Prisoners Submissions

-SB 132 — Is it Working?
-Slavery in Today’s USA
-Letter to UV
-Shorts from Inside


We are having severe issues with Medical and Mental Health here at Jefferson City C.C. As transgender females in a male prison, we have psychological needs and hormone needs. Some of us “Girls” suffer from GD [gender dysphoria] but do not talk in a little ‘Fake Girl’ voice because we are not faking it to make it. So Medical and Mental Health don’t really deem us as true transgender.

I have female underclothes and everyone who knows me knows me by Princess Katrina. I have very long hair and wear make-up on the Yard, but still the Trangender Committee looks the other way when I bring up real life transgender issues. Y’all as DOC staff have to follow policy because OMG if I don’t abide by the rules, I go to jail inside the prison and then once we file grievances, we get retaliated against. I want to know if there is any law in the State of Missouri that grants transgenders in a male prison the right to be strip searched by a female. Other laws? Please help regain some dignity for us “Girls in a man’s’ world.” Miss Christopher Paquette #1189608, JCCC/8B110, 8200 No More Victims Rd, Jefferson City MO 65101


Let me begin by informing you that most of all my family have passed away and the few that are still alive do not accept my life style. So I would not bring anything to their attention. I have been in prison since the age of 14, that was 2003 the year I fell.  Let me also remind you that I’ve been Gay my whole life. Because of this, I felt the need to establish a movement so that our people would be recognized as a force and not a bunch of push-overs. I came up with the name OUTKASST. It started out with just our known people but then later got so big because we started to accept other people who had been kicked out or forced out of their gangs.  Right now we are close to 3000 people with the number growing each and every day. We do not carry ourselves as a gang but instead as a family. The Security Intelligence Task Force in Tallahassee has us deemed otherwise. The point I’d like to get to is, I’m trying to change this thought that these people in Tallahassee have against us. I am trying to turn OUTKASST into Outkasst Advocacy LLC and incorporate it into a legal business.  With this being done, we can change the housing situation so that our family doesn’t have to be housed with gang members or we can offer educational classes to our LGBTQ family members. We could actually hire outside workers to come speak to us.  As a non-profit thing, we would most definitely be able to raise funds from larger organizations to help us. The problem is that the State of Florida will not allow me to create or run a business while being in prison. I’m willing to hand it all over to someone willing to run it for 51% shares. Understand, this is the next up and coming movement for our people. This is very important for the next generation. I have been fighting my whole life for this cause. I’m begging you to please consider my words and take action with me to make a change. I definitely look forward to hearing from you. Please be safe and take care. Anthony Wagner #J29050, Bay C.F. 5400 May Line Dr. Panama City FL 32404

graphic - Say no to violence

SB 132 — Is it Working?

California Senate Bill 132, The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act, went into effect on January 2021. The Bill is supposed to allow incarcerated transgender, non-binary and intersex people to be housed and searched in a manner consistent with their gender identity. According to a CDCR spokesperson, “No one deserves to be treated disrespectfully because of
their gender identity or expression. And it is our sworn duty to protect people from sexual assault and violence,” Also according to the CDCR, they have already implemented several policies, practices and procedures. This includes allowing access to clothing and personal care items consistent with their gender identity and setting clear expectations that staff address them
consistent with their gender identity, to include the use of correct pronouns and honorifics. IS THIS TRUE? From letters we have received in the past year, there have not been any good changes. Please let us know your experiences with this bill. Has it worked for you? Has it made a difference? LAGAI, 3543 18th St #26, S.F. CA 94110


According to Prop 17 in California, as of 1/2021 every person serving State or Federal parole for a felony conviction is eligible to vote. U.S. citizens can register to vote if serving probation or Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) or if they have a prior conviction.

Upon release from prison, you can find a voter registration card at most Post Offices and public libraries. Please call the voter hotline at 1-800-345-8683 if you have any questions about registering. This is a call to all of you, take advantage of your voting rights especially when it comes to prison and jail conditions, release and resentencing, reentry, police reform and criminal law. Every Vote of ours will help make a change when we all come together despite our differences with prison politics. The system sets us up to destroy each other in the world inside these walls.

We are so close to shutting down more of the prison complex one by one, as we have seen throughout this generation. This is why we must get involved to vote upon our release; let’s help each other out as a body and entity, as one in the prison slave complex. If we can come together and make ‘peace treaties’ and no longer be used to do the dirty work of these corrupted correctional officers, then we can do our part upon release and get involved to vote. I send my respects to each and every one of you incarcerated statewide as I am. Keep hope alive, keep the unity and let’s make some serious changes from inside these walls. Begin to network and share your ideas with organizations and brainstorm other solutions other than incarceration. Begin to vote! Angel Garza #BI7852, COR-SATF/G-2-17-4Up, PO Box 5244. Corcoran CA 93212

Slavery in Today’s USA

 [excerpted from longer article by Clifford Dunbar #1782029, Stiles Unit, 3060 FM 3514, Beaumont TX 77705]

Slavery and Human Trafficking. Yes, some very nasty words and this is not taking place in the past but in today’s USA.

