Portland, Oregon Bowling Alley Tells Gay League to Leave


The owner of Portland, Oregon's Hollywood Bowl bowling alley doesn't like gays.

From a Towleroad reader:

I am part of a LGBT bowling league (above) in Portland, Oregon that has been a fixture in the city since the '70's. For over a decade we have called Hollywood Bowl our home alley. However, within the last couple of weeks we have watched Hollywood Bowl become increasingly unfriendly to our league.

We received notice through our league administrator that bowling leagues do not fit Hollywoods new business model and thus we are being asked to find a different alley. We were sad at the news but accepted the scenario as we were assuming that all leagues were being asked to leave. Recently, we became aware that the only leagues that were being asked to leave were the two gay leagues and a league that is administrated by two lesbians. All other leagues are being allowed to stay as they fit into Hollywood's new family friendly business model.

This has not gone over very well in the league at all. We feel really alienated as we have families too and brought a lot of revenue to the alley both during and outside league meets once a week.

Hollywood Bowl's contact info can be found here, should you wish to tell them how you feel about this. HB's Facebook page is here.

UPDATE: The lane's owner Mark Frank denies the accusations to the Portland Mercury.

Our reader responds:

The timeslot offered is already taken by a smaller "straight" league. About ten or so teams. The house has started a new promotion on Sundays that would leave no room for non-league bowlers if we took the 6:30 timeslot offered. Why start a new promotion only to have the entire house filled with league bowlers? It doesn't seem legit to us as a league. And this offer was presented to us after we contacted the local media. It feels like a ploy to save face. We are a league of 26 teams with four people each. There's no way that we could be accommodated in that timeslot and the owner knows that.


  1. Corey says

    Thank you for sharing. This has been especially vexing in such a progressive town. I’m on the Friday night league and am more than happy to take my weekly bowling money elsewhere. Supposedly they want to open up Friday, Saturday and Sunday for open bowling, but only LGBT leagues have been asked to leave/move.

  2. mymy says

    just spoke to the manager who said that they were putting in an Arcade, and wanted more open bowling lanes on fri/sat. apparently this was the owners decision. the manager and employees are very upset.

  3. peterparker says

    I wonder if the original Hollywood Bowl…you know, the iconic outdoor amphitheater in Los Angeles where thousands of musicians have entertained crowds since the 1920s…would like to know that their name is being infringed upon by this establishment?

  4. John says

    What bowling alley would remove all league bowling on Friday and Saturday nights? That’s insanity on their part. It’s guaranteed revenue!

  5. matt says

    I live in Portland and am in a bowling league at Hollywood Bowl with a bunch of my (straight) friends. I just texted everyone. You can be goddamn sure that we’re not going back there anymore.

  6. RandySF says

    @OREGONIZED: according to people in the comments of the article, the only teams asked to move from the weekend slots were the gay teams.

  7. u huh says

    Previously mentioned but deserves to be re-mentioned. The ONLY leagues being asked to move are the gay leagues. The non-gay leagues on these nights are apparently okay.

  8. richardb says

    FYI all negative posts to their Facebook page have been removed (except as of this writing, the negative “recommendations”). There has also been no response or comment on this situation.

  9. Michael says

    Their facebook page is being scrubbed of negative comments minute-by-minute. Such actions only reveal that their intent was homophobic in nature. Lambda Legal, anyone?

  10. Steve says

    The Hollywood Bowl website lists all the other leagues that they have, but not the three that are being discriminated against. Perhaps the league name “PDX Pride” wasn’t family-friendly enough for their tastes…

  11. Mary says

    I know this won’t make me any less unpopular than I currently am with Towleroad readers, but I support the right of gays to have bowling leagues that are treated equally with other groups’ bowling leagues. I mean it may be necessary to protect traditional marriage……but traditional bowling leagues? Something tells me that even Santorum would be on your side on this issue.

  12. Rin says

    Did they check to see if the gay league had any Polish players on it? This may be the problem…

    Sorry…little midwest humor there. Ahem.

    We had tons of yuka yuka with this back home.

    “How do you tell a groom at a Polish Wedding?”

    He’s the only one with a clean bowling shirt on!!

    **slaps leg and laughs to herself whilst crickets chirp all around her**

    Hi TJ!!!!

  13. Mary says

    I guess you can tell, TJ. But hey what can I do, he’s already married – and with 7 kids. So I missed my chance. It’s a lousy position to be in – all frothed up and nowhere to go.

    …….(just joking!)

  14. TJ says

    RIN: depending on spelling, my last name is either German or Polish in origin. Tread softly.

    Of course, I know you don’t mean it.

    PS – did you see my response to you on the “What gay is not” thread?

  15. says

    It amazes me that people like the new owners are so clueless about their own clientele and the easy PR opportunity that the Internet offers.

    You’d think they might have learned a little something from the big pile of doo doo that Komen stepped in.

  16. BZ says

    I’ve lived in the Hollywood District of Portland for over 20 years, and have bowled at this alley (three blocks from my house) for many years. I was a member of the gay bowling league that met at the Hollywood Bowl for a number of years. I’m absolutely stunned that they think they can get away with this. Hollywood has a very strong Neighborhood Association and you can bet I’ll be taking this to their next meeting. I’ll also be talking to the Hollywood Star, the community newspaper that serves East Portland.

    This is going to make big waves in Portland, and will not go down well. Not at all.

  17. Darrell says

    Most Portlanders would be offended by the attitude this idiot business twit now has. If everyone walks he will have to close and that would be suitable punishment since wether you are gay, straight or bi business owners will take your cash. Its called capitalism and besides another alley would be smart to accomodate the leagues.

