Saturday, December 31, 2016

This Year Is Different Because We Are Different

I have never been one to bring in the New Year usually I am asleep by ten and annoyed when the fireworks wake me up. Happy to get the last one done and over with. I was all geared up for that same mentality this year. then I realized something.

I am different. I am not the same man that I was in 2015. I have been under intense amounts of pressure. At first I didn't think about that as a positive, but, I realized that some of the most valuable things on earth are made under pressure. Rubies, diamonds, babies, and me.

Intense pressure isn't bad. It forms mountains and erupts into massive volcanoes, which formed Hawaii and nearly every other beautiful island we traverse to.

So this year, I am not going to stay up "so I can watch this year finally pass..." No, I am going to stay up and thank God for the changes He has revealed in me. The friends that I have, the family that has been relentless in their love. The opportunities that we have, the network of support that you have. Yeah, I am going to be thankful for all that. If you doubt at all that you have a support system, you clearly haven't written me. 

Sometimes the things we want aren't the things we need. What we need is to be empowered, what we need is to know that we are capable, what we need is to know that we are self-sufficient. What we sometimes want is to be dependent, to be needed, to be whiny. I do it all the time. Friends, true friends, take the time to find out what you need and give you that. In my opinion what I need most, is to know that I am able to do anything.

That is what I am bringing to this New Year. The transformation that has taken place in my life I am going to explore and get to know and use my newly acquired skills. Like new toys I cannot wait to find out what they can do! But it means nothing if there is no one to help me. 

So let me extend a virtual hand to everyone who is feeling down, excited for this year to end...let's become beautiful together.

With Love, Happy New Year

Jeff Utnage

What Are Friends? How Do You Know That You Have Made A Difference?

What happens when you feel in the dumps? Do people ask about you? Do they care? What happens when your normal self turns into self-pity and doubt? Does anyone come along beside you and tell you to keep your chin up? I didn't think that I did. In fact, what I had been saying for a few weeks now is that life is not giving me what I am putting in and it frustrates me.

I just ended up moving on mentally and gearing up for my next big battle with life. Less excited about the possibilities of life and more dreading all the work ahead of me.

Then, I came home from work and took a shower, combed my hair and put lotion on my face. Trying to forget all that has taken place, actually all that has NOT taken place is more accurate, and move on. When a friend knocks on my door and wants to meet me in the dayroom. There is a small gathering there and I assume its to get me to play a game, which I was already deciding how I was going to deny.

I have been depressed for days and have tried to talk to people in small doses but have generally stayed away from all of them. That's what depression does, it isolates you. Most of my friends have seen a change in me and though they have asked what's wrong I didn't confide much in their ability to help me problem solve, mostly because it wasn't one thing but several.

So when my friends presented me with a hand drawn card signed by all of my friends, those who care with all kinds of little notes of care, it was a shock. Far from what I expected but exactly what I needed. That's how I know that I have made a difference and that I have had an impact in peoples lives. Because when they see someone hurting they take the time to listen to what's wrong, something that only a friend can do with any accuracy, and then do something about it to help. In this case my friends new that I was feeling like I wasn't making any kind of an impact anywhere. But that couldn't have been further from the truth. 

Remember that I am in prison and inmates, killers and rapists and drug dealers, made a card that has a drawn picture of me as a queen on a runway that pops out with a stage behind it, all 3-d and signed by many who legitimately care. It's by far one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I am going to send it home and see if my family can put a picture of it up for everyone to see. 

That little card represents the good in a group of people that most had given up on. Even though the world has seemingly given up on them and their ability to make changes within themselves and their community, I didn't. I didn't give up and neither did they. I am so proud of what they have done, sometimes I can't save everyone, sometimes I need saving too. Glad it was them.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, December 30, 2016

Life Lessons: Bitter Old Queens

You know what sucks about life lessons? In order to learn them you have to experience life and make some mistakes. I wondered what happened to bitter old queens to make them so pissy. But then, as I experience things and I see myself getting a bit bitter over time, it sucks.

I am not going to allow life to dictate how I react to everyone. Yeah, I am a little down and probably clinically depressed but that doesn't mean that I don't have some amount of self-control and I am not about to turn out angry at everyone forever. Maybe a little disappointed, but certainly not angry.

I have been going through some life experiences lately that are hard won. In order to get through them you have to get depressed and rethink what you're doing. In order for me to accomplish what I aim to accomplish, which is to help those that nobody gives a shit about, I am going to go through bouts of severe ridicule, depression, and low self-esteem. Let's be honest if a lot of people thought that I was worth rehabilitating and their time to become successful, I would have had a long line of people waiting to help me already and those before me. 

