Industry attitudes about LGBTQ truckers evolving for the better

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Previously in this series: Acceptance increasing, but LGBTQ truckers still face danger, rejection at truck stops

“Our rainbow-wrapped trucks help bring visibility and show our support for the LGBTQ+ communities and their allies at Pride and during the rest of the year,” says David Carson, chief diversity officer for Daimler Trucks North America.“Our rainbow-wrapped trucks help bring visibility and show our support for the LGBTQ+ communities and their allies at Pride and during the rest of the year,” says David Carson, chief diversity officer for Daimler Trucks North America.

In spite of resistance by some individual truckers, the outlook expressed by TA’s Tom Liutkus appears to be gaining ground as the norm across the industry. Fleet recruiters, faced with high turnover, an aging workforce and low unemployment are widening their nets as they reach out to women, minorities, millennials and other nontraditional populations.

“It got to a place where something was messed up with me my whole life,” says trans owner-operator Roni Hazel Sherman. “I would repress it, it would go away, but it would come back stronger.”“It got to a place where something was messed up with me my whole life,” says trans owner-operator Roni Hazel Sherman. “I would repress it, it would go away, but it would come back stronger.”

As at Autumn Transport, Expeditus Trucking has tried to steer clear of any concern over a driver’s sexuality. “As long as they meet our internal and DOT regulations, we welcome individuals of any orientation, race, gender, religion and background,” says Adam Scuralli, the carrier’s president. “Having drivers like Bobby and Ricky on our fleet makes all the sense in the world, as they embody our company’s vision.”

Last summer, Uber Freight brought six LGBTQ truckers to its San Francisco offices to speak on a panel about driving, technology and identity. This summer, Uber Freight hosted the Houston Pride Panel, for which drivers and others shared stories as members of the LGBTQ community. Lior Ron, head for Uber Freight, says the company is committed to leading the industry toward a diverse and inclusive future, in part by doing what it can “to level the playing field for drivers in a tangible way.”

Kristin Durh says she’s been thoroughly accepted at Minnesota-based Autumn Transport.Kristin Durh says she’s been thoroughly accepted at Minnesota-based Autumn Transport.

David Carson, president for Western Star and chief diversity officer for parent company Daimler Trucks North America, walked with his wife, Katie, in a Pride parade this year in Portland, Oregon. DTNA also has participated in similar Pride celebrations in Detroit and Charlotte, North Carolina, sometimes including trucks with rainbow-colored graphics.

“I was inspired by the sense of solidarity, advocacy and activism at Pride,” Carson says.

Those qualities also are encouraging to truckers looking to be more open about their sexual identity. Bobby Coffey-Loy, an administrator for the LGBT Facebook group, says he’s amazed at the private messages he gets. “I hear from men who can’t believe that I’m so open and out about my marriage and how close Ricky and I are,” he says. “They say things like, ‘Seeing you two together gives me hope.’ ”

That hope is something Lichti and others who support the community want to spread. Coffey-Loy says that when you have your life partner at your side, it’s a bit easier. “We are just truckers, doing the same thing as everyone else.”

Next in this series: A bumpy legal road for aggrieved LGBTQ workers

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