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Letters to our Family (Oct./Nov. 2015)

Hello my brothers & sisters of the LGBTQ & Black & Pink Community,

My name is Dede. I’m 21 years old & I am a beautiful black queen in a Pennsylvania prison. I’m so excited because this is my 1st letter to my family & I’m so proud & honored to be part of this family & community of the LGBTQ & Black and Pink. But anyways I want to let you all know that your letters inspire me to continue to be who I am & to be a light to other like myself.

Since getting the newspaper it has had such a tremendous impact on my life. So let me say some words of encouragement to all of you in the prison system who feel like there is no hope. I’m speaking from my own experience what I’m about to say. There is hope, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you have a family who is willing to stand by you & back you up in anything  & everything. A family who loves you. When we all stick together nothing is impossible. I’m saying there is hope because like some of you I was afraid to be myself, I let other people dictate who I was going to be. I was in the closet with my biological family and like some of you I was frustrated inside and angry at what I was allowing people to do to me & at what I was becoming. I was unhappy with myself. I was miserable. I couldn’t be miserable anymore. So I wrote a letter to my mother telling her that I was gay & didn’t care who knew, and that I was still the same me. So I called her a week later & I was scared I knew she got my letter so I was prepared for an argument. So I talked to her, not bringing it up cause I didn’t want to start an argument. Finally towards the end of our conversation she told me she got my letter and she couldn’t be more proud of me & that she still loved me no matter what. A huge weight was lifted for me and it can for you too.

Since that day my life has gotten easier and better for me. I still have challenges but I know I’m not alone. I’ve found love within these walls with my loving adoring hubby RARA. I’ve found family unity with both my LGBTQ & biological family & I’ve found true friends & so my family my message to you is to let go & be true to yourself. Have hope cause there is!! Just when you feel like all hope & happiness is gone and lost. That’s when life surprises you the most. At the end of the day People don’t define you, you do.

With much love, peace, & respect,
Your Sister,
Dede, PA

 

Dear Black and Pink Family,

I am a gay man, and began “coming out” around June, 2010, publically, November, 2012, and officially under PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act: Yes! I am a victim of correctional rape), April, 2014. As a man, I was unable to talk about it for over ten years, and because it is defined as a “correctional rape”; i.e., perpetrated by staff (their words, not mine); I was terrified to the point I would freak out at just the thought of taking a shower. As a consequence, I couldn’t shower more than sixty times in over ten years. When it came time for strip searches, I would hyperventilate, nearly collapsing, and the guards would just laugh and ridicule me, calling me a “punk,” a “pussy,” and telling me, “you better grow up.”

After over ten years, I just got more and more pissed, until I didn’t care who I told, who knew, and didn’t care about my safety anymore. Ironically, by that time, showering was ALL I could think about, yet I can still feel the “freak- out shakes” coming on when I do think about it, and I keep watching behind me for some guard sneaking up. When shower curtains appeared in Nevada facilities, it was a huge blessing for me and others like me, but also an “outing” of the secret culture of prison and psych staff’s sexual abuse of prisoners.

My transgender friend, Jada, asked me to write you on her behalf about an incident similar to my own, in which she was raped orally by a guard (I was gangraped anally by five guards while at county jail for denying guilt and demanding a lawyer).

Jada has been repeatedly compromised by staff due to repeated assaults, including forced oral copulation on a guard; submission to fondling of her breasts by the same guard, ridicule, and other harassment, such as inciting inmates witnessing her maltreatment to agree or approve it in some way. For example, the same guard in a separate incident bragged to another inmate while pinching one of Jada’s nipple, “I can do this, ’cause I’m a guard.”

She was also maliciously denied hormone replacement therapy, despite the fact that she had proved she used these hormones while free (she has since been supplied with hormones).

I listened also while Jada related an incident in which an inmate here, a member or associate of the white supremacist prison gang, “Aryan Warriors” told Jada he would’ve “..smashed…” her out if she had been anybody else for allegedly “snitching” on someone, a very old, well-used tactic guards deploy when they want to get someone crossed out.

