Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sexuality, Transgender ism, Human Nature Is Fluid: Do Not Expect Everyone To Fit In Your Box

As children we learn from our parents and environment how to think and feel about everything. Our idea on sexuality and gender identity is formed for us, for the most part. We express ourselves freely until we are "corrected" then we learn to not think that way because it gets us in trouble.

When we are free thinking adults we challenge our ideas on most everything. We have to trace our beliefs back to childhood and find out why we believe what we do. Sexuality and gender identity are no different.

For anyone who is straight and reading this, consider this: Girls wear pink, boys blue. Girls cheer lead, boys play sports. Boys wrestle, girls play volleyball. Get the idea yet? Here is another to consider, girls wear dresses, men do not.

We have to get away from this box of outward appearances as gender definition. Just because a woman wants to wear flannel and Danner boots, does that make her any less "woman"? Hardly. Unless of course she is all man inside. Her outward appearance does not match her inward gender. Which, believe me is entirely possible.

Just because we do not experience what other people experience does not mean it doesn't happen. Have you ever constructed a sky scraper? How about gone to space? Ever fly a fighter jet? All these things happen, just because YOU don't experience them doesn't mean that they don't happen. They do. As is proof of their existence.

I see variations of gender expression and transgender ism and sexual identity every day. I have learned to embrace it. I do not attempt to understand it, grasp it or change it. It just is. I have my own differences to contend with. I am gender fluid. I do not believe that I am one singular gender. I believe I have both male and female (or androgynous) inner workings emotionally and mentally. 

I was raised by women and learned to cope with life through feminine eyes. The way men handled emotions was rough and often ridiculous. As a child, that is what I was taught. As a man, I have challenged that belief and made up my own mind about life. I have decided that I am Gender Queer. 

I know that for many if they ever see me in a dress are going to assume that I am trans. Well, I am not. I am still very much a man, just a man in a dress. I like pony tails and not the kind that lay on your neck. I like the high, girlie pony tails and I like the idea of having bangs and wearing heels and make-up. Why do I have to be a woman to do any of those things?

This idea goes along with transgender ism, society is becoming used to the trans community, kind of...and they expect that every trans man or woman is going to do a full operation. When that is not always the case. Many people I have met are somewhere in between and only consider physically altering their genitalia because society pressures them too. 

This is unfair.

Please take the time to just love those you do not understand. It feels way better than judgementalism.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Prison Life For The LGBT Community

Prison life is strange for anyone who comes here. However, it presents unique challenges for the LGBT community. Specifically, we are locked away with a large amount of our potential partners. We must abstain from sexual contact or relationships entirely, else there are consequences. 

However, this isn't our only concern when it comes to prison life and the LGBT community. There is suicide, depression, assaults, extortion and every other nasty thing that you can think of. You name it and it happens to us most frequently.

Remember in Fatal Attraction, the whole boil a rabbit thing? It is the epitome of crazy stalker people. Just imagine that whole mentality, locked away in about 500 other dudes who do nothing but work out and plot violence. Our concerns go from one or two minor ones to lets shower in packs because you never know who is going to try and pin you down. And NOT the pleasurable way.

But this isn't about getting sympathy from the outside community. It's about raising awareness. I hope to get people thinking about the LGBT community in prison because the more support that we have the better chances we have at becoming productive, healthy members of society. People who are just watching expectantly, hopeful that we will in fact succeed will make an impact.

I tell people all the time that there are people out there who read stuff like this and it sparks a glint of hope in their eyes that people have not forgotten them. That they are not refuse to be discarded and thrown away. We are recyclable and reusable. This attitude sparks a level of hope that often times is all one could need to make giant differences in the community.

Imagine this, what if half of the prisoners in Washington State got out (which would be about 8500) and Reached Out to the local community to end criminal activity. That looks like men and women finding those who are in high risk situations, like the drug addicts, the gang members, the oppressed and broken and began Reaching Out to them to offer help to get out of their broken mentalities. That alone could cut crime rates so much that it may even render prisons useless at some point.

