Monday, October 31, 2016

There's Faggots In The Bathroom, Straight Guys Beware!

Some of the things we go through hurt. Recently one of our sisters (trans inmate) was using the bathroom. No big deal really, except she sits to pee. Because of the dangers of a prison environment when they go to the bathroom they go in pairs. 

There is 1 bathroom for 100 men, 3 stalls in one bathroom. Because we are in a men's prison, there is no female restroom for inmates to use. You need to know this for this next part, these girls have no choice...

So when our sister was using the restroom, a tall black man who is always using his race to get out of trouble by claiming racism, walks into the bathroom and sees her sitting down (the facility cut down the stall dividers so there is no privacy, we are in prison...) then he yells "f*****g faggots!" and proceeds to storm out yelling "don't go in there, there is f*****g faggots in there." As if he had experienced some sort of trauma while in there. As if she had a choice to use another restroom.

Of course there was a harassment report made and the facility took appropriate action. But the damage was done, now when any of us use the restroom someone storms out yelling the same thing. Then I have to listen to them cry about having to hold there urine in because the fags are in the bathroom again. They trade stories like they have just returned from war. As if they have just survived an attack...

The real tragedy here is our sisters feelings. They are already extremely fragile and experiencing inner turmoil having to be treated as men when they are not, now they are being called faggots when they are straight women. It takes them back to when they made the decision to transition and reminds them of serious insecurities within.

This isn't limited to prison or to trans people either. This effects all of us. This happens everywhere. Homophobia is real and still alive and it hurts.

Remain strong and seek one another out for support, we are all one another has. You are strong. You are resilient. You are beautiful. You are deserving of good things and you DON'T deserve ridicule. Do NOT tolerate bullying in ANY form. Report it and ignore it when you cannot report it and make it known to the perpetrator that you won't tolerate it. Your worth standing up for!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Our Gaily Bread: Beginning A New Relationship With God, Let Go Of The Past.

To many people have told me that they were forced to go to church when they were younger and now they hate it. Or they have been attacked by clobbering Christians at some point. There are many reasons why one might decide to no longer accept a Creator. 

I want to tell you God still loves you. God made a choice to love us when He decided to send a Savior. Which was talked about from the beginning. He CHOSE to love us and knew that we would rebel. 

I am going to state something radical here, God loves the LGBT community and we are not mistakes. God did not create us just to condemn us to hell. We serve no purpose in that regard...

Throughout the whole Bible there is example after example of God doing what nobody understands. Using the small and weak to defeat the mighty, circumcision, animal sacrifices. When mankind thinks they have a good grasp on this whole God thing, I think of the Pharisees, then along comes Jesus.

We don't understand everything and just 75 years ago this same text was used to keep women silent in church because men's interpretation was wrong for THOUSANDS of years! Then our thinking evolved and suddenly, thank God, women were our equals. Why would our evolution suddenly stop? Are we really that stupid to think that we know all there is to know about the Bibles meaning? Hardly. 

Be open to God again, together we can establish fellowship with our Creator as we are right now. We will never be some peoples idea of what God loves or chooses. Like Joseph, David, Jesus, Martin Luther King We don't need other people to go to heaven, we need Jesus. 

Its as simple as that.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Is It Better To Manage Victims Or To Prevent Them?: I Have A Solution, But I Need YOUR Help!!

I am creating a program called "Reaching Out!". Its purpose is to provide assistance to those that are in high risk situations an lifestyles with the intention of preventing victims as opposed to managing victims. 

Ask yourself this question "Is it better to prevent victims or to manage victims? If you had the choice would you rather be victimized and then helped or would you rather the perpetrator have been helped before you were victimized?"

The answer seems obvious, but upon closer examination of our justice and police investigation system the victim is not being prevented and the potential perpetrator is not being helped, which would lead to less victims. Why in the world would this be bad? At best it starts a movement of change that would drop our crime rates and victimization rates drastically and it worst it prevents a few people from being needless victims. Sounds like a win/win to me...

This is where I need your help. I need passionate people to help me plan such a thing. I can talk about this until my voice is non-existent and your ears ring, but it does no good without action. What I am looking for is action, community "buy-in". 
My idea is worth investigating, as a man who is in prison I am telling you that had there been a program available to me that would have helped me change before I did what I did without losing everything, I would have at least looked into it. I know I am not alone.

I am talking about an organization that is peer group oriented where cognitive-based talk can begin. Many times people can help themselves if they have a forum to talk about it without shame or judgment.

