LGBT News: Where Gay Collectors Come Out of the Garage

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by NOVAJock, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. NOVAJock

    NOVAJock Modded & Underrated

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    From The New York Times:

    Where Gay Collectors Come Out of the Garage

    By DAVE CALDWELL
    Published: September 2, 2005
    JOHN MULLER drives a United Parcel Service truck for a living and collects cars for fun. He rhapsodizes about his baby: a black 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Only 200 were built, by hand, in Italy. He would love to add another to his 15-car collection.

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    [​IMG]Robin Nelson for The New York Times
    PROUD OWNER John Muller with part of his vintage car collection. He is the president of Lambda Car Club International.




    Mr. Muller, 44, who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, does much of his rhapsodizing at meetings of his car club, of which he is president. There is nothing particularly unusual in any of this, except for one thing - Mr. Muller's club is for automobile enthusiasts who are gay.

    Lambda Car Club International is the largest organization by and for gay and lesbian automobile collectors, with 2,000 members in two dozen chapters across the United States as well as one in Toronto. And it is growing at a rate of 4 or 5 percent annually. In a world where various kinds of car clubs are proliferating, Lambda holds a special place, culturally and aesthetically.

    Or, as Doug Buhrer of Columbus, Ohio, a Lambda member for 20 years, put it: "We're not all expressly into Broadway show tunes."

    Not surprisingly, Lambda has a different dynamic than more traditional car clubs to which Lambda members belong, or used to belong.

    "You did have the same interest, but you didn't feel like you could really open up," Mr. Muller said of being in a mainstream club. "You didn't feel like you could joke with people about your own life."

    David Kycia, 42, a Lambda member in Southport, Conn., said that with mainstream car shows, "if I were to go with my partner, we'd be looked at in a negative way." He added, "The friendships I've made keep me in the Lambda car club."

    Beyond the social differences in Lambda and mainstream clubs, there are also differences in what is considered beautiful or worthy in a car.

    "The straight men tend more to like the muscle cars, and when they start the engine at a show, they'll all run over to it," said William Hicks, 59, a resident of West Chester, Pa., who was Lambda's president for 10 years. "We'll race over to a car that's a beautiful pink or amethyst, and we'll all say, 'Look at that brocade.' "

    Mr. Muller said that Lambda members tended to collect luxury cars and so-called orphan cars - automobiles that are no longer manufactured, like Ramblers and Packards. General collectors acquire those cars, too, but in lower percentages.

    "We're just lighter into the cars that are more popular in the mainstream clubs - Corvettes and Mustangs and '57 Chevys," Mr. Muller said.

    Lambda collectors are especially enthusiastic about luxury cars, particularly those that are loaded with options, like early models with automatic windows. The club even has a nickname for a luxury car that is heavily accessorized: P.P.A., short for Power-Princess Approved.

    Often, luxury cars are nicknamed - one member's 1964 Lincoln was called Jackie O - and many are adorned for a show with accessories like mink stoles and jewelry.

    One of Mr. Muller's cars may be emblematic of the entire emphasis of the club: a 1954 Chrysler Imperial, which is not only P.P.A. but is also painted a robin's-egg blue. Some people don't like it, but Mr. Muller has won prizes at mainstream Chrysler shows for it.

    "On a car that size, the color really stands out," he said.

    Mr. Muller does not want to speculate about exactly why luxury cars are more popular in Lambda; it is just the way it is. Awards are handed out at Lambda shows as they are at mainstream shows, but there is a notable difference in the judging.

    At mainstream shows, judges tend to inspect a car meticulously, noting its assets and flaws on a clipboard, with points added or deducted. Lambda shows do not use points judging. Everyone has one vote. The car with the most votes wins.

    Although auto enthusiasts do not have to be gay (or even own a car) to join Lambda, a few Lambda members have dressed in drag to camp up the elegance of their classic cars. But that, Mr. Muller said, is not why most members go to gatherings. Something primal beckons: a passion for cars that they did not think other gay people had.

    That is one reason why John Ball, now 70, began in 1981 what was called the Gay Old Car Owners, a group that eventually became Lambda. Mr. Ball, a Buick devotee, said he was mostly looking for a boyfriend, but he also wanted gay men to have a place where they could talk about cars.

