Here’s a guest article by my friend Alison Soloman of Cheap Travel Made Easy. Part Two of this article will appear next week. To read all the articles on gay Mexico on this site, choose “Gay Mexico” from the Categories list on the right-hand sidebar. — Rosana

If you’re regular readers of this blog, then you know that life for expats in Mexico can be happy, frustrating, energizing, exhausting, relaxing, busy – in other words, whatever you make it.  But have you wondered what it’s like if you’re gay or lesbian?  Have you had a concern that since this is a country where the vast majority of folks are practicing Catholics, you might not be welcomed?

If so, it’s time to put your worries to rest.  The Mexican laissez-faire attitude of live and let-live certainly applies to this issue as well.  My partner and I moved to Mexico three years ago.  In this article we’ll tell you about gay life in general and in the next article, we’ll introduce you to some of our friends.

Have you assumed that gays and lesbians would probably keep a low profile here?  If so, think again!  Although this article will focus on the two biggest cities – Guadalajara and Mexico City, even in small villages it’s easy to spot out gays and lesbians.  While I can’t vouch for what their parents think, I can say that they clearly don’t feel the need to hide themselves.   Where we live there is a large expat community and within that community there are a considerable number of gay and lesbian couples.  We don’t have any venues just for us – bars, nightclubs, etc – but that’s because we don’t need them.  If we want to dance together, we do.  If we want to walk arm-in-arm we do.  And if we really have the urge to be just with our own, we can hop in the car and drive 40 minutes to Guadalajara where there are gay bars galore.  Indeed some consider Guadalajara to be the “San Francisco” of Mexico for gays.   And certainly if you walk through Costco or Soriana (the local supermarket) on a weekend alongside straight families doing their weekly shopping, you’ll see numerous obviously gay couples doing theirs too.

The annual gay pride event in Guadalajara draws thousands of participants with its gaudy, over-the-top, display of dressed-up, made-up, leathered-up, hip-gyrating gorgeous men.  What you won’t see are some of the most popular groups from north of the border – no dykes-on-bikes, lesbian moms or PFLAG (parents and friends of  lesbians and gays.)  This isn’t a political statement, it’s a celebration for the boys to be girls, and like so many other Mexican fiestas it’s loud, colorful and exuberant.

In Mexico City, gays and lesbians have even more of a presence.  Go to the Zona Rosa quarter and you’ll think you’re in West Hollywood or Key West.  Along with Starbucks and McDonalds are dozens of storefronts festooned with rainbow flags, shops selling everything from sex toys to gay magazines and restaurants for looking, cruising and more.  These venues aren’t inexpensive, and as with so much of gay culture, there’s a far stronger male presence than female.  There’s also a fair amount of gay life in the Condessa and Roma neighborhoods.  But check out http://www.machamexico.com, for a vibrant blog about the lesbian scene in Mexico city.