EUROPE’S CAPITALS and resorts are engaged in what almost seems a contest to see which will become the gayest city or the hottest gay mecca. Berlin is currently touting a new survey suggesting that one in ten residents is gay or bisexual. Amsterdam boasts that it offers a hundred establishments catering specifically to a gay crowd. London’s Old Compton Street attracts gay tourists from all over the globe. Greece’s Santorini Island bills itself as a paradise for same-sex couples, with black sand beaches and plenty of bars and discos making for a lively scene.
But no place in Europe combines enlightened politics with a sunny Mediterranean climate the way Barcelona does, which is why Spain’s second city has become one of the top choices for GLBT people visiting or living in Europe. On a sunny Sunday afternoon in Barcelona, one can sit on a park bench and watch a stream of happy couples, both straight and gay, go by hand-in-hand. Most of the Barcelonese don’t seem to give this new cultural development a second thought. Indeed throughout Spain nowadays, at least in the larger cities, a person’s sex life is considered a totally private matter (rural Spain may be another matter).