Thursday, September 29, 2016

FYI - Blog Posts

I am Jeff's mom and I do his blog posting. Some days you will see lots of posts and other days none at all. That is in part due to the email system in prison. They review all his incoming and outgoing mail. Not just for him but all prisoners. So what he sends out everyday isn't what I get. Some days I don't get any emails, and then the next day I will have 8 like today. I post them all at once because I am busy as well and don't always have the time to check my emails and do something with them.

So please keep this in mind when you check his blog. If there is a delay in his postings that is why.

Take care of each other and smile.

Building Bridges In Your Community

We have all had lots of experiences with people that involve bad attitudes. Sometimes it was because of us, sometimes it was the other persons fault. Either way, we've all dealt with it a lot. 

As a man who needs to make connections with people to promote tolerance and acceptance my primary audience is those who don't tolerate or accept me. Which brings me in view of many who flat out don't like me. Some are terrified they are going to "catch the gay". As silly as that sounds its still a legitimate thought in some peoples minds.

In this case the million dollar question is how do you build connections with people who don't like you? 

In short you have to be tolerant of them. Acceptance and tolerance is a two-way street. You may not win them all. You may only win a few, but two is greater then none. Clearly. The way that I do this is not by shoving my views down their throat. Its not by putting myself in their personal space. Nope, I have to do it through one interaction at a time. Its the small things. 

Someone may not remember everything you do, but they will always remember how you make them feel. I've said this before about file building. Every person you meet builds a file on you, unconsciously. They use the information provided to make character assessments. You don't need a psychologists degree to understand this concept. So, having established that everyone does this, we have the opportunity to add things to their filing system.

We do this slowly, over time. They may have a preconceived idea about who we are based on false information in their file on us. But we can't be angry about their feelings. But we can do something about it, without conflict. It's simple "hello" "good mornings". Its being stable and consistent with them. Giving them something to expect every time they see you will continue to add positive information to their file on you. Enough positives and it will slowly start to produce fruit. They will be able to hold a conversation.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Dreaming In Gay

Something occurred to me. I like being gay. I'm not ashamed of it at all. I started working on my self esteem sometime ago and I guess its starting to work. I even began listening to Christina Aguilara 'Beautiful' every morning just to reinforce that I'm okay. 

I dream in gay. I love my community. I am proud of our community and the achievements of our predecessors. Now I'm even happier to take the torch or follow the footprints. I tell me friends that I want to change the world. Most of them just laugh at me, but I don't care. I'm gonna. That's that.

I'll do it all while dreaming of being accepted and loved. I have built this idea of what love and acceptance means to me and now I'm doing my best to practice it. Everyday I want to greet every person with a fresh perspective. Today is new, yesterday is gone and I'm ready to start over. Try again or keep going. Whatever needs to happen. It doesn't scare me anymore, not like it used to. 

What scared me was rejection and judgement. But once you've been flat out rejected and judgement by everyone who meets you, that's not such a big deal anymore. A big part of me is completely free, free to dream in gay. Free to think I can change the world. Yeah, I've done horrible things. Its true. But does that mean that I shouldn't try and do good now? Do you expect I should stay in some evil demented box? What good is that? 

No, I'm not that person anymore. Flat out, I've changed and it doesn't matter who doesn't believe in me. Because me changing the world only depends on me. Its my dream, its my goal and I intend to accomplish it. I abhor violence. I abhor control and intimidation and bullying. I abhor drugs and saying that evil is good, and good is evil. I don't agree we have to accept the world around us. I can CHOOSE to be different. I can CHOOSE to change. Now watch me do the impossible, all while dreaming in gay.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Being Hated Because Of An Experience That Doesn't Involve You

As a kid I heard people close to me talk about when they were kids. Racism was a disease that ran rampant in the rural areas of the Midwest. So I would hear them talk about one single experience with another race and then all of a sudden the whole race was like that. A poor excuse to marginalize is what it was. 

As an adult I have had to shun that mindset of racism and thank God I found a better way. Holding every black man accountable because my uncle got into a fight once with one just doesn't make much sense, not to me or anyone really.

So here I am and I run into this frequently, only I am not a black man. I am a gay man. Some guy gets raped in prison 30 years ago when in was 4 and I become the Devil queer because this guy still remembers his horrific experience. Not to diminish a traumatic experience, it takes some special care and everyone is different. But I am not the guy who did that and it wasn't a 'gay' thing, it was a 'predatory' thing. That was one man out of billions. How do I explained that one? If logic was still present I never would have been hated by the guy in the first place.

Now I have had to adjust my life to accommodate his irrational phobia and as far as he's concerned he drove the Devil fag away. I have not internalized his beliefs, but his actions got to me. They effected me. This I find irritating.

I want to love everyone. Even some bigoted old man who would rather watch me bleed out then live out and gay. I have no choice but to accept his beliefs as his and do my best to give him his space. Because making him afraid is not an option as far as I'm concerned. Fear got him to where he is emotionally, which is unhealthy. If I want to change the world, and I do, I must love those who hate me. 

Any ideas?

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Right Of Passage Into Adulthood: What Is It?

