Tag Archives: gay

Surprises in Portlandia

After our Halloween in Seattle, and the start of our international tour, we were hardly ready to pack up and head back to the states. On our last day in Vancouver we stopped and grabbed all you can eat sushi for lunch. This was a marathon and not a sprint. We tried a little of everything and both endured major food comas afterward.

Despite the urge to lie down and succumb to the food baby inside, we decided to walk to Stanley Park instead. The park was incredibly beautiful with all the fall colors scattered on the trees by the Vancouver bay. It was a perfect way to walk off some of our sushi.




After the park we decided to head to Commercial Street, which we heard was queer, artsy and full of poetry. We went in search of Vancouver’s Van Slam, but were saddened to learn that the venue was closed. We later learned we had gone to the wrong venue; it turned out to be at Café Deux Soliel and not Café Du Soliel, so confusing!!


Mishap aside, we ended the night strong with pizza and Dexter on Netflix. In the morning, we had to say goodbye to Canada and head back to Seattle, where Hannah and Tiffany were waiting to greet us again! The four of us grabbed dinner on the waterfront, and went to a free production of Les Miserables in Issaquah.

We spent the next day being uber tourists when we visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum and the Seattle Space Needle.



The glass blowing museum was incredible and it was truly spectacular to see what could be created with molten glass and human breath. It was hard to determine which of the two attractions were the most breathtaking.



As the sun went down, we started heading towards Scratch Deli for the Rain City Slam. The venue was intimate, but powerful. They packed the house and the poets were incredibly talented. The audience was live, appreciative and supportive. Poetry lovers in Seattle should make it a point to stop by and check out this venue!

Our stay in Seattle was wonderful, but there was only more magic to come as we headed south to Portland, Oregon to visit our A-Camp cabin mate, Andie! The first night we arrived it was her birthday! We grabbed dinner at a local Indian restaurant, and a lot of her friends made an effort to make it kind of boring because the next night, we were planning a surprise party!

While Andie was distracted with a fancy date night, the rest of her friends gathered with booze, streamers, cake and a creepy but awesome birthday banner. She had no idea and we ended up scaring the crap out of her. The party was a smashing success, and we managed not to wake up in a drunken hungover haze.




In the morning, we headed to the Saturday Market in downtown Portland. We perused all kinds of art vendors, tasted free samples and even got a birthday present for Marine’s dad. We grabbed some infamous Voodoo doughnuts after waiting in line for half an hour. Walking around with the pink box was like holding a talisman of deliciousness. Everywhere we went people asked about the delicacies lurking inside.



In the evening, we met up with fellow A-Camper and poet, Brenda for an impromptu poetry reading, and everyone there agreed upon brunch the following morning.

We met at Night Light for bottomless mimosas and delicious breakfast foods. We definitely got our money’s worth and ended up a bit out of sorts for the rest of the afternoon. Bottomless mimosas generally spell out a really unproductive day. However, not all was lost because Powell’s bookstore was open until 11pm.

Powell’s is a Portland landmark and spans an entire city block. It’s a reader’s paradise, and we snatched up a few books for sale before calling it quits.

We could add Ashley Catharine to that list!

We could add Ashley Catharine to that list!

In the morning, we fly to San Francisco. It will be the first time back in the sunshine state in almost three months. There’s still a few weeks of the adventure left, and we promise we’ve saved the best for last!

Up next: San Francisco, CA


Gambling Gays Go to the Bookstore

Ashley: Sunday afternoon my grandmother sent us back to New York with a box of baked goods and a bag of fresh fruit. Instead of going back to Stef’s in Brooklyn, we headed to AS writer Gabby’s place in the Bronx!

via Gabrielle Rivera


We had brunch with Gabby and Laura (also part of Team Autostraddle!) in the morning, and Gabby makes the best coffee ever FYI! Her family was so sweet and welcoming, they even made us a home cooked meal that night.

Like the queermos that we are, we discussed haircuts, as we were in dire need of them. Gabby recommended Camera Ready Kutz, which is her go to barber shop when Katrina is unavailable!

Once camera ready, we went to Grand Central station to grab lunch at Two Boots and couldn’t resist the 2 for 1 hurricane specials!



Marine: We spent the remainder of our afternoon exploring Central Park. It was nice to get away from the claustrophobic feeling of the city. Being from such a sprawled-out city on the west coast, New York can be daunting!



