Portland has steadily developed into one of the nation’s most inclusive destinations. The City of Roses draws thousands to its pride parade each year, but the celebration doesn’t end at city limits. Communities all around the state honor the queer liberation movement’s history and progress with festivals that draw participants from near and far. Here’s everything you need to know about pride in Oregon, from Portland’s year-round queer offerings to LGBTQ festivities in cities from Astoria to Bend and beyond.
(Peacock in the Park by Lauren Palmer)
Keep Portland Queer
Portland draws LGBTQ travelers year-round due to its progressive culture and mix of queer-friendly clubs and attractions. Here’s what you need to know, whether your visit coincides with pride festivities or not.
The city has no specific “gay district” — folks live, work and play in virtually every neighborhood, although the West End (sometimes referred to as the “Pink Triangle”), Old Town, North Portland, Hawthorne/Belmont and the Central Eastside have a particularly pronounced LGBTQ presence.
It’s no surprise that you’ll find a diverse and vibrant queer-nightlife scene, including nearly a dozen gay bars and dance clubs (Stag, Scandals, Crush Bar, CC Slaughters and Eagle Portland are among the favorites), many monthly dance events (Slay, Lez Do It, Bridge Club and CAKE, just to name a few) and a slew of queer-friendly venues that draw mixed crowds. The city is even home to the oldest drag revue on the West Coast, named for America’s oldest and longest-performing drag queen: Darcelle XV Showplace. (Editor’s note: Walter Cole, Portland’s iconic drag queen known as Darcelle, died on March 23, 2023 of natural causes at age 92.)
The city is also home to dozens of businesses owned or heavily staffed by members of the LGBTQ community, from spots like tomboy-chic clothier Wildfang and urban winemaking operation Hip Chicks Do Wine to numerous restaurants, including Irving Street Kitchen, Saucebox, Little T Baker and Departure.
Portland has long cultivated an inclusive and progressive artistic and political scene. You see this when considering a few of the LGBTQ notables who have called the city home, such as filmmaker Gus Van Sant, transgender writer Carter Sickels, indie rocker Beth Ditto, novelist Chuck Palahniuk, songstress k.d. lang, Pink Martini co-band leader Thomas Lauderdale, former mayor Sam Adams and “Portlandia” co-creator Carrie Brownstein.(Wildfang by NashCO Photography)
(NE Portland bar by NashCO Photography)
PDX Pride Events
Held in July, the Portland Waterfront LGBTQ Pride Festival and Parade draws thousands to the festival grounds at leafy Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Over the course of the festival, local and national musicians entertain the crowds, a number of artisan food and craft-beverage vendors provide tasty snacks and drinks, and dozens of supportive businesses, organizations and resources dispense information. On Sunday the Portland LGBTQ Pride Parade snakes through downtown, the Pearl District and Old Town.
Other annual events in the city well worth checking out include the Portland Queer Film Festival in mid-September, with most showings at the indie-spirited Cinema 21, and QDoc, the world’s only film festival dedicated to LGBTQ documentaries, which is held in May at the historic Hollywood Theatre. Also in May, people of all genders and orientations don red dresses — often highly glamorous ones — to attend an annual fundraising gala, the aptly named Red Dress Party, proceeds of which benefit the Bradley Angle House and Q Center. In mid-June, run, walk and be proud during Portland’s Pride Run, held at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park.(Courtesy of Pride Glow Run)
(Courtesy of Central Oregon Pride)
Oregon’s True Colors
Oregon’s reputation as a diverse and LGBTQ-friendly state extends to many communities outside Portland, from the Coast to the Cascades. Held throughout the year, smaller pride festivals provide a terrific opportunity to visit different parts of the state.
Head to the outdoorsy city of Bend in June to attend the Bend Summer Pride festival. This laid-back and friendly festival features an afternoon of music, food and mingling at downtown’s verdant Drake Park, which fringes the Deschutes River. Join the early 3k fun run/walk before the pride festival kicks off.
Astoria Pride comprises three days of gatherings in June throughout this historic and picturesque small city at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Festivities typically include a parade along Astoria’s scenic river walk, an art show, a special LGBT Astoria Riverfront Trolley tour, an art show, dance parties and more.
On the Central Coast, Yachats Pride in June includes three days of food, drink, live music, games, drag performances and a puppy parade. Members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians will also discuss Native traditions around gender diversity and sexuality in Indian Country.
The state’s third-largest city plays host to the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival in August. After Portland, Eugene has the largest and most visible LGBTQ community in the state. It’s also home to one of the state’s only gay bars outside of Portland, Spectrum, which is a welcoming spot for drinks or a meal anytime — but especially during pride. The Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival takes place at the scenic Alton Baker Park along the banks of the Willamette River. Watch a diverse mix of bands and performers, chat with local LGBTQ-supportive businesses and organizations at a vendor expo, and sip craft brews in the beer garden.
Also held along the Willamette River, typically in early August, Capitol Pride draws locals and visitors to the state’s capital and second-largest city, Salem, for a lively day of entertainment at Riverfront Park.
Back for its second year, the Queer Wine Fest is held at queer-owned Remy Wines in Dayton in late June. The outdoor festival includes wine and food tasting with live music, featuring queer-owned, -made and -grown wines.
Throughout the month of June, the public is invited to enjoy Rainbow Quest, hosted by queer-led organization Wine Country Pride, with dozens of local coffee shops, wineries, restaurants, bars and retailers in Yamhill County that will be offering Pride-inspired drinks, food and products.
The wine fest, street fair and Rainbow Quest are all part of Wine Country Pride, an inclusive celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in the Willamette Valley. Wine Country Pride seeks to be a visible celebration of the queer community and to educate all people while connecting through community building and economic activity. Check their website for more Pride events held throughout the year.
Hillsboro, just 25 minutes west of Portland, holds a Pride Month Celebration all month long, starting off with a Pride Party and parade in early June featuring DJ’s, pride outfit contests (for yourself and your pets!) and trivia with drag queen Poison Waters. About an hour west of Portland, Sandy is hosting a 5k Walk and Run with Pride event and fundraiser.
Later in June, Beaverton is celebrating pride with the 6th annual Beaverton Pride Parade and Festival. Enjoy a day of tribute bands, farmers market goodies and food and a queer circus performance.
If you want to get away from the city and get outdoors, book a fully-guided customized tour offered by the only LGBTQ+ owned outdoor tour company in Oregon, First Nature Tours. They aim to create opportunities for the LGBT community to fully experience adventure and healing through nature. Check their website for upcoming events and tours they host or sponsor.