Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Things They Will Never Know

The Things They Will Never Know

They will never see the 360 hours of psychological therapy I ran too every week for 7 years.
They will never hear the speeches I gave.
They will never listen to the people I helped.
They will never attend the classes I taught.
They will never know that I have written and delivered workshops.
They will never feel the thousands of miles I have walked with other people who needed me.
They will never see my eyes well up when I witness another person succeed.
They will never feel the sense of accomplishment I felt when I wore three sashes at one graduation.
They will never know what it feels like to be completely rejected by everyone who ever knew me and then rebuild an entire chosen family.
They will never know what it felt like to hear he was HIV positive and didn't tell me.
The truth is they will never, ever know...me.

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage

Poem by James Cody

Death song of my heart
You walk within the temple of my flesh.
Your Eyes like lyrics to a song sung by lovers lips.
Moving so smoothly to the rhythm of my breath.
I would scar my face for just one caress,
hold you in my arms even if it meant my death.
I die for you a little every day,
my pulse sweeping me away like a river of the sweetest suffering.
Your arms around me the only reality I've ever found comfort in.
In the flame of this love I have burned myself to ash,
your fingers trailing through my remains stirring me back to life,
sifting through powdered bone like grains of sand.
You are the best part of me,
the beat within the heart of me.
Even the pain of this love is beautiful.
like the death song of a dying heart hauntingly sung.
Darling angel,you I love, now until my life is done,
and when I die,
your name shall be my death song sung.
rising defiant from lungs that breathed for you,
collecting air for the crafting of you name.
lips moving for the shaping of the same.
yeah, darling angel, you I love.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Why So Many LGBT Folks Find New Families (and Why Maybe Straight Folks Should Too)

LGBT folks call each other family. This is because we often lose our blood relatives when we come out. This leaves a wound that even a chosen family won't entirely heal. We search for affirmations that we are lovable and worthy of acceptance.

It wasn't until recently that I understood why having a chosen family is preferable at times, if not all the time. While the love of our family is always going to be in the back of our mind, a chosen family only sees the new you. Your old identity and shortcomings are knicks, scratches, and dents in a beautiful treasure...highly valuable petina. They don't remind you that at one point you weren't well put together. They don't care that at one point you held a gun to your head or swallowed poison. They don't think your a flip flopper because you tried every religion in the book, in one week.

They don't care about the time when you were 16 and hit on one of your friends and got rejected then tried to pretend it was only a joke. Even though you both knew when you sank to your knees you were completely serious. They think its funny when you tell them you were terrified of Chucky, pee'd the bed a little to late in life, had earaches that hurt so bad you couldn't think.

No, your chosen family doesn't give a shit about your past and you don't care about theirs, except to listen to it lovingly while they emotionally bleed just a little.

But your blood relatives though, oh...they remember everything. Reinventing yourself with them is impossible, especially when they simply don't believe in you. To them you'll always be this that, never were good at such and such. Even when you do overcome the stigmas of their beliefs, then your just a fraud. Faking some new phase.

I got news for all my peeps out there, Jesus talked about this 2000 plus years ago, this isnt anything new. You can reinvent yourself right this minute and never look back because there are those of us out there who only see how bright you shine.

There are folks like me who see your past as a the past. Baby, its done and it wasn't nothing but phase, to get over. Now, were over it honey, talk about it all you want. Go ahead, reminisce and remember the embarrassment or anger or whatever, but all I see is you, right here right now and I promise, that's all I'm ever gonna see.

To them, your unstable.
To me, your finding you and I'd be honored to help.

Doesn't matter if your gay, straight, cis or noncis. I got you.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Friday, July 27, 2018

Freehold Theater Performs A Winters Tale For Prisoners

Shakespeare has been the epitome of snobbery for me. Whenever someone of a low class environment, like me, wanted to sound rich we lift our heads and begin talking as if we are still speaking old English with the thy's and thoughest's.