    Mr. Ball put an advertisement in Hemmings Motor News, the periodical for car collectors. About 25 men gathered at the first meeting in February 1982, at what Mr. Ball, with a laugh, called "a sleazebag gay hotel" in Atlantic City.

    Mr. Ball said Hemmings had to stop the ad because there was a lot of negative reaction, but the club had momentum. It met three more times in 1982. Word spread. More people joined.

    "You don't have to muffle yourself," Mr. Ball said from his home in Huntsdale, Pa. "You can sit around at a show and look at cars, but if a cute-looking guy comes along, you can look at him, too."

    Club events became meeting places, longtime Lambda members say, but car talk ruled. Even now, those who regard the meetings simply as movable gay mixers usually drop out quickly.

    "The only ones who remain members are those who have an abiding interest in cars," Mr. Buhrer said.

    Mr. Ball originally intended the club to be just for automobile collectors, but Lambda gradually expanded to include enthusiasts who collect miniature cars, car parts and automobile literature like brochures.

    Mr. Hicks was a car collector who found out about Lambda from a straight couple who had a gay friend. Before that, he had belonged to a mainstream car club. "It was kind of a lonely affair," he said.

    Most Lambda members do not have families, so they have generally more money to spend on their pastime. Membership topped 2,000 for the first time this year, he said. The club's Web site has helped draw interest.

    "Join us ... OUT on the road," the home page flashes in pink, lavender and blue letters.

    THE club's membership is getting older, though, Mr. Muller said, so a membership drive to attract younger members is under way. Membership among lesbians has lagged in relation to that of men over the club's history, though Mr. Ball said the club was trying to change that.

    The Empire Region chapter, which includes 120 members, most of them from in and around New York City, held one of the most visible Lambda events, Autorama, near the United Nations during Gay Pride Week last June.

    Michael Francioni, an engineer from Long Island who is the chapter's president, said 38 cars were on display and thousands of spectators ambled past the show. He said he got calls immediately after the show from potential members who liked what they had seen.

    "Every new member we get says the same thing," Mr. Francioni said. "They're amazed we exist. They'll say, 'Why didn't we find you sooner?' "

    In the end, Mr. Ball pointed out, Lambda is about identity, but in more ways than one.

    "We're all enthusiasts," he said. "We're there to enjoy each other's cars. This is an opportunity for some gay people to be what they are - car collectors."

    Car Connoisseurs

    THE Grand International Invitational of Lambda Car Club International (www.lambdacarclub.net) is scheduled for Nov. 9 to 13 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    Other large gay and lesbian car clubs include Great Autos of Yesteryear (www.greatautos.org), based in Los Angeles, with about 1,200 members , and the Freewheelers Car Club (www.thefreewheelers.net), based in San Francisco. Founded in 1978, the Freewheelers is considered to be the oldest such club and has 350 members.
     
  2. RedGoober4Life

    RedGoober4Life New Member

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    Why do they have to have their own car club? Why can't regular car clubs suffice? Why do gay people feel the need to segregate themselves? :hs: I just don't get it.
     
  3. NOVAJock

    NOVAJock Modded & Underrated

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    Why do Buick owners form clubs? Why do Mustang owners form clubs? Is it because they want to segregate themselves, or is it because they have a common interest that ties them together?
     
  4. spiffy_badrock

    spiffy_badrock I'm sorry, if you were right, I'd agree with you.

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    Its such a bitch to live in silence around some of the people I share so much with. This article makes me think how much my life sucks sometimes. :(
     
  5. coma

    coma New Member

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    Because it increases your odds of finding a boyfriend. :coolugh:
     
  6. RedGoober4Life

    RedGoober4Life New Member

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    They're cars. What does it matter if you're gay, straight, or whatever? It only matters if somebody makes it matter, and it really shouldn't matter so why would anybody make it matter? :hs: Maybe it matters to some but it doesn't matter to me?

    It's like having a car club for people that happen to be able to roll their tongue.
     
