The school board wanted it gone. The parents had other ideas.
Long-haul trucking is part of the landscape in America. The images appears in movies, televisions, and novels mostly with a one-typed description of truckers as masculine blue-collar workers. But, with Anne Balay’s Upcoming Book Semi-Queer, a swarm of rainbow-like brushes are added into the picture.
Image via Chicago Tribune
Anne Balay is a transgender writer, professor, activist, car mechanic, and licensed commercial truck driver with a PhD from the University of Chicago. She used to teach courses about gender and sexuality at the University of Illinois and Indiana University Northwest. She’s currently a visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College. With her interests in the blue-collar working environment, she has published Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers (2014) and in this late September she is going to refresh our mind with Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers (2018).
Born in a blue-collar family, Balay deeply understands working-class LGBTQ people’s lives. The journey of writing working-class LGBT community started from her finding nothing about related records in the library. She was unsatisfied with the lack of the history which suggests that most of the LGBT people documented in literature are not working class. So, she writes the history and aims to turn it into an archive of blue-collar minority.
In Semi Queer, Balay reveals her interviews with sixty-six gay, transsexual, and minority truck drivers across the nation. According to Balay, there’re increasing numbers of immigrants, queers, racial minorities, and trans people joining in the trucking industry because, in this struggling society, no other work is available to them. In the process of talking, formally and casually, with truckers, she learned that trucking provides an opportunity for safety, a “welcome isolation,” and a chance to be themselves despite the long-hours, underpaid, demeaning, and dangerous working environment. She commented:
Though the industry continues to present itself as white, male and socially conservative, that’s more a nostalgic fantasy than a representation of current reality…The narratives of minority and queer truckers underscore the working-class struggle to earn a living while preserving one’s safety, dignity, and selfhood.
One piece of case extracted from Semi Queer was released in Jerry Davich’s column in Chicago Tribune. Dana Rose Gropp, a 35-year-old professional trucker from Hammond, is a transgender. Dana used to be called Ben yet during that time Dana felt lost. At the age of 21, Dana came out from the closet and became a gay man. Now she is on her way to becoming a woman. As a professional truck driver, Dana is happy to be herself especially in work. She said:
Twelve years ago, when I first started driving a truck, I never thought I would be able to do so as Dana…It’s a tough world we live in, but I’m tired of being afraid every day about who I really am. I don’t want to hide my true self anymore.
Now, besides her trucking career, Dana has co-founded an LGBTQ support group called Rainbow Wisdom Circle on Facebook. Her transgender life is cheerful and she’s satisfied with her finding value and purpose in driving a 53-foot rig. “Our world is changing in amazing ways, and I want to be a part of it, including my job as a truck driver,” said Dana.
This is how the magic happens in these lives of gay, trans, and minority truck drivers. “What I learned is that there’s some magic in trucking – such as time alone to think and the feeling of being useful – that fits queer and trans people really well,” Balay said according to Jerry Davich, “They experience a lot of growth and discovery in their truck, and they have adventures. But the job is so over-regulated and micromanaged that it becomes almost impossible to do it right, and to make money. So it’s a contradiction.”
I’m ready to read this amazing and insightful book! Check here for pre-order info.
Featured Image Via Amazon and Anne Balay.com
Congratulations to Emil Ferris, Marjorie Liu, and Sana Takeda for winning a lot in 2018 Eisner Awards. The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards a.k.a The Eisner Awards is dominated by women, creators of color, and LGBTQ-themed works and aims to acknowledge for those who makes efforts in the American comic book industry.
This year, My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris ,and Liu and Takeda’s Monstress series won big. My Favorite Thing is Monsters won three Eisner awards including Best New Graphic Novel, while writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda’s Monstress won a total of five Eisner Awards, among them best writer, best multimedia artist, and best work for teens.
Image via Publisher Weekly
Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of ten-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge (Amazon).
Image via sanatakeda.blogspot.com
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both (Amazon).
I’m happy to hear this great news regarding the triumph of queerness. I think the victory of the monstrous theme suggests that stories about “Others” need more attention. The world of comic books provides a space for those considered abnormal in the linear reality. The theme of ‘monster’, for me, is not scary but powerful in the way that it celebrates the state of becoming unexpected, fantastic, strange, odd, peculiar, and eccentric.
Hey, let’s get copies of the awarded “monsters” and “monstress,” and enjoy the queer worlds!
Featured Image via Amazon