I know what led me here and I can stop others before they get to this point, I cannot help everyone, but I can reach many. 

I have a plan, but I need people to dissect it with me, to point out its flaws and weak points and where additional help is needed.

I promise, it will not be a waste of your time. 

To get in touch with me, write to me with your preferred method of contact at: 
Jeff Utnage 823469
Stafford Creek Correction Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA 98520

I can email you through just remember that they charge you per email, whereas if you write or send me your phone number it is on me to pay. Which I am willing to do!

This WILL happen, the question is will you help it?

With Love
Jeff Utnage 823469

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Do Not Need To Tell You Why I Love You: Love Requires No Explanation.

Love is just love. It may have many forms but it is self-explanatory. You know when it is present and when it is gone. You know when you have it and when you do not.

If I told you, a stranger, I loved you. Would you require an answer? Would you demand a qualifier? Would you just simply say "Okay"? 

I hope it is the last. I am free to love whomever I wish and something just occurred to me, just this moment, I do not need you to love me back.

Who am I talking to? You. On your computer, on your phone, on your tablet at home. I am talking to you. All of you. I do not need you to do anything for me to love you genuinely. I just do. Is there anything wrong with that? It is my prerogative to do so, so I shall.

You might think this strange or even a bit maddening. I beg you to look outside your box, you have the same choice to love. We have options when we look at people. We have the choice to care for their well-being or to not. It just occurred to me, why would I ever choose to not care? There is never a good reason for it. Not one, I don't care what happened. It will never come close to making you happy, not like love. 

I choose to love you, there is nothing you can do about it. Why would I choose another thought about you? I could choose from millions of thoughts, but love is the one I choose.

Just thought you should know.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

I Want To Have A Writing Contest: Who Can Inspire Change?

I am reading a book called "The Alchemist" By Paulo Coelho. A truly inspirational piece of literature that has made me reflect inside myself on an extremely profound level.

While reading it last night, I thought "This man, Mr. Coelho, has something profound in this text, he has something good to give to the world. What if he could come here and talk to us?" Then, in an ironic twist, I thought "Why would any author want to waste their time in some podunk town in rural Washington where the predominant theme is prison and bigotry? (This is ironic because "The Alchemist" is largely about the pursuit of dreams and the seemingly impossible. So it is ironic that something so beneficial I immediately negated...)

But in my questioning, I also posed the question of how to make us a place worth visiting? My answer, a writing contest. This would be closed to inmates only, we could theme it to be inspirational, self-help. There are endless angles you could go from there. Do one contest of only poetry, one of short stories etc. The hope is that this would inspire a creative writing class and then we could inspire authors to come see us??

This would be beneficial on so many levels. Writing is a powerful tool for mankind, consider The Bible or Romeo & Juliet. It is capable of inspiring and guiding people into life's secrets and lessons. People can use writing to inspire change in others. Consider song writers...

We can learn when people speak our language. For some, that language is unique to them and only a few people speak it. I know men and women who have been impacted drastically by a few potent sentences. A few potent words prevented countless tragedies. Only God knows.

So I am going to work on this for this prison. I hope it reaches far beyond these walls and maybe one day I can hold a writing contest open to all authors. Maybe inspire our next Maya Angelou or Fred Hampton.

I'm going to change the world and I am going to do it by inspiring you. That's the hope anyway. Maybe you call me foolish or a dreamer, but I made the mistake of giving up more then once before and I won't do it again. Here's hoping to make someone proud of me, even if I don't know you.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Our Gaily Bread: Introducing A New Weekly Post!

Before I am anything else, I am a Christian. Then I am gay, then a gender-bending man, then a father, son, and friend. When I get stressed and/or depressed I always turn to God. When something good happens I turn to Him as well. 
I know that religion, particularly Christianity, is a sore spot for many LGBT people today. However, there are many LGBT people who still believe in God even though some of His people suck. Some would say they're overzealous, I would call them crappy brothers and sisters. 

I get that some of you are not Christians, I get it. Perhaps your not because you truly believe another path? Maybe you don't believe because of terrible experiences in the church. Maybe you don't believe because you can't seem to reconcile those few passages that have been used to clobber you, maybe its because you believe the things the protesters say at Pride marches...

Whatever the reason, I will be letting you know in the title that it is going to be Religion based by stating "Our Gaily Bread". 

I believe in the power of God and Jesus. I believe I am saved and I don't believe that I am sinning by being homosexual. Nor do I believe anyone else is condemned because they are transitioning to their correct gender. 

