Tuesday, April 12, 2016

4-10-2016

Recognizing What You DO Have: Take Time To Reflect

It seems so often that we focus solely on the 'have not' part of our lives that we don't stop to consider the 'haves'. Let me describe what prompted this.
By now you know that I have been *metaphorically* in the trenches of activism here in prison. Every once in a while someone will pull up next to me and will offer temporary and fickle (though it is meant well and heartfelt) support. But no one that I have spoken to has been willing to step up to the plate and start swinging. They stay behind the batters box and give batting tips having never swung. Don't get me wrong, there are many men who care about LGBTQ equality here, both men and women, but how and where to start has been the issue. The main idea behind any prison reform in their minds has been this physical struggle that they have seen in the movies. The idea that equality will stem from following the current methodology of prison survival is foolhardy. When there is a minority group here they start a prison gang and practise physical violence. When people here see my struggle and aren't gay, they bring up gang tactics as help. 
It's gang tactics that got us into this mess in the first place! I will not entertain that idea in my head. I know that it wasn't healthy 20 years ago and it isn't going to be healthy now. I have settled for nothing and this is what brought me to my current mindset which is thankfulness. 
I have many faults that I manage daily, but one thing I will not compromise on is what I want. Which is a safe and productive place to rehabilitate myself. God knows my heart and knows that I have not wavered in my goal, so He offered relief. He offered help. I want to take the time to count this blessing. He has worked in the heart of my prisons administration and they have taken it upon themselves to include LGBTQ in normal prison functions. Like cultural events, peer support etc. But perhaps the thing I am most thankful for is that even though they have received opposition, they are unwavering. Men here make their case to hate us and isolate us daily (when they are not asking for sexual gratification, that is) based on "are you sure it's a good idea to let them gather in one place together" as an argument that they feel is just. Something that has been given credence for generations. BTW, my rebuttal for that is "are you sure that you, being a straight man can control yourself around a group of women without turning into a sexualized predator?". Since this is what they accuse the gay community of it's a harsh accusation that they get offended by but the point gets made.
I thank the administration for standing firm and resolute thus far. I thank God, Jesus, for changing the hearts of men. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage 823469

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