There is a group out of Brooklyn NY that is trying to pass the Abolition Amendment that would eliminate the exception clause in the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery. They have 70 national organizations and 32 congress members that support an Amendment that simply reads: Neither slavery or involuntary servitude may be imposed as punishment for a crime. The NY group is asking prisoners to join this campaign. Write them at: #EndThe Exception Inside and Out Working Group, 1915 Fulton St. Unit 563, Brooklyn NY 11233

Now for my thoughts on this. I am all for it, but passing an Amendment to the Constitution is almost impossible in today’s divided country.  There are other ways to accomplish the same thing. For almost every prison unit, there are literally hundreds of jobs performed 24/7 by unpaid or underpaid “forced” prison labor.  All in violation of Federal and some States’ minimum wage laws. Then there are the Private for-profit prisons. They use the ‘free’ forced slave labor too.  They have to just to be able to operate and turn a profit for their shareholders.  How is this not against the law? Somehow, even if they could justify the State and Federal government’s use of slave labor in their prisons, how can a for-profit company that is confining prisoners and being paid by taxpayers for confining said prisoners, use those prisoners for ‘free’ forced labor.

I am of the belief that the only way we are going to make prisons go away for the most part is to make them too expensive. In California they are actually trying to reduce the prison usage. Here in Texas they are constantly trying to expand it, especially with the crazy sentences they give out.

What should happen is that the States’ and Federal prison systems should have to credit a prisoner’s Social Security account for at least minimum wage for all those years a prisoner performed forced labor. Of course it goes without saying that all future labor performed by prisoners should be paid at least the Federal Minimum wage. And the prison systems should not be allowed to then charge for their confinement and upkeep in an effort to recover the monies they would now have to pay them for their labor. That would go a long ways towards prisoners being able to not be a financial burden upon their families.


My name is Brandon but you may call me Brenda. I am not gender-confirming and go by the pronouns he/they/she. Someone passed your newsletter along to me and I loved it. You are really on top of the activity that affects the LGBTQIA+ people of the world. I have seen and experienced so much discrimination against LGTBQ people while in Texas prisons. Even units that are designed to have those who are transgender are full of hate and judgement. It is SO relieving to read articles written by people who have experienced similar struggles.

I was born with male body parts but I’ve always felt like something in-between boy and girl, leaning more towards being a girl than anything. I started painting my nails and wearing make-up at a young age but then I was taught that I was a boy and boys can’t do that. But it felt so right. I was forced to play sports and hang out with boys doing “boy things”. I hated it and I didn’t understand why what was natural to me and made me happy was ‘wrong’. I did what I was “supposed to do” for years. At age 15, I started painting my nails again and wearing girls’ clothes on occasion. Sometimes even to my high school! Once again I felt so right, so HAPPY, so free. I wish I could say that’s where the story ends, but I continued to struggle with my identity for years. I tried to be a ‘man’ but now I fully and finally accept who I am. Sometimes I feel apprehensive when I’m thinking about wearing my make-up in front of others out in the day room. But I’m proud to say that today; I am brave enough to be myself in front of the masses. As I write this, I am looking (and feeling) beautiful as ever. And I can honestly say that I love myself.

And so should we all. We are who we are and that’s a beautiful thing. And we are all worthy of love. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I hope that there is someone out there that reads this and can relate. I hope this encourages someone. Stay strong, stay positive and stay true. Brandon Couch #2307686, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

Letter to UV

Greetings and salutations to my fellow queer folk. I received the Resource List and the Winter 2022 issue of UV. Be advised – y’all rock, I love you. I miss Frisco and thank you for some sanity and intelligence. As a proud MidWesterner, I get to call San Francisco “Frisco”; it reminds me of the Frisco Mushroom and Swiss burger from Hardees – they were delicious. Alas, I married a Hindu from Sri Lanka, so until Hardee’s brings back its Turkey burger – and I get released – I am Frisco-less. I love North Beach, I love AAU, I love Amoeba Records’ Wall of Cassettes circa 2005.

Lastly, in regard to LAGAI formerly being an acronym, here are my suggestions plus a Word Bang for a Pick & Mix of possibilities. Have fun brainstorming. It’s nearly a party game!

L-Lesbian, libertine, liberal, leftist, local

A-Androgynous, Asexual, Ally, Abolitionist, Activist

G-Gay, Global, Grand, Go/going, Grade

A-Against, Allied, Alliance, Advocating, Around

I-Insurrection, Intersex, Interactive, Incarcerated, Inquest

My favorite combos are Lesbian Androgynous Gay Abolition or Libertines Allied for Global Abolition and Insurrection or Leftist Alphabet Gumbo Against Idiocy. If a queer anarchist publication is needed with a MidWest flair, I think I would start one called Gay Alternative Gazette: Magazine Edition – GAG:ME

Alright, enough fun. Thank you for the inspiration, keep up the great work! Stay sane inside insanity. Robert Hennings #18788030, FCI Yazoo City FCI, PO Box 5000, Yazoo City MS 39194

Shorts from Inside

Raven’s Nest is very happy to bring you all good news.  There is a Pen-Pal Directory for us to build upon and support. We all need to share our thoughts with someone. Loving a friend is a special thing. Please use the Directory for the betterment of life. Please send a SASE to: Ms. Kendra-Michelle Lovejoy, 1111 Highway 73, Moose Lake MN 55767. When it seems like it’s all for nothing, we all have something because we have Each Other. ST, Buckeye AZ

