There’s a New Queer in Town
Nightlife is central to LGBTQ+ history and experiences. Whether you’re new to Portland, visiting, or have lived here for years, this is your guide for planning your epic queer outing—from the theater to the club to the party to the morning after. Check out the Things to Do calendar for even more events and fun!
Bars, Strip Clubs, & Dancing
Silverado (318 SW 3rd): Where to go if you like old brick, daddies, and zaddies. At almost 40 years young, Silverado is the Pacific Northwest’s longest-operating male strip club. Silverado serves up a classic gay aesthetic: blacklight paint splatters on black surfaces, and gay porn, Bravo, or music videos you can’t hear on the screens. Boys mostly dance on weekends.
Stag (317 NW Broadway): Where to go if you like California, small clubs, and penises. If Silverado embodies Old Portland style and classic gay ambience, Stag represents New Portland with its contemporary SoCal lounge decor, single stage, and range of male beauty standards. Stag is marginally more accepting of bachelorette parties than Silverado. Stag hosts amateur nights and special events including bear busts, RuPaul’s Drag Race meet and greets, and the occasional male lingerie fashion show.
CC Slaughters & Rainbow Room Lounge (219 NW Davis): Where to go if you like classic clubs, drag queens, and dancing. CC’s is an authentic representation of Portland LGBTQ+ culture; it’s a good starting point for any baby-gay or tourist, and a central destination for Pride celebrations.
Darcelle XV Showplace (208 NW 3rd): Where to go if you like drag queens, landmarks, and sitting. Portland’s beloved LGBTQ+ destination is also a global landmark. Darcelle XV is the Guinness-certified longest-performing drag queen in the world, and her Showplace is one of America’s longest continuously operating drag establishments. The performances here are old-school drag and pure magic. The food is damn good, too.
Scandals (1125 SW Stark): Where to go if you like pool, smoking patios, and late-night eats. Scandals is the last vestige of Vaseline Alley, downtown Portland’s historic gay district. Boasting an impressively ’90s throwback vibe, Scandals keeps it real with a sidewalk smoking patio and neighborly relations with after-party drunk food oasis the Roxy. If you’re prefunking, patrons can also order food from the Roxy and bring it back to watch TV, shoot pool, watch drag, sing karaoke, chat, cruise, or whatever your little gay heart desires.
Crush (1400 SE Morrison): Where to go if you like drag queens, burlesque, craft cocktails, and cigarettes. Whereas the aforementioned bars primarily cater to gay men and their friends, Crush focuses on the rest of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Here, in addition to what’s perhaps queer Portland’s most artisanal cocktail menu, you’ll find regular burlesque revues, drag queen comedy open mics, and pantsless dance parties. Crush makes it incredibly easy to talk to friendly strangers, especially if you want to sit outside in a cloud of smoke.
Local Lounge (3536 NE MLK): Where to go if you like a neighborhood vibe. Local Lounge is inner Northeast Portland’s neighborhood queer bar, where you’re most likely to find lesbians hanging out with their gay friends. Local Lounge is less of a show venue than Crush, but still has creative drink specials, drag shows, karaoke, and a smoking area.
Eagle (835 N Lombard): Where to go if you like Tom of Finland, Robert Mapplethorpe, and hairy butts. Look, I’ll give it to you straight: If you like dudes and visit sex shops, you should go to Eagle.
Santé Bar (411 NW Park): Where to go if you like show tunes, piano lounges, and wine. One of Portland’s newest LGBTQ+ venues, Santé Bar is the antithesis of the Portland club scene, and is home to singing drag queen Saint Syndrome.
