The Rainbow Over São Paulo: The LGBTQ Pride Parade and Other Gay-Friendly ActivitiesBy Paola Quintana Vera
Each year, during the month of June, the world’s major cities paint themselves in bright colors to celebrate the diversity and rights of the LGBTQ community. In Latin America, the biggest party takes place in the financial capital of Brazil, São Paulo, and is one of the events that attracts the largest number of tourists to the metropolis.
LGBT Pride Parade
Over 3 million people parade along Avenida Paulista, the nerve center of Sampa, as São Paulo is affectionately known, throughout the 8 hours of the most crowded LGBT pride parade on the planet.
As exemplified by their famous carnivals, Brazilians definitely know how to organize celebrations and the parada is no exception. “Electric trios” (trucks with impressive audio systems and screens that carry orchestras on the roof), wigs, make up, rainbow flags, music, shows and lots of joy make this multitudinous revelry an event worth experiencing no matter your gender or sexual orientation.
Beyond the Parade
São Paulo’s status as a gay-friendly city extends well beyond the month of Orgullo, so if you visit on any other day of the calendar and want to get into the Paulistano gay scene, go to the bars, shops and restaurants of Rua Frei Caneca, known colloquially as Gay Caneca, in the district of Consolaçao.
This street is home to Frei Caneca Shopping, a small shopping center where it’s common to find same-sex couples and many of the businesses offer products aimed at that audience. In the evening, Aloka has become a true classic; this iconic gay bar was remodeled in 2018. The entrance fee is 50 reais (about $13 USD) and it can be used as credit to order drinks at the bar.
Another meeting point is Largo do Arouche, an area famous for its flower market, but also for hosting various businesses and spaces for the gay community. In fact, the Museu da Diversidade Sexual can be found there, specifically in the República metro station.
One of a kind in Latin America, this museum hosts temporary exhibitions that seek to highlight the importance of sexual diversity in the construction of society through art.
You can also find Dédalos Bar in the area, an establishment dedicated to the male public that opens 24 hours a day and offers drinks and snacks, cabins equipped with virtual reality devices, mini cinemas, private lounges and a labyrinth. Admission is 29 reais (7 USD).
Unrelenting night owls can’t miss a visit to The Week, the most famous gay nightclub in Brazil. The site is huge and, in addition to two dance floors and three lounges, has an outdoor pool. The musical selection goes from tribal to pop. Every weekend, the club organizes parties and thematic events with DJs who travel from different parts of the world just to play a set there.
Its anniversary party, in September, is quite the event amongst the local gay scene. Two local spots preferred by women are The L Club, in the Jardim das Bandeiras neighborhood, and Espeto Bambu in Cerqueira César.
For Those in the Mood for More
When the adventurous spirit wants more than a night of revelry, São Paulo has other options. Thermas Lagoa is a men’s sauna with multiple amenities such as a whirlpool bath, gym, booths and suites.
Services offered include massages, hair cutting and skin treatments, among others. It opens every day from two in the afternoon and, when the sun goes down, there are shows with strippers and drag queens.
For those whose appetite is for food, you can devour a hamburger at Castro Burger, whose maxim is “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation.” This spot, openly dedicated to the LGBT community, is also pet friendly and has vegan options on the menu. The strawberry and mint gin and tonic is a great drink option.
In Sampa there is everything for everyone, which is part of its wonderful charm.