Scroll To Top

No Need for
Crying in Argentina

No Need for
Crying in Argentina


Writer David Luc Nguyen traveled to Buenos Aires for the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association's world championship tournament and discovered how lucky Evita was.

Hundreds of buffed-out guys packed their bags and descended on Buenos Aires the last week of September in hopes of scoring...a goal. Twenty-eight teams representing 18 countries competed in the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championship tournament in Argentina. Or, as we call it in the States, soccer. This is the first time a South American country has played host to the event, which had the biggest turnout of teams in the championship's 16-year history. Athletes from Australia, the U.S., and across Europe came to Buenos Aires; Iceland, Uruguay, Chile, and Mexico made their first appearances at the international competition. Sorry to say, the women's event was canceled after not garnering enough teams to make it a viable competition. A few women did get to play, though, in a couple of "mixed" teams.

In a country where football is more than just a sport, many might think there would be a lot of opposition to hosting the gay athletic competition in this heavily Catholic country. It was just the opposite.

Argentina's football association endorsed the gay competition. It backed up that endorsement by donating all of the uniforms for the Argentinean teams, providing referees for the matches, and allowing the championship match to be played at its official stadium. Imagine an American sports organization like the NFL or NBA sponsoring a gay or lesbian athletic competition?

Generous corporate sponsors were not hard to come by, either. Delta Air Lines stepped up to be the championships' primary sponsor; officials from the company also used the event as an opportunity to introduce its new Web site that caters to gay and lesbian travelers.

Though the play on the field was serious and determined, the city of Buenos Aires was not. The people were extremely gracious hosts, and every district we visited was very progressive and gay-friendly. That may be due in part to Argentina's capital becoming the first city in Latin America to legally recognize same-sex couples.

Away from the competition, players got to kick off their cleats and take in the sights of the refreshingly beautiful and clean city. My boyfriend and I decided to visit San Telmo square, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. The narrow streets are stone-paved, and the buildings lining the corridors are a mixture of old-world Spanish and Italian architecture with a little bit of New Jersey sprinkled here and there. The usually laid-back neighborhood takes on an entirely different feel on Sundays, when it becomes home to the city's largest antique flea market.

When entering the market, visitors are serenaded by street orchestras (sometimes as many as 15 instruments) playing distinctive tango music along the 20-block stretch. It's here where shoppers can find that uniquely Argentine item for a really inexpensive price. The music also creates the sound track for street performers who captivate crowds with precise tango dances. If you are the adventurous type, for only 10 pesos ($3 U.S.) you can have an impromptu tango lesson from one of the locals and snap a couple pics.

If antiques aren't your thing, check out Florida Street. Bargain shopping is a snap here, since the Argentine peso is exchanging for a little over 3 to the U.S. dollar, so it goes a long way in purchasing those essentials for fall. Located in the El Centro district, Florida Street (pronounced "Flor-ee-da") is home to many factory outlets and little boutiques. The shopping is fantastic, except for the very aggressive salespeople who literally come out of their shops to try to escort you into their stores. The street also had that Las Vegas feel to it, as guys would hand you a flyer with "Girls, Girls, Girls" written across the top.

Along with Evita and soccer, Argentina is also known for inexpensive leather products. I was able to purchase an incredibly soft three-quarter-length leather jacket with silk lining for $150, and another great buy was an embroidered T-shirt for about $10. Cashmere sweaters are a steal at approximately 20 bucks for solid colors, and it's $30 for that hot fall look, argyle. If you are looking for an early-winter getaway, Buenos Aires is the place to get all of your Christmas shopping done at clearance sale prices (it will be approaching summer there).

After shopping to exhaustion, we grabbed a bite to eat a few blocks from Florida Street at El Palacio de la Papa Frita (there are multiple locations; we went to Lavalle 954). The name reflects the mom-and-pop atmosphere of the restaurant. Though the fluorescent lights were slightly off-putting, the food made up for the lack of ambiance. Friendly waiters greeted us with a handshake and smile upon entering the surprisingly busy restaurant. Keep in mind, people in Argentina eat later than most Americans. Lunch is usually around 2 p.m., and dinner doesn't start until 9 or 10 p.m.

Since Argentina is world-renowned for its fantastic steak and wine, I thought I'd put that reputation to the test. Heeding the recommendation of the staff, I tried a 2003 Terza Volta Malbec, which is produced in the province of Mendoza. The full-bodied red wine had a raspberry aroma with a very subtle and smooth taste. It really complemented the taste of my amazingly tender 12-ounce steak.

The dinner had only one slight hiccup: In Buenos Aires, don't assume salad comes with lettuce. Making that assumption, I ordered tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, and that's exactly what I got. The waiter did, however, ask me if I would like my lettuce-less salad tossed with olive oil, but I politely declined. For dessert I ordered a flan confection that was topped off with homemade whipped cream and a spoonful of caramel on the side. It was amazingly sweet but delicious. Total price for the three-course meal (including wine) was 39 pesos, or $12. No wonder this restaurant is a local favorite.

After loading up on calories and destroying our diets, we walked to one of the most famous and beautiful parts of Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo. The square is constructed so that you can stand in the middle of the square and turn 360 degrees looking up corridors that give you glimpses of parliament, the national cathedral, monuments like the Obelisco, the national library, and other buildings of national importance. Many of the office buildings surrounding the square are stunning, resembling the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The crown jewel of the square is Casa Rosada. It sort of resembles the Barbie dream house my sister had growing up. Any wonder Buenos Aires is so queer-friendly? Instead of a White House, the president of Argentina lives in a "Pink House." More importantly, as every good queen knows, it is where Madonna filmed Evita and sang "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."

It was a far different scene at the stadium where the finals were played. Hundreds of rowdy fans, family members, activists, and eliminated team members filed in to watch the bronze medal match between the West Hollywood Eclipse and the London Titans. West Hollywood pulled out an exciting 5-4 victory in a penalty kick shoot-out.

In the championship match between Los Dogos (Argentina) and Stonewall FC (England), the Argentina club won, 1-0. And even though my hometown team, the Seattle Rain, didn't do as well I had hoped, there were definitely no tears shed in Argentina.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

David Luc Nguyen