LGBT Medellín: The Most Colorful Side of the City

LGBT parade
LGBT parade

Medellín is a friendly and happy city in Colombia, very modern and very diverse in its citizens. A city very accepting of the existing LGBT culture, but this wasn’t always true.

Medellin has very strong religious influences. It wasn’t until the constitution of 1991 that Colombia changed from being a strictly Catholic country to a country with no defined religion.

Because of its strong Catholic influences, Colombia wasn’t the most tolerant city. Before 1981, homosexuality was considered illegal and punishable with 5 to 15 years of jail. There was even a time when anti-gay groups thought the city needed “cleansing.”

This was almost 20 years ago. Thankfully, that is all in the past and Medellín is now full of proud supporters of the colorful side of the society.

The LGBT society has been growing stronger and prouder (if that’s possible). Every year, toward the end of June, Medellín has their annual Pride Parade and it’s quite the show.

The people really get into it, dressing up, doing shows and waving their flags. Everyone from drag queens to Disney characters showed up this year.

I unfortunately wasn’t in Medellín during the parade but the photos sent to me were amazing. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Man dressed up as Angel.
Man dressed up as Angel.
Fabulous head-piece
Fabulous head-piece
Colorful Quintet
Colorful Quintet
Most impressive makeup transformation at the parade. Maleficent
Most impressive makeup transformation at the parade. Maleficent.

Medellín also has a prominent nightlife with many clubs and bars exclusively meant for the LBGT society in the city as well as restaurants and cafés.

We decided to create a club/bar guide to this colorful side of Medellín. So what do you do when you have no idea where to start your club search?

You ask the experts.

Donde Aquellos is located next to Parque Lleras, directly across from Shupa shots
Donde Aquellos is located next to Parque Lleras, directly across from Shupa shots

Donde Aquellos

Carrera 38 #9A-26, Parque Lleras

My night started over at the bar “Donde Aquellos,” a bar in Parque Lleras, where I met a cute couple who sat down and talked to me about their favorite bars.

One of them said he loved Viva, a club by El Estadio, in the small shopping center called El Diamante.

“Look for a huge line of gay men, that’s where the club is.” he told me. So I decided to check the club out.

I went the following Friday and unfortunately it was closed. He told me they play varied music including all the top songs and artists as well as a lot of Techno music.

Giant disco ball in the center of the club.
Giant disco ball in the center of the club.


Calle 44 #74-84, San Juan

His boyfriend said he preferred Purple, another club on the San Juan. We went to check it out. The bar starts filling up around 11:30 p.m.

They also have a VIP section in the corner of the dance floor. The DJ in Purple played a wide variety of upbeat dancing music.

The club is large and very open. They don’t have many tables but they have geometrical stands where you can place your drink (the white shapes in the photo above).

The club has a giant disco ball in the middle. The DJ was playing Madonna when I walked in and proceeded to play music by all the queens including Britney Spears and Rihanna.

The bar serves cocktails, shots, beers and national liquors like Aguardiente and rum.

View from the sidewalk
View from the sidewalk

Ink Bar 33

Calle 33 #78-141

The next night we checked out a couple of bars on Calle 33, Rainbow and Ink.

Ink was easy to find with a large sign outside and a rainbow flag next to the door. The setup inside was very large and spacious with plenty of room to dance. In the back there was a stage next to the bar.

They served mostly beers and national liquors. They also have drinks like whiskey, tequila and vodka.

Bar viewed from the entrance.
Bar viewed from the entrance.

Rainbow Bar

Calle 33 #78-127

The next bar Rainbow was a bit harder to find. We drove past it three times before we spotted a little colorful “R” on the door. Rainbow is a bit bigger than Ink and has a more exclusive private section towards the back of the bar.

The bar has a liquor selection similar to Ink.

Both bars were pretty much crossover bars playing upbeat dance music as well as relaxed songs to sit down and talk.

Movie Nights at Parque de los Deseos

Universidad metro stop

Every Friday the LGBT society meets at Parque de los Deseos. They watch movies and documentaries. No matter who you are or where you’re from you are welcome to these events.

For additional recommendations, check out this recent story by Colombia Reports.

In 2007, Colombia passed its first laws to protect same-sex couples unions. On July 24, 2013, in a courthouse in Bogotá, the first same-sex union was legalized. The couple had been together for over two decades.

As reported by various informal surveys, approximately six to seven percent of Colombians are homosexual/bisexual.

Pride parade float
Pride parade float

According to Steven Madrid, proud member of the LGBT community in Medellín, in recent years Colombian society has become if not more accepting, at least more tolerant towards the LGBT community. As a result, levels of homophobia have drastically decreased.

Colombia has over 20 national organizations working for LGBT rights, and Medellín is rapidly becoming the most tolerant city in the country.

There are organizations strictly for lesbians like Degenere-E, and Colombia Diversa, a page that writes about all important LGBT topics, amongst others.

Medellín is very accepting of its growing LGBT society. Obviously, there are the stereotypical homophobic citizens, but everyday we are advancing more and becoming more liberal and more accepting of our differences.

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  1. Medellin is paradise found. Acceptance and tolerance are often merely indifference. All behavior is a choice. Choice should be free. Consequences go hand in hand however. The trouble arises in all behavior when one does not want to deal with the consequences of ones choice. Paradise makes even the worst consequences tolerable.

