One of the world's ten most populous cities, with almost 22 million inhabitants as of 2021, it should be no surprise that Mexico City is also just jam-packed with LGBTQ+ denizens, places of interest, nightlife, and businesses. Known more affectionately by the acronym CDMX these days (short for Ciudad de Mexico), this buzzing, vibrant destination bears the distinction of being Latin America's first capital to legalize both same-sex marriage and same-sex couples' adoption of children in March 2010. Ten years later, the anniversary of the law's codification was marked by a mass wedding of more than 140 couples, and today a growing majority of Mexico's 32 states have followed CDMX's lead and also legalized same-sex marriage (Puebla became the 20th in late 2020).
Some of the most LGBTQ-friendly districts include the bar and club-peppered Zona Rosa, the upscale shopping and dining haven Polanco, and hipster, boutique-y Condesa and neighboring Roma (the latter served as the setting for Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar-winning, semi-autobiographical 2018 Netflix movie, "Roma"). In late 2019, The Ministry of Tourism Mexico City published an impressive, colorful, bilingual (Eng/Spa) "Guide To Diversity" CDMX magazine chock full of LGBTQ information and resources, which can be downloaded in pdf format.
Since the late 1970s, Mexico City has held an annual Pride march in June (the 2021 edition is slated for 26th) while the city is also scheduled to host an upcoming Latin American Pride. The city also plays host to an impressive array of mixed, LGBTQ-friendly, and edgy events, arts, and performances. The English-language website for Time Out Mexico City offers an up-to-date line-up of LGBTQ+ goings-on, from entertainment and events to nightlife, and is easily searchable.
The Best Things to Do
Mexico City balances both classic and contemporary arts and architecture, history and futurism, and nature with its dynamic urbanism.
- LGBTQ History organization El Seminario Histórico LGBTTTI Mexicano is headquartered in the Women's Museum (Museo de la Mujer), which features equality-themed exhibitions, films, and workshops for the LGBTQ community.
- One of the most architecturally stunning and iconic museums since it debuted its aluminum-tiled Planco district home in 2011, the six-floor Museo Soumaya boasts a world-class private collection of Mexican and international works, including the world's largest collection of Rodin sculpture castings (outside France).
- The leafy Coyoacan district's Museo Frida Kahlo, aka The Blue House is the iconic painter's former residence and has been open to the public since 1958. Besides work by Kahlo and her partner in life and art, Diego Rivera, the grounds—which can be explored via guided or self-guided tour—also feature personal artifacts including her clothing and prosthesis related to her painful affliction with polio, displays that offer insight into Kahlo's life, and a shop. Enthusiasts can also visit the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio Museum in nearby San Angel Inn, where the pair lived together during part of the 1930s.
- Some contemporary LGBTQ Mexican and Latin American artists are subverting machismo culture, sometimes to controversial effect. One such artist is Fabian Chairez, whose provocative paintings have queered up Catholic, lucha libre, and even Mexican revolutionary icons (his portrait of a high-heeled, naked, pink Sombrero-ed Emiliano Zapata at CDMX's Fine Arts Palace caused an uproar in 2019).
- A contemporary photography-centric gallery and store, Roma's Hydra+ features books, prints, posters, and exhibitions by edgy Latin American shutterbugs and is well worth a browse, especially the self-published selections.
- Polanco's Sodome Bathhouse features multiple levels of facilities including a bar and lounge with go-go boys, a hot tub, a sex labyrinth, and even themed monthly parties. With four locations, including Roma, the 24-hour La Casita Sex Club Gay leaves little to the imagination with its name, with a discounted admission for guys 18 to 25 years old. The Cuauhtémoc district's Banos Finisterre, is almost entirely local in crowd and even draws in some straight businessmen. Reportedly, the busiest times are weekend mornings around 8 a.m.
- If you prefer a guided, curated itinerary for CDMX, Canada's LGBTQ (yet straight-friendly) Out Adventures offers a 5-day "Mexico City: Aztec Adventure" tour that covers its history, queer nightlife, cuisine, and local secrets, and includes accommodations.