I was so grateful to get a response from a group like LAGAI (Black and Pink hasn’t responded to any of my attempts to contact them). Being a pansexual male is difficult at the best of times, even outside in the free world in Wisconsin. The majority of the population, in and out, is every bit as bigoted as the deep south. (I’ve lived there too!). I’m currently in prison in WI … then I have a Federal sentence of 11 years to do.  I’ve never been to the feds.  I’m in a sort of panic state right now. I’m having a rough enough time already in the State prison system with the regular harassment and hate speech I get for my views (i.e. pansexual, polyamorous, feminist supporter, Critical Race Theory supporter, atheist etc.). I just wish I knew what to expect.  Can I expect more ‘gay bashing’? Less? Is the violence level as bad as I hear? The not knowing what to expect is the worst part. Christopher J Kane #476747, Jackson Correctional Institution, PO Box 189, Phoenix MD 21131

I’m a bisexual male, mixed race who seeks to improve Pride in Texas prison system. I felt alone before I realized there’s bigger community outside these walls. I’m truly fighting for better treatment of all LGBTQ on my unit. We should speak up and not let being gay, bi or trans or lesbian be a shadow that we hide [behind]. I wish that Texas cities who have LGBTQ communities would reach out. Alex Williams #2197116, Luther Unit 1800 Luther Dr. Navasota TX 77868

LAGAI, hello and stuff! Love the newsletter first of all. I’m a huge old skool Pink fan, I love the activist format of the newsletter and I share it with my trans cell mate. It’s always awesome. OK, must go. TK, Somerset PA

FYI per COVID-19: I have really been worried about you guys out there and hope all of you are relatively OK. I myself caught the COVID germ from a neighbor or a co-worker and was quarantined about 2 weeks, was given a lot of electrolytes and basic cold medication. I had lost my sense of taste/smell and had a fever. Now I feel OK. I attribute my luck to a decision to get my Hep-C treatment just prior to the COVID outbreak which boosted my immune system. These days, I’m putting  a lot of focus on health/fitness and it seems that this has been working really well. Peace! WT, Soledad CA

Thank you so much. I got my Spring 2022 newsletter today. I would like to say hello to all the LGBTQ community and to my dear friend D.P. and to all my Trans sissy friends. And to my love D.W. Oliver in SC, I love and miss you. See you in Knoxville TN. R.G. AKA Eliza Maria, FCI Ashland KY

I had a chance to read a copy of your newsletter and I’m impressed as well as hopeful. I don’t know if you are aware of the Compassion Prison Project out of L.A. The organization is involved with what are called ACE’s; Adverse Childhood Experiences, of which I am a victim of – ages 5-6. Part of my rehab is centered around victim awareness which is hard to get info on at this prison. I can tell from your newsletter that you are quite aware of ‘abuse’ and how it is widespread and also how it is learned and passed on as a behavior into one’s adult years. Can you put me in touch with a victim’s group in order for me to receive info and/or start correspondence with victims who are willing to share their insights into the domestic violence experience. Thank you. GB, Mtn City TN

I am a transgender M to F and I will get my full sex change one day. I use the term girl to refer to what I am because woman and female still retain a masculine attribute and I did away with the man in me. So I am solely GIRL (Gorgeous Intelligent Ravishing Loving). I am an Anarchist. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines it as a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable, advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.  And my definition is, in short, no human should ever have authority over another human.  MW, Lake Butler FL

I’m writing to request a back issue of your Spring 2021 newsletter. I have an article in that newsletter and would really like a copy so I can put it in a scrapbook I’m making on my transition. I’m saving all the things I have done in prison in regards to being a trans woman so when I get released, I can have memories of me not letting the Utah DOC say I can’t be the woman I know I am. Transitioning is not just a physical change. When a Trans person transitions, it is also a mental one. These past five years in Utah S.P. has been stressful but I have overcome! Y’all at LAGAI have been a Godsend in letting me change my life mentally. I can’t y’all enough! Your sister in solidarity, Daisy Mae Ross.

I absolutely love the UV! I come to the family with my utmost confidence, elegance and pride. Under my current circumstances down here in the Terrible Texas prison system, I salute you with a rainbow wave. I am a transgender M to F and I am having a few issues on my unit. I am housed on Texas Death Row, doing 25 years. This is a very religious unit with 4 Faith Based Programs. I have a certain CO who continuously comes by my cell speaking about how LGBTQ+ is spoken of in the Bible as abominations after I’ve asked him not to. It is terrible in TX and I fear retaliation on a unit such as this one is I say anything or grieve it. Any advice? WS, Pestered at Polunsky Unit

Hello there LGBTQ friends across the states; the TransGender Exotic Roses Among the Adequate Flowers. I’m grateful for those of you who reached out to connect with me and establish new friendships. Let’s stay connected and support each other through these difficult times of solidarity and struggle against these corrupted prisons and keep exposing them in the courts. You are not alone. AG, Corcoran CA

