In 1985, after having moved from California to Montana and then Spokane,Washington, my senses and world were awakened to a new place: Portland ,Oregon. Last session I told you about the shift in lifestyles and open minded thought one experiences when changing locations like this. Not that Spokane and the previous places I’d lived were “bad” nor were they a detrimental thing to my childhood. But they most certainly were very conservative and backward looking in a lot of respects. They paid hommage to religions and the obedience given to deistic societies who fear for the future and the wrath of a jealous and destructive God. Yeah…not what I had envisioned for my future as a member of the human race. So off to Portland we went!!
My first impressions were exactly as most have when seeing the above photo! Amazingly beautiful, yet so vastly different from Seattle, the other major city I had come to love (and still do). Moving here was the best thing my father could have done. He had a few choices as to where to move, including San Francisco, Denver and Seattle. Thankfully, Portland won out and I will be forever grateful. This city and the people around me were catalysts in my transformation, though it would be many years before that happened. A growing away process.
As I worked my way up the ranks in my congregation and towards possibly becoming a more appreciated and powerful member within, my guilt and anguish regarding beliefs still ate away at me. Why did we really believe this or that, why did we continue to hurt others and not be accepting of differences? How did God really tell the men in New York at the headquarters all of the things he wanted them to do? I was 18 when moving to Portland but admit that my maturity level was that of a 15 yr old. I had so much to learn and was now in the right place to do such things. After moving with my father into a small apt off NW 23rd, above a McMenamins tavern, my days became free to explore the city. At least till I got a job a few months later. Here I was introduced to Powell’s Books. My oh my what an amazing and incredible place in which to discover the world. Oh, Powell’s was much better than a library in some ways. I could read the books there, sit and have a coffee, buy the book I wanted and not worry about having my lazy butt kicked out if I loitered too long. Here, I gained insight into so many other beliefs, customs, cultures, languages and delights of the senses. All of them.
this day I still adore this most magical of places.
One might wonder why I’m promoting them in my session here instead of the usual confessional. Well, it is due to the fact that this establishment had a pivotal impact on my life and that needs to be recognized. Usually the library would be the place for this and while I did visit and enjoyed the Multnomah Library downtown, it was nothing at all like Powell’s. It had very little impact on me and my life,research and future.
Today, this store still has an immense selection of books and even more in the LGBT section than I had ever imagined.
This is where I also learned so much more about my own sexual orientation. What it was called, where I fit in to this world and society and also that I was not alone. This city was an open minded and liberal location just ripe with fresh ideas and designs, ready for the picking. I was to learn a LOT about myself and who I really was over the next few years. Although it would take many more years of digging down deep and soul searching to transform myself and come out as a bisexual man, this is where the process really began. Sure, I knew when I was eight that I liked both boys and girls and at age twelve that it manifested itself in sexual attraction of the same two genders (that’s all I knew of then, just the two). But the real study and acceptance began here, when my eyes were opened to the world of literature, art, sociology,psychology and all of the things I didn’t get as I would not be going to college. At least not full time. There you have it Doc…my cultural and sexual education began at Powell’s Books! I cannot imagine they’d necessarily want to read that but the books combined with the cross section of Portland life who also walked those isles introduced me to a new world. 🙂