I know almost nothing about gay life in Mérida.
There was a website devoted to the topic, but its gone now. Google search engine results don’t give much information. Hopefully now, this item will come up when people search “gay Mérida,” and the poor reader still won’t learn anything. Much.
Google “lesbian Mérida” and you’ll find even less.
There are some very gay clubs, with entertainment, outside of Centro, and one in the hotel zone, plus a spa and some gay-friendly cafés in Centro, but of all the gay people I see in Mérida, and there are quite a few, these places aren’t really mentioned or even relevant. People here work hard, have their friends, socialize in private homes. I’m not sure who is going to the clubs, with their drag shows and strippers. Some bloggers have suggested they cater to the sugar daddy scene, with young needy boys seeking a caretaker that they can take care of.
Lately, stories about gay murders have been troubling. An accountant in Progreso was clubbed to death by someone he connected with, I assume a hustler. More recently, a gay bartender in a bar near the main market was murdered in a “crime of passion,” according to police. (2013 update: Since this post, two more homicides of gay expats by young men in questionable circumstances. The second one was especially heartbreaking because it was the second time I know of that he was attacked by a young man. The first time, he was in a coma and not expected to pull through. But he did, and now this.)
But gay couples seem happy here. One couple was on a cable TV show, portraying their purchase of a house. Gay expats are prominent, running real estate agencies, cooking schools and galleries. Until there was a gay-owned guesthouse, but it was sold. (2013 update: I know of two gay-owned, straight-friendly guesthouses now: Casa del Maya in Santa Ana and Villa Verde in Santa Lucia.)
This is a conservative Roman Catholic city, but the people are tolerant and sweet, even as national polling indicates significant opposition to gay marriage or adoption. The city is more “live-and-let-live” than New England, where I live now. So is Mérida gay friendly? The truth is mired in shades of gray. Just choose your friends carefully.