Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gearing Up For Another Pride Event

June is approaching fast. All the buzz around here in the LGBT community is this prisons first LGBT celebration event.

The excitement for most of us is palpable. The event in and of itself is a binding agent. But the journey to it is the fun part for me. Late nights perfecting a potential speech, making adjustments to letters home. Being woke up in the middle of the night because an idea just will not wait until morning.

Its not just that we are excited. Most of us know that this is a quiet part of LGBT history. At the very least this is a part of our history, our lives. We are all going through something together. Something that is not only important to us as individuals, but something that adds to the fabric of the entire community.

We are being celebrated! Do you have any idea what that feels like? Three years ago I was asked to stay hidden, in the closet for my own protection from all sorts of things. Now, we are being celebrated. 

Those of us that have laid down our problems, our differences, for a common good... we know what this does for the LGBT community as a whole. Prison is a womb or a tomb. We can learn to live or learn to die. 

It is moments like these that we learn to live. 

Here's to looking forward to this years Pride celebrations all over the country!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

About To Give It Up

Funny, I write here everyday. I started writing because I was experiencing so much drag getting support within the prison system for LGBT people. Enough resistance that it warranted writing about it at least.

But here we are two years or so later and the prison system has taken a dramatic shift. Rather suddenly I might add. No doubt in part because of the campaigns over the years. 

As with any good movement it picks up a life of its own and becomes a living, breathing organism. Little activists have sprouted everywhere. It actually warms my heart to see both inmates and staff respond to the call of inequality so passionately. 

So much so that even DOC is trying new things. People are becoming more involved everyday. It is not perfect, but it is one hell of a beginning. One hell of an effort.

The point of this site was to humanize us in here to you out there. Let you know that some of us are worth saving. Some of us are trying. Some of us are fighting for a shot at life again. To prove that we can impact the world in a big way, positively.

Problem is, nobody responds. I have no idea if anyone is even reading...Recently we have even considered taking the site down. 

However, I enjoy the challenge and, frankly, the therapy of getting all this out. It makes me feel like I am doing something, even if its just in my mind. It is proof that I am not a waste of human flesh. Even if I am only proving it to myself. Truthfully, that seems to be the case, that I am the one who needs convincing I am worth something. I would like to engage people in conversation about criminal rehabilitation. Even if it is just my own. I would enjoy having honest conversation. 

This is what I know. I can rattle on for a long time with nobody listening! However, this tells me that I have the tenacity to keep going even when it seems I will get zero help. 

I am going to start a program that will make our streets safer, will make an impact in ending sex crimes. Is there anyone who does not think this is a worthy cause? I will accomplish this, among many other things. 

The big question is, will anybody help?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Please comment if you read this blog on a regular basis on don't want it to go away. Thank you.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rehabilitation For Felons: A Creative Process

Not all felons come from broken homes. Some had a bad night, some are simply morbid, while others are only doing what they were taught. The circumstances which led each person to each crime is different. The picture must be painted with each case.

These kind of differences create logistical problems for rehabilitation. It becomes more of a mental health crisis. Which is delicate in and of itself. Many prisons do not allocate vast amounts of cash to pay for real mental health treatment. In fact it is common that there is only one Psychologist and usually less than five PA's, which consult the one Psychologist (who is usually only reserved for patients with medication requirements).

This isn't the states fault either. Its everyones fault. If society began to demand that state correction centers actually correct felons the prison system would look much different.

Sure, there is always going to be the individuals who do not want to be helped. For them, there is this place called maximum security, send them there. It is not like they are hard to spot. In fact, they stick out like sore thumbs. To be truthful, I have seen the effects of a corrections center shift its focus to realistic and creative rehabilitation.

What does creative rehabilitation look like? Its cost effective solutions to corrections. Oftentimes, prisons have limited space for large amounts of educational and programming use. This creates additional logistical problems. Creative rehabilitation means looking in places with fresh eyes.

Empower inmates to lead their own rehabilitation programs. This begins with finding those inmates who are already driven to succeed (were out there, we also stick out like sore everyone), working with them to create other programs that are cost effective. Programs like reading clubs (you would be shocked at what 35 men reading the same book and talking about it in a group setting can produce, I have personally cried with some of the toughest), yoga (yoga has real psychological effects, since mental health is limited, this is a FREE alternative that inmates can lead themselves.

