Sunday, February 15, 2015
The politically correct term for the LGBT community within a prison facility is ‘Alternative Lifestyle’. I have to tell you that I HATE that title. I always have and always will. To say that I am classified as an ‘Alternative Lifestyle; makes me feel as if I have somehow chosen this way of life rather than simply being the gay man that I am. It’s an unfortunate truth that I alone will never be able to change that and so, I have learned to swallow a certain amount of pride and simply accept it.
One would think, as a gay man, that all gay men would be a united front within the correctional system. I have touched on this topic previously (see related blog entries below) and explained that we are not in fact united. In fact, we go so far as to divide, segregate and ‘click up’ into our own distinct sub categories. As a reminder to those of you who have not been following this blog since the inception, these are the categories of the ‘Alternative Lifestyles’ in prison:
Gay Men Guys who work out, excel at sports. Have masculine/heterosexual mannerisms and are generally accepted by the ‘straight’ male inmates without issue. They tend to not associate with anyone in the LGBT community in prison.
Gay Boys Guys who are effeminate and go out of their way to present themselves as ‘pretty’. They tend to wear form fitting clothing and like to have trysts whenever possible. They are struggling to find their niche of acceptance.
Queens Guys who present themselves as female and take on pseudo female nicknames such as “cocoa”, “Asia”, “Hollywood”, “Candy”, etc. They are a force to be reckoned with and aggressive when travelling in packs. They are comical and entertaining to watch amd I mean that in a very heartfelt way.
Chicks Guys who are physically transitioning into females. They have had hormone therapy, implants, injections of Botox and fillers. Since they are not complete in their gender reassignment and still have male genitalia, they are housed with men in general population. In my 13 years, I have only met one Chik and she was only on the yard for a few weeks before being moved. She received multiple disciplinary infractions and was reassigned elsewhere. Beyond that, she was treated well by both inmates and staff.
So, now that you have a baseline, I can address the question of what the dynamic is between correctional officers and the ‘Alternative Lifestyle’ population.
I am not certain what is assumed, but I am here to say that I have never had any issue with staff because of my sexuality. I think, and I can only say this because of the type of questions I receive on this topic, that the public speculation is that gay men are treated terribly by the officers. I have never personally witnessed that behavior. I have seem both officers and the administration personnel go out of their way to ensure safety and comfort for the gay community in prison.
I think that somehow there is a cloud of misrepresentation regarding LGBT inmates and officers. The general, free population hears horror stories of what it is like to be gay in prison. While many of those stories may be true, it is typically not because of the officers, but rather, the fellow inmates. The officers, (at least the ones I have known) treat gay inmates like everyone else – which is a good thing. If nothing else, perhaps I can in this blog post, clear up that misconception for you.
The inmate on inmate issues will forever be present and it really is about the “leader” vs. the “follower” in here. The majority of inmates are followers and they are this way in hopes of being accepted and for their own survival. The leaders are typically narrow minded, and like true politicians, tend to forget the bigger picture. Unfortunately, they do not forgo their own personal beliefs in order to create peace and order among the greater population. If you are curious as to where I stand in this whole mess, well bear this in mind; I have previously been a ‘leader’ (or as they call them in prison: a “Head”). The only reason I was successful in it was because I knew the right people and that I am considerably more intelligent than many of the other inmates. That said, I was able to lead a lot of “thirsty people to water”, in a manner of speaking. What I failed to realize was he huge amount of energy it took from me.
Today, I am an independent. I’m just DAVID . My reputation is pretty solid and because of my prison history, nobody can really tell me what to do. For clarification, I categorize myself into the ‘Gay Men; group. I am guilty in that I do not really associate with anyone else in the GLBT community we are all very different in how we live day to day. Sadly it is also about survival and reputation. It doesn’t make me feel good, but it is what it is. Consequently, the LGBT community does not care for me or for that matter, any of the other Gay men. I gather that they feel since we do not socialize with them, that we somehow think we are better than them. Perhaps they presume we do not care about them. Simply put, the fact is that we have chosen different paths in how we serve our prison time.
Truthfully, after further analysis, the larger LGBT community may well be stronger than the Gay Men simply because they stand tall exactly as they are. Gay Men, are more accepted by everyone, but perhaps on different terms.
There will never be any way to fix this. It will go on forever – just as it does outside these walls. It is our own fault and we have no one to blame but ourselves. The only thing we have in common is the fact that we continue to be misunderstood.