Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

Thoughts and Ideas
by Max Smith
2004-11-01

This article shared 2604 times since Mon Nov 1, 2004
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With a disproportionately large number of people of color arrested and convicted, many for non-violent drug offenses, it seems most Black people know someone caught up in the 'just-us' system. I'm no exception.

I met someone who is eager to tell his story of how he and other openly gay inmates face harassment and discrimination while in custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC):

Hi. My name is Jason Thomas. There are a lot of gay people living our lives being discriminated against by people some of us don't even know. I am a 23-year-old gay male, just released in September from Big Muddy River IDOC Center near Decatur, Ill. I have witnessed and experienced a lot of discrimination going on while incarcerated. I feel the correctional officers at the facility treat the gay people in different, worse ways than the straight people. I spent 14 months at this medium/maximum facility.

While at Big Muddy River Correctional Center I started my day by going to breakfast (chow) every morning between 5 and 6 a.m. I am then escorted back to my cell house. On the way back some of the inmates throw milk and juice cartons at gay inmates from the back of the chow line: while calling me all types of fag, sissy, geesee (geesee is one of the anti-gay slang names inmates have made up), queer and all the other types of names. While all this loud name calling is going on I will just ignore them. For a while just after I first got to prison I'd usually complain to the correctional officers about being jeered and harassed on a daily basis. They'd say 'don't tell me, I don't care.' And they would tell me I'm nothing but a stool pigeon. So I would go in my cell and change out of my clothes, soaked in juice and milk, and wash them by hand or wait until laundry day. I will go to my bunk and lay down until 7 a.m. count time. It takes an hour for officers to go from cell to cell counting inmates. At 8 a.m. I'm allowed to come out of my cell and start my day. It is mandatory that everyone at this particular facility have a job doing something for the facility. I collected, washed, dried and returned laundry: then watched TV until we locked up again for 3 o'clock count. The woman officer walk past my cell door and say 'you are so nasty to be a gay faggot.' I would not respond because I would be afraid that I might get in trouble with her while doing my time.

I will hear all this name calling again 4:30 p.m. until 5 o'clock going to and coming from dinner. Still the same thing happened: straight inmates throwing things at gay inmates in chow line. From 6 until 9 p.m. I will come out into the general population and have to hear the other inmates call me sissy, fag, geesee and every other name in the book. At 9 p.m. I will have to get locked up for the night. Then the officers would come by. One female officer was always saying 'I just think faggots are disgusting.' A male officer made a point of repeatedly saying 'don't let me catch you in your cell having sex' real loud so everyone would hear and know I'm gay.

Not all straight inmates called me geesee, just about half did. The others were cool with it, as long as I didn't come on to them.

_____

While speaking with Jason Thomas about those experiences I told him that the movie Ground Hog's Day came to mind. It was in theaters several years ago as a minor comedy about a character, Phill, played by Bill Murray. Phill has a terrible Ground Hog's Day, then he wakes up on the next day and it is Ground Hog's Day again. 24 hours should have gone by but again he wakes up on the morning of the day before; again and again.

And so it is for out gays in prison. The name calling happens every day. Meals always served at the same time. IDOC officers join homophobic inmates jeering—faggot, sissy geesee! 7 o'clock count. 3 o'clock count. 9 o'clock lock-up. Milk and juice cartons thrown, day after day.

In recent years officers of the Chicago Police Dept. have had some measure of training in sensitivity. Maybe this is needed for state prison officers. That may not be a popular proposal when talking about murderers and other violent and repeat offenders. But nationwide about 2,300 inmates get out of prisons and jails every weekday. It is in the best interest of society that they should not be returning bitter and mean.

Recently a proposal was made in Chicago to fine rather than to incarcerate people caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana. When the 18th Amendment made beer, wine and liquor illegal in the 1920's Prohibition was widely viewed as a failure in that it created gangs of criminals to supply boot-leg whisky. If today's prohibition were ended, the $25,000 in tax money it takes to incarcerate one inmate for one year could instead be used for addiction treatment. With regard to non-violent drug offenders it's time for politicians to be smarter than to think prohibition works.