There are so many options here, but the main focus needs to be in getting inmates to care about their own rehabilitation. Those that do are rare, those that WANT to care are not, they don't believe its possible.

There are +17,500 inmates in Washington alone. 2/3 of them will commit another crime upon release ( that's 11,666 new victims btw). Of those 11,666, if they get college education while in prison, they reduce their recidivism rates by an additional 30%. What's 30% of 11,666 = 3,499. That means that there will be 3,499 less victims AND that means that 3,499 LESS people that YOU have to pay $20,000+ a year to incarcerate. What's 3,499 x 20000? It is just shy of 70 million.

If you don't care about creative rehabilitation now, just wait, I have more...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Reference For Those Who Know What Perseverance Feels Like: Change Is Identical To Pushing Through Difficulty

As a runner I have plenty of times where I just do not have the energy. However, I go anyway and my day is better because of it. Then there are days where every step I take is like running through sandy water. My legs just won't work right. But I push through.

Pushing through isn't easy either. Not in running, not in anything. That's why its called 'pushing through' because it requires a different set of skills than normal.

This is what change feels like. It offers resistance every step of the way; each step you take is gruelling, nauseating, and harder than the last. When its over though, when you ran those laps that you almost quit, when your exhausted and glad its over...that's when you realize that you have just grown. Change has occurred.

It doesn't matter if the change you seek is drug addiction, social network adjustments (dropping a negative influence or picking a few support persons to lean on), leaving an abusive relationship, finally loving yourself...the list goes on and on...change is hard. We are creatures that revolve around habits. The sun comes up every day, the sun goes down every day. You depend on that, we all do.

Know this, people struggle and face hardships. Sometimes its a disability, or a crappy childhood (and by crappy I mean downright vicious), or maybe you have terrible luck and the only God you have ever tried to lean on just won't answer...honey, we all feel that way. Your unique but you ain't so special that the wheel goes easier for you.

Every step may suck, but change is necessary, you'll be glad you did it...promise.

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pretty Can = Confidence: Wanting To Look Pretty Does Not Mean Your Seeking Attention

I was watching a movie with Sandra Bullock, in it she had her hair a certain way. Mainly, a ponytail with a little bangs parted off of one side, neatly tucked behind each ear. I have hair that is about as long and bangs that are similar. What's the point here...

The point is she looked comfortable, natural, and pretty. Which emitted this air of confidence. Never once while watching her did it ever cross my mind that she was seeking attention. I wanted to feel comfortable and confident too. So I did my hair similarly.

The result was not what I expected at all. I didn't feel comfortable and confident. I felt self-conscious. I looked in the mirror and my first thought was "I like this, I feel pretty." My second thought was "I cannot leave it like this because people will get all judgmental on me, they will think I'm seeking their attention."

I do not see why I can't be pretty. Not handsome, pretty. I want to be beautiful, elegant, smart. Only one problem, men aren't pretty. Not where I am, not where I am from. Only women are pretty. Well, I am not a women, nor do I want to be a women; however, I do want to be pretty. Which seems to be at odds with everyone around me.

I want to look good because feeling pretty always makes me feel confidence. Confidence helps me accomplish my goals. Who doesn't want to do that?

It is the exact same thing for women who dress to feel sexy. They aren't doing it so that they get a thousand pairs of eyes undressing them, or to seek attention. It is being done because feeling pretty and sexy is synonymous with feeling confident. It is hard to feel confident when you feel ugly.

For all of you out there, male or female (or those of us in between), be pretty. We all deserve to feel pretty and sexy, society will just have to adjust to us; because I am sick and tired of adjusting to them. We shouldn't have to, so we won't. Instead, I propose we be pretty together.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Braiding With Mom

Sitting in a prison cell gives room for honest thought. It shuts all the noise down and all your left with is you and the screaming voice from within.

