Tuesday, January 31, 2017

LGBT Community In Prison: What A Broken Bunch

Having the best of intentions is not always enough. There are times when a shoulder and a tissue is just not sufficient. Things are much deeper.

My entire goal in here is to help those who are incarcerated and LGBT. However, I am realizing that drama is what I am up against. Drama is something that I am really beginning to hate. Just when I get someone comfortable enough to open up to me where I can actually begin helping them...something happens. Not with everyone, but the ones who really need it are the ones who are the wildest.

I love my community enough that I am willing to deal with the shortcomings and wild sides. However, wanting to help them does not do them or me any good. I have to be able to actually be able to talk to them.

However, that is not enough. Sometimes the ones who need the most help, are the ones who are hardest to reach, they are hard to reach for a reason, because they are busy living their lives accordingly.

Letting go is very hard to do when you actually give a rip about someones well being. However, what do you do?

Wish them luck and move on I guess.

With Love, I am ready for the next one.

Jeff Utnage

Monday, January 30, 2017

Time Out

So it seems that the email system for the prison is having issues and I have not been able to get any emails from Jeff to post.

So while he is in time out (stupid mom humor) I guess I get to put my two cents worth in.....hmmm....what do I have to say...

Not much really, just that I hope you are all doing well, I hope that you are taking care of yourselves, I hope you have someone who loves you like I love my son, I hope you have someone to talk to. If you need help in any of these areas let me know. I am a mother and I need to love...can I love you to?

Have a great week, know that there are people you don't even know who pray for you, who loves you unconditionally, and who thinks about you even though I don't know YOU. But a mother has to love so bring it on.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Speaking In 140 Characters Or Less

In prison inmates spend obscene amounts of time perfecting handwritten letters. Writing them several times even, slowly pouring their hearts into every letter that they so expertly and carefully write. Pens become tools as opposed to desk decor and paper becomes a commodity rather than scrap.

However, that same letter that took hours to compose and probably had at least two other people read it, "just to make sure it comes across right", was probably skimmed over by its intended recipient and set aside for later.

It's no wonder either, the world communicates by short messages now. Social media has changed the way we both communicate and how we think about messages as a whole. Short messages promote more comfortable thought while long letters seem like to much work.

I have sent heart felt letters to family and got no response at all. Then, sent that same family member a quick note "Love ya, thinking about you, -Jeff" and got a letter of her life story in response. Go figure.

This is really just an observation rather than anything that can be a solutionized. I like it, but as the world turns I have to adjust. My messages need to be shorter and perhaps I can reach people quicker that way. Strange, but I like strange. I guess I have a lot to catch up to. 

Challenge Accepted

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

God The Ant Burner

When I first fell I was fresh off an attempted suicide and angry at everything. Most of all myself, however, second to that was God. I yelled and yelled at Him every chance I got for not intervening and than when He does, it was to keep me alive to face this punishment.

I wrote a short story called 'God, The Ant Burner', in which I likened God to a mean red-haired child with a magnifying glass burning ants until near death. When the ant could not stand the slow burn it would attempt to jump off the cliff to end the unwarranted misery, but the child would catch it, reposition it and continue burning it, laughing maniacally.

It didn't take long to figure out that this was all my doing. There is no Supreme Being who delights in torturing things smaller than He. Owning why I am here and what brought me here is the very point. When things go wrong in our lives we instinctively look to see what caused it, first we look outwardly, rarely do we look to see our part in things until later. Especially when the result comes as a surprise.

I do not believe this is a flaw, but simple nature. You cannot anticipate everything, some consequences are unintended and some tragedies are just unexplainable. Imperfect people in an imperfect world. However, we are not lost entirely. The world is full of scary things and tragedy, but its got so much beauty too.

Before we die its the time spent in the little things we remember. Our sexual orientation is not a factor, but neither is anyone else. We think of beauty in its simplistic forms. Waves crashing, family dinners, drinks with friends. Mistakes...maybe. Regrets...definitely. Go live life, for real. Love, trust, give, recieve...

Just a simple thought from a simple guy.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Many Lovers Of The Modern Gay Male

He loves many people. All different ways. Love like brothers, sisters, friends and so on. Love comes in so many ways. He doesn't love anyone completely, not yet anyway. Nobody gets all of him.

He gives a piece here, a piece there, hoping it will return the same. Though it rarely does, except for the rare few. So he spends his time in neon lights, tragically tight pants, freshly waxed because he just never knows.

But when he does give his love away it will be completely. Every ounce, every breath will be given. His entirety. Is there anyone willing, that seems to be his wall? Daily he stares at it in shame, something he cannot overcome yet. 

He wants love. So many Clyde's want their Bonnie, but not him. No, their love won't do. He wants love that grows old together, that others see and say "we want that too."

