Friend Therapy: What It Means To Be Around Those Who Get It
Hanging with your friends isn’t the same as hanging with those who are like you. I have plenty of straight friends, I have much fewer gay friends, but I still have some. I have a plethora of closet cases who talk to me more then anything. Which I invite, I love to watch people find themselves. Its like watching your children grow up and I get to witness it weekly. 
Like children some are needy, some grow up to fast, some you need more then they need you. I love them dearly. 
However, like anyone who gives everything they got I need to be around those who are like me. Usually this means your friends, in my case I usually have to settle for a game of cards with the one or two straight guys who aren’t pressuring me for sex. There is something very valuable to me about being around others like me. This doesn’t mean just anyone who is willing to wear the tag gay or LGBTQ. I mean someone who is truly gay and open and reality dwells within their thought process. Someone who isn’t perfect and has the strength to change negative characteristics about themselves.
I often feel restricted, not just because I am in prison. I mean in other ways. There are plenty of men here who just live how they want. Trouble or not they don’t care. No one is going to tell them anything. I hear all the time “just stop listening to what others say Jeff, I don’t care what anyone thinks”. Well…I do. Their opinion of negativity towards me means that I have no use for them. I like people and want to live in peace. I’m not sociopathic, I have feelings and do care about my effect on others.
When I am able to spend time with people I can actually relate to, its like all my walls come down and I can finally exhale again. Most would tell me to do it anyway, they don’t get that there are consequences for that in prison. It could put me in a lot of danger. So I have to stay reserved and somewhat prudish. I can’t even express myself on here the way I want. When I send something out, like this email, a staff member somewhere has to review it. Make sure its following the rules. But, with mine they know the subject content is going to be homosexual in nature so they are uncomfortable before they even begin. So when they do proofread it they are hypersensitive because they are uncomfortable with the content. Where as the same content could go out from a straight inmate to his wife or girlfriend and its no problem. My reservations is forced. 
I am treated differently and have to follow different rules. Staff doesn’t know how to handle me and many here are very uncomfortable interacting with me. I have to reserve my “gayness” for an outlet like other gay men. Particularly those who aren’t trying to get in my pants. Its no wonder to me that I get depressed, I have very few people I can truly and safely let my guard down with. Those moments are extremely precious to me when I do get them. Taking them for granted is out of the question. 
I can’t wait to get out and immerse myself in the LGBTQ community. I am going to be running around randomly hugging strangers asking ” Are you gay, I am?!”. Then hug them quickly and run to the next! Okay, I won’t be doing that, but know that I want to!
I don’t get nearly enough quality time with my peers. Hopefully this changes soon with the approval of my support group. Just in time to, everyone I know is feeling particularly isolated lately and its getting tougher to hold myself together while I help those who need it. I spent 1 hour in the yard just talking to two other openly gay men and all my problems became so much smaller. For some reason I could manage just fine again and life became clear. All we did was talk about the mundane. What actors we find attractive, what we’re watching and what’s our plan for the next few months. But those moments undid three months of tension. Incredible.
I do need outside support. Friends to talk to. I could use visits and letters. I go months without a single letter from anyone. Especially lately. I could use a friend.

With Love
Jeff Utnage 823469