I have spent years pouring over this Bible reconciling myself to it. What I have found about this Word may surprise you, in fact, I know it will. 

To learn more about what God and Jesus Christ really thinks about LGBT people, look for posting titles with "Our Gaily Bread" in them.

Starting Soon!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fighting Your Own Battles: How The War On LGBT Equality Is Being Fought In Real Life

I read a book on business management a few days ago that was written in 1995. I was surprised there was a chapter on Equal Opportunity Employment. I was anxious to find out what kind of rules were in place for LGBT people 20+ years ago. It was not mentioned. What was mentioned, was a tiny paragraph on coping with coworker who had AIDS. The infected were not mentioned as a protected class of people in the workforce. 

I fast forward to today where there are far more rights for LGBT people and the reality of AIDS and HIV are more widely known. But its not over. We aren't equal, we aren't respected and tolerated. However, it is far better received then 20 years ago. Thanks to activism and courageous people who stood up. 

Our battle is far from over though. The war on LGBT people isn't being fought on large scale battlegrounds anymore. The days of Stonewall are over, thank God. But now we have individual fronts. 

Men and women are being confronted privately on spiritual, emotional, and often physical fronts. The pain that stems from being told "its OK to be gay, so long as you act normal" is just as psychologically damaging and hard to cope with as being told "if you believe, God will remove this curse from your life".

Its in these situations, which are rarely done publically, that we face our bloodiest battles. These moments are often created by those that we trust the most. Faith leaders, politicians, managers, Parents, peers, and coworkers. Which makes it even more difficult to trust new people. It makes it even more difficult to believe those that DO love us because most of us have been betrayed by those that were closest to us. 

Our battles are being fought alone and in private in an attempt to keep their intolerance secret and their shame hidden. I face it too. Your not alone. 

If you feel like someone is hating you or passively being bigoted, call them on it. Don't be afraid. They are passive about it because they KNOW they're wrong. Otherwise they wouldn't try to hide it. 

Tell anyone who will listen that you are NOT ashamed. You are proud of who you are and you won't allow anyone to make you feel anything else other then self-love. Tell them God loves you and that's that. You don't care what they have to say about it. Or whoever you believe your creator is, don't let ANYONE tell you your less then, to submit to or change for them. Be proud of your differences. If your 'flamboyant' then be proud of it. If your bisexual or transitioning into your correct gender, BE PROUD!! 

Find a support system and then lean on them. Be there when they need you too. We are ALL being isolated and the best defense against isolation is to reach out for those who are facing the same ugliness.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

New Memories, Old Childhood

I locked you away because your painful,
The emotions you spark are unkind and I am more then ready to let them alone.
But yet like smoke in a box, you leak out, sometimes unnoticeably. 
Until its to late and there you are,
Forcing me to balance you once more.
The truth is I don't know what to do with you.
I would rather not have you around.
Today I am trying to stuff you down, 
I was having a great day until you.
I remember as a child being afraid and intimidated of nearly all men.
Stuff you down, lock you away.
Dogs frighten me too.
Back in the box you go.
Hello Jenny, I have missed you,
What is all this that's with you?
Am I crying because I am happy or because I am sad?
I feel both at the mention of your name.
Happy because you always knew how to comfort me
Sad because you had to always comfort me.
While I can't wait to talk to you again...
You petrify me.
What pain will you have to shelter me from now? 
I can't handle anymore trauma.
We always faced life as we knew it together. 
In our own ways, only we knew our private lives and that pain.
Kenny was one of us. 
He knew too, all to well...
Can we begin again?
Without the memories of our childhood to haunt me.
I think about you the most but talk about you the least. 
You were the most painful person to lose from my youth.
Excuse me while I unpack our memories.
They won't hide anymore, I think its time to face them.
Pancake mix and shotguns,
Cherry stems and BB guns,
Six month moves and haunted houses,
Motorcycles and drugs,
Junk rooms and hairspray cans,
Bonfires and black roses,
Its going to be a long day cousin.
I can't wait to make new memories...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Coming Together As A Family: Seeking Solidarity?

Our community is interwoven with the word cast away and misfit. Maybe misfit isn't the appropriate verbage, but you get the idea. 

Bringing people together is easier then you might think. I did a post a while back that talked about labels we wear. For many, the elimination of labels means true equality. But for the purposes of bringing everyone together who have been thrown away by mainstream society, those labels are our biggest asset. How else can we quickly identify one another? 

