Step Into The Light:

Lately I have been in turmoil. I have been a very angry “looking” individual. It’s been on purpose though. It is unbelievably hard to find alone time in prison. I know that is hard to imagine, but think about it for a second. I am in a building with two wings, a side and b side. One side has 136 people, or 68 cells, all next door to each other. So you never are “alone”. Not even in your cell. No complaints here, not bitching, just sayin’.
In honesty, I am in deep thought, but that is hard to explain to everyone. I am typically a pretty relaxed guy, easy going, smiling, approachable and generally happy. When I am angry, or angry looking, it tends to have a larger then expected impact on those around me. Something I was unprepared for.
So as I basically moped around the complex people became concerned. I would explain to some of them a few things here, a few things there. Just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t want to allow anyone fully “in”. Still haven’t really, but I did notice something that reminded me of what I am fighting for in this place. Why I put myself through so much.
As I tried and tried to separate from everyone, even thought about just not talking at all anymore, being completely taciturn. I wasn’t ready for those that I have been trying to reach for so long, to reach right back. For months I have put myself out there as an advocate and friend, and many people take to that with cautious regard. But when I was distressed and wanted to just quit everything, to my amazement, those same people who didn’t seem to want or need my friendship or advocacy, reached right back out to me.
I laid in bed last night and this morning and told myself that I had to make a decision. Right here and now. I had to choose, misery and giving up or continue to fight my battle. Either I am passionate about my cause or I am not. Stop or continue. As I went over in my mind all the people that reached back to me (believe me, it’s the last thing I wanted at the time, I just wanted time to think without people around) I realized that somehow someway I had effected these people. For whatever reason they have been watching me and how I carry myself around this place and some, I noticed, are mimicking my actions. Wherever I go I am a beacon to so many people here. I had no idea how many people were watching so closely.
I realized this morning that I cannot give up. These people, me included, deserve an advocate. Someone to stand up with them and not take inequality and mistreatment. In fact, just by us sitting together we are left alone. The comments stop, whenever someone new who appears to be gay comes to the institution they are referred to me by other inmates (have you met so and so yet, he’s gay you know, I am sure you’ve met him. Happens all the time, every chain bus that comes in..)
This isolated and lonely bunch (me included) doesn’t deserve to be isolated and alone. We have each other, we are a family of sorts and most of them look to me as sort of a “Momma Hen” who is searching for her chicks. I guess I didn’t realize that until this morning and now that I do know that, it’s time that swallow what I bit off. I am no saving grace, I am no saint, I am far from that. But what I am is sure, sure of what and who I am. I hate teh ridicule that the LGBTQ community goes through and I know what it feels like. I also know what it feels like to have a friend who will stand with you. I WILL be that friend to as many people who need it, damned the consequences.

With Love,

Jeff Utnage 823469
stafford creek correction center
191 constantine way
aberdeen, WA 98520

or on jeff utnage 823469