In short, you. Hero’s don’t fly around the globe in tights and have supernatural powers. Except maybe really thick skin.
A hero is someone willing to stand up for what is right when no one else will. Its parents and pastors, its lawyers and administration, its random people who take on more then they can handle to help someone in need. Its the nurses who comfort, the secretary’s who slide your resume to the top, its the people who have the ability to look beyond there situation and help new matter the consequences. Even if it interrupts their dinner, or gets them fired, or people hate them.
This is anyone. In the mid 1900’s it was any African American willing to challenge corruption and greed and any other person, regardless of race, who stood with them. Today my own personal heroes are those who challenge bigotry in a system that still embraces segregation. Walk into any prison anywhere in the U.S. and you will find segregation is used as a means of control. My heroes are the people within this system who openly challenge its bigotry and use of punishment on top of punishment. People who realize that change in us is possible. They find us and nurture us professionally to look within ourselves and challenge our circumstances. Its up to us to rise above what we were and become what we ought. My heroes are the ones who see that in us. In me.

I am going to be that for as many people as possible. Not so I can be labeled a hero, but because the only way I can honor those who helped me is to perpetuate that kindness forward. 

I will spend the rest of my life looking for the greatness in everyone I meet and assisting them to cultivate that in themselves. I hope that when I die, when I leave this plain the footprint I leave is one that most people can say was kind. Despite my past.

Sometimes a hero is someone willing to write when no one else will, or talk on the phone. Send a book or come visit. Someone who treats me like a human being who is still worth their time.

I would like to point out that I have written every LGBT based group outside of prison and none of them have even bothered to respond. Nothing, not a word. 

If you know of a LGBT support system who can offer assistance by providing materials or volunteering here in the prison or even just reading a letter from me please pass them my info. In the mean time I guess I’ll just keep writing them and hopefully they’ll get tired of throwing away my letters!

With Love
Jeff Utnage