Trucking for equality
Shelle Lichti has been a professional truck driver for over 25 years. She credits the profession with being her empowering source.
While Shelle drives for a large trucking company, she's best recognized by what she drives. This is because Shelle drives what's been dubbed the Rainbow Rider for the LGBT Truckers group. The truck can be spotted from miles away because of its bright rainbow colors and prideful slogan painted on the hood - "Love is love."
Shelle began the LGBT Truckers group in 2008 after a gay friend and fellow driver was brutally assaulted. That friend eventually killed himself to escape torment.
"I couldn't bear the thought of another driver thinking death was an option because there was no one to lean on and share the understanding as well as the burden of being out or outed," Shelle said. "Having the support of the LGBTQ+ community and allies can literally save someone's life, and that's what we're trying to do."
Shelle doesn't think her coming out story is as traumatic as others, but she knows she couldn't have gotten through it without the love and support of those around her.
"I slowly pulled the curtain back allowing myself to become who I wanted to be and love who I wanted to love. I allowed others to draw their own conclusions while I became who I wanted to be over the years," she said.
These days, Shelle enjoys her days on the road by meeting fans of the Rainbow Truck, listening to audio books and music, crocheting and spending time with her travel companions - her dog and two cats. She also has a great relationship with her children.
'The same dignity'
"Pride Month means so much to me," she said. "It's awesome to see so many people stand up and proclaim that we have the right to exist and love who we want. We deserve the same dignity and respect as anyone else."
Shelle also loves Love's.
"I've been a customer of Love's for many years and enjoy their continued evolvement to become what truckers need," she said. "The company I work for uses Love's for their fuel solutions and truck care needs, and I use the Love's Connect app and My Love Rewards for fueling transactions.
"I know I can get the food, drinks, supplies and services I need and get back on the road quickly. My time is valuable, and the app helps me manage it."
She also wants fellow drivers to know an important reason she stops at Love's.
"Myself, along with a lot of drivers I know, stop at Love's because it's safe," she said. "The property layout and lighting help us feel secure when fueling up and getting the supplies we need."
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.