They're freaking everywhere.
I live in Seattle, but I'm down in Portland a lot. It's a lucky city for me—personally and professionally. Eight years ago my boyfriend and I adopted our son, DJ, in Portland; we spent our first night together as a family at the Mallory Hotel. And whenever I have a big writing project to finish, a book or a long piece for a paper or magazine, I book a downtown hotel room on Priceline, slip down to Portland on the train, and skulk around the city center with my laptop, and spend a few days writing in this café, or that hotel lobby, or that bar.
And one thing I've noticed about Portland—something I love about Portland, something that keeps me coming back—are the boys. I see them everywhere I goddamn go in Portland. Working at Powell's, milling around Whole Foods, riding low-slung bikes by the river—fucking hot, skinny, shaggy-haired, snakey-hipped rocker/skater/hipster boys everywhere you look.
Sometimes it seems like all of Portland is crawling with them—except for the gay bars.
The boys I notice at the bookstores, in the grocery stores, and on the bike paths never seem to be in the gay bars. Sometimes you see one on Stark, but he's usually just passing through on his way to Jackpot Records or the Crystal Ballroom to see a band, or he's just there to spare-change gay men with soft spots for hot rocker/skater/hipster boys.
The hot rocker/skater/hipster boy situation is one reason among many that I'm happy to live in Washington State. Oh, we have straight, unobtainable rocker/skater/hipster boys here too. But up here it seems that roughly half of our rocker/skater/hipster boys are queer, and boys I notice walking down Pine Street—Seattle's answer to Stark—I also frequently spot in the bars when I go out. (Yes, yes: I'm old and married and a parent. I'm not out picking up rocker/skater/hipster boys, but I do like looking—as the guys I've stared holes through at Powell's would surely attest.)
There are other ways we've got it going on in Washington. After 30 years of blood, sweat, and legislative hearings, we finalfuckingly got a gay-rights bill passed up here. Even better, our religious fundies crawled into bed with an anti-tax crusader in an attempt to get a repeal of the gay-rights bill on to the ballot. They fell on their scrunched-up faces—hee, haw. You had your same-sex licenses revoked, while we're waiting on a state supreme court decision that could legalize same-sex marriage up here. In the other Washington, our two US senators—both women, one up for reelection this year—voted against George W. Bush's anti-gay-marriage amendment, while one of your senators—a big fucking asshole—voted for it.
Oh, it's not all roses up here. Like you guys, we've also got a painfully inept gay-rights group. It's a good thing the fundies didn't get their anti-gay referendum on the ballot, because our state gay-rights group is in no shape to run a campaign. We've got a big meth problem up here, like you, and there are too many guys barebacking and passing sexually transmitted infections around.
Here in Washington, we're jealous of the queers even farther north: In Canada, gay paradise, where same-sex marriage is legal nationwide. (I wonder if it keeps getting better the further north you go? The gay elves at the north pole must have it the best of anyone.)
But if Oregon were competing with Washington for the "Best State for Queers in the Pacific Northwest" competition, I think we would have to be declared the winners—what with our legal protections, right-on state reps, and our shot at marriage equality.
And, of course, the boys—the hipster boys. We don't have as many of them as you do down there, but up here, some of them are homos. So we win on that score too.