A title such as Trucker Fags in Denial is about as evocative as it gets for tales about the secret Sotadic side of the colorful itinerant subculture that evolved around the American long-haul ground shipment industry. One might even suppose it could be a chick tract parody. This is in fact a 2004 graphic novel by Jim Goad. Our no-holds-barred stormy petrel certainly delivers the goods with this tale, available for purchase on his website along with much other refined surrealism. The illustrations are by Jim Blanchard, whose unmistakable symbolism is apparent early on, beginning with the cover, in which one design element is a tunnel resembling the digestive tract’s terminus.
In the beginning, we meet two knights of the road. These are Butch, the designated top, and Petey, the designated catamite. Beginning with a frame in which they’re gobbling down sausages (one needn’t be Sigmund Freud to figure this one out), the captions explain:
To put it kindly, Butch and Petey are past their prime. It has been more than a decade since either of them has had consensual, non-paying sex with a woman. Butch and Petey spend more time together than most married couples. They spend perhaps more time together than any two men should. And sometimes the road gets very, very lonely.
They have a less than kind regard for blacks, women, and Jews. But their least favorite social group is the GLBTQQIAA2S+ community, which Petey terms “them dirty fairies” and Butch more sparingly describes as “faggots.”
Is this a classic case of Freudian reaction formation? The book does explore that possibility. Still, there may be more to it than this paradigm, which we’ll explore later. It also explains that they have some troubled psychosexual personal history. In Petey’s case, he was a resident at “St. Chomo’s” Catholic foster home.” What happens is a little different from the usual “Father Badtouch and the altar boy” trope, however. A psychiatrist at the home who happened to be a Minor Attracted Person took a personal interest in him. This included bubble baths while the other residents were in Sunday school. Petey recalls the problematically non-consensual encounters, his memory still fresh with the rubber ducky rocking on the waves.
Butch says he killed someone “because he tried faggin’ off with me.” After receiving an undesired approach, he says he retaliated by stabbing him with an icepick, then burying the corpse in a Louisiana bayou. He says, “I told the company that he fell in love with a Bourbon Street hooker and quit his job. They didn’t even ask any questions.”
How reliable is Butch’s narrative use of an icepick, which is the most exaggeratedly phallic murder weapon imaginable? Where exactly did he get it? An intertextual comparison of his spoken words, and the illustrations from his recollections, reveal that there’s more to the story than that. The frame changes from a truck’s cab, where the approach occurs, to a room with a table and paintings — perhaps a hotel suite — where he brandishes the weapon. Something happened between those occasions — but what? Given this evocative lacuna in the narrative, the phallic icepick, and the transparent lie supposedly told to the company which wouldn’t hold up under any real investigation, one might wonder whether something entirely different really transpired. If so, the murder story is the self-serving lie, and Butch’s true memory of the incident was one of a seething pit of shame.
Then the graphic novel explores the main characters’ sociosexual history. Of Butch’s eight vagina-owning partners, three were sex workers. For Petey, only one of his five vagina-owning partners was not a sex worker. Between the two, given their lack of access to partners with a bodily morphology colloquially considered female, the vast majority of their sexual outlet is via manustupration: “For two men so stridently opposed to all forms of faggotry, Butch and Petey are sorry excuses for heterosexuals.”
Meanwhile, the two have unrealistically high standards among those who were assigned female at birth — presumably, excepting the sex workers that they might’ve colloquially termed as lot lizards. Although they’re hardly great catches themselves, they have nothing but criticism for the much-sought-after celebrities who were assigned female at birth. In any event, things were to change when the two ended up staying in a fleabag motel room that only had one bed.