I cannot pinpoint why that was exactly. Nobody told me that, nobody said rich people know Shakespeare and most poor people do not. I do not even believe that to be true. Yet, as a teen my perception drove me far away from classic literature so I would not be a yuppie. (God, what a mistake! Teenagers should be legally 'mentally challenged' until they are around 25)

I have not been to a play or live performance in my life. As a child I seen a magic show once, in which I was sawed in half! I also vaguely remember seeing a children's play in Omaha, I could not have been very old, maybe 5 or 6.

So when Freehold Theater came into this little prison and performed Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale," I was excited. One, these folks are professionals. Two, I have met some of the people who believe in that program, like Ms. Robyn and Mr. Carter, both of which run a residency program for inmates to learn acting and put on performances once a year. A program I now love.

They performed it with stage props and with poise and professionalism. I cried and my mouth hung open the entire performance. I was absolutely captivated. We got to see a real play, and many of us have never seen one, ever. We laughed, our hearts raced, we nearly shouted out loud.

It was an experience that is so rare, so beautiful, it was something we will never forget.

I think I found a new addiction!

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Mathematical Learning Experiment: My Documented Journey In Learning Mathematics

A friend of mine made a comment once that math was taught wrong in school. That the order in which it is taught is wrong. The average person thinks elementary math, followed by Algebra, then Geometry, Trigonometry, then perhaps pre-calculus and so on is the best way, mainly because that is how it is presented in high school. I am no different.

As I pursue my own education I have found that math is not going anywhere. It is the foundation of Logic, a subject I happen to love and use quite frequently, oddly enough. I would like to understand statistical data on my own and how to compile that to begin with.

The experiment: What if I learn the non traditional mathematics and approach it as a new subject for me? My teacher is having me focus on the basics of proofs, using Abstract Mathematics principles.

I am dedicating 360 minutes every 7 days, logged by timer, to studying my texts. I memorize definitions and use the dictionary frequently to understand the usage of words, like disjunction and contra positive and even contra converse. I have been creating tedious truth tables then writing each line as a proof.

I do not know what mathematical journey lies ahead for me, but I know this, I am having fun. Every day I realize I learned something that was previously for geniuses only, in my mind. I get more and more excited to open my book, even though I've spent over 700 minutes on 15 pages. 15 pages of text I understand!

We will see where I go from here.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Now Introducing Monthly Writing Themes

Here at lgbtqprisonsupport.com we are always trying to figure out new ways of inspiring our beloved community. Our newest way, themes. Here's how we're going to do it:

Every month we will announce a theme and our writers will write out whatever that theme inspires in them. They will be clearly titled for easy spotting, probably with the word Theme in it!

See, easy!

What I personally like about our little platform here is we have the ability to talk about whatever. The truth is, one of our writers is straight, one is pansexual, and then there's me (Jeffebelle-Gender NonConforming and totally into men, whatever that makes me) and with such a variety of backgrounds between the three of us we are all going to interpret differently.

Our hope, and I speak for us all, is that our words in some way, shape, or form inspire you to be loving, caring, and maybe even smile. All three of us are inmates who have love, I mean, real love, for people...for you. You deserve love, we deserve love. Maybe we can use this little platform to spread some of it.

Our first theme will be in August and it will be:

The Mirror Brings...

If you'd like to participate in our writing, please contact our site owner:
Valerie Utnage (Momma Bear) at vutnage@gmail.com for details (its easy, not very complicated).

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage

Monday, July 23, 2018

Reasons Why I Think You Should Write Me

I like mail. You know, like paper inside of an envelope that you wrote stuff on. I miss mail. I miss junk mail and advertisements and actors from the 50's trying to convince me if I order 3 magazines I'll win 5,000,000 a week for life. You know, mail.

Problem is, I'm an inmate. All like, super scary and stuff, rawr. I do scary inmate things like practice braiding my hair and trying to hustle up nude colored compression socks because they look like nylons...terrifying, I know. The fact that they have nude colored compression socks is also slightly terrifying.

I'm not writing this to tell you about my free time, no, I'm making a case as to why you, reader, should write me, inmate. Ready?

