Why a Gay Car Club?
by Doug Buhrer
Why a gay car club? Why not a gay bowling league, a gay rodeo, or a gay church? Oh, that’s right … all of those things exist, too! If you’re gay with a specific interest, it’s more rewarding and more fun to hang out with other gay folk who share your interest.
Conversely, it can be a real pain enduring those around you who belittle your interest in (take your pick). Case in point: it was the mid-1980s, and I’d recently purchased my first “real” collector car, a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado. I was living in a fashionable gay ghetto, showing off my new purchase, and a neighbor remarked: “The only people I know who drive old Cadillacs live in an undesirable, economically depressed part of town.” Only he didn’t phrase it quite so politely. I was crushed that he didn’t appreciate my rolling sculpture.
The trouble was, his viewpoint was not unique amongst gays of my acquaintance. Everyone thought I was nuts. While it was o.k. to like new cars to a certain degree, if you crossed an invisible line in your zeal, your fellow gays were only too glad to vote you off the island. (Of course, I was also wearing lots of flannel shirts back then, so I was already suspect for my missing fashion gene.)
Imagine my thrill then, when I discovered an ad in Hemmings (the old car bible) that read: “Lambda Car Club, the name says it all.” Before the pink triangle, and before the rainbow graphic took over to signify “This Is Gay,” the Lambda symbol and word had a brief period of popularity for that purpose. Thus, the name really did “say it all.”
I joined and liked it so much, about a year later I volunteered to take over as editor. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, so that should give you some idea of how I “clicked” with the club and its members.
Lambda Car Club International (LCCI) is an umbrella organization that includes 28 regional clubs scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada. Membership is around 2,200. You may choose to belong to only the International club, or you may belong to that and as many regional clubs as you like.
I’ve belonged to straight car clubs, too. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Straight clubs are populated with perfectly nice people who love their collector cars. But hanging out with these people feels too much like a family reunion; they’re nice enough, but I don’t have much in common with them. There isn’t much to talk about other than cars.
Imagine, though, having 2,200 best friends scattered across the country. I’m exaggerating (a little), but there is this deep connection I share with people who are also gay and really dig cars. It goes beyond just sharing those two things. It’s almost like that by sharing being gay and liking cars, it creates this weird synergy where you discover all this other stuff you have in common. I imagine this is true for other gay “affinity” groups, as well.
Of course, it’s not all a big love-fest. Any gay group will have its share of oversized egos and occasional bitch-slap-melodramas that rank right up there with anything Krystal Carrington and Alexis Colby-Carrington can dish out. (That’s a Dynasty reference, as way of explanation for all of you young people.) Largely though, surprisingly, we get along like a bunch of big-block V8s, happily consuming vast quantities of high-priced high-test and belching unburned hydrocarbons. (My apologies go to any EPA types who may have fainted at the visuals created by that last sentence.)
I’ll be contributing articles about collector cars, gay car clubs, and the motoring lifestyle to the Out in America network, so stay tuned. To learn more about Lambda Car Club, visit www.lambdacarclub.com.