Queer Guide 2024

The Mercury's 2024 Queer Guide: Endless Queer Summer

Rainbow signs in windows are legion, and Portland's queer summer is endless.

All Pride All the Time

There’s something happening every weekend, as we count down to Portland Pride!

Kathleen Hanna Is Making a Documentary About Darcelle XV

Fun fact: The riot grrrl punk singer is Walter Cole's second cousin.

Q Marks the Spot

For two decades, the Q Center has been a safe haven for the LGBTQ2SIA+ community—and they have even bigger dreams for the future.

Find Queer Comedy Tonight!

Our roundup of the best queer (and queer adjacent) comedy shows in Portland.

We Are in Cinema's Golden Age of the Lesbian Dirtbag

Celebrate Pride with lesbian cinema! Without crying, for once!

EverOut's 2024 Pride Event Calendar

Don't miss a minute of fun during this year's Queer Summer!


You don't have to be queer to figure out these puzzles... but it helps!

This Portland Gay Bar Is Opening a Family-Friendly LGBTQIA+ Lounge

Since spring, we've wondered about "Scandals East." Here's the plan.


Target Is Canonically Gay! Did the Founding Fathers Kiss Dudes?

A Portland Drag Clown in Residence at the Venice Biennale

Artist Jeffery Gibson invited Carla Rossi to climb his installation on the US pavilion.

Queer Bars in Portland, a History

Silverado was once Flossie's; Lowensdale Park was once a place to cruise—take a brief dive into a history of our city's queer spaces.

Mona Chrome Is—Ironically Enough—a "Walking Crayon Box"

Gary Barnes sees drag as a way to combine their passions for painting, costume design, and dance—all at once!


Northeast Portland neighborhood wine bar Bonne Chance built a queer clientele on allyship and Malört.

Queer Guide Comic: COVID-Safer Pride Guide

Protect your ability to party—and protest—this Pride!

Queer Eye for the Pedalpalooza Ride

Portland leads the way in welcoming riders of all genders and sexualities.

The Long Road to Justice

As the American legal landscape for LGBTQ+ residents 
grows hostile, Oregon works to enshrine rights for all.

Where to Find a Queer-Owned Bar or Restaurant Near You

Fourteen spots to try during Portland Pride Summer—and beyond!

The Future of HIV Treatment Is Injectable

Promising prugs could expand treatment–if we get out of our own way.

[Find the Mercury's Queer Guide in print—available in more than 500 spots citywide!—eds.]

RuPaul’s Drag Race has had so many seasons and spinoffs that an entire generation doesn’t remember a time before RuPaul sent scores of drag superstars sashaying away. Portland drag artist Gary Barnes, who performs as Mona Chrome, is a member of that generation.

Barnes caught the drag bug watching Drag Race’s eighth season, which crowned the comedian Bob the Drag Queen. A Clackamas High School student at the time, with a passion for the arts, Barnes soon dreamed up their alien superstar alter ego, Mona Chrome. Then and now, Barnes is a painter, illustrator, costume designer, and avid dancer.

“I went ‘Oh, this is a combination of all the things I like to do artistically, all into one,’” they told the Mercury.

Wanting to name themself after a pun, Barnes struck upon Mona Chrome—not only for the allusion to color theory, but also as a reference to the Mona Lisa. None of Chrome’s costumes were ever monochromatic, and now she’s built up a wardrobe colorful enough to, as she puts it, “look like a walking crayon box.”

“I serve a cunty look, and I strut around, whip my hair everywhere, vogue a little bit. That’s the main essence of a Mona number,” Barnes said, explaining that they draw inspiration for their over-the-top personal style from cartoon villains, like the mercenary Shego from Disney’s Kim Possible.

In 2018, Chrome debuted on stage at Darcelle XV Showplace’s all-ages revue, “To Catch a Rising Star,” after a former Darcelle’s cast member encouraged them to apply. And in 2019, Barnes took voguing classes from Daniel Gíron, AKA Papi Ada, father of Portland ballroom house, the House of Ada, who many will remember from HBO Max’s show Legendary.

Chrome belongs to the kiki House of Moschino, who she represents when walking ball competition categories like runway and best dressed.

“[Both drag and ballroom] are performance arts,” Barnes said, “but with drag, I more so show off my specific persona, and for balls there’s usually a theme. I like seeing what I can do with the theme and the time allotted—and seeing what everyone else does, competitively showing off their creative brains. There’s this big aspect of family and community in ballroom—and there is in drag, but I think there’s a big difference in how ballroom approaches community and family versus drag.”

Most drag shows in Portland take place in 21 and over bars, so Chrome was a little Girl, Interrupted when the pandemic hit, having just turned legal drinking age a few months before. However, she decided to wait things out at home (declining the pivot to video route) and returned to performance as bars opened again.

Now, Chrome is booked and busy all across town, but can most often be seen at CC Slaughters, performing in regular drag shows Black Magic and Trans-Uhh-Licious, which guarantee stage space for Black, trans, and nonbinary drag performers.

“There’s always good energy at those shows,” Barnes said. “We all get along and throw jokes and jabs at each other.”

Over their six year career, Barnes has only seen Chrome’s style grow more extra, in her detailing and stage presence.

Chrome’s biggest shows thus far have been in the Dragfort pavilion at Boise’s Treefort Festival, and during the world record-breaking 48-hour Drag-A-Thon last summer at Darcelle’s. Both were unnerving: Barnes wasn’t sure what to expect with Idaho’s socially conservative culture, and she wasn’t used to performing after the bars closed, during her 2-4 am Drag-A-Thon shift. She was a hit at both.

Barnes says they owe their success to following their artistic instincts, and checking in with more seasoned friends, like performers Jocelyn Knobs, one-half NelSon, Boujee Cherry, and Wanda Aqua Flora. “I just stuck to my guns and didn’t really worry if anyone else was doing what I was doing or if it was different enough,” Barnes said. “I just did it because I liked it, and it worked out.”