TruckSlutsMag, like all good things, was a bit of an accident. It started off as an Instagram account called CoolTruckZone where Tiffany Saint-Bunny, TruckSluts’ creator, would post photos of trucks she liked. The idea evolved from there and in 2016, TruckSlutsMag started on Instagram as a pinup platform for rural and redneck queers.
In the three years TruckSlutsMag has been in operation, it has amassed over 32,000 followers, the team has expanded, and a print magazine will hit stands in 2020. When asked where the passion project came from, Bunny says, “I wanted to see it.”
Bunny is originally from Oklahoma and didn’t live in a real city until 2015, when she was in her early 30s. “Hunting and fishing and driving trucks and drinking beer and swimming in lakes and having guns – it’s just how I grew up,” she told me. “That’s all the shit I’m really into.” TruckSluts is completely a reflection of everything Bunny holds dear. It gives homage to rural iconography of the American West, Plains, and South tied in with the brash and bawdy grit of pinup art. It’s art that wrenches culture from the hands of people gatekeeping against queers. “I’m also a trans woman and gay,” Bunny said, “and it felt bad to always feel like you had to choose one or the other, like you could be into all this shit [trucks, beer, guns] or be queer, but not both, you know, and it felt wrong to me. Like I knew that wasn’t true. But at the time TruckSluts came out, there wasn’t a lot of representation of rural queerness yet.”
Bunny relocated to the Bay Area from rural Tennessee and has mixed feelings about living in a city, but remarks on the stresses of being a remote queer: “It got really exhausting to see if someone would ever hire a trans woman in rural Tennessee and the answer to that was ‘no.’ Am I gonna be able to go to a bar without getting fucked with, the answer was ‘sometimes.’ Am I gonna be able to drive on the highway without drunk high school kids whipping around to harass me? You’re always worried about it. You stick out a lot more. More noticeable.”
Since moving to the Bay Area, the part where she had to worry all the time disappeared and she didn’t realize how much of her energy it was taking up. “But there’s a trade off — now I live in the city and it’s loud as shit. It takes forever to get anywhere and it’s expensive as hell and I hate it and I love it.” But it wasn’t something she really elected to do. “It’s a survival thing for a lot of queers. Like we don’t want to leave the country. But in order for me to have a quality of life that I want, I needed to get where my existence isn’t such a fucking threat to people.”
Queers have always existed, including in rural communities, and with the internet have become more organized and visible. “[Queer community] exists. It’s just rinky dink and small a lot of the time, sadly. Queers in rural areas have to spend half their energy dealing with threats to their survival, there’s not a lot left over.” Threats like low employment to no healthcare to outright persecution — queers have to battle through every other kind of oppression and then still have the energy to become activists.
TruckSluts isn’t intended to make rural queerness palatable to city dwellers, but to show rad queers and cool trucks, and the community has led it by sending in submissions. Bunny started to get photos from people all over the country. “It helps people see that there are other people doing the same shit. It’s good to see other gay rednecks. What I hear a lot is [something along the lines of], ‘We’re the only ones out here and it’s great to see babes homesteading, or gay queers and rednecks working seasonal jobs, working beet harvest, or people living in their trucks.’ People are excited to see it. If you go to truck Instagram, which is totally a thing, it’s so white supremacist, and heterosupremecist, heterofocused, and it’s fucking gross. It’s all Punisher skulls and thin blue lines, super gross sovereign citizen garbage, and I hate it. They shouldn’t have it or get to own it.”
Bunny created the hashtag #makingtrucksgay as a response to how much of gun and redneck culture is dominated by white hetero cis supremacy. “I remember growing up that people would be like, ‘You can’t have a truck, trucks are for men.’ And if you didn’t have a truck they’d yell, ‘Nice car, f—-t.’ But if you did have a truck they’d try to like take that from you. ‘If you’re queer you can’t fish, or if you’re queer you can’t go mudding’ or like have a gun and shoot it. All of that is supposed to be for men, specifically white men.”
The struggle to own your culture and have it hate you is a constant balancing act of identity, and art like TruckSluts is important for facilitating visibility, but also community. Bunny sells bumper stickers that say things like “Gone Fistin’” and “If you’re gonna ride my ass, at least gimme a reach around!” as ways for queers to commander truck culture from white supremacy.
Threats aside, Bunny misses the country. Saying of the city she lives in, “It’s removed a lot of stress from my life but added a lot of others. It’s just not home, it’s loud, it’s bright. I like quiet, I like the solitude, I like being able to go outside and not see anyone else.”
It’s really complicated for rural queers to find space to survive with the collision of oppression that is poverty, racism, and homophobia and transphobia. Physical safety is always a concern, but employment and access to financial security is a huge problem. “Any time an area becomes moderately progressive, all these real estate developers swoop in and before you know it, it’s Nevada City and you can never afford to live there no more. I don’t want to live somewhere where I’m never going to go on a date again, where I’m local color. If I have a choice I want to move somewhere where there’s a large queer community. Even if I have to build it myself. And I’ve lived in intentional communities before, and I know they aren’t the be-all end-all that people all think they’ll be, but I’m still drawn to it.”
The future of TruckSluts is probably a place other than Instagram, thanks to the Orwellian policies of Fosta-Sesta. Social media platforms, in arbitrary attempts to stop sex trafficking, have been cracking down on queer and sex worker content, removing posts, banning accounts, and pushing queer culture and expression, once again, underground (I beg you to call your senators). Laws and policing like this not only extinguish our art, but remove a lot of our access to community, especially in places where people are a long way out. TruckSluts is often in peril of being shut down or banned, hence the added push to make TruckSluts a tangible print publication.
“There are gay rednecks, there have always been gay rednecks, and there always will be too.”