Though most of us can’t physically travel right now, there’s still a wonderful world out there for us to explore together. Traveling IQuarantine spotlights people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities… and in the process expand our Traveling IQ.

Michael and Matt in Cannon Beach, outside of Portland
Michael & Matt

Traveling In Quarantine: Michael and Matt in Portland, Oregon

Someday your prince will come… and he may just find you on YouTube.

Michael and Matt first met in 2014 through watching each other’s coming out videos online. One week after seeing each other’s coming out stories, Michael purchased a flight to visit Matthew in Seattle. The grand, romantic gesture paid off.

Soon after, Matthew moved to Nebraska to be with Michael while he finished dental school; and after he graduated, they were married! They now live in Portland, Oregon. Michael works as a full-time dentist and Matthew is attending nursing school while juggling careers as a freelance photographer and travel writer.

They are also cute as buttons and have built quite the online empire as “Michael and Matt.” Their content spans from being adorable in day-to-day life to their adventures all over the world. According to M&M: “Together, we hope that our stories bring you the best of the best in LGBTQ+ travel. What we share is just a window into our lives, and honestly, we couldn’t be happier with the opportunity to relate and connect with all of you. The online community has not only brought us together but it continues to be a source of support and encouragement for ourselves and our community.”

When they aren’t traveling, studying or working, you can spot them at the many bars, restaurants or coffee shops around the greater Portland area. Obviously, they love to travel but they also can’t get enough of their home in the Pacific Northwest.

What’s so great about the Pacific Northwest?

Traveling IQuarantine interviews Michael and Matt and together we explore Portland, Oregon:

Michael and Matt give advice from a local on best things to do in Portland

IQ: Where are you from and where do you live now? 

M&M: I (Matthew) am originally from Albany Oregon, a small town about an hour south of Portland in the mid-Willamette Valley area… wine country! Michael is from an even smaller town about an hour north of Sioux Falls, called Madison, South Dakota. I attended college in Seattle, Washington while Michael went to school at the University of Nebraska. Now, we live in Portland, Oregon together.

How did you meet? 

We met through watching each other’s coming out videos on YouTube. I posted my coming out video in 2013, and Michael posted his coming out video one year later as a video response. Michael tweeted the link to me, and after watching the video, seeing so many parallels and similarities in our stories I knew we had to talk. We spoke that night, and never stopped talking. A week later, Michael bought a plane ticket to Seattle to meet me. We fell in love, and a couple months later I moved to Nebraska so that we could be together while Michael attended dental school. Things moved very fast, but a ton of crazy life-stuff happened when we first met. It was one of those now-or-never type of situations… and well, it’s a long story, but we’ve definitely made a few YouTube videos on it!

How did you get involved in travel?

My love for travel really began as I graduated high school in 2010, at which point I had yet to leave the country. I was very close with a Swedish exchange student at my school and wanted to spend the summer seeing Scandinavia. I taught myself Swedish during that last year of high school and flew over with him at the beginning of the summer. It was a crazy two months. I experienced terrible culture shock and absolutely hated my trip, but when I returned home I couldn’t stop thinking about my experience there… I started studying communications and culture at my university and fell in love the topic, learning how communities live and thrive in various places around the world.

While I maintained studying or working other jobs, I continued my work in photography and videography with every spare moment I could get. I just kept creating videos and photos that I loved! I realized that there isn’t any one set path for a career in travel and art. I had to make my own path and keep being as transparent as possible about my journey with my audience. 

Describe your featured destination–Portland:

Portland, Oregon is a quirky, eclectic mix of crazy personalities and stunning natural beauty. Every time we fly back into Portland, we’re stunned by the view of Mount Hood overlooking the emerald green forests surrounding the city. There’s no place like it, and it continues to surprise us living here. The city is filled to the brim with evergreens, and just an hour from the coast or the mountains, the options for hiking and outdoor activities are limitless.

What makes Portland unique?

Besides the fact that Portland is basically a city within a giant forest, it has an interesting way about structuring its neighborhoods. Throughout the sprawl of the city, there are tons of little neighborhood centers, each with its own unique personality and feel. Portland’s street food culture also has made a name for itself. In the summer, you’ll see everyone out biking down to the food carts to grab Koi Fusion, Chicken and Guns, or Nong’s Khao Man Gai. What I love most about Portland is its irreducible attitude about not giving a shit of what anyone thinks about it. Portland is super weird, and it’s proud about that fact. From Voodoo doughnuts, Powell’s City of Books (the world’s largest bookstore), to Darcel’s (our personal favorite), anything here is accepted and loved as it is! 

