Addressing the conference, Isabel Borrego, Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism was very specific. Spain wants to be the number one European, if not worldwide, gay holiday destination.
If that was not enough, the second day saw Madrid’s Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dorla Ortega make an unscheduled appearance to re-enforce the message.
Ms Ortega highlighted Madrid’s annual highly successful gay pride celebration and wealth of attractions that include over 10,000 restaurants (13 of which have two Michelin stars), world-class museums and world heritage sites.
A world-class gay scene
Neither Minister mentioned the fact that Madrid (and nearby Barcelona) have two of Europe’s most extensive gay bar, sauna and cruise club scenes, with enough dark rooms to rival Berlin. But they did not need to. Over the past two decades, successful Spanish governments have enacted progressive LGBT rights laws that have enabled these extensive gay scenes to develop.
These huge legal strides were central to the speech at the same conference given by James Costos, the openly gay US Ambassador to Spain who said that the country is now possibly the most inclusive, non-discriminatory country in the world.
And on the streets?
How is this reflected at street level? We crammed in 24-hours sightseeing in Madrid. During this time, we spotted two men kissing passionately on the street in Chueca, two women kissing passionately near Retiro Park and a straight couple kissing passionately on Gran Via. And nobody bothered to give any of them a second glance!