Hey Fam. My name is T-Will and I’m a 37 year old African American. I’m writing ‘cause I’m at a moment of my live that I feel comfortable with myself and my sexuality. I feel so proud of myself for coming out to my family now. I’m all about going to the world to hang out and party with the fam. My release date is March 2023 and I’m sooo happy about that ‘cause it has been a journey but I’m happy it happened ‘cause I found my true self. I’d like to give a shout-out to Ashlee in NC, holla at me if you can. TW, Woodville TX

Dear UltraViolet, it took some time, a lot of newsletters sent back, but through our combined efforts, UV has entered the FL Prison System. I will do my part to get the word out for support but it might be hard for a few months. FL has gone digital so we don’t get stamps from our families anymore, and starting in April only those on your approved visiting list can send you money. I’m sure that will changed in a few months when they see the interest they are losing. Supporting LAGAI is the work, receiving the newsletter is the meal. Together we can win: everything we need, from getting this newsletter out to housing for the homeless, it’s all about support and working together. With love, Rosie K, Milton FL

Thank you for printing my letter about slavery in prisons, especially in Corruptarado. The issue hits prisoners in most, or all, states. David Maxted of Maxted Law has filed a case in Denver District Court over people being punished for refusing to do slave labor [in prison]; case #2022CV30421. I do not know how the work done by prisoners is handled in CA. I do pass my UV around to other people in this facility. Many look forward to it for encouragement to keep up the fight for human rights. JT, Canon City CO

To my entire Transgender community, it’s time for the revolution! I am reading the Dec. 2021 UV and I really feel the pain seeping from the energy behind your stories of struggle. So, I think to myself, what would a Trans movement look like in and outside prison walls where we combat Trans hate and provide protection and financial security for each other, something of a Liberation Front. A Trans-Liberation Front. We deserve to live in a world where equality is a reality, where safety is under the umbrella of our movement, where we are respected and understood as human. I truly believe there is a future in that. All we have to do is really set aside the differences we may have with one another, unite and Boldly Take Risks and Never Stop. We as Trans men and women are the strongest, most resilient and courageous Human Beings on the Planet! Seriously! We are each other’s keeper. Amber AKA Sodapop, Kern Valley, CA

My name is Happy Mystik Rainbow Stomping Bear. I chose the name myself and had it legally changed in 2016. I am a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I’m polyamorous and pansexual. I’m something like nonbinary/two-spirited, born male, an eclectic Pagan and a ‘jailhouse lawyer’. I’m here and here to stay as part of the community. I’m here in prison until late 2028 at the earliest, been in since early 2012. Arkansas prisons are lame, everything about them makes me want to transfer out. Sending love! Blessed be Ms. Moone. Happy, Marianna AR

My struggle is the Administration. Why don’t they have any gender affirming items in stock. OMG! The struggle is real, how can you deny me treatment of my mental illness (Gender Dysphoria) by not stocking the shelves. No lipstick, no mascara, bra, panties etc. That’s foul. I know it might sound like a petty issue to you reading this, but it’s important that the DOC in the USA fix problems like this. Denying treatment for any approved medical care is a miscarriage of justice for us all.  It’s my 8th amendment right. They are breaking my heart, I love being me and being beautiful. Being who I need to be helps me and those around me because I then become a better person. Free world people, feel free to advocate for us here in Missouri. Advocation pushes oversight, oversight pushes change. LM, Cameron MO

Since June 2017, I have called the Arkansas DOC my home and since day 1, have been in a fight with them for my rights as a transgender woman. This fight has not been easy but I have approached it strategically and have finally painted them into a corner and forced their action. In Dec. 2021 I was finally officially given the diagnosis of gender dysphoria and I was given authorization for feminizing hormones. My key step in all of this was never losing hope. If we fight consistently we will see results. It may not seem that way at times, but it will. United We Rise, But Together We TRANScend! TW, Malvern AR

I have recently faced the fact I am Gay and sexually attracted to men. So any info on “coming out” would be so awesome. In prison, this is so hard and dangerous. ML, Suffield CT

I am pansexual. I made this known several years ago. Before that and to this day, I honestly don’t know where I fit in; in relationships and in the LGBTQ+ community. When it comes to being with men, I’m not accepted because I’ve been with women and transwomen. When it comes to being with women, I’m not accepted because I’ve been with men and transwomen. When it comes to being with transwomen, I’m not accepted because I’ve been with men and women. I know I’m not confused, I like who I like. I know this isn’t a “Dear Abby” or advice column, however if another reader could reach out to give words of encouragement or some type of input…DB, Avenel NJ

Hi and Hellow! I hope by the time this letter gets to you that all involved are doing ok at all times in all ways there are to be: mentally, physically and spiritually. These are trying times for the human race let alone for us in the LGBTQ+IA family so I take this life style/way of life seriously, very seriously. I will just do my part and more for this community. Love ‘N Loyalty. EJ, Huntsville TX

LGBTQI Refugees In Kakuma Need Our Support

We are writing to you because we know that women’s and lesbian lives and safety are as important to you as they are to us. We are a group of lesbian activists working to forge international connections for peace and justice. In our work we have met a powerful group of LGBTQI folks living in the Kakuma refugee camp in the Turkana County of northwest Kenya. Kakuma Camp has a special unit, Block 13, where all the LGBTQI refugees are placed . There are 26 lesbians living there now, 17 of their children and about 10 other LGBTQI folks. While this has allowed them to make important and supportive connections, it has also placed them in danger by making them easy targets for homophobic violence. They are a small minority in the camp population that reached 180,000 in 2021.

