For someone who also works in the LGBT press, this should be my month, right?
Let me kerb my enthusiasm for the moment. It is LGBT Pride month with the “traditional” events happening the June 23-24 weekend. You get 500,000 to a million folks together at a major city with temperatures in the 80s, plenty of alcohol flowing and God knows what else – you get the idea.
It is also a time to run into the bad ex’s, terrible one-timers, assorted tweakers and homophobes. You get to see the same old folks year after year. It does not matter how many people attend your Pride event, you are not immune from the local drama.
I completely understand why some people complain to the point of skipping the local Pride events. But, in my case and position, I offer up a line from Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City to remind myself why I am attending Twin Cities Pride this year (and, yes, I’ve used this quote before): “It’s an obligation, you turkey!”
This is why I kicked off Pride season in the small community of Pine City, an hour north of The Cities. There, you get a real sense of community in a place that honestly welcomes strangers. Though there were a few of us “tourists” and “members of the Twin Cities Media” on site, we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the lack of on-site tobacco and alcohol consumption. It was great to attempt an assignment by the other publication I represent (Lavender Magazine) to take photos of this event.
Maybe Pride isn’t so bad after all? As always, I always try to find ways to make it even better, even if some Pride committee might think I’m out of my mind or do not have the money to spend on said idea.
There were some years when I took a “Pride Drive.” That meant having a car to go on a drive while thousands of people are lit and baked under the hot sun along a parade route. Though it exonerates me from the obligation to sit through the parade and deal with the multitudes, it provides a sober reality that brings to light the need to create alternatives to these events.
Perhaps, it may not necessarily take place on Pride weekend. Such a “Pride Drive” or “Pride Road Rally” could be an outlet to balance out identity and places where one travels on occasion to bridge the want to beauty and adventure. There should not be a political agenda attached to the drive, though it might seem unavoidable considering the current socio-political-economic climate of this country.
This is not just some call to action to create an all-LGBT auto cruise (It could be – but, if you would love to set one up, please let me know, OK?). It is about what I ran into in Pine City.
Earlier that day, WCCO (The CBS station in Minneapolis-St. Paul) interviewed a local veteran of the military incursions in Iraq who is going through gender transition to become a woman. I accidentally ran into her when I spotted a “Corvair” tattoo on her back. I earlier noticed a blue 1964 Monza convertible across the street form the Pride venue with some pink and white coloring. I became brave enough to ask her about the car.
My personal history included a Corvair – my mom’s. My parents bought one in the first model year in a drab olive green color. My brother contends it is a two-door, but I find myself debating whether it was or not. It would make sense since most of the cars in our earlier years only had two doors.
Obviously, my interest piqued to find out more about the convertible Monza in the context of her transition. She gave me an overview of the car – which I was very interested in. I recognized a lot from the Corvair Monza. The engine cover was missing, but she indicated that it is going to be replaced. The air-cooled flat six was in great shape. The roof was replaced with a white canvas and the seats were also reupholstered to match the original vinyl trim pattern in the same color. I was shocked at the attention to detail in both elements.
Though the body was mainly blue, she explained the reason for the pink trim down the body and on the wheels. It is about gender roles and colors. The blue pertains to the male that she was with the pink indicating the female she is transitioning into.
To no surprise, she knew her Corvairs inside and out. We even talked about resto-mods, especially audio systems and other modern touches to be made into the original car’s era.
Then, her parents came by – in another Corvair. This time, they had a 1960 four-door in the same drab olive green color as my parent’s old one. My brain simply exploded. My camera began snapping like crazy between her 1964 and her parent’s 1960.
Though I still had an assignment to fulfill at Voyageur Park, talking to Ashley Ackley and seeing her 1964 Corvair – still a work in progress – made my journey an hour north of The Cities worth it.
The point about this story is not to incur the wrath of political debate. It is also not to incite transphobia even within my own community. Rather, it is one of those things to validate what I do on V&R and in Lavender magazine. It is the notion of connecting community to “carmmunity.” Simply, this is a matter of bridging cultures together.
Which brings me to my other recent Pride-related moment. A few weeks ago, a local Bear-identified friend on one of the softball teams started a group on Facebook for car-loving guys like me. I find it interesting as the only auto scribe amongst them that I have the obligation to bridge what is happening in the industry to them. It is the same obligation I take very seriously to do the same for you. To become a part of this greater society – a greater “carmmunity,” if you will – you have to bring some common ground to the table. This is the first level of contact we have when presented amongst car folks.
However, the friend attended Mopars in The Park (just as I was leaving, they arrived supposedly) with his partner and found that “carmmunity” not as welcoming as he had hoped. This disappointed me, because of my experience with the Mopar nation and how much they have welcomed me as one of their own. It is also discerning because of the time I invested with people I am in contact with at Chrysler and its brands.
I don’t think I would want to call homophobia on those who turned their nose at Travis and his partner a few weeks ago. Yet, I do think that I know Mopar Nation a bit better than some. Moparians welcome everyone – or, as some of my colleagues would say, “love everyone.”
Subsequently, I talked to one of the local clubs about Travis and his partner. It was suggested they come down to one of the club’s regular meets to check things out.
Even greater is the necessity to bridge the idea of “carmmunity” and common ground with you to build a more robust universe without segmentation, division and chauvinism. Especially at a time when my own culture and community are gaining traction socially and politically in this country, to exclude anyone from “carmmunity” is a downright shame in this day and age.
Perhaps the notion to “love everyone” within the greater “carmmunity” is the driver for us to come together as one. The lesson I learned a year or so ago is the love for the automobile, the knowledge of the inner workings of the vehicle and the industry and an open mind to everyone and everything in and around it will set aside any prejudice or hate one has for another. That, to me, is the essence of “carmmunity.”
Trust me, there is still another level to discover…
You can see WCCO’s story on Ashley Ackley here.