After a pleasant flight starting in Lima, the Peruvian capital, you step on one of the favorite destinations in Peru: Cuzco. June is the time to celebrate LGTBQ pride, but it seems this city has taken pride to most streets with flags standing everywhere. It looks like a gay-friendly cozy welcome, but it is more indeed.
Pride and the Cuzco Flag
Gay travelers walk around in tours around the streets of Cusco and point out or take pictures of the seven-colored Cusco flag. They are flying high in the old balconies of the traditional and charming neighborhood of San Blas, depicted in astonishing murals that show the former life in the old times around downtown, or in the hands of dancers bringing to life those movements performed by farmers of the highlands. So, does this mean that LGTBQ pride has influenced daily life in the city? Once you put the local flag next to the Pride one, you will notice a color difference. The flag of Cusco has one more turquoise strip, however, this is also a symbol of pride, Cusqueño pride.
Experts still argue whether there was a flag as a symbol in the Inca Empire time, but nowadays, the seven-color stripes are in the heart of every Cusqueño. During June, commemoration of the foundation of this cosmopolitan city, people celebrate their roots in the streets, schools, theatres, restaurants, and almost everywhere. The actual seven-colored flag was originally designed by Raul Montesinos to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a local Andean music radio station in 1973, and it was adopted by the local government as a symbol for the Inca Empire five years later. This design was inspired by the whiphala, a flag used by some native people in the Andes. The whiphala has a checkered pattern including 7 colors meaning time and space for white, reciprocity for yellow, responsibility and society for orange, the material world for red, the Andean idiosyncrasy for purple, the upper world for turquoise and finally, the inner world for green.
There is no evidence that a rainbow pennant existed in the Inca times, conclude many experts and organizations like the famous historian Maria Rostworowski, in her book Historia el Tawantinsuyo or the Peruvian History experts from the Academia Nacional de la Historia del Perú. Not only local tour guides but also every child, man, or woman will be glad to show you why they are so proud of their land through unique and revealing flavors in Andean dishes, admiration for their ancestors as you visit the great variety of ruins, temples and other buildings or the strong family relationships represented in their delicate handcrafts.
The Iconic Flag of the LGTBQ Pride
June 25th, 1978. The rainbow flag of the LGTBQ community made its debut in the Gay Freedom Day Parade, coming to live from the design of the artist Gilbert Baker. The use of this flag started in San Francisco, but today, it is the most common symbol of the LGTB world in Cusco and all around the world. In contrast with the flags during the Cusco celebrations, there are only six colors in the actual design, with different meanings, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for the human spirit.
Gay Friendly Cusco
Can be considered as a gay-friendly city? After understanding the difference between both rainbow-colored flags, the view of Cuzco being a LGTBQ capital might have be disappeared, however taking a closer look into local culture will give you a better insight.
Machu Picchu is the most popular touristic destination in Peru, and Cusco is the nearest big city in the country. Excited travelers of all ages land on the airport and explore around, walking, eating, taking pictures, buying, laughing, hugging, and of course kissing. As a visitor, manners are the key for establishing good relations with locals to spend every day in your vacation to the best. Although the “gay-friendly” label is not in the front of any shop in the city, Peruvian law protects people against sexual orientation discrimination. A friendly hug, kissing, some dancing in the street is not seen in daily life but it is fairly accepted.
On the other hand, locals are learning about diversity and LGTBQ pride. History, gastronomy, music and feelings can be shared to everyone regardless of sexual orientation. It is true that some places might be considered more comfortable for the LGTBQ community as they are said to be open-minded, but locals, expats, visitors, you and everyone can build a gay friendly, LGTBQ friendly, human friendly experience.
LGTBQ+ people in Cusco
As in everywhere in the world, LGTBQ people make their lives at schools, universities, shops, the airport, restaurants, parks, everywhere. It is possible to meet gay people in a bar or disco, in a tour around the city or climbing up the Huayna Picchu Mountain, attending to local events or putting your Spanish skills into practice with locals.
Everyone has his own story. Friendly tour guides, cheerful musicians, adventurous travelers, serious chefs, exotic artists… All of them, with the LGTBQ flag and the Cusqueño pride in their hearts. Do not be afraid to share the secrets of the Incan history or falling in the charm of the sound of the zampoña pan flute along locals. They have lots of things to share, and so they want to listen to you. Always remember to be safe, have a big smile, and enjoy this vacation of yours.