When the government calls you an adult and when you feel like an adult are two different times. As a teenager I thought smoking a cigarette marked the transition because that was the first thing I did, I bought a pack of cigarettes. 

As a man today I realize I did not feel like an adult then. I only know this because I feel like one now. The difference is dramatic. So this presents a problem that I think needs to be solved in American society. What kind of rituals are we providing our youths so they know they are entering adulthood? 

Cultures in times past sent their older teens on nature quests. Spend 'X' amount of time alone surviving in the wilderness and when you come back you are an adult in the villages eyes. Why did we get away from this? 

As parents if we did a good job teaching our children survival skills for the world we live in then it should not be anything but pride that you feel when they leave. Right? Perhaps over time we have stopped the traditional rights of passages handed down because somewhere along the lines a parent was a horrible teacher and did not prepare their children for survival. So then it became cruel. All I hear is excuses on all accounts. 

In our culture today sending your kid into the wilderness is much to dangerous because we don't know the woods anymore. The streets are even worse. So what has replaced this important part of human nature? You can't tell me graduating high school, buying smokes and voting are it. That's the celebration we offer? That's the test? Grab this paper, smoke a cigarette and choose your leader kid...yup, now your an adult! Good luck! Perhaps as a culture we should be creating end of high school celebrations that specifically mark the end of one stage and the beginning of another. A clear line that can be crossed. For some their parents may have done this, good for them. But for many this is unusual. 

Food For Thought: What Right Of Passage Would Have Been Instrumental In Your Life?

For me I think I would have done well to have been taken somewhere wild with a group of people my age and forced to find my way back and survive. Or maybe have to set up a camp and live there alone...I don't know, something like that is what I would have preferred. Accomplishment of something difficult is the key for me.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Conversations With God

I lean on God. I do my best to draw near, even when I know I've done wrong. What I have learned over the years is that I have to pray, I have to be honest with God about what's real. 

For instance, have you ever bargained with God? "Oh God, if You do this one thing for me I swear I'll never do it again". whatever 'it' is. How realistic was that? Not very. 

Our prayers should be conversations. When I pray I receive logic. I am a highly emotional person. I tend to react to my emotions strongly, I've done so my whole life. However, since I have been saved and have gone through some dramatic psychological changes, I recognize I think emotionally and try to curb it. When I find myself going back to old habits I stop and have a conversation in my little prayer closet. 

God doesn't want to hear us beat ourselves up or call ourselves names. His mercy extends when we need it, each and every time. Christianity from a mankind stance is this outward expression of humility. But God doesn't want us to prove were humble to anyone but Him. You can't prove it with words anyway, only with actions. But real Christianity is love. Love God, love people. Period. Nothing else matters! 

I have conversations with God and I always feel better, confident in whatever is next. When I get overwhelmed He always provides something that eases the process.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can help. Though financial contributions are needed, money doesn't fix everything, you do. What's needed most is your heart. Below is the many ways you can contribute:

1) Volunteer at you local institution. Every prison has an LGBT community and even if they don't have a current program to support them, most facilities should welcome the idea. I can help with this by providing anyone my initial proposal that was approved by my facility.

2) Volunteer at the local schools. Reaching kids before they make bad decisions is ideal. You can contact your local school district and tell them you would like to mentor LGBT kids. Its needed now more then ever. Mentorship often involves listening, something kids lack the most in their lives. Having an open and affirming adult in their lives who is consistent and caring can and will make significant differences later in life. Especially when you consider their home lives may be in turmoil.

3) Send articles and information. By this I mean anything inspirational, educational or preventative. We need materials on drug rehabilitation, stress relief, suicide prevention, prostitution recovery, religious materials, positive messages of any sort, LGBT stats of all sorts, short stories etc. Anything that provokes emotional experiences within.

4) Send books! If you can afford to do so, you can send us books. There are restrictions on this, books must be sent directly from a vendor such as amazon.com or Barnes And Noble and they must be new. My facility will reject them otherwise. Literature of all types is welcomed. I will donate it to our library once I'm done reading it and if its self help we will probably use its message for our groups personal growth. I welcome all reading levels and genres. Though, educational, historical and self help literature is needed most. However, don't be shy to send thought provoking fiction that relates to the LGBT community somehow. 

5) We need financial contributions donated directly to our facility LGBTI account. We will be holding a Pride Event in June of 2017 and we will need enough money in their to cover the cost of meals for all attendees and perhaps some creative materials for decor. It will be our second annual Pride event and in June of 2016 we made Washington State history with DOC's first EVER LGBT Pride Event, with your financial contributions this will be possible for a second and third year!!

6) Letters of support! Do you know someone in prison? Did you know that a simple letter of how your doing can change someone's life? Simply telling us how your doing is such a blessing. Your testimonial is important too, hearing how you have overcome adversity is equally powerful. Many of us in here face segregation, hate and bigotry. 

7) Send us your ideas for group building exercises. Exercises we can do as a group that will strengthen us both emotionally and mentally. Perhaps it with stir some inner dialogue that will lead someone to want to change their lives, maybe you just want to recommend a program? Tell us! 