I yell at myself by the hours at times. I go through stages where I hate myself than I can tolerate myself again for a time. That is, until I think about what I did, who I did it to. When I have to talk about it, that's when life gets tough again. I have my own set of perpetrators to contend with. I hate the fact that I belong in somebody's "set of perpetrators."

In fact, the only thing that brings back to a level playing field again is that through all the noise, I finally heard me. The real me screamed loud and long enough that I couldn't help but notice. When I finally did, life got much less...noisy. 

Now, much of my time is spent concentrating on what was good. 

Ah, and you thought the blog title was off key...

When I was a boy in Nebraska, one of my favorite things was to braid my Mothers hair. I always wanted to learn how to put on makeup but new it would raise to many questions. So I settled for hair braiding. It just felt right. Like those were the moments we bonded. Those were the times I felt normal. I felt most like me.

She would go off to work, no doubt rebranding her hair before she got there, and I would think about it all day. I couldn't wait for her to get home to check on her hair. Silly, but thats what it was. 

Wish I would have nurtured that kid...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, April 17, 2017

If Society Tolerates The Word Faggot, Then Society Should Also Tolerate Other Racial Slurs

The word faggot or fag has been a hot button for many. For some its a filler word, being said unconsciously. For others it is said very pointedly. Those who are effected by it are of all walks of life.

I have attempted to avoid this topic because it seems insurmountable to stop the use of hateful words. African Americans, Jews, Latinos and others all have words that mean something negative. Which at some point I have heard all the excuses to use such language.
"I don't mean all of them, just the ones that act a certain way."
"It is only a joke."
"Sorry, habit."
"My parents raised me this way."
"I had a bad experience with one once."
"Everyone says it, why am I suddenly the bad guy?"
"Your being to sensitive."

I could go on and on. We all can. This isn't a new subject or a new concept.
I have not been to other countries but it seems that America is the only country that has to be superior to at least one class of people. Its like, once you get acceptance, that means you immediately began searching for a class of people you are better than.

Things don't have to be this way. Life doesn't have to be classified.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Stereotypical Gays, Shine On Me Now!

If I am being honest I have been known to be guilty of turning a subject into me. I noticed that I am not the only one though.

One thing that I cannot deny, and refuse to apologize for, is that all LGBT people think that stardom is just one smile and hip switch away. (OK, maybe not ALL LGBT people, but if you can name one...)

This isn't entirely a bad thing. It seems that all of our social circles mimic our very own version of the Real Housewives. We are chatty, dramatic, stunningly beautiful (if I do say so myself), and nobody turns more heads than us. Best believe we scratch too!

It is hard to get a room full of LGBT people and have a focused, topic-based conversation. The second we smell an opportunity it immediately becomes the "insert name here" show, that is until "insert another diva here" cuts diva one off. Then all hell breaks loose because you know this broad brought an entourage...

Despite it being hard to get a word in edgewise, I love my LGBT community and our many stereotypes. Some are earned. We are amazing people who, despite contrary belief, have a rich culture that dates back thousands of years. We are just now becoming "normal", kind of; by societal standards. We have always been the secrets of married men, or the fetishistic fantasy of some closet case in a truck stop who have to walk out with our heads held high despite feeling cheap.

Now that lifestyle is slowing breaking, I am only partially glad to see it go.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Prejudgment Of LGBT : LGBT People Prejudge Others

There have been plenty of times that my gut feelings have led me away from potential danger. There have been plenty of times that I have ignored my instincts and nothing happened.

This is about prejudgment though, not your feelings. Case in point, in the Bible it talks about unknowingly entertaining angels. It suggests that by feeding a homeless man you may end up feeding an angel. I do not know about that specifically, just an example, I do not know if I have ever entertained an angel.

I know that when I was a kid, I sat in front of man on the bus with my Mother. I turned to look at a very old man behind me, I remember he had on a derby-type hat and very large ears. I commented on the size of them, not to tease him, it was just an observation. In fact, I liked them. I remember he just smiled back and something about that interaction has stayed with me, even 30 years later. Maybe he was an angel, maybe I told an angel he had large ears...

I have run into countless people in prison that have up very large walls. They have their mean face on, or their defenses up for self-preservation. They look threatening, therefore, you stay away from them. When you walk past them you tend to avoid them. Which, means that you do not interact with them long enough for their defenses to drop.

