Rome has been at the heart of world history for millennia. This is something that becomes obvious as you tour the various landmarks that make the city famous, from ancient Roman ruins to Renaissance palaces and even the very seat of the Catholic Church. This focus on the past and on tradition can make it difficult to envisage Rome being a modern city with a thriving gay scene.
But thriving it is, despite being smaller than that of similar European capitals like Berlin and London. There may be relatively few gay venues – and they may be quite spread out – but the gay bars and clubs of Rome come in an exciting variety of shapes and sizes, and there is still something for everyone.
Every summer, gay Rome moves to the southern suburbs of the city for Gay Village, a 15-week long party and celebration. Every night from May to September, you can expect to find gigs, club nights, film screenings, theatre, competitions, and cultural events. Over 200,000 people attend every year, meaning you are guaranteed to meet LGBT folks from all over the world during your visit.
The Roman city center is best explored on foot, so we have mostly included centrally-located hotels. The metro can be useful for covering bigger distances, but you will have to mostly rely on taxis for getting back from the bars – unless you are staying in one of the many great hotels close to the Colosseum gay nightlife.
Italy is relatively progressive in terms of its attitude to LGBT rights, but it does lag behind other Western countries in certain areas. Gay marriage is not yet legal in the country, and neither is same-sex adoption. The laws regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and identity are also less developed than in many other European countries.
However, there is some evidence that public opinion is ahead of legislation in this area. The country ranked 8th in the world in a 2013 poll in terms of acceptance of homosexuality and data shows that this is continuously improving.
Despite being the capital, Rome is not necessarily as progressive as one would hope. It is still quite a traditional city with a large population of conservative Catholic Italians, so discretion in terms of public displays of affection is advised outside of the city’s gay spaces.
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