Nicholas's Gay Guide to Portland, Oregon
By OUTTraveler Contributer
Originally published on Gay.com/travel
City: Portland, Oregon
Relationship Status: Single
What are some of the things you love most about your town?
Portland forces you to open your eyes. People tend to be well-informed and very conscious of problems in the community, the environment, and the rest of the world; and they want you to be, too. Small talk can fall flat pretty quicklywe want to know who you're voting for, how large your compost bin is, and which worldly social injustice has your blood boiling. One of my roommates keeps a 20 month supply of food and water ready in case the government collapses and food and fuel shortages ravage the city. He isn't crazy; he's just been in Portland for a long time.
If someone came to your town for just four hours, what is the one thing he should do?
I'd suggest a relaxed walking tour of the downtown area, it's the best mix of what Portland has to offer. The Portland State University park blocks would be a good place to start. If you're lucky you might catch the farmer's market, edge around a student protest, or just lock eyes with an attractive student/professor while they're locking up their bike.
Once you've walked the length of the park blocks I'd continue on to Pioneer Square for a little people watching, or to see the weather machine do its song and dance at noon (not to ruin the surprise, but I think it's going to be cloudy with a chance of rain). Then just a little ways to 9th and Alder where the food carts are so you can pick up a Whole Bowl or a cup of coffee.
From there I'd keep heading north until I hit Powell's City of Books to explore the multi-storied maze of every book you could ever want. Then east, passing through China Town, which isn't terribly Chinese aside from the ornate gate leading into it and the Chinese Gardens which should be your next destination. Whatever time is left should be spent on the nearby waterfront park, enjoying a magical treat from our local Voodoo Doughnuts conveniently located between you and the water.
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends?
Montage is a funky little Cajun place tucked under one of our bridges. It's ok to order the mac and cheese. In fact, you're missing out if you deny yourself this simple pleasure that they offer in a variety of styles. And there's a good chance you're going to be seated between strangers at a long table, so get up the courage to introduce yourself early and it will be less awkward when they can't help but overhear you as you yell across the table about that time you did that thing to that person you shouldn't have taken home. Make sure you have leftovers so the waiter or waitress will wrap them up and shape the tinfoil into a squirrel, a bat, or something much naughtier.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
OK, it's not really a restaurant, but there's this cute deli/pastry/Italian imports kind of place called Martinotti's in downtown, and they've got a couple of little tables in the corner. It's not a fancy placelast time I sat down for a cannoli there I was sitting next to shelves filled with the Italian version of Pepto-Bismol. It's just an entirely unassuming, quiet, quirky place to sit and have a conversation with someone without the obtrusive service staff that always walks up as you're delivering the punch line to a raunchy joke.
What is the gay community like there? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene?"
Like any city, the community is divided into lots of different scenes. There's a big nesting/homey kind of gay population, a lot of people just want a low-key life with their loved one (already found or not) and Portland is a safe, comfortable place to do it. And there's definitely a youthful, hipster scene that's less dramatic than the emo kids, more optimistic than the goths, and more pragmatic than your average mall-crawl communication major twink. Think bike mechanics, community volunteers, and environmental law students. That's probably where I'd fall if I had to label myself (which Portlanders don't in general find useful or necessary). And of course there's a little bit of everything else to fill in the spaces.