For me the goal isn't ending prisons, it's ending victimization.

Ever been victimized? I have, and I have created a few of my own. It's horrible and it should and CAN be stopped by Reaching Out.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, February 25, 2017

There Are Friends And There Are 'Friends': Know The Difference

Building relationships with people is tricky business sometimes. Everyone who has been around for a minute or two knows that. You just never know who you can trust to be there when you truly need it. Real friendships get tested when you need more than a cup of flour.

A real friend would never get him or herself into a situation that would require you to test your loyalty. However, sometimes stuff happens and there is nothing you can do about it. It just comes your way and you get caught up in an enemy's net that you didn't even know you needed to watch out for.

There are friends that you can depend on to lend you a thing or two. Then there are friends who see your in trouble and stand in the gap. Those are the kind of friends we all need more of.

I once heard that friends are like rungs on a ladder. We are steps up for each other. I haven't thought about that analogy with any real depth until I needed a helping foothold to get out of danger, move up in life, get help. Funny how I was that ladder rung for so many people yet when I really needed help all my rungs were broken. 

I lost heart for a while. I'll admit that. However, here we are again standing up. I cannot lay down, even when it means I must stand alone. 

This is the time where you look at your life and realize that you do in fact have a few people in your life that are willing to stand in the gap for you against anything. I have friends like that, they are wonderful and I know just how lucky I am to have them. Both blood line and non. 

This is what type of LGBT family I seek to create. The kind that when life happens, we do not have to go it alone. We have someone we can at least look to for eye contact when life really does happen. 

The last time that I needed someone, I looked for at least eye contact and all I got was averted eyes, as if they could not see my terror. It's ok though. I know I will be there for my friends and even those who barely know me. Because help should not be just a friends thing, it should be a human thing.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Federal VS State Law: Transgender Rights Hang In The Balance

I find it strange that local state governments can hold a different set of rules and regulations than the federal government has. I find it even stranger that we are ok with that.

People in the USA are supposed to be ONE nation, not 50. One government, not 50. I guess I was way off with that thinking. 

With Trump in the White House and him refusing to take a side on Transgender rights it will make it difficult to be trans in many communities. Which is no different then it already is in many places.

Do not lose heart. good always prevails dears

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Calling All LGBT Writers!

This is all about connections. This whole thing I am doing is all about connections. I am looking for people to guest write with me on here. The idea is to bridge the gap between communities that are separated. Prison to the free world, gays to straights, hatred to love etc etc. 

Anything is welcomed, just remember that the idea is to bridge communities and strengthen our community as a whole. If you are interested, please contact us! This isn't about anything other than getting your voice heard, expressing your connection with the LGBT community. That's the idea, start conversations. 

As always,

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Keeping The Course: Loving LGBT People Is Not A Choice For Me

Trying to go back in the closet was what I had in mind originally when I came to this new place. Nobody knew me and it would have been a great thing to just stay low key and out of the way. Especially given what just occurred.

But it appears that a higher power had other plans and before I knew it I was seeking my peers. Trans inmates have a soft place in my heart because they are at such high risks for exploitation and misuse of their bodies. I just want to love them. Truthfully, I crave love in return as well. As brothers and sisters, of course.

I think that it's interesting that my plan went awry, however, I am glad that it did. I was miserable being in the closet for 28 years and it felt that I was letting myself down by going back in. Forget that...not happening.

Going back is never a good idea in life. Don't back step, always forward progress my loves. Even when it appears as though you are in a corner, stay true to you and don't hide from anything, least of all yourself. 

If you ever need help with a seemingly impossible situation, find a friend or three and hit us up. I will be here because I hated nobody being there for me.

