Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Inspired But Tired: Running On Empty With A Long Ways To Go

I am stressed and I have to many obligations. Rather, to many people believe I am all about them! 

As more and more becomes expected of me I am running into a serious problem, time and energy. 

A therapist once told me I have to take "me" time. But "me" time was this mysterious, elusive idea that didn't have a meaning in my life. I had no idea what it was. However, I am quickly realizing that whatever "me" time is...I need it.

If you have been reading my posts for any length of time you know that my LGBT Peer Support Group has been Priority #1 for me for about two years. 

The fight to get it done without outside help was taxing, but worth it. Now my precious group has its first meeting on December 1st, and the closer that day comes the more I feel I am lacking necessary thinking time.

So today I left work early and I am going to take one day of my weekend off this time. Wednesday is my day where I am going to spend time cleaning out my mind and preparing for the road ahead of me. 

This is life. I am so inspired by some of the books I am reading that my energy levels and determination spike and I maintain them until I am required to go elsewhere and spend time, like work. 

A piece of advice, which I have heard for years, take time for you and recover properly before you crash. 

I think its time to do just that.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Teachable Moments Are For Humans To Experience, Don't Miss Them, They Are Precious

A young man has been coming around more and more. This is an indicator that something is on his mind. I speculated a multitude of reasons but settled on one of two things, he is either gay-curious or he is just fascinated with being able to interact with a real life queer. He is from Micronesia, a place I know nothing about...

However, the more he came around the more I realized it was neither of those things. I realized this tonight as he spoke in his broken English to me. He explained that he learned English from his cellmate in jail. This topic came about after he asked me what I was reading. A question he asks every time he sees me, btw. The answer today was "The Leadership Challenge", which it has been for days now. When I asked him what books he was reading lately he simply replied "yes".
After a few minutes of me wondering what this man wants from me I began to question him directly. "What are your plans after prison?" "What type of job are you good at?"  "What county are you releasing to?"

The more questions I asked the more he opened up and then he admitted "When I think about my future, I don't see anything, just me selling pot." He said it with his head down and ashamed. Then he tried to make a joke of it, laughing nervously. 

So naturally my next question is "Well, what is it you want to do?" 

He thought for a moment "I don't know, I got locked up never having a job or GED or any type of education, I came from Micronesia and I had a head injury over there that makes me dumb." 

He motioned to the back of his head and continued "I don't learn very fast and I need to do things a lot in order to get them, no one wants to tutor me because of my inability to learn. I'm not smart like you, you read books. I can't read books, I don't understand what I can get from book.."

My heart broke because I see him work all day long and he says he has no skills, no one taught him a skill, he learned his job on his own. Who dared tell this man he was dumb...I disagreed.

"Dumb?" I knew he believed it and that tore me up even more "Have you heard of rock, paper, scissors?" I demonstrated the game for him.

"Yeah!" his eyes lit up " I know that game!" he said excitedly, then he grew suspicious. He eyed me carefully as I spoke.
"Good, watch this closely," I showed him a pattern "Paper...Rock...Scissors." I showed him as I said it out loud. " Now you do the same pattern."

Without hesitation he repeated the pattern with his hands and vocalized it easily "Paper, rock, scissors...no problem"

"That is precisely my point, you are NOT dumb and you CAN learn. Whoever told you that is wrong. You simply learn different. You are hands on. The proof is right there, you just learned a pattern with great ease, clearly you are not dumb. You are smart and capable. Clearly! Now, what kind of job do you dream of doing?"

Without hesitation he said "Construction" then he teared up "Your right...wow...I can learn, I'm not dumb..."

I could tell the lights went on and things clicked for him. All his life he thought he was incapable of learning and all it took was a simple demonstration to show him otherwise. Then I set his mind at ease and told him many construction companies teach their guys hands on, so he will learn to build with ease and his work ethic will speak for itself.

I tell you all this story because that took fifteen minutes of my time and his life was changed. You never know how you are going to impact someone's life, its those little moments that count. All I did was genuinely listen, a skill we all possess, and care enough to practice it. Don't miss those little moments because even though he wasn't gay, he was still more then deserving of my love. Or maybe more appropriately, I was deserving of this experience...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Using Reward-Based Correction In Prisons: Punish The Negative & Ignore The Positive VS Reward The Positive & Correct The Negative

Reward based systems are used all throughout our culture to promote good things. One such instance is companies who track performance by their emoployees. They set standard goals that are universal and measured to everyone. When an employee reaches whatever goal or milestone then they recieve whatever reward correlates to each designated goal. 

This type of system has been proven to be highly effective for the promotion of positive behavior within the confines of a professional spectrum.

However, people are people are people. The way they react at work is the same that they will react to the same situation in their home or at the grocery store. People respond to positive reinforcement no matter what environment. It is not unique to companies, but universal to our species.

