SOVO.com: For Carol Watkins, life in the driver’s seat of an 18-wheel truck opened up roads and worlds she never thought she would experience.
“It’s like I’m on a paid vacation sometimes,” says Watkins, who recently returned to her hometown of Chapel Hill, Tenn., after delivering a haul to Canada.
“I’ve seen parts of the country that I would’ve never been able to afford to visit if I wasn’t on the road,” she says.
Watkins, who first started driving trucks in 1971 and returned in 1999 after raising two children, previously worked on the shipping-and-receiving side of the trucking industry.
But she says nothing beats the freedom of the open road.
There are numerous professional perks for gay truck drivers who race up and down America’s highways each day and see every part of the country while potentially making more than $1,000 per week.
For some gay male truck drivers in particular, the profession also provides a nationwide network of anonymous sex and the admiration of “truck chasers” — men who cruise highway rest stops and Internet trucking groups looking to fulfill their “trucker stud” fantasies.
But life in the fast lane can be tough, according to several gay truckers who say that they and their colleagues regularly struggle with loneliness and poor health.
“It’s a hard living; it’s a really hard living,” says Scott Langley, a driver who retired after 11 years as part of a road team with his partner, Tim Page. The pair owns two trucks driven by two gay male teams.
“You’re away from home for weeks at a time, you don’t have a social life and you find yourself alone when you’re a single driver,” Langley says. “But sometimes it makes it even harder when it’s a team and you’re with that person for long periods of time.
“When somebody first goes out on the road, within the first week they know whether they’re cut out for it,” Langley says.
Timothy Anderson started trucking in Alaska during his early 20s. He was drawn to the profession by the freedom and independence it provided.
“I could never figure out where I wanted to live on the West Coast, and trucking allowed me to avoid making that decision by waking up someplace different everyday,” says Anderson, president of the Gay Trucker’s Association.
Some two decades later, Anderson says that his independence came at a cost.
“Your friends’ lives keep going while you’re on the road, and I became very much isolated within the trucking culture to the point where all of my friends were truck drivers,” Anderson says.
Truck drivers were among the earliest and most loyal fans of the “Derek & Romaine Show” on Sirius Satellite Radio’s gay channel, Out Q, teaching host Romaine Patterson about the varied interests and exploits of gay and lesbian truckers.
“I think the hardest thing gay and lesbian truckers face is that being in a truck for such long periods is very hard on any type of relationship,” Patterson says.
“There are definitely the truckers who enjoy the ‘pickle park’ with the best of them, but the calls that really stand out in my mind are from the ones who are really having a hard time meeting other truckers and friends while out on the road,” she adds.
IN ADDITION TO regular bouts of loneliness, gay and lesbian truck drivers also have to deal with being stereotyped, Anderson says.
“I’m not sure who gets the worst rap —whether it’s the typical dyke image lesbian drivers usually get, or the trucker stud image that a lot of gay porn seems to enforce, and that’s not necessarily accurate either,” he says.
But the popular image of gay trucker drivers searching for —and finding —anonymous sexual partners along their routes accurately describes Langley and Page’s experience, Langley says.
“Every rest area we went to, we were being cruised by some guy, or were cruising somebody ourselves,” Langley says. “The cruising is quite active and probably more active now than it’s ever been. … it’s not talked about, and people don’t even like bringing it up.”
But Langley says the reluctance to talk about cruising among gay truck drivers is belied by the popularity of his and Page’s Web site, (continue reading)