Queer Girl City Guide: Portland, Oregon

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0. 2/20/2012 – Here/Queer Call for Submissions, by Riese
1. 3/02/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Montreal, Canada, by Sid
2. 3/05/2012 – Playlist: Here/Queer, by Riese
3. 3/05/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Portland, Oregon, by Lesbians in PDX

Meet LIPDX (Lesbians in Portland): a native Portlander, a Californian who’s lived here for over four years and a Northern Washingtonian also with four years of Portland-living under her belt.

alex, rachael and ashley of LIPDX

It’s an amazing city and has brought us together in the Queerest of ways. Here, we can be out and proud without fearing discrimination, and the city is not only jam-packed with queer ladies, it’s also well-equipped with Queer-positive laws, events, and resources. And yes, every day in this Queer Mecca is like an episode of Portlandia.

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Where To Get Your Drink/Dance On

It’s hard to believe, but there are no lesbian-specific bars anymore in Portland (R.I.P., The Egyptian Club). The city does compensate with plenty of Queer-friendly bars frequented by hordes of lesbians. Here’s a list of some of our favourites:

BARS:

Crush: Located in SE Portland, and known for its all-day Tuesday happy hour, where you can get a $3 mason jar whiskey and ginger. (Whiskey being the drink of choice for Portland lesbians.) Crush is a quaint neighborhood spot for a simple cocktail and some good eats.
1400 Southeast Morrison Street Portland, OR 97214

Bent

The Bye & Bye: An Alberta Street staple among the Queer ladies, The Bye & Bye offers a vegan menu and a heated back patio. Perfect for a cute date or a calm night with friends.
1011 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211

The Florida Room: Located in NoPo (otherwise known as North Portland), The Florida Room is host to the ladies’ arm-wrestling competition. Most competitors are queer ladies with quirky names. On off days, The Florida Room is a perfect hangout complete with pool tables, a photobooth, and card games for loan.
435 North Killingsworth Street Portland, OR 97217

Holocene: Home of Gaycation, the events held at Holocene are all queer-friendly and cause you to break out your dance pants.
1001 SE Morrison Street, Portland, OR

Mississippi Studios (Bar Bar): Go to catch a show, hang out in the bar, or see an outdoor movie in the summer. Located on historic Mississippi Street, Bar Bar is known for its sweet happy hour and ability to attract some lovely ladies. It also hosts a newer queer dance night called MRS.
3939 N. Mississippi, Portland, OR 97227

Bar Bar

Foggy Notion: Home of Bent, this little bar in NoPo is a great hangout spot and hosts many Queer-friendly nights. This place is so small that you’ll have to talk to the person you’ve been eying for weeks or even months, because they’re probably standing right in front of you.
3416 North Lombard Street, Portland, OR 97217

The Know: Home to the queer dance “Dirt Bag” and other various queer-friendly nights. Located on super queer Alberta in NE.
2026 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211

Sloan’s Tavern: Located in NoPo on Russel Street is an awesome queer-friendly dive bar without the typical Portland hipster pretentiousness.
36 North Russell Street Portland, OR 97227

The Tanker: Sitting at the base of Mt. Tabor on Hawthorne Blvd in SE, The Tanker is handy for catching a Blazers game on one of the big screens.
4825 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard Portland, OR 97215

Plan B: A bar/pub located in industrial SE, featuring many shows and themed nights. You can generally find queer ladies here.
1305 Southeast 8th Avenue Portland, OR 97214

Fez Ballroom: A three-story dance venue that also plays host to “Homomentum.” Also check out their occasional 90s and Bollywood nights. Find it using the giant “Fish Grotto” sign as your landmark.
316 SW 11th Ave

Goodfoot Lounge: A bar upstairs and dance/show venue downstairs, the Goodfoot is known best as a place to kick it with friends and play pool. Also: hit up their well-reputed Soul Night.
2845 SE Stark Street Portland, OR 97214

Yes and No: Located in Old Town, is a tiny little hipster hole in the wall. The inside is dark and you might trip over yourself, but you’re sure to fall right into the arms of a cute hipster queer girl. There’s different DJ nights and on weekends different themed dance nights. It’s also a chill place to just grab a drink after work.
20 NW 3rd Ave Portland, OR 97209