As a child I watched a cruel man potty train a puppy by waiting for the animal to discharge inside the house. Once it did, he terrified the creature by becoming loud, larger then he really was, rubbing the animals nose in its own discharge and then throwing it outside, literally. It was awful to watch and effective for training the dog because it was traumatic. 

However, it also set the tone for that relationship between submissive animal and dominant human. It was trained with negativity. 

As prisoners we are never formally rewarded for good behavior, only negativity is regarded when we do something wrong, like the puppy. Only humans are more impacted by trauma because our range of emotion is wider, at least our expression thereof. It is worth noting that the healthiest and most effective way to train an animal is with a reward-based system because they react overall healthier through positive reinforcement then through abusive punishment alone. 

The same principal must be applied to the offending person as well. It is already slightly in effect through "Good Conduct Time" but that has come to be understood as your expected release date, rather then something earned.

Prison gangs will initiate members through violence. They use this violence to control one another, control their environment, gain respect etc. The only thing they respect is fear and submission because that's all that's been given to them that's effective. Then along comes DOC where the only policies in place are ones of punishment. There is no policy to reward positive change. It goes against our species nature to never have our positivity encouraged through recognition, brain stimulation, and reward. 

As children our parents, teachers, and society as a whole used positive reinforcement to establish good habits and behavior. That style of learning is not used so widely because its ineffective. Drugs use the same methodology. You take a drug, it makes you feel good -or- "rewards" you by feeling pleasure. So in turn it seeks that feeling more and more, it does this on its own, involuntarily. See, our brains are designed to seek those things that make it feel good.

We can do the same thing in criminal corrections. Still punish the negative behavior, but create goals that will be rewarded with some sort of brain stimulating reward. But it must only be dependent on each individual person, not groups of cooperative people. The idea is to promote change within a broken person, make them realize that they alone are responsible for their change. 

Just my thoughts. The reward could be simple, inexpensive if it cost anything at all. It could be their own good time, or it could be a special title, instead of "Offender Utnage" it could read "Mentor Utnage" once I have displayed real changes. 

What do you think? What are your ideas?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Trying Not To Think About It

I had a busy Thanksgiving. I went to work at 7 in the morning and didn't leave until 7:30 that night. I did everything but celebrate. 

Holidays are rough for most inmates because they represent what's good about our American culture. 

My son turns 13 today, without me. I tried and tried to not think about it, but at 2:30 a.m. last night I was wide awake and never really went back to sleep. I am so angry at myself. The reason I missed it is because of me and my selfishness and I have to say, it hurts. What hurts even more is I know he hurts too. He misses me.

I have work to do. Depression is something most in here fight and our best defense is to get around people, and fast. The longer you isolate yourself the deeper you go. 

So I said my "Happy Thanksgivings" to all my friends and it was a mutual head nod from all of us. Then we got to work, because thinking about our mistakes is just painful, but thinking about what we gave up to be here is torturous. So we made 70 gallons of gravy, mixed 150 gallons of stuffing, had chocolate creme pie and more coffee then any person should drink. When we were done we kept busy and did our best to not think about it.

At the end of the night before we went home, I sat down with all my LGBT friends and we just stared at one another for a good minute or so, last night there was five of us. Then we said "I love you, thank you for bringing joy into my life" Words we all needed. Then we went home. I felt lucky to have friends that I didn't have to explain any of this to, they all already knew. 

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I pray that you are all thankful for your waking up each morning, thankful for the people who love you, thankful that we have another chance to make today the best day ever, thankful that we have homes to live in, food to eat, people who love us, and strangers yet to meet. I wish you all the best today, tomorrow and always!

Jeff's Mom

The Love No Matter What Experiment

I conducted an experiment on my own. Without telling people it was an experiment, I told everyone that I did and didn't have problems with that I loved them. That I cared.

I ran into plenty of situations that could have resulted in tragedy. Instead, I openly forgave, sometimes swallowing my pride, often having to take blame where it wasn't due. But, for my experiments sake, this had to be done. 

The point was to let them know in no uncertain terms that I was not going to use fear, violence, or anger to solve my quarrels with them or anyone else. Then I would openly say "I am going to love through my problems." Most often I would get laughed at. They would tell me it was impossible, violence was necessary, I'll get taken advantage of, it will never work, its all pipe dreams...Christian nonsense. 

All that changed once I did it to them. Once I had some sort of altercation with them, or they witnessed an altercation with me, their attitude changed and most became cohorts, some even challenged me to love better. Sometimes even calling me on not loving enough or genuinely in some cases. They came to prefer it. Respect it.

