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Letters to Our Family (May 2016)

Dear Black and Pink Family,

I’m in a federal prison in New Jersey via a joint military base. Compared to the responses of letters you receive, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of federal inmates that correspond to Black and Pink. Federal prisons restrict a lot of things that state prisons easily receive, and this needs to change.

My name is Leon, I am 44 years old, black male bisexual; mostly gay. From Virginia, incarcerated on a sex-offense of receipt of C.P. on a computer through interstate transit. Since February 15, 2012 I have been down. I receive your newspaper, and most don’t know what it’s about, even the inmates I would consider to be gay. I’ve mostly kept to myself and haven’t had any serious problems, but I can see others that do. I try to help as best I can. It’s hard. It’s hard to write and write, and write and get no response from other groups or organizations of sexual orientations, or to know if the Feds are not allowing it to be received. They don’t tell us anything.

I would like to see responses from other Fed inmates– as to, are we restricted more than the state from receiving things? Are there other sources we could write to or receive from?

Jesse (NJ)

 

Dear Black and Pink Family,

For those of you this does not apply to, I’m deeply grateful and pray it never will. I’ll call myself Jane Doe. I am an older transgender woman in a man’s prison. Like a lot of trans girls, and many others, I was forced into having sex against my desire.

For a long time, I lived in fear, doubt, and shame. I was depressed. I felt like I was going crazy. I felt responsible. I didn’t fight off my abuser. For that, I only hated myself that much more. What’s worse, I never told anyone. I just lived in my pain while repeatedly being abused. It felt so bad, I nearly took my own life.

Many people have gone through this. You are not alone. You have Dear Black and Pink Family, help, there is hope, and gradually we begin to heal. There will be times when something triggers those emotions, those fears, but we learn how to cope with them. Don’t be afraid to go to a friend, a family member, a doctor, and especially mental health. When you request, you don’t have to list a reason. Simply say, “I need to see someone.” They have to keep stuff confidential and will tell you what they can’t keep. I have had two really wonderful psychiatrists and two amazing psychologists. They have helped me so much. And you can even reach out to Just Detention International (J.D.I.). A very big support system.

I’m not 100%. Never really was. But, with help, I have returned mostly to my original self. Even better in some ways. You can find this too. You only have to take that first baby step and talk to someone. Even if it is just to say, “I need help.” And this last thing I’ve got to say, “Forget the hype!” If you’re in this kind of trouble, tell someone and tell them right now. This is not snitching. It’s protecting yourself from harm you do not deserve to be suffering. You were not sent to prison to be raped.

Step up, seek help. Our community is too small as it is. I don’t want to lose none of ya! And if you see this happening to someone, be their hero and speak up. Support your community.

With love, support, & solidarity,
Miss Jane Doe

 

Dear Black and Pink Family,

My name is Casey or better known a “Butterfly Boy” to my small group of very close friends, due to the fact that I love butterflies and have numerous tattooed on me. But butterflies are also the symbol of “self transformation” because they start out as a fuzzy little caterpillar and turn into what they are truly meant to be and that is something very beautiful. And the butterfly was also part of my inspiration to come out when I was 14 because “if they can change so much and be so beautiful, why can’t I?”

But I’ve received Black and Pink for 3 1/2 years now and I read a lot about the lack of unity and support. I am a gay male in the judicial system of Texas. One of the worst ones for (LGBTQ) people that I know of, because of the PREA Act because they use it to target the family in so many ways. And where I just came from there was a small amount of unity, because we had some of the officers that would single us out wherever we went. And for situations like that we had a group that would help with grievances and other help when that wouldn’t work. Like for instance I had a female officer that kicked me out of a church service as soon as I walked in and told me that “I couldn’t be there because God don’t like or love you faggots” and the grievances that she got for that gave her a vacation, so they do work if you write them.

But where I’m at now there is no unity at all in any aspect at all unless it’s within the small group of friends that you have. But believe it or not some of the best support that I get comes from the Black and Pink newsletter every month. So keep writing because the words that you write are helping someone somewhere with something. So please keep supporting each other, because we need each other more than ever as long as we’re locked up in the state’s judicial system. Because as most of us have found out the hard way, this is not a world that is for us, and is against us in so many ways to keep us unhappy.

LGBTQ love,
Casey (TX)

 

From Eylexa (ID)

I don’t have a supportive family, and someone told me that your friends are the family you choose. I chose a family that recognizes me for who I am and loves me for me. And thanks to them I’ve come to realize that I want to be a family to those who don’t have one, I want to be the friend that some people never had. I want to be the loving caring sister that supports you in your time of need.

I have had my struggles and I’m working on being a better person. I have found the love of my life while locked up, and she showed me that I truly was deserving of love and support. Terra, I love you. She showed me that I could love someone when I thought my hope was all lost. It’s a tough relationship because we are both locked up and in different facilities, but she’s strong and I try to be. I will never claim to perfect, in fact I’m far from it. However I make my mistakes, I learn from them and I move forward with a new mind and a new direction every time. Just remember we’re here for you, I’m here for you, LGBTQ pride. I’m proud to be who I am, and nothing will ever change that. You should be too, there is nothing wrong with you and who you are. The hardest thing is to let yourself be you and who you are. The hardest thing is to let yourself be you, forget what others say, I know it isn’t easy, trust me, but the only acceptance that matters is your own. If others don’t accept you, leave them to their own devices.

Love you all!!

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