8) Religious safe zones! There is so much turmoil over religion and anything LGBT. If you have any type of religious materials, advice or pastoral care you can give, that is perhaps the most important element. As a Christian man in prison, I am not welcome in the main church here because I am openly gay. Tell us what churches are open and affirming to the LGBT community, what mosques, what temples...etc.

9) Any type of support you can think of! Be sure to watch for arts and crafts we will be making for fundraising! I welcome all ideas and suggestions and critiques! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Living In The Shade

My viewpoint is beginning to shift slightly. I used to think that when you do well, people like that. Maybe it was a fairytale notion. But something inside me always said "when you accomplish what you set out to do, people will like you more, people like go getters". 

Unless they are me, apparently. It seems as though the opposite may be true with me. The more I accomplish in prison, the more shade I get. So my viewpoint is changing, like I said. Its changing to "the better you do for yourself, the bigger target you become". I don't believe this is prison specific. I think this is universal. Any boss in a large company could tell you this same thing I think.

But this isn't all a bad thing. Don't want to put out the idea here that this is a whine session. No, this is going somewhere. I've just always had this fear of judgement from people. And the more I do for myself the more I see that those same people I'm trying to get acceptance for are the same people that hate the fact I'm doing positive things. 

You know what they hate even more though? Self acceptance. The more sure of myself I get, the more they passively hate me. Throwing shade. It seems I never see the sun if they'd have it their way. 

But this is where the balance begins to shift for me though, the point. I don't have to agree with their assessment! I don't have to live in the shade. I can say "I don't deserve that!" Because I don't...

So now my attention shifts to you, you have a choice too. Someone throws out negativity, you don't have to accept it. You can choose to disagree. Then its settled, literally.

When you read this next sentence say it out loud:

I don't have to accept the opinions and judgements of other people. I choose positivity today, their offer of negativity is not acceptable because I deserve better.

That's it. Your worth better, no matter what you've done, no matter what anyone tells you, no matter what. You deserve better. Believing that is ONLY up to you.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Taking The Time To Be Kind: You Can't Afford To Be To Busy To Help!

I have a friend in here who has Life Without The Possibility Of Parole. He was given a death sentence, essentially. But here's the thing, the man he was twenty years ago isn't the man he is today. He has gone through immense personal changes and he has given his life time and time again to help guys like me, unselfishly. 

He has spent the last 15 or so years doing nothing but helping others. He has no family who writes him, though he writes them once a month, they never respond. Interestingly enough he says "Jeff, I can't stop writing them because for twenty years I've written and not one has been returned, at least they're getting them. They know I care. That's the type of guy he is. Impossibly positive and upbeat.

I think about him late at night and the profound impact his transparency and hope has had on my life. He can't even talk about his impact on the community without crying, he is possibly the most remorseful and honestly transformed man I have ever met, he's by far the nicest and most caring. That's saying something.

I am going to take the time to write an impact statement for a commutation hearing for him next year. Tell the world how this man has helped me because of his character now. His genuine care for mankind today. 

Who in your life can you help? It doesn't have to be life or death decisions. It can be small things, and truthfully, you don't have to completely know them. You just might be the only person who has ever tried to help without expecting something in return. What might that do to a person? How might that help? One person can change the world. What would happen if 100 people tried? What about 1000? What about 1,000,000? What would that do? One million acts of kindness every single day? What if we could turn that into one million acts of kindness an hour? What would our world be then?

I'm just sayin'. Your world is what we make it. You can contribute negatively or positively. I may have seriously screwed up before, but I won't do it again, I know I can help prevent other crimes like mine and I'll go to my grave trying to end it still. I'll also make time for as many of my friends as I have. Why? Because one day I might need help and I hope there is someone willing to recognize the good in me besides me.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Learning To Act Gay Late In Life

I grew up acting straight. I wanted to do ballet, for instance. But I wasn't bold enough to express that, girls did ballet. My Mother wasn't disapproving but I never confided much of my very private thoughts in her. I remember when I was 8-9 years old when Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley were on SNL competing for a Chippendale's spot on a skit, I thought "I want to do that!". So I convinced my Mom to buy me a Chippendale calender, love them shiny speedos!

Now, later in life I have been out officially for six years and I have only felt comfortable enough to express my sexuality in the past three or so. I've suppressed these feelings for 25 years, there's a lot to get out dears.

I mentor many men in here of all ages. Some have been out there whole lives, some only a few months and some of everything in between. Something that amazes me nearly daily is the vast differences in what acting "gay" means to them. For some its attention seeking, for some its flamboyance, for some its ultra private, for some its being a diva, for some its sports, for some its turning out straight guys, for some its remaining label less. Each of them believes there identity is "the" identity that's the best. Truthfully, for them, it is.

I sit back and I analyze how any of these traits fit me. Some do, some don't. Sometimes I sit back and say "God, I don't like that about gays". or "God I hope I don't have to do that too!"

As human beings we look to our surroundings for ideas on our identities. This is dangerous and foolhardy because the "gay" identity is just as fluid as the "straight" identity. Every character type I listed above I have witnessed straight people engage in as well. Being flamboyant is probably the only thing that's unique to the gay world and truthfully I've seen some swishy straight guys...