This kind of happens with us in the gay community, or even the LGBT as a whole. We are prejudged by straight people. They have this idea about us that is completely wrong. Or maybe its right. Either way, we become the enemy and we have done nothing other than be who we were born as.

The same is true for different races, cultures, or the guy on the next street over. The point is we do this too, as LGBT people, we judge.

This is what caused the division between some trans and gay people. There is judgment. It is also what prevents the reformed felon from getting a job or housing. It is what prevents many great relationships. Prejudgment or fear of being judged by others.

I know this, when someone looks past my situation and takes the time to know me...I appreciate it and I become fiercely loyal. Why? Because clearly that's rare.

Be kind. It may mean the difference between the help you need and the reason you did not get what you need...think about it. Maybe you call it karma...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, April 14, 2017

Scholarships & Grants: Finally Going To Attend College, I Will Be A Smart Queer!

I attended an event about a month ago that celebrated Mathematics. It was a new experience for me and thus far it has been life altering. Never would have thought I would say that...

However, realizing that people were excited about their future's is highly inspiring to me. In fact, seeing anyone really excited about their future makes me pay attention to what they're so excited about.

As a result I have decided to start studying mathematics. The last math class I took was in 1998 and it was Junior High, PreAlgebra. Since then I can use a calculator to tell you how much money I owe.

Though, I have a really good mentor that I met at the event and I have now begun PreCalculus studies and I am a little nervous, but excited.

I am so excited that I am learning and cannot wait to do more. I have begun searching for scholarships and grants that I can take advantage of while I am incarcerated. I have to take correspondence courses in order to get my Bachelors, which I will probably try to pursue Sociology.

Just as a little side note, I am 35, have bad felony convictions. I say that because I have not given up. I am not going to take no for an answer. An education is what I want and I am the only one who can stop me. So Bachelors Degree here I come, Master' out!

Any Advice

with Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tucker Carlson Bullies Sean Ryan In Interview On Ivy League Safe Space Rooms For LGBT And Minorities

First off, Sean Ryan from Columbia University deserves an award for dealing with the all out verbal assault from Carlson. Carlson outright challenged the necessity of LGBT and minority groups needing safe spaces to support one another.

Sean Ryan was barely able to speak a word edge wise while Tucker never even attempted to understand why safe spaces are needed in the first place. Carlson's main argument was that straight white men are assumingly not welcome in these spaces, indicating reverse racism. Excuse me while I vomit!

Carlson rudely and continuously interrupted Mr. Ryan with a barrage of hostility, challenging the term Sean Ryan was using to justify the safe space program. Which was being isolated in society. Which, yeah, that's still a thing. Clearly, because LGBT people all over the world are committing suicide over it.

America is hardly equal, do not forget the U.S. just had its first minority leader...LGBT people are still underrepresented in politics and in order to be heard fairly by our government we often have to go to extreme lengths to have a voice. Marches, rallies, social media movements. All that after tragedy. Safe spaces to talk to people that understand you are not a form of anti-diversity. If two or three gay men could meet anywhere, talk about sensitive issues and not be the target of public or peer ridicule, safe spaces would not be necessary.

I shouldn't have to remind the seemingly hateful Mr. Tucker Carlson that LGBT people are still a minority in the world. Though we are not being beaten in the public square and bars anymore. Let's be real here, whens the last time a straight night club was targeted by a armed man who hates straight-white people? When was the last time that two straight white men were in the grocery store and were hated simply because of those things? How many states is it legal to NOT hire a straight-white man because of his sexual orientation? How many times has the straight white male been pulled over for a routine traffic stop and had to legitimately worry if he was going to make it home alive, because the color of his skin?

The suicide rates among LGBT people is high because as Mr. Sean Ryan was attempting to explain to the immature Carlson, LGBT people are afraid of being socially attacked and ostracized, not accepted by dickheads like Tucker Carlson. It was clear the LGBT and minority demographic are not his concern. Which is for the better because we do not need worms like him anyway. Mr. Carlson and FOX News should publicly apologize and Carlson should be FIRED!

