This particular post isn’t about gay empowerment. Its about human determination, which isn’t unique to one class of people. In fact, for most, determination only exists in our minds. Actionable determination is fairly rare.

All my life I ended a project or goal when it offered to much resistance. Often yelling at God in my head (or sometimes out loud) for cursing me at everything. I just assumed I wasn’t meant to do whatever it was I was attempting.

What it got me was 30 years of nothing. Heartache, bad attitudes, obesity, low self-esteem, prison…zero accomplishments.

Maybe that’s because I didn’t actually care about life? What I thought was determination was not and what I thought love meant, it certainly was not! In fact, I didn’t understand either until I came to prison. When I got here my Mother displayed real love by promising to stick by me and help get me better, which she did. Then determination came in once I developed a much healthier outlook on life.

Its not like those things weren’t present before prison, they were. But I didn’t recognize them until I unloaded all the secrets I held inside. 

Picture this: In your mind picture yourself holding a sword and a shield. Protecting the house behind you. The house is falling apart and needs repair, but you cannot fix it because your holding a sword and shield, which cannot build, only destroy. You are embarrassed by what’s inside so instead of letting people close to help, you wield your weapon against them. You cannot build or repair what you are defending. 

This is the story of my life. This is where my determination comes in. I laid down my defenses and picked up building tools and instead of hiding my secrets in my broken home anymore, I threw them out for all to see and judge. But at least I’m repairing my home now. 

I want that for everyone I meet. What if everyone began repairing their homes? What if everyone began laying down their weapons of war and fear and picked up tools of repair. I am NOT an expert craftsman, I’m learning as I go, but you know what I do not and I know what you do not. We can help each other build beautiful communities of rich, vibrant houses! Its possible!

Believe it or not, I am beginning this process in prison. Where it is said to be impossible. I am starting with my LGBT family first. Building the community in which I love. 

I had a road block, and that sucks. But I still love my friends and family and still stay awake at night thinking about how to help each of them build their homes, if I can help at all. Sometimes all I can do is watch as they defend their secrets…pray they don’t get hurt. Show them the love that God has shown me.

Your goals and aspirations will be hard. You might run into failure, but don’t stop. Sometimes it takes longer than one wholehearted attempt. Regroup and begin again. Trust me, I know how hard it is to pull yourself out of bed after something you were so sure about goes terribly wrong. However, together, we will rise again as peers and family to try again. To do again. Because I would rather give it my all and fail then to sit back and do nothing. Someone trying inspired me and I know my effort will not be for nothing.

With Love
Jeff Utnage