I have lots of stories to relate to you about this, but, instead I am going to leave it at this: Love those people around you. Do not let them leave your presence without them knowing, in no uncertain terms, that you genuinely and legitimately care for them. However you express love, express it to them. I promise you that it won't take long before you change your environment. Please try...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Five Year Plan: Gay Goal Setting For My (Hopefully) Very Gay Future

November marks a mile marker for me, I am under five years left in prison. I realized this yesterday when I looked at my watch and it read 11-22. My parole date is 11-2021.

I try to get prepared for the outside world and I think I'm doing an OK job, a decade isn't that long. I do have some questions though, is everything voice activated? Will I have to ask my coffee pot to turn on? If I ask for a Droid will I get a cell phone still or will someone try to sell me a robot? I fear I'm going to be that idiot in the grocery store yelling at the self serve scanner because I don't understand, I don't speak "beep"

In all seriousness, five years is not much time to accomplish a firm foundation to build on. I have a goal setting packet I created using the S.M.A.R.T. system, its 7 pages and I adjusted it to be exhaustive and intense. I am going to use that to create a plan for Reaching Out!, The organization I will build for victim prevention. I will write another one a release packet. So that I have a good plan in place to face challenges and obstacles. Like employment, I have a friend who has offered to help me out, but I cannot have just one plan, I need to have many plans in place or "contingency" plans. 

I am teaching many classes in here and I am on several committees, roles I enjoy because they serve the community and in turn I learn from that hands on experience. I have much to do and not much time to do it. On a lighter note, I fully intend to participate in a drag show, it sounds like fun and besides it gives me a reason to practice lip-syncing and my fierce runway strut, just imagine me flipping my hair over my shoulder and fiercely sashaying away, fierce guurl!

What is your "5 Year" plan? You may be not in prison, but your not perfect. What does your future look like? Are you happy? What can you do to improve that? Even if your happy now, what can you do to be happier? What are your goals? Is it social injustice? Perhaps your goal is to participate in a march or protest, maybe you need to organize one. Social media can be a powerful tool for bringing beautiful ideas to life. Just want to make sure I am in good company, are you moving forward in life?

Are you living life or is life living you?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Addressing The World About The United States: Change Seems Inevitable, Bigotry Has Reignited, Civil War On Our Horizon?

When I first heard Trump was running for office I was excited. He represented change that was much needed and ultimately that prospect got him elected. As his policies and constituents came forward I had to readjust my view on him. Trump, being Trump does not scare me or represent turmoil. However, his policies and followers bother me.

Every day I hear on the news about rises in hate crimes. Specifically against LGBT people. Our new Chief Of Staff has written books that talk about white supremecy and has sparked an awakening of a bold new generation of hate. 

A mass exodus is going to occur with our immigrant population, which apparently Mr. Trump has forgotten that at one point his family was immigrants. Families are about to be torn apart...

For 80 years quiet battles have raged all over our country. Battles of inequality and bigotry. Marginalized people have had to fight for every square inch of ground they have gained. With this new uprising of hateful followers that ground is threatened and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool or a crafty soldier of hate.

Our multiracial country has stood proudly for hope. We all want to see America great again, American prosperity also means prosperity for many other countries. However, a great America is NOT an all-white, all-straight America. Americas beauty derives from its fragrant potpourri of culture. Our cities are evidence of this as our large cities commercial spaces are divided by culture. in Seattle, WA there is China Town, there is spaces where it is dominated by Hispanic/Latino stores and every other culture that is prevalent. 

This way of life is threatened. We can feel change coming...change that makes many of us very nervous. Civil war type change. 

White separatists tried to dominate this space long ago and now they are trying to do it again, however, I assure you that the marginalized community in this country is resilient and powerful and will not concede to being 2nd class citizens. We are equal, we demand equality, we demand freedom, we demand the end of bigotry. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tired Of People Being To Critical Of Your Goals? Rearrange Your Thinking...

I have had many naysayers along my journey to get an LGBT Peer Support Group. More people then not told me why it would never happen. Even more told me why it shouldn't happen. 

Now that it IS happening the naysayers are less frequent but the critics have come out of the woodwork. Many people have critical statements about my work, vision, and processes. At one point I was defensive, like a mother protecting her newborn. However, my thought process has taken a dramatic shift.

Instead of shutting people down from "criticizing" I am now open to hearing it. Why? Because if they are trying to "fix" a problem they see, it means that they care enough about the shared vision to contribute. Why would I want to shut that down? 

As leaders and mentors we must recognize the potential in those around us. True leadership is empowering those around you to be leaders to. 

Someone told me recently that in order to be a great leader you must be sociopathic and bottom-line oriented. However, I disagree. True leadership removes self and the vision is priority. You surround yourself with those that share your vision and support them while they do what they care about. My focus is to get them together, help them maximize their potential and change the world. "Self" is irrelevant, a by product of the goal. 