Two gay men were set afire, killing one and maiming the other. More than once Block 13 has been fire bombed, and lesbians regularly face rape and other violent attacks. Because of these assaults, they cannot leave their residences after dark, and there is little help available, either in preventing violence or accessing medical treatment after these aggressions. Our LGBTQI relatives are trapped: they must face the daily uncertainties, violence, and inability to work and gain resources and they have no way out.  The  UNHCR has not processed Block 13 residents’ refugee status — for years for some of them. This is much longer than the usual time frame for refugees. Nor have they been allowed passes to be able to move outside of the camp in Kenya. They are absolutely stuck with no relief in sight.   This is an untenable situation and a human rights disaster.

photo of refugees with transgender flag

Recently, the small amounts of water and food that were accessible at the camp reception has been stopped as well as providing the basic essential of rice.  The LGBTQI refugees of Kakuma are worried that without refugee status, they will have  no  resources of where to  go or what they can do.

The LGBTQI refugees of Kakuma are working to get out. They have attempted to contact the UNHCR seeking protection and refugee status in order to relocate to permanent homes in safer countries. They have received no response, and lesbians in the camp have asked us to approach women’s as well as LGBTQI organizations around the world to start a letter writing campaign demanding action from the UNHCR.

This is what we are asking of you right now:

❖  Email the UNHCR as an organization, demanding that attention be paid to this vulnerable population who are being attacked based on their Queer identities. The letter we wrote is available as an example, with the addresses of people to send it to, at

❖  Ask others to email the UNHCR as well,  in hopes that a large number of letters will draw attention to this important issue.

This is what we are asking of you for the future:

❖ Educate yourself about the situation in Block 13 of Kakuma Camp. Here’s a few info links.

ORAM Kakuma Report,

Morningstar online Report UK,

Amnesty International Kakuma Report

❖ Contact your members of Congress to demand accountability from the UNHCR concerning the lives of LGBTQ refugees and if they are not satisfied let them call for the defunding of UNHCR

Please pass this on to any other groups you may know that would support the LGBTQI people of Kakuma.

Thank you for this and for all the work you do!

Seattle Kakuma Support Group – Tina Gianoulis Sue Hodes Janice Gutman Jan Denali & DJ Lower

Update: Texas attacks Trans-youth

In a blatant attack on families, medical practitioners, and other adults who support trans youth, on February 22, 2022 Texas governor Greg Abbott directed the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth as “child abuse.” The non-binding directive also tries to force mandatory reporters, like medical professionals, to report anyone seeking gender affirming healthcare for child abuse.  These actions target anyone who takes steps to support trans youth in accessing gender-affirming treatment, and led to DFPS opening investigations into several families.  A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal just succeeded in obtaining an injunction on the investigations while the case moves forward, although that will likely be appealed by Texas.

And its not just Texas, other states like Alabama have anti-LGBTQ bills pending that would seek to end and criminalize healthcare for trans youth.

This transphobic attack is not surprising from a governor who tried, but was unable, to get a ban on gender-affirming healthcare through the Texas legislature this last regular session, or in special sessions.

Recalls, Redistricting and Right-Wing Reconstruction

by Kate

Chicago and New York might be the gold standard when it comes to political corruption, but they’ve got nothing on San Francisco. Scratch the interlocking recall campaigns to unseat San Francisco’s district attorney, Chesa Boudin, and three members of the school board, and you’ll find a hornet’s nest of backscratching and backstabbing going back to the Ed Lee administration. Of course, we could go further back than that. We could go to the Willie Brown administration – remember Chris Daly? Remember the boxes of ballots found in the Bay after Brown creamed the insurgent Tom Ammiano in his reelection bid? But we won’t go there because things are confusing enough already.

In January 2012, Ross Mirikarimi, the elected sheriff of San Francisco, was charged with domestic violence after a neighbor secretly taped his wife, Eliana Lopez, telling her that Mirikarimi had violently grabbed her arm. Mayor Ed Lee demanded that Mirikarimi resign, and when he didn’t, suspended him and appointed a replacement. Lee was at that time in his first elected term. He had been appointed to replace Gavin Newsom (more on him later) who had become lieutenant governor of california. Lee was trying to put his political team together, and Mirikarimi was not an ally. As a city Supervisor, Mirikarimi had voted against the “Sit-Lie” law and other anti-homeless, anti-poor legislation favored by Lee and his friend, then-district attorney George Gascón (now rebranded as the “progressive prosecutor” of LA County). As sheriff, Mirikarimi wanted to focus on alternatives to incarceration and programs that would help combat recidivism and reduce the jail population. As a city supervisor, he had proposed an ordinance to provide reparations to residents who had been displaced by the demolition of the Fillmore, two-thirds of whom were African American.

