Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Motorcycle Community

The largest organization of BMW motorcycle riders (BMW MOA) has tens of thousands of members, an annual Rally and a glossy monthly magazine.  I've been a member for several years.  I went to one of the rallies a few years back (in Vermont) and had a great time.  BMW riders are friendly and, like me, serious about riding.

At this year's Rally, there were dozens of booths in the Welcome Center for every type of rider.  There were booths for Christian riders, Jewish riders, recovering alcoholic riders, etc.  For the first time, there was a LGBT booth.  It was one among the many.

A few months after the Rally, a guy wrote a letter to the organization saying he was disgusted to see gay and transgender bikers welcomed at "his" Rally.  He said he doesn't approve of their "lifestyle" and doesn't want to see them around.  He felt the mere presence of a booth for LGBT members was "promoting" an agenda he dislikes.

To its credit, the organization published the man's letter and then added a response from the Rally Chair who explained that the organization is open to everyone, that the Rally had dozens of booths for every type of rider, and that diversity is a positive thing. 

I felt it important to support those statements so I sent in a letter of my own.  My letter was just published in the new issue which I received today; a copy of it is below.

What do you think?


  1. Absolutely! I cannot wrap my mind around how people whose lifestyle choices which are actual choices posit them without the mainstream - such as being a biker, or to mention another famous example, being a gamer-nerd - and who, in any case, have thereby made the experience of being an outsider, can then be intolerant towards others who are non-mainstream / have outsider experiences with some other part of life - and may not have had a choice about this, as is the case with LGBTQ people, or sadly enough, women (against which a lot of hostility in the gamer community is directed). It's good you wrote that letter!

  2. You're absolutely right, Poet. It's ironic when people who are treated badly turn around and treat others, similarly situated, badly. What it shows is an inability to learn from your own experience.

    And there's a double irony here: BMW riders are a minority within a minority. Most Americans ride cruisers (e.g., Harleys). Last I read, BMWs are only 5% of the motorcycles in this country.

  3. It was definately right, and important, to write this letter.
    The statement of this guy tells a lot about his education and his fears.
    I' browsing since short through your blog, and want to say, that I appreciate your humanity, honesty, and of course your cojones!
    If you were here, in the hometown of BMW I would glad if you where an friend to me.
    Barbara from Munich in Bavaria.
    Sorry for my imperfect knowledge of english.

  4. I want to smack people like that. I love that there are organizations like this that are open to everyone. Not everyone has a place where they can feel welcomed, and feel like family and have fun! I am so glad that they responded.

  5. Thanks for writing, Barbara! I'm sure we can be friends even at a distance. The earlier comment Poet also lives in Germany.

  6. I think this was a great letter to send in. I hate it when people have such a disgusting attitude over something that should be bringing people together. Kudos to the chairman for standing up for the booth though!

    Makes me sad, haters are haters even in places where people are trying to get together for the things they love! Hopefully this guy will learn a thing or two someday.

    Super cool your letter got published!

  7. yes, poet lives in germany, but her english is much better.
    she wouldn't have written the mistake I read after commenting...

  8. Barbara, you don't have to worry -- your English is a lot better than my German!

  9. Usually the biking community is more open minded than the world at large, so this man's letter saddens me. But I know many, many, many supportive and wonderful riders. In fact, we met most of our closest friends through motorcycling.

    I'm glad you wrote the rebuttal letter, and even more glad that BMWOA published it.