Critical statements are great to find out whose interested in your work, if they found a flaw, they were thinking about the goal and your method to reach it. Just one more way to find sharp, dedicated people to help make this world a better place as far as I'm concerned.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

My First Play: Tacoma Christian Church's :The Open Door

I got to see my first play, my first professionally done play, that is. It was about making a decision about your life, choosing heaven over allowing hell. 

The opening scene was the most touching for me. Music begins to play and a woman in a sparkly outfit, like an angel outfit, comes out and begins to do a contemporary dance. I have never seen one in real life, only on TV. She told a story with movement and what was most touching was that she was boldly standing in front of 300 inmates and smiled broadly while she moved. 

I don't remember the music, I was captivated by the performance and only remember not wanting it to end. When she exited the stage all 300 heads turned to watch her leave. 

As a gay man I thought the stigma was true. That gays like performing arts, whereas straight men more likely don't. But this wasn't the case. 

There were many moments where I got emotional, almost shouted for it to stop because it was to hard to watch. At one point there were demons beating one of the main characters, all I could hear was his screams while he layed on the stage and acted out the scene. The demonic characters were laughing and continued to torment him while he screamed. 

A scene I know all to well. It was hard to watch because I have seen violence similar. Where a single man was screaming for help and men stood around beating him and tormenting him until they were subdued. All the while laughing at his pain. Then I watched as their friends reenacted the scene on the yard...I also felt a connection to that scene because there was a point in my life where I felt like that. Helpless and screaming for help but there was no help. It was hard to watch...

This performance reminded me of why I do what I do now. I have a set of values that I compromised at one point in my life. Values I won't compromise again. I have a message and a purpose that I am fulfilling and that is to end victimization.
People hear me say that and they laugh, mocking me. But I don't care. I have seen enough violence, I have felt enough, done enough. I hate it, I hate it when people are victimized and I know that I can prevent so much of it. 

I need your help though, I need people just like you to help me. We are going to make a difference in this world. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Nothing Will Ever Be Handed To You: Equality, Happiness, Financial Stability...Nothing Will Come Easy

I remember growing up I hated being poor. I swore it would not be me, I'd be rich by my early twenties. Then my early twenties came and I lost hope for endless riches and began hoping for a hand up.

I remember thinking, "If I could just get one person to help me out of this hole, I would be good." So I began to resent the world. 

I blamed my woes on the world. It was the governments fault, or Gods fault, or I was just unlucky...I had no idea where I was going wrong.

The few people who did try and tell me where I was going wrong held no credibility with me, they themselves seemed to be broken. 

In retrospect, had someone done that, I never would have realized what I was doing wrong. I wasn't unlucky, I was unhappy. It wasn't the governments fault, I chose to remain quiet and not use my voice. I didn't have because I didn't go and get. It was that simple. Sacrifices had to be made in my life. 

This is true of all things in our lives. Nothing will ever just be handed to you. If it is, it comes at a price. What will you have to give? Consider carefully, wisely. If you want to be treated fairly, you must demand it and treat others fairly first. Long before you demand it. If you want equality, the same must be done; being liked is not the same as equality. 

Financial security comes with labor. It comes with risking your comfort zone. Sometimes it is only accomplished with much sacrifice and sometimes, often times that sacrifice is much needed.

Nothing will be handed to you in life. You will have to work for everything of value. But its worth it, its worth the sacrifice because its called self improvement and it needs to be done by "self.". 

Know this though, you may have to give up some things, maybe even friends to a degree. However, there is a whole world of people who are doing exactly what your about to do, I promise you'll find them.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...

I Want To Hear From You! Guest Write On This Blog: You Have A Voice, Use It!

I am looking for people to guest write on here. I want to begin conversations that relate to the LGBT community, so the topics are unlimited. Maybe you have strong opinions and want to share them or have a message of love, I want to hear them and so does everyone else. 

Your opinion is wanted and your voice is powerful. It may change someone's life and you'll never know if you don't try. I know you care, now act!

You can post something new or shed a different perspective on a topic I've written about. Differences in opinions are welcomed and appreciated because tolerance begins with communication. Which isn't one way.

If you have questions email them to: jeffutnage@gmail.com and my mom will post it for you.

Can't wait to hear from you!!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, November 18, 2016

What Is In Your Control To Change? What Can Be Done About The World Around You?

Sometimes it feels like we have to lay down and accept certain things about the world around us. That they are out of our control. However, we underestimate ourselves.

As ordinary people we are capable of extraordinary results. We can motivate those around us, or demotivate them. We can empower, or weaken. Encourage or insult. As individuals we can build or tear down.

Some situations seem so out of your control. Like other peoples actions. But we can influence others actions, can we not? 

I have a challenge for you, say something genuinely encouraging to everyone you come across today. Everyone. Don't be fake or phony, legitimately compliment or encourage them. See what happens. Then, do it again the next day. Take careful notice of the atmosphere around you before and after. Just by you being positive and uplifting you will change the environment wherever you go.

