I've gone to the point of trying to serve my tribe, working my career and passion, finding a comfortable place among a wider populace...
The theme of “finding your tribe” was brought up recently in a few instances. In these cases, it was all about finding your automotive tribe.
When I think about my youth, I was never completely exposed to car culture “in the flesh.” My mother kept us sheltered from “harm” for most of my childhood. The only car things I enjoyed was seeing something awesome on the streets of the San Fernando Valley and my occasional trips to one of two auto shows that were held in Los Angeles.
I was always into cars and trucks. New and old ones. Nothing too modified. I was seen as the “expert,” Something resembling “Rain Man” with encyclopedic knowledge of what’s new. Sadly, I fall into that old habit at the worst – or, possibly, best – times in my adult life.
Combine this with cultural identity. It can be easily done. Most cultural communities celebrate a car culture that distinctive and shared across society. Some of celebrated; others not so much. It probably depended on who voted for in the November 2020 Presidential Election.
As a middle-aged adult, things are definitely different. I live somewhere between getting excited about the latest and greatest vehicles and “get off my lawn you little blankety-blanks.”
This has been reflected in my journey within the car community.
I’ve gone to the point of trying to serve my tribe, working my career and passion, finding a comfortable place among a wider populace, and knowing where not to be when.
Yet, I find myself in flux. A resource for many, perhaps? Someone who likes to engage with the readership/viewership to take their temperature with specific new vehicles. Rather, someone who continues to have a keen interest in the automotive and sometimes gets excited when he sees one that evokes an emotional response.
It begs this question: Why can’t I enjoy the car community as just someone who simply loves cars?
I probably need to break this down a bit more.
Some have said that the car community is a young person’s game. Not really. You have people of all ages, economic status, and racial/ethnic groups who enjoy cars the same way. The enthusiast community has never been a monolithic temple of a singular mindset. There is always a group who embraces a certain brand, vehicle type, and level of performance for someone to join.
In one case, you can have a car meet where you have Baby Boomers and their Tri-Five Chevys in one corner, the “flexers and winders” in their modified sports compacts in the other. If the twain ever mix, it is probably at the dinner table where someone is passing the salt and pepper to each other.
Each tribe has their moment in the sun. Common ground is the automobile. Everything else is debatable to the distant eye. That includes law enforcement.
Certainly, you will have big events. Some are fun to attend. Others have a sense of a lack of safety. Lately, I’ve found myself in situations where I did not feel comfortable. That’s not a good thing given the time I’ve spent in this local car scene.
There is always a mix of people that make an event what it is. I’ve always learned towards the ones I know better. Those with mutual respect and friendship above all. It does not matter who they are, as long as we have a legacy together. Everyone else tends to fall into other silos.
I try to be nicest person you will meet at these events. Sometimes I am present. Sometimes, I couldn’t be bothered. There are people who do not understand that. We’re human after all.
The one factor that keeps me from truly enjoying the car scene is my being gay. You would think that after 50-plus years of liberation and progress one could not care about their sexual orientation. Not with some who wave the flags that provoke emotional responses through discomfort. Rather, roam in spaces where an app can detect who they are quite easily despite their mixed outlook on their own identity.
The solution is simple, right? Join the nearest region of Lambda Car Club International. Find a Facebook group full of people like them? Put the latest iteration of the Rainbow Flag on the bumper of their ride and embrace the attitude of Daffyd Thomas from Little Britain.
Sometimes I wish that my identity should not matter. In a perfect world, I would think that is so.
In today’s divisive society, it is not so.
The notion of “fitting in” may be easy for some, tough for others. There are so many variables that keep us from enjoying a car culture – rather, to thrive in one.
You search to find your tribe in the automotive world. When you find one, let us know…OK? We’ll be happy you did.
All photos by Randy Stern