For now he'll just wait. Continue trying and giving himself away. Hopefully, one day soon, he'll have enough of himself to give to someone peculiar, just like him.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, January 23, 2017

We Have Been Deprived For A Thousand Years, Yeah, We Are A Little Sexual

Deprive yourself of sweets for a long period of time. Then, when you finally decide to have some, most of us eat them in excess. We often crave what we are deprived of.

The same for African American (or really any poorer, urban community, race doesn't matter, however in this instance I'm referring to slavery) communities, historically, blacks were deprived of nice things and than made fun of for it. Seeing the white man with a silver spoon and fat belly drove home a point, having more expensive possessions meant respect. It's not a surprise that one hundred + years later that same community is going to have very nice possessions. That's what was deprived, first chance you get your buying whatever was on your mind. (I recognize a stereotype was used here, I also recognize its not true of every person of ethnic ancestry, its being used for a parallel, keep reading!!)

Gays have been always allowed to exist, so long as they are not practicing homosexuality. Think it, but don't do it. Say it, don't act like it. So its also not shocking that as the past three decades unfolded and homosexuality has become more acceptable publicly, that homosexuals will now be pushing the envelope of what they were deprived of for so long, practice.

Gays have always found ways to have sex, obviously. I'm talking about speaking about it openly. Its a common topic for LGBT people to be speaking of because its only been recently that its been OK to talk about publicly! Of course its going to be shouted from the rooftops and in your face. 

If it seems that LGBT people are always talking about sex, well...maybe we are. Maybe that's because we have been so deprived of that taboo subject and now were never going back. Maybe that's our way of bucking the system. Yeah, were going to be sexual and talk about it because were tired of hiding it from phobic officials and secretly gay pastors. So we are not going to hide it.

Enjoy your next rendezvous sweetie, tell Mamma all about it....

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our Gaily Bread: Traditional Evangelism Does Not Work With LGBT People You Have To Be Real

Beat someone with a belt their entire lives or threaten them with death by hanging in the tree their whole life and see if they don't shy away from those things. When the belt becomes the weapon as opposed to the accessory that holds your pants up, you choose alternative ways to accessorize because the belt represents pain.

The name of Jesus is like that in the LGBT community. It has been used as a weapon to repeatedly cut and bash and harm. So it makes sense that when Jesus or God is mentioned it raises some towering walls. 

In order to reach the LGBT community you have to first understand us. That means you have to get in the mix with us, get your hands dirty (so to speak). Many LGBT people are highly sexual people, mainly because that's the act that is the one "forbidden". Its OK for a man to love another man (See David & Jonathan, God "knit" their souls together) but physical intimacy has been the act that offends. 

So sex has been the one aspect of LGBT life that is used as rebellion the most. "I am gonna have sex with whoever in the hell I want, if I'm going to hell, at least I won't be horny." As crude as it sounds, its the truth behind the thoughts. 

Over time, sex gets confused with love and love gets misconstrued as sex and the one true way to express one's love. 

Our job as Christians is to understand this. I am gay and Christian. I am NOT perfect, however, I do try and follow it. I do know that if I ever expect to be an effective representor of Gods love it requires me to know my audience and to actually love them. 

Love them because I AM them. I am gay, I am apart of the LGBT community and I have repeatedly bashed with the Christian stick. 

Reaching LGBT people means having to deal with sexualized conversations and expressions. Then having the fortitude to express GENUINE love back. 

I know the love of the Father and want my LGBT family to know it to. That's what a friend does, "hey, this feels way better than sex, I want you to experience it to, and the best part is I am still very gay and God is totally okay with that." 

Reaching out isn't hard, its called love. Love us actually and you will actually reach us.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Second Prison LGBTI Support Group Meeting: A True Success!

Our first meeting was rocky at best in December. I thought it was a complete failure and that all my labor had been in vane. However, January's meeting was a complete success. I watched as men became involved and their leadership skills came out. 

Empowering the LGBTI community is the most important thing I can think of. I know that lifting them up will give them the confidence they need to grow as men and women. This will help them get passed their pasts and shed that old lifestyle to create a new one. 

This group yesterday began that process. I couldn't be happier.

They even came up with a name they seemed to like, it was simply "Community". I thought it was to simple, but they thought it's simplicity encompassed the goal, to bring us together. I like it.

With Love,
Jeff Utnage

Friday, January 20, 2017

Evangelizing To The LGBT Community: Clobbering VS Actual Love

Me and my friend A. were sitting at a table yesterday when this man sat down. His body language was hostile. A. immediately stood up in fear but he told her that she was fine. Then he said something that sent chills down my spine. 
He looked at her and scowled, his lip curled like he was about to vomit and he said "I only got one thing to say to you, Jesus loves you." Just when I thought he couldn't look any more disgusted, he did and then left.

If the intent was to her soul from hell all he did was sour the name Jesus in her mouth. In fact, A. looked at me afterward and said "Oh, did you hear that Jeff? Jesus loves me." She was not amused. Neither was I.