My whole point here is that we can't "learn" to act gay because we don't have a model. Were individually different with our only commonality that remains absolute is our love for the same sex. Everything else is subject to cultural influences like race, neighborhoods, parenting styles etc etc etc. Even then, none of those are clear indicators of a persons character. 

What do gays act like? Me...and I reserve the right to change it up at any given moment without notice!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Timing: Listening To Your Instincts

Have you ever had a gut feeling and ignored it? Just to kick yourself in the butt later because you were right? Maybe couldn't put your finger on it but something inside of you was sounding a warning alarm loud and clear.

I've ignored that little siren to many times to not listen to it now. I could give example after example but I will spare you the drama. 

But I do want to encourage you to stop and pay attention to yourself when that little nondescript voice starts telling you to be cautious. I don't know how our brains do it, maybe we pick up non verbal cues around us subconsciously, maybe its a guardian angel...who knows. But stopping to evaluate your situation won't hurt you a bit. In fact, it will probably stop you from making a mistake.

I recently switched jobs because of such a feeling. I couldn't put my finger on it but I felt uncomfortable, no reasonable explanation why. But I can tell you I've been waiting for the right job to come along and it came just in time. Now that I've switched officially I feel like a burden has been lifted off of my chest. Suddenly it feels like I've just ran a marathon and it just ended. This tells me I've done the right thing because there is this sense of "its finally over". whatever that is.
Our bodies are peculiar things, listen to them.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

A Vision Only You Can See

I envision a world where support groups aren't needed. Where the NAACP and GLAAD aren't necessary anymore. Love and tolerance for all, real equality and the acceptance of each persons uniqueness. 

I want a world where crime is gone, unheard of even. Sin? What's that? The word "victim" is no longer needed. Families don't tear each other apart and abuse ends. Where our children are safe and everyone is open and affirming. Utopia, I guess. Maybe even Heavenly.

I believe its possible and even though I may be 100% delusional, that's not going to stop me from doing my part. Tell someone that you want a perfect place to raise your kids...go ahead, tell someone that. You'll usually get some sarcastic remark about "wish in one hand...". I can't control everyone else, but I have control of me. I can make a vow at any time to be nice, respectful, pay my bills, stay clean, help my brother and neighbor. Its up to me. So what if you get used? Let's just keep it real, you know how much I've lost in the past five years because I've been used? I stopped counting. Its not because I have this abundant source of anything physical, no, quite the contrary in fact. I make $33/month, I choose to donate 10% back to God and when I help people out, sometimes my entire check goes out and I'll never get paid back. 

But I would like to point out, I don't go without. Somehow, I always have my creature comforts. I get plenty to eat, enough I need to work out, I always have a cup of coffee for the morning and soap is abundant. This isn't the case for many. 
I try to not be reckless, but, when your trying to do something for righteous reasons and you get used, don't give up! 
Sometimes it seems like your the only one trying and the only one who sees your vision. Everyone else doubts. A few examples, basic ones at that, Christopher Columbus (though I REFUSE to acknowledge he discovered America, he was instrumental in proving the world was round and not flat). No one believed him, until he proved it. What about going to the moon? What about flight or getting over your first love? All impossible at one point. 

Your vision is yours and you should keep trying. I have many, I believe that one day I won't be remembered for my worst act, best case scenario I'm not remembered at all, but the footprints I leave behind...perhaps someone will find them leading to a good place and keep on making them. 

You have to believe in you so others can too, its as simple as that. You want Utopia? Act like it first, then others will know its possible and follow, I'll start...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Ostracism Of The Bisexual Community



I've slept with both sexes. Men and women and though I prefer men almost exclusively I remember a time in my sex life where a women satisfied my needs. But am I bisexual? No. 

I deal almost exclusively with the LGBT community anymore and in a group everyone is well behaved and mannered. But when we're alone I notice that lines get drawn. Bisexuals always getting the short end of the stick. Straights avoid them, gays want them to pick a side and the bisexual community seems to be pushed to the outer realms of our little gaytopia because of a lack of empathy, compassion and an unrealistic expectation. Sound familiar? Sounds like that's exactly what happens to us gays and lesbians and transgendered peeps. We should never be the ones to draw a line for people to toe especially when we have spent so much effort on getting people who can never understand us to accept us. What kind of double standard is that? Be like us or else...

I had a boyfriend for about 2 1/2 years and we broke up, but I remember being hurt a little when I found out later on he's married, to a woman. He wasn't bisexual when we were dating, he was against it. But in retrospect I have to admit that as gay as I am, I wouldn't close the door on love. Do I believe that I could love a woman? Not really, do I believe its going to happen?? Nope! I have pretty specific desires that only a man can fulfill. But then again, I'm not a young man anymore and sex isn't everything. Love is love is love.

I guess my point is that we are all "queer" people, peculiar in our own ways and we need to support one another in every way possible. We don't need a complete understanding of everything to love it and support it. At least I don't. I hope that most folks can just take some things at face value. 

Just to clarify, I'm not bisexual. But anything is possible! I could wake up tomorrow with six fingers, unlikely, but it is possible. I could love a woman sexually tomorrow, highly unlikely, but entirely possible. So I don't entirely understand bisexualism, but hey, I don't have to. 