I am here now though and I am going through the same trials that many before me have gone through and I am fighting for my life and the next persons too. That might be your son or daughter or grandson or Mother or husband I might be helping, by the way. Just saying truth. It might be your family that I was able to stop from being victimized because I was able to help someone in here and out there. That is a goal worth fighting for and its one that I find worthy of my stress, depression and heartache.

Without question. 

I just have one piece of advice for everyone who has a goal, don't give up because anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Even Your Depression

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Flirting With Disaster: Do You Find Yourself With Many Men Interested In You But You Don't Like Any Of Them?

I live in an environment that many, thankfully, don't know anything about. I try to link the common demoninaters between the gay world out there and the gay world in here. There are some significant differences though. For instance, a straight man out there may be a femme queen in here just for survival. 

Then there are cultural differences as well. What is considered normal out there is illegal in here. There is also another facet to this little diamond we call life, men.

Men out there are usually just pushy and defiant but rarely violent. Whereas in here, every single man you come across has pushed the threshold of violence and has, at least once, been capable of acting violently on emotion. Which translates to, when you reject someone you had better be careful.

This is the reason that DOC used to suggest that you remain in the closet or quiet at least while you are in prison for your protection because they recognize this. But for some this is nearly impossible. Many LGBT people in prison are not into the muscle building, football touting, rough housing that everyone else is into and we get identified very quickly. Then what happens is it becomes a game to "out" the fag. Then when you are outed you are relentlessly teased which isn't always just words in prison.

So what happens is we are out of the closet and everyone knows about us. Our sexuality becomes an object of wonder to about 50% of the population. Then people inevitibly want to hook up. Then there is me, the oddity. I do not want to hook up with anyone and even if I did I would never think about it seriously because it is, after all illegal to act gay in prison (because though we are allowed to be "gay" in theory, sex is punishable and so is any relationship they find out about, rendering acting gay, illegal). 

In order for me to release from prison I must parole out, in order for that to happen I have to prove that not only can I control myself but that I can follow the rules, even if I believe them to be wrong or petty. So I abstain. 

But that does't stop people from flirting with me and trying to "crack the code of the ice queen". In fact, the opposite is true. I get a little nervous when some of the most dangerous men on the planet express physical interest in me and I have to find ways of gently rejecting them. Something that they do NOT like at all. But I have been successful in doing so for the most part.

I just wonder about the connection between gays out there and gays in here. The population in here is under constant pressure to be femenized and "loose" and I hate it. I wonder if the gay community out there is different now? Is it expected that men out there are also "loose"? I know that the transgender community is pigeon-holed into a dangerous category of highly sexual beings when in fact, they are not. Like me. I have made mistakes in the past but I am far from a highly sexual person and I hate that people perceive me as such based on a label. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Mom

I do feel the love from everyone in my life, you and others. It's another type of love I seek. You have to remember I was married for over a decade to a woman I knew didn't love me and all I could think about the entire time was how to make that void get filled.

Now that I am more comfortable with myself and I have a much better idea of what love is I want it. I don't want to wait for it. 

I have come to the conclusion that nothing, absolutely nothing, will be handed to me in this world and that everything, absolutely EVERYTHING I will have to fight for. From start to finish and then I will have to fight to maintain it. That is the reality.

Which means that I will have to fight for love as well. It goes with the common theme of our lives. Which I am not complaining about, its just the facts. I get a little disheartened at times because I wonder if I am always going to be alone. I am afraid of that. I am afraid that my past will never let go of its hold on me and that until the day I die I will be remembered solely by that time in my life. Which I guess I should expect. I just keep hanging on to hope that it's not true. 

But everyday that goes by and I have no love to write, no one to flirt with, no one to come visit me, no one I can call that will help fill that void, that part of me that I crave to fill. 

I realize that there are shades of love. Not just one kind. I love my family and it's true that there are times that I don't know how to express it. Likewise with finding a boyfriend, I don't know how to flirt. I have never had to. Dating is far from my expertise and picking up guys is even farther from my area of knowledge. I need help and I have no idea how to ask for it. The ways I have asked for help clearly haven't been effective because here I am stuck alone with no one to communicate with that can even come close to boyfriend material. Or hell, even come see me. I'd settle for a simple email.

I do need something from you. I need to get on a dating site or a penpal site. We need to try write and inmate again, only this time I will write a better ad. I am going to ask a few of the guys to read the ad before I send it to you because some of these guys write some terrible things in their ads but get 20 people that start writing them, clearly I have some disconnect in what modern flirting looks like. Maybe I can reach some happy medium.