  18. Rin says


    I’m 100% pure Polish stock all the way from Eastern Poland to Detroit, and my father wears his bowling shirt with pride!


    But seriously on this mess, I think they should reach out to other bowling leagues. People want good competition. If they think people are being shut down, you’ll see other bowlers rally. Its a very insular group that takes care of each other.

  19. says

    I sent an email yesterday voicing my displeasure. I got a response today, claiming that they never asked the league to leave, and that they are meeting with the group’s secretary today to discuss a new day for them to play on.

    It seems like they are really trying to cover up/ save face at this point.

  20. Jo says

    Does anyone know which leagues were not asked to leave? In other words, does anyone know the names of the leagues that will continue to bowl during the timeslots that the owner claimed would be vacated?

    I’m interested in contacting someone on those league(s) to see if they have any more information regarding this mess.

  21. says

    There MUST be consequences for a business that does this kind of crap! They need an action like the type that “Act Up!” use to do. I was called in as a magistrate when “Act Up!” surrounded and protested FDA headquarters in Maryland in the 80’s, to hear all the arrest cases. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the numbers that showed up, the organization, and the resources. They even brought their own lawyers and had bail money available!! That got the FDA’s attention, I assure you. Where has that kind of dedication to the cause gone? We need it back community, we need it bad for just such crap as this!

  22. Kelly L says

    One of the Leagues will be moving over to the AMF300 on 30th and Powell Blvd. We look forward to them joining us on Friday Nights. This alley is very friendly, but it’s a damned shame they are being ran out of a place they called home for years.

  23. Dan Cohen says

    I was angry when I heard this and immediately sent the following letter to the Hollywood Bowl:

    I’m a straight Portlander that will never set foot in Hollywood Bowl again. I am beginning a campaign against you on all social media sites. Unless you reverse your homophobic decision to ax the gay leagues your business will suffer until it dies. Bigotry doesn’t belong in Portland, or anywhere.


    I received this response the same evening (2/18/12): It would so nice if people would get both side. We simply
    wanted to have NEXT season be league bowling Monday thru
    Thursday and open play Friday nights and weekends.

    We just asked the league to move to a different night and
    held to spots that they had first choice of.

    Our history of supporting the gay community is a happy and
    long one. Not just leagues, but tournaments., special events
    and charities. Everyone who walks thru our doors are
    appreciated and welcome.

    I have been with the company over 20 years and to be accused
    of something like this and slandered with out all the facts being
    offered correctly is so sad.

    People jump on a bandwagon without taking a deep breath
    and learning both sides.

    It is so cruel

    Hollywood Bowl

  24. jo says

    “Recently, we became aware that the only leagues that were being asked to leave were the two gay leagues and a league that is administrated by two lesbians. All other leagues are being allowed to stay as they fit into Hollywood’s new family friendly business model.”

    I think the above is incorrect.

    Recesstime Sports has a league that bowls on Sunday nights (and AFAIK they aren’t a gay league). I wrote to a member and asked if they knew anything about this and was told that they were notified last August that moving from Sunday night was a possibility as the alley was trying to free up more lanes for open play.

    IMO this looks like a matter of miscommunication rather than discrimination.

  25. Heather says

    You all have is so wrong. The special
    referred to on Sunday’s have nothing to do
    with the spot the PCBL league would take
    and that special has been in place for awhile. The league was asked before any of
    this blew up and Melissa had talked to Mike
    personally before any media was contacted.
    We asked at the “same time” a league at our
    other location to move from Fridays and they
    have bowled in that spot over 20 years.

    They are people from all walks of life and
    the are heartbroken but they understand.

    If you run a business in this economy you
    do whatever you can to keep your employees
    working and the doors open.

    Hollywood is proud of their support of
    everyone who walks thur our doors and if
    people had just taken a deep breath and said
    hey maybe we can work something out and sat down and found out what was really going on
    this would never have been an issue.

    It is sad that people would slander us for
    something we never intended.

  26. Mark says

    It every business owners right to do what they want with their business. In economic times like these you would expect business owners to keep guarenteed revenues coming throught the doors. The PDX Pride League did have a 5 year agreement for bowling at Hollywood bowl on Friday nites which ran through 2015. Its not sound business practices to void agreements on a whim which is what Hollywood bowl did to us. A league this size does not have a lot of options to move. PDX Pride is the largest USBC sanctioned in the state with 150 members. The board worked hard to find another location to bowl at on Friday nites, a nite the league was founded on. For Hollywood bowl to just assume its a league doesnt matter what nite it bowls on was a bad assumption. Bowling centers stay in business because of bowling leagues (guarenteed revenues). Call around you will find not all are on the band wagon for bowling/arcade center. 15 arcade machines dont make an arcade fun center. Especially when they cannot even get the right permits to make it legal and have wasted money on construction they just had to stop and relocated to another part of the bowling center. I think time will tell that the vision the owner of Hollywood bowl had will soon hit him hard in the wallet. Its no longer gays are asked to leave. Theirs been enought modification from Hollywood bowl actions to the issue over time to make it a mute point. We are proud to have moved to Pro 300 effective February 24th for our new bowling house estabishment and hopefully other will follow suit. As you all know you have your own opinion this is just mine which till now I have not spoken till we had secured another house for our entire league. I’m sorry this issue has now forced Hollywood bowl to ask the other two smaller leagues on Friday nites to move. They were a great group of people to bowl with on Fridays. Its time to move on and forward however the staff at Hollywood bowl will be missed. As secretary of the PDX Pride league we thank everyone for their comments and support.

  27. Ray A. Schneider says

    Please give me a call when you get this email. I have some good options for some future fundraising for you. Thanks and have a very nice day.