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Writing Worth Reading

I wasn't there for Stonewall, I haven't been beaten by a group of gay bashers in some cold dark alley. The likes of whom I had probably slept with hours before. I haven't marched to the Quilt, or raised a sign in protest. Have You?

Our "struggle" today is much different then the struggle of 40 years ago, or even 20 years ago. It was much more physical then. The queens of yesterday complain about the validation of the gay "struggle" today. Today there are some places who won't serve us, we want that equality and the older generation is saying "go somewhere else, its their right"
A part of me feels stupid when I hear them say that. They invalidate all my work until this point and the struggle I've experienced thus far. Its not their fault though, they went through an era where they couldn't even find a gay bar. Or had to pay police to keep it open. They went through times where there were thousands of them and no meeting hall would rent to them. They survived an era of beatings and murders. They have a right to question us.

Today our struggle is a different kind. Like our understanding of life itself we have evolved and our adversaries have to. So has our struggle. Its still physical. But its much more psychological. Today we are recognized as a complete person, that we do exist and didn't ask for this. But we are running into places we can't go, businesses that are for "straights only". If only they would be brave enough to put up signage that says just that. Then people would see the image that business is mirroring. 

In today's society gay is okay. In most places that is. In prison its still illegal to be gay. We can say were gay, against the advisement of administration, but we aren't allowed to display gay. No relationships, no make up, no dancing (just throwing that in there, LOL!), no sex, no holding hands with your girlfriend, no doing each others hair or nails. None of that. In fact, they won't even allow us in the same cell together for "obvious reasons". 

I recognize that prison is out of your realm. We put ourselves here and this is not your concern. I understand. Allow me this moment of truth though. In prison LGBT people are being beat and raped and controlled and damaged. We are desperate for contact and so many of my peers succomb to drug use or selling their bodies to a john for their needs. The battle our older generation started is still going on in here. They left it wholly unfinished. Often times our only acceptance comes from being someone's "punk". Which means sex slave, btw. It means your owned, as a possession else you get beat. Saying no tonight isn't an option because he'll split you open. Either end, it doesn't matter. 

We come in here broken and damaged, in desperate need of care and healing. Instead we face danger and its next to impossible to focus on our problems because we are in constant survival mode. Then we go right back out into the community more broken then when we came in. More confused about ourselves then before. 

I am fortunate to be where I am, unusually safe. I am taking advantage of this safety by creating a safe place to heal. Because one day we are going to be out there as your neighbor and colleague, boss or employee. We will be riding the bus with you, or shopping next to you. 

How this place treats us matters. We have deep issues that need attention so we can become cohesive members of your society. Help from you doesn't look like picket signs and open bars. It looks like letters of support, your participation. Coming in here for two hours to tell us about your struggle, your organization, your passion. It inspires us to change because you care, because you did it. Often success for us is elusive and just coming in contact with stability can be life changing for scores of us. 

I know my life is sub par for many. Hardly worth reading. I try to be open so it creates the opportunity for trust. But there are men and women who are seriously broken in here, who have miles to go. Who look up to me, as if I've done something spectacular with my life. All I've done is express remorse and change what brought me here, accept myself and know that I have a lot wrong with me and a willing spirit to change whatever is next in myself. They look up to that? I could sure use help in showing them someone truly worthy of attention. What about you? 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

The Blurred Lines Between Masculinity And Femininity: Is Androgynism Confusing Straight Men?

I was watching Ru Pauls Drag Race All Stars 2 and Detox came out wearing his slightly asain-esque one piece ensemble and then he spun around to show his back, the man has a beautiful booty. Its wonderfully shaped and sized and even a straight guy could appreciate it. 

One of the first things I did was comment to myself how feminine it looked. I wonder how straight guys feel about this. Drag queens have been iconic to the gay community for decades and the target of both physical and verbal bashing. Yet, there seems to be a very high demand for them across the world. 

I see the world turning more and more androgynous and I think its a good thing because its forcing the gender lines to be bent and overlooked when it comes to the expression of love and sexuality. 

Most guys think with their sex drive. Especially when they are younger and I think its interesting that they will comment on how attractive a person is so long as they assimilate the female persuasion. Its like their mind gets tricked and there is a fear of that. A fear of being turned on by a man in a dress.

I have to say though, I am a very gay man. I can certainly appreciate the female physique though and I don't worry about being "turned" straight. Some straight guys are scared to death that somehow their masculinity is being diminished by admitting that another man is attractive. Saying a man looks fabulous in a dress as Julie Andrews and that he's attractive won't make them any less straight.

I don't think androgyny should be feared in any capacity. Women won't be losing their husbands to tricky queens in the men's bathroom any more frequently then they are already. Straight guys won't be gay because they got wood off of a feminine man. After all, its the feminine characteristics that caught their eye in the first place.
So to all our androgynous men and women out there, like me, go ahead and be you without fear. Just know that any judgement coming from others is their own fear and that's unhealthy. Just strut on. Wear your make up and dresses boys. Women, cut your hair, lift weights wear suits. Be however you feel comfortable because you only live once, enjoy it!
My current dilemma? I need to pick a drag name, ideas?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Doing The Right Thing Isn't Easy: Walking Through Judgement With Your Head Held High

You are going to face challenges. If you read my posts regularly then you know I'm in a particularly bigoted place. Lots of challenges. Many people today can count on one hand the number of times they have experienced hate in their lifetimes. As LGBTI people we don't count that way anymore. We count the good days because they are the rare ones. 
Solving our problems can sometimes be the most important decision we make. Often times we look back to old habits or comfort zones that don't allow for growth or opportunity. 

