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social sciences

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Portland, Oregon  
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Although the constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage was passed statewide by 57% of the voters, in Portland the amendment was rejected by 60% of the voters.

Following an attempt that failed in 2005, the Oregon legislature adopted a domestic partnership law in 2007. After the OCA was unable to secure sufficient signatures to force a referendum to repeal the law, the Oregon Family Fairness Act went into effect in February 2008; it makes virtually all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to same-sex couples.

Sponsor Message.

Glbtq Portland Today

The Portland queer community is remarkably diverse. Not only is Portland said to be a mecca for lesbians, it also includes a large and active population of glbtq Mormons.

Political groups such as Basic Rights Oregon work to fight conservative opposition, while cultural groups, such as the Rosetown Ramblers Square Dance Club, the Portland Lesbian Choir, and the Rose City Gay Freedom Band contribute to community building.

Groups such as Transactive and Getting Bi offer support for and bisexual Portlanders, and the Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) provides support for queer youth. Love Makes a Family is an organization that works to support gay and lesbian families in Portland, offering programs for both parents and children.

Other venues for queer networking include the Just Out gay community newspaper and the In Other Words feminist bookstore and community center.

Appropriate for a city that prides itself on its athleticism and love of the outdoors, Portland boasts a number of queer teams, groups, and leagues in a variety of sports, from basketball to kayacking and running to softball and volleyball.

The city boasts numerous gay and lesbian bars, coffee shops, restaurants, clubs, and other queer-owned or queer-friendly venues.

Glbtq pride is celebrated in Portland not only with the annual Portland Gay Pride Parade, which attracts tens of thousands of Portlanders and visitors, but also with the Portland Gay Latino Pride Festival and the Portland Gay Pride Waterfront Festival.

Numerous ordinances and regulations protect Portlanders from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

In 2004, openly gay Oregon politician Sam Adams was elected to the Portland City Council where he served until 2008, when he was elected mayor. He thus became the first gay man elected Mayor of a large American city.

Running against 12 other candidates, Adams won election with 58% of the vote. Soon after becoming Mayor, however, Adams acknowledged that he had had an affair with a young intern in 2007. He apologized for having lied about the affair during the campaign, but denied that the intern was underage when the affair was consummated.

He was ultimately exonerated of inappropriate behavior, and two attempts to recall him failed to gather sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot. Although Adams survived the calls for his resignation, there is no doubt that the scandal tarnished his reputation as "the Great Gay Hope" in Oregon politics.

As Mayor, Adams has promoted environmental issues, especially clean technology and sustainable urban development, transportation development, support of the arts, and gun control.

Tina Gianoulis

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social sciences >> Overview:  Demographics

Recent surveys and data collection efforts hold the promise of providing a more accurate demographic picture of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Elected Officials

In the United States, glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box in the last three decades, running for and winning local, state, and national elections.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy Laws and Sodomy Law Reform

Sodomy laws, which provided the legal basis for police harassment of sexual minorities, were conclusively overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2003, after more than half a century of efforts at reform.

social sciences >> ACT UP

Using bold images and confrontational tactics, ACT UP worked to promote awareness of AIDS and challenge the complacency of politicians and government officials in the early years of the epidemic.

literature >> Beard, James

Through his writing, teaching, and public appearances, James Beard became widely recognized as one of the foremost representatives of American gastronomy; he planned to reveal his homosexuality in a memoir, but died before completing the book.

social sciences >> Bryant, Anita

Former beauty queen, popular singer, and orange juice pitchwoman, Anita Bryant became the poster-girl for homophobia in the late 1970s; her name continues to be a byword for bigotry.

social sciences >> Cicilline, David

U. S. Representative David Cicilline, who made history as the first openly gay mayor of a state capital, has a long record of public service.

literature >> Dattani, Mahesh

Indian playwright, screenwriter, dancer, director, and actor Mahesh Dattani is an important figure in South Asian gay culture by virtue of his recurrent depiction of queer characters.

social sciences >> Goldman, Emma

An energetic political organizer, fiery radical, and a passionate free spirit, anarchist Emma Goldman outspokenly defended the rights of homosexuals.

literature >> Le Guin, Ursula K.

Although Ursula Le Guin does not address homosexual issues directly, she includes homosexuals as minor characters in works that cause readers to reexamine their assumptions about sex roles and stereotypes.

social sciences >> Murray, Edward B. ("Ed") 

After a long career in the legislature of the state of Washington, Ed Murray was elected mayor of Seattle in November of 2013.

literature >> Palahniuk, Chuck

Chuck Palahniuk is known for a series of popular and provocative novels; although he has acknowledged his homosexuality, he resists being labeled as a "gay author."

social sciences >> Parker, Annise

In 2009, after a dozen years in elective office in Houston, Texas, Annise Parker won election to the mayoralty of the fourth-largest city in the United States, becoming the first open lesbian to lead a major American city.

literature >> Spanbauer, Tom

Novelist Tom Spanbauer probes the darker undercurrents of sexuality, race, and violence while simultaneously using his unique prose style to meditate on and question received notions of time, subjectivity, and history.

arts >> Van Sant, Gus

One of the most idiosyncratic talents to have emerged from the independent cinema over the past decade and a half, Gus Van Sant is not only matter-of-fact about his sexual orientation, but in his work he also represents homosexuality matter-of-factly.

literature >> White, James Melville "Mel"

Mel White spent over thirty years serving the Evangelical Christian community; after struggling with his homosexuality for many years, he broke his ties with anti-gay religious leaders and became a glbtq activist.

arts >> White, Minor

Renowned photographer, teacher, critic, editor, and curator, Minor White created some of the most interesting photographs of male nudes of the second half of the twentieth century, but did not exhibit them for fear of scandal.

social sciences >> YMCA

By the early twentieth-century, YMCAs had become popular havens for men who sought sex with other men.


"More than Missionary: Portland's LGBT Mormons Explain Who They Are, How They Are, and What They Want." Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons (2010):

Boag, Peter. "'Does Portland Need a Homophile Society?': Gay and Lesbian Culture and Political Activism in the Rose City from World War II to Stonewall." Oregon Historical Quarterly 105.1 (Spring 2004): 6-39.

_____. "Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement." The Oregon Encyclopedia (2008):

Egan, Timothy. "The Great Gay Hope." The New York Times (January 28, 2009):

Gates, Gary. "Same Sex Couples and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Population: New Estimates from the American Community Survey." Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA School of Law (October 2006):

Glass, Brett. "From Seed to Bloom: Celebrating its 50th Year, The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court Has Weathered Drama, Crisis and Dwindling Membership to Rise Up and Serve the Community." Just Out (October 3, 2008):

Hicks, Bob. "A Portland Primer: Some Things about a Maverick City that Chris Coleman Probably Knows by Now." American Theatre (July-August 2003): 20+

Mayes, Steve. "Rebelling in the 60s." An Oregon Century (2008):

Terry, John. "1912 Vice Clique Scandal Sways Portland's View of Homosexual Community." (April 24, 2010):


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Portland, Oregon  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated February 14, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


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