Mirikarimi won a legal challenge to the suspension and in October the board of supervisors voted to let him keep his job. In early November, a series of attack ads targeted supervisor Christina Olague for her vote in support of Mirikarimi. Olague, the city’s first openly bisexual supervisor, was a long-time civil rights activist from a farmworker family, whom I first met when she was a student organizer opposing u.s. intervention in Central America in the 1980s. She went on to work with the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition and the queer youth organization, LYRIC. The late-formed committee to defeat Olague was funded by tech billionaire Ron Conway, a major supporter of Ed Lee, and led by a political strategist named Andrea Shorter. Shorter, who had previously been the director of Marriage for All and had worked for Larkin Street Youth Center, Equality California, served on the Commission on the Status of Women and recruited “domestic violence advocates” (don’t blame me – that’s what CBS called them) to attack Olague for her vote. Olague lost the seat to London Breed, who became a close ally of Lee’s and was appointed to succeed him as mayor when he died suddenly in 2017.

Shorter was then investigated by the Ethics Commission for failing to disclose information about her employers while she served on the Commission for the Status of Women. She was eventually fined $800. Who made the complaint? The articles don’t say, but SFGATE does mention that “The dustup comes after a period of fresh tension between the progressive and moderate factions of the local Democratic Party – including the unsuccessful effort to oust progressive Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and the defeat in November of progressive supervisor Olague. Shorter played an active role for the moderates in both and has been involved in exploring a recall of Mirkarimi…”

Andrea Shorter contemplating a recall. Put a pin in that.

Breed was reelected mayor in 2018, defeating the more progressive supervisor Jane Kim, with major support from – drumroll please – Ron Conway. According to investigative journalist Tim Redmond, Conway wrote emails “tell[ing] donors how to get around campaign finance rules to support Breed. He also urged them to give to SF YIMBY Action, the faux affordable housing organization that agitates for building building building on the theory that more luxury housing will “trickle down” to somehow create affordable housing in gentrifying cities. YIMBY is kind of neoliberalism in a bottle. Calling itself “a network of people who advocate for abundant, affordable housing and inclusive, sustainable communities across the United States,” it uses progressive language like “equity” and “climate crisis,” and accuses its opponents of being “privileged.” The YIMBYs’ best friend in Sacramento is gay former SF supervisor, now state senator, Scott Wiener.

Total Recall

This brings us to today, when London Breed and Scott Wiener are the highest profile supporters of a campaign to recall three of the seven members of the San Francisco school board. The other four board members would be facing recall too, except they hadn’t been in office long enough when the petition was filed – you get a six month grace period before you can be recalled. Call it a fighting chance. The recall was launched by a couple, Autumn Looijen and Silva Raj, and has gotten big funding from six local venture capitalists as well as, sadly, the Chinese American Democratic Club. The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Demo Club is also supporting the recall of two of the three members.

The ostensible reason for the recall is that the school board didn’t do enough to get students back into in-person learning fast enough. Some say the reason they didn’t was because they couldn’t do anything to improve the ventilation in buildings that have been in terrible shape for years, and the teacher’s union was legitimately refusing to go back until it was safe. That would make the recall part of the ongoing efforts to undermine teachers’ unions and privatize education. Like the YIMBYs, the recall promoters couch their arguments in terms of “equity,” saying on their website, “Our most disadvantaged kids fell farthest behind.” They are upset that the board spent a great deal of time deciding to rename 44 schools named for colonizers or other racist figures (including u.s. presidents). They harken back to the debate over how to deal with a mural at Washington (soon to be renamed London Breed High?) high school, that was painted in the 1930s by a white leftist artist in an attempt to depict the racist history of the school’s namesake. Some students wanted the mural removed, while some artists and activists felt that it should be put in more context. All of this is framed by the decision, in the middle of the pandemic and as other school districts were looking at similar issues, to open the elite Lowell High School to all students by lottery. Currently, Lowell (on the list to be renamed) is 57% Asian, 18% white, 11.5% Latinx, 10.8% mixed race and only 1.8% African American.

The SF recall is one of more than 200 aimed at California school board members since 2020, part of a nationwide avalanche of recall campaigns. (By contrast, in 2011 17 school board members were recalled nationwide.) Most of the recent recalls were opposing COVID safety measures (masks, vaccinations, closures) and any effort to redress or teach about racism. According to u.s. news and world report, “Recall efforts – nearly two-thirds of which were rooted in pandemic-related issues – were started this year in a wide swath of states…The Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas [in July] hosted a panel discussion entitled ‘Activism Applied: How to Save Your School Board.’ The panelists decried critical race theory, which one of the group, Chinese-born Virginia parent Xi Van Fleet, compared to the Maoist Cultural Revolution.… ‘We’re going to take our army of “Minute Moms,” and we’re going to go across the country and fight these battles,’ Ian Prior, founder of the group Fight for Schools, said.” According to someone who studies recall elections, a school board recall that makes it to the ballot is 75-80% likely to succeed. Polls so far show 69% of SF parents saying they’re in favor of the recall.