With a title such as Trucker Fags in Denial, it’s hardly a surprise what happens next. The macho knights of the road, overcome by sexual frustration, at last momentarily set aside their toxic masculinity and then consummate the love that dare not speak its name. It seems much like the tent scene in Brokeback Mountain. (That is, of course, the cold night when Ennis breaches his partner’s rectal introitus for the first time. Meanwhile, Jack gets a wide-eyed look during the penile intromission, as if he were experiencing an apparition of the Archangel Gabriel.) In the graphic novel, the scene is a tangle of hairy bodies on the motel bed joyously joined as one:
There are rare moments in one’s life when one is able to cast off this dirty mortal shell and taste the divine . . . when darkness dissolves under the pure warmth of never-ending light . . . when all inner conflicts are chased away and one’s soul extends effortlessly into the farthest reaches of the universe . . .
What follows is a montage of homoerotica, the intensity of which increases in each panel, including an astral visit to the cosmos. On the following page is a series of insertions, merely the first of which manages to elicit much confusion from a fly on the wall. The third is a colonic penetration by nearly an entire body. Is that even possible? The illustrations are best interpreted as a vision of eroto-comatose lucidity:
Yet, as Butch and Petey’s sexual roughhousing grew more extreme, so did the intensity of their highest shared belief . . . They aren’t fags.
As a famous cigar aficionado once said, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
Then comes the awkward morning-after sequence. Phallic symbolism abounds everywhere. A telephone receiver looks like a double-ended dildo, and that’s just for beginners. Then their Freudian reaction formation kicks into overdrive. Eventually, they get into a fight. A cop breaks them up.
After that, they get sent to jail. As it happens, they become cellies. While incarcerated, they resume their new-found sexual relationship. They’ve come to a modus vivendi about it, reasoning that they aren’t fags because they don’t kiss. Eventually, the penal funishment comes to an end:
Suddenly, their marshmallowy-soft homo dreamland is dispelled by the loud metallic click of their cell door sliding open. The boys abruptly find themselves ejected from the warm, cozy, fantasy anus-womb that was their jail cell.
Upon their release they begin an unprecedented gay-bashing spree, a quest to eradicate the GLBTQQIAA2S+ community from the face of the Earth. Although at first glance this definitely appears like a classic case of Freudian reaction formation, it might be that there’s more than meets the eye.
Incels on wheels?
Indeed, the mystery at the core of this graphic novel relates to queer theory. Specifically, this is the scholarly discourse concerning how GLBTQQIAA2S+-oriented people become GLBTQQIAA2S+. Is it a matter of nature, or of nurture, and either way, by what specific means? Is it a Freudian complex, acquired from certain familial patterns? Is it freely-chosen behavior that becomes a habit? There is no academic consensus thus far. I propose that the lack of consensus, despite considerable research, is due to the fact that there are multiple ways one can acquire a GLBTQQIAA2S+ orientation.
Were Butch and Petey born that way? It certainly appears not. Is it a case of early imprinting? Both had experiences that were more likely to create a marked aversion, and this does account for their noted extreme homophobia. For Butch, there’s a plausible case to be made that his first murder originated as a case of post-coital buyer’s remorse. For Petey, of course, there were the repeated encounters with the Minor Attracted Person. Was there latent imprinting despite the aversive nature of these early encounters? That explanation doesn’t seem to hold, since decades passed before the onset of their homoerotic praxis.
The best explanation is that their relationship involves situational homosexuality. With this hypothesis, both have an attractional preference for the population cohort commonly thought to be female, but they suffer from a constellation of personal deficits resulting in a meager sexual market value. Therefore, neither Butch nor Petey can find a woman who will provide erotogenic access to her reproductive organs, and their prospects certainly aren’t improving. They must therefore turn to each other for release. They share the same lot as prison inmates who are “gay for the stay.”
Although they certainly wouldn’t admit it, and go as far as to commit extreme acts of violence as self-purgation, would their same-sex activity put them somewhere on the GLBTQQIAA2S+ spectrum? One certainly could challenge their authenticity. Clearly they’ve adapted in an unhealthy manner. On the other hand, setting preconditions to GLBTQQIAA2S+ identity apart from observed behavior will tend to lead to the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. In that case, although Butch and Petey are frustrated incels resorting to situational homosexuality, by their own actions they are nonetheless indeed trucker fags in denial.
* * *
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