New Year’s Eve in the Pink Triangle

by Lyle Hehn, 2010

Real life and fantasy characters mingle at cocktail hour—look closely and you can spot Al Winter (namesake of Al’s Den), Lola Baldwin (of Lola’s Room at the Crystal), and Flossie—the drag persona of Stephen J. Boden, club owner and trailblazer in Portland’s LGBTQ+ community. Portland’s “Gay Triangle” neighborhood in the 1970s was centered around the flat-iron building at Burnside and SW 12th Ave. Today’s Crystal Hotel formerly operated as the gay bathhouse Club Portland (originally named Club Baths), from 1971-2007. The street-level space that is now Hal’s Café was the gay nightclub, Silverado (first known as Flossie’s), before relocating in 2008.

Artist Lyle Hehn chose the image of a soaking pool filled with pink punch as a reference to the symbol of the pink triangle. Gay activists in the 1970s reclaimed the pink triangle as an emblem of pride, in remembrance of LGBTQ+ citizens violently persecuted by Nazis in World War II, who were marked and identified by this symbol.  

The music ensemble on the upper left is a tribute to the influential Black R&B, soul, and jazz artists who regularly played the Desert Room and the Crystal Ballroom throughout the 1950s-60s.