Chesa Boudin, whose father, David Gilbert, has just been released from prison after 40 years, had been district attorney of San Francisco for just over a year when the first of two recall petitions against him was filed. That effort was led by republikkkan former mayoral candidate Richie Greenberg, who was also promoting the recall of governor Gavin Newsom, allegedly because of draconian COVID measures and going to a party at the French Laundry. Greenberg’s campaign against Chesa received major funding from David Sacks, former COO of PayPal, who is now one of the largest donors so far to the school board recall. The first recall campaign fell just short of the required 51,000 signatures needed to proceed, but by then a second campaign was already underway. This one was organized by Mary Jung and – wait for it — Andrea Shorter, operating under a group called San Franciscans for Public Safety.

Mary Jung is also a member of the Commission on the Status of Women (oh, bourgeois feminism, what has happened to you?), and a former chair of the SF “Democratic Party.” And she’s a lobbyist for the real estate industry.

Shorter and Jung and Co. easily got all the signatures they needed to get the recall on ballot for February, and by August, had assembled a war chest of over $720,000, about half of it from trump-affiliated republikkkan sources. But some of the donors are prominent demokrats, who actually contributed significantly to defeat the Newsom recall. And incidentally, one of the groups that got money donated for the recall is the Edwin Lee Asian Pacific Democratic Club.

The first “Recall Chesa” TV ad was released a few weeks ago. It features six people, at least four of whom are BIPOC. Among them are Shorter and Jung. Shorter is identified as a spokesperson for “Safer SF Without Boudin.” Jung says that “Chesa’s failure has resulted in an increase in crime against Asian Americans.” Problem: neither of them is identified as working for the recall campaign. Shorter is, apparently, being paid $16,000 a month as a spokesperson for the campaign while Jung is its treasurer. Under federal campaign law, says the website 48hills, that’s supposed to be disclosed. Remember that $800 fine Andrea Shorter paid for failing to discloser her employers? Apparently it wasn’t a deterrent. Maybe Chesa should have imposed harsher penalties for corruption. Yes, I realize that was in 2013. Which is kinda the point.

Chesa has been held responsible for any uptick in crime in the city since he announced his candidacy. A month before the election in 2019, the SF Examiner reported that the SF Police Officers’ Association (POA) had spent about $638,000 on ads attacking Boudin. “The SFPOA is now the biggest outside spender in a race that has become the most expensive contest of its kind in San Francisco history, according to political consultant Jon Golinger.” Using his record as a public defender and his opposition to “gang enhancements,” increased sentences based on affiliations, the POA called him the “best choice for gang members and criminals.” No one was surprised when they started making huge noise about any crime that happened on his watch.

The Real Crime Is Capitalism

The Recall Chesa advocates say, predictably, that crime rates, especially violent crimes, have exploded under Boudin, that he’s given free reign to murderers and rapists by eliminating cash bail and undercharging. In fact, data found by reporters for that famously radical rag, the SF Chronicle and other news outlets indicates that overall crime has stayed about the same since 2019, ticking up in predictable ways, given the social upheaval caused by the pandemic. Homicides went up at the end of 2020 (as they did nationally) but have leveled out again. And in fact, the increase in homicides in San Francisco was significantly lower than those in New York, Atlanta, Seattle and Minneapolis – none of which have progressive prosecutors.

Burglaries in San Francisco are sky-high, especially auto and commercial burglaries, and no one knows exactly why, but it’s not because of Boudin: only about 13% of commercial burglaries and less than 2% of car burglaries are “solved” by the cops. He charges about 80% of the ones that come to him. Overall, 48hills and the Chronicle found that his office is charging as many or more cases as Nancy O’Malley, the decidedly-not-progressive D.A. in Alameda County (where Oakland and Berkeley are located) and roughly equal to his predecessor’s rate. Sexual assault prosecutions are up by 25% since he took office – what about that, Status of Women commissioners? The uproar over car break-ins is kind of hilarious to me, because ten years ago, when my car was broken into two days in a row in Oakland, I discovered that the OPD won’t even take a report on car break-ins – there’s an online form you can fill out for your insurance company.

Ultimately, it’s never been about crime, but about who “feels” safe or unsafe, and who we think has the right to be safe. And you don’t need me to tell you who that is. Ironically, one of the biggest successful recall campaigns prior to the last two years was in 1959, when a group called STOP organized to recall three segregationist members of the Little Rock, Arkansas school board, who had spearheaded a purge of 44 teachers who supported integration. That may have been the last time a recall went for the anti-racist side. These days, recall is the latest weapon in the arsenal of those who want to maintain white supremacy and patriarchy through minority rule.

The Loooooong Story

The New York Times recently ran a series of articles about right-wing moves to take over school boards, using Critical Race Theory to stoke fear and build furor among the trump-minded. While the Times called this a brand new tactic born of the pandemic, it’s actually a continuation of a strategy cooked up in the late 1970s by the Christian Right, based on the work of someone named R. J. Rushdoony, who “called for the establishment of a theocracy within the United States based on biblical law.” Enflamed by the Roe v. Wade decision establishing the right to abortion, and the increase in gay visibility after Stonewall, the Christian fundamentalists developed a theory they called, disturbingly, “Christian Reconstruction.” One of the top political tactics was taking over school boards, called by researcher Frederick Clarkson, “the stealth strategy.” Groups like the Christian Coalition and the Citizens for Excellence in Education gave workshops and funded candidates to take over local school boards in order to prevent sex education or positive teaching about homosexuality and to promote school prayer. The “stealth” part was that they didn’t talk about those issues in their campaigns, but rather were encouraged to “run on vague platforms, such as teaching ‘the basics’ and restoring student discipline.” They were extremely successful.