Its that kind of thing that sours the name of true Christianity. People do things like that and speak words that should mean "I love you" but when they come out its more like "Jesus may love you, but you disgust me..."

Evangelizing a people that have been beat up by the same words that saved you will NOT work. You must actually love us. Your words and the scripture that you keep at your side are weapons and that puts everyone in defense mode, why? Because we have been attacked by them to many times. Do you have any idea how many LGBT people have tried to seek God just to be mauled by some idiot at the pulpit? That's not love. Jesus never said "Take my words, use them as weapons and slash through everyone." I don't remember reading that.

This is just a little note to all Christians. Please, I am a Christian and I can't even talk about God to my LGBT peers because of you. All I can do is SHOW Gods love through actions and guess what, His love still comes through, in fact, actually loving someone is way more effective.

When we get to judgement what do you think Jesus is going to say? "You clobbered many faggots with my words, good and fathful servant." or is it more likely he will say "Let's see how much you actually loved"...

I serve a God who loves me more and more each day. So as a result I will love more and more each day. Despite any flaws or misunderstandings. 

Get a clue.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Our Gaily Bread: Most LGBT People Believe In Something

Most of the LGBT people I run into believe in God. Its the version of God that's different. Also, many don't like talking about God and I don't blame them.

The name of Jesus and God has been used to bludgeon us into straight and "normality" submission lest we die a fiery death in hell. So as a result it is no wonder that many LGBT don't talk about God, especially when He is being wielded like a weapon.

This still doesn't stop us from believing in God. We still pray things like "God if Your up there, I could sure use help..." All that really happens is we stop talking about Him. 

I have a secret for you, God doesn't change. People misinterpreted Jesus 2000 years ago and they are still doing it. Using the threat of eternal damnation for everything from paying taxes to having sex. But that's man. Corrupt.

God doesn't hate His people. We are part of His people and He is not ashamed of our community. 

When over-zealous people begin to bludgeon you with clobber passages they have twisted for themselves, pay them no mind. Our God is different from the one they are spitting at us. Ours loves us and them. His name is Jesus and He is the only begotten Son of God, there are many who have claimed to be Him and of His disciples, but many imposters have come in His name. Don't be afraid of His name, our Jesus is the true Jesus, loving.

If it doesn't feel like love, it isn't.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Big Changes In Prison Culture At Stafford Creek

One year ago, a new Superintendent and Associate Superintendent took the helm of Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, WA. Which most here agree, is no easy task. Stafford Creek has been known within the inmate population as a good place to do time, however, at one point had a major drug problem.

Stafford Creek has always had a relatively low violence rate for a prison environment, thankfully our new Administration's vision is one that matches the majority of the prisoners, one fight is to many. One discrimination is to many. Equality is across the board or it is non- existent. 

These are important issues for the LGBT community. We are often victimized in prison. If not physically, then sexually; if not sexually, then verbally; if not by inmates, then staff. Sometime it is all of the above and more. If its not violent manipulation, it also comes in the form of drugs. Crystal meth has long been used as a method to drop ones sexual moral compass. Unfortunately, the LGBT community is normal in the regard that it has its share of dangerous addictions, meth is at the top of that list.

That's why the changes that have been made here are so important for the community to know about. If the environment that an inmate is housed in makes them feel threatened on a regular basis, that threat will occupy the majority of the brain. Little else will matter. Put it this way, if you have a broken house that you want to fix you need your hands for tools. Hammer and nails...however when a threat approaches you need defense tools, sword and shield. Which leaves the defending party unable to build, because they are defending. 

If the new administration here creates an environment where the mainline feels comfortable enough to drop their figurative weaponry and pick up their figurative tools, what happens next is a place that harbors reality based restoration. 

With programs like Redemption, LGBT Community groups, Black Prisoners Caucus, Stonecatchers Literacy Group, and the IMU Redemption, Stafford Creek is slowly turning the culture here into something unseen in any other prison in the United States. With a highly limited budget and almost zero community support. 

If DOC Headquarters would track recidivism rates for those individuals who are doing time under this Superintendents care, one could bet it would be among the lowest recidivism rates in the country for any long-term minimum facility and then some.

If there is ever a time to get involved, now is the time.

With Love 
Jeff Utnage

Channeling My Inner Drag Queen

Why is it that my idea of a really fun night entails lip syncing "Bootylicious" in drag? It not only sounds fun but it is kind of my ultimate adrenaline rush. 

I think of everything from buying makeup to how to get over the awkward dressing room. Maybe I need to invest more time in internet shopping? Either way, I have to get in front of people dressed in those same clothes I so awkwardly bought.

What am I going to tell my parole officer when they do the whole house search thing and find a closet full of drag clothes, that won't be weird or nothing...I want to meet other drag queens so I can learn about some of this stuff. I have never applied makeup before and the closest I got to drag as an adult is I put my hair in a pony tail and wore bangs for the day. You should have seen the looks I got. It was like I was wearing a leather mask in JCPenny's running around yelling at people to pinch my nips. Nobody knew what to do with me.

