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Gay Istanbul

Gay life in the city

You'll probably be surprised to find a somewhat active gay scene in Istanbul. Despite the strong influence of Islam, homosexuality is legal in Turkey and the age of consent is 18. Western tourists may have contributed to a growing tolerance or maybe the country simply wants to be more European (and eventually accepted into the European Union). Gay Pride took place for the first time in Istanbul in 2004 and gay activists continue to fight for equal rights in the country.
It is important that you be very discreet in public and know exactly where to go. It is actually common for straight men to sleep with transsexuals and transvestites but the bars catering to that can be dangerous and should be avoided. Also note that sex between men is not possible at a hammam. Stick to the following places:

Shake'in Café
A gay tour of Istanbul often starts here. It's a relaxed place, often offering live music. It's a good meeting point early in the evening.

Love Dancepoint
This stylish club is one of the most popular among the hippest gay boys. It hosts theme parties and often invites international DJs. If you wish to go clubbing for a night in Istanbul, choose this place first, as it will likely be your favorite.

Always quite busy, this is a cool club favored by younger gay males and a decent number of lesbians on Saturdays. Different colored lights fill the space where everyone dances to the often famous national DJs. For those not in the mood for dancing there's a chill-out area.

It's a small place but very welcoming, with mostly Turkish music playing. The drinks are cheap, which may explain why young guys just starting their adult life choose to hang out here, including some "rent boys." If you start feeling claustrophobic where everyone stands downstairs, move to the upper level for a more relaxed space.

Ajda Club, Istanbul Ajda Club
The trendiest, most fashionable gay men meet at this colorful club where they sit for drinks at the bar or move to a mixture of Turkish dance hits and international house music.

Other Side
It's a café in the afternoon, a bar in the evening, and a dance club on weekend nights. It always has a good atmosphere, something tourists must be told by locals, as foreign visitors can sometimes outnumber the local guys. It gets really busy after 1AM on weekends.

Club Gabile
Those looking to really party choose this club. It's a friendly place with three floors and an open terrace filled with a diverse crowd. Go-go boys provide the eye candy to keep everyone even more entertained.

Gay men of all ages mix with some good looking escort boys dancing to house and techno music. The staff is friendly and there's a darker room for a more intimate space away from the dancefloor.

Tekyon Club
If you show up on a Friday or Saturday night, expect to find this trendy club packed. It's one of the favorite choices for local gay guys of all ages, which may explain why everyone looks like they know each other. Gay tourists provide the fresh faces every week.

Prive Club
It's one of the oldest gay clubs in the city and remains a favorite where both Turkish and international pop is enjoyed by a diverse crowd, especially after 1AM. Do keep in mind that the guy making eye contact with you just may be a rent boy.

Barisik Club
The destination for older men and bears mixed with some younger guys, this spacious bar often has live drag and male belly dancing shows, while the music is Turkish and international pop hits.


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