Sunday, April 24, 2016

Too Gay? Nope...

I work in an environment that took a long time to build a working relationship with. They're comfortable with me and all my attributes and me with theirs. Because I am so "out" whenever someone gets hired on that everyone suspects (rationally or irrationally) is gay they all come to me like children telling on the neighbor boy. So its not a surprise when the ones that are gay find me and find me rather boldly. Sometimes anyway. It is with a sense of pride that I have a community here that is building day by day. 
Like any community there are some rather strange people with personalities that are far from easy to accept. These ones I have a hard time approaching because they bring so much negative attention with them that I immediately get nervous that they are going to ruin what I've worked for. I didn't realize this could be a flaw on my part. A man came to me with a seedy reputation. Everyone warned me about him before he even got here. Saying he's bad news, he'll sabotage my work, he'll do this or that... blah blah blah. I considered this for a long time and chose to introduce myself to him and let him know what I expected. Which was that he would behave himself around me. This kind boldness on my end scattered him and his confidence dwindles when he talks to me. Around nearly anyone else he's a lion of a personality but around me he's a stammering fool. 
So he comes to me to ask of its a good idea to participate in the upcoming activities that our prison is allowing for the gay community. I was floored. "Of Course!". That's how I responded and I meant it. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong in judging him so harshly and that I have protected myself unnecessarily against him when he was never a threat. Maybe it was good for him to hear first hand what his reputation has done for him. But he is the kind of man I can help when he wants it. And I believe he does. Of he didn't, then he wouldn't have asked "if I behave myself will I be able to go or has my reputation ruined any chances of that kind of support?". Then he really opened up to me and I realized how much I could help him if he was ready. 
This is a guy that everyone has given up on. DOC, family...friends...everyone. He was a monster, someone to lock away forever living under the stigma of his crime. So he became that until he seen me. Then he realized that there was the possibility of a better way. He wasnt stuck like that. It wasn't me that did this. It was three things that came together to assist his mind. 1) God, Holy Spirit instilled it in his heart to pay attention and be willing to change. 2) He seen someone else loving and living confidently in the way he wanted to and I was accessible ( make yourselves approachable people!). 3) His father gave him a second chance. 
That one olive branch his dad extended to him was just what he needed to think to himself "I don't want to lose him again, what needs to change and who can help?" We all make a difference in each other. It may not happen on "our" time, but you never know when the right thing might happen to inspire real change. And if it doesn't take, its not because you weren't willing.

With Love
Jeff Utnage 823469

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