As a gay millennial with a penchant for tequila shots and salmon-colored shorts, I feel lucky to have been born on June 18. But for many others in the LGBTQ community, June is a celebration of rebirth. We block encroaching sunshine with rose-colored goggles, commemorating our ongoing commitment to loving ourselves while sticking it to the haters, Chris Crocker-style. We break out Robyn CDs like they're the Love Actually soundtrack around December, momentarily bring back cuffing season for a couple nights of marathoning the latest season of Orange Is the New Black, and then reappear for the parade—and all those margarita slushies.
This year, Portland Pride will be held June 17-18, and per usual, there will be an excess of block parties, queer dance nights, queer art exhibitions and comedy showcases that trickle into the surrounding days. Here are our picks for the very best events.
Thursday, June 15
"Is your mom gay?" some kid asks comedian Vickie Shaw's young son on the playground. "Why? Does your mom want to date her?" Vickie Shaw's son retorts. Blessed with a Southern drawl and a sassy personality, Vickie Shaw will headline this year's 7th Portland Pride Comedy Showcase, hosted by the Portland Queer Comedy Festival. The icing on top: the Portland Queer Comedy Festival doesn't officially launch until July. This means you can stay proud for the majority of the summer. And clearly, if Vickie has taught us anything: LGBTQ parents have no use for dating apps. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. $20 at the door. 21+.
Friday, June 16
Queers in Space
Part Pride party, part acid trip, Bit House Saloon's "The Cockpit," a recurring deep house club staple, is throwing a two-story bash destined to resemble a night underneath Rite Aid at S1. Dubbed "Queers in Space," guests might find themselves in an early Britney Spears music video. Expect galactic go-go dancers in flight-attendant garb, trippy visuals bred for candyflipping and puddles of vodka soda beneath many of the urinals. In terms of the tunes, Sterling Moss is at the synth's helm all the way from London. But remember: There's music on both floors. Bit House Saloon, 727 SE Grand Ave., 9 pm. $10, 21+.
Saturday-Sunday, June 17-18
Portland Pride Parade
Let's equate Portland Pride to Thanksgiving dinner. The drag brunch serves as the hors d'oeuvres and the glitter-studded after-parties are your pumpkin pie. But, let's be real: We come for the turkey. Last year, the Portland Pride Parade included 8,000 individuals—just on floats. As is tradition, it begins on West Burnside—the heart of what was once Portland's LGBT-centric district—and ends near the Waterfront. Staples include the Official Trans Pride March (2 pm June 17 at NW 8th Ave. & NW Davis St.) and the Portland Dyke March (6 pm June 17 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park).
Saturday-Monday, June 17-19
Stag Block Party
Gay bros, unite! You remember Stag: It's the gay strip club modeled after a winter cabin, deer head and all. Well, you probably remember their Pride block party, too. Encompassing a whole parking lot for four days, this yuppie-centric, slightly younger version of the Scandals block party has been good for Euro-centric DJs, a swimwear-themed day and Stag-famous "Barbie shots." Stag is also your go-to hangover spot, as they offer low-key Sunday drag "TESTIFY brunches," rivaling the much more claustrophobia-inducing performances over at CC's. Stag PDX, 317 NW Broadway. 21+.
Saturday, June 17
While many Pride dance parties are typically gay-male dominated, LGBTQ nights at Holocene tend to attract a broader queer audience. SLAY, Holocene's response to Pride weekend, sees the return of DJ Automation, who was a fixture at the monthly Gaycation events back in the day (RIP.) Make sure to surface at this synth-heavy, upper-friendly soirée before 10 pm, when tickets are a mere $5. Also, you might want to show up early, in general, because lines feel like they extend to the west side if you get there too late. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 9 pm. $5-10, 21+.
Between all the Jell-O shots and showers you are forced to partake in so that you can de-glitter yourself before work, you might meander toward Mississippi Studios and momentarily take the backseat. Essentially, it's The Moth, but with all queer speakers, Slant is a platform for queer people to discuss the hard-hitting issues. We're talking everything from erotic Pokemon fan fiction to stripping for podcasts. Hosted by veteran performer SisterBritt, you'll get seven-minute stories from a variety of LGBTQ people, some of whom are traveling comedians Pride-hopping from city to city. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 6 pm. $15.