The Best LGBTQ Bars and Clubs
Many gay bars and clubs are clustered within the Zona Rosa (aka Pink Zone) district, although LGBTQ-friendly nightlife and outstanding cocktail-centric bars exist throughout the city, including the historic Centro. The three-floor Kinky Bar's name is a bit deceiving since you won't really see the fetish crowd here: instead, you'll find a mainstream mix of LGBTQs and friends here to party, dance, drink, see drag performances, go-go boys, and even have something to eat. There's also drag, dancing, food, and vogueing at the 4-year-old Baby, but with a side order of subversive camp and hipsters.
Around for over 20 years, Cabaré-Tito Neon is located in a basement but is as colorful as it gets with drag, cabaret shows, and theme nights (including lesbian). Sister venue Fusion boasts three dancefloors (each catering to different musical tastes), with karaoke, male strippers, and even guest entertainers. Welcoming underage LGBTQs, Papi Fun Bar lives up to its name with dancing, drag, and guest entertainers like singers from Mexico's edition of "The Voice." If you prefer a more 30-something age range with side order of cowboy culture, try Vaqueros Bar. The brick-walled Nicho Bears & Bar is ground zero for the bear community and draws quite a young crowd. However, you can also expect drag, karaoke, and some camp in the mix.
For a big dose of Mexico City-style drag, Club Roshell offers plenty of entertainment, including a weekly comedy night, and a chance to rock your own wig and drag look for the night via a "Transformación" thanks to their talented staff.
Located in the historic Centro, El Marra is a popular, young, buzzy, and fun spot for drinks, food, go-go boys, drag, and fierce vogueing/runway action. Located just across the street, sister discotheque La Purísima is bigger and more dancing-centric with some strippers and sacrilegious takes on Catholic iconography including a golden, dragged-up crucified Christ statue and sexualized stained glass paintings that would make a priest's eyes pop out. Leafy Condesa, meanwhile, is home to Mexico City's Tom's Leather Bar location, featuring a roster of sexy go-go boys dancing on the bar and plenty of action in the dark room.
The Best Places to Eat
Foodies are spoilt for choice in Mexico City with endless restaurants for all budgets, fresh new takes on regional cuisines, and delicious street tacos (if adventurous, try the "ojos" or eyeball tacos). Since opening in 2000, Polanco's Pujol has remained an innovative presence in Mexico City's culinary scene, thanks to chef-owner Enrique Olvera's ever-evolving techniques and creations. Fusing deeply Mexican flavors and ingredients with the international, Pujol's signature mole madre, mole nuevo (which entails a circle of fresh mole encircled by a 1,000-day aged version), is reason enough to order the omakase menu.
Condesa's more casual, European and Mediterranean-influenced Lardo is a gay breakfast and brunch favorite from another CDMX superstar chef, Elena Reygadas. Try the omelet, insects mole, and shallot and green beans salad for a distinctly Mexican twist. The fresh juices and kombuchas equally capture the local flavor. The latter comes in tamarind, hoja santa, and jamaica (hibiscus) flavors.
Reygada's more upscale and atmospheric Roma venue, Rosetta, presents Italian-influenced modern cuisine in a leafy townhouse setting.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of LGBTQ-friendly properties (and AirBnbs) to choose from in this sprawling metropolis, so once you've sussed out your preferred district to call temporary home, you're spoilt for choice. The upscale and chic Polanco district is home to some of the buzziest, LGBTQ-friendly properties. The 237-room W Mexico City is smack dab, with sleek clubby design and an AWAY spa. The 35-room Las Alcobas was designed by gay interior design power duo Yabu Pushelberg with a can't miss photogenic spiral staircase, and boasts fantastically comfortable rooms plus your choice of artisanal handmade soap.
Occupying a 1928 French neoclassical apartment building just off Parque Espana, Condesa's 40-room Condesa DF is one of the city's upscale boutique property trailblazers and has been a favorite of fashionistas, creatives, and LGBTQ people since opening in 2005. Rooftop terrace bar La Terraza is lovely with an East-meets-South-of-the-border sushi bar from Morimoto trained chef Keisuke Harada, while restaurant El Patio is a see-and-be-seen LGBT brunch fave.