The worst place for a gay man to be is in prison. One of my friends is incarcerated at least till the end of 2010 and I am consistently shocked at the horror stories he tells me via letter or whenever he can call. Yes, prison is an awful place for anyone, but if you are gay it is even worse. Prison is the one scenario where racist whites and homophobic blacks will unite against you.
My friend has experienced endless discrimination from other inmates and especially the staff. A few weeks ago he called to wish me a Happy New Year. I was concerned because I hadn't heard from him in over two months. He was in solitary confinement for those two months because he got into an altercation with a band of ignorant straight boys.
My friend has been attacked in every way you can think of—slapped, punched and choked, being left with permanent scars. The sexual abuse, he says he isn't being raped... but if he doesn't have sex with particular people who he has no attraction to then there will be no protection from other inmates. His only option is to have a "partner." He recently told me, "I'm tired of being Tina."
The treatment from the staff is shocking. Their advice is to just "stop" being gay, like he has a choice in the matter and he can change it. Sad. He has no freedom over his time, humanity and body.
He writes, "I'm tired of being a trash can for these men." And, there are no condoms. He once said he used an empty bag of potato chips as a condom.
However, he always stresses, "I deserve this though because me, out of all people, should not be here. I have been afforded all the opportunities that many of the people here never got and I am still here."
I always knew as a black man I had to be better. But, as a gay man you have to be smarter, more intuitive and make nearly flawless decisions in comparison to your straight counterparts. I see some gay men make terrible decisions, seeming to function as if there are no consequences, or living the role of the tragic homosexual. They feel like there is no option, you have a temper, you want to be fabulous, or you don't have discipline. Still, our consequences are usually deadlier and come with little to no sympathy from the outside world. I wish some of us would get this...