The Cost of Being Forced In The Closet:
A recent report done by Black and Pink (you can see them at blackandpink.org )
did a national lgbtq prisoner study shown many shocking results that you will find interesting, I highly suggest that you check it out.
One of the figures in there just lights my fire and not in the good way. In fact, I am just furious. One of the results is that 70% of the inmates studied, Which in total was 1,118, had suffered trauma by being forced in the closet by DOC. This is simply unacceptable.
When I first came to Stafford Creek Correction Center in Aberdeen, WA in April of 2014 ( I transferred from Airway Heights Correction Center to get closer to my family) I was told by staff to stay undercover and closeted for my own protection that if I didn’t they couldn’t guarantee my safety. I promptly told them no, the emotional effects of doing that led me to prison in the first place and I wasn’t about to start that pattern of behavior, not for them, not for anyone ever again.
This study just proves that what I was saying is true. Forcing the LGBTQ community in the closet doesn’t help keep us safe. What it does is it makes us feel ashamed and taboo and wrong and guilty. When in fact we should feel none of those feelings when it comes to our sexuality and gender assignments. All that is accomplished by us staying closeted for DOC is that they don’t have to deal with us. By telling us that we need to stay quiet about our sexuality makes it so that they don’t have to recognize our differences and make appropriate changes.
They put us in harms way all the time by assigning us cell mates who are not gay or like minded. They use the excuse that by putting us together in the same cell compromises the safety and security of the institution because we are more likely to have sex. We can’t have sex, which is fine…I guess…, but it’s ok to make us feel uncomfortable and force us to hide. When a Muslim tells staff he is Muslim they have special procedures that must be followed to accomadate his religious preferences, like they only put other Muslims in the cell with them typically. Likewise with whites with whites, and mexicans with mexicans and so on. But with LGBTQ we are separated to the fullest, going so far as to keep us apart by units and pods. Yet we are the most likely to be attacked sexually. In fact 6 times more likely. That’s ok??
Why am I any less of a person to protect? What have I done to make them feel as though I must be treated differently and that I don’t need to be around other LGBTQ community members? Because of sex? Or is it their fear of us? What’s to fear? The fact that there is someone who is legit different from you? Is it so hard to recognize that? How bigoted of them.
LGBTQ a second class citizen according to Stafford Creek Correction Center in Aberdeen, WA and it’s staff. Refusing to respond to attempts to create even a Peer Support system that will cost them nothing…
Someone please help us get them to allow us to support each other.