I appreciate all that you do and the support that you provide, which is beyond what I deserve. I will try to do a better job of showing it, but, the only way I know how is to take action which leaves very little room for words. I have this idea in my head that when others begin to recognize me as someone who has made a difference in other peoples lives then I will have done something that PROVES I have changed rather then me saying I have changed. I am hoping to get rid of lip service and show rather then talk. Something I hate getting in return. I don't like it when people give me lip service, I don't need it and don't appreciate it. Besides which, I have lied so much in my life and I don't want to do it anymore. So the natural progession is to show you my love rather then tell you. 

I suppose I have some work to do.

Love
Jeff

Take Your Top Hat Off And Sit Down: Wishing There Were More Of James Dean Still

I was thumbing through a picture book the other day and it had all of these actors and actresses of the 40's and 50's. (save your snickering at the stigmas please) There were all these photos of James Dean, Cary Grant, Monroe and many many more. 

The one thing that caught my eye was the classy style of dress. Men wore top hats and their waist lines were around their belly buttons. They had this rugged sort of feel to their faces, weathered is a better term. I feel like if you took black and white photos of men today in the same dress and same camera and compared them to the men of the 40's you would be able to tell which one was from the 40's and which one was from today.

I think that part of that is skin cream's perhaps...I don't know? I do know that James Dean was hot and so was so many other men in that era. Though, it wasn't so much the men that rev my motor so much as the dress style. Even when they were just undershirts and torn up jeans, especially the jeans. They seemed more confident and secure in exactly what they were doing. I need that.

But that brings me to today's modern man. We have become obsessed with physical appearances and so many of us (yeah, I'm included in this as well) are seeking the type of body that perhaps for some of us is unobtainable. I say this as I sit here in my jogging sweats and music ready. I think that my confidence and likeability is directly tied to my image. My weight in particular.

I could have the biggest acne problem in the world on my face and still have confidence (though I am not diminishing the problem of acne, it is terrible to have to go through) but as soon as I gain 5 pounds all I can think about is getting rid of it and then let the barrage of self-insults begin. Many of us are maybe not so vain, as we are unconfident in ourselves and we associate confidence with our waist lines.

Perhaps we can simply move our waist lines back to our belly buttons and throw a top hat on...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Never Steal Cayenne Pepper & Never, Ever Hide It In Your Underwear!

With all the talk of food and my belly growing like I'm a pregnant women in Walmart in a power outage I have been kind of a grumpy cat. Okay, actually I've been a real bitch. I am man enough to say it. But I got to thinking about what it is that I really need right now. 

I have gone through every scenario in my head. First I thought maybe I need to focus on getting out in just a little under five years. Then I thought of reaching out to more people, then I thought of dating websites or pen pal websites. 

When none of that seemed to make me feel any type of relief upon planning it I dug into more books, reading nearly a book every two days. But after all this the one thing that I found myself craving the most was gay contact.

And no, not the physical kind. I mean just laughing with people about the things we experience together. Its telling stupid stories about our pasts, like the time I stole Cayenne pepper and a red pen. It goes like this, I used to work at a food factory and it was common practice to steal spices (something I no longer do BECAUSE of this story). So I got a glove full of cayenne pepper and put it in my tighty whitey's all safe and secure ready to get patted out and go home. 

Feeling pretty good about myself (I was such a heathen!) I went to the bathroom and also found a red pen. So I took the pen and shoved it in my underwear with the glove of cayenne pepper in a hurry. I did not realize that the pen had punctured the glove and my underwear and made a hole that gave the cayenne pepper direct access to my rectum.

So as I am walking to get searched every time I took a step another whaft of cayenne pepper would blow into my hole and as I got more and more in there I had to pretend that nothing was wrong as I stood there getting patted out. 

By this time my hole was on fire! It was red and ugly and I just knew it was going to be awful. But I made it through after some careful questioning because they could obviously smell it. Then I had to walk the long journey home. Which was about 600 feet or so, I mean, have you ever walked 600 feet with cayenne pepper being blown into your butthole? Longest walk EVER! 

Then to make matters worse I finally get home where I cannot take a shower because we are on lockdown now. So I run into the house and strip down to my birthday suit and get the warm water going in our cell sink. Bad idea.
The warm water, as I found out soon enough, opens your pores wider to receive more of the pepper come to find out. So the more I tried to scrub my poor backside with hot water the more it burned. It ended up taking me to the infirmary where they applied cold water and simple hand soap and some looked down their noses as to what in the hell I was doing.

Needless to say, I haven't stolen anything again because I took it as a punishment from God for my sin. I had just converted to Christianity.

It's little stories like this that I needed to share and to hear others like it, just to laugh. I still do. When we are depressed and feeling like the whole world is against us the thing our body wants to do is shut down but what we need most is to open wide our hearts and laugh. Just laugh.