At one of several protective custody yards in California where GLBTQI prisoners are housed. Jada happens to be the only MTF transgender woman at […], which is discriminatory in and of itself. More importantly, it is evident to me this followed her from […] to […], where she was accused of maintaining  a “cross-unit relationship” (later proved false); as an excuse to transfer her to […], where also she was “green-lighted” by certain staff members here, because she filed grievances and a lawsuit at […] for her maltreatment there, and then for illegal strip-searches here. She is now placed at a facility, and in the same pod as inmates who hate her for causing new policy to be implemented under PREA. I don’t want Jada hurt and it’s not a question of “if” it will happen but “when.” Some think they can score points with the gang of their choice by “smashing out a faggot.” This cannot continue. Due to certain staff members’ actions, I believe Jada could be hurt badly this time as a consequence of this.

I want you to publish this letter widely letting the GLBTQI world know what this Nevada facility is doing to one of our own. I don’t know what else you can do, but I do know Jada needs to be classified for LCC, not “segged” somewhere

or “P.C.’D.” Thank very much.

Sincerely,
Anonymous, NV
Signed also, Jada

 

Dear Black & Pink,

Hey there, from the southern State of Georgia. This is your southern sister Tammy. I just finished the May issue of our favorite newspaper the Black & Pink and wanted to send a shout out to two girls.

To Wolfgang, you can sue the State all day and night long, and it will not change the guards minds toward you; but file a lawsuit against the guards themselves and hold them responsible and accountable for what they do to you. You will earn the guards respect for they will be never be around you and they will go by the rules, girl.

Now to my other sister in Ohio pen, Michael. P.R.E.A. is supposed to be connected to those blue collect phones in many States. This State (Georgia) DOC has P.R.E.A. set up on the blue phone too, where each caller must have  a name, number and a description of what happened and it must deal with       a sexual assault or some type of sexual harassment. Also, not one party gets lockdown but both gets lockdown under PI and a medical exam is performed on both parties. You and the other girls should push for change in how your State DOC enforces the P.R.E.A. law within their prison system. If they copy how the State of Georgia DOC operates the P.R.E.A. hotline system, they can cut down on the bullshit that is being abusive by the inmates gangs.

Keep your heads up, my dear sisters and brothers. I had one guard slap me and I fired back at him, and now he’s swearing that I’m watching him, so he may sneak attack me in my sleep tonight, which I hope and pray will not happen. I will not let no man put their hands on me. Wish me safe nights and days, my sisters and brothers.

With warm love,
Tammy, GA

 

Hello, my B&P family,

I am new to this family. A friend of mine gets your newspaper and I was very astounded by how many incarcerated people there are that are being so open. It made me want to tell you a little about myself. So first off, I am a 32 year old white female doing 20 years Aggravated. I see parole in 2022. I have 3 beautiful babies. But could care less where the daddy is. I’ve known I was bisexual when I was 12 years old and a girl kissed me (she was 15) and showed me all about the female body. I was in a 10 year relationship with a female.   We are no longer together but have remained friends. She wants to be friends with benefits, but because I love her so much I can’t do that. So she’s kept her distance.

Since I’ve been locked up I have fallen for 2 people. In 2012 I got in   a relationship with a lesbian who was with a woman for 25 years! (I had tried to fall in love with my husband but I faked it for a 2 whole years.) She was everything I wanted in a relationship. I was skeptical at first, keeping her at arm’s length, because I was scared that she’d get out and go back to her wife, which I told her I was ok with. Just please tell me from the start. We got separated Aug 2013 and I didn’t hear from her. I was devastated and heartbroken when I didn’t hear from her. Finally on May 20th, 2015, I received a letter from her telling me she still loved me.

As of March 8th 2015 I decided to try again. This time I know I’ve found the “ONE.” We’ve been together going on 4 months. And it’s the most pure love I’ve ever experienced. The day I knew, I fell flat on my face in love with her, I cried. Like huge fat raindrop tears. I was scared to death to try it again. Today is June 18th 2015 and on April 25th 2015 I told her that I wanted to grow old with her. I asked her to be my wife. She had told me that she didn’t want to be made into some prison wife. But told me “yes!” I’m waiting for the day I can get out and slide a REAL ring on that finger.

