What makes Unity so impactful is that its attendees can let down their guard for that one time. In prison, even when one is relaxed, your brain constantly scans the environment for threats. Whenever someone raises their voice or moves quickly ones mind must stop whatever its doing to focus on this potential threat assessment. When a corrections officer jingles their keys, it demands attention, a sound that typically means some sort of lockup is coming.
With all these “threats” being the standard, LGBT people in prison have additional “threats.” There is also potential predators, when someone is nice it generally means they need to be carefully examined in a prison setting. They’re usually wanting sex, at least if the receiving party is known to be LGBT. Then there is staff who are simply human and have strong opinions that shine through in body language at least. One picks up on facial nuances of dislike or even disgust and it is very difficult to ignore.
Unity offers a small, weekly reprieve from all of that. An hour of no defenses, no walls, no “threats.” Its a window of opportunity afforded to the LGBT community to focus on self-improvement when it is otherwise very difficult to concentrate on.
Topics include: defining relationship, prison rape, sexual assault reporting, personal conduct, peer mentoring and so much more. There is games and an annual Pride Event. Its a way to learn what friendships are for, support.
www.lgbtqprisonsupport.com encourages you to take notice of such groups that are all over the state in our corrections centers. Your participation and support is desperately needed to fund, develop, and sponsor these groups. If your in another state, or another country as so many of our readers are, I encourage you to get involved in local facilities. For those of you in countries where this is unsafe, like Russia, home groups are extremely effective for the same purposes. Underground networks are already established and weekly support groups held in private will allow you all to breathe freely for that small window. That freedom will spark creative approaches in helping to change your societies views and fear.
Seriously, if anyone has questions or comments or ideas, I highly encourage you to voice them. Conversations are the heart of change.