I hope to hear your stories soon because I could use a really good laugh! Please, don't be shy, send me your goofs!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Everything Is So Sexual In The Gay Community: Wanting Something Deeper

I get tired of hearing nothing but sex comments all day. Particularly when I am already a little on edge. When I am already a little bitchy someone comes along and says something that is sexual and it just flat out pisses me off. 

It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't an everyday thing with everyone who see's me. Everyday it's some new avenue to talk about sex. If it's not one thing it's another. One day it's my hair, someone talks about wanting to hang on to it. When I don't respond well to their lame attempts at flirting then I am a bitch. Se La Vie (is that how you say oh well? Anyway, you get the point..).

If its not my hair then its my butt, if it's not my butt then it's my attitude. If they aren't talking about riding me like a show pony then its all about maybe they can bottom for me. All the while I am listening to all these people say all these things and I can't even get a freaking decent conversation unless I am entertaining sexual content. I get so sick of it!

I know where I am and I don't expect anything less. However, even when I do get to have a real conversation it feels like it's been so long and I am anticipating the derogatory comment at any moment. Seriously though, I could be talking about my long lost dead dog and somebody will turn that, somehow someway into something sexual and it absolutely bothers me to my very core. It get s on my nerves so bad that the only time I get to have a real talk with anyone is my therapist and my Mother, Love ya Ma...

My therapist asks penetrating questions that dig into me, make me think. My Mother knows me better than I know myself sometimes and I am waiting to let others in. I am ripe for the picking for crying out loud and what is most offensive is that I am either hated altogether or I am somebody's fantasy. Heck of a perdicament.

Perhaps some kind person out there can help me build some realistic defenses? I could sure use some help. I am not the only one, this is with almost every LGBTI person in prison. We are the object of lust when we eat, when we shower, use the bathroom brush our teeth and God forbid we work out. We could be reading a book and someone will find even that 'sexy'. It's disturbing. LOL!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hiding For The Holidays: Emotional Walls Are Rising

I have spent many years now, dealing with my many ups and downs. Being cognizant of my emotional struggles I have noticed that this year I have been putting up some big ole' walls. 

I have been at work every hour that they will let me and when I'm not there I'm doing everything possible to forget the holidays. Everything but celebrate.

I hate being this intentionally vulnerable, but here it goes anyway. I am hurting. I hate the fact that I'm in this place where my idea of a great Christmas is getting a card. Where I cannot go to church to hang out with church friends where I cannot hug my family. I regret deeply my actions coming here and I can't stand the fact that this place exists in my reality because I lost control. 

I am lonely and depressed and nothing I'm doing is filling the void that exists. Instead I feel like there is this vacuum where I once had my loved ones. 

At the risk of sounding pretentious I hate that I have made such significant changes in myself and yet I still have to live with the old me in existence, even if its only in my head and from the judgements of others. I can't stand it.

All my efforts to reach out have failed and the only contact I'm getting despite my best efforts is random people who have sent Christmas cards. Mainly from a program where if I write back it only goes to a po box where they do not reply back again, until next year.

I am craving human contact in which I get to interact with people on an intimate level. Just to talk about whatever. It doesn't matter, I just want to feel loved again. Like I'm not a waste, trash that has been thrown away or some iron bound slave that you write on a whim and then feel better because you wrote the terrible person, look how much better you are compared to your neighbor. I want to matter to somebody again. 

I love people, truly. I was afraid to admit it before I knew who I was. But I am vastly different then who I was before. I only wish somone would give me that chance.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Catching "The Gay": Watch Out Or We'll Cough On You!

It never ceases to amaze me the hilarity of homophobia. Every night when I leave work we kinda get crammed in this little foyer type room where we wait for the door to get opened so we can go back to our living units. The tight space almost always invokes some talk about "fags do this.." or "fags do that.." Stuff that I try not to let bother me or get involved in to much. I have feelings to. YUP! Gays feel stuff.

But tonight I was asked a very pointed question, if a particular action one guy was doing to another guy was considered "gay". All he was doing was pretending to touch his arm, btw. So I thought about it for a moment and told them "I wouldn't know, i'm not gay this week! I thought you guys got the memo, we can go straight until after Christmas, its a temporary cure." They all got a pretty good kick out of that and I noticed all of them get pretty uncomfortable.

I have to admit, I was satisfied making THEM uncomfortable for once. Usually I am the one who starts shifting in my skin while they gay bash the hell out of anyone within earshot. But tonight I decided to keep going. 

"Don't you know how you become gay?" I waited for the little room to go silent, they all stared at me with their eyes wide. "someone coughs on you, like this" then I coughed into the air loudly. Surprisingly almost everyone ducked in a wave of "oh man! Dont spread that shit!"