Foggy Notion

Record Room: Lesbian owned and sharing a wall with the feminist bookstore In Other Words, the Record Room hosts a nightly DJ session with amazing local girls who just love to spin. Enjoy beer or wine and a game of pinball while listening to a set, which may or may not be an entire night of nothing by Cyndi Lauper, but who’s complaining?
8 NE Killingsworth St Portland, OR 97211

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Queer-Friendly Strip Clubs

Devil’s Point: Sunday nights here are Strippereoke. Ever wanted to sing karaoke and have naked girls dance around you? Well, this is where that happens.
5305 SE Foster Rd Portland, OR

Sassy’s: Located right across the street from Holocene, you’ll often find yourself wandering into Sassy’s after or even during Gaycation. The girls all look like they came right off the Suicide Girls site and are super friendly.
927 Southeast Morrison Portland, OR 97214

Casa Diablo: The Cadillac of strip clubs. This is the kind of place where ANYTHING goes. Another perk, in typical Portland fashion, the entire menu is vegan.
2839 NW St Helens Rd Portland, Oregon 97210

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Queer Dance Nights!

Deep Cuts: Every first Friday at Rotture. Fun and easy-going, generally filled with a variety of ladies. Electronic music showcase with great DJs. Sometimes it’s packed, sometimes it’s not, but that’s the chance you take with a newer dance party.

Dirt Bag: Every first Thursday at The Know, get to know (haha, get it?) your NoPo queers in a riot grrl setting.

Gaycation: Every third Saturday of the month. The quintessential Portland queer night. Put on and DJ-ed by Portland’s own Mr. Charming, this is a perfect night for dancing with friends and the occasional makeout with a stranger.

MRS.: Every second Saturday of the month. Predominantly for the ladies. MRS is best known for their themed nights, such as Space Odyssey, Leather & Lace, and Twin Peaks. Held at Mississippi Studios in North Portland, it’s an awesome night to get your freak on.

Bent: Every second Friday of the month. Where dreams come true. The entrance will remind you of a fight club, and from the outside it looks like nothing is happening. You’ll be greeted by dozens of trendy ladies decked out in leather jackets with hot jams blaring and the dance floor bumpin’. Definitely a LiPDX favorite. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get to make out with a hottie behind the giant billboard outside, (one of us has).

Bent

Hot Flash: Every last Saturday of the month, this is a dance party geared towards the 35+ lesbian demographic. Has go-go dancers, and you could go here to pre-game before heading to Blow Pony.

Blow Pony: Every last Saturday at Rotture/Branx. A queer staple for Portland although recently we’ve found that far more men than women are in attendance. It’s fun if you’re effed up out of your mind and don’t mind losing all your friends the minute you walk through the door. Yet, you’ll find us here most of the time anyway.

Blow Pony

Crave: A party that comes and goes, when it stops, nobody knows! Held semi-frequently at SE queer hotspot Crush. The two lovely ladies who put on Crush have moved to sunny L.A. and periodically come back to Portland to throw the ultimate lady rager. New Year’s Eve was their last Portland appearance, the Facebook pictures say it all.

Tuesday nights at CC’s: Tuesday’s is ladies night at CC’s, Portland’s most famous gay nightlife spot. Summer time is best to explore this option, the crowd gets bigger as the nights get warmer.

Hott: Every second Saturday at Crush, this is Portland’s newest queer lady-focused dance night. It’s new so the groove hasn’t yet been found, but everyone loves the GoGo Girls!

Maricone at Matador: Held at the Matador in NW, find it on the first three Saturdays of every month. It’s a mellow night of drunken dancing queers and cheap drink specials in a dive bar.

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Where To Eat and Drink (Coffee)

Radio Room

+ Tin Shed, 1438 NE Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211
+ Dingos, 4612 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard Portland, OR 97215
+ The Bye and Bye, 1011 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211
+ New Seasons, 1954 SE Division St. Portland, OR 97202
+ Cup and Saucer, 3000 Northeast Killingsworth Street Portland, OR 97211
+ The Observatory, 8115 Southeast Stark Street Portland, OR 97215
+ Gold Dust Meridian, 3267 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard Portland, OR 97214
+ Produce Row, 204 Southeast Oak Street Portland, OR 97214
+ Hungry Tiger Too, 207 SE 12th Ave Portland, OR 97214
+ Doug Fir Lounge, 830 East Burnside Street Portland, OR 97214
+ Ron Toms, 600 East Burnside Street Portland, OR 97214
+ Muu-Muu’s, 612 Northwest 21st Avenue Portland, OR 97209
+ Russel Street BBQ, 325 Northeast Russell Street Portland, OR 97212
+ Beaker and Flask, 727 SE Washington St Portland, OR 97214
+ The Radio Room, 1101 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211
+ Jaw on Hawthorne, 2239 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard Portland, OR 97214