For some its drugs. For others its eating or isolation. For some its violence. Insert your vice here. Were trained that when we feel wronged we must react to satisfy our emotion rather then our true need. Instant gratification might be the appropriate terminology.

In some situations doing the right thing is the only option that fulfills our emotion. Like returning a wallet, with the money in it still. (I assume cash is still used). Whereas other situations are more difficult. If you are black and have a white supremist calling you racist names in your face while screaming at you in a public space, what do you do then? The easy response looking outside the box is 'walk away'. What if he follows? What if you have to work with him? What then? Some might say 'don't let it bother you' or perhaps even the occasional 'quote scripture'. But your anger is flared and your feelings are hurt and the instinct is to beat the hell out of him, just get him to shut up. 

The right thing isn't so easy in that case. Perhaps its happened to you before? I've heard people say 'I feel sorry for them because they are the ones who are really hurting'. I get it, I really do. But they aren't the ones being called derogatory names in front of all them people, its not happening to them right now. 

So often we must swallow our egos and our pride and be someone else's whipping post and it hurts. It hurts alot, in fact, its traumatic.

Each and every day this happens to me. I don't say this so you feel sorry for me, don't be condescending. I say this so you get it loud and clear that you have someone standing with you. Your not the only one being yelled at, its me to, and the next guy and the next lady. Were all standing here, it just seems like were alone. Were really not though. There may be some really loud bigots out here, but that's all they are is loud. If you take the time to focus on who is standing next to you as opposed to across from you, you'll see that there are way more of us then them. Take solace in that because when you really and truly think about it, they really are the ones who are hurting the most.

Instead of listening to them, focus on a friend. Sure they may keep on yelling, but you don't have to hear them. Tomorrow when I face a bully again, and I will, I'm going to think about all of you. That's going to help me smile while I'm hated because together were strong.

Your not alone, I know its hard sometimes, but your not alone.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Grin And Bare It: My Rant

Each and every day I have to face some idiot with a chip on his shoulder. I keep my speech appropriate for people who may be offended with homosexuality, I stay humble, I don't flirt, I don't try and "turn out" anyone. In other words, I do my best to accommodate the homophobia that I know is around me. 

Its one thing to be homophobic but its another to be expectant that the fag your around know his place. Why does mankind need someone to be lower? Just in the past 400 years we've tried to subjugate everything but the straight, white male. Most recently its transgendered people and gays, before us it was women, before women it was orientals, before them it was Africans, before them it was natives...it goes on and on. 

The most recent is gays and transgendered. But its different to hear about oppression of people rather then experience it first hand. To be on the receiving end of that is terrible and he shock you feel the first few times is scary. But there comes a point where you no longer want grin and bare it but fight back. 

I'm tired of smiling back at someone timidly while they tell me I deserve to be oppressed because this is the lifestyle I chose. When the real fact of the matter is that they aren't pissed off I'm gay, their pissed off that I'm so comfortable with it and they aren't. They hate us because they are jealous. I'm just sick of the act that I must put on to be a bigger man while they get to have these purple faced outbursts that I must sit through day after day where I hear how because I'm gay there whole life is being torn apart???

Why do I occupy so much space in their heads? Does me wanting to be proud of who I am really invite this kind abuse? Who can I ask? Who out here can advise me? Anyone...

I guess I'll just continue to grin and bare it. Be the bigger man. I am hopeful that tomorrow gets better.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Milestones: Five Years To Go

As you may have noticed, I'm in prison. I've been incarcerated since May of 2011 and my estimated release date is November 13, 2021. I must meet parole requirements though as I have a lifetime sentence. But in November I will reach a major milestone in my prison sentence, it will be over my halfway mark and I will be under five years. Which makes things real again. Things like grocery shopping and employment and housing become the primary concerns and prison problems begin to become less important.

The other night I dreamt of a parole hearing and they were telling me I was going to release, I was crying because I was leaving behind the LGBT community and I knew that my job wasn't done. I had more I hoped to accomplish with them. I was sad that in order to continue on with life I had to close my chapter on prison and them. 

Its these types of milestones though that keep me reminded that I have a job to do, I have a goal and my time is limited. Its going fast and I have lots to get done. While I try and assist many men and women in here to become self sufficient in a healthy way I must also do this for myself. Though my sufficiency comes from God and I do my best to spread it to those I love.

Lately my stress levels have been extremely high, high to the point I'm experiencing physical symptoms of it like stomach cramps and lethargy. Emotional ones to, I'm very easy to upset, for instance, maybe sensitive. It didn't occur to me until last night that my biggest milestone yet is approaching and its making me very nervous. Perhaps I should spend some time sorting it out and coming to terms with it. The five year mark is important to prisoners because many opportunities become available to you when your five years short. So its a major marker for us. Its also DOC recognizing that your time is limited. 

