A Note From Michael (BLCKSMTH), in Portland…

“My story is a little bit of a trip lately. Last year I’d been working retail management for 20 years, and suddenly felt an urge to paint, to write, to design, to do something, anything but what I was doing. I hadn’t been trained or gone to school for any of that stuff, mind you…I just needed to create, or die tryin’. So I did it: I left my job. I designed a couple of theatrical sets, opened my Etsy shop of my paintings, and started a blog about the experience, ww.BLCKSMTHdesign.com, where I feature my writing. The last year has been one of the most fulfilling, challenging, strange years of my life, and has helped define who I am as a gay man, and just a human being in general. Somewhere in that year I realized Los Angeles wasn’t a great fit for me, and so I moved to Portland, Oregon.

I like what someone else on this project said about Portland being “post-gay”: it’s really integrated, and sometimes that can be frustrating as a single guy. Going to a bar full of super-friendly dudes with beards can be a little like the “Where’s Waldo” of dating. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel like PDX is, at its best, a glimpse into the future of being gay in America: almost no “gay scene”, very few gay bars. A place where the idea of “coming out” seems more and more antiquated and unnecessary. Yeah, it’s a bubble, and yeah, one can get complacent, being so surrounded by like-minded people. When I visit my hometown of Albuquerque after having lived in Portland, I feel like I don’t even recognize it, or realize how conservative it truly was while I lived there. And my 12 years in Los Angeles was great, but it was also a bit of a pressure cooker. I didn’t realize how difficult it was to live there until I was in traffic one day, and thought, “It shouldn’t be this hard to just live, to just exist.” It was like the parable of the frog in the pot of slowly boiling water: LA turned up the heat so slowly right underneath me.

I’m glad I’m in cooler water now in Portland. I’ve experienced life as a gay man in a few different cities now, and I have to say this is the best time I’ve had. There’s something about the sincerity and authenticity of people in this part of the country that’s appealing to me, and this week I bought some vitamin D, small-batch local bourbon, and my first rain jacket in preparation for the upcoming downpours: I’m officially initiated to the PNW.

Portland, I am your adopted son.

photo by Summer Olsson
photo by Summer Olsson

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  1. Pingback: On Not Being An A**hole | BLCKSMTH

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