I am Gender Non-Conforming, which to me means that I am neither fully masculine nor feminine. In prison this offers me a unique vantage point with many straight and gay men.

Gay men and I get along quite well, most gay men see me as a gay man, which is fine by me. Straight men, especially those who have been incarcerated for awhile see me much differently. It kinda goes in stages, like this:

1. They make hate fueled remarks towards the LGBT community as a whole, then retract their statement by saying things like “I didn’t mean you, I mean faggots, like actual faggots.”

2. They ask things like “Does it make me gay if- insert awkward question here-” To which your reply doesn’t matter, you can tell them yes or no, their reaction is the same, its their buddies reaction that differs. Either way, it prompts #3.

3. They begin quick private interactions that involve objectivity. Things like quick, under the breath comments about how sexy you look. This is not about you though, its about them, they are justifying their sexual attraction within their minds. They aren’t really attracted to you, they are without option.

4. Obsession. Either they succeed and become angry with themselves or they get turned down and nothing lost. Either way, people like me don’t gain anything other than the occasional coming out for real.

I have watched this happen for years, as homosexuality becomes socially acceptable in the media and normalizes in the view of the public, prisons are prime locations where men, who are not gay, will have sex with another man (or at the very least attempt) who acts “feminine.”

It should be noted that not all men in prison do this, I cannot even offer a percentage. I can say that where I am at (protective custody), in my particular living unit, the percentage is around 60% of the men here are more than willing to engage sexually in a private setting. However, that’s not an accurate representation of the more than 2.2 million incarcerated individuals nationally.

It does present me with some interesting moral questions. Like the battle of nature vs nurture, are gays born or created? I am living proof that homosexuality is from birth, I knew at a very young age, despite not coming out until I was 28. But then we have “straight” men who will have sex with other men under the right conditions…then once they’re out they are back to being female lovers only.

What are your thoughts?

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage

**NOTE** I understand it is difficult to see me in a positive light. Having any type of empathy for inmates- of any sort- is nearly unheard of and the individuals who do usually have some sort of familial connection to the incarcerated. I’m not asking for sympathy, I am asking for the chance to prove that 1) rehabilitation is possible and 2) I can still serve a positive purpose. Not by releasing early, but by serving my time, getting out and spending the rest of my life helping PREVENT crimes like mine…because its possible, and worth it and NEEDED. That’s how this platform is intended to be used and from time to time we like to have a little community contact, because we’re human. -Thanks for reading!