I know schizophrenic meth heads who have spent decades in prison for vicious rape and murder cases that have more sensitivity and empathetic bones in their pinky finger than Tucker Carlson has in his entire body. Never watching that guy or Fox News again. Not until he apologizes for his insensitive and racist behavior.

It aired on Fox News on 4-7-17 just after 9:30 PST. So sad...Sean Ryan, I'm sorry that happened.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Monday, April 10, 2017

You Only Need One Good Reason To Overcome Every Reason Why You Cannot

Humans cannot travel through the air from one place to another, or fly. However, we do. We have the ability to travel through the air. Allow me to point out that gravity dictates that a human cannot travel through the air. Also, we have no wings with which to propel ourselves.

Those were valid and good reason's why we cannot fly. Yet we do.

It only took one good reason why we can in order to overcome every reason why we cannot. Get my point?

This does not just apply to flight, it also applies to our very lives. Like being unhappy or unsuccessful. Perhaps you were born underhanded, in poverty and in a neighborhood that is dictated by violence. You would have every reason in the world to believe that you must stay in those conditions.

Yet all you need is one good one to get out of them.

I am going to apply this to LGBT development. Despite the fact that it seems that entire countries and civilizations are against us we have one really good reason to overcome that. That reason is we exist...we are. The very fact that 'we are' is enough that we are equal and deserve such.

There may be all kinds of reasons that society has given you to stay in the closet and not be yourself, however none of them compare or can be stopped by the one good reason we have to be equal because we are.

All people are created equal. We are born from the womb with the God given right to happiness with ourselves. Other people's opinions and weird interpretations of ancient text's does not matter because, 'we are.'

I have all kinds of reasons to not accomplish my goals but all I need is one good one to make it happen and overcome all of them. We went to the moon, can fly despite gravity and have no wings, we can agree on our disagreements and get along with people who hate us.

Nothing on this planet should stop you from accomplishing your goals. Period. History proves that the impossible is most definitely possible.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, April 9, 2017


All seem to be scary words for gay men, or bisexual men. This has been a cliche for as long as mankind has been able to put words to action (in my opinion).

Gay men want relationships so long as they are not called a 'relationship.' What?? This is simply a way to be able to have sex with multiple partners without feeling like they let anyone down. After all, it was never a 'relationship.'

This gives birth to polyamorous relationships. It seems that this has become the acceptable middle ground. Those that want the security of having someone there every night can. While the one who wants to have variety in the bedroom still has "options."

My opinion is pretty left on this. However, as a gay man I have to deal with this topic with (so far) about 75% of the gay men who are potential partners. It continuously arises as a problem. I want a single partner and in order for sexual relations to happen I must feel that the relationship is going to be long term. I need emotional connection in most cases.

While the other party just wants sex for the moment. This is hard to agree with. So I can see where "poly" relationships emerge as a solution. Particularly in the gay community. Interesting how even someone like me has considered entertaining a poly-like relationship just to feel connected with someone.

I have often sat back and thought about what it would feel like to go on a date with two other, or even three other men simultaneously. How would we sit at the table? Who sits in the front seat of the car? Who drives? Do we all pay for our own? What about sleeping arrangements? Who cuddles who?

I once heard a young man say this was his idea of a perfect relationship. Come home to a household with 3-4 other people who all love each other, have sex with one another freely and all work great jobs.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around this thought process. I cannot and will not say that they are wrong though. I know that biblically I have one belief, but I am not naive to the changing times.

This is the problem with not allowing gays to have open and public relationships. Seemingly unhealthy viewpoints arise that society doesn't agree with. Polyamorous is a perfect example of this. Gays are so used to meeting secretly and quietly, having sex and then the next day working side by side as if the previous night didn't happen.

Society wants that. They want to see us as the normal "straight" man that they need us to be.

Prison is no different. Only the views are still 60's and 70's. Men can be gay, so long as they don't have relationships and/or act on their sexuality.

This causes the same process of unhealthy relationship seeking, meaning, multiple and random partners engaged in unsafe sex.

