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Motorcycle clubs, a mainstay of gay culture since the 1950s, ushered in a new brand of queer masculinity and gave rise to today’s leather/SM community.
Motorcycle culture emerged in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, often revolving around racing. The popularity of motorcycles grew during World War II, as motorcyclists were regarded as something of a modern-day cavalry. Upon leaving military service in the late 1940s, many gay men stayed in port cities rather than returning to their hometowns. Just as the Hell’s Angels were purportedly started by former bomber pilots and paratroopers unwilling to settle into mainstream life, gay men likewise sought to retain the “easy camaraderie, the stress and thrill of real risk taking, and the masculine sexuality that they had known during their military days,” according to author Guy Baldwin. Gay and straight men alike embraced the image of the outlaw biker as a free-spirited rebel, as exemplified by the 1953 Marlon Brando film, The Wild One.
The first gay motorcycle club in the United States was the Satyrs, founded in Los Angeles in 1954. The earliest Northern California club was the Warlocks, started in 1960; by the mid-1960s, San Francisco’s South of Market district had become a hotbed of the gay motorcycle scene. While California continued to host the greatest concentration of clubs, similar groups cropped up around the country. The Empire City Motorcycle Club of New York City, founded in 1964, claims to be the oldest ongoing GLBT organization east of the Rockies.
Gay motorcycle clubs provided an outlet for socialization - and often for sex. The early biker scene was closely allied with the emerging “Old Guard” leather/SM culture, and the clubs’ watering holes became some of the first leather bars. Stylized biker gear became a sort of uniform for a segment of the gay community, featuring engineer boots, crotchless black leather chaps, and military-style caps.
Motorcycle club outings, known as runs, typically involved manly activities such as camping trips. But while bikers eschewed the stereotypical gay male effeminacy of the era, their events often featured pageantry and camp of a different sort, including drag shows. Many motorcycle clubs also performed charitable work, sponsoring holiday toy drives for children and fundraisers that originally assisted injured riders and later helped people with AIDS.
While early gay motorcycle clubs were men-only, some lesbians also embraced the lifestyle, forming women’s clubs such as the Moving Violations in Boston (1985) and the Sirens in New York City (1986). The original Dykes on Bikes, who first rode in the 1976 San Francisco Pride parade, became a nonprofit officially known as the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent.
Over the years, the nature of queer motorcycle culture has changed. With the advent of gay liberation in the late 1960s, many men no longer felt the need for secretive fraternal organizations, and liberal activists rejected the hierarchy and militarism of the early clubs. With the emergence of groups specifically devoted to leather/SM, motorcycle riding and fetish sexuality diverged as, according to Baldwin, some serious riders were “embarrassed by the erotic visibility of the kinky crowd.”
Today, gay motorcycle culture continues to thrive, and new clubs emerge. Mirroring trends in the larger GLBT community, many of today’s clubs welcome members of all genders and sexual orientations. In the words of the organizers of the annual Queer Biker Invasion of Death Valley, being queer is “a state of mind, and you know if it fits you.”
Liz Highleyman is a freelance writer and editor who has written widely on health, sexuality, and politics. She can be reached at PastOut@qsyndicate.com.
For further information:
Baldwin, Guy. 1993. Ties That Bind (Daedalus).
Bloom, Scott. 2005. Original Pride: The Satyrs Motorcycle Club (documentary).
Guggenheim Museum. 1998. Motorcycle Mania: The Biker Book (Universe).
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Is there any cost?
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For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
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Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
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“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.