• If you’re into drag queens, queerdos, and sweat:
Blow Pony: Portland’s longest-running queer dance party. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside
Club Kai-Kai: Most likely spot to see Drag Race alum Tiffany “New York” Pollard with local drag superstars. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison
EveryBODY: DIY Strip Club: Quarterly body-positive, sex-positive cabaret dance party, influenced by New Orleans’ party culture. Dante’s, 350 W Burnside
Sad Day: See sad drag queens, and if you’re lucky, a devastating Carla Rossi PowerPoint. Valentine’s, 232 SW Ankeny
• For lesbians and their lovers:
Lez Do It, Cake, Switch: Three nights, one venue, infinite pleasures. Killingsworth Dynasty, 832 N Killingsworth
Judy on Duty: Grinding since 2014, Judy on Duty is Portland’s longest-running monthly dance party devoted to lesbians and their friends and allies. High Water Mark Lounge, 6800 NE MLK
• For bringing together people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and their open-minded allies:
Slay: Like sister-party Cake, Slay plays hip-hop and seeks to create an environment in which QPOC can be themselves. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison
Jump Jack Sound Machine: The Mississippi neighborhood’s queer disco is sweaty, glittery, and high energy. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi
Circuit Breaker: A place where the mood and attire is meant to allow guests to be themselves. Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy
• Men with beards, bellies, and/or body hair:
Bearracuda PDX: The Portland offshoot of the national circuit party for bears, otters, and other types of hairy men. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside
Lumbertwink: Think Bearracuda (it’s the same local organizer) but with themes like sailors, PJs, and good ol’ plaid. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th; Analog Cafe & Theater, 720 SE Hawthorne
Testify: Alexis Campbell Starr’s weekly gospel-themed drag brunch features a buffet, breakfast cocktails, and Campbell Starr’s brand of comedy that masterfully blurs professional sheen and ultimate messiness. CC Slaughters, 219 NW Davis
Divas Under the Influence: Biweekly Sunday buffet brunch with breakfast cocktails (obviously) and drag from Nay-Nay Leakes Cartier and guests. Stag, 317 NW Broadway
Drag Queen Brunch: Emmy nominee Sasha Scarlett hosts Sunday drag brunch with a roster of intense and magical guests. Menu-style brunch with—you guessed it—breakfast cocktails. Night Light Lounge, 2100 SE Clinton
Sunday Brunch with Poison Waters: Poison’s monthly McMenamins brunch differentiates itself from the rest by offering a film screening along with drag... and, yes, drinks. Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan
Comedy & Variety
Lez Stand Up: Monthly stand-up revue produced by comedian Kirsten Kuppenbender focusing on lesbian, feminist, and nerd humor. $12-15. Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis
Whoopee! A Sex-Positive Variety Show: Celebrate sex positivity through storytelling, cabaret, music, and drag. Produced by storyteller Amory Jane and cabaret performer Lady Coquine. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside
BOYeurism: Boylesque performers and America’s Got Talent alumni Isaiah Esquire and Johnny Nuriel’s monthly, mostly male cabaret is like a Burning Man bachelorette party, with fire dancing, circus acts, drag queens, and more. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside
Flawless Bingo: Flawless Shade’s biweekly drag bingo serves up compelling sass and locally sourced prize packs, with proceeds supporting Cascade AIDS Project. Century Bar, 930 SE Sandy
Poison Waters & Friends’ Drag Queen Bingo: Local drag superstar Poison Waters’ monthly bingo night features performances along with prizes and the full McMenamins menu. Mission Theater and Pub, 1624 NW Glisan
Organizations & Seasonal Events
Queer Horror: Carla Rossi’s bimonthly screening series highlights queer contributions to American horror cinema, from campy slasher sequels to bone-chilling classics. Contains a drag-cabaret pre-show with local performance artists and dancers. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy
Portland Queer Comedy Festival: Organized by comedian Belinda Carroll and Funhouse Lounge owner Andy Barrett, this festival showcases local and national LGBTQ+ and ally comedians. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th
Portland Gay Pride Festival: Held in June with a parade and party along downtown Portland’s waterfront, organized by the nonprofit Pride Northwest with support from local and national groups. Portland does have specific Pride parties and parades for the rest of the queer spectrum, but Portland Gay Pride is by far the biggest. Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Charity & Community Events
Peacock in the Park: Peacock in the Park began in 1987, took a decade off, and now is back and bigger than ever. It’s an event that provides free family-friendly community-building and has raised over a quarter million dollars (!) to send queer youth to college through the Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fund. Darcelle XV, Poison Waters, and guests will be there to share their particular brand of Portland magic. Sun June 24, Washington Park Amphitheater, 410 SW Kingston, free (but donations strongly encouraged)
Red Dress Party: It’s too late for 2018’s Red Dress Party, but you have plenty of time to prepare for 2019. The concept is simple: You wear a garment that’s considered a dress, it has to be red, and the proceeds benefit HIV-AIDS charities like Cascade AIDS Project, Esther’s Pantry, and more. There have been discussions on if the dress code needs to be updated to be more inclusive of trans people who may feel dysmorphic in a dress—but still, the party is one of the Portland gay community’s biggest nights. reddresspdx.org
Bat’n Rouge: Bat’n Rouge comes from the same minds as Peacock in the Park, and is a drag queen + Hollywood-aesthetic boys + softball = fundraiser for AIDS Walk Portland. This is maybe the safest space in Portland for sports fans across the spectrum to unite for good. Sun July 29, Erv Lind Stadium at Normandale Park, NE 57th & Hassalo, for more info facebook.com/BatnRouge
AIDS Walk: I know, I know, but an anonymous Wikipedia author honestly says it best: “AIDS Walk fundraisers are a primarily American phenomenon because the United States has no nationalized healthcare system, and the services provided by local AIDS service organizations may not be otherwise accessible to people who are HIV positive.” Portland’s AIDS Walk benefits Cascade AIDS Project. Sat Sept 8, Fields Park, NW 11th & Overton, $10 registration, aidswalkportland.org
There’s much more LGBTQ+ fun to be had, so check the Things to Do calendar at mercurythingstodo.com for the latest, most up-to-date events!