Malaga is a totally LGBT friendly travel destinationSpain, perhaps surprisingly, has been a pioneering country in the establishment of LGBT equality. It is a country where LGBT culture has flourished for a long time, and is far more visible than in much of Europe. Spain was the third country in the whole world to fully legalise same-sex marriage, after Holland and Belgium in July 2005. Although a Catholic country with a constitutional monarchy, there has always been a strong streak of anti-establishment feeling in parts of the population, with communism, anarchism, republicanism and gay rights still having a much more significant presence than in most of Europe. After the repression of Franco, the flowering of Spanish democracy lead to an explosion of self-expression and new artistic movements, and this certainly affected gay liberation in Spain, with Barcelona quickly becoming one of the gay capitals of Europe. Spain has long been a destination for gay tourism, with the hedonistic scene in the Balearic islands, and its generally tolerant and inclusive attitude to visitors, it is a place where the LGBT community has been able to behave openly without fear of intimidation.
Thanks to the tolerance and inclusiveness towards the gay community, it has not been ghettoised as in some countries so there is a lot of crossover in nightlife and the party scene. Exclusively gay venues barely exist, and the nearest thing to a gay village is actually in Torremolinos, in the old 70's complex of La Nogalera. If you are looking for a more identifiable gay nightlife then this is certainly the main scene on the Costa del Sol, though there are gay-friendly bars liberally distributed along the whole coast. La Nogalera is a tight warren of holiday apartments and small squares and streets and there are plenty of great little bars and nightclubs catering to the gay community, and it is generally the most popular meeting up point. There's no shortage of drag acts to be found, which actually has a long tradition in Spanish popular culture, and it can be hugely entertaining to see the old school flamenco culture delivered in full drag. Torremolinos, with its crumbling, kitsch, slightly shabby 1970's architecture is the perfect location for a drag bar. But there's much more than that. Its an easy trip out of Malaga to Torremolinos on the suburban train service, Las Cercanias, or a bus ride, and a taxi wouldn't break the bank. La Nogalera is literally in front of you as you emerge from the train station.
In Malaga itself, most gay travel guides point to a small handful of venues around the Plaza de la Merced. The cafes El Carmen and Calle de Bruselas are the main meeting points where you'll find the LGBT community. In a residential area out of town toward the airport you'll also find Safo Cafe, the main lesbian meeting point in town. In terms of nightclubs Peter Pan, just a short walk from Plaza de la Merced is the favoured venue for late night copas and music. A new club, Theatro, is also popular with the LGBT community but is by no means exclusively gay. However as of July 2018, a new venue has opened, consciously catering for the LGBT crowd. La Comedia, on the street of the same name, is a club dedicated to promoting LGBT nightlife in all its varieties. DJ's, drag acts, cabaret, special events and lots of fun charactgerise this venue, open till 7am. Finally Malaga has a proper gay nightclub.
Talking of 'gay-friendly' venues in Spain doesn't mean that other venues are antipathetical to the gay community, it just means that that is where you are most likely to meet like-minded people. It is ironic almost that exclusively gay nightlife is not a feature of Malaga, because the elevated profile of LGBT figures, and the level of integration in wider culture means that most venues are mixed and there is an absence of the exclusivity that might characterise the scene of bygone eras and less tolerant countries.
Malaga has a gay pride march in June, but unsurprisingly the Torremolinos pride is much more well attended.
For more information on beaches, shopping and gay-friendly venues check out: travelgayeurope.com/destination/gay-spain/gay-malaga/
Here's a guide to the entire scene on the Costa: malaga-gay.com/english/
Also, a new gay online magazine, directory and promotions company has been launched in Malaga: http://wondergay.com/es/