The idea is to create bonds with one another for a real family. Were taught at a young age that to become adults we must separate from our families to create and/or find new ones. For some, that was never even an option, it was a requirement or forced due to their sexuality or gender assignment. 

We must find one another in order to support one another. A quick hello on social media is not support. It is a great start, but far from the reality of a "shoulder to cry on". This is what we need. How do we do this in today's world? 
You just do it. You make a real effort to connect with the community by actually talking to someone. Did you know that simply saying hello can open a whole new world for you. Its possible.

This isn't as far fetched as you think. Having a big social network in real life is perhaps one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself and the people around you. We all influence one another in ways that only other LGBT people can. We need one another, its never going to be a one way street.

Side note, I highly recommend the book "8 Keys To Mental Health Through Exercise" by Christina Hibbert

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Rocky Horror Picture Show...In Prison...This Queen Knows How To Have Fun!!!!

I'm totally into Rocky Horror Picture Show right now. I got to wear my newspaper on my head, snap my fingers and sing every song! Perhaps what was more fun then singing along with my TV was not being the only one.

We danced "A step to the left!" and "a sliiide to the right!" We screamed when the lady screamed, I got super jealous of Laverne Cox's nylons, I simply must own a pair! 

I am having the absolute time of my life. Brad is incredibly hot! Especially in the pool scene, my FAVORITE! Grrr! What a sexy movie all the way around! 

"T-t-t-touch me I want to be diiirteee......"

OMG! Brads in heels on stage, super hot! "Wait. I can explain"

My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. I hope that all of you watched it. If you didn't, get a newspaper, a spray bottle, a party hat and wear some slutty clothes and be prepared to scream! I can promise you I have been and I'm not the only one. 

Wish I could have shared this experience with you all.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, October 21, 2016

Always Looking For Self-Improvement

I don't know about you but I have to reinforce my self-efficacy all the time. I started out this morning angry and I know exactly where it came from. The questions I ask myself revolved around "now that I know what causes my emotional downs, what do I do about them?"

Here is my situation (more or less so you have a clear understanding of what I mean): the LGBT support group is finally here. For those of you who don't know, I have been fighting and advocating for an LGBT Peer Support Group here in prison for over two years and it has been one helluva ride!! Anyway, now that the bureaucratic red tape is all but gone and its time to put all my work into real action, I am nervous.

Why? My past mistakes, or lack of self-confidence comes back to haunt me frequently. I suddenly think I am not qualified to mentor anyone, my words or wisdom is not needed or qualified in their lives. My fear is that I will let all of them down, just like I let my kids down as a Father. A little catastrophic, I know, but that is the truth of the way I am thinking about these men and women in here. I love them enough to be afraid to fail them.

I am now in a situation where one of two things can happen, this applies to everyone, I can either allow my negative self-image sabatage my life again or I can look for ways to overcome. 

If you don't know how, look. If you don't know where to look, ask. If you are afraid or dont know where to ask, do it anyway. One thing that is consistent in the majority of people is that it is hard wired into us to be problem solvers. Bring us a problem and typically we start analyzing how to solve it right away. Just watch Brain Games...

Either way, if this was not an issue for me I would have the answer already. Or it never would have come up as an issue. But it does come up and my self-esteem is showing signs of real growth because when negative self-images come rearing their ugly head up, instead of allowing depression and stress to overcome me, I immediately begin looking for solutions.

I read like crazy, I exercise like crazy and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I read a book recently that had an amazing impact on my life it was called "8 Keys To Eliminating Passive-Aggressive Behavior" By Daniel Rothschild If you haven't heard of this series of books, I highly recommend them. This book in particular has been a real help in teaching me to communicate better and more effectively. It has strengthened my relationships that I have currently and has been instrumental in creating a diverse relational wheelhouse to derive strength and wellness from.

Keep searching for new ways to improve yourself and dont be afraid to try new things. You never know what you might gain.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting Your Cage Rattled

I don't like it when someone reestablishes authority over me when I have already submitted. It is a control issue on their part and the behavior is scary. Its like punching your dog when he has already obeyed you. Just to be sure he understands he is lower. Abusive.

So when someone in authority over me already does something petty to make sure I know who is boss, it bothers me because I equate it to the man kicking his dog. 

This is just me talking here, and not every figure in authority acts that way. Just a few. But it doesn't have to be authority figures who do this. It can be bosses, spouses, neighbors etc. Simple things like minor disagreements become opportunities for dominant behavior. That's what I am talking about. 

