Gay Santiago: Brave New Mundo

There are more than 50 active volcanoes in Chile, but some of the hottest action can be found in its capital, Santiago. A cosmopolitan destination in South America, Santiago boasts a diverse gay community, with many visible bars and clubs.

Gays in the city tend to gravitate towards the bohemian sensibility of the Bellavista district (and some parts of neighboring Provincia), with funky shops and upscale restaurants wedged between after-hour clubs and bathhouses.

Although same-sex unions are not recognized in Chile, several bills have been introduced within the last couple of years to allow gay marriage--only to the diffused last minute by the strong right-wing religious will. However, homophobia is in a steady decline as several non-profit organizations work to bring a lively pride parade into the city and to foster equality. Recently, its current conservative president, Sebastian Piera, featured a gay couple holding hands in one of his campaign ads.

Restaurants to check out