Queens of the '90s
When most of us think of LGBTQ content from '90s pop culture, we think of that one lesbian Buffy storyline and then we just stop. Yet, Queens of the '90s is the ultimate throwback Pride extravaganza: Channel a costume inspired by Whitney Houston, Rickie from My So-Called Life…or Jack from Dawson's Creek(!?) and get down. Either way, DJ Jens Irish brings you some flashback tunes, so get yourself a mullet or something. Paris Theatre, 6 SW 3rd Ave., 9 pm. $6, 21+.
The AM at Scandals Block Party
As a dive bar, Scandals has been open for 38 years, which means their Pride Block Party has refined the method to its madness. With a dropped pin in the heart of downtown and the legendary former Burnside Triangle, this quintessential Pride event is teeming with gays representative of all age demographics. In terms of drank, elixirs are dirt cheap and poured mindlessly. However, as this is usually a beginning pit stop for most who plan to party their way to the east side by night's end, you might want to watch that initial cocktail consumption, as amenable prices may lead you astray. Scandals, 1125 SW Stark St. 21+.
Any monthly foray into a Blow Pony party provides one with a war story or two to recount the following morning over a couple of mimos. That being said, Blow Pony: Pride Edition pulls out all the stops. For its first year in its new space, Blow Pony's Annual Queer Mutiny Fest features rap-infused hip-hop courtesy of DJ Airick X and a slew of RuPaul Drag Race contestants, such as Miss Peppermint and Laila McQueen. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E. Burnside St., 9 pm. $19, 21+.
One subcultural creature you won't find in many places outside the Pacific Northwest: the lumbertwink. Basically, it's a bunch of dudes decked out in flannel who like photo booths, so it's really nothing out of the ordinary. As an event, Lumbertwink is fodder for the day drinker who is either a) a bear, b) a bear in training or c) somebody who celebrates the simpler things in life. The point being: You show up wearing flannel to the Funhouse Lounge patio and drink to glittering sunshine and three rotating DJs. This is one of the more casual Pride events, so don't leave your scruff at home. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 4 pm. $4-10, 21+.
New York and Portland had way less in common back in 2011 in terms of LGBTQ rights, and Portland decided to throw a party about it? Read on. After the Empire State scored marriage equality that fateful June, Pride Northwest celebrated its passage with the hope that one day we would follow in its footsteps. And even though we have comfortably allowed gay marriage for a few years now, the Portland LGBTQ communtity still gets together to get drunk and listen to some big musical names. This year's theme: Make America Gay Again. Tao Event Center, 631 NE Grand Ave., 9 pm. $25 at the door, 21+.
Club Kai Kai's shows aren't drag performances in the traditional sense. They're more like dance parties that just so happen to have a lot of drag performers in attendance who could break into a semi-impromptu performance at any moment. Their Pride addition is aiming for an drag warehouse party aesthetic. Obviously, there will be lots of voguing. The North Warehouse, 723 N Tillamook, 10 pm. $30 at the door. 21+.
Sunday, June 18
Big Gay Boat Ride
You're on a boat, betch! Get your towels ready, cuz it's about to go down. You're (probably) queer, you're (definitely) tipsy and there's no better way to let June know you're hot, superficially and physically, than getting yourself a ticket aboard a pimped-out Portland Spirit. Hosted by yet another contestant from RuPaul's Drag Race with Little Tommy Bang Bang as deckhand (whatever that means), you might not find a mermaid—but you'll treat the Willamette like you're Leo. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 3 pm. $40, 21+.
Karaoke is a defining Portland thing; it's one of the few crowd-pleasers we took from the Japanese as opposed to the other way around. Yet, its most miserable aspect is the part where you actually have to sing. So You Think You Can Drag?! is the anxiety-free solution. Show up, drag yourself out and lip sync to a particularly poppy number for all the world to see. Paris Theatre, 6 SW 3rd Ave., 8 pm. $14, 21+.
A new addition to Portland Pride, PDX Ball is a drag and a voguing competition. They're both open call, so you can hang out in the audience or you can battle it out. Hosted by Portland voguing star and WW cover model Brandon Harrison. Nyx, 215 W Burnside St., 10 pm. $10.
Through Friday, June 30
From Andy Warhol's soup can portraits to Shamir's countertenor, queer artists have made their way into many a heated roundtable discussion via Crush's smoking patio. Fueling some fresh smalltalk, interdisciplinary artist Sean M. Johnson showcases Burials, a month-long photography exhibit that contrasts queer escapism with the morbid, cultural tradition of a burial. Oozing traces of both life and death, this must-see exposition captures queer fantasies unhinged by the heterosexual, cisgender hierarchy. Pushdot Studio, 2505 SE 11th Ave. Free.