Now, if you create a positive environment, what kinds of things will be more likely to happen in your newly created environment? Positive things! Now, imagine that for each "unchangeable" scenerio in you view. That coworker is a always trying to make you look bad, you have a neighbor who refuses to be quiet at night, you don't like the election results etc. There is something you can do about all of them and it begins with positivity. Sounds clich, but its true. 
We can challenge our electoral process, we have that right. We can challenge who Trump puts in office too. Your coworker is tamable, trust me. Spend a few days building up and empowering everyone around you and your coworkers antics will be useless against you, but if you lay down and get angry...it only helps them win people over against you...after all, look how angry you are at work.

Your ability to influence your environment is solely up to you and your voice is so powerful. We can make a difference in our world, which is in a bigger world. Our healthy ecosystem will attract other healthy ecosystems.

Your worth your own investment! 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Racism & Bigotry: Resurrection Of Filth

Our new President Elect is considering putting a white nationalist as his chief of staff. If you don't know what a white nationalist is, they believe in the superiority of then"white" race and hate Jews, Muslims, LGBT, Mexicans, African Americans etc. and the few I have talked to tell me its Biblical... creeps

Then locally, there is Arlene's Flowers in Richland, WA who in 2013 refused to serve a gay wedding. The couple sued and won, the shop had to pay a fine among a few other minor things. The big win was that it wasn't called "religion" but "discrimination". Now the owner of the shop is appealing the decision, still fighting for their right to hate...

Both instances are from religious creeps who claim Christianity. These are the equivalent to ISIS and the Taliban to Muslims. Muslims are a peaceful people, whether or not I agree with their doctrines (which I do not) they are a peacefyl , anti-war people. Christians (true Christians like myself and as you know I am a Gender Queer Homosexual) don't hate, it goes against the two commandments that Christianity teaches.

Yet here we are with people refusing service to gays, denying restroom use to transgendered people, White Supremists getting public offices, mass deportation...which btw goes against the Republican parties "religious" views of helping your neighbor... again, protecting their right to hate.

I have this to say; as LGBT people, black people, Mexican people, or anyone marginalized...our American history proves what happens when you oppress and marginalize a community. Look at history, the queers raised hell for days at Stonewall, the Blacks raised up all over the country with sit-ins, marches and occupations...the list goes on. We are NOT a weak people. We never have been, WE'VE been tolerant of racism whereas racism has stepped on our throats for decades. We can turn the tables so fast it will leave the entire world wondering what happened to send Americans into divisions. Why must America be "Straight, Whites only" why don't they leave and go back to where THEY came from because it certainly WASNT HERE!! 

If you feel afraid of the many changes you see happening, don't be afraid. Everything is OK, history repeats itself and our struggles are no different. Along with racism and bigotry being resurrected so to will the Black Panther party, NAACP, ACLU and Pride marches be resurrected, all of which have been fairly quiet for decades. 

What racist and bigoted people (because whites aren't the only racists) don't realize is that there is more of us then them. Meaning, there are more who don't hate then there are those who hate. 

Love will win this war. God is on the side of the oppressed, as He always has been. I don't know what God the bigots follow but its NOT the God of old, Jesus. Its some other idol, because Jesus saved, not hated.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Good Cry: Nothing Wrong With Tears

I watched a movie last night called "A Fault In Our Stars." Its a real tear jerker. Most have seen it already, whereas it just came on FX for the first time last night. 

I am in love with love stories. I am a sucker for them and just become captivated by the impossible love scenerio. Its by far my favorite plot. 

As I sat watching this movie I cried, over and over again and I wasn't ashamed of it at all. I may be gay but I am still a guy, feelings are hard to manage usually. Something odd happened though, I was completely comfortable with it. It wasn't hard to manage, or embarrassing. It felt great to get out the sadness. Every tear that rolled down my cheek felt like another bad experience leaving my body. I feel cleaner this morning then yesterday morning and that's a good feeling.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Our Gaily Bread: Clobber Passages, Part 2

Romans 1:26-27 "...for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. (27) Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." 

This was the apostle Paul's letter to the Roman church. In this first few chapters he is warning them about being delivered over to a debased mind. Many conclude that this passage is talking about homosexuality specifically. I would challenge that...

Paul talks in metaphors sometimes and especially when he's talking about idol worship, worshipping of other gods. God also talked somewhat metaphorically when He referred to idol worship, usually calling the offending party "lustful". Paul may well have been using the same terminology here. 

Then again he also could have been talking about traditional male and female roles. Paul came from a culture where the masculine roles were defined. Going to a Roman culture was probably a shock to his system. 

As this chapter (Romans chap.1) goes on Paul goes on to list many sins "...(vs 29) being filled with unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, malice, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness, are whisperers, (30) back biters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, (31) undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, (32) who knowing the righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them."