Pushing your cart down the grocery store isle and your on one side and someone else is traveling down the middle. Then they get mad at you when they have to move, as if you had anywhere to go. To be polite and diffuse their unnecessary anger, you wish them well. To kick the dog they add something insulting like "watch where your going next time!" as if you were the one to blame.

Small things like that can get our heads in a mess. For me it makes me recluse a little. Like I was just burnt and I am fearful its going to happen again. I'll spend a few hours fuming about it then as my adrenaline and testosterone leave my bloodstream I become more clear headed. 

Getting your cage rattled sucks and I don't like it at all. More to the point, I don't like how I react to it. It makes me feel like I have done something wrong when in fact I have not. The fact I accept responsibility for someone else's actions just lights me on fire inside and not in the good way! 

So, what do we do? I take a moment to reevaluate what the truth is. Today I was dominated by a staff member, verbally. He established his authority when in was already in submission. I walked into a room and the first words were my charges, the second were pointing out a flaw. Double whammy. I left a routine meeting thinking I had just gotten in trouble when I have been a model inmate for nearly four years now. 

I had to think about where it came from though. The man is sloppy, he sat in a chair that barely supported his weight, his shirt was un-tucked and his lower stomach roll was exposed, showing a greasy stomach. He narrowed his eyes on me in a disgustingly angry way and proceeded to point out a pen he thought I shouldn't have. It was not something I purchased, because it had been given to me at work. I bring it back and forth to work so it doesn't get stolen and today I thought I might need it to sign paperwork. State pens for state work, personal pens for personal work. That was the thinking. I had permission to have it. 

The pen wasn't the issue, it was his tact. His entire demeanor was to force submission, submission he already had. I felt violated and the only thing I can think of to do is take a shower and pray. 

Ever feel like that?

With Love
Jeff Utnage
Its Good For The Skin...

Every Tuesday I facilitate a workshop. The principle is good, everything else is hard on the psyche. The attendees don't want to be there, the other facilitators are great people but a few are terrible publc speakers, which makes the attendees even more uninterested. It can be a miserable two hours.

So why do I go? While about 25% of the attendees are forced to be there and make attempt to make my life miserable, 75% are interested in what I'm saying so long as I am interested in what I'm saying. What a concept huh?

There is a moment where I have to overcome the obstacle of human resistance in every class. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't. Its a crap shoot. This is what I like about it though. Every Tuesday I get to face a new challenge that puts me outside of my comfort zone. In my mind, what's better training for advocacy and public speaking then that? 

At the very least I need to be cognitive of how I come across because effective communication is the key to stating what you want. You need to know how to articulate it, right? Easy to read about, hard to practice. 

So why the title? Because people tell us all the time to do things for this reason or that. In this case, I am doing this workshop every Tuesday because someone else (our facilities Superintendent) said its good for us to teach new guys. 

Our only arguement was that it was being required of the attendees, or forced. On us, none of us never felt like we had a choice. So the title comes into play here, "its good for your skin..." It just so happens that I caught on quickly that I can use this particular, ahem, comparison to highlight that sometimes we do things that we don't agree with or even like. But, it gives someone else great pleasure. 

In this case, however, it actually was "good". I wanted to highlight how we sometimes look at a situation and catastrophize the outcome. Sure I'm teaching guys that don't want to be there, sure its hard because I'm still learning to be a public speaker or teacher at all. But that's the beauty of it all, I wanted to do these things long before prison but I was to fearful of failure. Now look at me, I'm confidently teaching guys Coping With Incarceration techniques as an openly gay man in prison as a prisoner. I'm making a difference in my community. I'm glad I let things happen I wouldn't normally, maybe it will lead to other things I didn't know I liked??? LOL!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Men Wanting To Be Pretty

I see a strange trend: Men want to be considered pretty. It used to be that if you called a man pretty that was taboo. He was ruggedly handsome or some other macho description. But therein lies my point, macho isn't what it used to be. 

I remember as a boy thinking a man was good-looking and I thought "he is pretty! Wait, what do I call a pretty man? Handsome? My mother calls me handsome, what's wrong here?" I was afraid to even think a man was pretty 20 years ago. Now its commonplace and men strive for it. 

I don't think its all bad either. This isn't a post on health pros and cons of demasculation or effeminate males. Its about why men suddenly think its OK to be pretty today when just 15 years ago that was an insult. 