I find myself spending more and more time posing and working on my singing face than almost anything else I do for fun. I'm sure I will make momma proud with this little job...oh boy!

At least I will have traded my anger and hiding with something more positive, heels and attitude! WAY MORE FUN!!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Friend Zoning 'Em: It's Becoming All To Natural, Annoyingly

Guys get at me all the time in here. Which does not say much because male prisoners will pitch woo to a latex glove if no one was looking. However, here we are with some smooth talking criminals with all the right looks. You have some choices to make in this place...

In prison, sexual contact is strictly prohibited, homosexuality is illegal. It is illegal because there is a punishment for it. As a result I have been very strict on my own urges. I have become very good at "friend zoning" people. 

I learned something about myself long ago. I can compartmentalize people very well. Once I have "friend zoned" someone they don't come out of it, period. Like when a guy is introduced to me as straight, I immediately switch mental gears with him and sex with him doesn't even enter my mind. I become much more focused on how we can benefit one another. Just the way my mind works. 

The problem is, I have put every guy within arms reach into my "friend zone" which leaves me continuously seeking a partner. I want to fill that void that is left. 

I do not like that drive inside of me that is trying to find my own "Javier" (For anyone who has seen TNT's 'Good Behavior', Javier is a very sexy protagonist on the show, I want one!!!). I guess for prison this is good for being law abiding, but I don't know how to flirt, date or even pursue a guy. The most recent experience I have is telling an angry little man that I won't move in with him. Every time this guy sees me he talks about using shampoo bottles and cucumbers...all I can think about is this angry man angrily sticking things where the sun don't shine and now he wants me to do that?? Ewww!!!! Please tell me this is not gay culture because if it is, maybe I'm suppose to be celibate? Which would suck.

I only have 58 months left in prison then I get parole. It would sure be nice to get some practice talking to other gay guys that aren't in prison. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, January 16, 2017

Channeling Your Inner Drag Queen: How Do I Do That Again???

I first fell in love with drag when I see "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar". That movie came at a time in my life where I new that I was very different and couldn't tell a soul. My only obession I could keep a complete secret was my need to dress in drag.

My idea of fun as a grown man watching HSN and QVC looking for practical makeup tips and reading Cosmopolitan like it's my queer version of a Bible. I practice how I would walk in heels and my ideal body type (for myself) is one that includes a booty and some hips, but just enough to grab. 

I can't seem to shake the idea of putting on makeup and finding that perfect little dress that might fit. My only real concern is how in the hell im going to explain to anyone why I go to the womens section of the store and pick out clothes that fit me. Should I just tell them I am a drag trainee? 

Maybe I need to get with the age of internet shopping and do things that way. Then I could concentrate on how to move my hips like Beyonce in "Bootylicious" so I can start my lipsyncing career. 

I laugh when I think about my future. I am going to be on parole and my Parole Officer is going to wonder why I have an entire closet full of womens clothes and wigs. How am I going to explain that one? Guess I am a freak. Oh well, I have been a rarity since I have come into prison and come to terms with myself. It seems as though the more comfortable I become with me the more uncomfortable the world around me becomes with themselves. Weird.

Is it strange that I strut in my house and practice lip syncing in the mirror? Is it weird that I want to both "work the stage" and be a great business man? I don't want to be a woman. I like all of my parts, I want to be a Drag Queen. For me, androgyny is my goal. I think that I should be able to wear a dress and make it look good, how do other drag queens do it? 

Does anyone out there have any advice?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Just When You Think Your To Tired To Fight

Second winds come in many different forms. Sometimes they come in races, fights, or even personal battles. I love it when I think that I have nothing left to give and just a little more comes from my depths and I come out the winner of my little battle. 

My most recent battle was a head cold. I had a workshop to go teach to a bunch of dudes that did not want to learn anything from the likes of me. Especially with red puffy sinuses and a nose that is leaking like a broken water hose. But with my little fever I went anyway and it just so happened that right before we started my sinuses gave me a break, my throat wasn't dry and my energy returned.

By the end of it I was so glad that I was given the strength to carry on in these little situations. Because it is days like today that remind you in the future just what your made of. 

Strength is not specific to LGBT people but we sure as heck make it look good. I have to say that for a guy who is dripping snot everywhere, I make this shit look good...

Looking forward to my next challenge because I am gonna knock that one out of the park too.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How I Help The LGBT People Who Are Absolutely Convinced The World Hates Them: It Starts With One Question

The question is "In a perfect world, if everything was to just be handed to you, what is the one thing you would need to be successful?" The responses I get are unusually honest because I am a peer. It is not often that another inmate takes an interest in another's future. Though, I have to be honest, judging by the amount of interest in this website, not many people care at all about inmates future. So it doesn't surprise me.

