By Emell Derra Adolphus
Lambda Car Club Detroit president Adam Bernard discovered his love of automobiles at an early age like most kids do: with Matchbox cars. Decades later, after coming out, he found a group who shared his passion, awarding him a supportive community of new gay friends. But for club member Jim Dixon, his love of automobiles stems from coming out early to an unaccepting household and a need to just get away and cruise.
"I've been a fan of cars since I was a wee little nipper," says Dixon. "Since discovering what cars are good for – getting away from home."
Dixon, a retired nurse and one of the newest members of the Lambda Car Club, drives an orange-bronze Ford Edge.
"Then, once you get away from home, you discover there are other things cars are good for," Dixon says with a sly smile.
On this evening, car club members have gathered for a monthly meeting at Westpoint BBQ on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn. In a huddle of conversation, the group talks their latest auto purchases and upgrades, as some members break off into other discussions about their latest finds.
"We talk about cars a lot … and other things," says Dixon, with another one of those smiles. "I enjoy the other things."
Marc van Baal, a member who recently arrived from Germany, drives a vintage 1985 Firebird TransAm H.O. engine – a rare find. And with rarity comes great expense.
"It's expensive to find the parts for it. I am looking to sell it actually," says van Baal, who confesses he is more in awe of one member's Mercedes Benz. "This is the best made car."
The Motor City branch of the Lambda Car Club is the largest chapter in the country, with about 120 members who are all ages and sizes, but interestingly, without any female members.
The club was founded in New York as the Gay Old Car Owners Society in 1981. The Motor City branch was founded by Randy Mason, who was in attendance in a wheelchair, but says "he would not miss it."
"We've only had three presidents since its founding," Mason adds. "And I was the first, and now Adam is the third. Not bad, right?"
The Lambda Car Club is a regular presence at the Woodward Dream Cruise and Motor City Pride events and takes regular social road trips as part of club-related traveling. Among the social gatherings and other benefits of belonging to the car club – although you don't need a car to join – is the opportunity to meet and make lifelong friends with a bunch of guys. And, hopefully soon, some girls, notes Bernard.
"If you like talking about cars, meeting interesting people and going interesting places, this is the club for you," he says. "It's a bunch of folks getting together who happen to be LGBT, and happen to love talking about cars."
For more information on the Lambda Car Club, visit http://lccdetroit.org.