Most clobber specialists stop there. Satisfied with their assessment and that all of mankind is fully condemned. Clearly, in that one chapter all of mankind is "...deserving of death..."

But they miss the point of all that which is the very first verse of chapter 2 "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever manner you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." You can sum up those "same things" as sin.

This is where you would drop the mic. Paul wasn't condemning anyone but pointing out that no one is worthy t point out flaws in another because by judging one you condemn yourself, under the law of death. 

God loves the LGBT community because HE CREATED US...and I will defend that until I stand before Him.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Unfortunate Events Can Mean Positive Changes: LGBT Unity Happens When We Feel Oppressed

I had been working on educational materials for months. I had them all neat and tidy in one document on the computer.

When I had time I would add to it more educational materials. Then, one morning, it was gone. Someone deleted it.

So much work, gone. Luckily, whenever I would finish or revise a document I would print it as a backup. At first I was angry, but, I just began retyping. As I did I realized that this was an opportunity to make changes I hadn't realized I needed.

What if we were able to address every negative situation with the same mindset? Things may get stressful, perhaps even tragic. However, we must move on.

The longer we stay and dwell in that negative, helpless state of uncertainty the longer our adversaries have to take strongholds in our lives. This is a result I just cannot live with. I have overcome to much to regress into fear or allow resentment to immobilize me. Frankly, I do not want any of my LGBT brothers and sisters doing it either.

As marginalized people the media portrays this image of "were there, we have an equal place at the table." Which is great they do that, but we are not there yet. That's what we are working for. Tragedy strikes one of us every day.

Sometimes its just dissatisfaction or disappointment. We have to CHOOSE to look for the outcome that will benefit us the most. Sometimes it seems impossible or unrealistic. When a loved one passes on there is no good in that for you. But how you honor and memorialize that person from now on can be good. That's what I'm talking about.

Being held down by depression and anger and fear is the best possible outcome for someone who hates us. Why? Because then we are divided and easily defeated.

We are strong and when negative situations come our way, and they will, we can look for one another for support. Imagine a building floor. Big and heavy. Now, as one pillar we cannot hold it up alone, but when there are several pillars, we can hold it up with ease and then some.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

You Cannot Fix Your Home While You Are Defending It: Where Prison Fails The Community

There are all types of people in prison. Scary people, funny people, loving people, weird people, sane and insane people. There are also a lot of men who in society are straight, but in prison they are opportunistic and gay for the stay. 
This is true of the trans community here as well, one day a guy with a Mohawk wants to be called Trina and stuffs a training bra full of tissue. Two days later he is back to being a man again. If I'm confused, I know they are too. 

But they aren't why prison sucks. They actually entertain us a little and believe it or not, I can help them find themselves through compassion and patience. 

What makes prison sucky is aggression. I am talking about those people who are angry all the time. They walk angry, they brush their teeth and wash their hands angry. They eat angry, listen to angry music, hell, they even smile angry. They eyes are still angry, but the mouth forms a smile. These people you can usually just give them space and their misery stays away from you and any threat they pose.

Every once in a while one finds you and takes a liking to you. Then you are forced to deal with them, whether you like it or not. In a situation such as this, options are limited. You cannot go to your boss and complain, or even reason with the person. You could fight, take their abuse, continue to ignore them, be extra nice...

If I fight, anyone for any reason, it doesn't gain anything for me. I lose my programs and credibility and my visits with my Mom, which are the only community contact I get. The angry pisser is hardly worth any of that. 

Prison isn't meant to be hard as so many believe. Its not meant to be this hyper aggressive place, not unless you never plan to interact with us again. 

For this one super aggressive person who even pees angry (yeah, its possible) his dad used to beat him until he would no longer display emotion. This happened his whole life, the psychological damage that occured was immense. Beat a toddler until he/she no longer shows emotion...could you imagine the pain? Its horrible. Then as an adult you come here, doing exactly what you were taught, sociopathology. 

Prison is meant to correct you. Instead, the aggressive guy is nurtured and his issues never really addressed. While others live in fear. You cannot fix your home while you are defending it.

So what's the solution? There needs to be separation. Those that react violently to the world around them need a different type of care. When they are surrounded by nonaggression, they become bullies. 

People who are seeking change, who want to fix their home (themselves) need to be able to feel safe in order to do so effectively. 

Its easy to say punish, punish, punish. But punishment only works if the behavior is addressed, a solution must be given, otherwise its just abuse. Lock a child away and tell them "I'm doing this because you did that" but then don't offer any type of corrective measure...

What's happening now is the weaker in strength are being predatorized by the strong and DOC is okay with that because the aggressive people are hard to deal with. So when they put them in medium and minimum custody they have prey and if they are preying on the weak, then they arent preying on them. 

Even sadder is their real problem is not being addressed. The damage to them psychologically just increases, but at least the guards are safe...

