We love getting a feel for a destination and feeling like we live there. It’s important for us to get an idea of what it’s like to be a local gay wherever we go.
Of course we know we’re tourists and we’re going to visit the major sites, maybe even a museum or two. But the tourist sites aren’t always the best place to get a feel for local life – how many New Yorkers hang out in Times Square at night? How many Parisians actually walk the Champs Elysées for fun? Yeah, that's what we thought.
Still, there are a few ways we like to feel like gay locals when we’re in Berlin, Sydney, San Francisco, or anywhere in between.
1. Connect with the locals
Whether it’s Twitter, MeetUp, or even Grindr, it can’t hurt to pre-meet the gays online when you travel someplace new. We check out who the local gay bloggers are and see what sorts of interactions occur. That’s how we met up with Adam when were in Berlin, and were delighted that he had some time for a coffee with us.
This is a great way to find out what’s going on at night, or if there is any insider information someone might be willing to share. You might end up getting invited for a friendly drink – why not, right?
2. Locate the Gayborhood
It sounds cliché, but we always look for the gay district when we travel, more out of curiosity than anything else. It gives you a good sense of what “gay life” is actually like. Look for book shops, rainbow flags (of course), or penis-shaped baguettes if you're in Paris and you'll now you're in the right area. Another great way to find out where the gayborhood is by checking out listings on MisterBnB, and if you book, it’ll also help connect you to a gay local right away.
Paris’s Marais and San Francisco’s Castro districts are hard to miss, but some places might be less obvious, requiring a little more research. We’re not quite sure there is a main gayborhood in places like Budapest or Montpellier, but boy oh boy did we look…
3. Snack with the locals
Dining doesn’t tend to be a super social event when traveling – you get a table with your partner or travel companion and enjoy your meal. But during snack time – coffee, cake, tea – it can be a great time to interact with people. We always make sure we do afternoon coffee and cake when possible. Food is cultural, so the calories are totally justified. It's like a museum visit for your mouth, right?
Our favorite little spot in Stuttgart was a cake café with the most entertainingly flamboyant staff. We went back a few times because it was plain fun, especially in a small city that didn’t have much gay flair otherwise.
4. Drink with the locals
This is an easy one, and hopefully if you got high marks on #1, #2, or #3 you’ll be led to a bar at some point by a new friend. Drinking is inherently a social activity, so there’s a pretty good chance of meeting people at a bar or café even if you go alone. In Paris, talking to people at a bar like the Duplex is inevitable. In New York, drinks at Marie’s Crisis turned into a giant singalong (as is the norm).
5. Run with the locals
This one might not be for everyone, but if you bring your trainers with you anyway, consider popping in on a run with the local chapter of the Front Runners, the international LGBT running group. Fellow running enthusiasts will be happy to accept new faces or members from other cities. There are dozens of groups around the world, from Oslo and Dublin to Tokyo and Mexico City.
It’s also not a bad idea if you’ve been trying #3 a bit too much – all that cake does add up in the end…