Later that evening we went to a poetry open mic to benefit the Bronx LGBTQ center. We had the rare pleasure of hearing Gabby perform and by the end of the night, the owner was so inspired by the queer poets and performers, he decided to throw a benefit rooftop party in honor of the LGBTQ Bronx center.

Ashley: I sold out of the limited amount of books I had with me, and learned Gabby’s “Rule of 10.” Always bring 10 books to any show!



After the show, we grabbed late night diner food and sipped on bourbon back at Gabby’s place. It was the perfect end to our last night in the Big Apple.

Thinking back on our first A-Camp experience, where Gabby was our counselor in the Snatch-22 cabin, it’s amazing how far we’ve come. We started out single, and without a queer community in our cities. Now we’re together and traveling the country, largely thanks to our extended Autostraddle family!

After missing our first megabus to Philadelphia at 12:30pm, we managed to get the very last stand by spots on the 2:45pm bus! The one time we were late was the only time our megabus was early! Murphy’s law got us again.

Our first night in Philly was a blast — we ate cheesesteaks at Jim’s, checked out a volunteer-run anarchist bookstore filled with queer books, zines, and radical politics called the Wooden Shoe, and tried the popular local brewed beer, Yuengling.

In the morning, we hopped on the bus and went to see touristy things, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Independence Hall / Liberty Bell


We saw where old white guys held trial and signed the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.


There was also an interesting display of George Washington’s old house, which burned down a long time ago. We were surprised to find that his slave ownership was addressed, although not to the extent desired; the display was more apologetic and in defense of our first president. It made statements about how Washington would have wanted the abolishment of slavery had he remained alive. Apparently, the historians over here can predict hypothetical futures.

We walked outside of the tourist-sphere into a traditionally Vietnamese part of town, where we got pho for lunch before heading over to Giovanni’s Room. In this lgbt/queer bookstore, thePhiladelphia Daily interviewed us because Giovanni’s, which is a historical landmark, is being sold. We were in town for two days and already made the news, maybe President Obama will greet us in Washington, DC, our next stop.

The next morning, we set out for Hogwarts, acceptance letters be damned!! Our host, Katie, is currently a student at Bryn Mawr, which is an all-women’s university just outside of Philly. She took us to her campus for a little impromptu tour.


After grabbing lunch at Reading Station, Katie took us on a spontaneous bucket-list-worthy trip to Atlantic City, the east coast Vegas. Before gambling, we ran into the Atlantic Ocean.


After winning 20 bucks on the nickel slots, we headed back into Philly to meet up with more straddlers! Katie had put together an impromptu book reading at her house!

If any straddlers in upcoming cities want to host a living room reading/open mic, these are some of the most fun shows! It’s intimate, less pressure and everyone has room to share and chat! Comment or email if interested! Ashley [at] thatstarvingartist [dot] com


via Kate Hinchey


The Philly straddlers know how to have a good time! We met up with writer Kate/de at a queer event called CutN Paste to dance the night away. After hearing about our long-term travel plans, no one would let us pay for our own drinks! Every dollar counts when we’re on the road, and later on, at IHOP, our new friends treated us to an early breakfast. After debating the pros and cons of diva cups and tampons, we were sad to end our last night in Philly!


We still need housing in:
New Orleans, LA (10/12-10/13)
Email us at Ashley [at] thatstarvingartist [dot] com!

Up next: Washington DC!


The Concrete Jungle and the Garden State

We arrived in New York City last week hungry, excited and ready for brunch. Back at home, we always meet up with our local gayborhood and find bottomless mimosas somewhere. Sure enough, New York City wasn’t short on lovely homoqueers, breakfast pastries, and our new favorite brunch food, bagels!



We were told that no one in California knows how to make a proper bagel. After a taste test, we had to agree! If you know where to find one on the west coast, tell us!

We had a lovely afternoon in a park in Brooklyn celebrating Vanessa’s (yes, the one who writesStraddler on the Street!) move to Boston.


Later, we walked to the East River and watched the sunset over Manhattan.



The next day it was time to do super touristy things! We started in the financial district at Battery Park and worked our way up. We packed a picnic and ate it while looking at a miniature faraway Statue of Liberty, and watching all the other tourists snap photos of her looming out above the Atlantic.

We could have paid $17 to take the ferry over and climb inside of her, but between the budget and Lady Liberty’s consent, we were better off just staying in Manhattan.

