It's called a concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permit. This permit allows you to legally carry a concealed handgun on your person while you are in public, with the exception of school, government, and certain other facilities. Oregon is also a "shall-issue" CCW state - this means that anyone with a clean criminal background will be issued a permit if they present the proper paperwork. There is no discretion on the part of the sheriff to turn your application down simply because the sheriff does not like you - if you meet the requirements, the law says that you MUST be issued the permit. It is my experience, based on helping numerous people get through the process, that sheriffs in Oregon respect the law, and that many are even sympathetic to the need of gay persons to defend themselves.
In order to apply for a CCW permit, you will need only a handful of things:
-A criminal history clean of convictions for violent crimes.
-An application fee of $65
-Two forms of identification
-Documentation that you have completed a firearms safety course
The course is very important, because it will teach you the fundamentals of firearms safety. Most importantly, it will give you the training you need to further train yourself - aim and stance, draw speed and handgun retention, etc.
The decision to carry a CW is a deeply personal one that be accompanied with responsibility. But it is a very important tool for people who might otherwise be left to the wolves. I myself have deterred a violent assault because I chose to exercise my CCW rights. The argument that "more guns aren't the solution" is half-right: if we could purge all guns from the land, then we'd indeed be making progress. But that isn't going to happen. Rather, more guns in responsible hands ARE part of the "solution."
The old saying is that "Jah helps those who help themselves." Well, this is one important way that we can "help ourselves."
Washington has similar CCW provisions. If you are curious about obtaining a CCW, then by all means, visit a range. Try your hand at shooting. Maybe you won't like it, and that will be the end of your dealings with firearms - but you have nothing to gain but new experience.