Traveling in Armenia and Georgia for men who like men can be a rewarding experience. If you have seen and done it all in Paris, London and Berlin, it's time to take a trip to Yerevan with a stop in Tbilisi. First the disclaimer: What the Caucasus cannot offer you is something like a non-stop gay pride parade for your entire vacation or a cute little clothing optional resort where you can sip on cocktails and make new friends in your birthday suit at the poolside. What you can expect in Yerevan, Tbilisi and the smaller provincial towns of Armenia and Georgia is stunning nature, relaxed and hospitable people, vibrant nightlife and naturally handsome and curious men. Yes, curious about where you come from, what you are into, how you live your life back home and everything else that casual acquaintances in the West may consider uninteresting or have no time to discuss. Unforgettable social contact is truly the selling point of the region so come packed with a positive attitude, a desire to socialize and an open mind to experience something new.
The pick up culture is in some ways similar to what you see in the West but it is also different. The absence of obsession with youth, typical of the gay community in the West, is a welcome break for many older visitors. In fact most young Armenian gay men will tell you that they find men in their thirties and forties most attractive. Although many Armenian men tend to not have hang ups about gay sex, even those who identify themselves as straight, a subtle approach and discretion is preferred both in Armenia and Georgia. Generally the sensitive matter around gay sex in Armenia is masculinity, in Georgia - morality so come with a trick or two under your sleeve to give your suiter the impression that you find him fully masculine/moral all throughout the encounter. This will be a social lubricant and will ease things a bit.
As for meeting platforms, the internet is widely used. Local sites like armmen.net (gay owned and operated) although are not the biggest yet, they are growing fast in popularity and are the safest. You can also easily meet men in public places like bars, clubs and cafes.
Like back home or anywhere else you travel, in the Caucasus you should have your normal precautions or guards on. The most obvious examples are age of consent, prostitution, and public display of affection. The age of consent both in Armenia and Georgia is 16. Prostitution is illegal although not uncommon in Tbilisi, Yerevan and Kapan (in Kapan it is primarily female prostitutes meeting the Iranian demand from just across the boarder). Generally avoid known cruising areas like parks at night. These are more frequented by transvestite prostitutes, their customers and haters alike, than gay men.
In general display of public affection (gay or otherwise) is not common in the Caucasus. Yerevan seems to have a couple of designated “affection parks” where blossoming heterosexual affection can be widely witnessed and is tolerated, however no one seems to have pioneered such places for same-sex affection yet in Yerevan. The Sulfur Bath Houses in Tbilisi is probably the most open public place of same sex affection at the moment. Still, this is not 'Das Badehaus' of Cologne and the Caucasian tradition of discretion prevails.
There is much more to be said about gay travel in Armenia and Georgia but a visit is worth a thousand words. So if you are thinking about visiting the Caucasus, give Ginosi a call or send us an email. Ask to speak to somebody who can help you plan your trip with a “gay touch”. Our local partners offer a multitude of comfortable and gay friendly accommodations, such as Gorgasali Diamond in Tbilisi and Argishti Quartz in Yerevan, as well as interesting and unusual tours and when we get enough gay visitors who come at the same time we can organize a gay event or a trip out of town together. Yerevan and Tbilisi may not be on the list of common gay metropolises but we are sure you will enjoy visiting the Caucasus and look forward to your visit!