, go with a friend or a trusted local
As a solo traveler, I know the feeling of empowerment that comes from traveling alone. But if it’s your first time – and you don’t speak Spanish – it’s a good idea to know someone. There’s power in numbers. I was lucky enough to meet some very knowledge locals during my journey.
Ready to go? Read my 10 Must Do Things in Mexico City.
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