I am always shocked by the answers I get. I think the most brutally honest one I ever got was from someone a few months back they said to me "I would want to do gang bang porn and I the one thing I would need is an endless supply of Meth." 

Sad, but honest. I asked them why the meth and they said it would be used to drop their inhibitions and take the shame away. My heart drops for people in this situation because as much as I wanted to say "you must be joking!" I knew by the look in their eyes that they were serious. That was a moment that I will never forget, it encapsulated the LGBT community in prison and the very brutal consequences of life for some.

What happens when a person of authority asks this question is fluff. The person being questioned feels as if they have respond with some fluffy answer that will please the authority and make them happy. Because they want to be psychologically rewarded, because they have had many experiences where they were reprimanded and will avoid such interactions at all costs. We don't even have an option with this type of response. Shame, guilt, and negativity are feelings that we will automatically avoid. Most authority figures, (DSHS, CPS, Free Clinic, Police, DOC, CCO's Etc) will not respond kindly to someone telling them that they want to do porn and meth. 

The why of that never even gets explored because they would never tell an authority that's the idea. They naturally don't trust authorities. LGBT people are a lot like African American and the Latino races in that sense, we tend to not trust authorities because our experiences have been generally, bad.

That's why peer support is so effective. I have legitimate care for LGBT people, particularly the incarcerated. I have seen some movement on Transgendered rights, but no one gives a crap about gays, bisexuals or others. IF they do, 90% of those that do write us want us to fulfill some sort of sexual desire within them. Write them dirty letters and the such in exchange for a few letters and maybe a phone call. If we are lucky we may even get a visit someday...

That's why this website exists. I may not have the best writing skills for keeping readers captivated by a cause, some of that is because my letters must be censored or else I will get in trouble. So my personal experiences must be watered down versions because the protection DOC offers is the hole. Which, I will not be able to write anything. So I have to keep the seedy, dangerous stuff inside until I get out in 2021, when I plan to write a memoir about my experience in this place and the fight that has ensued and is still raging.

Helping those who don't want help is easier than people think. It starts with being a real friend. Getting close by actually listening to them and maybe even getting a little used. But not giving up is key, be ridiculously patient and give more love than they are capable of giving back because one day, it is going to click and you will be so glad you didn't give up.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Friday, January 13, 2017

Having Trouble Standing Up For Yourself? You Want To Read This

I have been intimidated in so many situations in my life. When I was younger it seemed that every man in my life was mean, angry, and abusive. When it wasn't them it was someone else. 

As an adult, I just let people walk all over me. I never knew how to stand up lest there be a confrontation that could turn ugly. Something I desperately wanted to avoid. The times I had been in fights it always turned really ugly and I rarely gained control of myself until things had gone far to late. I never just got into a fight, I created victims. I hated that. 

For other people it may be different. Many people don't know how to end being taken advantage of from aggressive people or those who employ manipulation tactics. Whatever the reasoning is for you not standing up for yourself, know this, you are not alone and you do not have to become this angry person who is totally comfortable with confrontation in order to do so.

Over the past few years in prison I have ran into so many situations where I have had to learn the hard way what it means to be taken advantage of, in almost every way...

In prison, we have nothing. We are practically just a number and those who are supposed to protect us typically despise us. So when someone takes something from you, you react differently. More aggressively. When someone takes advantage of you once you are not quick to allow it to happen again. Call it "paying for the knowledge".

The first step to standing up for yourself is to just set your mind to do it. The things that keep you up at night are not suppose to be other people. It's suppose to be your own problems, your own dreams. So set your resolve that you are going to talk to people that you need to. No matter what the consequences may be. 

This environment can be very hostile. The "natural" thing to do in here is to react violently to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and then ask questions later. But I have managed to stay away from most violence with some careful planning.

You have to set boundaries with people from the get go. You need to know the word "no". Then you need to use it, frequently. This doesn't mean that you don't help people, as your feelings lead you you should help people as often as possible. But remember that the things that help people the most is rarely material, almost always its emotional.

Just set the standard for yourself with every new person that you meet and every person that you have in your life currently, its okay to reinvent yourself as you go. In fact, most people do this frequently in their lives and its always a great time to do it, its never going to be a bad time.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Being A Good Friend While Remaining Highly Competitive In Life: Does LGBT Family Trump Your Own Success?

Nothing makes me happier than when I am with those that I love. My guards come down, I smile freely, I am only concerned with the moment. But there is another side to me.

I have become the sole caretaker of my future (except, of course, God) and I have a real interest in my success and happiness. Its not that I am being cutthroat, because I am not, I am being very aggressive with what I want. No one has handed me anything. I have had to demand it, every step of the way. 

I feel good about this new desire to take control of my life and it feels right. However, it makes me highly competitive, a side of me I have not allowed to surface since junior high football. In high school, such drive was replaced by weed and weight lifting, nice mellow paces. I fear that my need to accomplish my goals may end up crossing a few paths I had not intended. What to do?