Tin Shed

Portland is plagued with coffee shops on basically every street corner. The perk of this is that almost ALL of the lady baristas are queer. Prepare for daily doses of eye candy as you settle into a coffee shop attempting to get work done. And here is a list of queer-centric cafes:

+ Jazzkat’s Coffee Bar, 1925 NE 42ND AVE PORTLAND, OR, 97213
+ 3 Friends Cafe, 201 Southeast 12th Avenue Portland, OR 97214
+ Bare Bones Cafe, 2908 Southeast Belmont Street Portland, OR 97214
+ PSU’s Food for Thought Cafe, PSU Smith Memorial Union 1825 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201
+ Floyd’s Coffee, 1412 Southeast Morrison Street Portland, OR
+ Crema, 2728 Southeast Ankeny Street Portland, OR 97214
+ Oblique, 3039 Southeast Stark Street Portland, OR 97214
+ The Black Cat Cafe, 1203 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211
+ Backspace, 115 Northwest 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97209

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Getting Sporty

+ NetRippers F.C. (“NRFC”) is Portland’s only Soccer Club for LGBTQ players and friends, established in 2006 by a group of Portlanders energized to promote the thrilling international sport lacking in our Portland LGBTQ community.

NetRippers F.C.

+ The Timbers F.C. (PTFC) is Portland’s MLS team. You will find a lot a queer ladies in attendance at every game. The best spot to be during a game is in the stands with the Timbers Army.

+ Portland Trail Blazers is Portland’s NBA team, here you will also find a lot of queer ladies in the stands.

+ Rose City Softball is Portland’s LGBT softball league. www.rosecitysoftball.org/

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Collegiates

Portland State University is located in the heart of downtown PDX and boasts the largest student population in Oregon (i.e. lots of ladies!). PSU has nurtured the queer in all three of us as well as many others with its open community, classes, events and resources including the Queer Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center and Gender Studies department. The QRC hosts a queer prom each year, while the WRC holds The Vagina Monologues, Take back/Bike back the Night.  PSU also hosts their Queer Pride week, which is one week before Portland Pride. There is also Trans Day of Remembrance.

Portland State University

Reed: In debt, awkward, brainy queers who throw crazy parties. Treat every single Reedie you meet as queer until proven otherwise. Snag an invite to their Queer Prom, Drag Ball or Fetish Ball if you can, or the (Un)Holy Grail: Renn Fayre. Communism, Atheism, Free Love!

PNCA: In debt, artistic hipster queers in the Pearl.

Lewis & Clark: In debt, granola queers, sometimes they come into the city on a bus called the RAZ. The Women’s Center is the main resource for women and queers of Lewis and Clark. They also put on their own Vagnia Monologues.

PCC campuses are located all over greater Portland. They offer cheaper entry level classes for Oregon and bordering state residents and many students cross over between PSU and PCC in their first couple of years.

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Support for LGBT Families

+ Beth Allen Law, LGBT lawyer, Portland OR lawyer, gay friendly attorney, Oregon LGBT rights.
+ SMYRC (Q Center), Since 1998 SMYRC has created safety and support for LGBTQQ youth in Oregon, through youth empowerment, community building, education and direct services.
+ Outside In (referrals), is to help homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.
+ Q Center

Prominent Social Activist Group

Basic Rights Oregon: BRO is an organization working in the areas of marriage equality, transgender justice, and racial justice in Oregon.

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Portland Gay Pride

Gay Pride in Portland is what you make it. Held every year the second to last weekend in June, most of us party the week before, all the way up to the Sunday parade. There’s a pride themed party or queers out partying every night of the week for Pride week; there are also a variety of day time picnics and gatherings. Many queers choose to participate in the famous World Naked Bike Ride that last year conveniently took place on the Saturday night of Pride weekend.