You have a voice. You CAN use it. Many of us want to fix our lives.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Failure Is Not Tragedy, Inaction, That's Tragedy: This Queer Won't Give Up

Ever have one of those days? Wake up late, bloated, slip on your diet, then some more? Check the scale later that night to reassure yourself you haven't gotten that complacent just to find out that you have? Maybe top it off with some even lower self esteem to go with when you took a shower and seen your belly? 

Then you remember after all that, that you have this goal to help people better themselves. But how can you help them if you can't even manage your weight?

Ever have one of those days? 

I used to just say "forget it, may as well finish strong, where's the frosting and Hershey's Syrup, were gonna get weird with a banana and some malt liquor" Then wake up and start it all over again. 

Realizing we are weak is our greatest strength. I have self-esteem issues and an eating disorder. My self-image is dependent on my weight. But even as I sit here wiping tears from my cheeks over gaining 15 lbs, I just got back from running 3 miles in 24 minutes and spent another 20 doing push-ups and 100 meter sprints. I didn't lose 15 lbs in 45 min, but I didn't eat 3000 calories in defeat either. I took action.

I have lost over 100 lbs and I will get back to where I am happy again, a cool 175 or below. 

Even though we may feel as if we have failed, its seasonal and not permanent. It only lasts as long as we let it. I may not have every aspect of life figured out, but I know one thing for sure, my only failure in life will be failing to take action. That is not a mistake I will let happen again. I am worth my effort.

My family is worth the effort, my friends are worth the effort and the LGBT community is worth the effort. Its not about weight, its about going onward even when we are our greatest enemy.

As I said, our greatest strength is recognizing our weaknesses and moving on anyway.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Transgendered Hormone Injection Side Effects, My Patience Runs Thin

A friend of mine is transitioning and has been on hormone therapy for about 6 months now. She a real sweetheart, but its like she's going through puberty, mentally. 

Sometimes its hard to watch, other times its flat out annoying. Mix that in with the after effects of methamphetamines and her transitioning "cocktail" is causing all sorts of instabilities. 

Insecurities are magnified in her. When she feels neglected she will stand in a crowd of people and start yelling "here, here, here, here, here, here!" not stopping until everyone looks, then she appears to get angry and does something outlandish, even more outlandish, that is.

Her child-like behavior is not the normal side effects. Moodiness, however, is. Other girls here go through periods of intense depression which they use pacifiers to cope with. Pacifiers like food, men, drugs or attention seeking. 

As a friend I want to help, but I do not know how to do anything but continue to be a friend hoping that the storm clears soon. 

How typical is this? Is this normal? Any ideas, since there is no help for them in here someone has to try. That someone is me. All I have is heart, I need help with this...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Love Works: Showing Love Brings Change And I Have Proof

When I first came to this place I was completely isolated. I needed support and help. It was very difficult to find peers and people to relate to. I could have easily conformed to the prisons mentality, gone back in the closet and became my old self...but that was unhealthy and led me here, I was/am unwilling to be that man ever again.

So I began reaching out to the LGBT community that was here. I created bonds with them. I listened to them, I loved them. Without judgement, I just wanted to be near them. Just being around people like me seemed to charge my system. I was happy and lively when I was around other LGBT people. I just loved them.

Now here we are two years later. I have created a support group, we made history with the first ever LGBTI Pride Event Celebration. We went from four of us to well over a hundred. I love every one of them and they know it.

So here is my proof. Our newest arrival says to me "this place is great, everyone is so nice! I have never felt so loved in my life" He was sincere and speaking from his heart. 

This is the result of one persons love. I am in the darkest of places but love is a powerful force even here. Now the misfits and bad seeds that I simply loved are loving others instead of mistreating them. Imagine that. It used to be that other LGBT people will stay away from other LGBT people. Not anymore.

Love is making a difference here. Its being nice, its listening, its not judging. Sometimes its just being near someone who understands your struggle, no words needed. Being there for someone who has experienced the pain of complete rejection. 

My mission in life is to spread this thinking to the entire world. If it can be so effective here, in such a dark place, it will spread like color out there. 

With LOVE,
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, November 10, 2016

White Supremist Groups Are Celebrating Trump: I am Terrified Of What Comes Next

When I heard Trump was going to run, I thought it was a good thing. I liked the idea that he was not a college trained politician, raised with a silver spoon. 

Then his views came front and center on LGBT people, people of color, women...his trash talk I could handle. I actually thought much of it was hot air, still do.

But I sit inside prison, where white supremecy is an agenda that is alive and promoted. But they knew they were a dying breed. 

Media has done a great job of pushing an agenda of equality and though it does not eliminate bigotry, it isolates bigots so they will keep their ugly views semi quiet. Over time they will give up and join the rest of the nation. 

