Ever have those stressful months where things just seem to be more difficult than necessary? I have had to save the Pride Event, it took 45 years to get and just 2 before I was watching it float away. Wrangling it back into action has been a wonderful journey, yet again. But that’s not stressful for me, I am accustomed to fighting for such things. I have a mantra I say at least 5 times a day:

“Nothing will ever be handed to you, expect to fight for every little thing you ever want, make sure it’s worth it.”

I find it a great motivator and a reality check. This world doesn’t owe any of us anything but the air we breathe and the water we drink. Even that is a stewardship we have to be responsible with.

The stressful part has been other LGBT folks. Since our LGBT peer support group, Unity, has dissolved due to irresponsible leadership who refused to think about successor ship the drama within this community has risen yet again. For nearly 2 years the negative imagery that accompanied the LGBT community in prison was all but erased and for the first time we were finally “normal”, for all intents and purposes. Each week I was able to speak to many of our community members in a singular location about a topic I knew was relevant, which allowed for safe diffusion of situations before they got out of hand…or dramatic. We haven’t had Unity in 4 months and the drama has increased to a chaotic level.

It’s a pivotal time for us too. Makeup for trans inmates was approved state wide, which of course sends bigoted administration into a frenzy. We’re not talking face paint here, its light, earth toned, basic stuff that women in the women’s prison already get and it is not a security risk for them. That’s because they are “real” women and not “trans”. But they aren’t bigots…

I have a heavy load, but that’s normal, even preferred because I can handle it. Maybe 10 years ago I would have thrown the towel in or sought refuge under someone else’s tutelage. Not today, not now, I am capable because I am strong as hell. I’ve done been through most of what this place has to offer and my spirit still isn’t broken.

Here’s another mantra:

“I refuse to leave prison the same person I came in as. I will prove I have changed and the air and water this planet has allotted me is not wasted. My worst actions were not done in vein, I cannot undo what I have done, but I will never forget I owe a great debt for a second chance. I will not waste the opportunity with weakness and fear.”

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With Love
Jeff aka Ruth Utnage

Mail To:
Jeff aka Ruth Utnage 823469 D-610-2
P.O. Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272

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Name: Utnage, Jeff (though I am legally Ruth)

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