Food For Thought

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Coming Through Rough Spots

The wisdom that is possible through our lives is priceless. Even though the cost to get it is terrifying at times. The ability to accept critique and apply it to ones life is the difference between wisdom and foolishness, in my humble opinion.

The definition of insanity, in one context, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So it stands to reason that if you continue to experience depression, anger, anxieties, stress...obviously you are doing something over and over again, expecting a different result.

My life in prison has taught me many things, however, one thing stands out above all: question everything. I question everything and everybody. Not just to be a nuisance, but because there is some quality that I really admire about them. Some quality that I do not possess that I want.

Getting through depression, or rough patches can be as simple as laughter. Doing something social even when you think you are going to be a drag. It is also a mind set that you have to challenge. You MUST. Here is the thing, emotions are liars.

The fastest emotion that comes to your recognition is often just the easiest to express. You can absolutely challenge that within yourself.

I can give countless examples of how I think the my world was crashing down; but spending a little time in prayer and doing a little mental organization...well, things take great turns when you know what to do with yourself.

Here is a challenge for everyone. Grab a friend, a trusted friend. Tell them that you need them to simply write, nothing more. No feedback until your done. Then, write down all the things that you want to do (your goals), not matter the time frame or unrealistic-ness of it. Do this until you have exhausted all the things in your head, you should have a piece of paper that is full of little goals.

Then, go to each one as a team and assess the realistic-ness of each one, writing down the ones that you can work on and leaving out the ones that you cannot. Then, YOU, write down a list of those filtered goals and then you should already be feeling better because now you have a list of things you can actually do to improve right now.

There is always SOMETHING you can do to improve your situation. Just do not give up, you are worth so much more.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, April 7, 2017

LGBT Allowed To Follow Whatever Religion We Please; Do Not Let A Little Anger Stop Us Now

It is incredibly frustrating to believe something with all your heart just to have someone tell you your not welcome. It seems that Christianity and Muslim religions are really good at that.

It is disheartening to feel like your not welcome, not good enough, bad etc. Just to have anyone tell you that the God you believe in does not love you because of something you cannot change.

I had a faith based conversation a few days ago with someone. As he was chastising me for being gay and not in repentance, he is telling me how hard it is for straight Christian men in this world...(yeah, get the puke bucket ready) and how HE feels uncomfortable talking about LGBT anything for fear of not being liked, or some garbage.

He told me that he feels he should be able to openly rebuke LGBT people without feeling like he is touching "electricity." I usually let these guys ramble on and on and than when they have figured out that I am not only bored but understandably pissed, I ask them if they feel better and then we move separate ways. Not this time though..

This time I told the person that he should feel uncomfortable chastising me, or anyone for anything. He should feel awkward, he should feel like he is doing something wrong because unless he has to live this life (as we do) than he has absolutely ZERO say in anything pertaining to LGBT anything.

This eludes to this point, as gay or trans or lesbian or bi have the right to worship and follow whoever in the hell you want to and their ain't nothing anyone can do about it, not now, not ever.

Do not let anyone EVER tell you that God doesn't love you or (and I'm not even Muslim) that Allah doesn't love you or that you weren't CREATED!

We are ALL CREATED and not one of us can change one little hair, or gene or anything about our make-up, that was all the Creator's doing and the Creator simply doesn't make mistakes.

You are NOT mistakes and you ARE lovable!

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Victimless Communities: It Is Possible?

If you can think it, I believe it is at least partially possible. Case in point, a persons ability to fly, we do not have wings, however we do in fact fly. At least a form of it.

I have this crazy idea that I am told over and over again is impossible. I believe a victimless community is possible. A place where drugs are not, break-ins do not happen, murder and rape is no more. I believe in this.

That is what this is all about ultimately. I want to start with the LGBT community, remove victimization from among us. Then branch out.

Sounds lofty, imaginary. However, I can think it, so a form is possible. For all those who doubt I think Iggy Azalea said it best "don't penny pinch, keep your two cents, I don't need it." If I'm wasting my time here, doing at least something to try to end victimization... I'm good with that.

