In honor of Pride Month, and because we will always celebrate diversity and inclusion in our industry, we’re taking a moment to highlight a few members of the LGBTQ+ community who have had an impact on transportation in some way. This is in no way a comprehensive list of achievements, and there are many people who will go unnamed here, but our hope is that by touching on this conversation we might bring even a little more attention to a topic that deserves continued recognition and discussion!
When Pete Buttigieg was named the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation by President Biden in February, he became the first openly gay man to be appointed to this role in United States history (not to mention being the the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election).
Meanwhile here in our home city, Jeffrey Tumlin has served as Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) since his appointment in December 2019.
San Francisco-based Homobiles was founded in 2011 by Lynn Breedlove, and now operates as a California NPO 501c3 organization that offers non-commercial, volunteer, 24/7 ride services for those who feel the need for safe and dependable transport outside the traditional system. Developed as a response to the fact that many forms of public transportation and taxis aren’t always a safe option for the queer and transgender communities, Breedlove has created a network of drivers committed to providing secure and reliable transit to the SF Bay Area LGBTQ+ community and its allies. You can make a one-time or recurring donation to support their good work via the form at the bottom of their website.
Additionally, in March of this year the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation announced a partnership between its Transgender Justice Initiative and Lyft to provide free transportation to transgender and non-binary individuals in need. Each quarter in 2021, HRC and Lyft will provide $15,000 in ride credits to community-based organizations working with these groups, with special consideration given to those that serve transgender communities of color.
In 2008 Shelle Lichti founded LGBT Truckers, and today it operates as the industry’s largest online support group for truckers in the LGBTQ+ community. The nearly 4,000 members of the Facebook group offer advice, tips and a safe place to talk about experiences they’re having on and off the road.
THE RACING COMMUNITY
17-year-old Stephen Rhodes came out in 2001, the same year he entered the higher ranks of NASCAR. When he made his NASCAR Truck Series debut a year later, he became the first openly gay man to compete in a national touring series event.
“The increased acceptance we see across society today has been a difficult battle fought by the LGBTQ community that came before us, who were brave enough to live each day as openly gay. This, of course, is an ongoing battle, but I’m happy to be playing my part in challenging society’s expectations of a gay man.”STEPHEN RHODES
One of those people who came before him was Hurley Haywood, famed in the world of 1970’s motor racing, but unable to share his full personal story until 2018, when his autobiography Hurley: From the Beginning and subsequent documentary Hurley were released.
Meanwhile, these two men and many others are paving the way for future generations of LGBTQ+ drivers to find their place in NASCAR and beyond, such as Devin Rouse, a 22-year-old racer from Iowa who came out in June 2020.
AND OTHERWISE …
Even though he technically didn’t write the lyrics, we can’t forget Queen’s Freddie Mercury singing “I’m In Love With My Car” … a sentiment we’ll never argue with!
Happy Pride, everyone!
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