Well, this is what I have decided: When I have accomplished my goal, I am going to put my hand out and help up whoever is traversing the same path and help them get to where I went. I am not going to leave them behind to "figure" it out. I am going to help in any way I can. 

My honor is not for sale. Though I have made the mistake of selling it many times, I will not sell it anymore. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Some Motherly Advice

1) Be yourself. Who cares what anybody thinks about you. It is usually themselves they have issues with, not you. It seems kind of selfish to me, to think that somebody else is spending that kind of time thinking about me, when I know I don't think about other people until they are in front of me, and then I am usually thinking about something that looks like I am really thinking about them but they reminded me of something I have to do, forgot to do, or want to do. Negativity only comes in when I am feeling bad already. So be you and don't worry about others feelings, they aren't thinking about yours. Remember that you are the one who matters to you. It is what you think about yourself that your mind listens to, more than anything anybody else can or will say.

2) Let your word be your bond. If you say you are going to do something, you do it, because you said you would. When you do that, people trust what you say. They believe everything you say because you are truth worthy. You don't have to prove to others that you are trust worthy, you need to prove it to yourself. When you can trust yourself, and follow thru on your word, you tell yourself that you are worthy. You tell your subconscious that you are trustworthy so that you change the way you think about yourself. 

3) Do your best. At everything. If you do your best you will never feel like a failure, because in your heart you know that you gave it everything you had and you can be proud of it. Your best may not always give the outcome you are looking for but you know you did everything you could possibly do to make it work. Then you can feel confident about yourself. Confidence builds confidence. Confidence feeds your subconscious with good thoughts.

4) Don't take anything personally. This one has been hard for me even. But when I understand that they are only feeling bad about themselves and it has nothing to do with me. Why? Because I know I didn't do anything wrong, I know I am a good person who tries my best, who BELIEVES that I am ok, it is then that I don't care what others think. 

All of these things are hard to do. Especially for us because we have spent our whole lives talking ourselves into hating ourselves.We need to make the CHOICE to be HAPPY. And being happy means we have to believe we are good people who have tons to show the world, or just to show ourselves that we are happy. It means making the most out of every day because we are not promised tomorrow, we don't have anything PROVING we are right, we have to go on FAITH that we can be the best person we want to be, just because we want to be that person. I know I do, so I will be working on my HAPPINESS more than ever before.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Way Things Are: The Birds & The Bees For Life

I had this idea growing up and into adulthood that life was this organized system. You do this and that happens. You do the right thing and you get rewarded. Everyone is out to help you out, bosses want everyone of their employees to succeed and become rich. 

After 10 different jobs before I was 25 and many, many arguments with myself about why I am not completely happy with the way things are going for me and why isn't anyone helping me in my misery; I finally came to the conclusion that I had to start accomplishing something. Anything, I didn't care. 

I just let life pass by me. I didn't care about anything other than why I was so upset with everything. 

There is this little part of me that still thinks about those times in my life. As I have matured, believe it or not in prison, I have come to realize that the whole world is not against me. Only me, I was the only one against me. I don't remember anyone ever telling me that the world is doing it's own thing and they aren't going to help you. 

That should be a lesson about life when your young, no one is going to help you. When you do find those rare few who will, don't mess that up because they are precious and beautiful and you should be just like them to everyone you meet. Lead by example. 

This is just the way life is. But once I got over that, I understood that life is what I make it. I have so much to offer, so much to give and I intend to let everyone know it. I intend to make my own path because there doesn't seem to be one for a queer like me. That's ok, I like making stuff.

Life is good, because now I get to design my own, finally.

I like that

With Love,
Jeff Utnage

Friday, January 6, 2017

Transgendered People Have A Right To Exist, Happily. Does Anyone Else Have To Care?

I want to tell you a quick story. There is this girl, we'll call her Meg. Meg is locked up and is transgendered. She walks like a girl, talks like a girl, has breasts like a girl, looks like a girl...and if it was just that, this story wouldn't be taking place.

Meg is obnoxious. She acts out, always doing things to get your attention including drawing everyone's attention within an audible distance. She'll say "hey,hey,hey,hey,hey,hey,hey,hey!" until the person she wants attention from responds. Meg makes everyone uncomfortable because of this.

She is always getting in trouble, causing a scene, giving the cops hell. In and out of the hole for all kinds of things. Most people just want to stay away from her. Unless they want sex, then they will put up with almost anything, for a time. 

Meg comes out of seg recently and comes to my unit. Meg and I are friends. She does crazy stuff to everyone but me because I have done something different with her. Of course, in our unit she is a spectacle. She is well aware of how uncomfortable she makes the unit. So she tries to stay calm, play nice. 

