Queer mechanics? Yes, please! I’d hire them to fix my oil leak any day!
Did you know LGBTQ auto shops were a thing? It makes sense that they would exist, but not many are known. And now, three are getting the attention they rightfully deserve.
As they told NBC News, El Scherker decided in 2014 to join the queer autoshop Repair Revolution in Seattle, Washington. This was after they spent years in a toxic work environment that they say was full of transphobic harassment.
“I walked in, talked to the owner, Eli, and was working there the next week,” Scherker told NBC News. “Working there gave me the confidence to realize I actually wanted to stay in the industry. Eli was creating space for folks and customers who needed it, you know? And they had a lot of patience with me from the beginning. Within a few weeks, I was working there full time.”
Mechanic Eli Allison, who also uses they/them pronouns, created the autoshop in 2012 as an oasis from the toxicity of the industry.
“I was told, if you want to be successful, just put your head down, do well,” Allison said. “You have to work twice as hard. I used a female name and pronouns at the time, and it was as if I represented all women and queer people to them, so I had to prove that women can do this work. It was like, if you want to do this, you have to be OK with dudes sexually harassing you in the tool room — just really insane stuff. And every person that I’ve interviewed for a technician position that is either female or queer has had just horrible stories of what they endured in order to make it in this profession.”
Then in 2020, Scherker left Repair Revolution and moved to Portland Oregon. There, they opened their own shop called Stargazer Garage. But these aren’t the only queer-owned autorepair services in the country. Six years ago, Austin, Texas resident Sarah Tilton founded Yes We Can Auto Repair. The mobile mechanic service is said to be a backbone within the drag community. Unfortunately, many drag queens in Austin don’t feel safe to seek assistance in regular auto repair shops.
“One of the [drag queens], he walked into a shop and said it was like being back in high school again, being bullied for being gay,” Tilton said. “So I did a comparison quote and helped him out, and it was a much better experience, much less traumatic. In an ideal world, it would be nice to see the industry change, for people to stop having these experiences. But I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”
But, it hasn’t always been easy for these queer autoshops. As with many businesses and organizations, the coronavirus pandemic hit these businesses hard. Thankfully, many members of the community came to their support, according to Thrillist. And, that has made all the difference.
“Thank you so much to our incredible customers for helping us make it through one of the toughest years for small businesses,” the company wrote on its Facebook page back in December. “Your support means everything!”
Repair Revolution then added, “Secondly, a massive thanks to our team here at Repair Revolution who worked (and continues to work) through a global pandemic! You are all amazing! Your hard work and dedication to fixing all the things and making the world a better place is inspiring.”
Now, Repair Revolution is on the up again. They are even looking to hire two new Automotive Technicians. So, if you’re a woman and/or queer, live in Seattle (or don’t mind moving there), and love cars, this might be the perfect job for you. Repair Revolution, and the queer-owned companies like it, is committed to creating inclusivity and knocking down toxic masculinity. And we love to see it!
(But seriously. Can one of y’all help with my car leak?)