Semi Queer

Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers

By Anne Balay

232 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 drawings, 25 halftones, appends., bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5903-9
    Published: February 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4709-8
    Published: September 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4710-4
    Published: August 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5609-8
    Published: August 2018

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, Lambda Literary Award, LGBTQ Studies

Long-haul trucking is linked to almost every industry in America, yet somehow the working-class drivers behind big rigs remain largely hidden from public view. Gritty, inspiring, and often devastating oral histories of gay, transsexual, and minority truck drivers allow award-winning author Anne Balay to shed new light on the harsh realities of truckers' lives behind the wheel. A licensed commercial truck driver herself, Balay discovers that, for people routinely subjected to prejudice, hatred, and violence in their hometowns and in the job market, trucking can provide an opportunity for safety, welcome isolation, and a chance to be themselves--even as the low-wage work is fraught with tightening regulations, constant surveillance, danger, and exploitation. The narratives of minority and queer truckers underscore the working-class struggle to earn a living while preserving one's safety, dignity, and selfhood.

Through the voices of drivers from marginalized communities who spend eleven- to fourteen-hour days hauling America's commodities in treacherous weather and across mountain passes, Semi Queer reveals the stark differences between the trucking industry's crushing labor practices and the perseverance of its most at-risk workers.

About the Author

Anne Balay is winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Award. She is an Independent Scholar living in Saint Louis and is the author of Steel Closets.
For more information about Anne Balay, visit the Author Page.


“Written in a lucid style punctuated by the language of truckers themselves, this is an engaging narrative that must be viewed as a major contribution to understanding the impact of (de)regulation, the trucking industry, and the lives of black, gay, female, indigenous, Mexican, and trans workers.”--Labor

"Hearing from these truckers offers a rare perspective from working-class Americans, and a vivid reminder of the diversity of that group."--Nadine Hubbs, author of Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music

"Anne Balay has done it again! Like Steel Closets, Semi Queer offers an ethnographically rich, historically grounded investigation of working-class sexuality, gender, and race in the contemporary United States. Trucking, like steel production, is an industry undergoing profound restructuring, and the stories Balay tells of people already marginalized by their bodies and identities finding ways to navigate these emerging conditions of everyday life are a revelation."--Susan Stryker, University of Arizona

"Semi Queer is a powerfully compelling ethnography of trans, gay, and black truck drivers and the complex world they inhabit. Anne Balay paints a vivid picture of the everyday lives of working-class queer and black people, highlighting their astute analyses of their own lives. Semi Queer is a must-read indeed!"--Marlon M. Bailey, author of Butch Queens Up in Pumps

Multimedia & Links

Balay talks to Adrian King for the New Books Network podcast. (6/3/2019, running time 56:01).