1. I can take selfies!
2. I can tell you how to use skittles and Vaseline to make your own lip balm!
3. Oh, I have a ton of ways to recycle seran wrap, seriously, you'll trip out.
4. Mm, weird one, but funny, there is more than one use for a summer sausage, we'll just leave that one there dear.
5. I'm single, not entirely sure how that's a good quality for writing me, but there it is
6. I'm super happy. Look, you'll never have a bad day with me.
7. I am who I am and I love people, I will love who you are too.
8. I will be the one person you can for sure count on to completely accept you in all your weirdness.
9. Ooh, I'm a captive audience! Lol, I thought it was funny anyway.
10. Finally, I'm a good friend and quite frankly, I need you.

OK, so there is my top ten reasons why you should write me!

Just in case, here is the ways to contact me

By mail
Jeff Utnage 823469 D-610-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

Or email me through jpay.com (inmate email service for Washington prisons)
Sign up, find me using my name, Jeff Utnage and/or DOC # 823469

With Love
Jeff "Jeffebelle" Utnage

Friday, July 20, 2018

Today, I Am Pretty

I am happy with who I am today
My hair is cooperating, finally
The stubble on my face is barely visible
I have smooth arms and skin
When I look in the mirror my bangs hang in my field of vision,
I like having to brush them out of the way
Today, I am pretty.
Tomorrow the humidity might fray my hair into a quiet pony tail
My razor might be to dull to get a close shave
I might feel fat
Tomorrow, I might feel confused.
But not today,
Today, I feel pretty.

So I'm gonna smile at the world and the looks I get,
Today, they're all good stares,
Today, I am pretty.

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage

Don't Burn Down the Village Trying to Stay Warm (part 15 - end of series)

It was June 3rd at 0735 that I last heard Kristen's sweet, beautiful voice. It was the last time I ever used a prison phone. Even now the phone represents pain and anguish. I just didn't know what to do. She told me two things that day that rocked me to my core. Normal for me became faded hope beyond the horizon and I was standing in loss and covered in ashes from the blaze she set all around me. The messages exploded in my head like the IEDs once did in Baghdad.

BOOM!! The first was that she was marrying Lee. You see, Lee is illegal to the United States. Its definitely not the biggest problem in the world, but when you couple that with her need to control someone into a marriage so she can get what she wants, including her citizenship among other things, it is a problem. Its a giant effing problem. Lee is Canadian. Her home country would pay for these medical problems that she used as a crutch to be so verbally abusive to my family, but Kristen's resources and cash flow are much more at her fingertips. Especially Kristen's sympathy, uncertainty, orientation insecurities and her "want to be happy". This vulture was feeding on the ones I love.

How could Kristen's life possibly be better by dragging around this anchor? Now she wanted to be legally tied to her? Did Kristen love her in just five months of engaging in this? Is this the flame that is making her soul warm, the one fueled by toxic carcinogens? Does anyone else know about this? Am I the only one in the dark? Surely the world saw so much of this unfold on social media, right? Didn't more people notice that Lee never smiles in pictures?

Clearly, my time in Kristen's life was over and she didn't have the decency to come right out and say it any earlier. She didn't have decency in just coming out. I have empathy for her for the latter. Coming out must be brutally hard to some. Maybe she really had no clue about her true orientation. This was all new to her, too.

But god damn it, I was her partner. If not her partner now, her bestie for sure. We had trust and respect and a relationship beyond reproach. Years of connection. A child. We were the fucking Kennedy's. I would have helped her be the best "out" she could have been if she truly didn't want me romantically anymore. Now she fucking hurt me so deeply. "Don't view the present through the prism of my past," I told myself. I can't help it. She kicked me to the curb, ruined my future with my family, and gave everything we had to someone who could give a fuck less. I've been here before, GOD DAMN IT!!! Just to be out... Just to be warm... Nobody comes out in a fucking vacuum... Real people love you! I'm a real person who was, is, affected by her coming out irresponsibly. But there was more...