Do you have major milestones that effect you positively or negatively?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Being Accused Of Having AIDS Because Your Gay: Dealing With Stigmazation, or rather, Ignorance.

I went for a break today at work. I sat in a chair in the dining room and rested my back and head against the wall. I closed my eyes and began to pray, something I rarely get enough time for. As I was thinking of what I wanted to talk to God about, I hear "I don't want to work with him, I'm afraid I'm gonna get AIDS"

The guys had a good laugh but no one stopped, assuming I couldn't hear them. They began talking about how I shouldn't be cooking or breathing on or around the food or them, they might catch the bug. At least I don't have to worry about them hitting me, they're all to afraid of my blood.

Just one problem, I don't have AIDS or HIV, or any disease for that matter. Not that it would matter, the disease is tragic, no doubt, but in American civilization its rarely a death sentence when treated as HIV and when you catch it soon.
I explained to them that I don't have this disease and that if I did, they certainly couldn't catch it from my breath from making a salad. This prompted the response "how do you know you don't have it?". 

It just went on and on. I figured out after a few minutes that they were all thoroughly convinced that all gay men were disease ridden and that's that. They are also convinced that we are only attracted to straight men, that we have no restraint and have zero ability to not perform oral sex on an exposed penis. As in, if it gets pulled out were going to skid towards it like a tractor beam and drop to our knees like mindless Hoovers. Then of course we can't resist them personally.

I get tired of the stigmas of the outgoing generation. Our elders spreading nonsensical garbage to a captive audience. Basically what happened today was a lesson for everyone listening. Two parts to it, one part was how to create a division line between straights and gays and why straights are better then us. Secondly, I get a firsthand lesson in how to grow a thick skin fast.

Let's be honest, its not feasible to fight over ignorance. We'd never stop. Someone else would always challenge. Today, I stood there and smiled. I tried to chuckle a little, not because it was funny, because it wasn't. But because it hurt. It hurt and there was nothing to be done about it other then be polite and be the bigger person. And...I did threaten to breathe on all of them...just sayin'. 

When we run into stupidity the best medicine for our feelings is to rely on each other. Smile, be polite and walk away. If I can do it in prison, and I hear this literally every single day, and day after day I walk away smiling, you can do it to. There is zero shame in having HIV/AIDS. However, the assumption and fear associated with it still strong and alive. We all are affected by HIV/AIDS. Wrap it up folks. 



With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Do You Feel Uncomfortable When Your Complimented?

For many queens taking a compliment doesn't seem to be a problem. But if someone sits you down and gives you a genuine compliment do you find a way to end the attention? If yes, why?

I attended a motivational event today where the nonprofit organization www.everymondaymatters.org came out and talked to about 150 of us inmates. The basic message, we matter. What was interesting was he had us do an exercise, it took one minute. For thirty seconds, tell the person next to you why they matter to you, then for the next thirty seconds, listen to him do the same in return. 

It was easier to tell him then it was to listen. As soon as the other guy began complimenting me, which was a friend of mine, I immediately began to squirm. Like an ant below a magnifying glass. 

After the program ended I began to think about why. Why was I so uncomfortable hearing someone tell me a positive quality about myself? What my friend said to me was "Your the most inspirational person I know, no one has ever inspired me more then you". Instead of saying "thanks" I said he should make more friends and laughed uncomfortably. After some thought I figured why I felt that way. I didn't believe it. Not that I didn't believe him, I did. I don't believe that about myself.

To think that I could inspire someone is a great theory, but not believable. Do you know my past? Nope, nothing good from this guy...that's what I really think. 

How about you? What do you think about yourself? Why do you matter? 

I'll start, I matter because I am capable of inspiring people to be better people. I believe it and I want to do this. Now you go...

Many of you can answer, however, if you cannot, please write me. You matter and I can prove it.

With Love
Jeff Utnage 

Football: My Personal Opinion...

I played football in school. It wasn't a bad thing. I liked the comaraderie and the joy of winning. I also shared in the heartache of losing. I actually like football as a sport.

But, I have some serious issues with the players and the fans of football. I know men that can list hundreds of players and their stats but can't tell you who's the Governor of their state. They can tell you how many times each team has been to the Superbowl but consistently forget anniversaries and birthdays. They'll spend their money on fantasy football leagues and go without food to do so, then go to the food bank to supplement themselves. That's just the fans.

Now we have players who have made millions off of an AMERICAN past time. To be perfectly honest with you anybody who's made millions in America, whether you be an athlete or business owner, and you complain about this place?? Excuse me while I bleed purple piss for you. You can take your MILLIONS and take your ass to some other country and guess what? Football will be better without your whiny kneeling ass on the sidelines pissing on the ONLY country that would pay you a ridiculous amount of money to throw leather.

I know life must be tough for you guys, after your game you get into your Bentley's, or if your a poor athlete your Mercedes, drive home to your mansions where all your bills are paid and one of your biggest worries is whether or not your personal chef got you latest diet changes. For the improvement of the game, of course. How very patriotic of you, thank you. 