E-mail MaxsonnCS@aol.com


This article shared 2604 times since Mon Nov 1, 2004
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Calls to free Brittney Griner increase after prisoner release 2022-04-28
- As some people celebrate the April 27 announcement that Texas Marine veteran Trevor Reed would be released from a Russian prison, there were others urging the U.S. government to continue working behind the scenes—particularly regarding the ...


Gay News

Petition started for trans inmate Strawberry Hampton; IDOC responds [UPDATE] 2022-04-25
- A petition on change.org has been started for Strawberry Hampton, a transgender woman who's currently in Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, about 30 miles north of Springfield. According to WBEZ, Hampton sued the Illinois Department of ...


Gay News

Wealthy California politico sentenced for deaths of two Black gay men 2022-04-15
- On April 14, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder sentenced former West Hollywood resident and LGBTQ+-rights activist Ed Buck, 67, to 30 years in federal prison for supplying the methamphetamine that killed two gay Black men—Gemmel ...


Gay News

Families sue Alabama over ban on gender-affirming care for trans adolescents 2022-04-11
-- From a press release - (Montgomery, AL, April 11, 2022) – Two Alabama families filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging a recently passed law that criminalizes medical professionals who provide care to transgender adolescents with up to 10 years in prison. ...


Gay News

Former Chicago alderman sentenced to 13 months in prison 2022-03-18
- On March 17, U.S. District Judge John Kness sentenced former Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz to 13 months in prison for wire fraud and money laundering, The Chicago Tribune reported. Munoz stole tens of thousands of dollars ...


Gay News

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review Cosby case 2022-03-08
- The U.S. Supreme Court will not review the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby—leaving in place a decision by Pennsylvania's highest court that vacated the comedian's 2018 indecent assault conviction and freed him from prison last ...


Gay News

Georgia transgender woman continues fight for transfer from prison for men 2022-02-23
-- From a Southern Poverty Law Center press release - ATLANTA — Ashley Diamond, a Black transgender woman held in a men's prison in Georgia, continued her legal battle for protection from the ongoing sexual abuse she endures, by renewing her request last night for a ...


Gay News

Black & Pink National announces union organizing launch 2022-02-09
-- From a press release - OMAHA Workers at Black & Pink National, an Omaha-based non-profit working towards prison abolition, have announced they are forming a union under the Denver NewsGuild (TNG-CWA L37074). The Black & Pink Union stands to be the largest ...


Gay News

Ex-cop Jason Van Dyke released from prison; Lightfoot comments 2022-02-03
- Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is being released from prison early after the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke infamously shot the teen 16 times as the boy walked away from him. ...


Gay News

Ex-NU professor sentenced for fatally stabbing boyfriend 2022-01-26
- On Jan. 25, former Northwestern University professor Wyndham Latham—who, in October 2021, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Trenton Cornell—was sentenced to 53 years in prison, WGN-TV reported. Lathem, 47, was ...


Gay News

Ahmaud Arbery's killers sentenced to life 2022-01-07
- On Jan. 7, three white men who chased and murdered Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison in a Georgia courthouse for the 25-year-old's murder in 2020. According to CNN.com, Travis McMichael, 35; his father, ...


Gay News

ART DePaul exhibition to explore themes of torture, reparations 2021-12-17
- DePaul Art Museum's exhibition "Remaking the Exceptional: Tea, Torture, and Reparations | Chicago to Guantanamo" marks 20 years since the opening of the United States' extralegal prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and examines the local and ...


Gay News

Baldwin calls for reversal of previous administration's transgender prison policy 2021-11-01
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand ...


Gay News

Constand breaks silence about Bill Cosby 2021-09-07
- Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand is breaking her silence to NBC News about the comic/actor's release from prison two months ago, Deadline noted. In a brief clip, Constand tells Kate Snow she "was really shocked — ...


Gay News

WORLD Ghana's bill, Pride events, Gay Games, race-car driver 2021-08-08
- Ghanaian lawmakers are facing backlash over a bill before Ghana's parliament that aims to make LGBTQ-rights advocacy illegal, Voice of America reported. Eight lawmakers are sponsoring the bill, which would impose a maximum 10-year prison sentence ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.