So You’re Queer, But You Don’t Drink? Here’s Where to Meet People in Portland

There are LGBT-friendly meetups and businesses that either don’t serve alcohol, or serve alcohol without it being the primary draw.

(Jake Southard)

Being gay is often a sobering experience, but are gay people really that sober? National surveys have tackled this question as much as they can by comparing straight and gay drinking rates and the verdict is more black-and-white than rainbow: LGBT people drink more. LGBT people are also twice as likely to abuse booze and drugs.

For what it's worth, gay men and lesbians together drain most of the nation's vodka supply. Not bad for a crumb-sized percentage of the U.S. population.

But what if you don't drink? If you actually paid attention during Red Ribbon week, which is an annual alcohol, drug and violence awareness campaign that overtakes public schools one week each October, you'll know there is life outside of the bottle.

In fact, there are LGBT-friendly meetups and businesses that either don't serve alcohol, or serve alcohol without it being the primary draw. These spots offer a new frontier for the sober queer.

8235 SE 13th, Ave #2., 503-235-3474. Open Monday-Friday 7 am-3 pm, Saturday-Sunday 8 am-4 pm.

Fortunately, this town specializes in two types of bevs. Either/Or is a Sellwood coffee shop designed for all marginalized populations to feel at home. A large swath of Either/Or's customer base is LGBT, and it's a queer-owned business. The lesbian blog AfterEllen held their first Portland LezBiBuy meeting here, back when those were happening. (RIP.)  Who knows, you might just look up from your almond milk latte and into the eyes of your very own Ruby Rose.

Triumph Coffee
201 SE 12th Ave., 971-229-1631, Open Monday-Saturday 7 am-8 pm, Sunday 9 am-8 pm.

Triumph Coffee isn't specifically for queer people, but it is buzzing with queer activity. The Radical Faeries have been meeting in Triumph's space, formerly the location of Three Friends Coffee House, for seventeen years on Saturday mornings. One of the faeries is always on staff, and you would be hard-pressed not to join them.

GrindHouse Coffee
1934 N Rosa Parks Way C., Open daily 7 am-3 pm.

With an entire wall made up of a mosaic of stained glass windows, Grindhouse Coffee is an outdoor cafe that resembles a food cart with some bling. It's proudly queer-owned with a steady LGBT babe clientele. Coffee here is promoted as "sexy" and the baristas are devoted to their snark.

Rainbow Walk in the Trees
4000 SW Fairvew Blvd. Meets Monthly.

You're already "out," but how do you feel about going out? You'll never have to fear cougars–or loneliness–again if you decide to traverse the Hoyt Arboretum as part of the Q Center's monthly Rainbow Walk in the Trees event. This two-hour meet-and-greet is specifically designed to teach you about the nature that surrounds your everyday life, while offering you a chance to mingle with the local queer community. Unlike drinking, hiking will bring your body some good news the next day.

Lez Stand Up

Laughing might be the closest you can get to drinking sans the liquor. This year's winner of the Helium Comedy Club's coveted Funniest Person competition was a lesbian, Caitlin Weierhauser. Caitlin is a regular performer in the queer comedy troupe Lez Stand Up. This feminist, lesbian class act doesn't perform every month, but they do perform. Keep refreshing their Facebook page for announcements.

Cabaret with a Q
Q Center, 4115 N Mississippi Ave., 503-234-7837,

Liza Minnelli was good to the gays, and now it's time for you to return the favor by bleeding your best performance at the Q Center's Cabaret with a Q. Best part: this is an all ages event that's free (though there is a suggested donation), meaning even your ten-year-old can belt out the latest Adele single with a singalong group. Consider it their thank you for ceaselessly blasting it on the way to Sauvies. Though not a permanent fixture, Cabaret with a Q is one of Portland's most unique queer events.

Drag Brunch
317 NW Broadway. Every Sunday. Every Sunday.

You don't drink, but you still gotta eat, right? Stag PDX, one of Portland's two gay strip clubs, offers its weekly TESTIFY drag brunch that tends to reel in yuppie gays from Northwest. Come here for eggs, the future cast of RuPaul and absolutely no booze. Just kidding. It's brunch, but it's not weird to not order booze at 12pm on a Saturday.

Related: Stag Gets Buck Wild

Chair Yoga
Q Center, 4115 N Mississippi Ave., 503-234-7837, Meets Thursdays.

The Q Center offers a cornucopia of queer-friendly events, including a monthly chair yoga session. It's meant to center your balance, your body and hopefully, your social life. Though not the most chatty activity, it's a great way to exercise within the LGBT community. And with all those after workout endorphins running wild, who knows who might strike up a conversation with you.

Judy on Duty
6800 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Last Saturday of every month.

Judy on Duty is the thrifty, lesbian BlowPony. It takes place every last Saturday of the month (like BlowPony) at the High Water Mark. You don't need to knock back a tequila shot (or six) to prove that you've got the moves. Maybe bring some cigarettes, though; this is a punk bar, after all.

Rainbow Babies Playgroup
Q Center, 4115 N Mississippi Ave., 503-234-7837, Meets monthly.

Kids. You can't live with 'em, but you keep having them, so you have to live with 'em. But, if you're a young queer parent, you can leverage your position as a guardian to meet some cool new folk who you can invite over for a summer BBQ. You'll want to crack open a cold one with the non-binaries. Be warned: only babies aged 0-3 are welcome, and there are location changes depending on the season.

Hawks PDX
234 SE Grand Ave., 503-946-9659, Open 24 hours.

If you're trying to cut past the smalltalk, Hawks is pretty much Grindr IRL. Hawks and Steam are Portland's last two gay bathhouses, and Sunday nights are bisexual nights. If you come in a group, don't expect to stay in one for long.

Related: I Spent a Night in One of Portland's Last Gay Bathhouses

Coming Out
Q Center, 4115 N Mississippi Ave., 503-234-7837, Meets monthly.

How do you feel about coming out to a crowd? This open meeting group is basically AA for heterosexuality, offering you a clean, safe space to be yourself. For the very first time. There's also a regular queer AA group that meets weekly, as well as one for queer sex and narcotics activists.

Sewing Group
Q Center, 4115 N Mississippi Ave., 503-234-7837, Meets monthly.

Sew in a judgement free zone. The Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) hosts a monthly sewing group for beginners and seasoned designers alike. Before you know it, you could be on Project Runway. Yes, that show is still on. With Heidi Klum.

Movie Night
Q Center, 4115 N Mississippi Ave., 503-234-7837, Meets weekly.

One thing most queer people have in common: they watch TV. And what better way to spend a Saturday night than watching relevant LGBT flicks with people you could maybe meet and hookup with. Let's just hope it's Magic Mike next week!

Dykes on Bikes Meets weekly.

What, you thought this only happened during Pride? The formula is simple: since 2013, Portland's very own chapter of Dykes on Bikes has seen lesbians meet at a different location each week and then ride their motorcycles somewhere kickass, in support of LGBT diversity and community.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.