I personally do not like aggressive males, rather, I dislike angry males. That's more appropriate. I am not attracted to most men who are overly aggressive and have this ridiculous need to be alpha. In fact, I despise them. I am attracted to driven men who are achievers and go-getters and who are inclined to be "pretty". If you ask me, and since your reading this I assume you will be interested, I don't think that because a man has effeminate qualities he is any less "male". 

This is where my androgynous views come into play, admittedly. As more and more men become OK with same sex attraction, even if its in the form of bisexuality, then there is more of a demand to attract both sexes. Which will naturally lead to a more "androgynous" look. Where masculinity and femininity are redefined. 

We are quickly advancing into a society where women will have to compete for the same men as other men. Which in some cases women will have to be OK with their man being "pretty" instead of "handsome". 

What a curious world we live in.

What do you think about this?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Prison Industrial Complex: Is This A Real Thing?

The prison industrial complex is a term referring to prison as a business. An industry, where inmates are the commodity.
The thought is that prison is such a big industry its in lawmakers best interest to generate more commodity. Mainly because its fiscally irresponsible to eliminate your commodity, what fool would put himself out of business?

I have always thought of this phrase "Prison Industrial Complex" as a conspiracy theory. Maybe even whiny. 
I remember before I got locked up I had this idea for prisons. I was researching an R & D grant to get a bracelet that would monitor your electrical output, heart rate and other measurable vitals. The idea was to make it mandatory for prisoners to wear a device. Then, if they touched another inmate it would surge the electrical output of a single person. 

Since each bracelet is assigned to each inmate, a computer would automatically notify staff that there has been contact, it would also notify them of other vitals and exact locations. 

This would have also been a way to obtain intelligence on who hangs out with who and for how long. Making it possible to track prison gangs, stop large crowds from gathering and making it impossible to get away with fighting. Or ever touching another person period.

Now that I am incarcerated I see a different view. Human touch cannot be removed from a persons life, especially in prison. It will only complete the dehumanization of the population here. Not to mention other complications. 
Prison is an industry and the commodity is highly predictable. The condition of the commodity is a direct result of its environment. Put the product in a hostile environment for extended periods of time and the outcome is pretty predictable. It creates a "survival of the fittest" mentality that is very predictable and highly maluable. We are also our most profitable when we are the most dangerous. 

I am reminded about this when there is a death in prison. If a man dies while in prison, he is scarcely remembered. If the local news does announce his death, even under suspicious conditions, the last thing they say about that man was his crime. To highlight who he was in their minds. 

If a man dies in prison he has paid the ultimate price for his crime and should no longer be remembered as the commodity. He was a human being first. But not in press releases, in those is a perfect example of commodity. 
Truthfully, many of us are easily treated. Not all, but many. If there are 3 million incarcerated people, probably 2.5 million of us are easily treated when we are placed in conditions that promote that. Learn a trade, learn to socialize, learn cognitive behavior, get individual & group therapy by real doctors who really care.

Instead, we get to prison and even the staff tell us to segregate. We are immediately hit with he who is most violent and most feared is safest. Those who are most feared travel in the biggest numbers, the biggest numbers accumulate when they are perceived to be the most feared.

Then they are released into your communities after receiving this unnatural training. No wonder things are so screwed up.

This is why I am so excited about this prison I'm in right now. The atmosphere is changing and its happening because of programs like mine and others before it like The Redemption Project. We can heal ourselves and our communities. Through careful love and pinpointed attention to what's really going on.

So yeah, the Prison Industrial Complex is real. Maybe you should get involved??

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, October 17, 2016

LGBT Peer Support System...Check

One of the main drivers of me starting a blog like this was to raise awareness of how desperately LGBT people need a support system in prison. If I could humanize myself to people outside of prison, maybe they would not be afraid or hate me. 

Over the past two years I have done what was necessary for my peer support group to be taken seriously by local administration. Bureaucratic officials made it hard to implement a system that actually helps offenders change. 

Traditionally, restorative programs are created by the state and healthily funded making fixing us worth while. But when a highly effective system comes about and it is free, meaning there is no profit of funding for it, bureaucratic officials offer drag. This was my first experience witnessing this money making giant called prison.

I want to end prison. Not because I think crimes should be legal, no. I want to make prisons unnecessary. No longer needed. I want a paradigm to happen where your money isnt going to house offenders in cages. I want the current system to be dismantled and rebuild with a true restorative justive system. The reality is folks that the reason there is so much crime is because our upbringing is drastically different then it used to be. The introduction of hard drugs over the past 60 years has thrown mankind a serious curve ball. 

