The LGBTQ Scene in Portland

By Stephen Mallett

This article would not have been possible without much help from  We’d have loved to have taken a field trip and found all of this out first hand, but time and budget didn’t permit it.

Portland is ranked as one of America’s top five most livable cities and the most eco-friendly city.  Portland is a green, clean, open-minded city that still has a small-town vibe.  Portland is host to Pride Northwest and the Lesbian and Gay Film Fest.

 Though Portland is not as visibly gay a city as San Francisco, it has one of America’s strongest feminist and lesbian communities.  The Hawthorne District in the southeast quadrant is the most concentrated lesbian gayborhood.  Trendy, affordable and funky coffeehouses, bars, secondhand shops and boutiques line Hawthorne Boulevard and Belmont Street.

The Pearl District was once an industrial district, which has sprung to life in recent years, its old warehouses converted into chic restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and lounges.  Stylish and luxurious apartments stand alongside the neighborhood’s older structures, which include Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, located on Northwest 10th Avenue and West Burnside Street.  You will also find vintage clothing and used record stores, new up and coming restaurants, brewpubs, specialty retail stores, and galleries.

Old Town / Chinatown sits between the Willamette River and the Pearl.  This historic district contains numerous galleries, gay bars, and clubs.  It is also home to the Portland Saturday Market.

Portland’s most visibly gay community is comprised of a triangular set of city blocks known by some as the Burnside Triangle.  Bordered by Southwest Alder, S.W. 14th Ave., West Burnside Street, and Southwest Broadway Street, this area is known for its nightlife, boutiques and restaurants.  The area has also been a meeting place for Portland’s LGBT community since the turn of the 20th century.

Mississippi Avenue is one of several eastside neighborhoods where independent businesses and creative spirits thrive.  This area is considered to be Portland’s up-and-coming gayborhood and it provides visitors with a taste of the city’s quirky character.

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