Anne Balay has worked as a car mechanic, an English professor, and a truck driver. Her writing tells the stories of silenced, invisible queers, and imagines ways that all queers – and all people – can share in possibility, progress, and pleasure. She blends scholarship and activism in writing that is engaging, accessible, and transformative. Balay's work has appeared in the Journal of Popular Culture, the Oral History Review, American Literary History and The New York Times. Her book Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers has won awards from Lambda Literary and the National Women's Studies Association.
Penn Humanities Forum Regional Fellow
2015—2016 Forum on Sex
Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Sex, Trucks, and Redneck Women
This project collects oral histories of truckers, seeking to understand what sex means out on the road - how it works, for whom, and where - and how that impacts trucking women's aggressive embrace of sex even as culture shames them for it. Rather than collecting the stories and experiences of only straight women, lesbians or transwomen, I will ask everyone who seems female to talk about life, and sex, on the road. What counts as sex, what counts as female, and what bodies matter are questions whose very asking shapes responses, and sift other possibilities away. By starting with real people's stories, collected from all the lonely and chatty truckers out there, I hope to hear what pleasures and possibilities we don't know to look for.