Remember recently when Ron Howard and Vince Vaughan got into trouble for describing a car as “gay” in a movie trailer? It sparked a small debate about the approprietness of the word – particularily because it was used in derogetory terms. And lets face it: people who still use the word gay as an insult are idiots. End of argument. So lets move on. Gay is not a bad thing, it is not an insult, so can it be applied to cars? Recently, a friend and I were having a conversation about the very subject. Turns out, in an impromptu inventory of his gay friend’s cars, one vehicle stood out. The BMW 7 series. Like 7 out of the 10 gay people he counted drove the 7 series. Now, understand that this friend travels in a typical 40 something ( albeit fabulous) crowd of successful people. People in different industries, but of a particular economic class, obviously. But still, why the high number of 7 Series? In my own experience, I too could think of a disproportionate number of gay people who had a BMW 7 series as well. Maybe there was a trend…
I asked another friend ( who happens to be gay) if there was a trend or a predominate car that the gay men he knew drove. He replied, “ Yes. Word to the wise: don’t ever date a guy who drives a black BMW. Which is difficult because ALL gay men drive black BMWs. See, when he dumps you, every time you see a black BMW you’ll have a heart attack and think it’s him…but unfortunately every other car in LA is a black BMW so it ultimately becomes too stressful to go anywhere.” So maybe there was a trend, so I asked him if he thought gay people had different priorities than straight people when shopping for a car, and he said, “Obviously. Our vehicles are like peacock feathers in the mating ritual that is West Hollywood. Gay people look for “what will make me look like I have a high salary,” also “what will make me look stylish,” and then “but what will give me the best street credit to make me look unique and stand out…without being too obvious.” So how was it that everyone ends up with the same car when they want to stand out? Was this the new Gay Clone look? Forget the handlebar moustache, cue the blue and white propeller.
Another gay friend offered another point of view. “Look,” he said, ” Gay men in L.A. drive great cars because they can. Most of these guys are in their thirties and forties, they have lots of discretionary income because they don’t have to deal with kids or save for college, and this is L.A. : You have the career, you have the great house, it is expected that you have a great car.” He has a brand new BMW 7 series Active Hybrid. When I asked why this exact car, he winked and said, ” cause guys digg it.” and laughed. In truth, he bought it because it was a great car. He had a Mercedes S Class before, and he liked this BMW for the same reasons anybody would like it. Being gay really didn’t factor into his decision for this specific car – at least not consciously.
So for the official word, I turned to Brett Berk, the amazing writer of Stick Shift, The Gay Car Blog at Vanity Fair.com. He is the Dan Savage of the automotive world – telling it like it is with a matter-of-fact delivery, humor and an agenda to inform and break down barriers. Not only is he a talented writer but an acute observer as well. So I asked him if there was such a thing as a gay car. “As the author of 150 weekly gay car columns at Vanity Fair, I hope that the category of gay car exists! But my belief is based in the major caveat that there are as many types of gay cars as there are gay people, which means that the variation–from bear to twink, from dentist to roughneck–is as broad as one could possibly imagine.” He continued, “A lot of what gets projected onto vehicles that people refer to as “gay” is based in the same derisive misogyny that causes people to critically call certain automobiles “chick cars.” I’m a big fan of turning all of that stereotypical bullshit on its head.”
I couldn’t agree more. So I think it’s great that in Los Angeles, the unofficial “gay” car is a technology laden, class leading luxury German uber sedan. I mean.. that’s just so gay.
Check out Brett Berk’s the Gay Car Manifesto at Stick Shift in the Blogroll in the bar above. If you love cars, and not reading his column, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Thanks Brett!