Friday, November 20, 2015

Earlier this week I recieved the latest issue of The Advocate, in it there was an article written on drag queens and their role in the LGBTQ community. There kind of a love em' or hate em' group. Me personally, I love them. 

To me drag queens represent homosexuality. My earliest memories of what I percieved homosexuality to be involved drag queens. I remember the first drag queen I ever saw was in a movie, most of us remember "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything...Julie Newmar". Nothing was more captivating to me the Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in a dress...nothing. 

Ever since that movie I have always had my eyes peeled to the tv screen and the streets looking for my next "drag" fix. I even tried o put make-up myself, I quickly figured out that I needed lots of practice and lots of time. Because clean-up before my mother got home was awful. I never got very good at it, though one time my cousin and I had a contest to see who could put make-up on the best. It involved our twin cousins and a closet on a farm...

Needless to say that I lost that competition, but, I am fairly certain that I tried the hardest. I was actually pretty embarrased because I knew that I wasn't very good, but how do you tell your family that you want to learn to put on make-up? In my case, my Mother may have been supportive, but in those days it was doubtful, especially given our circumstances. All I knew was that I envied drag queens for their boldness and their stage presence and their effortless ability to just walk right into a group of straight men and own them. For me that was power and poise and the very definition of strength.

Quite frankly I have always thought that loving drag queens was wrong, but then again, I was kinda taught that homosexuality was wrong. Now I know better, love em' or hate em' drag queens are beautiful to me, in all their gawdy attire and bad wigs and square faces and spray painted make-up, I love em'. To me they are the early soldiers in my life, I compare myself to them and my coming out boldness to them.

March on girls, your beautiful and one day when I get out of this place, perhaps you can teach me about make-up tips?!

Love, your brother in chains...

Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Learning To Be Gay

After coming out I had a real dilemma. I had never been around openly gay people for very long. I only had stereotypes and ideals to go on. My main vision of homosexuality was tv shows and family bigotry. It was very murky water for me. 

I thought that because I wasn't flamboyant or didnt sit crosslegged or limp my wrist or have a homosexual 'accent' that I wasn't fully gay, or perhaps I just wasn't a very good gay man. I thought that maybe I should go back in the closet and hide out there somemore until I figured it out. 

Then came a man named "Daz". He had a nickname that was short for "Dazzle", kinda cliche, I know, but that was his name and it was kinda fitting. He was this gentle man, the same age as me and he had been out his whole life. When it came to being gay, no one knew how to do it better them him. So I became his unknowing protege. I watched how he interacted with other people who didnt talk to me. I watched how he did everything. He had this way about him that was sure and confident of his every step. I admired that so much. I was a hotheaded child in a man's body and he wasn't. 

It's kinda funny because that whole time I hung out with him, I thought to myself "so this is homosexuality?" I wasnt really sure what that meant to me. I guess I was expecting musical numbers to break out whenever I got happy and confetti and glitter to sprinkle the chow halls when two or more gathered together. To me homosexuality was outlandishness and prancing. (ok, ok, it still kinda is for me, I actually just want to learn to dance solely so that I can one day break out in a musical number, probably Grease or maybe something from Cats..."

Me and Daz were amazing friends, story is much different from my own and perhaps I can tell you about some other time. After he released it tore me apart, I kinda felt like I had to carry on his confidence and poise. So I did, and when I did I realized that I hadn't learned to be gay, I had learned to be comfortable with myself and that there is no roadmap to being gay. There is no one way to act, there is no single path to homosexual happiness. He unknowingly taught me how to be happy with what's inside. Perhaps even knowingly, his character bled over to me and all I wanted to do was to have the same poise and self-reliance that he had. 

Now, all I want to do is provide that same building block to those who want it. Discovering myself was beautiful and very hard to do. I hope that I get to help someone feel better. There is no book of answers, it's all about being comfortable with you, whoever that is, however that presents itself. Perhaps dance, or art, or flamboyance....whatever it is were beautiful and amazing people.

Love you all

Jeff Utnage 823469

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Here's a problem to ponder. Tell me what you do in these types of situations. I work with a variety of individuals, it's a prison. However, in my particular work times and location I am the only "out" homosexual and I am held at arms length with most. I have worked very hard to establish myself as the one "gay guy" that is pretty militant about high self standards; I don't sleep around, I dont discriminate, I try to edify in most situations, I dont flirt, I work my butt off etc. Most men here, once they get to know me for a few months, generally aren't very homophobic of me also because I am very "masculine". I will use quotations on that because outwardly I am the typical man usually, but inwardly I am an insatiable queen! Believe That :)

So naturally when I get to work with other gay men who are out, I just want to be there as support for them. I wont let them sit by themselves, i'll introduce them to the friendly men who aren't going to predatorize them, i'll help them through rough know, the stuff that I had to figure out on my own. Ease their burden in a way.

So when my friend came to me today in my work area with a real problem I just wanted to help. These kinds of problems here in prison need to be handled semi-privately because your non-issue can quickly escalate into a real threat if the wrong people hear your troubles. So we stood there, close enough that his voice could be lowered for only me to hear and he says that he is uncomfortable working in his area. I of course ask why and he says its because people are making obscene comments about his sexuality. 

Now both of us are pretty resiliant to this, so this must have been somewhat vulgar for him to come to me with it, perhaps even scary. I wasnt sure so I looked over my shoulder to see who was in his work area. Perhaps I could identify his problem child. To my shock, I see that we have an audience of about 20 people. They are all pointing and laughing and I immediately hear their comments and lewd actions. They were saying things like "look at the f****n fags in the corner!" I wont even go into the rest. 

Needless to say that we were both embarassed and very angry. This obviously wasnt going to be a good place to sort out hurt was it? The same thing happens in the prison yard, in our living unit, at our jobs, at our church services (when were not asked to leave...yup, that's happening!)

Where is our venue to sort this out. Why is it taking so long to let us heal?

Jeff Utnage