Meet Medellín: South America's Undersung Queer Mecca

by Billy McEntee

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday December 25, 2021
Originally published on December 15, 2021

Medellín, Colombia
Medellín, Colombia  

This story is part of EDGE's "7 Queer Wonders of the World" series, in which we share our top LGBTQ travel picks for 2022.

We all know San Francisco and Tel Aviv, Berlin and Amsterdam. Colombia's second-largest city, Medellín, however, has flown under the radar as an LGBTQ+ hotspot — until now. With shopping galore, an abundance of gay clubs per capita, and businesses geared toward queer travelers, "this place," as queer SNL icon Stefan would say, "has everything."

Or as the Colombian goddess Shakira has sung, "Don't you see, baby, this is perfection?"

No LGBTrek to Colombia is complete without a couple of days in Medellín. Sure, the nation's capital, Bogotá, is home to Latin America's largest queer nightclub, Teatron, but Colombia's beauty is that even when bopping around to get a taste of different areas, each city is easily accessible via an hour plane ride — a necessary form of transportation given the Andes Mountains. In that way, hopping around Colombia can feel like visiting neighboring countries in just a few days. So even if you're in South America for a short while, Medellín should be on your list.

Medellín, Colombia
Medellín, Colombia  (Source: Getty Images)

Where to Stay
Medellín is a cosmopolitan city equipped with tons of top-tier hotels. Many are ready to accommodate international travelers, so signage often appears in English — that's certainly the case for The Click Clack Hotel, a sleek boutique near the shopping district where the first language is cheeky and the second is English. Frisky bathroom signs suggest if you're undressing, you might as well take a selfie, and others near the windows say if you don't like exhibitionism close the drapes. The hotel is LGBTQ+-friendly, and the rooftop bar is worth a visit even if you're not an overnight guest.

Where to Shop
Stroll around La Zona Rosa, home to several tree-lined streets, including Vía Primavera and Vía Provenza, which comprise Medellín's premier shopping district. Affordable but one-of-a-kind finds can be found at several shops like Neim (a high-end shop with skirts and shirts made out of silky and fine cotton materials), El Nochero (a men's shop for formalwear and shoes), and Orozco (a gay-owned clothing store and tailor that very much caters to its audience by making unique, astrology-themed T's).

(Source: Enroute Communications)

Where to Dance
Come nighttime, stop by one of the city's dozen-plus queer bars, with many concentrated in the Las Acacias and El Poblado neighborhoods. Bar Chiquita has a more intimate vibe with indoor and outdoor benches and tables to sip at, plus a small stage that hosts local drag performers. (Also, check out the well-designed bathroom featuring wallpaper adorned with magazine cut-outs from vintage gay men's magazines.) A couple of blocks away is the livelier Club Oráculo, a full-out nightclub with multiple dance floors and bars in the multi-level complex where songs rotate between reggaeton, Shakira, and Lady Gaga.

The Takeaway
Medellín is very queer-friendly — it's home to the annual Flower Fair each August — how could it not be? Known as the City of Eternal Spring thanks to its temperate, warm climate, the same could be used to describe Medellín's people, who certainly make queer travelers feel safe and welcome. And for a full-on Medellín adventure, check out the seven-day tour offered by LGBTQ+ tour operator Out in Colombia, winner of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association Foundation's inaugural Impact Award for sustainable tourism.