People are taught that it is only OK to be happy. Anger, depression, anxiety, and stress are all signs of sickness and a brokenness that must be fixed. When in fact anger, depression, anxiety, and stress are all normal emotions that if taught to deal with properly can be useful tools in autonomy.

This brings me to my point, if you hang out with drugs n' thugs it is almost inevitable you will learn that value system and perpetuate that forward into your children and community. 

However, if you change what you put into your body, meaning change your peer support system, you put will begin to experience a new value system. This is what I will accomplish with my peer support group. I will start with LGBT people, my heart is with them the most. But the concept is applicable to anyone. The introduction of love by those you respect in a group setting will heal much. 

I say all this to set the foundation for what happened Friday, October 13 2016, I was told that my peer support group is being implemented for LGBT people in November and will be open to the entire population. It has been approved for nearly two years, but approved and implemented are vastly different. 

I stay up at night and my days are driven by thoughts of my community. Thoughts of how I can help, what I want to teach them, how it applies to those outside of prison, the pain caused by trauma, the uniqueness of the LGBT struggle and its many challenges and faces. I think about my own crimes and if I will ever outlive my past, if anyone will ever look past what I have done, what about others? Is there any hope for us, will everyone cast us away forever? These things keep me up at night, until last night that is. 

Last night I slept through the night, I even woke up late. I know now that help is coming. Our facility is implementing real trauma recovery systems, real restorative justice programs and allowing for real love to try and heal what was broken. 

I hope that all of you who read this will begin to love everyone you come in contact with. You will inevitably change lives. 

I will continue to write about my work here both in myself and others. Our joys and struggles will be shared and hopefully someone out there will help. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The God Dilemma: Does He Love Us? Is He Real? LGBT & Religion

Clearly this is a problem area. For so many of us we have been clobbered our entire lives with passages from the Bible. For some, whether God is real or not does not matter because if He is real, He hates LGBT people.

Animosity has become full grown in many peoples hearts which makes it next to impossible to proselytize our community. I am extremely religious (though make no mistakes, I am still very much human and sin daily, I still screw up!) and even I still cannot talk with most of my Christian brothers. 

So let's not talk to straight Christians. Let's talk amongst ourselves about God. Why should we be starved of fellowship because others misunderstand the Bible? I don't know about you but I have never been one to allow someone else to control my thoughts, religion is no different!

Is God real? For me, yes. Every person has their own standard that they have for themselves. Their "burden of proof". Every says to themselves "I will believe there is a God if I see...this", whatever "this" is. For me that proof has been provided. For others, its another kind of proof. The good news is this, if you seek, you shall find. If you don't seek, He may just find you anyway. God is real. He exists in my world.

Does God love you? Yup. He made you! You are not the result of a curse, a mistake, or past sin. God knows that we are always seeking concrete truth. Knowledge. When most of mankind thinks they have most things figured out, God uses the smallest subject to show just how little we really know about Him or the world He created. We as LGBT people are created by God, people are always looking to establish hierarchical social structures. But, you cannot be above your neighbor unless you first believe that they are lower then you. People need to believe that God loves them because of what they do, did or have potential to do. When in fact God loves us because He made us. No other reason exists. 

As a parent who must watch as their beloved children make mistake after mistake so is God with us. He knows that true love is not commanded but given. He cannot require us to love Him in return. Like children who rebel for a time from their parents, so are we with God. Thankfully, He understands. 

No matter how "bad" you have been, no matter what kind of seedy, awful things you are involved in right now, He is with you, lovingly waiting to be apart of your life, even when your doing the wrong thing. 

God stopped "turning His back" on us when Jesus was crucified because at that moment our sin was taken care of. Its done. Do your best, know you will still be loved, even when you fall short.

I know religion is a sore spot for many LGBT people. I get it. But, we have an equal right to God just as we are and I hate the fact that people has perverted the Word of God to make His love and Salvation conditional. We have a right to fellowship, use it.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dealing With Homophobic Coworkers: Quick Guide

1. Be consistent
2. Remain calm & courteous
3. Keep conversations normal
4. Be direct
5. Be confident
6. No need to change
7. Be genuinely interested in them
8. Remain professional, even when they are not
9. Be prepared to talk to your boss

1. Be Consistent: Make yourself hard to dislike. Make sure that no one around you has any reason to bad mouth you to others (as much as depends on you). Consistency in your character and work ethic will go a long ways in interaction.