In the unit she sees that there is a rather large concentration of LGBT people. Traditionally, they have shunned Meg because Meg draws so much attention. But Meg knows that I am her friend and I made a promise to her and to everyone here that no matter who I am talking to, they are always welcome with my friends and I. 

So Meg tries to make them laugh, set them at ease that she is normal, just a chick in a men's prison is all. So she does what we all do when we are trying to get to know new people, she offers to make them dinner. Now, she knows that they don't necessarily like her, she knows that everyone is watching her, she tried to take a shower earlier and even with me in there people were either staring or angry at her presence. 

So one by one she offers to cook with the group. One by one they all said "no". I stood and watched as they all rejected her because of what other people might think. I seen the hurt, her realization of rejection. I was about to intervene and start running interference when someone stepped up, "what are we having and what can I contribute?" The brave man was a closeted gay man who had been around the block. He knew what was happening. She spent the next hour happily preparing meal, eager to make friends and be seen as "normal". 

This isn't just a story, this is reality. This really happened. When someone, anyone, is ostracized it hurts their feelings. When this happens for years it creates intense insecurities. How is someone suppose to cope with gender identity issues when the whole world seemingly hates them? On TV everything is great, but in reality nobody will even let you do a nice deed. Then everyone wonders why ole' Meg acts out. Everyone is afraid of her no matter what she does, so she might as well be in control. 

It is our JOB our DUTY to help those like Meg because we are like Meg. At least once were, if not still. We know what its like to feel rejected and unaccepted. To try and fit in and be ostracized anyway. We know what kind of pain that causes. Ole' Meg is used to the only people who are willing to deal with her b.s. are people who want her sexually. So she tested me, a lot. Flaunting her goodies at me, but once she was assured I was not interested, I was one of very few people who got to see just how wonderful she is. How caring, insecure and vulnerable she is. Like we all are. 

Our community is in need of each other. We heal through love, don't be afraid to show it, even when its hard. It will NEVER come back void. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A mother's love

I remember when Jeff told me he was gay I laughed and said "yeah all guys in prison are GTR, gay til released". I didn't believe him at all.

Then he became REAL serious and said "no mom, I really am gay". So I agreed with him only to put the subject to rest. And for quite some time that is exactly what I thought. That once he got out he would change back to straight Jeff.

I have finally come to realize the truth. My son is gay, and it doesn't bother me a bit. Sure it took some getting used to. And I spent quite awhile going over my feelings on the subject asking myself how I really felt about it, only to come to the conclusion that it didn't matter. It doesn't change the fact that he is my son, it doesn't make me love him anymore or less than I used to, and he seems happier to know that I know and accept him as he is.

He never struck me as being someone who was shy about talking about himself. And when I questioned him about why he couldn't talk to me about it, he said he didn't want to disappoint me or risk losing me. Not that he believed it, but he was still afraid I would reject him.

I love my son and whatever makes him happy is what I want for him. I still struggle with the ideals in church. So until I can find a church that accepts the fact that gay people ARE acceptable to God, I don't go. It doesn't change my relationship with God, only with organized religion.

I know you didn't check his blog to hear from me, but we don't want to leave you all hanging just because is emails are held up. So, you may hear from me again. I hope I haven't kept you from anything fun to do. Just know that some parents accept their children without question and you may be surprised.

Jeff's Mom

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Remembering Your Local Community: Your LGBT Environment Matters!

How much time do you spend improving the area around you? I'm not going to go brow beating you into doing community service, so breath easy. However, I do want to remind everyone that a single person can change so much.

We rarely know the impact that we have on our envirnment, not the landscape like trees and oceans, I mean like the people that dwell around us. Being happy and taking time to greet people warmly can be the biggest thing. So can being attentive to someones needs and giving them what they need regardless if they can pay you back. 

Being aware of how we impact those around us is a big, big deal. If you do not hold the door for the guy behind you and it slams in his face, you did not mean to insult him, you were just in a rush. However, he may have been feeling already isolated, maybe even suicidal and that one door slamming in his face may have been the last straw to make him feel completely invisible. Things like this sound far fetched and petty until you read about them in the newspaper. Then you wonder, what happened to that guy?

This is part of my point though, in our community (LGBT) we know who one another are. We are sensitive to one another and can see habits forming and bad attitudes creeping up. We can spot depression in one another and addiction. We can see when one of our partnered friends is beginning to stray sexually. We know all this because a little part of ourselves is in every member of the LGBT community whether we know them or not, hence our "gaydar's".

But if we take that time to listen to the stranger, to invite the feelings and emotions that make us uncomfortable, to step out of our little bubbles, our communities can and will be drastically different. This really goes so deep but is so completely simple. Its what a community is suppose to be. It's giving a crap about the person next to you whether or not you think they are good people. It's not judging because you don't like to be judged, its helping because sometimes you need help too. It's doing the right thing because there are times when you need someone else to do the right thing with you (ever lose you wallet and the money get returned with it?). 

