Chaya M. Milchtein knows cars. And she wants you to know them better too. The automotive educator and 2021 Out100 honoree founded Mechanic Shop Femme, Inc. “with the mission of helping the average car owner and driver better understand their vehicle,” she states.
The queer femme empowerment speaker spreads the automotive gospel through a variety of mediums: teaching classes at universities, libraries, nonprofits, and companies; writing for publications like Real Simple, Parents Magazine, and AAA’s Via Magazine; and sharing lessons on her website, mechanicshopfemme.com. During the past year, she’s become particularly proud of her expanded social media outreach. “I conquered my fear of video this year, growing a platform to continue my mission on TikTok to over 400,000 people,” she touts.
Folks aren’t tuning in just for car lessons. In a 2020 profile, the New York Times described Milchtein as a “style influencer” who also specializes in writing about plus-size fashion and queer lifestyle. And she’s not afraid of sharing her personal life with her fans. During the pandemic, thousands virtually attended her self-advertised “Biggest, Queerest Wedding of the Year” to her partner, JodyAnn Morgan, last August, which helped bring rainbow love and light to the world.
While acknowledging her successes, Milchtein — who also identifies as Jewish, a first-generation American, and a former foster kid — is also plain about the hardships everyone has faced in modern times. “The last two years have been rough for all of us, and no matter what our personal struggles [may be],” she says.
A version of this article appeared in Out's 2021 Out100 issue, which is on newsstands November 30. Since this is also Out's 300th issue, we are running a $3 promotion for a one-year subscription. Subscribe now (the promotion ends on December 1). Otherwise, support queer media and subscribe outside of the promotion — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.