BOOM!! Message two... I finally asked and Kristen finally admitted that she was being physically hit. If she's being hit by this bitch, what is Megalodon witnessing? Is my daughter getting hit when nobody's looking? This isn't part of the coming out process. This isn't even acceptable human behavior. Lee had an open warrant with the police for domestic violence. Yeah, I found that out now, too. My soul cracked. I sobbed and pleaded for her to do something. I hurt so bad for what was happening. She reiterated that she deserves to be happy. She would make this disaster work. The ground shook and everything we built fell on June 3rd. Broken... shattered... why...? "Kristen, why would you let this happen? You deserve better, we deserve better!" But I didn't say that. I wanted to, but I didn't. I wanted to build her up. But the reality is, I had. For five months I met her half way and then some. Five months. That's all. I went from future husband, to friend, to guy she knew, to nobody worth jack shit. Its a long fall from heaven. My angel just watched me drop.

What more could I say? "Gee dear, no one can put out the fire that's burning what we built, but I'm glad its keeping you warm." Be a lesbian if its who you are, but be strong, confident, capable, honest with yourself. Be the best of yourself, to yourself and DEMAND that others do it too. Always. Forever. Never fail to see the beauty in the mirror and know that God made you wonderful, whoever you are. Never let anyone drive you off the cliff of self doubt into a sea of abuse. People need you to be wonderful. A six year old girl may be looking to you to learn to be a strong woman. Be strong and be bold. Be good and be healthy. Be you and be true. True to your values.

I ultimately asked a few friends to try and help end this shit show and get the authorities involved. It panned out as could be expected and nothing happened. She wasn't ready to admit to the law what she admitted to me. Kristen had been angry that things got ugly. Maybe she still is. I heard she may even be a reader of this story. I really complicated her life by saying something. I'm even empathetic of that, but I have confidence that she was shaken into some level of reality and that my kid is safer for it. Its heartbreaking that I'll never really know how her experience turns out. I know I love her and I want amazing things for her.

23 days went by without any meaningful contact until the day of our seven year anniversary. Her email that day ended with "We will one day get back to what we know as normal." I hope we can get there, babe. Until then, to all the followers of this story, be just like everyone in the LGBT community and communities all over should be... be responsible. Don't burn down the village trying to keep warm. Get help if you need help and make sure you love those who support you as much as you should love yourself... Kristen showed me that years ago.

Much love to Jeff, Valerie and LGBTQPrisonSupport.com for giving me a platform to share this and for supporting the healing of so many of us, regardless of who we are.

Rory Andes

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I Just Want To Dance

Since I was a little boy I loved dancing. Once, when I was maybe five or so, my Mom took me to a wedding in which I wore a handsome baby blue suit. I remember little about who was getting married, but I remember the reception and I danced.

Since I was five I danced liked a country bumpkin five year old would do I suppose. I do not remember how bad it was, I only remember I let loose and it felt great. I remember that. As I age, as we all do, self-consciousness set in and dancing all but stopped. I slow danced at junior high prom, high school prom I had already dropped out with my GED.

Here I am twenty years later and I have enough sense to understand I love dancing. I love watching it, I love dancing in my cell, I love talking about it. Now...I want to learn it. It is time.

I began writing Seattle based dance studios last month (June), in hopes a choreographer will respond. Someone to come in and teach dance to a group of really excited inmates. Oh, by the way, I am not the only one. Hundreds of inmates want to learn some form of dance, hundreds.

Dancing is a skill, it is also an expression of identity, it tells a story. Some of us carry so much pain and guilt and happiness and joy and there is not anywhere for it to go.

When I am stressed out or happy and I am sure I will have some cell time alone, I will put on my head phones and listen to music as loud as it will go. I let loose, just like when I was wearing my little blue suit. I move as best as I know how, no care as to how foolish I may look learning to twerk or dub step or hold my balance while outstretching my foot and spinning.

Anyway, my search for someone who can teach continues.

Could it be you

With Love
Jeff Utnage