Don’t worry. I get it. Its Pride month, and you’re probably swimming through a myriad of stories and articles about Prides happening here, there, and everywhere. But I still have to say, Pride at Guadalajara, Mexico is something special.
At the end of May and start of June, I was lucky enough to travel to the second largest city in Mexico. I then spent four days basking in the glow that is the Pearl of the West. And while this grand yet urban and humble city felt very familiar to this Philly-area writer, it also breathed a romantic twist all on its own.
It also helps that the LGBTQ community is small but thriving in this large city. And when better to experience one of Mexico’s liveliest queer communities than during Pride weekend?
But first, where will you stay during your next trip to Guadalajara?
Well, I stayed at the Hilton Guadalajara Midtown Hotel, and I would frankly stay again. First off, the hotel is connected to Midtown Jalisco, which is a shopping mall with high-end outlet stores. So on your first day in, when you’re drained from airplane travel, you can simply take a walk around the hotel and mall to see what’s in the area.
And there is certainly a lot to see. I was lucky enough to get a room on the ninth floor and, let me tell you, that view was amazing. I am a fan of a good city view, and looking from my hotel window was a wonderful time. Guadalajara is a relatively flat city with only a few high rises here and there. Because of that, I really got to look down at the land like Mustafa and Simba back on Pride rock.
But once you’re done enjoying the view from your room and relaxing on your bed, you have to get out to experience the hotel at its finest. There is plenty of socializing to be had at the Hilton Guadalajara Midtown. The hotel, which is only two years old, is trying to build a community around itself.
For instance, there was a big football game happening while I was there. Now, I’m no sports guy, so I couldn’t give you the details of who was playing whom, but there was a buzz about the hotel on the night of the event. I walked outside to the pool area, and saw about two dozen people staring up at the poolside flat screen. Then later that night, I peeked out my window to see a huge pool party of about 60 or more people enjoying the warm night air.
And when I wasn’t outside, I enjoyed the regal flair of the hotel’s dining room and bar longue. Both spaces present an easy relaxing area to talk to friends/family with a drink in hand.
Speaking of dining, the hotel isn’t the only place to eat.
When you’re tired of hotel cuisine, there’s a whole city worth of food to eat. If you’re looking for a good brunch spot, Peligro al Fondo is the place for you. This gay-owned restaurant is home to an assortment of Mexican styled meals worthy of champions.
My group and I enjoyed the food in a community-based fashion where each dish was served for the whole table. This plus the open air set up created a beautiful haven of food and conversation. If you’re looking to feel like you’re on vacation while still being surrounded by locals, and specifically queer-friendly locals, Peligro al Fondo is a must on your to-eat list.
But what was my favorite food during the stay? Tortas ahogadas. While Peligro al Fondo was a mix of local dive and vacation vibe, I found myself in a space that can only be called a local spot. And it singularly served tortas ahogadas.
For those who don’t know, tortas ahogadas is a specialty from the state of Jalisco and is the perfect hangover food. It’s a drowned bread role that’s stuffed with cuts of meat and submerged in spicy tomato sauce.
Let me tell you, I was confused at first that the sandwich had to be drowning in sauce, but I was in heaven once I figured that out. But be careful. If you get tortas ahogadas at a local joint, you are bound to come across some super spicy flavors. Those locals aren’t playing.
Now that you’ve got yourself fed and ready to take on the day, what is there to do in the city? Well, quite a lot. Again, Guadalajara is the second biggest city in the country. While I sadly can’t write up a country-wide activity list for you (yet), I can recommend a few community-based events.
Guadalajara’s LGBTQ community is small but prospering, and that’s mostly because of its artists. Queer art in the city like the drag scene, music scene, performance art scene, and visual art scene are all popping off in their own ways. But Pride weekend is a special weekend when they all come together. And that’s because of Festival Prohibido.
Festival Prohibido was created by businessman Alex Serratos as a way to celebrate LGBTQ life and art in the city. To do so, he worked with government officials, local artists, and property managers to rent out unused space, like a closed chocolate factory, to provide space for queer artists to showcase their work, LGBTQ musicians to perform, and for LGBTQ citizens to congregate and party.
And party we did! I happened to visit Prohibido’s latest space every night of my time in Guadalajara and was always met with new experience’s and events. From art galleries to music concerts, to a performance of Alex himself getting tattooed in front of strangers, to a very disturbing and eye-catching drag performance. Prohibido had something for everyone. And alcohol to boot!
Of course, that was one of the many dancing spots to visit in the city such as Caldios, which is a bar with more of a rougher/machismo vibe to it. Then there’s Galaxy, an LGBTQ bar with more of an alternative feel. And lastly, there are always pop up parties and events such as the Microclubbing event, which lived up to its name of being a popup club scene in large warehouse building.
But, of course, all of those events were only buildups to Pride itself. On June 1st, Guadalajara held its annual Pride parade, and it was an absolute blast.
What’s great about Guadalajara’s Pride is that it is incredibly community-based. There are very few corporate sponsorships that participate in the floats/parade section of the event. In addition, the parade is open to everyone. While you’ll probably need a special hookup to get on a float, just about anyone can walk with the parade. This helped to create a group feel of community and comradery unlike anything I’d ever felt at Prides before.
Of course, there was the standard funfair at pride, waving up at people watching the parade from verandas/windows, throwing condoms into the crowd, and plenty of dancing. But I felt a specific joy out of participating at Guadalajara’s Pride because of the city’s community based thinking. Pride is not just an individualistic or small group event in Guadalajara. It’s a city-wide celebration.
Round Two When?
My time at Guadalajara and Guadalajara Pride was short and sweet, but it most certainly isn’t the last. I had such an amazing time in the Mexican city that I know I will have to return sometime in the future.
And in terms of travel and tourism, isn’t that the highest compliment?