?Some festivals are born gay, some find gayness thrust upon them, and some are just so damn homoerotic that it?s impossible to believe that the über-straight guys taking part don't realize just how queer they look. We've trawled the world for a dozen that will place you in the rare position of being on the same must-do list as the kind of guys who read Maxim and punch the air and call people "dude" at football games.
Pamplona Bull Run
What could be more macho than a bunch of guys running in front of wild bulls to prove their toughness? With nice white shirts and little red neckerchiefs. And rather nautical rope belts that Gaultier would love. There actually is a thriving little gay scene in this Spanish town, which is no coincidence.
>When: The Fiesta San Fermin is July 6 ? July 14 every year Gayness: The bulls, the sweaty men, the matching outfits, the actual gay scene: 9/10
More than 1,000 miles by dog-sleigh, from Anchorage, Alaska, to the western Bering Sea coast. This isn?t for amateurs, and so unless you?re an actual "musher" and have a dozen or do huskies on hand, it might be best to just watch some rugged, windswept (and snow-blinded) men and women battle the elements in a Norman Mailer/Jack London kind of way. In our clip from Good Morning America, champ Martin Buser is kinda hot in a wild outdoors sort of way.
>When: The first Saturday in March
>Gayness: So unrelentingly macho and rugged it?s gayer than they think: 6/10
Up Helly Aa
You thought burly hairy Vikings had died out centuries ago? Not in the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland, where every year hundreds of folks get their horned helmets on, brush their beards, and march off to burn a longship. A night of drinking, partying, dancing and more drinking follows. The video is a wee bit Triumph of the Will meets The Wicker Man but gives the gist of it.
>When: The last Tuesday of January every year
>Gayness: Shetland is not noted for its gay scene, but this is as camp as out: 7/10
Gosh, how excited are we at hundreds of kilted soldiers playing bagpipes? Very much so: add the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and assorted bands and groups from around the world, and you have an explosion of tartan machismo that?s unrivaled anywhere. The Royal Military Tattoo is high pomp and high camp, with genuinely spine-tingling moments amid the dress-up and marching. Tickets sell out in advance every year, so get moving now?
>When: Throughout August
>Gayness: Crosses the line from very straight to pretty gay seamlessly: 8/10
It seems every travel journalist in the world has written about the annual Nevada "radical inclusion" festival, helping swell attendances past 50,000 and somewhat diluting the event's roots. But no matter: the 50,000 are for the most part keen to dress outlandishly (or not dress at all), perform a variety of activities under the loose catchall of "art," and behave riotously in the desert. A favorite of wild children the world over, there?s a vocal and for-once-not-the-oddest-sight-in-town LGBT presence, including the Gay Burners, Camp Beaverton for Wayward Girls, and the Dickstracted Camp.
>When: The Monday before to the day of Labor Day
>Gayness: Even minus the LGBT presence it?s a camp spectacle like few others. Add the gays and it's 9/10.
It's quite a spectator sport wondering how many of those oh-so-testosterone-charged young lads cavorting at the beach with their curiously hairless muscled pecs on display, wrestling with their buddies in the surf, and pouring beer over one other's semiclothed bodies will come out by the time they graduate. And it?s fun to just watch the best of the bods on display, while thanking God we weren?t born that kind of straight guy.
>When: March and April
>Gayness: It swings from 10/10 to 0/10 and back again.
Hmm, thousands of young men and women stripping off and covering each other in tomatoes: what (that has such health-boosting antioxidant qualities) could be gayer? It?s another so-straight-it?s-gay festival courtesy those macho Spaniards, and originates from a fight 60 years ago in the small town of Bu?ol in Valencia. Basically, a horn toots, and everyone hurls tomatoes at each other, another horn sounds and you all stop, get hosed off (and hose your neighbors off), and go and get drunk.
>When: The last Wednesday in August
>Gayness: Very, especially because they just don?t realize: 8/10
Two huge packs of Nordic men divided into two teams—Uppies and Doonies (sort of like tops and bottoms, we think) wrestle and surge back and forth in crowded streets, fighting for control of a leather ball. The annual game in Kirkwall in Scotland?s Orkney Islands can take five hours and has few rules. Lots of torn clothes, sweaty action, and incoherent bruisers. Heaven.
>When: Christmas Day and New Year?s Day
>Gayness: One of those so-straight-it?s-VERY-gay things, though more to watch and be aware of than take part in: 8/10
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival
Every year, Tampa is invaded by a galleon full of the campiest pirates you ever set eyes on. The peg-legged, swashbuckling lads and lasses arrive on a fully rigged sailing ship, then lead a four-mile parade through the town, joined by and watched by some hundreds of thousands of spectators sporting their own colorful interpretations of pirate fashion. Of course, there?s a steady and growing actual gay attendance, for every obvious reason.
>When: January 29, Tampa, Florida
>Gayness: Really, where else are you able to dress in yards of billowing silk, lace, and leather and wave your sword around in public? 10/10
Rodeo. Just ANY Rodeo.
There are actual gay rodeos, and they?re fab, but we?re interested in those that epitomize all that is macho, testosterone-fueled, and just plain ole straight America. Or so they think. Surely, anyone who dresses like a rodeo cowboy, watches rodeo cowboys, or knows what a rodeo is can?t be unaware of just how gay it all is? Bless their little hearts, so long as they take tight denim, Stetsons, and leather chaps seriously, we will love them.
>When: Often and all over, but we like the Wrangler Nationals Finals in Vegas, December 2?11
>Gayness: If you look up "gay" in the dictionary it says "see: rodeo." 11/10
Kanamari Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus)
We can tell you what it is until we?re blue in the face, but all you?ll remember is "that penis festival in Japan" after a few drinks. But here goes anyway: it's an annual Shinto festival in Kawasaki, originating at a local penis-venerating shrine that ladies of the night used to pray at to avoid STDs. Also, it?s linked to the delicious myth of vagina dentata, in which a razor-toothed demon lurked inside a girl's vaj and bit the peens off two young men on their wedding night. The lass, distressed by the effect she had on men, had a blacksmith make an iron phallus to break the demon?s teeth. These days the festival raises money for HIV research.
>When: The first Sunday in April
>Gayness: Well, there is a colossal pink peen carried through the streets, so 6/10
Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival
What could be straighter than thousands of big hairy men and ladies in minuscule hot-pants in a tiny Montana town eating bull?s testicles? Right ? except when the beer flows and the lights go down. Chuck Palahniuk visits in Stranger Than Fiction and describes some on-stage public displays of affection that go WAY beyond your usual wild night out. And whether the drunken straight-guy-on-straight-guy action we hear about is commonplace or not, this festival is one to attend.
>When: August 3-7
>Gayness: Biker dudes eating bull testicles? Come on ? 8/10