Once I Get My Group: What Will I Teach?
This is something I have been asked repeatedly by both inmates and staff. What kind of things will you talk about in this peer support group? (for those of you who don’t know, 6-15-15 I submitted a proposal to prison admin. to start an LGBTQ peer support group)
For starters I would teach self-worth. No one deserves to feel inadequate. Secondly, there are pressures involved with being gay in prison. For instance, having sex with another inmate is an offense, meaning you are punished for it. So, what do you do when there are 1900 available suitors? Do you have any idea how hard it is to abstain when there are probably 1000+ good looking, willing sexual partners literally right outside your door? What would you do? Well, I do it, everyday I abstain and I hold my head high while I do it. I teach other men how I do and how I maintain friendships in the meantime. Then there are other things that go along with that. Like emotional distress, what if you have never had to restrain yourself? What do will you use as an alternative? Will you use an alternative? I can help in that area, why, because I have done and it am still doing it. There is the issue of drugs and prostitution and religion…the list goes on.
I don’t have all the answers to all the questions here, but I do know what I know and that information and wisdom can and should be passed on. The problem that we face is getting administration to take the request seriously. They are ducking and dodging this issue so much that it is legitimately concerning how afraid they are to let us help one another formally. Our current option is to go to the prison yard and talk about our serious issues there. That is hardly the place to be shedding interior walls and sharing real emotions, sure it’s possible, but hardly appropriate.
I challenge Stafford Creek Correction Center to hear me. I challenge this prison to actually sit down with me and hear my concerns. Because while they wait people here are suffering, they feel alone and afraid of the future. There are men here who need to be able to confide in confident gay men who are out. It has been proven time and time again that the trauma that can be suffered by someone who is LGBTQ hiding their identity for a sustained period of time is significant, ask any mental health professional.
These are tough things, imaging it, what if a man got sent to a womens prison, not as a transgender man, but as a man. At first it would be a free for all, tons of drama, but when all that was over. Say, in the first week, he is going to realize just how alone he is. There would be literally no one for him to socialize fully with. Sure, there would be snipets of conversation that would fulfill him, he would have to find that somehow. But there would be no one with the same situation as his. Would there? No, and because of it, he would need some serious help to keep a level and healthy mindset if he had to stay there.
Now, here I am a gay man in a men’s prison and there is limited interaction with other gay men, and there is virtually nowhere I can go to talk about the things that are pressing and need to be talked about in a setting that is safe and appropriate. I am in the same situation…why can’t anyone see that?
I keep asking everyone who will listen, why isn’t anyone listening to me. Here are men who want to be helped and we are taking the time to try and help ourselves and there is no one assisting us! There is no one who is lending a hand to help us lower our depression rates or suicide rates or emotional traumas…no one gives a damn it seems.
Well I do, and I am NOT going to let this go. Gay men are still people, just because we are gay doesn’t mean that we should be neglected. We have real differences that we have to deal with, wake up Superintendent Gilbert, this needs to be passed so we can start doing damage inventory!
thanks for making me work so hard for this, just know that I will not quit asking, not until the day I die