  7. RyRy

    RyRy Active Member

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    Try being gay and having a modded F-Body like me! :rofl:
     
  8. Notorious R.I.E.

    Notorious R.I.E. Queen Bee

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    same pricipal of having a girls only car club... or a honda only car club. Similar people with similar interests.... pretty much every car club is a straight car club. so why not. they aren't hurting anyone. I've been in a few car clubs and it was ok that i was gay cause i'm female and most guys think that's cool. BUT let a guy join and they find out he's gay and 9 times out of 10 someone or many someones are gonna have a problem or dislike him from then on
     
  9. RedGoober4Life

    RedGoober4Life New Member

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    I know this is hard to accept for some people: but you can't take everything personally.

    And I think cars and other things can bring different people together with similar interests.
     
  10. NOVAJock

    NOVAJock Modded & Underrated

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    Have you ever been a member of a car club before? IF you have, have you listened closely to how people in car clubs tend to talk about gay people?

    I have been in car clubs for almost as long as you've been born. The car clubs are one of the few remaining places where I choose to stay in the closet. I do so, for a reason.
     
  11. NOVAJock

    NOVAJock Modded & Underrated

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    You just answered your own question above. Hence the reason why a group of gay guys chose to get together and form a gay automotive club.
     
  12. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    Well instead of huddling together why don't you stay in 'normal' car groups and change their opinions?
     
  13. spiffy_badrock

    spiffy_badrock I'm sorry, if you were right, I'd agree with you.

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    Nova, I have to agree with you....Ive been involved with a group of car guy since I was 14...and in all six years, I have never heard one comment about a gay guy that wasnt a bash/bigotry....

    I guess this car club, as mentioned above seems to perpetuate the "gay" "effeminate" stereotype for my liking, but hey whatever suits them. Id be floored to ever see a serious performance-oriented gay car club...or hell, just a performance-oriented car club with a out gay member.

    Its sad, coming from a person thats heavily involved in cars, this just re-opens a wound. Just the walls I have to put up....dont sit well with me, maybe it was just my friggin catholic upbrining....I cant shake the honesty thing, it keeps my consience clear. Hiding things irritates the hell out of me....one day, I keep praying...one day. I can be me.

    one day. :hs:
     
  14. NOVAJock

    NOVAJock Modded & Underrated

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    I hear ya, and totally agree.
     
  15. RyRy

    RyRy Active Member

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    Well written, and true for a bunch of us!
     
  16. RedGoober4Life

    RedGoober4Life New Member

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    Yes, I have. And do. I auto-x with the best of them. You can go everywhere and here shit talked, but you can't let it make you run and hide.
     
  17. RedGoober4Life

    RedGoober4Life New Member

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    Did it have a wings west body kit and chromessss?
     
  18. RyRy

    RyRy Active Member

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    Eeeew! You were a ricer?! At least I drive American Muscle! :wiggle: :p
     
  19. spiffy_badrock

    spiffy_badrock I'm sorry, if you were right, I'd agree with you.

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    *ahem* I drove a Volvo, and now I drive a Subaru.... not all Japanese Car Owners are Ricers
     
  20. Notorious R.I.E.

    Notorious R.I.E. Queen Bee

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    not all import owners are ricers... I have a highly modded Accord that i show. but It's hardly a ricer... a ricer is someone that pretends there car is fast i know my accord is slow hence why its never even driven... they also have huge wings and lots of stickers (examples) of which i have NONE.
    anyway the term ricer is so played out and old... I can't believe people still use it.

    another funny thought is both my hondas are more american made than most domestic cars or 'american muscle" are now a days... My mazda is the only thing i own that was imported from Japan... And Ford runs Mazda here in America:rofl:
     
  21. LilRedCRXsi

    LilRedCRXsi New Member

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    Yeah I show my CRX,but I also use it as my daily driver since I bought it four years ago.Even impressed a few non believers(v8 guys)that think Imports are nothing but so called"ricers",lol.
     
  22. spiffy_badrock

    spiffy_badrock I'm sorry, if you were right, I'd agree with you.

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    Just look at DCX's lineup...all the small/midsize cars are based or are entirely a Mitsubishi, and the 300C/Charger are a Mercedes Platform (along with the sprinter van and the crossfire) ... (the hemi engine is good ole usa though.) So the only 100% American Vehicles in DCX's lineup is Jeep, the Durango, Ram and Dakota.
     

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