Portland Dyke March

The most epic Pride parties are Blow Pony, Gaycation, and the Redcap/Boxxes block party. Be warned though, the queers pile in by the masses and it’s a ridiculous scene of dancing and debauchery.

Saturday during the day is the Dyke march, where the lady queers descend onto the streets of Downtown Portland showing what we’re made of. It’s a fun way to gather with the community and a great excuse to get drunk in public.

If you make it to Sunday and can actually wake up, the Pride Parade is held in the West Side of Portland and travels down W. Burnside St. to the Waterfront Park where a festival is set up. Be warned though, the parade is a whopping four hours long and if you’re not drinking for every church group that passes by, you’re doing it wrong. Once it’s over, mosey on down to the Waterfront festival where the ridiculous amount of fences surrounding all the booths can make you feel like a caged animal. No matter, all the free swag and the likelihood that you’re still drunk from the week’s activities make it all better.

 

LGBT and Women’s Health Services

+ Planned Parenthood
+ A complete list of all the resources for women in Portland.

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LGBT Center

Q Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization that increases the visibility of and fosters connection within metropolitan Portland’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) community. The center builds public awareness and support, and celebrates LGBTQ diversity through art, culture, and collaborative community programming.

Q Center

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Neighborhoods of Interest

All quadrants of Portland, (Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast, and North) hold something fascinating, interesting, and queer related. It depends on your mood, your eating habits, how much money you’re willing to spend, and at what distance you want to travel.

 

Gayborhoods

The Gayborhoods in Portland vary, there is not one specific Gayborhood, most neighborhoods attract specific types of queers depending on what area of town they are located in. There is NoPo, which houses Mississipi St. and the St. John’s area. In NE, Alberta Arts district, Irvington, Hollywood, as well as Laurelhurst. SE Portland holds Stark, Belmont, and Hawthorne boulevards, also Clinton St., all of which are hotbeds for queer spotting and Queer friendly shops and restaurants. NW Portland has trendy 23rd Ave. and 21st Ave., both are also great for queer spotting or spending a sunny day moseying around. SW Portland does not have many queer-centric offerings, but it is where Portland State University is located.

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Places to Avoid

Anywhere of outside of Portland proper…Portland is a liberal bubble in a conservative state. In the Portland metro, the odds of getting harassed are slim. Like anywhere, you have the occasional pocket of sketch but it’s a very safe city to live in. However, parts of the suburbs, especially Gresham, can get a little scary (skinheads, etc) and when you road trip out of the city to the smaller towns, you will definitely get some looks if you are wearing your pants too tight or hair is too gaysymmetrical.

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LGBT or Feminist Bookstores

In Other Words is a non-profit feminist bookstore located in North Portland and setting for the popular bookstore skits on Portlandia. They host a poetry night called Dirty Queer, supply the local colleges with gender studies textbooks, and host many other community events.  They are also the location and inspiration for the Feminist Bookstore seen in the series Portlandia.
14 NE Killingsworth Street Portland, OR 97211

In Other Words

Powell’s is our independent book mega-store with multiple locations throughout the city including the City of Books tourist attraction downtown and a smaller location on trendy Hawthorne – both with local coffee shops attached. Powell’s is an institution in Portland’s history and hosts book talks and guest authors, which are often free.
1005 W Burnside Portland, OR 97209

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Performing Arts or Arts Groups

+ Homomomentum: A queer variety show held once a month at The Fez in downtown PDX complete with singers, dancers, comedians, and a wide range of unique performances.
+ Peep Show at Red Cap
+ Portland’s Lesbian Chorus

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Dating scene

Portland is a great city to be a single queer lady. This town is very body positive, sex positive and accepting of gender variant identities. In a recent study based on dating website statistics, Portland was named one of the most sexually active and promiscuous cities in the country (do with that what you will). OkCupid is all the rage among the PDX ladies which is great for meeting a variety of folks and makes queer dance parties all the more voyeuristic and interesting. Stay here long enough and you’ll have your own version of The Chart forming in your head. With all of our coffee shops and obsessive food & drink culture, we are never short of a place to take your date, even on a budget.

