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PHOTOS: Oldest Gay Biker Club Making The Highways More Fun For 60 Years

60s bikers at homeHere are some amazing artifacts of our queer past: photos of The Satyrs, a gay Los Angeles motorcycle club that formed in the mid-’50s.

It was 60 years ago this November that Chapin “Smitty” Smith formed that club at his home. It was revolutionary in its organization: prior to the Satyrs, gay clubs tended to follow a de-centralized strategy mapped out by Harry Hay. In contrast to the Hay’s “cell structure,” designed to thwart homophobic witchhunts, the Satyrs had a formal constitution and bylaws. Fearless!

And that structure survives to this day, with the group making an appearance this past weekend in West Hollywood’s Pride parade.

As you look through the photos, you can see how this aesthetic evolved into the rubber gear of today. There are little hints: the caps, the jackets, the jeans and boots.

In the same way that businessmen wear neckties but don’t know why (it’s because Croation mercenaries popularized them in France in the 1600s), many of today’s leathermen might not know that their buckles and straps date back to post-war social clubs. (By way of Tom of Finland.)

The photo archive was just donated to the University of Southern California’s ONE Archive, the largest archive in the world of LGBT history.

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H/t: Roadtrippers

By:           matt baume
On:           Jun 10, 2014
Tagged: , , ,

  • 5 Comments
    • Mezaien
      Mezaien

      How sweet! the men are, so hot and sexy.

      Jun 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • barkomatic
      barkomatic

      @Mezaien: I completely agree. There’s something so intimate and magnetic about these guys that’s awesome. I wish there were still social clubs like this.

      Jun 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James Hart
      James Hart

      They truly were fearless pioneers. Bravo!!!

      Jun 10, 2014 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • michael
      michael

      “As you look through the photos, you can see how this aesthetic evolved into the rubber gear of today. There are little hints: the caps, the jackets, the jeans and boots.”

      Rubber gear? Looks like leather gear to me.
      And, I don’t see so much evolution. Leather gear is almost identical today.

      Would love to see dates on these photos. Looks like they span the 50s to the 70s.
      Love the obvious bulge on the guy in color pic # 5. This was such a common look in the 70s.

      Jun 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jwrappaport
      jwrappaport

      This is a great little feature. Gay rights has come as far as it as because of people like this. Thanks for sharing!

      Jun 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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