I came to prison in September of 2011. I did not come here for some noble or just cause. I came here because I was an awful and miserable man who was willing to do anything other than me, whatever that was. Upon arrival here a man told me “this place can be a womb or a tomb, you can lay down and die or learn to live”.

I have not forgotten those words…I forged through changes that were difficult for anyone. I lost 110+ lbs, I became honest and painfully transparent, I lost family but gained myself. The most pivotal moment in my life was when I was still sweating from a workout sitting on the edge of my bunk and I began to pray. Earlier that day while running I seen a man who was flamboyantly gay. I thought about that while I ran, I had been afraid of this my whole life…judgement. Here was this frail man,being himself and happy, obviously being judged by a whole prison yard. Yet he stood. My whole life I had done whatever I could to avoid admitting to myself that I was gay, toxic marraige, kids, manly jobs, shitty attitudes on those around me. The list goes on and on. But that afternoon I broke, I thought everyone hated me and since death hadnt worked I was going to have to finally live with myself. An almost tragic thought, I sat there on the edge of my bed and in utter defeat I barely whispered “Lord, i’m gay”. Then the most peculiar thing happened, I felt free. It was like I was living in black and white my whole life and then all of a sudden the world was in brilliant and vibrant color. Everything became so clear, the next thought was my crime, my past, the hurt ive caused, the needless misery on myself and all I could think was ” oh my God, what have I done?”

Since that day I have been laser focused on rehabilitation and inward reflection. I have learned so much about myself and have realized that I have so much more to learn. I may have seriously screwed up the first 28 years, but the next 28…I have a choice.

Which leads me here. I have met so many closeted and openly gay men since 2011 it is shocking. Many of us have similar stories and unfortunately, damages. It’s saddening that the addage is true; ill equiped hurt people, hurt people. Not an excuse for negative behavior or justification for what got us here (which was solely and squarely our own choices), but rather a realization that we have a choice to be positive people.

I have discovered that I love my community. All of it, I am in love with the LGBTQ community and all of its flaws and perfections. I hear stories from our peers and I just want to give everyone a big hug. I cant help it, my mind and heart stays busy foraging through their pain. I constantly analyze myself to figure what needs to be changed in me so I can be better equipped to help my LGBTQ family. So I have asked for a GBTQ Peer Support Group, this would allow incarcerated people to provide emotional support and stability to one another in a formal environment. Our current methodology is going to yard and speaking with one another there, hardly a safe place for serious conversation. 

So this is where I begin. I have been pushing for this group since (formally) June of 2015. It still hasnt been approved where I am 
incarcerated, but its at other prisons already. I am ever hopeful.

Please dont give up on us. Some of us really want to change ourselves and we are. I am reaching out to anyone who will listen, I will spend the rest of my life helping rehabilitate the broken, with or without help. Because people deserve it and I legitimately love people.

Until next time, feel free to contact me: 
jpay.com enter my name Jeff Utnage and add (sending emails cost you and me money)
Mail letter to me:(yup, people still do that, LOL!)
Jeff Utnage #823469
Stafford Creek Correctional Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA 98520