We will be slowly transitioning into a more focused and concentrated concept. As I grow as a person my passion for this only grows. My zeal and tenacity only increases. Before I die, ending victims will be a movement, I promise...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Poor Neighborhoods Need Investment: Time, Money, Mentors & Heart

"Kids that come from my old neighborhood these days have no heart. When I was young and coming up, I still respected the lady down the street was innocent. Not the kids coming up these days, they are heartless."

This was part of a conversation I had with a retired gang member from Tacoma recently. I didn't really put much thought into until late at night. Heartless kids? What does that even mean?

After much thought I realized what he meant. He was talking about kids being raised in an environment where heroes are the most violent. Emotionless about human life. This is the generation that is being raised right now...

The 20 year old gang member taught his/her child ruthless, emotionless behavior is what is respected. By the time the child is a teenager respect for human life is nearly forgotten and prison is a right of passage into manhood and a quality rather than a mistake.

How do you combat that? The government needs to take very special interest in creating success from the impoverished neighborhoods that they try so hard to avoid. I'm not talking about putting in neighborhood gardens and co-op's (though they aren't bad), stuff they don't have to oversee. I'm talking about real, legitimate mentorship. Daily talks with kids, walking the streets with them every day, talking to them by phone every day.

More than that though, college, improve the schools. Start advertisements that combat that mentality to boot.

Just my thoughts

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Removing Prison Gangs Should Be States #1 Priority In Reducing Recidivism Rates

Many LGBT people in prison are in an extremely unique position. I have said this before and I believe that it is worth repeating again and again. We are in a unique position because the thing that defines as as 'homosexual' is that we are attracted to the same sex. Which we are locked up with.

Sounds like the perfect match until you find out that practicing homosexuality in prison is ILLEGAL. You can say your gay all you want, but to practice homosexuality is in effect illegal. Which is where the "unique" problem I speak of comes into play.

Imagine being in a place where your ideal mate might be the person just a few doors down, but if you so much as admit that you have feelings for that person you are subject to punishment.

So who gives a crap? We are in prison after all, this shouldn't be a meet and greet, right?

I would agree if I had not experienced the shame of feeling like I was doing something taboo my entire life. For many LGBT people they are made to feel as if they are perverted, wrong, possessed even. That their sexual identity is something that needs to be 'cured' rather than embraced.

So when your shame manifests itself into something unhealthy; like drugs, or a sexual deviancy, or are the one left to pick up the pieces. So you come to prison to get "corrected" only to find out that you have to hide even more in here.

Imagine that you come to a place to repair your car. You wait in the lobby while some mechanic assesses the damage and possibly even fixes it. Then, that mechanic tells you that you will have to fix it on your own. They will provide any tools you may need. Even give you some instructions, a little help.

Just one thing, you need to watch out for dangers. Some of the people around you want to do terrible things to you. So you pick up bad habits that don't allow you to concentrate on fixing your car, because you are to busy defending yourself.

This is the state that we are in while we are in prison. Prison gangs have been allowed to get out of control and the ones who lose in that situation are the ones who are unwilling to shed blood.

Look at one of your friends who is soft, imagine one of your shopping buddies having to use a writing pen as a weapon because some Mexicans with an attitude wants to kill you...yeah, there's a lot of us in here who have faced that.

How in the hell am I supposed to help people get past that?

With Love

Jeff Utnage

Monday, April 3, 2017

LGBT Only Settling For Rights: Is OK Good Enough?

Being gay in other areas of the world is punishable by death, we should appreciate that in America at least we are not killed for being LGBT.

I hope you can feel the sarcasm. If you cannot, allow me to clarify. I am being somewhat sarcastic. Much of what I talk about is opinionated and kind of on the fence. Not this.

I very much feel for my brothers and sisters across the world who are way more oppressed than Americans. However, because we have more rights than them does NOT mean that we should stop fighting to be equal.

Just because we are not dragged into the streets and shot for being gay doesn't mean that we've made it. My boyfriend and I can hold hands in Dominoe's now, cool, that's it! Now were there, we are totally equal...NO, NO, NO!

I know that America is still behind the curve by comparison to other, more progressive countries. At least in marriage equality, this doesn't count sociological views as a whole.

