Black trans Portlander shows a side of the city you won’t see on ‘Portlandia’

Portland is known as a refuge for society’s rejects, a safe haven for all. In line with the city’s welcoming and tolerant attitude, Portland has a long, loving history with the queer community. The city boasts several gay dance clubs, sports leagues, community organizations, and dozens of LGBTQ-owned businesses. Rose City was also the first major city to elect an openly gay mayor. They even have a Guinness World Record-holding drag venue, Darcelle XV Showplace.

26-year-old illustrator/designer/writer Ebin Lee, a self-described Black queer trans person, speaks to this in The Black Portlanders. This gorgeous zine, created by Portland photographer Intisar Abioto, showcases unique voices from a different side of Portland culture.

We caught up with Ebin, a Chicago native and longtime Portlander, and asked them to share a few thoughts on their city.

via The Black Portlanders

What’s your favorite thing (or things) about Portland?

“Living here is like an episode of Cheers or something. It’s tiny and comfortable. You can walk into a bar and see the past seven years of your life. So I guess that’s my favorite and least favorite thing about Portland.”

Where are some of your favorite gay hangouts in Portland?

“I hate hiking, biking, and being outdoors generally. So I spend a lot of time at dive bars and drag shows. I love visiting SCRAP, an art supplies store that recycles donations for cheap. I’ve got probably half of all my art supplies there and every time I walk into SCRAP I’m inspired to do and make something.

What’s Portland’s Black queer scene like?

“It’s very small yet vast. There are so many different types of Black queers I know here in Portland and so many things that they’re all part of. It can be hard to find each other in this vastly white city though, I can’t pretend it’s not.”


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Are there places that you’d say Black travelers to Portland should be sure to visit?

“Powells? Food carts? Beer? Overall I say do all the touristy things everyone would do anyway, because even in the Blackest part of the city, Portland is still very white. But please do visit Northeast Portland, I feel more comfortable living day to day in the Northeast because there are just more Black people up and around.”


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What do you think would surprise people the most about Portland’s Black culture?

“Maybe if they’ve watched “Portlandia” before coming here, they will be surprised to see that Black people are here. (That show can go to hell.). Honestly, it’s that Black culture is here, has always been, and has and will thrive amongst attempted erasure and some white-washed image of what Portland is.”

And check out Travel Portland’s guide to LGBTQ life.

RELATED: 18 reasons why Capitol Hill is the epicenter of Seattle gay life

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