The guards here try to be messy and stir up drama. But we’re the only couple here that DON’T fight over the drama shit. Really, we are in prison, what is there that you could possibly fight over? If we can’t do it in here, how the hell can you make it out there? Because of the amount of time difference there is, I’m constantly having her reassure me that once she goes home she won’t “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” me. I write her family and they know about me, but they haven’t found out that we are an “US.” She said if we’re still together on March 8th 2016 she’ll tell her parents. I’m ok with that. I’m pretty sure that I’ve finally found my soulmate.

Whoever said you can’t find love in prison, well, they lied. Because I can tell you that, I AM IN LOVE! I hope this can inspire other inmates to know that if you stay yourself then anything can happen. Stay true to yourself even when you’re fighting for your rights.

Truly yours,
Twisster, TX

 

Hello to my amazing family at Black & Pink.

This is my first letter to ya’ll. I can’t express how inspired everyone’s letters of support have made me. They are actually half the reason for the story I’m fixin’ to tell ya. I’ll admit I am going to vent just a little. Because even though I can express how I feel to my family, they just don’t understand exactly how I feel.

I’m currently confined to a very nice camp located in Southeast Ohio. Well, as nice as a camp can be. Especially compared to stories from other  Fam members in the Texas & California PIC. This camp has been compared  to an adult daycare center with C/O’s as glorified baby-sitters. As nice as this complex is, there are always confrontation and persecution because I am an openly bisexaul man. And proud of it.

My story begins very “nice” and I use the word loosely. I moved into an honor dorm type housing unit to potentially take advantage of the compounds most prestigious program. My nice beginning was short lived once I opened up about myself and word spread to the first shift “regulars” that I was gay and wanted to participate in “their” program, things started to go downhill fast. The dirty looks were first. Then came the shake downs that looked like a tornado had blown through my area. Then the names. Gay boy, fag, queer, cock sucker, punk, etc.

All this so far didn’t really bother me. It’s things I’ve dealt with my entire adult life. At least since I was 15 and I’m now 25. No big deal. Well, they noticed this didn’t phase me. So, they kicked it up a notch. Things like “Come suck my dick” and “sit and spin” (while holding up the middle finger gesture). At this point, I’ve started the program I moved there to complete. But there was so much being tossed at me in negative ways. I broke. I quit the program. That was the C/O’s opportunity to kick me out of the dorm. And they did. So,  I moved 2 housing units down, got a job at the library, things were good, well, better.

While working in the library I came across an article titled “Driven   to Suicide” a story about a transgender teen from Cinn. OH who stepped in front of a semi and took her life because her parents couldn’t accept that she (who was born John Alcorn) wanted to be a girl. She wrote a suicide note on her tumblr account about how her parents don’t “understand” and took her to “Christian therapists who were very biased.” She never got the help she needed. Her last request was to fix society, “she said the only way I will ever rest in peace, is if transgender people aren’t treated the way I was.”

This hit home. The same week, our PREA coordinator had meetings with all the housing units about a zero tolerance policy on harassment, whether sexual based or otherwise. Especially staff on inmate or inmate on inmate. I felt God was talking to me. Giving me a chance to stand up for all those who couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up for themselves.

A few weeks later I went to “Ms. Z” and asked her if what had happened to me was acceptable and what I could do about it. She said it wasn’t and told me what to do. I told her my story and of my most recent account where I was picking up the library in-house drop-off where there was a complete verbal assault on me from 2 C/O’s. I also told her about Leelah Alcorn and how I wanna advocate for LGBTQ’s in prison. I now have her full support and the backing of the DWSS (Deputy Warden of Special Services) along with “Ms. Z.” And I have since filed a report on the C/O’s responsible for the harassment and also found out I’m not the first one! Hopefully this will set an example    to staff that even though we’re inmates we’re still people with feelings and   we won’t stand for the ignorance and unprofessionalism of the people hired to protect and watch us. After all, prison staff are only one mistake away from being in our shoes. Right?

Thank you for listening and I look forward to the inspiration I continue to get with each and every letter, so don’t think you never have anyone there. We’re all here in mind, body, and soul.

God Bless,
Danny, Ohio

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