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LGBT Events

+ Chunky Dunk: A body positive swim day that happens at a local pool during the summer.
+ Gay Skate: A queer roller skate night at the Oaks Park hanger, also home of the Rose City Rollers derby league. Gay Skate is sponsored by QPDX.com
+ Lesbian Arm Wrestling at Florida Room
+ F-Holes Queer Music series

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Salons for Alternative Lifestyle Haircuts

+ Bishop’s & Rudy’s are two local chain barber shops that cater to everyone and they do it cheap. If you want a trendy haircut, these places offer walk-in appointments and Bishop’s will offer you a cold Miller High Life while you wait. You are guaranteed to walk into any of the shops and find a queer lady behind one of the chairs that can meet your hair needs.
+ Beauty Bar
+ Grace Salon is higher scale salon that makes their own hair products and will really give you their time for your money. They offer an apprenticeship program for new stylists and their staff boasts several trendy queers.

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Best Tattoo Artists/Places

Portland loves tattoos. The end.

Icon Tattoo

+ Icon: An amazing group of artists, mostly ladies, who gave the LiPDX girls a great set of matching unicorn tats on their asses during one of their flash sales for Friday the 13th.
+ Mama Tamma at Adorn
+ Scapegoat, Vegan Tattoos

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Etc.

She Bop is our local female-owned and centered sex toy shop located in the N Mississippi neighborhood. They offer a positive environment, helpful staff and a range of high quality sex toys. The shop also offers classes and workshops such as The Joys of Toys! & Exploring Burlesque: Striptease Salon. (909 North Beech Street Portland, OR 97227)

Bitch Media is a feminist culture commentary magazine and blog with offices based out of Portland. They have a lending library and support local businesses.

Dogs Dig It: Is a lesbian owned and operated doggy daycare located in SE Portland. (1132 Southeast Salmon Street Portland, OR 97214)

Out Loud Radio: Portland’s Queer radio show that airs on KBOO community radio.

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The Great Outdoors

Portland is bordered by the Pacific ocean, the Willamette & Columbia rivers, and Mt. Hood. Plenty of queer ladies flock to the nude beach at Sauvie Island, there is a spot at the end of the nude cooridor where all the queers flock to. Picnicking at the bluffs at Overlook Park in North Portland is a summertime favorite. One can also float the Sandy River at Rooster Rock or the Clackamas River in the summer, accompanied by some beers in the next inner tube over. During the winter, Mt. Hood Ski Bowl hosts a ladies’ nights on Tuesdays that offers cheap lift tickets.

Sauvies Island

Diversity

In 2010, the census showed the city was 73.9% White (405,938), 8.8% Hispanic or Latino (of any race) (48,285), 7.8% Asian (42,785), 7.8% Black or African American (42,711), 2.8% Native American (15,523), 0.6% Pacific Islander (3,564), and 3.0% from other races (16,347). Portland also is ranked 7th in the nation with the highest LGBT population. About 9% of Portland identifies as L, G, B, or T.

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Safety

Q Patrol is a citizens foot patrolling program to help prevent gay bashing from occurring at downtown establishments after some attacks that happened against some people that were perceived to be homosexual or transgendered. It is strictly volunteer and is coordinated by the Q Center.

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Cost of Living

Fairly inexpensive: $500-$1200 average monthly rent for an apartment, $300-$600 for a room in a house. Transportation costs are low and no car is needed. Public transportation is also very useful, with two types of rail trains and and an extensive TriMet bus system. Portland is also bike-tastic: it’s one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, with bike paths galore and a solid community. In the summer many cute ladies ride their bikes around wearing tank tops and you can see all of their tattoos.

Even the street signs in Portland are bike-friendly

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Queer-friendliness of the City

Portland is a very queer-friendly city. Within the city limits, queers are seen everywhere and go relatively unnoticed by the general population. Walking around town, you’ll see many different business with the HRC equality sticker hanging on a window, or a rainbow flag. Portland makes us queers feel very welcomed.

The overall atmosphere of the city is SUPER friendly. When walking around on a sunny day, expect smiles and nods from strangers and friendly waves. People in Portland are very chill, accepting, and friendly overall.

The GLBT communities get along very well with one another here in Portland. Because most of the queer events are all-inclusive, all the communities intermingle, which sets the tone of acceptance and friendship all around. Also, Basic Rights Oregon lists all of the laws and rights that queers in Oregon have on their website.

Part of an ongoing series of Queer Girl City Guides.


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