The question is “In a perfect world, if everything was to just be handed to you, what is the one thing you would need to be successful?” The responses I get are unusually honest because I am a peer. It is not often that another inmate takes an interest in another’s future. Though, I have to be honest, judging by the amount of interest in this website, not many people care at all about inmates future. So it doesn’t surprise me.

I am always shocked by the answers I get. I think the most brutally honest one I ever got was from someone a few months back they said to me “I would want to do gang bang porn and I the one thing I would need is an endless supply of Meth.” 

Sad, but honest. I asked them why the meth and they said it would be used to drop their inhibitions and take the shame away. My heart drops for people in this situation because as much as I wanted to say “you must be joking!” I knew by the look in their eyes that they were serious. That was a moment that I will never forget, it encapsulated the LGBT community in prison and the very brutal consequences of life for some.

What happens when a person of authority asks this question is fluff. The person being questioned feels as if they have respond with some fluffy answer that will please the authority and make them happy. Because they want to be psychologically rewarded, because they have had many experiences where they were reprimanded and will avoid such interactions at all costs. We don’t even have an option with this type of response. Shame, guilt, and negativity are feelings that we will automatically avoid. Most authority figures, (DSHS, CPS, Free Clinic, Police, DOC, CCO’s Etc) will not respond kindly to someone telling them that they want to do porn and meth. 

The why of that never even gets explored because they would never tell an authority that’s the idea. They naturally don’t trust authorities. LGBT people are a lot like African American and the Latino races in that sense, we tend to not trust authorities because our experiences have been generally, bad.

That’s why peer support is so effective. I have legitimate care for LGBT people, particularly the incarcerated. I have seen some movement on Transgendered rights, but no one gives a crap about gays, bisexuals or others. IF they do, 90% of those that do write us want us to fulfill some sort of sexual desire within them. Write them dirty letters and the such in exchange for a few letters and maybe a phone call. If we are lucky we may even get a visit someday…

That’s why this website exists. I may not have the best writing skills for keeping readers captivated by a cause, some of that is because my letters must be censored or else I will get in trouble. So my personal experiences must be watered down versions because the protection DOC offers is the hole. Which, I will not be able to write anything. So I have to keep the seedy, dangerous stuff inside until I get out in 2021, when I plan to write a memoir about my experience in this place and the fight that has ensued and is still raging.

Helping those who don’t want help is easier than people think. It starts with being a real friend. Getting close by actually listening to them and maybe even getting a little used. But not giving up is key, be ridiculously patient and give more love than they are capable of giving back because one day, it is going to click and you will be so glad you didn’t give up.

With Love

Jeff Utnage