2. Remain Calm & Courteous: Do not blow up when someone begins throwing their homophobia around. How you react will often determine how much of the problem you are. Stay polite and courteous even after the fact so that there is never a reason to get rid of you. Be the bigger person, no matter how hard it may be.

3. Keep Conversations Normal: Make sure you are talking professionally. If your talking about getting railed on the dock last night or your last enema session or bleaching where the sun don't shine people will tend to get offended. While this may be normal conversation amid your friends, these are your coworkers and they usually come from a very different belief system.

4. Be Direct: You will almost always know when someone is homophobic or bigoted. So ask them directly, why? Then listen to their answer, fully. No matter how silly you may think it is, for them it is obviously an issue. Often, once they get it off their chest and you don't freak out or judge them or try and change their mind they will calm down. You have to set them at ease that you are easy to be around.

5. Be Confident: Most people will accept you as soon as you accept you. If your uncomfortable with your sexual identity, people will pick up on that. Be confident and own yourself. 

6. No Need To Change: If your flamboyant and limp wristed, don't try and "butch" it up for other people s comfort. Your walk does not determine your professionalism, unless your a model. Remain consistently you and others will come to rely on that consistency, even the ones who are homophobic or bigoted.

7. Be Genuinely Interested In Them: Icebreakers are important. Being a good listener is crucial in these types of situations because they often convey personal things and if they feel you aren't interested in them, then the true problem will be even harder to come out.

8. Remain Professional, Even When They Are Not: Do not feed into the hostility or conflict. Your integrity will go far here. Remember, you have dealt with this before. Thousands of others before you have dealt with this with poise and class. Keeping a professional attitude will go far in career advancement as well. If you can deal with hatred right in your face and not lose your professionalism, you can handle most anything.

9. Be Prepared To Talk To Your Boss: When you have done all these things to resolve and de-escalate the situation, be ready to go to your boss. You deserve a comfortable and safe work place too. You were hired for a reason, your valuable to your entire company and you matter. Explain all you have done up to this point and calmly tell them how this is effecting your job. Your emotional well-being is just as important to them as it is to you. A happy employee is a productive employee.

Evaluate your situation dears, sometimes the best thing to do is go straight to your boss and report the incident. Workplace bullying or intimidation is unacceptable and you deserve better!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

If you would like me to cover something specific, please leave a comment with the idea. I look forward to it!

Living In Right Now: Do Not Miss The Beautiful Stuff

It is easy to say "Don't take life for granted". Then we quickly agree and move on. "yup" I used to think "easy for you to say" was my next thought.

But I want to challenge you, right now. Are you extremely busy, have a lot of irons in the fire? Juggling life on a fine edge? This is the challenge I have for you, enjoy right now. Do something that you can enjoy right this minute and spend just a few minutes genuinely enjoying it. Just you and ....??? You decide.

How about you and a milkshake? Do not just drink it and throw the cup away, I mean sit there and enjoy a milkshake. Eat it straw full by straw full or dip French fries in it. You decide, it is yours to enjoy. Honestly, you have five minutes. 
How about you and your partner? Why not just tell them that you want to spend just a little while with them. A few minutes of closeness. Maybe you want to watch the sun go down, or just ride the Seattle ferry to Bremerton and back. Block out everything else, no cell phone or internet. Just you two, when your done you can go back to your busy lives and all its chaos, but for right now you can afford something just to enjoy. Reminisce on old times, remind each other about the people you fell in love with. Maybe not say a word but just sit there and breath...

This is not about anyone else, just you enjoying something right now. Are you at work in an office? Heels killing your feet? Take em off for five minutes and let them rest. Do not move or get self conscious. Just sit there and enjoy comfort. Then go back to your misery, happily! Beauty is rarely painless, but someone has to do it, right girls!

We are a community that is fast paced and energetic. Always looking for the next thing to either occupy or move forward or lives. Either we are to bored or to busy but rarely do I hear someone say "Just took five minutes to be happy". I need that. You deserve that. 

So for today, my shoes are killing me, I just gave a presentation for the 2nd time this week to a crowd of people that did not want to hear what I had to say. I am hungry and I have a million things to do. But right now I am writing and that makes me happy. Next I am going to kick off my shoes (you like how I am doubling down...LOL!), then I am going to close my eyes on my bed and thank God for making me gay because I am not ashamed anymore and that is miraculous.

I would love to read your moments of happiness. They will be inspiring.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

FYI- I am seeking to expand what lgbtqprisonsupport is doing, if you have technical skills and/or are interested in hearing more, I could use help in a few areas.