With Love, Your Friend
Jeff Utnage

Friday, February 17, 2017

Learning About Gay History

I picked up a book recently about the history of Stonewall. It was interesting because our (gay) history didn't begin in the 60's. It began long before that. Gays have been around for a long, long time.

I wish there was a singular place to get all the history that I wanted in one place. Maybe like an encyclopedia just for LGBT history. 

I bring up this little rant because as I come to terms with my own identity and my struggles and traumas, it would be nice to reflect on what other people in history have done to cope with all the bad things that have happened to them.

Mental Health counseling wasn't always a thing you know. It has only been in the past few decades that mental health has been used to treat terrible events in a person's life. 

I think about this now because I can still see the people's faces that assaulted me at night. In fact every night. They are most often the first or even second thing I see when I wake up. I cannot get the images of what happened out of my head. I also do not want to tell fifty thousand people every dirty detail of what happened either. Its something I do not want to relive again and again. 

This brings me back to the topic, gay history. Trauma has been almost inevitable in the LGBT community, as far back as Oscar Wilde (which I realize is not that far back) knew that the life of a homosexual was going to be brutal at times.

Yet we have ways to bounce back and be happy once again. Even in the aftermath of becoming some one's victim.

This leads me to a question for everyone, where can one go in literature to learn about coping with trauma?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Getting Back On The Horse: What To Do When Others Tear You Off

Recently I was at another institution where I did lots and lots of work. Too much in fact. The work was wrapped around changing the violent prison culture to one that fosters growth and productivity within oneself. Unfortunately, that is hard to do when you have violence as king. The king has to be dethroned.

I just happened to be in an environment where that was happening. People were letting down their defenses and letting others in. Getting along, doing the right thing, building bridges that were long burnt. The problem is, when you are effective, people take notice.

I know now what leaders who are working for civil rights, Harvey Milk, MLK Jr. etc go and went through. The dangers of challenging hatred and bigotry head on is no light task. Nor should anyone take it lightly. Its difficult and sometimes it gets ugly.

That is what happened with me. I am just a little fag who writes a lot and teaches classes, that's my words...But those who were having a hard time using fear and manipulation took notice that I was weak and exploited that fact. To send a message to anyone else who decides to try and make positive prison culture changes. They cornered me in a bathroom, three of them and well...I do not want to talk about the rest.

But this thought goes through my head, if I just quit fighting for positive change, they win. The assualt was effective and worth it to them because it stopped. 

I am torn, because that type of situation scares me. I have nightmares as a result, I see their faces and cannot sleep. 

This is a road that is not easy.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Prison, It's A Love Hate Thing

Prison is a complicated subject for me as of late. On one hand I am thankful that I came here, but on the other, it scares the hell out of me and I hate that.

I have to admit that I love prison in the sense that I found myself here. It fostered a sense of "I cant get any lower so I might as well be me" type of attitude. If I never came here who knows how long I would have been so miserable.

The hate part comes in with a flood of answers and reasons. I am seperated from my family, there is dangers and dangerous people. Among so many other reasons to hate this place.

The good news is that I have a release date and I am not going to be here forever so I am looking forward to that.

Piece of advice for anyone out there who thinks that prison is no big deal, its not worth it.

I would rather be out there with nothing then in here.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Transgender Discrimination: Deliberately Misusing Pronouns

I was walking with a peer who has had problems with the LGBT community as a whole. At first his problem was with gays and homosexuality in general. Then, when he met me and was all but forced to work with me, he decided that some gays are okay, if only just me.

Just when I thought I was making serious headway with this mans perception of the LGBT community, transgender ism came up. Specifically, one of our more obnoxious trans girls here came up. I only know her as a girl and she is sorely out of place in an all male prison. Normal things for her are security threats to the prison, like using a golf pencil for eye liner.

He began asking me about the girl by saying "who is that one guy?" and "what's his name?" It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about because the usage of "he" confused me.
Once I figured it out that he was refusing to acknowledge her womanhood so dramatically, I got offended. He was refusing to call her by even her name, which is legal and not a nick name. Demanding to know her "birth" name.

This charade went on for only a few minutes before I cut the conversation short. I was not going to argue with his logic. In fact, there was not much I could have said anyways.

This serves as a firsthand account of what transgendered individuals are facing daily. I see this glimmer of discrimination and get terribly offended about it. It hurts my feelings and I am not trans. So I can only imagine what walls exist for those who are and face this bigotry daily.

I am not sure much can be done with those that believe gender is solely defined by outward parts. As someone who is gender queer I know for sure that gender is in the mind. Its what you know inside and it takes serious courage to risk losing everyone to go with what you know to be true rather than what society tells you should be true.

Gender conformity is a big deal and as a people we need to be especially sensitive to transgender issues. Transgendered individuals do not usually spend a lot of time with homosexual people because they want the separation from being classified as gay men and women.

I cannot say that I blame them. It is our responsibility as their brothers and sisters of the LGBT family to stick up for their honor. Something small like a pronoun behind their back isn't so small. Its hurtful just the same as any derogatory word is meant to be hurtful and it should not be rewarded with our attention or approval.

FYI, the gentlemen that refused to refer to the girl by any feminine pronoun, I befuddled by telling him that her legal name was the name she went by, it wasn't a nick name. I also let him know how hurtful he was being by simply saying "If she heard you say that, it would hurt her very real feelings, besides, what is her gender to you? Are you having problems with a physical attraction?"

That shut him up...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, February 13, 2017

What Support Looks Like In LGBTQ Prison Support

Support is a broad subject, but in this case it means to hold up, to share a load. When I think of support I think conversations, listening and taking time to communicate.

That is what I mean when I ask for support from the LGBT community, honest conversation. We don't need picketers and trust funds, a simple comment will do. Knowing that people are reading and thinking about it, if only for a moment.

Just coming to the realization that 95% (not an exact number here people, just a guesstimate) of people will release and be your neighbor. I am hoping that inmates release with a better mind then when they came in.

Support is a simple acknowledgement. Easy.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, February 12, 2017

You Don't Wake Up Gay

I used to say that if I could take away my homosexuality that I would. I no longer say that because I didn't choose this, no more than I can choose to take it away. Some force greater than myself chose this.

I used to be angry about it, resentful even. However, not anymore. Now, I find myself happy with my sexuality. After all, it's not like I woke up one day, stretched my arms wide with a big yawn and said suddenly "man, I totally want to sleep with a dude today! Where's the nearest penis.." Things don't work like that.

Even though I didn't wake up one day and suddenly make the conscious choice to be gay, I did wake up one day and make a conscious choice to admit it. I fought long enough and one of my best decisions I have made to date was coming out and "choosing" to accept myself.

I wish the same for everyone. Love who you are because we are unique and wonderfully crafted, works of art. There are few like us which makes us the rarest treasure. You are Princes and Princesses in my eyes, Queens and Kings. Nobody can change that opinion, nor would I want them too.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Knowing Your LGBT Even Though Your Married: Thoughts From Behind The Beard

I was married for eleven years. It wasn't happily, it just was. I knew I was gay, I just wouldn't let myself admit it. Each time it would float through my mind I would splash it away as quickly as possible. Keeping it hidden meant it wasn't entirely true.

The whole time I was married sex was peculiar. I remember the first time we tried I was unable to maintain an erection. I told myself, through my shame, it was because I was nervous. I even allowed myself to believe (for only a short period) it was because she was black. She asked me flat out, the first time "Are you gay?"

In retrospect I wish I had just said yes and moved on. Gone home, told Mom I was into dudes. Maybe I would have ended up some sort of dot com mogul, rubbing elbows with Elon Musk and exchanging weight loss tips with Oprah...a man can dream.

That's not what happened though. I adamantly denied it and we tried for weeks. It took several weeks before I could "finish" the process. After I figured out the trick to keep myself erect, from there it was practice, practice, practice.

I did my best to convince myself I was into sex with women. I fed my mind with straight porn, although, over time I began to solely look at gay porn before intercourse.

I know what it feels like to hide and be terrified at coming out. What will she do? What about the kids? What about my coworkers and family and friends? Will they all think of me as a bad person because I waited so long? Will I lose everything? Am I going to Hell? Should I end it all and explain later? Maybe I can keep forgetting and it will go away.

Unfortunately that is all poisoning. Your secret will consume you. It WILL cost you everything. Like your happiness, your freedom even. Your life. As a Father you will suffer because as you hide yourself your children do not get all of you, because there is this hidden part you protect from even your own mind. It hurts everyone, most of all you.

When a plane crashes, you first put on your own oxygen mask, then help others with theirs. Whatever the consequences are of coming out, it is much more acceptable than a life of suffering.

Coming out is hard when you feel you have everything to lose. Trust me when I say, the closet has its own consequences and they can be much, much worse.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, February 10, 2017

When is enough punishment?

I have it stuck in my head that if I help enough people, or have a big enough name, or maybe people think that all the good I have done outweighs the bad...someday. Maybe, just maybe I might be able to look my children in the eye one day. Maybe.

I hate what I have done. My crime. Its despicable and I hate talking about it. The shame it brings is heavy. This, I cannot get around.

When is enough punishment? This is a real question I ask myself every day, "When will your punishment be enough?" I answer every time with "I do not know, now quit feeling sorry for yourself because you lost that right."

Everything I do, every class I teach, every one on one I do with troubled inmates, every hour I work...it all amounts to "Will this make up for what I have done?" It is kind of empty though because I also know that nothing I do will be good enough, nothing. It will never make up for the past and its eating me alive.

That's why I am going to change the world. Maybe if I make a big enough impact in the world, if people associate my name with change, maybe then I can be proud of myself and if I can, maybe my kids could be too. Maybe they could forgive me...

I hang on to this because I don't know what else to do. How else could I prove "I'm sorry", words are empty and vague. However actions are full of proof and specific.

"How sorry are you Dad?"

"The whole world..."

"Yeah, we heard, everyone knows."

"I'm sorry..."

"We know..."

I hang on to that, as unrealistic as it sounds. As ridiculous as I sound saying "I want to impact the world with immense change and positivity", you don't think I know how ridiculous I sound?

I would rather look ridiculous trying to change the world than spend another moment thinking I did nothing to try. Besides, looking ridiculous is far better than shame.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, February 9, 2017

BMI Revolt!! BMI's Causing Some In The LGBT Community To Become Unhealthy

I have an eating disorder, there I said it. In plain english, without judgement, it just is what it is. Having said that, I still argue with people about my eating habits because I still compare my body weight to that of the Body Mass Index.

Each time I see the BMI chart I feel like I am failing as a human being because my "number" doesn't mesh with the Doctor's "number." It is not just an irritant, it's a painful process. I am not alone in this assumption that the BMI number is the healthy number.

So here is my math, I weight currently 185 pounds and am 5' 9". I am extremely active and by all health standards I am healthy. However, my BMI says that I should be between 122 and 164 pounds. At 165 pounds (according to the BMI) I am over weight. At 185 pounds, I am obese.

My brain is divided with two opinions. I will call them rational and irrational. My rational side says the BMI is garbage, it is only talking about those with no muscle etc etc etc. My irrational mind (and the most dominant in this case) says that I must fit between those numbers in order to be happy.

So there you have it. I associate happiness, success, achievement, healthy relationships...it all is impossible as someone who is overweight. Why do I think that? Because I was fat my whole life and all of those things evaded me until I lost my weight, then I started to get some of those things back into my life. There goes my irrational thinking again. I recognize this, but like I said, my mind is divided. It is something I struggle with.

So, back to my original point, how do we get that BMI updated, changed or flat out abolished from our lives? Every time I see that blasted thing I get another little tick inside me that tells me I am fat again, being fat makes me feel out of conrol, being out of control in my world is 100% unacceptable.

I know that I am not alone in this. It isn't specific to me. This hits all types of people from all over the place from all walks of life. Just in my little world I have met many people, both incarcerated and non-incarcerated that suffer from this same exact issue.

How can you argue with science? I guess I am...then again, I have an eating problem.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Who Abused You The Most? You Would Be Surprised...

I was reading a book that sparked a thought in me. A truth that I never realized. The book is called The Four Agreements and I have to say that I am so glad that my family cares enough to insist that I reread the book with an open mind and heart.

There is a part in it where the author explains that we are our very own judges, and no one judges us more harshly than ourselves.

I thought about this for a moment and recalled phrases that I have told myself over the years like "Nobody is harder on me than me!" I meant that every time I said it too. Nobody was ever going to punish me as hard as I can and do. I realized very quickly that was he was saying was true. I am my hardest judge.

Then it is taken a step further, not only am I my harshest judge, I am also my biggest punisher. This is otherwise known as self-abuse. Justice is to be punished once for an offense, not repeatedly. However, we re-punish ourselves every time we think about the event. Then the feelings of shame, guilt and the downward spiral of inadequacy reenters our minds and we have to dig ourselves out of it.

Maybe you are the exception to this rule and if you do not beat yourself up over your past, please let me know how you do it, in fact, you should write a blog...I could use the advice. Most of us, however, have at least some part of ourselves that we are unhappy about. That part we think about and beat ourselves up over the fact that we cannot change it, or redo it, or get past it. It eats at us.

Prime example is my crime. I cannot think about my past at all without thinking about my crime. I hate it. I hate everything that I was and every time I think about my family and any struggle they are having I immediately think about my screw ups. How they would not be in that situation had I not been so selfish and cruel. Then my own downward spiral begins and it takes precious time away from forward progress I was making.

The abuse part comes in when you think about any abuse you have sustained. I have sustained abuse in my life, their faces are stained in my memory. I am not alone in this, clearly. Now, I also know that I am not alone when I say that I have abused myself much worse than those people ever could have. I have made sure of it...

I am going to make changes to this rule. I do not like that I am my biggest critic. I should be my biggest fan, after all, I cannot succeed without me. So, I will no longer accept the agreement that I am my worst judge, my worst punisher, or worse critic.

Instead, I will be my biggest coach, my biggest aid, and my biggest fan. No one will want me to succeed more than me. This also means that I can no longer abuse myself with self-hate, self-regret, and shame. I must allow myself to move on.

Look at the things I've done, I regret them, sure. But I cannot change them now, I must move on because I have a life to lead and live. I cannot move on without the very best me, I refuse. If I can do this, surely so can you.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Calling All Warriors: Flags on The News

Watch any news network and you will get at least a glimpse of some sort of demonstration. Each glimmer I have seen has had at least one Pride flag in it! How warming it is to see! It is not so much demonstration for the sake of demonstrations, but we need to keep momentum up otherwise we will lose our ground.

With this new divisive administration coming in we have potential for serious brow beatings from our government and the only way we are going to keep our rights as LGBT people is to keep our fellow Americans on our side. WE do that through branding, which goes back to Pride flags being visible during news clips. Small, but important and eventually this type of visual branding will associate equal rights with LGBT.

This is not anything new though, warriors have been marching for LGBT equality for decades now, we are not doing anything new here, simply carrying the torch into a new generation. Proudly.

I am locked up, behind prison walls, not for demonstrations or for some worthy cause. I screwed up and hurt people, terribly. I deserve to be in here. Prison has this funny way of either breaking you or strengthening you. For me it has matured me, it served its purpose to make me "see the light." I have become accustomed to myself finally and now I am proud of who I am, which is a gay man.

The problem comes for me when I see injustices happening close to me. I have said it before and I will say it again, in prison it is ok to say your gay or trans, but its not ok to act gay or trans. The act of homosexuality is illegal and punishable...that is wrong.

When our government is shifting to a divisive and hate filled administration that same hate acceptance will quickly filter to our prison systems. This further fans the fire of segregation that is already burning here.

I may be housed, in my opinion, in the most progressive and accepting corrections center in the country, but that doesn't make us exempt from anything. In fact, it makes us a very big target.

Keep showing the solidarity out there because those of us who are helpless in here are depending on you.

If there is anyone who wants to help me in my cause of connecting the LGBT community in here with out there, please contact me.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, February 6, 2017

Those That Do Wrong: Is Fair And Equal Justice Still Theirs?

It has been so long since I have seen true justice from a legal standpoint. I have seen too many cases where a persons circumstances are not even considered. Then I have seen those that manipulate every system possible and when they get caught they manipulate their way out of it. Screaming unfairness and inequality when it suits them.

I have often wondered if it is fair that all should get fair treatment of the system, even for those who are obviously abusing it. Just an example, finding a loophole in a law or a technicality and getting away with a crime, even though the court knows you are guilty. That kind of thing is what I mean.

I just see injustice so often, both from those who enforce the rules and from those who should be following them. When you have someone who is regularly manipulating the system and it is blatant, should the same rules apply for punishment? I have to say that even though I am a part of this broken system of vengeance, I still see the broken being able to stay broken through "technicalities". It is frustrating.

Just a thought or two...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Racism Within The LGBT Community: Overcoming Your Racist Childhood

I have three mixed-race children. They are my pride and joy, but that did not stop my childhood brainwashing of racism from bubbling to the surface. The men I had access to most often were among the most racist in rural Nebraska.

I was born in Omaha, which is a melting pot of race. However, as we lived in filth and were often eating the same river caught catfish as our black next door neighbors, that did not stop the men from blaming the color of the communities for their own problems. In retrospect it is obvious that they were so inadequate that they had to hate something almost as much as they hated themselves. Apparently that 'something' was skin color.

I wish I could say I grew up and moved beyond and over came racism immediately. That would be a lie though. It took coming out and prison culture to realize just how awful racism is and more importantly, how desperate I was to get rid of it in my life.

Race in prison has traditionally been the defining factor in socialization. Stay within your own and your safer. However, when you are a minority unacceptable by all races, you tend to see racism from a much different angle. It helps you hate it.

As I have navigated the LGBT waters in prison and had interactions with all races and religions, hostile and friendly I have learned how beautiful they are. My own children a reminder of what beauty can come of multi-racialism. They are Alaskan native, black and white. Proudly. I only wish I had spent more time Introducing them to more cultural awareness. Another mistake to add to the list.

I have discovered beauty in so much. Some of the nicest, most protective people in prison have been the people I was taught to fear the most growing up, black Muslim men. Other races (non-white) have been among the LGBT's most loyal allies and I believe that is because they understand what it means to be hated for something you cannot control. We tend to find beauty in one another...

To all LGBT people: Your race and heritage and skin tone is a part of what makes you beautiful and I cannot wait to explore that. Not as a fetished, sexual desire, but as a man who is thirsty for understanding and friendship. I no longer hear the voices of my past but the songs of freedom from them. I have discovered this little thing called Earth and I want to see, feel, hear and experience every inch of it!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, February 3, 2017

Is There Anyone Left Willing To Have An Honest Conversation?

Making mistakes, assumptions, and bad choices is all a part of human life. We have free will therefore we screw up. We say and do things that result in our own downfalls. Like thinking Trump was a good thing for politics. (Excuse me while I adjust my collar)

However, being able to admit your mistakes is key in moving forward. Nobody is going to go through life without having hurt someone. Its part of the journey and it sucks. Hiding it does no good.

How about some honest conversation then? I am not talking about confessional here, however I do think that being vulnerable is all a part of growth. Keeping everything inside is a poison that will consume you eventually. The fear is that you will lose everything if people knew the 'real' you, mistakes and all.

I struggle with this everyday. I have a sex offense, one in which I am hated for. I will never shake it, out live it, or be totally forgiven for it. I have to tell any potential partner about it, in its entirety, else I face prison time again. Here is the amazing part, and the meat of this post, you will find people that are willing to see YOU. What you have done, you have done and you cannot take it back. Believe me, I know all about regrets. You want to take back your actions so bad you dream about it, wake up screaming about it in the middle of the night, and keep people away from your heart so you don't have to relive the torment of the past. I get it and I am sorry that you have to go through that...

Freedom isn't physical, its internal. Though you may feel awful, as I do, about your past and would give anything to undo it, you simply cannot. So the next best thing is to move one and find people before they make similar mistakes.

The emotional pain of someone betraying your trust is unbearable, you do not want to be responsible for that. There is help for those whom are struggling with addictions, traumas, and desires. Seriously, reach out before you lose everything and hurt the ones who depend on you the most. Its not worth your ego or pride or fear. Trust me...

There is help, you are not lost, not all hope is gone and I promise that you will still have one person in the flesh who will be there to support you, me. Reach Out!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Friends Come In So Many Forms

A few months back I had a little run in with someone. It wasn't anything but speculation on his part, but there was some animosity nonetheless. Here we are months later and he found out that I was never his enemy and that we have more in common than not.

So we sit together now at meal times when we are able, he is black and has been down his whole life in prison. I am white and very openly gay. We shouldn't even be in the same seating row together by prison standards, but we eat together, which is unheard of on both our parts.

After a whole bunch of mud got slung around on people's names and feelings got hurt, I sat back and wondered if all my hard work towards equality has been ruined by a few jealous accusations? I voiced my concern that now my beloved LGBT community is fractioned and I am worried, how do I proceed?

Strangely enough, this man who is also Muslim (I forgot that part), let me know that I still have a job to do. I still have this neutrality that I must maintain if I want to bind people together into community. Just because people fraction, this does not mean my job is over. On the contrary, my loving spirit and main objective is more important now than ever.

I have always maintained (always meaning since I figured out I was better off loving people instead of fighting them) that enemies serve you no purpose. Friendships do. Just because someone slings mud in your eye does not give you rights to not forgive them and give them the out they need to maintain your friendship, even when it hurts.

So glad I am loved enough to be given sound advice...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Eating Disorders In Men: Anorexia Hits Guys Too

Eating disorders do not just suddenly appear one day. Neat little man in a suit shows up at your door step, organized and well-groomed "It's time for your eating disorder, it will last approximately 7 weeks".

It takes circumstances that are slow brewed and carefully concocted. Coming out of it is just as specific. A command misconception is that men do not suffer from such a disease, only girls. That just is not so.

As a man I do not feel comfortable telling people I have an eating disorder. They to often laugh or call me ridiculous. They say "your not fat, knock it off!" The truth is I simply do not believe them because if I did, I would not have an eating disorder.

How do you reach out when you do not even feel comfortable talking about it. Honest conversations are near impossible when people do not believe eating disorders happen to you.

While those around me deny that I have a problem I hate eating. Its an issue, the cause to my nemesis, obesity. That which I am told too frequently that I do not need to worry about. Sounds good, but guess what, I am still worried about it. In fact, my body image out weighs nearly every single other rational thing in my life. It consumes me and I have no idea what to do about it.

Asking for help seems pointless because all that happens is people want to make me gain weight, accept obesity, or the potential thereof.

I have a rational brain that tells me I am on the wrong track, but a disease is just that, a disease and I am struggling.

Men get attacked with eating disorders too, who do we turn to?

With Love
Jeff Utnage