I continued..."yeah, this guy coughed on me and the next morning while I was stretching I noticed that I was craving penis."

These guys all started to get the joke and loosened up. But it goes in the whole charade of what they think homosexuality or transgenderism is, something that is indicative of disease. It was a stark reminder of what I am facing in life when it comes to being treated and thought of the same, which we all know is not always realistic.

Just thought I would share this little story with you, humor has a way of diffusing harsh situations, even in prison.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

From our house to yours, we wish you all a very merry Christmas.  May you receive everything you have dreamed of.

Love,
Valerie & Jeff

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Flirting With Disaster: Gay Hypersexualization Leads To Broken Hearts And Bad Vibes

Being in a tight knit community where there is no hiding you tend to treat people differently. Your more conscious of how people view you because you have to see them everywhere you go. Imagine all your ex's living in a big apartment building with you where you all eat at the same place and work in the same job. 

Knowing that, you make sure your limiting the amount of negativity that comes your way. Especially when those people are killers. You don't want to crush the heart of someone that may react in a way that causes physical harm.

Usually when I get hit on, which is frequently, I just laugh it off. I keep it lighthearted and remember that individual as someone to keep at arms length. Even if I find them attractive I don't reciprocate because in prison its still illegal to be gay. (You can say your gay all you want, but as soon as you act gay its now a punishable offense).

Well in all my encounters almost everyone figures it out that I am not into dating or sex right now. I always tell them that I am not dating anyone that's in prison because I can't express affection the way I want to. Which is true. I guess its my way of saying "its not you, its me".

Is it like this in the community to? Is this just a prison thing?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

It Cost $30,000 Each Year To House One Inmate In Washington State: I Can Reduce The Amount Of Inmates

Every state spends millions of dollars on programs that inmates despise. "Thinking For A Change" is a perfect example. The state spends millions on this program that teaches us basic manners. I am not exaggerating when I say that we had to practice saying please, thank you and how to introduce ourselves in four steps!

You paid millions for that. They claim that it will help our recidivism rates decline. I disagree. What they did was pad their success numbers by taking guys with 5-12 years left on their sentence and padded 80% of the participants with guys that were minumum custody, very low infraction history and were classified as "easy keeps"; meaning we obey authority well. Then housed us in medium custody. 

Its no wonder that we have such a high recidivism rate. The one thing that did work was real educations. It drastically lowered our recidivism rates and was cheaper. It cost, on average, $5,000 to educate an inmate once and $30,000 to house an inmate year after year. Pretty simple math really. 

Besides college educations being nearly impossible to obtain in here the other thing that's missing is heart. No one gives a shit. We are neatly packed away in a cell and so long as we only hurt each other things are fine. Well, no they are not fine. While inmates are in here beating he hell out of each other crime rates are still climbing in your neighborhoods. How can that be if the bad guys are locked up? I thought we were contained to this cell? You get my point. The truth is we have a societal problem, not a singular criminal problem. 

This means that we must begin treating a condition rather then punishing an act. Men and women are no longer learning needed skills for societal integration. This cannot be done by teaching basic manners in a prison. and charging the state millions to cover up major offenses while they do it. 

As inmates we know that we have control of our prison culture. In order to create a paradigm where violence ends and compassion begins we have to convince our neighbors that it will work to keep them out of prison and that success out there is possible. Every year inmates submit proposal after proposal that addresses specific needs. Needs that if met would actually help our recidivism rates decline. But year after year we are denied help because "funding" "lack of volunteers" " lack of staff" and the list goes on...

The single most effective tool for reducing crime is education. It just so happens that it is also one of the cheapest long term. But its the one thing we are not allowed. You tell me what we are. Because it seems to me we are no longer people to be helped but a commodity to be controlled. While we attempt to fix ourselves in here out there your world is falling apart, only one group of people benefit from that, the rich, specifically the rich who are invested in the prison industry. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Know Exactly What You Want

Goal setting goes far beyond initial wants. Achieving your goals is only possible when you have follow through and heart. Its one thing to say "I want to do such and such" but its something completely different to say and mean "I won't give up until such and such is completed"

As LGBT people we face unique obstacles that many others do not. Except perhaps minority groups today. But even then we are unique in that some of us are still fighting for recognition that we are legitimately born as we are, like those of different colors. This problem is compounded when you are gay and black for instance and even more compounded when you are black and trans. Or mexican and gay etc. God forbid you are middle eastern and gay...

We have goals that are similar in nature to one another as LGBT family. We, for the most part, want to be treated with dignity and respect. Our differences arise when our idea of dignity and respect differs. For some this means that we walk into a room and nobody knows anything about us, no assumptions, no stigmas. For others its walking into a room and every head turns and knows, "this person is such and such and there is no doubt!"