We have miles to go. Our children are far more progressive than we were at that same age and in that there is much hope. We still don't see many LGBT athletes. When we do, they become novelties and exceptions. This shouldn't be so. LGBT CEO's shouldn't be magazine articles, they should be commonplace.

I would even argue that we are OK. There are still many places where if my partner and I walked into a restaurant we would be unwelcomed. If only by the ugly stares. Is that OK? Because we weren't shot at, or beat up? That's good enough? I don't think so. I will not settle for that, not now and not ever. Neither should you.

What if we never felt self-conscious about our sexuality? What if we never thought to ourselves "when is a good time to tell them i'm gay?" What about being trans? What if transitioning was a time of celebration rather than stress? These are things we NEED to be focusing on. Don't stop because the government isn't hunting us.

Don't "settle."

We as a collective and as individuals are worth perfection. We are worth equality, and to be rid of shame and self-conscious and self-defeating internal biases.

Know that you are loved and appreciated, if only be me, but we all know that isn't it...

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Sunday, April 2, 2017

End Of The Prison Marks Beginning Of Life For This Little Queer

Being sentenced is stressful. It marks losing your life for an action that most regret. Looking forward to the end of a long prison term is just as stressful. Ten plus years down the road is hard to imagine.

As one goes through prison they see all kinds of things happen for people releasing. Some guys freak out. Some guys will not shut up about it. Some will be ninja like about it: which are the favored because one night your shaking hands and playing cards and in the morning they will say good-bye and that's it, they are gone.

One thing is commonplace among them all though. That's their old life comes into play again. Some guys will go their whole prison sentence without a single letter from relatives or friends. Then out of nowhere everyone they used to know suddenly appears on the horizon. Old flames become interested again, family suddenly remembers that they exist.

For this guy, this queer, I don't want to be overwhelmed with old contacts. Not that I would mind talking to people I once knew. I would love to talk to them again. But people have no idea who I am anymore.

The guy they knew is NOT the man typing this email and I certainly do not look anything like I used to. The man they knew was angry, butch and macho. The man typing this message is into contemporary dance, musicals, and drag. A far cry from the Carhart wearing, fowl mouth idiot they used to know.

I still have 4 1/2 years to go before I get to have the chance to leave this place under the parole board. I suspect that when I get a little closer that I will not be able to keep up with the letters that come in, I look forward to it. But why wait until then to write a letter? Why not now?

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Being A Better Activist For The LGBT Community

News is hard. Plain and simple.

The restrictions for me personally are tough to overcome. First, I have lots of things that I want to report on. I have witnessed tragedies that have been grossly underestimated in this system. I have seen and heard things that would make someones stomach turn both out of disgust and seriously misguided approaches to justice.

Additionally, I have to seriously censor what I say. For instance, I cannot mention other people at all. Any scenario I want to talk about has to be generalized and all details left out that could pinpoint anything specific.

Not to mention that anytime a staff member is mentioned in any sense my email is immediately rejected and I become closely scrutinized, if not worse.

Being a better activist for LGBT rights and advancement is difficult at best from inside this place. Then I have to work around censorship and the constant threat of getting this "privilege" of communicating with my family taken away. It just so happens that my family is all over the country and most are L+G+B+T.

I realize that this can be difficult to follow because I have to stay on the right side of the law. Right now there are very specific rules that must be followed. I am ok with following them, however, it does mean that there is an unconventional aura about these messages. Particularly in the messages that I want to convey.

So thank you for reading them, in all their amateur glory!

The idea is ultimately that an interest will be generated in the rehabilitation of the modern LGBT prisoner. Not to get special attention or special accommodations. Just a community involvement if by no other means than simply watching.

Here's the thing, we are not trash. We are not dead. We are not done. We have a future and a life ahead of us. This is amplified when we have community support. Often times, just by knowing that people are watching that is enough to know that people still care about us as human beings.

Love is the principle thing. Sometimes, even the broken dog needs to know that somebody loves it. That little love, is enough to keep the dog fighting for life in all the right ways.

So following the rules of what kind of things I can and cannot say is a small thing to do. So long as I know that there are at least a few people who actually care.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

It would be nice to hear a few people give some sort of support, a simple we hear you.