I have been told that this is utopia type thinking and its impossible, but I hate that word and don't believe in impossible. I believe in me and you and God and that everything is possible.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Proud To Be Gay, Don't Care Who Doesn't Approve

I remember the first time that I realized there was such a thing as "gay". I was watching Jenny Jones when I played hookie from school. I was still in grade school and whenever I stayed home I religiously watched her. I remember the episode where the guy tells his best friend that he was in love with him. 

My first reaction was to cheer for him, I kinda thought it was cool that it was possible to like the same sex. I didn't really say much to anyone about it, I think I said something to my Mother about the episode, I don't remember. I do remember the news that night when I heard that his best friend killed him over publicly embarrassing him on national tv.

That moment was highly impactful. I set the standard for myself that being gay was to not be disclosed because guys didn't like faggots. Then as I got older that was reinforced by the men in my life. Keep it hidden at all costs, its something to be ashamed of.

Then I come out, not as an act of love but as one of defeat. However, this is one of those moments that you hear the term "you have to lose your life in order to gain it". Well, I had to lose in order to win in this case. What I thought was an act of defeat has not become one of my proudest moments as a man. It took courage and strength that I thought I did not possess.

I am so proud to be gay that now I wear it like a badge of honor. I don't go throwing it in people's faces like a new Prada bag or a Black card, but I delight in being the man that I am today and that means being gay. I still see so many people being afraid to come out to the world around them. They will confide in me and a few others privately but coming out to the world is so scary to them still.

Judgement from others is scary, until you see the worst of it. Then, you slowly come to terms with the facts: others opinions of you just don't mean a damn thing. I have taken the very worst of judgements. I was given a life-time max on my sentence, judgement. I was disowned by my birth parent, judgement. People in here think that they are better than me all the time, judgement. I am at the very bottom of everyone's food chain in here, even the c/o's, judgement. 

Bring me your worst and I will show you my best. I could honestly give a damn less who doesn't agree with my lifestyle anymore. You know why? Because I have seen the worst of that wrath and believe me its not that scary once you see just how its built. The only time anyone really hates you because of something you have done or something that you are it's because they see a little of themselves in you and they hate that you survive and move on and they do not. That simple, they hate themselves and its never fun by yourself.

I heard a saying the other day in the oddest place, it read "I Make Haters". That seems like it was meant for me directly. I make haters all day long. All I do is tell them I love them and that I love being gay, guess what, it turned a whole damned church against me, I got an entire religious sect divided as a result of my confidence in my homosexuality and the fact that God loves me because GOD made me. I won't even try to change it because there is nothing wrong with it.

Gay is good and that's that. Don't like it, then hate me, get in line cause I Make Haters.

Be proud of who you are L,G,B,T,I,GQ,Q,Q,P,A


With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Impossible: I Hate That Word

I was told that so many things were impossible. I was never gonna see my family again, that's impossible. It was impossible to get my child support dropped, it was impossible to get an LGBT support group started. It was impossible to get LGBT people recognized as a culture. It's impossible to get released. Everything that someone else can't do is impossible...

I don't even believe in the word anymore. It's disheartening when I hear other people say it. When someone tells me that what I am doing is impossible it serves as a driving force because I love proving that word wrong. 

Something else that's impossible is connecting the prison gay community to your community. I have been told that it will never work because its two different worlds. Many point to this blog as proof that people are not really to concerned with the gay community in prison. After all, there are so many road blocks. 

I know that a good blog needs to be posted daily and have content that people actually want to read. Sometimes my posts are very personal and seem to be more of a journal entry then an opinionated post on LGBT culture. But there are many obstacles, first and foremost my letters are carefully screened by DOC for security threats. I can't even talk about sexual matters and God forbid I tell you a story that even implies a threat to me. The post will never even make it to my family to post and I will be put in the hole immediately.

So there are many who believe that what I am doing here, trying to give people out there the normalcy of us in here. In prison there is love, hate, violence, abuse, care, empathy, change. We celebrate holidays and think about our families and what we could be and what we once were. We contemplate life and how to make it better for ourselves, sometimes guys do the wrong thing and other guys will go out of their way to do the right thing. 

What is possible is that we will leave this place and if we are not so scary to people out there then perhaps we could make a few more friends. It's not impossible for us to be rehabilitated. Some guys don't give a crap, some of us really care. Some of us really have changed. 

I have heard impossible to many times and I want to clearly state that nothing is impossible. I will keep writing every day, some days the posts will lag behind because people are doing their jobs here holding us accountable and rightly so, or sometimes its not always possible that people can post my stuff as frequently as I would hope, it's called life, the possible. 

I will keep on going and keep on writing because I believe in a world where we are all connected and we care about one another. It's possible. People tell me my ultimate goal is impossible, which is to end victimization in this world and I will spend the rest of my life doing just that. I believe that though this blog may not save the world, it's one little step on my big ole' journey. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage