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Letters to Our Family (June 2015)

Hello Family!

This is Gizmo again from PA. My article was printed in July 2014 in Black and Pink. A LOT has happened since I wrote that article.

First of all, I found out that I do not have HIV! The prison, where the test was done, made a mistake! Either that or a damned good miracle has occurred! Either way, I’m so grateful I am not HIV positive, but my heart goes out to those who have HIV and AIDS.

Even so, I am in a very dark place right now- the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) in Pennsylvania. Every State inmate in Pennsylvania enters this prison at one time in their sentence – the RHU is the worst in the state. My cell is infested with cockroaches and mice no matter how clean I keep it. The CO’s treat me like shit. My cell is VERY tiny I look forward to go to my home jail. Someone wrote this inspiring graffiti on the desk in my cell that says “Hard Times Don’t Last!” My family, we as LGBTQ inmates, we have it hard in prison, but remember that hard times don’t last. Good times are ahead. We need to stick together now more than ever! There is a saying that I learned in Rehab once, and I think it can apply to the LGBTQ community – “As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, ALL WILL BE WELL!” Brothers and sisters, WE ARE FAMILY! We need to stick together no matter WHAT!

Family, I love you all, don’t forget that! Every single one of you is loved! Peace out!

Love always,
Tom AKA Gizmo, PA

 

Greetings & Salutations to all my B&P Family!

My name is Diamond & I am a 34 y/o Gay Black Male, currently serving a 4 to 10 year sentence for robbery. After being down for 3 years and 1 month, I have only 11 months remaining before I go to my Parole Hearing. So I ask all of you to pray for my strength in completing the duration of my sentence.

The reason why I am reaching out to all of you is to inform you of what happened to me recently. After working for 2 weeks in Culinary, I was told by my unit’s coworker that because of a “medical restriction” I will be unassigned from my position in the kitchen. Now, for those of you who don’t understand what that means; it means that because I am HIV Positive, I cannot work in the kitchen, When I got the news that I was fired because of my health status, I was appalled to say the least because when I went to Classifications for the job, the Prison Administrators knew I was HIV Positive before they hired me.

I’m not really sure how to feel about all of this because I don’t know if my rights were violated or if I was discriminated against, but all of this screams “unconstitutional” to me.

I live in Las Vegas where people living with HIV handle food all the time on their jobs, so why is it so different in Prison? If in fact the Prison Administrators didn’t want me to handle the food, they could have easily placed me in another position like Pots and Pans or cleaning trays in the Clipper Room versus taking away my job entirely.

This is emotionally and mentally disturbing because I’ve never experienced anything like this before and I never thought I would have to.

I am so grateful to have a partner/lover who knows my status, accepts me as I am, and always does his best to support every decision I make. He is helping me go through the Grievance Process at this time because something needs to be done. Thank you J. I love you more than you will ever know.

I ask all of you to keep me in your prayers and if you know anything that can help me legally please let me know. In the meantime I will do my best to keep everyone in the loop.

To all my brothers and sisters living with HIV and AIDS, you are not alone nor forgotten. We are one step closer to our cure.

In Love and Solidarity,
Diamond, NV

 

“See The Beauty in Your Freedom”

Being in prison is not easy for anyone. But being a transgender in prison is even tougher. There are very few of us transwomen and we are discriminated against more so than the other inmates.

For the most part it is a mental game. To still be called gay, fag, queer, homosexual, sir or man is disgusting. It goes against everything I believe in about who I am. This is not just by inmates, but staff as well. We are not given good jobs. We are totally looked down upon just because of our gender identity. That being said, I have taken the responsibility upon myself to be a voice for those who let themselves be silenced. I believe that no matter where I am or who I am, I have the right to be heard as an equal.

To be bullied, raped or suffer constant mental anguish is not healthy. Because I have been a victim of those things in my life, doesn’t mean I will allow it to make me hide in a corner. Being transgender in prison or the free world, you have to allow yourself to be free of negative, hateful, and angry people. I say to those people, I won’t be bullied into silence for who I am.

To all my sisters who feel like giving up. We live in a beautiful world. Allow yourself to see the beauty in your freedom.

Risa, CA

 

Dear Black and Pink,

Hey, hey to all my LGBT family! How is everyone out there in the prison system doing? I pray all of you are hanging in there and keeping your heads held high. Remember don’t let them break you. Stay strong.

Well I’m writing to the newspaper to remember a fallen LGBT family member. Roughly a month and a half ago at the county jail I’m in, an inmate who was gay known as Pat took his own life. You know, being gay myself too, hearing about anyone taking their life is sad, but when someone who’s LGBT takes their life, it hurts a little more.

I’ve been in prison now eight and a half years, and I’ve been at this county jail for 2 months and I’ve heard of many inmates dying, but this is my first time hearing about a gay inmate dying. I didn’t know Pat at all but I wish I had because I would have tried to talk to him and to be a friend.

Today I spoke to a female correctional officer about Pat and just hearing about the things he dealt with and the harassment he suffered just brings tears to my eyes. When I was in a different prison before this jail, I used to get harassed 24/7 by other prisoners and by correctional officers and when I fought back it just got worse. When I got here, a few inmates harassed me but I have had to put on a facade so other inmates won’t harass me or bully me. On a daily basis I walk around like I’m some gangster thug when in truth I am so girly and feminine. Anyways in closing this letter I ask all my LGBT family members to keep Pat in their hearts and prayers, please.

Thank you,
Yasin AKA Mikala, VT

 

 

 

 

 

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