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Gay Life in Cusco

The official flag of the city of Cusco is almost identical to the Rainbow Flag, universally adopted by the gay community as its banner. And as globalization, via the information superhighway, has brought the rest of the world to Peru, including a nascent gay-rights movement, cusqueños themselves have become uneasy; some locals have proposed adopting a new flag without actually announcing why. Cusco has a gay bar/discothèque by the name of “Queen,” (at the intersection of the Lorena and Cementerio Streets). This is a small venue located in a poor and dangerous section of the city that would not appeal to most international visitors. However, it is at least a sign of an emerging, if fragile, tolerance for the community. Some gay cusqueños will let you know that at least in the tourist-heavy sections of Cusco, hand-holding and light-kissing is tolerated. Gay-owned cafés and restaurants, such as Macondo and Fallen Angel, have a stylishly camp sensibility. A gay visitor who is planning on an extended stay in Cusco might patronize these establishments and might even find fellow gay men to socialize with. Options for lesbian travelers are more circumscribed, since women have to fight against machismo as well as homophobia.

By Ricardo Segreda
Growing up in New York, Rick Segreda used to cut out of high school in order to hang out at the Museum of Modern Art and catch foreign-language...
16 Mar 2012

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