When you think of European capitals of sleaze, you probably think of Berlin. Maybe London. Possibly Amsterdam. But Madrid? You might be surprised!
As soon as travel is allowed and our gay safe places reopen, pack your bags for Madrid.
Today Madrid is one of the most gay-friendly major cities in the world. And Spain is one of the world’s freest and accepting countries. That might be unexpected in a country that’s famously Catholic. (Spanish Inquisition, anyone?) And for much of the 20th-century, it wasn’t free or accepting at all. Like they say, it’s darkest before the dawn.
Small but important gains in gay rights made in Spain in the 19th and early 20th centuries ended abruptly when Generalissimo Francisco Franco came to power in 1939. Under Franco’s vicious dictatorship, thousands of homosexuals were jailed or sent to camps and mental institutions. Political opponents were persecuted. Cultural repression was widespread. When Franco finally died in 1975, Spain was ready to leave all forms of oppression in the past. The years from 1975 to 1982 were a period of transition from dictatorship to democracy. In 1979, Spain legalized homo-sex once and for all.
In Madrid, this transition period was accompanied by a cultural movement and a hedonism fueled by the euphoria of liberation. Madrid was ready to party! Drugs and subversive art were everywhere. The biggest name to come out of the countercultural art scene in Madrid was irreverent and proudly gay filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. (How many of his campy, or lately more serious, películas have you seen?) In 1979, the same year buttfucking was legalized, the first Madrid Gay Pride Parade was held.
With virtually universal acceptance of cocksuckers, carpet-munchers, and gender-benders in the city, Madrid Pride has grown exponentially since that first small event over 40 years ago. Madrid hosted what was the biggest ever EuroPride in 2007, with 2.5 million partiers. A decade later, WordPride attracted 3 million to Madrid in 2017. In any given year, Madrid Pride is Europe’s biggest Pride event. But you can come and be gay in Madrid any day of the year.
Madrid doesn’t get any gayer than Cheuca, one of Europe’s biggest gayborhoods. In Chueca, the line between bar and sex club is as blurry as your vision after too many cervezas. There aren’t any traditional leather bars in Chueca (or anywhere in Madrid), but there are plenty fetish-friendly, sex-positive bars there. The Cage is a fetish bar with a fully equipped sex club and monthly fist parties. Shower & Bar’s name tells you exactly what it is–a combo bar and bathhouse. Leather Club, on the other hand, is light on the leather but heavy on the cruising. Organic Men’s Club is a sex bar with weekly fetish nights. Sauna Gran Vía is another Cheuca bathhouse with a bar.
On the hunt for bears? Chueca’s got you covered. Bears Bar is an obvious place to start. Hot, another bear bar, has geared-up beefsters and a very active backroom. Continue your hunt at Sauna Octopus, where it’s all osos, all the time.