SCHOOL'S BACK IN SESSION, and that means one thing for all you muscle-lovin' gay, bi, queer, tranny, and "bi-curious" (I'm lookin' at you, closeted PSU football players!) students in Stumptown: It's time to pound the Portland pavement in search of some queer antics designed to make you work up a sweat!
Before we run some laps, let's look at the course: Portland's queer scene isn't centralized in any single spot or 'hood. Although SW Stark—once hailed as Portland's "Vaseline Alley"—still boasts a small strip of gay bars, now queer-centric establishments fan out across Portland, from deep in the heart of NoPo (the blue-collar dude-bar Eagle Portland) to the clutch of queer joints in Chinatown (Embers, Hobo's, the Crown Room, etc.).
Whether your sweat of choice is physical or intellectual, queer Portland's got you covered. So break out your best swingy-dingy gym shorts, and let's sprint across queer Portland to check out some of the city's most awesome queer hotspots.
• Dance-floor sweaty!
Queer Portland is many things: a dance-club town, it is not. The venerable CC Slaughters (200 NW 3rd) is your best bet for sweaty flesh pressing and a shock of glorious pounding n'tsuh-n'tsuh. Most nights are hosted by the much-loved local drag star Bolivia Carmichaels, who'll likely saddle up in the first 10 minutes of your arrival and be your new queer BFF. Srsly. The adjoining Rainbow Room is one of the classiest bars in town, and boasts a stellar happy hour.
• Intellectually sweaty!
For the bookish or intellectually curious student, a stop by Stumptown's LGBT community center, called simply the Q Center, (4115 N Mississippi) is a must. Their brand-new North Portland space hosts a huge number of smarty-pants events, from a coming out discussion group (for all you gay newbies out there) to film nights and even the occasional queer town hall. Keep your eyes peeled for Q Executive Director Kendall Clawson: She's one of the friendliest gay faces in town.
• Gym sweaty!
Okay, so it's no big secret that the 24 Hour Fitness locations (24hourfitness.com) across town have become ground zero for gay dudes and girls flexing and sweating in lusty harmony. The 24 in the Pearl District (1210 NW Johnston) is maybe the gayest of them all, and you just might bump into some of the city's gay power elite—a local business owner or theater producer—on the elliptical machine.
• Drunk sweaty!
The best news for new queer students just might be the opening of Invasion (412 SW 4th), a fabulous café and cocktail bar just off SW Stark. The marvelously retro mod spot—full of nooks, crannies, and all manner of intimate make-out corners—serves up fabulous fresh-fruit cocktails and Intelligentsia Coffee seven nights a week, and (take note, freshman class!) until 10 pm it's an all-ages joint (with no cover charge!). Plus! The bar just opened a shiny new dance club by the same name, right next door in a former Subway sandwich shop.
• Sex sweaty!
After the unceremonious closing of Stark's Club Portland bathhouse in 2007, the emphatically spotless Steam Portland (2885 NE Sandy) is the only gay bathhouse left in the region, so if you're looking to swap a little man-sweat (no girls allowed... sorry ladies!), this is your place. I'm not advocating that every randy undergrad in town stop by and drop trou in the first term—but hey, it's certainly one way to show your school spirit.