    • Hi Michael.
      I am an American who is traveling alone to Medellin and just wanted to have your feedback. I lost my Colombian husband last year and want to see where he is from. I am a little scared, as I am going alone, but must make this trip. Please advise on all you can please. Love the country as I know but know nothing of this city. Hope you are well.
      Martin Spradlin

      • Hello Martin, Your comment about your planned trip to Medellin caught my eye. I also want to travel to Medellin and am alone. I have several aquaintances there and was wondering when you might plan to go. I am a 60 year old man who has also lost a man after 34 years. I have made a good friend in Medellin for the last year, but he is young and I may be interested in partnering for a 2-4 week visit. If any of this interests you please drop me an email. Thank You Scott

  2. In France, we have many problems lastly because our politics decide to legalize homosexual weddings.

    Can it be accept in Colombia ? and agree by colombian non homosexual people ?

    • Hello Julien
      As of 2007 Colombia recognizes same sex unions and these couples receive almost all the benefits heterosexual couples do. And in 2013 the first same sex couple was legally united in Bogotá.

      As far as agreement goes it can really go both ways. There will always be people who are against it but most people are very accepting of these unions.

  3. The next step on the LGBT agenda is gay adoption rights. As the law currently goes, it is illegal. A friend of mine has informally adopted his niece, but is now forced to be closeted in case someone reports him to Bienestar Social who would take the child and separate her permanently from any family links.

  4. Some notes.

    For me “Viva” club is the best because they strictly keep it 100% clean from cigarette smoke. I wish the other big club would do the same.

    The bars on 33 are lesbian, not gay. Although for straights the term LGBT will suffice, this is not for us, gays, hehe… So, women – go there, boys – there is nothing for you there 🙂

    “Purple” group now runs the “Lady Luck” dance-bar in Lleras (local would pronounce it “Lady Look”). It is cleaner than their big club where people smoke, although smoke does get inside the main sala from the smoking room. Too bad.

    “Dónde Aquellos” – this is just a place where people sit outside smoking. Boring.

    “Parque de los Deseos” – indeed a great place to feel some gay vibe on Fridays although the people who go there are mostly very very young and mostly feminine (“real” maricas). I love them – they are funny and friendly but do not expect to find there muscles etc…

    There are also a couple of bars in the center and they are mainly “ordinario” – that is, occupied by guys from a low social ground. They are, as most guys here, very cute and friendly. If you like this type (I did before) then you can have fun. There is one next to metro Berrío but there are more.

    “La Cantina de Javi” – again, quite “ordinario” but lesser than the bars lower in the center. You can find it on Oriental just before the road starts to take down to the metro Prado. This is a small discoteca which is fun and clean. After 10pm.

    Regarding saunas… May be it is not the right place to talk about it, but they exist. Cleanest and nicest is “Club 55”. Take care.

    Junin – almost a “gay pedestrian street” however Parque Bolívar is the same.

    Many guys will be happy to get a beer but be careful if you take them home or end up in a motel – you might get robbed. If you are into getting an adventure going to Junin, do not come with any phone or more than money necessary for a motel (between 10 mil to 20). Motels are usually very clean.

    Hope it helps. And thanks for this article and to David who runs this wonderful website – great service!

    • Hey Amir!
      Thank you for that, I had heard about a few places in El Centro but for safety reasons I never went. Your tips about how to stay safe are also very helpful for the people who will visit those places.
      I always hear great things about Viva and it’s great to know that you can’t smoke inside.
      If you have any other recommendations I’d love to hear about them and maybe visit or update this post with them.

      • Hi, I can understand you and I do not like the too-loud music either. This is part of the Latin culture, in general, I’m afraid. You kind of get used to it for some degree although you mighr find it hard to believe now… There are no nice lounges or anything like that. That been said, try the San Carlos near Unicentro (opposite to calle 33) – it may be a bit less loud. However see my comment regarding smoking in another comment. The local gays, when they want to have a non-loud place, they go to restaurants, and they are straight ones. But they go in groups and to find other guys, so they do not care.

    • Just a correction to a statement that I have made – there actually gay bars (boys, not girls hehe) on 33 street. One is called Ink and is of a normal level and very paisa. The other one is San Carlos which is more posh one although smaller and they smoke inside (stating that part of it has no roof so it is “outside”). It is very close to Unicentro.

  5. Hey there, great tips, amazing to be honest!! 🙂 can you tell me which date is this movie night in parque de los deseos? I’m going to Bogota in November then Cartagena, but a friend of mine said I should visit Medellin as well, so i thought why not? Can you let me know if it happens on weekends? Very much appreciated and again, thanks for this nice post.

  6. We just wanted to thank all you for your comments. My partner/Husband and I actually relocation to Colombia in October 2016. I am blessed to claim dual citizenship. All of your posts have taken away some of the apprehensions we were feeling. Thanks again to all

  7. I am visiting Medellin in May and would like to know if there are new Clubs and bars open. Any information would be appreciated. I have read many of the comments above and am taking note 😉

  8. HI, I will be visiting in March. I am a gay American and thinking of moving to Medellin.? I do not have to work for a living. The cost of living is about a third. I have a income of $8,000. a month. I have heard that i could live like a king.. I like Colombia men a lot. I am 57 years old. I like to date people who are around 30 to 50 years old. What do you think?

    • Does anyone know of any support groups in Medellin ?I have a friend who lives in Colombia and isn’t out to her family . She does’t have any friends because of a controlling X.. Please help

  9. I loved your article on LGBT life in Medellin! It was very fun and informative! At age 67 I’m still planning on moving there to join the community next year! I can’t wait!!