It’s that time of year again where rainbow flags, stickers, and T-shirts are found in every direction you turn in honor of World Pride month. And while June is a month dedicated to celebrating, LGBTQ pride should be recognized all year long—and all over the world. In spirit of the season, we chose the top gay-friendly destinations to visit in 2019, using a mix of editorial insight and data from our Editors’ Choice Awards.

On this list, you’ll see a mix of some well-known LGBTQ hot spots, as well as some unexpected picks, but all deserve a spot on this list. Some have made landmark strides in LGBTQ equality legislation, others are home to extravagant pride parades and celebrations, and many are known for their LGBTQ-owned businesses, strong gay nightlife and neighborhoods, and overall warm welcome to people of all shapes, sizes, beliefs, and gender identities.

Sydney, Australia

Currently campaigning to host World Pride in 2023, Australia’s capital is already home to one of the world’s largest LGBTQ celebrations. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (just “Mardi Gras” to most) is an annual bash with a parade attended by an estimated half million people from Oz and beyond, all lined up on Oxford Street to catch the outrageous costumes and raucous energy. There is a more traditional June pride celebration in Sydney, but Mardi Gras is the city’s main calendar event. In fact, it’s the largest event in all of Australia. Take advantage of the bountiful beach supply around Sydney, including the world-famous Bondi Beach, the women-only McIver’s Ladies Baths, and a handful of nude beaches popular with LGBTQ bathers. You may find fewer LGBTQ nightlife venues here than in some other major cities, but that’s only because of Sydney’s high level of integration; you’ll be accepted just about everywhere, but there are still plenty of dedicated hangouts and haunts if you want them. —BS

Merida, Mexico

Charming and traditional yet modern and progressive, with an open-minded attitude regarding all shades of the gender and sexuality spectrum, Mérida stands apart from the rest of Mexico’s LGBTQ-friendly destinations due to its distinct Mayan culture and influence from European settlers. Situated on the Yucatan Peninsula, the city draws visiting U.S. expats who are seduced into staying in once-crumbling, now gorgeously restored 18th- and 19th-century haciendas. Expat real estate agent and home restorer Keith Heitke has been featured on multiple episodes of HGTV’s “House Hunters International,” and his late partner David Sterling founded thriving Yucatecan cooking school Los Dos. Another gay couple from Ohio, Michael and Robert, transformed a 250-year-old colonial mansion into a lovely five-room boutique property, Villa Verde. Merida Gay Tours offers a handful of curated tours and experiences, while one can easily spend a day solo exploring Merida’s Old Town—Plaza Grande, contemporary art museum MACAY, and Lucas de Galvez Market are musts. Come evening, get your dance and drinks (and go-go boys) on at PK2 Disco and Closet Bar. And while winter is peak visitor season, don’t miss Merida Gay Pride in June! —LF

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The world’s first UNESCO Creative City of Arts and Culture, Santa Fe has long been a magnet for a more seasoned subset of LGBTQ travelers. With its mind-bogglingly massive fine art scene — there are more than 100 galleries on Canyon Road alone, and the city is home to the country’s third largest art market — it also tends to appeal to a wealthier clientele. But, times are changing. The success of Meow Wolf, originally a collective of anarchic artists looking for creative freedom and acceptance in an otherwise rigid art world, and now an sprawling permanent installation and music venue, is drawing an even more diverse crowd of the culturally curious to the already welcoming city. Santa Fe Pride is a month-long celebration offering events ranging from traditional drag performances and a parade on the Santa Fe Plaza to soccer games, train rides, and a family festival that exemplifies the city’s devotion to total inclusivity. —BS

New Delhi, India

Last year, India’s Supreme Court struck down its pesky British colonial-era “Section 377” law, at long last decriminalizing homosexuality throughout this country of approximately 1.3 billion. (Meanwhile, Singapore has yet to do the same with its Section 377A, despite an otherwise vibrant, open LGBTQ population and scene.) New Delhi, with a population of more than 26 million, rang in the new era with an energized Delhi Queer Pride Parade, which actually had its first edition in 2008. Art-themed boutique bed and breakfast Mister & Art House is reserved exclusively for gay male guests. Those seeking five-star luxury digs should hole up at The Leela Palace, while the gay-owned LaLiT Hotel, hosts some mighty fun gay parties and drag queens at its Kitty Su nightclub. Just to the east of the iconic red standstone Qutub Minar tower, Q Café is a must for mixing with LGBTQ locals, joining “Queeraoke,” and applauding “Dancing Queen” drag shows, while other LGBTQ nightlife events include “Pink Tuesdays” at restaurant-bar-performance venue Depot 48. And just for fun, don’t forget a visit to Sulabh International Museum of Toilets for selfies with toilets from around the world, both ancient and new! —LF

Denver, Colorado

Denver is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, and that certainly applies to its embrace of the LGBTQ community. Celebrating its 45th pride celebration this year, Denver also hosts CinemaQ, a queer film festival, each summer and has been the proud home of the Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo since the mid-1980s. LGBTQ culture converges in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where you’ll love favorite nightlife spots X Bar, Trade, and Charlie’s (the most famous gay country bar around), but welcoming bars, clubs, and restaurants can be found throughout the city. Adventurous LGBTQ travelers will dig the city’s immediate proximity to mountain recreation, and, this year, Denverites have even more to celebrate after helping to elect the country’s first openly gay governor in Colorado. —BS

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