I believe that both angles are correct and it is simply a matter of perception and what each person needs and wants in life. Some are content with going to the grocery store every day and nobody mentioning the fact that they are holding hands with the same sex, it shoudn't even be a thought in anyone else's mind. For others, not so much.

But we cannot give up when one part of our goal doesn't go as planned. We cannot give up when the going gets rough. We have to keep on going because one thing I have figured out, nobody is going to hand you equality. Nobody. Not your Mother, not your boyfriend, not your girlfriend, not the neighbor down the street, not your boss, not the government, not any organization...nobody. You and you alone are the only one who is going to look out for exactly what you need.

The sooner we realize that in order for us to get the help that we need we first must help ourselves. If we do not love ourselves enough to give ourselves the best, how can we expect anyone else to give us their best? That is not how the world works, not now, nor has it ever.

Yes, getting what you want as far as any goal is going to be a challenge, but you can do it, you must do it. Because nobody is going to hand it to you. If you want something, your going to have to fight to get it because all the free stuff is gone, believe that.

But know this, while you are going out to accomplish your life, so am I and hundreds of thousands of others are too. Your not alone, there is support out there. Go get your life, your worth it.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

"I'm Not Welcome There": Have You Ever Said That And It Actually Be True?

I don't have to go through a list of scenerios I have been through for most LGBT people to feel the sting of those words. Have you ever had someone tell you "Its best for everyone if you don't come back"? Or "Are you sure you really want to be here, no one wants you here?". 

Being isolated and ostracized is hard to face in and of itself. But when you have to say "I'm not welcome there" its more like venom dripping from a wound then words leaving your mouth. And for some damn reason I can't figure out why it hurts every time I have to say it. I suppose I could just not answer or lie...

The most common place I get asked not to go is church. Yeah, go figure. When I do go, if they don't turn the whole damned service into a gay lynch mob I get glared at by the men in attendance and staff all but sits down next to me, making sure I understand I am being scrutinized. 

It sucks when a Christian person looks past all that and is a real Christian and invites me to church, as if I have never gone, and I have to say the words "I am not welcome there". 

"You aren't going to church tomorrow?"
"nah" I reply
"why not," he asks innocently "fall off?"
"No," I should lie and tell him I'm busy "um, I am not welcome there."
He chuckles "What do you mean, its church!"

"I would strongly disagree, more like a prison gang or racist group, hardly Christian" 

It usually goes something like that. 

How about the bathroom usage by our trans sisters? Imagine the haunting looks there, or the gay couple trying to arrange their wedding, not knowing what stores will emberrass them and refuse service. 

I know it hurts, I suppose I am not alone in this. 

Ever feel this? What did you do to cope? How about a little advice?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

If They Are Not Against You They Are For You: But What If They Are Against You?

I am very popular here in this prison. People who don't know me get nervous when meeting me for the first time. It makes me feel weird because it doesn't make sense to me, regardless, it happens anyway. 

I championed a cause here that many of them watched unfold very publicly. Those that didn't watch first hand heard stories. The whole institution anticipated our first meeting. Which happened. Though, I wasn't happy with it initially because I seen it going differently then what happened in reality. But my original goal was reinforced when everyone looked to me for how they should respond to it. I was unable to hide my disappointment. 

It took a few days to get focused again, but I did and now I am as excited as ever. Because even though it didn't go as planned, it did happen. Literally, a thousand people told me it would never happen. But it did...

Having said that, I am getting prepared to continue to work for my goal. But because I didn't get this immediate, magical, successful group that went over flawlessly some took it as my failure and the hen coup began to cluck.

Imagine my surprise when suddenly I become a failure in so many peoples eyes again. I never even thought that other people would be emotionally invested enough to say negative comments about me. But its happening. The good news is this, I know exactly how to handle negative and doubtful people. I won their support once and it won't take long to do it again. Support is not what I need though. What I need is for them to realize that they need one another. That we need one anothers compassion and shoulders and empathy.

One by one I have been speaking to those who have been to chatter about me. I am reminding them of my original goal, which was to bring them together so that tough issues can be discussed as a sort of family. Then I remind them that nothing changed and that we have no time for backbiting and murmuring amongst each other. One by one they are realizing two things. One, that I still love and respect them, even when they talk crap about me and two, I am not giving up on my goal which includes them.

Sometimes we can silence a few of the haters. Sometimes you cannot. But it cannot hold you back from your life. Your life must go on. The more determined you become about your goal, the more passionate and driven you become the more people hate it. Not because of you, but because they cannot decipher where your drive is coming from. So they chatter. 

