Brotherhood of Love

MAL organizer celebrates 40th anniversary in 2010

Centaur Motorcycle Club has been producing Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend’s official events long before its current president, Steve Kenney, discovered the organization 20 years ago.

”MAL is our event,” Kenney says. ”And this is a big year for us because we have our 40th anniversary in May.”

To commemorate 40 years of leather kinship, Centaur MC will present a video montage of its history before this year’s Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather contest on Sunday. Kenney says the group now includes about 35 active members, who are primarily men.

”Centaur MC is a brotherhood,” he says. ”It started out as a motorcycle club, but essentially it’s a fraternity. We come from all walks of life. And for some people it’s a primary family.”

Over the past 40 years, Centaur MC’s mission has reached beyond the leather community, to the larger LGBT community. Centaur MC, for instance, was one of four motorcycle clubs that in 1978 helped raise money for the financially struggling Gay Men’s Venereal Disease Clinic. Brother Help Thyself was formed to award that grant to the clinic, helping it to break off from the Washington Free Clinic to become the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

According to Dan Dutcher, Centaur MC’s secretary and anniversary chairman, the group’s leather outings in 2010 will focus on celebrating the group’s longevity. That includes a one-day cruise on the Potomac on Mother’s Day, Centaur MC’s official anniversary.

”We’re trying to firm up the details right now,” says Dutcher. ”Everything we do this year is going to be anniversary concentric.”

The group’s bi-annual ”run” in the woods, titled Olympia, is slated for Labor Day Weekend. ”Olympia is an all-inclusive weekend of parties, fun, activities, and bike events for the bikers,” Kenney says, adding that the location is private.

”Initially runs were motorcycle rides. As this whole leather thing has evolved, often times ‘runs’ is just a name that’s given to a big leather party.”

Those interested in joining Centaur MC have to first prove that they’re a good match by attending the group’s monthly meetings or bar nights at the DC Eagle.

”You have to prove that you fit in with the group,” Kenney says. Once you’re voted in, annual membership costs $120.

For Kenney, the experience has been priceless.

”One of the things that we have found the most reaffirming — and it happens every year — is we get a couple of letters, from somebody who says, ‘Oh my God, I found out about MAL and I came to it, and my whole life has changed. I thought I was the only person who liked this kind of thing. I thought I was alone in the world. And I came and I found a thousand people, who have the same interest that I do. And I no longer feel alone. And I feel reaffirmed.’ We get letters like that every year — and that makes it all worthwhile.”

For more information about the Centaur MC, visit centaurmc.org.