This is in fact the true American attitude to have everything and still hate where you got it. Then to believe that you deserve even more from that which you hate because you tolerate their shortcomings as a nation. A nation that made you filthy rich while just 10 miles from where you made your millions there are literally starving families. 
Go ahead and take a knee, while your down there, pray. Pray that everyone your pissing on and taking for granted forgives you. 

To be honest, I'm boycotting football this year and every year that any player is allowed to play while behaving so child like. Football has lost a fan this season and I don't think I will ever view it the same again. Everyone knows that those who have the money, have this countries power. They get away with murder, sometimes literally. Then they protest the very system that made them. How sad.

Football is fueled by fans and now, money. I just don't need the stress, the players and stats have taken the fun and exhileration right out of the game.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

As Long As You Don't Label Yourself Gay...Your Not???

I don't mean this as a question because we know the answer already. Its more snarky. Before I came out I refused to acknowledge in was gay. I looked at gay porn, sure, but that just meant I was a freak. Every time a gay thought would enter in I would immediately deny it, as if that would keep the devilish thought out. Denying it made it now true.

So I get why people do this. The real question is how do we get them comfortable with themselves without forcing them out? It would be easy to just out them viciously and force them to deal with themselves, as if we were some weird self identity Cupid. However, everyone moves at their own pace and this could do more harm then good. 

I know that for some guys this is a really comfortable space to dwell in. They get to have sex and still go back to whatever life they were hiding it from without consequence. It seems like the gay community is like trained monkey's who have this strange lust for "straight" guys. I don't believe this is a coincidence either. I think that on a general scale the ones who persecute us and openly hate us are the ones who want to have sex with us in private, then go on denying their gay. 

Because we are constantly being defiled by their hatred we have sex with them and be their twisted little fantasy (and perhaps fulfill one of our own) in the hopes that they will no longer be able to publicly ridicule us. After all, they were just rolling in the hay with us. Maybe we desire "straight" men because we have a need to equalize preemptively, silence them before they hurt us. Its hard to hate someone with semen stains on them.

We are strong and this is just my own opinion here. If you want to turn out every straight guy on the planet then honey, good luck to ya. But how do we go from being hated by them to acceptance so that they don't have to be labeled "fag" to have same-sex sex? Maybe when they say "does this mean im gay or bi?". You can say "No baby, it means you appreciate all of God's work!". 

Food for thought.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Understanding Your Vision: Be Clear & Don't Compromise

As the LGBT community here grows and more people need love in here then ever contention grows also. People within the same community begin to backbite and point fingers. 

Thee transgendered women here are isolating the transgenders that they think arent transgender enough. The gays have their own drama to contend with. But if you asked me it isn't just a trans issue or just a gay issue, its an LGBT issue. 
Yes, traditionally transgendered people are usually heterosexual men and women born into alternate bodies. This separates their identity from homosexuals. But, it doesn't separate them anymore then the asexual or gender queer. We all have our own battles to confront.

I have this vision, this quest. I am out to change the world. I don't care how far I get. All that matters is that I begin and tirelessly pursue it. Hopefully someone else will pick up the torch after my body retires. People in general don't experience love. Specifically the LGBT community lacks love. I can't tell you how many men and women I have ran across in here that has never experienced it, and I can't stand it. I hate the fact that something so easy to give is the one thing that lacks the most. It may be easy to judge someone for their past but its even easier to listen and love them anyway.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

How To Get Involved/ How To Contact Me

Were multitasking today dears! First, how to start your own revolution! OK, maybe not a revolution but if enough people band together, it could be. Anyway, getting involved is actually less complicated then you think. There are many avenues you can take to start making a difference in the gay community right where you are. You don't need to run a nonprofit or have the credentials of a therapist to help the community. Something simple like, call the local junior high or high school and let them know that your interested in helping mentor the LGBTI youth. Chances are they already have some sort of a program in place. Voila! Your making a difference! 

Another way is dealing with people like me. No matter where you are there is a prison close by. You can contact the prison and tell them your interested in working with the LGBT population as a volunteer. This can be a once a month thing or a weekly thing, its up to you. Think that prison is to scary to volunteer at? Think again, volunteers are held in extremely high regard here among offenders because of the emotion you invoke in us. Compassion is recognized by all life forms, including the ones that have made a mistake. 

Now, if either place needs you to create a program, you can do it. If you need help, holla at your boi! I can help, I do this people! I've done it here and I can send you my proposal or maybe even post it here for you to copy. The big thing with either place is what is the problem and how are you going to address it...what need are you addressing? Leading a group of teens or a group of inmates is equally challenging but you will be needed, trust me. You may not have all the answers but your heart will guide you. 

This is just two things you can do. I have lots more! 

How to contact me:
The fastest way is jpay.com, its the only way an inmate can receive electronic mail in Washington State. You will need to pay for the email, however, it is cheaper then a stamp and I can respond same day usually. You will need to know the following info:
Name: Jeff Utnage
DOC#: 823469 (my inmate id.)

If you prefer to send me a snail mail letter you can write to:
Jeff Utnage 823469
H4-B-130-U
Stafford Creek Correction Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA. 98520

You can write about anything, questions, comments...I'm an open book and love receiving correspondence of any kind, unless your hating me, then its like "boring, lines way back there pal, wait your turn like everyone else!" LOL!

With Love
Jeff Utnage