The Condado Area in San Juan – Still a Gay Mecca?
Although I never experienced it for myself, I understand that in the 80’s and 90’s, the Condado area was known as Puerto Rico’s gay mecca. Today, there is certainly no shortage of gays wandering the downtown area, but the shoreline has become a family-friendly tourist hotspot. The beach does include a small section in front of the Oceano Restaurant, which is known as the ‘gay beach.’ (Just look for the rainbow umbrellas.)
Looking for a venue for the Mr Gay World Puerto Rico event, co-owners of the competition, Jarl Haugedal and Michael Billy stopped into The Atlantic Beach Hotel -- a previously well-known gay hangout -- to discuss the possibility of hosting an event. With flaunting gays overcrowding the lobby, the manager insisted that this is NOT a gay-friendly hotel. Sadly, after being turned down by Oceano and other local establishments, and talking with several locals regarding the issue of finding a venue location, it was determined that although the LGBT community is not turned down nor treated any different than straight paying guests, most businesses refuse to be deemed by the media as gay friendly for fear of losing business to the straight local community.
Gay mecca? You decide.
Click the photos below for a clear view of the 'gay beach.'