Ride Review: It Is Just A Small Space After All

By Randy Stern July 24, 2014

Categories: Our Homes, Vehicles & Rides

The author inside of a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C - photo provided by Victory & Reseda for Lavender Magazine

The author inside of a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C – Image provided by Victory & Reseda for Lavender Magazine

Five hundred issues! That is quite the milestone for this magazine.

It is a great magazine for what we do for you. It was not that long ago I was writing about the Bear community on here, by looking back at its roots and where it stood within today’s GLBT culture. In the process, I was told how terrible a historian I was. They might have agreed with a few professors back at California State University East Bay, where I squeaked by with a History degree.

Yet, my passion has always been about the automobile. Our esteemed Managing Editor, Andy Lien, thought well enough to bring me back to this publication to write reviews of the latest and greatest machinery around. She also lets me talk about car sharing, driving with pets onboard, GLBT employee resource groups in the auto industry, and disseminate tips on how to travel by car before throwing anything in the trunk and taking off.

I heard you enjoy this work on here, so I thank you.

Originally, I had planned to review a very special car for this issue. Unfortunately, I found out that my left leg was not going to manage a screaming yellow $74,000 convertible. Even if I were physiologically perfect, it would not have made deadline for this huge issue you are reading now.

Instead, I want to talk about us…again. Don’t worry, it is just a chat between us—by the pool, of course.

In the course of 500 issues, we saw progress on many fronts. We are in professional sports, the movies, television, high corporate positions, and in the political arena. We are getting married, raising kids, buying homes, cars, trucks, furnishings, and anything that makes us just like our neighbors. Yet, we still travel, dine well, contribute to the entertainment dollar and are quite philanthropic. If we had not been any of these at the beginning of Lavender‘s run, we have become more so today.

We are quite the demographic, us GLBT folk. Our automotive dollar speaks as loudly as everyone else’s. Most of the auto industry gets it. They want to provide us with great transportation choices and to celebrate us as loyal customers.

Some companies do more than others – and that is fine. General Motors has always been on the top of the list for their approach to our community from their employees to their customers to their suppliers. Toyota, Ford, Chrysler Group LLC, Subaru, and Volkswagen still lead in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, as well as serve us as customers when we want something new, and provide us with great after-sales support.

That is not to say that anyone else not scoring a perfect in HRC’s survey is not on our side. We have no qualms buying any brand. We also have no qualms choosing a dealer that sells to us in a friendly and respectful manner. We are consumers after all, and we love anything that loves us back.

In this work, I have been fortunate to meet others in the industry that are out and proud in what they do. They range from fellow automotive writers to contacts within the manufacturers to individuals making the products from the initial CAD drawing to final inspection at the assembly plant. My interactions with these out colleagues make this work resonate with purpose in the things I do for this publication.

So, frankly, this is not about driving cool cars or having arguments with those who do not support certain brands I write about. Having resonance and purpose is the key to the enjoyment of any job you do. If you can leave a positive mark on the world—even a small one—they will praise you and remember for time onward.

Writers are that way, even more so. We pride ourselves in seeing our bylines anywhere we can; however, we will not be the first to admit it…oh, wait…

The author - Image provided by Victory & Reseda for Lavender Magazine

The author inside 2013 Dodge Dart Limited – Image provided by Victory & Reseda for Lavender Magazine

Yet, I enjoy the crazy things I do for Lavender in the guise of being your automotive columnist. Perhaps I should not call these experiences crazy; unless you count doing a lap on one of the best motorsports venues in the U.S.A. among them. Or, flying down to Texas to drive a vehicle before its arrival onto the showroom floor. Perhaps the best part of all of this is getting the chance to drive everything from city cars to heavy duty pickups to some of the most desirable cars on the planet for the purpose of your readership and discourse.

It is not all about driving. It is equal joy to ride shotgun in a classic and rare 1954 Buick Skylark as it is being thrown around Road America in a Bentley Continental GT Speed by a professional race driver. It is the challenge of putting myself inside vehicles that would suit someone smaller than me. Or, the exposure my ears had when presented with the blast of a hyper-tuned motor from a heavily modified automobile. Then again, my perfect vehicular soundtrack would be more Italian in note, but that’s just me.

All of this was done in the name of Lavender Magazine.

In truth, this job is not easy. It is rewarding. It is very exciting.

However, there is a purpose. As a GLBT publication distributed in print to a regional footprint, delivered online via the web and through an app, we have quite the influence to create interest for you, dear reader. As much as we love to travel, tend to our homes, love our pets, speak out for our equality, and try to find the right one to live with forever, we have other interests that would sometimes fall under the radar.

Yet, I always find myself in the company of people who actually have an interest in the automobile. People who are not just true enthusiasts, but are looking for a new vehicle and hope that I have the right answer for them. The interactions I have with you—the readers of Lavender—truly make this work completely satisfying. You are interested, engaged, and knowledgeable. I look forward to more conversations along these lines.

And, don’t be afraid to write! I love hearing from you!

This “Ride Review” space is a small one, though. And, I, too, enjoy the other parts of this magazine as much as you do. Carla can take us places we could only wish we could pay for. Kathleen tells stories that make us think deeper on the subject. Joy and Pat takes us to the finest in dining that may excite the one we are interested in getting to know better. Jennifer has the right words to get to that person into our lives. John is our eyes on the theater world—one of the finest regional stage communities in this country. Ed has our soundtrack cued up for our listening pleasure. Ethan still incites us to action, while opening our eyes to the best in literature available to us today. Steve still brings us a community that is still active and resonant. Ellen is my friend who shares her life unfiltered for us! Shane is our future, and we need to read him closely. Justin is our eyes and ears on our universe. And, Andy is sage in her observations of the world around us and the wisdom that comes forth in her columns.

Me? I write about cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, crossovers…anything that moves with a motor and a few wheels. Somehow I fit here. Again, I am glad you are reading along here. Besides, I have a lot more to deliver for you, starting with the next issue and on the web.

Therefore, dear readers, “fasten your seatbelts” for more!

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