Monday, November 12, 2018

Educating Our Allies by Jeff Utnage

In prison we have an LGBT support group called Unity. It is groundbreaking because it is one of the few programs that is in Washington State's Department of Corrections that meets for the sole purpose of demarginalizing the marginalized and social support (a similar group would be the Black Prisoners Caucus).

A recent trend has emerged that I think everyone needs to know. We have had an influx of straight people attending regularly. In fact, our recent attendance numbers show that nearly 30% are straight and that number climbs every single week.

What's worthy of your attention is many of these people used to make our lives miserable. What drew their attention is when we leave the meeting, we are happy. We are more confident, we belong, for just that hour. For that short 60 minutes a week we own our lives and our sense of identity and we don't have to defend it or be afraid of it. Now others want that too.

What's cool is that it didn't take long for an LGBT support group to become a human support group. Because everyone has an identity to cope with, not just LGBT people.

I am glad I get to witness humanity and decency. I should be shocked that it comes from within America's prison system, but I have become accustomed to seeing such things.

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With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage
www.lgbtqprisonsupport.com

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