In my case its the ones who are chattering that I am building a community for. I love them anyway and its not something they are used to. Unconditional friendship. But its exactly what I will give them because its what they need, its what we all need. Someone to look past our mistakes and see our true nature which is loveable. This is true of everyone, not just those in here. When the trolls come, tell them you love them...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Community Builders: You May Not Know That You Are

Lasting communities are built with hearts, not hands. With love, not money. The most poverty stricken places on earth can have the richest community. Community is all about building bridges to peoples hearts. Some may even say souls. 

Funny how those who do this the most effectively usually don't know that they are even doing it at all. Community builders are the people in our lives that love us and do so without reservation. They are the people that when we see them we just start telling them about the good we've done in ourselves lately. They are the people we mourn for when they are no longer with us. The ones we actually miss.

You may have been this person, or are this person. Your heart is infectious to the world, being nice to people is the right thing to do. Being remembered as snotty, to busy, always sick (when your really not), unhappy, bitter, or angry is useless to everyone but most of all for you. It does nothing to improve your situation and everything to destroy it.

So if your the one who is nice, who listens to those who ramble on, who takes time to inject love anywhere it fits, thanks. Your a community builder and we need more of them.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

The War Within The LGBT Population

My whole goal is unity so that those who have inner turmoil have a strong support system to depend on. That means that those of you out there and those of us in here need to reach out to one another. But I seem to be running into a huge obstacle, ego.

For instance, a few of the trans girls here in prison are quite threatened by some of the popular homosexual men. At first I didn't get this, at all. They seemed to fight like stray cats in an alley. Every time they get out of ear shot of one another all I hear is hissing and complaints. I find it somewhat amusing that either of them, though in this instance it was usually instigated by the girls, would be threatened by the other considering one likes straight guys while one likes gay guys, at least that's my opinion.

That doesn't seem to matter. There is a serious gap in our community and the only time I've seen all of us unite is in the wake of tragedy, like Orlando. Then we all mourned together, even feared together, and were outraged together. I don't want that to be our only uniting thread that you see. 

I also don't want those in here to feel as if they are on their own. Healing is taking place where I am at. This prison is different then any other prison in the country. There is a different kind of incarceration going on here. I have been shouting as loud as I can from the rooftops and it seems like nobody is listening. Well...I promise you this, I'm going to make it hard to sleep at night until people start stirring and paying attention. There is a group of people that are hurting, abused, neglected and they need YOUR help. They need to see that people care whether they live or die, succeed or fail...they need to know the world doesn't hate them. Yeah, I get that they committed a crime or several, and they are paying a penalty. But prison doesn't correct the problem, it breeds violence. It desensitizes and numbs your conscious into submission so that you can watch a mans throat get slit and only be bothered by it because it might delay your meal. Yeah...

But here in THIS prison, things are different. Men and women are coming together, were learning and spreading compassion. Were helping each other and using emotions and feelings...Don't give up on us, please.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pouring Out my Heart: Lessons In Determination

Even though I ended up in prison I stayed on the right side of the tracks. For the most part. The problems began for me when I gave all I had of me to a woman incapable of giving me anything back. Of course, being young and niave I didn't realize that until long after we divorced. 

Being married to a woman wasn't bad. As a gay man I wasn't satisfied sexually but that was fairly easy to overcome and look beyond. What I wasn't able to accept was not being loved or trusted in return. When you attempt to ignore your nature for someone and they won't even try to appreciate it, or anything you do, it gets pretty dark mentally.

I did this for over ten years before prison saved me. I might even say that my crime was sadistically done with the intention of getting caught...don't forget the title of this post...

I don't miss my marriage. I miss my children, being a dad, a responsible human being. That's what I miss. I miss the comfort of knowing I could love someone, even if they didn't love me back, at least I got to show what was inside me that way.

Now here I am typing on a tiny screen to people I cannot see doing the same thing. Loving without remorse. Its not the only reason though. I do have goals here. But it does surprise me it took me this long to really admit that. Part of me hopes that people will respond and let me into their lives on a personal level. 

However, having said that, its not the only reason I write every day and expose my vulnerability the way I do. Otherwise I would have given up long ago. I do this because I actually believe I can help the LGBT community and others. I am hopelessly in love with people and I cannot, will not accept that there is nothing I can do about crime and victimization. I can do something about it and this blog is just the first step of changing the atmosphere, people will eventually expect to see action and hopefully you will be inspired to practice active compassion on the people you meet. Warm smiles and gentle words...