What makes Portland a place for LGBTQ travelers?

We love walking down Harvey Milk Street downtown, popping into Scandal’s for a bit and having a drink with friends. Portland is a big city, but still feels kind of small. The community here is super personal and extremely friendly. I remember my first time at Portland Pride and how I essentially just felt an overwhelming sensation of belonging. It’s tight knit, and people really look out for each other. The gay bars are scattered throughout the city, so it isn’t dominated to just one section of town. The free-spirited, anything-goes mentality is something I’ve only also seen in places like The Castro or the West Village. There are two gay beaches, one at Sauvie Island and another at Rooster Rock, in the Columbia River Gorge. There are also a ton of community and sport groups like the Portland Frontrunners, who I run with every Tuesday and Saturday.

What are three spots that you love in Portland and why?

Mississippi Ave is lined with some of the best restaurants and bars of the city. It’s really active any night during any part of the year and is always bound to bring a good time. It also has a ton of cute trendy shops and cafes. Hanging out there is one of Michael’s and my favorite things to do on any given weekend!

Powell’s City of Books is an iconic destination in Portland. The bookstore is 4 stories tall and takes up an entire city block. It holds more books for sale than any other bookstore on earth. It’s enormous, and you can actually get lost in there (I have)! On the top level, there’s an isolated room full of first edition and signed books, including original print copies from series like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. It’s amazing.

Pittock Mansion is a historic building overlooking downtown from Forest Park. You can catch one of the best views of Mt. Hood from there, and in the Spring, the rhododendrons around the mansion are kind of magical. It’s one of the must-see places to anyone visiting!

What are three LGBTQ highlights in your destination?

Scandal’s — This is our favorite gay bar to hang at. It’s a pretty relaxed bar, no fluff. It’s comfortable, not intimidating, and an easy place to grab a drink and relax. I love this place because of how welcoming it is, and the drinks are honestly super cheap!

Blow Pony — This is a hugely popular queer event held once a month in Portland. It is a riot, and things get crazy. For those up for a party, it’s worth coming to Portland just for this! Wear as little as you’d like!

Darcelle’s XV — Darcelle has a history with the city. As the oldest practicing drag queen, Darcelle and her girls throw a comedy show four nights a week that will leave you on the floor. We went here for our bachelor party and had one of the best nights of our lives. They are so sweet, take no shit, and will give you a show you’ll never forget. 

If Coronavirus is magically cured overnight and quarantine ends abruptly, where will you choose to celebrate?

We honestly would probably head down to the waterfront because people would be going crazy for the cherry blossoms blooming right now… and not going to lie, if we are at the waterfront we are in close proximity to all the downtown bars so there are going to be a lot of drinks to be had. 10 Barrel Brewing rooftop, I’m looking at you, then afterwards we’re heading to Dig a Pony for a Negroni and Kachka for Russian dumplings…and vodka.

Michael and Matt swinging on the beach
You spin me round round baby round round

If you could choose anywhere in the world to Quarantine, where would it be and why

I want to be in a villa on the edge of the jungle, hanging over the beach outside of Puerto Vallarta. If we had pre-planned for the pandemic, I’m sure Michael and I would have opted to be out in the tropical sun for a bit.

What’s in store for you guys over the next year? 

Wow! That is a difficult question given the current situation! Michael is currently working 1 to 2 days a week due to the quarantine, only seeing emergency patients at his dental office. I’m scheduled to start my nursing classes again in June, but that may be delayed until the Fall depending on the pandemic! Our travel plans are being rescheduled to the fall, so if all works out, we will be heading to Greece and hopefully Puerto Vallarta again. In December, we’re planning a group trip to Thailand. It’s the first time we are doing a group trip like this, and we’re really excited to meet and hang out with friends we’ve made through our Instagram, as well as teach some photography!

Read their advice on The Best Things to Do in Portland

Watch Michael and Matt “Being Tourists in Portland” in the video below:

To check out Michael and Matt’s other adventures… 

Follow the Traveling IQ (In Quarantine) series, highlighting people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities.

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