Well, there is—one with over 2,000 members nationally—and Middle Tennessee has one of the 32 local chapters!
Lambda Car Club has been around for many years. Since 1981, in fact. Before the days of the internet, social media and phones with apps, the only way get likeminded folks together was ads in local, gay-friendly newspapers. It all started with an ad in Hemming’s Motor News, aka the ‘Old Car Owner’s Bible.’
This was a group of guys who didn’t feel accepted in other car clubs or comfortable bringing their significant other to outings and events. So, they decided to start their own club. And it was called GOCOS, Gay Old Car Owners Society. That name didn’t stick around too long, as we quickly realized that many car enthusiast didn’t own any cars but loved them none the less. That’s how Lambda Car Club started out. With John Ball—the man drove everywhere in a 1941 Buick Roadmaster—at the helm, the club got its start, and by just a year later, smaller local regions were starting to spring up.
In 1982, I was living in Allentown, Pennsylvania—which is today a Philly suburb—and working for a family owned Oldsmobile franchise. I was browsing the PGN (Philadelphia Gay News) newspaper, and there was a small ad about the formation of a Philly-based chapter of a newly formed gay car club.
I went to the address on South Street in Philly provided in the ad, and met a super group of guys, who all loved cars! I was a member of other car clubs, but none that allowed me to open up and be me. This club had—and has—a different dynamic than more mainstream car clubs.
Being a gay man with a passion for cars puts a twist on the gay stereotypes… But where most car clubs are based on types of cars, this club is more based on the people first, and the cars second, which has made it a lot more fun. Owning a car was never a requirement, just the passion for anything automotive was all that was needed.
With more local regions forming, Regional Hosted Events started springing up, and then came the Grand Invitationals. The Grand Invitational is what is considered the “big” National Event for the club, where, once a year, one region hosts a four- to five- day event showcasing their city with mostly car-related events.
Fast forward to spring of 2008, in Nashville, Tennessee. As Lambda Car Club continued to grow on a national level, an ad was placed locally in Out And About Newspaper and online on Craigslist. A group of 20 people gathered at what used to be the OutLoud Bookstore on Nashville’s Church Street, and John Muller, the then national president of Lambda, gave a presentation pitch for those of us who wanted to see a local chapter start in Tennessee. This how the Cumberland Region of Lambda Car Club was formed.
In 2018, just ten years later, the Cumberland Region has grown to include about 50 members, and we have been tasked with hosting the first ever Cumberland Region Grand Invitational, dubbed “The Grand Ole Invitational”. With strong attendance from nearby regions, including Atlanta, St Louis, Chicago, and Detroit, we are expecting around 350 people to attend, with about 200 cars.
The Cumberland Region Grand Ole Invitational is a five-day event that’s closed to registered attendees only, with the exception of the car show. The fun starts Wednesday May 23, 2018, and includes daily events and a few road trips, culminating on Sunday, May 27, with a car show, awards banquet, and live entertainment provided by Ty Herndon.
The car show is the only event with attendance open to the public. It starts Sunday, May 27, 2018, at 10 a.m. and continues until 3:00 p.m. at the host hotel, the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, located at 700 Cool Springs Boulevard, Franklin, Tennessee.
If you love cars, and would enjoy socializing with other LGBT and LGBT-friendly people who have an interest in all things automotive and want to get in on the fun, it’s not too late to become a member (you must join the national organization then join the local region).