Thank you for listening to my heart, but know this, I cannot give up, I won't give up. I believe your worth me fighting for. I will spend the rest of my life proving I am worthy to be loved in return. I will prove it by continuously and foolishly pouring out my heart on anyone who will stand still long enough for me to do it. Perhaps that will make a difference...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Self-Enslavement: I Know What It Feels Like To Have Addiction, I Also Know Its Possible To Heal From It

Addictions of any sort are never easy. I remember as a teen my Mother was addicted to a pretty hard drug and it changed her entire presence. But I also watched what she went through to beat that addiction. Which wasn't easy because not only was she battling her own addiction, but it seemed as though she was battling herself and maybe even life itself. Not something I appreciated until I had to combat my own addictions.

Now here my Mother is 20 years later and you would never know she used to be a strung out meth addict unless someone told you, even then its hard to believe. But therein lies my point, healing and restoration is possible! I know for a fact.

It really doesn't matter what the addiction or bad habit is. Nothing your doing right now in secret is something you can't bounce back from, nothing. The feeling of overcoming yourself and beating as strong as an addiction is overwhelming and something to be proud of. Why? Because your not overcoming a substance or the thing your doing, your overcoming yourself. Your overcoming your childhood, your overcoming abuse, neglect, self-esteem and any other trauma you may have experienced.

But healing is possible if you make the right choices and take the right steps. It requires compassion on yourself and from those you surround yourself with. It requires that you clean out the lies, tell the right people you need help and then brace yourself for a difficult road. But along the way you will feel rewarded because you are not alone and the strength and courage it took to even ask for help was tremendous. 

Anyone out there struggling with addiction: You don't have to lose everything to get out of this mess. I promise you that whatever you have done its not your lowest possible point. Promise. Show yourself some love and compassion and reach out, please. Because honestly, I know exactly what it feels like to create a victim because I was to afraid to ask for help...nothing will ever haunt you like that, I promise you. Now is the time, I love you and you have support from me. If you need to talk, as always I am here...I will never not respond!!!! Best way to contact:

Jeff Utnage 823469
H4-B-130-U
Stafford Creek Correction Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA. 98520

No judgement, gauranteed, only love and respect and friendship...no matter what!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, December 12, 2016

Long Term Exposure To Negativity Has Real Health Consequences

I'm not a scientist or doctor, but I know how to read just fine. I am not going to get to technical on you but I am going to explain a little about neuroscience, though not much.

Our brain has amazing survival instincts. Everyone has heard of flight or fight response. Well, this happens involuntarily in times of crises. Your brain activates certain functions in you body to help you prepare for flight or defense. Like dialated pupils, a dose of adrenaline etc. Those are only a few of the things that happen. As your brain assess the need for these things it either increases its response or it decreases in accordance with its perceived danger level. 

Now, this system gets activated when we are in times of emotional stress to. To what level is up to your brain. An important chemical that is released during times of stress is Cortisol. Maintaining high levels of this hormone can cause many negative health effects. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, unwanted fat storage etc. 

When you are in an abusive relationship, or do drugs, or are always perceiving the world around you as a threat then you are frequently tapping into this part of your brain. Which has real consequences. Yeah its a great survival tool for when you need to fend of an attacker or run from a real threat. But its not healthy to have the same level of hormone changes because some idiot cut you off in his car. Or you couldn't make your mortgage payment. Or your kid did something that kids do. 

Before you get up in the morning make it your intention to smile before you get out of bed. Because laughter and happiness are things that lower Cortisol levels. You don't need a pill, you need to control you emotions. So laugh, watch some funny videos before you head out on your day...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Facing Your Demons

Everybody has one or more "demons" that haunt them. Whether its anger issues, drug addictions, promiscuity, daddy issues or whatever. We all have at least one. I personally have several. 

Let's use smoking as an example. I quit about 18 months before I got locked up. After nearly 15 years of smoking. So when I came to prison I didn't miss them much. Until you see them and smell them. Then all of a sudden this well of emotion comes and here you are facing a demon you thought was long dead. Lucky for me I am able to remain strong in such instances.

Facing our problems is so incredibly important. If you can say no once you can do it twice. Taking control of your life is the single most empowering thing one can do. If your coming back from drug addiction and you come to prison there are nothing but drugs and time. Its everywhere. When you thought you were long past an addiction just wait until you have to face it. Your strength and resolve will be challenged, that demon aims to find out just how much you have "recovered".

You must learn to have compassion on yourself and hate the thing that tempts you. If its meth you must learn to hate meth. If its any single object you must learn to despise it. This isn't the case with things like promiscuity. This you must learn to respect your body. Do you not know that you are royalty? Princes and Princesses? You are to treat you body with the dignity and pride it deserves. Your spirit dwells within you and your body is its guardian and temple. Have respect for your vessel.

You are strong enough to overcome the temptations you dread. Find people who will strengthen and uphold you. You do not need accusers to point out your flaws, you need compassionate friends who know how to love.

With Love
Jeff Utnage