Gay Lima: City of Kings--and a few queens

Travelers frequently treat Lima, located on a coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, as a layover on their way to the Andes or Iquitos, the Peruvian jungle where visitors are greeted with open arms. For gay visitors the incentive to pass it over was even greater: For years Lima was beset by crime, sometimes brutal anti-gay discrimination and antiquated notions of homosexuality.

All that, however, is starting to change, if at a somewhat slower pace than the other large Latin America cities-- Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, all of which in varying degrees have experienced queer awakening of sorts. The city recently enjoyed it's first gay pride event, and activists are plotting change.

Lima is a fascinating, diverse city of nearly 10 million. The cuisine, which mixes and matches everything from Chinese to German food, is renowned, and much copied (usually poorly) from San Francisco to Prague. If you have a good notion where to stay and go out, it is worth an extended visit.

Gay nightlife, a cluster of bars, clubs and sex clubs, is based in the distrito de Linces, which can be dangerous at night. You are strongly advised to cab it there and back to a friendly neighborhood hotel in a village such as Miraflores. Peruvian gay men, though they can be somewhat closed (for good reason), are extremely friendly, and eager to show visitors around town. A private tour guide will certainly tend to enhance your experience in the city of kings.

Restaurants to check out