If you’re out on the trails in Central Oregon and see a fellow hiker in heels, a big red wig or flowing feathery wings, it just might be local celebrity, environmental activist and drag queen Pattie Gonia (she/they). Known for her support of queer-friendly outdoors recreation and climate justice video campaigns, she’s sure to be wearing something fabulous, but also upcycled and low-waste.
When Pattie Gonia first came to Bend, she fell in love with the active, tight-knit queer community. All it took was one invitation to OUT Central Oregon’s annual Winter PrideFest — an event that combines queer pride and snow-centric outdoor activities — to convince her to move in 2021. Since then, Pattie Gonia has crowd-sourced over a half-million dollars for queer, minority and environmental nonprofits while also raising awareness for climate justice and hiking hundreds of miles along the way. She also helped co-found the Outdoorist Oath, which hosts coaching workshops for increasing mindful involvement in the outdoors.
OUT Central Oregon’s president, Jamie Nesbitt, says that the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of Central Oregon attract a growing number of outdoor-loving LGBTQ+ people like Pattie Gonia. To support this community and build inclusivity, Nesbitt and Pattie Gonia are pleased to offer a few of their favorite queer-friendly spots and events for those visiting Central Oregon.
Fashionable Both Indoors and Outdoors
Bend hosts the second-largest Pride celebration after Portland, which takes place annually in June. Though there are events the entire month, the centerpiece is Central Oregon Pride — this year held on June 25, 2022 — with events like the 5K Pride Run/Walk and Drag Dash in Drake Park. The day before the event, models compete in a queer art and fashion show, OUT on the Runway, wearing glamorous outfits that must be 80% self-made.
For those interested in queer-friendly outdoors events that take place regularly in Bend, start with LGBTQ+ Climb Night every third Thursday evening. OUT in the Wild Adventures offers outdoors-skills programs, including rock climbing and backpacking courses for LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented communities.
The fun doesn’t stop in summer. For a full calendar of queer-led and inclusive events like snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor, and even ice skating with wigs, Winter PrideFest has no set date in winter, so check their site for updates.
Support Queer-Friendly Shops in Bend
While shopping in Bend, look for OUT Central Oregon’s You Are Welcome Here stickers that mark queer-friendly businesses. For outdoor gear and equipment repair, head out to queer ally and event sponsor Gear Fix, which equips outdoor enthusiasts with new and used gear. The shop is a full-service bike and ski shop, as well as a title sponsor of Winter PrideFest. Those looking for backcountry ski or mountain biking information and gear should not miss Pine Mountain Sports. In its 20 years, the store has raised over $500,000 for local nonprofits, including Winter PrideFest’s Ski or Ride in 5 scholarship, a program that supports first-time skiers and snowboarders.
Fashion-forward boutique clothing and jewelry shop Lost Season Supply Co. is a sponsor of Out on the Runway. Pop in to spruce up your wardrobe before the show. Somewhere That’s Green, a queer-owned nursery, allows visitors to immerse themselves in the world of plants. Owner John Kish is also in the process of launching The Greenhouse Cabaret, a drag, music and theatrical performance venue.
Eats and Sleeps That Promote Inclusivity
When Masa owner Emanuel Colombo’s dancing career came to a screeching halt thanks to the pandemic, he decided to open a food truck serving traditional Argentinian empanadas with organic ingredients. The queer-owned food cart is located at LOGE Bend hotel. Spork, which offers globally inspired street food, both sponsors and also hosts its own LGBTQ+ events. Bo’s Falafel Bar not only serves the best falafel in town but also hosts queer-focused events like Drag Brunch and more during June Pride Month. A consistent partner with OUT Central Oregon, 10 Barrel Brewing Co. developed an LGBTQ+ beer for June Pride Month and held a Dance Party at the brewery in early 2022.
If you’re spending the night in Bend, consider the 100-room Campfire Hotel & Pool Club, a boutique hotel that’s housed in a renovated motor lodge and co-owned and managed by queer leadership. There you’ll find LGBTQ+ events all year long, like the recurring Diva Drag Brunch (where Pattie Gonia sometimes makes an appearance) and a monthly Drag Bingo.