“Why does your bike have glitter all over it?” Carlos asked, looking over at his friend’s red candy-painted Harley.
“I had it in drag the other night and can’t get it off,” Dennis replied, laughing.
With the blue skies above and the waves crashing on the sand, it’s another Sunday for the Stonewall Knights, a gay motorcycle group, as they ride down A1A.
The Stonewall Knights started in 2002 in Fort Lauderdale as a Yahoo motorcycle group and has since evolved into a statewide group. Almost every Sunday, the South Florida members meet at Peter Pan for cupfuls of coffee and plates filled with pancakes, omelets and other hearty breakfast food. Then they take off on their bikes for a ride, some longer than others, and finish at Java Boys in Wilton Manors.
When they’re not riding up the coast or around the state, the members also participate in as many pride parades as they can and attend biker gatherings, such as the famed Daytona Bike Week. Also, every year, about a dozen members donate their time to be motorcycle escorts for Smart Ride Florida, a two-day bicycle ride from Miami to Key West to raise money for HIV/AIDS.
“To a lot of us, this is therapy,” Carlos Hazday said.
In the world of motorcycle clubs, a group must be sanctioned by the lead motorcycle club in the area – the Knights are not one of these. Florida is Outlaws Motorcycle Club territory, and South Florida is also under the South Florida Confederation of Clubs. Becoming a motorcycle club requires dues, officers, approved patches and other strict structure, and also answering to the lead motorcycle club, for items such as hosting open houses, explained Mike Gluckman, one of the original members of the Stonewall Knights.
“The Confederation of Clubs would most likely not sanction us as a gay riders club."
And he’s probably right.
The chances of a gay group being sanctioned is “somewhere between none and no way. To even approach them would not be the best idea,” a motorcycle culture expert from Motorcycle Club Riding Club Education told SFGN.
“The culture is such that it’s a tribal macho man’s man world and women are second to the club and the club members. Clubs would not condone the gay lifestyle at all. Not saying it’s right or wrong, that’s just the way it is.”
With that, the Stonewall Knights decided that a casual structure was a better fit, operating as a social group. No dues, no officers, no official meetings, no probation period. To get a patch, an initiation in motorcycle clubs, all the group asks is active participation. Some members have a large patch, some faded more than others.
“A lot of us were the last ones chosen for baseball if you’re picking sides,” Gluckman said. “Do you want to put others through that?”
SFGN sent multiple emails to the Confederation of Clubs and the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, but got no response as of press time.
Even though they’re not a readily accepted part of the motorcycle culture, members say they haven’t had any issues with other bikers and groups. In fact, many say people are surprised to discover that they’re gay. Most of the riders wear bandannas, rock Harley vests, their arms are adorned with tattoos, and silver rings of skulls line their fingers.
Hazday recalled going to a biker bar with a gay motorcycle friend, socializing with the other straight riders. When it became known that they were gay, no one did anything.
“I think if we were flaming it’d be an entirely different story,” Randy Angerame, another member, said.
Lee Lawson, who has been riding since the ‘70s, has been with Stonewall since 2010 and has also been in other clubs and social riding groups. He prefers the gay groups.
“It’s much more fun, you don’t have to worry about what you say or what you do,” he said.