Now, I see something different in hate groups. They are excited, expectant and feel as if one of their own is now in office. This type of perceived empowerment has awakened a sleeping giant in the straight white male that must be addressed...
As a gay man I am terrified at what Trump supporters think they are entitled to now. When he first began his campaign, I never thought this would be the outcome.

I am genuinely afraid of Trump supporters potential radicalism, the awakening of the KKK and the racist agenda of white supremist groups wanting to divide American soil.

Obama may feel "heartened" by Trumps victory, and as I said I believe much of Trump said was just hot air as far as his tainted remarks, but I am scared of what his extremist followers will do and am definitely NOT "heartened" by what I see. 

I will say this, to anyone who feels the same:

We may fear the unknown but we have been here before and have come this far. We will remain united in the face of hatred as we always have, today is no different. We are a strong people that have been consistently underestimated since the beginning. What hate groups forget is that as LGBT people we may be marginilized but so is every person of color and we united once and will do so again when cornered. We are God powered with powerful voices. We will not be pushed back but will march on...

Be Strong
With Love
Jeff Utnage

The Importance Of Goal Setting: Don't Forget To Dream

Imagining, envisioning, dreaming, planning. All words that are the root of achievement. Success doesn't come by luck for most. You usually don't happen to fall into a million dollar bank account. There is almost always something behind it.
If you want to lose weight, envision yourself at your target weight or body style. 

If your wanting a promotion, imagine what kind of person you'll be once you get it. Will you wear a different fragrance? Will you dress differently? Will your characteristics change? Will you be more confident? 

Our goals start with a thought and that is their birth. Since they begin with a thought it only makes sense that in order to give birth to our goals, we must think about them. We have to give our goals body, substance. You can't just say I want to be a millionaire. You have to also dream with that a way to get your million, that would be giving it a body. 

So often our imaginations are stifled and shut down. This is counterproductive to us. We have an imagination for a reason, ever consider that? Its how brainstorms work, how ideas get planned, how homes get built, how clothes get designed, how inventions are made. 

Go and get, but in all your getting, dream. Just sit somewhere quietly, maybe in your bed tonight, lay there in the dark and imagine. Plan your goal all the way through in your head. Troubleshoot, identify pitfalls, add more or take away. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Love Is On My Mind: This Queer Needs A Man

Spending years suppressing my sexual identity and then coming to a place where my ideal sexual partner is in an abundant supply has done a number on me. However, I have been good. I haven't whored around like you'd think I would, instead I have been selfishly improving my trouble spots so I am a better man in the end. I may be 39 when I get out, but I will be an educated, healthy and stable 39...without a doubt. Dare I say good looking??

It gets to me a little to know that I am surrounded by some of the sexiest men in the state. I'm telling you, if DOC made a calender like Chippendale's, they would supplement any funding shortages the first year!! However, I am remaining focused on getting out and helping the marginalized communities within these walls. 

This doesn't change the fact that I want to be in love. I am not closed to it. I want to find someone to look past my past and see me for me. Then I want to love them and be loved back. 

I want to be romantic, I want to feel twitterpatted! There may be many good looking, chiseled men in here, but I haven't met one that's available, mentally stable and most importantly...nice. Most guys in here are users and entitled. I don't want relationship if it means abuse or unhappiness. I want to shout it from the rooftops and write stories about it. I want to say "I love you" to someone that romantically loves me back not because they see some sexual object but because they actually love me...I want to be loved tonight AND in the morning. 

Maybe that means I should start my dates in the morning?? 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Remembering What My Passion Is: Insecurity Fades When You Do What Is Natural

I believe that all of us have something we love to do. Sometimes we deviate from that or some, like me, take forever to find the courage to do it. 

My comfort zone used to be small. I would envision myself teaching classes or using a podium and giving speeches. In real life, though, I was terrified of introducing myself to the grocery store cashier.

Over time I convinced myself I would never do those things and I got angry, bitter. 

With prison came a type of abandon with myself. One that I recognized fairly early on, I could reinvent myself. It wasn't much of a choice. I was miserable with who I was and bitter with who I was not.

Over time I reestablished comfort zones. Now my comfort zone walls are more like office dividers I can easily move in expansion. I found what I love to do. 

My dreams were to speak to people, be highly social. I find it somewhat comforting that when I tried to recluse, like I did before prison, it was a terrible feeling. So I went back to my love. Maybe I needed to recluse to make sure I really didn't like it, or maybe I needed to prove to myself I really do love people. Either way, the moment I began edifying people around again my life felt whole again. 

I love to watch people discover inner treasures within themselves. I love to watch them strengthen themselves. I love people. As a whole and as individuals. 

I am choosing to love because its what comes natural, its what makes me feel good. 

Find your passion, get back to your passion, immerse yourself in your passion. 

Don't know what your passion is? Maybe talking about it will help, write me, my address is on the profile page. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage