LGBT Truckers on the Road- Experiences in the Trucking Industry
The trucking industry has been a tumultuous journey for many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. While the industry is coming around and becoming increasingly more accepting of all genders, the industry still needs support. AllTruckJobs recently connected with Shelle Lichti, the founder of a support group for LGBT truckers, to find out more about LGBT truckers on the road. When we interviewed Shelle, we wanted to get to the root of this group. What motivated her to start this page and create such a welcoming community? Shelle’s response was authentic and heartfelt.
“Well the program got initially started because there was a need in the LGBT trucking community to create a safe environment for each of us to talk to each other and not feel so alone and outcast,” Shelle said, adding that there is nothing better than a sense of community amongst others who either identify with you or share the same values. Shelle knew from personal experience that the trucking industry was no easy place to be, especially as a member of the LGBT community. After losing a friend in the industry to suicide, she realized that there needed to be a voice for the LGBT members of the trucking community.
Understanding Discrimination on and off the Road
The LGBT community faces unique forms of discrimination throughout history, not just in the trucking industry. At an early age, kids are told that identifying as anything other than straight is “different” or “bad.” More often than not, this shame haunts them for the rest of their lives. All of this is ingrained in their heads. In many industries, being straight has always been the status quo. This is true of both the hiring processes and the actual job. There have always been companies that refuse to hire or interview members of the LGBT community. However, there are now 20 states that offer full LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Policies/Protections. This number continues to grow. Every day, more and more companies are creating policies to protect LGBT members.
LGBT Truckers Group
Bobby Loy, the Media & PR Specialist for LGBT Truckers, had similar thoughts to Shelle. In our interview, he discussed his desire to find a group of truckers with whom he could share stories from the road and chat with. After posting a photo with his husband (who is also a driver) Shelle reached out to him, asking if he’d like to be a part of the team. From there, the duo worked on turning something so simple as a group on Facebook into a movement of sorts. Not only do they now have a website, but they also have a truck wrapped in the rainbow that they call “The Rainbow Rider.”
The page acts almost like a support group, allowing people to share their stories, concerns and interact with each other in a healthy and supportive manner. Bobby pointed out to us that truckers are often driving across the country in their trucks by themselves, in what he calls their “bubbles.” He shared with us that often truckers feel alone. Especially when they feel unwelcome and underrepresented in the industry. This is the goal for the LGBT Truckers page – to make all LGBT truckers on the road know they are heard, they are respected, and they have a place where they belong in the trucking world.
Advice for LGBT Truckers on the Road: Starting Out
“Networking.” Put very simply by Shelle, networking is extremely important both on and off the road. Especially for new LGBT truckers on the road. Starting out in the industry can be extremely daunting. It is important to maintain relationships with those at home, as well as your co-workers. Networking with other drivers on the road can be crucial in helping you find a driving company that matches your values and accepts you for who you are. Utilizing social media is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do this. Bobby agreed with Shelle, adding “Be aware. Be cautious, and just love every day! You get the chance to see so many things across the country that you wouldn’t get the opportunity to see. There are always hard times, but it is a very fun and rewarding career if you let it be.”
No job will always be sunshine and rainbows, but the good days outweigh the bad when you surround yourself with people who support and care about you. For more information on LGBT Truckers, listen to our exclusive interview on Big Rig Banter!
If you have any personal stories about being an LGBT member of the trucking community, feel free to share it with us! We would love to hear from you.