Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers
University of North Carolina Press 2018
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network June 3, 2019 Adrian King
In this multi-layered ethnography that centers truck drivers, Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) describes both the long-haul trucking industry as well as the significance of truck driving for LGBTQ truck drivers and truck drivers of color. Anne Balay first lays out the industry in arguing the ways that systemically truck drivers both are “overregulated and underpaid” and yet is still able to provide intimate portraits for many of her 66 narrators. Among many topics, Balay details how racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are a part, and not a part, of truck drivers’ interactions with customers, shippers, and receivers, how so many drivers find freedom in trucking, the culture of sex at rest stops, and how contrary to middle-class opinion, working-class environments do hold space for LGBTQ folks and people of color. While recognizing the way that truck driving is both dangerous and hard-work, Balay relays the pride and fulfillment that marginalized truck drivers hold in performing jobs that are vital to so many industries and institutions within the United States.
Adrian King (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a recently graduate of Brandies University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies MA program and is an incoming graduate student in University of Michigan’s American Culture PhD program.