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Letters to our Family (January 2015)

Dear Black and Pink Family,

Hello, my name is Shaylanna but most of my family calls me Dee. I usually don’t write “Dear Family” letters but I’m starting to see way too much shit that needs to be heard.

In the facility I’m in there’s LGBT people who want to be themselves but are afraid they will be messed with. These same people came up to me and ask questions like, “Aren’t you worried about being a target?”, “How do you do it”, “Why don’t you stick by yourself?” etc.

First, I keep my eyes open for people who try to victimize me or the other open LGBT people, and second who cares what the next f***-head thinks or says about me as long as they don’t touch me.

Growing up, I got pretty good at being a boy. But a boy wasn’t an identity that I could live with. Boy wasn’t how I wanted to be treated, and boy was never how I wanted to act. Boy never allowed me to truly express myself. Every waking moment that I walked through the world as a boy and man made me feel like a liar and a phony. But after I went through my “teenage crisis,” I found myself still living a life of working hard at being, only now I was working hard at being a “girl.” Nothing in the paradigm of my life allowed for being neither. And the more I tried to be boy or girl, the less I seemed to measure up to “either” and the less I wanted to stay alive. It finally got to the point where it just didn’t seem worth it anymore. It came down to two questions : Should I kill myself or should I make myself a life worth living? And it wasn’t so much the question that kept me alive or even my answer. What kept me alive was the notion that it was me who was asking the question.

So, to all my LGBT family members who think it’s hard to come out and be yourselves, hard to become a target, or had to just stick to yourself, I want you to ask yourselves the same questions I did. And remember, if you chose to stay closed in, you can always chose to come out and make yourself a life worth living, you may be so much more happier. The weight on your back can be lifted.

My message here is: Be who you are, not who society wants you to be.

Love your sister,
Shaylanna Luvme

 
Dear Black and Pink,

My name is Thomas, an inmate in Pennsylvania. I want to thank you for your wonderful newspaper. I received it yesterday morning when I was feeling especially down. Your newspaper brought me joy and hope! I know now that I am not alone. I have a huge family out there that loves me and supports me 100%. I have a very strong positive message to share with my brothers and sisters out there in the prison system- especially level 5 Secure Housing Units.

First of all, I’d like to respond to the article written to Brother Chris from Indiana (April 2014). Brother, we have something in common! I too was molested and raped- me by my Aunt. I was five when the abuse started and went on until I was eight years old. My Aunt had the most contact with me than any other person in my family. She forced me to be sexual with her on an almost daily basis. At age seven, I told a teacher at school what was going on. She called Children and Adult services and State Police and reported. My Aunt was charged and put in jail. I went through ruthless questioning from CYS and police who should have been helping, but their questions further damaged my delicate and fragile mind. Finally before trial, my family threatened and beat me, forcing me to tell the courts I lied and made it all up. I did so and charges were dropped. Considering I was a juvenile then, only 14 or 15, the court records were sealed and are sealed to this day. My aunt, because of this was able to abuse and rape several other children and this time also got away with it because my family was tight and best friends forever with several high ranking CYS officials. A few years later she had a son. When he was 6, I sexually abused him. This only happened once, but I know what I did caused him severe damage and confusion. To my knowledge, he never told anyone. My guilt and shame is severe. It has caused me severe anger issues and major depression and anxiety. These emotions are what led me to my crimes. Brother Chris, you are NOT ALONE. I wrote the Indiana County District Court today. (My crimes against this poor kid happened in Indiana County, PA). I made my confession. Michael is now 16 or 17. It’s time he gets the justice he needs.

Another issue that I feel that NEEDS to be printed in our newspaper, this goes out to all people in Level 5 Security Housing Units. This system is designed to break us! I am housed in the RHU. All of the inmates spend all day and night, fighting and bickering amongst each other. They call each other degrading, mean, nasty names. They call it “bidding” and “grinding” people up. No one seems to want to take a stand against this system that is oppressing us. I have been guilty of this too, probably more than most! But I had a wake up call a couple of nights ago. I AM going to stand up! The proper way to do this is PAPERWORK- exhausting the grievance system, lawsuits, writing prison advocacy programs and studying in the law library. This is the only way we can do this. I realize the above happens in every L5 Housing Unit. We NEED to put all our prejudice, hatred and animosity we have toward each other and FIGHT THE SYSTEM!

We are spending ALL our energy in fighting each other! If we do this, than we will have NO focus or energy to fight this oppressive system. We NEED TO UNITE if only for the time it takes to change this oppressive system designed to break us! There is hope at the end of the tunnel- ONLY if we UNITE and STAND TOGETHER. Now is the time to act! There is an old saying, which I live by- If not ME, who? If not NOW, when? It is time, FAMILY, to take our stand! I love you ALL.

Love Always,
Thomas, Pennsylvania

 
Dear B&P Fam,

Hello and how is everyone doing? My name is Brian but everyone calls me CB. I’m currently locked up in Illinois right now. Anyways I just want to unload some things on everyone. To start I’m in a lovely and happy relationship with a transwoman named Elena and we are very open about it to everyone everywhere we go. My point is I’ve seen some couples where I’m at here who are scared to show who they with ’cause people judge. And I just wanted to say just be yall’s selves cause no one can tell you how to live your life so enjoy it to the fullest and be proud of who you are and who you with. Forget what a hater say about it. Always keep it real with who you with and who you are as a person and never think less about it. ‘Cause if a person is so worried about what you are doing or who you are doing it with and can’t focus on themselves (and I’m talking about them heterosexual people), it means you are doing something right! Me and Elena go through verbal abuse and get threatened daily by these guys and we call they bluff. They don’t do nothin’. They talk about throwin’ poop and pee at us (lol). Well guess what me and Elena still do us and don’t pay no one no mind. We hold hands, hug, and show our love to each other daily, can’t no one dictate our pace of our lives, so I hope none of yall let anyone either. Everyone keep your heads up and stay strong cause united we stand divided we fall. God bless this family.

 

Truly,
Brian aka CB, Illinois

 

 

 

Dear Black & Pink,

 

I’ve been getting Black & Pink for about a year now and thought I would write you a letter. I’ve been in lock-up in Texas now for 16 years. When I first got to my unit, I was not Out because of what I have seen happen to “out” people. They are beat up and/or raped. They’re made to “ride” and sell their body because their “man” tells them to. It upsets me to see this happen. When after a few years there, I told a friend of mine I was gay, I was told by a group of people that I was going to “ride” with them. When I told them “no,” I was going to do what I want and no one will run my life, I had some fights. But as time went by people started to see me for who I am, not just because I was gay. I’ve made some good friends in the time I’ve been here.

 

I hope and pray that I’m at the end of my time. But if not, I will have 4 more years left then I’m done, they will have to let me go. Then I can start my life over. It’s been hard sometimes in here because you are gay. People will hate just because of that. But don’t let it ruin your day, no matter what others say or do to you, you still have control in your life. Remember all the good times and friends you had. Like Ray. We were together in the same unit. We have done good time and great talks. People like him make doing time easier. But our time together was short lived. He is now back in another unit. He will most likely finish his time out right. I pray for him and thank him for being a good friend when I needed one. There have been others through time who have made life fun to live.

 

So if you have friends who have moved on (home or to other units) just remember all the time you shared with each other. If you see someone who is having a bad day or looks lonely, try to be friends with them. You never know who you may meet this way. Remember life is for us to love each other and to have fun. Pray for everyone, family or not. Love others as you would want to be loved. Thank you Black & Pink for all the hard work you do to get us your newspaper.

 

Blessed and loved
John, Texas

 

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