We started to walk uptown and found Trinity Church, which was beautiful and peaceful compared to the bustle of Wall Street just outside it’s fence.


Marine: Side note, in large cities like New York, downtown LA, Chicago, etc., scope out public restrooms to save money. We took full advantage of the fact that Trinity Church had clean and available public bathrooms!

We kept walking and saw the new World Trade Center, which is a single tower stretched high into the skyline. We went in search of the 9/11 memorial site, but we’re pretty sure it was under construction.


A few blocks north of the tower was the Irish Hunger memorial.

Ashley: My ancestors came over through Ellis Island during the potato famine, so it was really cool to see this big patch of the Irish countryside in the middle of New York City. Standing there right after being at the World Trade Center made me ponder what it means to be American. Sometimes it means the erasure of culture, or the start of a new one. I am in a generation of crossroads; where being American still means you came here from somewhere else, but are too far removed to claim anywhere else as your home.


It started raining so we stopped at the AMC up the street and used a set of free movie tickets we had to go see Blue Jasmine . Anyone else see the movie? We have a lot of feelings about it; mainly that being too rich must suck.

After the movie, the rain had pretty much subsided and we went back to Stef‘s (who also writes things for Autostraddle) place in Brooklyn to eat pizza and crash for the night.

The next morning we decided that we belong on Broadway! Well, we belong in a nice comfy air-conditioned theatre watching an entertaining musical. Some of these shows can cost up to $400 a ticket and there’s no way that was gonna work for us. We went to the tkts booth at the south seaport to see what was discounted. We managed to score 2 tickets to see a matinee of Chicagofor the next day at about $75 a ticket.

After that we walked around, found lunch and then headed uptown towards the Highline Park. Along the way, we saw the historic Stonewall Inn but were too nervous to actually go inside and order anything.


We found the Highline, which is a repurposed old elevated train track, which is now a community park. It was beautiful and relaxing, and we found lots of interesting art along the way.



After the Highline, we got on the subway and headed into East Harlem to meet up with one of Marine’s college friends.

Marine: Rachel and I met at UC Irvine. She was dating one of my coworkers while I was a resident advisor on campus during my senior year. She was there for me during my coming out phase, and her close friend was the first girl I dated. Now she works as a kindergarten teacher at an East Harlem charter school.

We went to dinner at El Paso and wound up with enough food for three meals, which was kind of economical.


We slept in the next day and reheated our left overs before heading back to the clusterfuck that is Times Square to see Chicago!


Our seats were literally front row center. We were practically looking up the dancer’s skirts.

After we grabbed hot dogs on the street, walked around Rockefeller Center, and scoped out Central Park, we joined Stef for dinner at this odd, but delicious little Indian restaurant. We stuffed our faces with samosa, masala, and curry before checking out the Nuyorican Poet’s Caféfor their slam.




Ashley: Going to the Nuyorican Poet’s Café has always been a huge bucket list thing for me. My home venue is Da Poetry Lounge in Hollywood, and I feel like Nuyo is an east coast counterpart. It’s competitive, full of talent, and notorious. I entered the slam, and managed to cross anotherthing off my bucket list: winning a slam!


I also featured during Inspired Word NYC’s slam, and heard some really amazing poets.

Marine: It pays to go to events like this with Ashley; we got in free, and got 2 free drink tickets!



The next day we got on a train to New Jersey to visit Ashley’s grandmother! She did what most doting grandmothers do by taking us shopping and feeding us!

Grandma brought us to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, which is a large sculpture garden and art museum. Some of the sculptures are made to be like famous paintings that you can walk into, and thus become part of the scene.




Ashley: Knowing we’re leaving today to head back into the city is bittersweet for me. I practically grew up in this house. I spent every holiday and summer here. I used to fly out with my little sister and read ghost stories until 2:00 in the morning in the upstairs bedroom. We’d capture fireflies in the backyard or run through the tunnels under the house across the street, only learning years later it was part of the Underground Railroad.

My grandfather passed away a year ago and the house is up for sale now. My grandma wants to move to California to be with all her children and grandkids. I know this may be the last time we see this old house. There are over 200 years of memories here, 23 of which I can claim. I know if my grandpa were here he’d be so proud of what we’re doing. He’d tell me I couldn’t have picked a better girl to travel the world with. He’d tell me he loves me, and how there’s no such thing as goodbye.