One part of the strategy was for school boards and other activists to attack textbook content guidelines as too left-wing (they weren’t). In 1979, Texas activists managed to persuade the State Board of Education to adopt guidelines which specified: “Textbooks shall present positive aspects of America and its heritage; they shall not contain material which serves to undermine authority; the amount of violent content should be limited; content shall not present lifestyles deviating from generally accepted standards of society.” The textbook companies didn’t want to, or felt they couldn’t afford to, produce one set of books for Texas and another for the rest of the country, so Texas activists got to control the books for all public school kids in the nation, and that’s been true since 1977.

Back to 2021, the newly formed 1776 Project PAC, a direct response to the groundbreaking historical work of Nikole Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Project, is “dedicated to electing school board members nationwide who want to reform our public education system by promoting patriotism and pride in American history.” When you go to its website, the first thing you see is a popup asking you to “Report a School Promoting Critical Race Theory.”

The right wing knows that they are not the majority. But they do have, or have access to, the majority of the money, and with that, they can buy opportunities to control elections. One of the ways they do that is by controlling the timing of elections, and recalls are a great way to do that. Both the San Francisco recalls will be special elections, and most of the ballots cast will be mail-ins. The lower the turnout, the more it favors the energized base. In San Francisco, recall petitions must be signed by at least “15% or 20%” of the registered voters in the city or district (depending if it’s a city-wide position or representing a specific district) – I couldn’t find anything explaining when it’s 15% and when it’s 20%, but at least it’s a significant percentage. In some states, the requirement is 15% of those who actually voted for the position in the last election. A low-turnout election thus begets an even lower-threshold recall.

photo of Kshama

Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, the first socialist elected to a major city council in close to a century (and the first Seattle socialist elected to a city-wide position since Anna Louise Strong won a school board seat in 1916), seems to have narrowly survived a recall vote last week (as of this writing, she leads by just 200 votes out of a total of over 40,500). Assuming that she would be more likely to win if the recall were on the regular November ballot, Sawant made the unusual move of offering to gather recall signatures herself. The county said she could but that the petitions she and her supporters collected had to be turned over to the recall campaign for verification.

Recalls are just like redistricting, which is now being done in frenzied state houses all over the country, and the voter suppression legislation that has been enacted in 19 states in the last year. They’re like the January insurrection and the attempts to get the election decertified by congress. They’re also like the continued lawsuits against Rabab Abdulhadi and the Arab & Muslim Identities in Diaspora Studies program at San Francisco State – every time one gets throw out, they just file a new one. If you don’t like the outcome, you get a do-over. Keep people fighting all the time just to stay afloat.

pie chart of recall efforts

It’s all part of the drive for the few – the right, the rich, the white – to maintain power over the many. But it’s not a done deal. The Brennan Center for Justice points out that while the onslaught of anti-democratic (that’s a small “d”, in case you’re wondering) legislation is “unprecedented,” 25 states have passed laws expanding voting rights, through longer early voting periods, increased access to mail in ballots, language accessibility, improved disabled access and more. It’s as usual up to us to do the work. Fight for every vote. Don’t give up. If you believe that elections are a waste of time and we need a revolution, hurry up and make it already!

Prisoners submissions

Supporting and Defending the Rights of Others

When I was inducted into the US Navy, I raised my right hand and swore to, “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As a young 18 year old, the true meaning of that oath did not develop in my moral compass until many years later. A prison sentence, the ‘thank you’ from a beautiful person and maturity, set me on a path to advocate the “Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, for all people.

The social structure of the prison yard is comparable to high school cliques. People will form groups based on race, sexuality, area code, religion or gang affiliation. I never initiated conversations with people I didn’t know and mostly kept to myself. Since I knew other offenders who were veterans and who identified with the LGBTQ community in the prison, I was called over to a small group of people and there I met Fancy. Fancy turned towards me, looked me in the eye and asked if I had served in the military. I replied, “Yes, I served for 14 years”.  Fancy stuck out his right hand and said, “I want to thank you for your service”.  The first one of my peers to thank me for my service in the seven years of my incarceration was someone different from myself. It dawned on me at that moment that I swore to defend ALL people’s rights – even those whose life style I knew nothing about. Then, a new door in my life was opened to a new group of people who I had overlooked in the past and now I wanted to embrace them. I wanted to learn how I could better assist in their struggles.

The gift that Fancy gave me that summer afternoon in the prison yard, I will never forget. That gift is respect, understanding and most important – love. While the germinal seed that Fancy planted in my soul continues to grow, I have made some awesome new friends along the way. The main message for all active duty military, reserves, National Guard and veterans is to remember the Oath of Enlistment and what we stand for as a people. Shon Pernice #1236421 Moberly C.C. POB 7, Moberly MO 65270

I Am Tranz

Myself, I am a male to female Tranz and though I’m proud as I can be, I’m horribly oppressed. Imagine a Tranz woman forced to live as a man. She cried herself to sleep and has covered her mirror so she doesn’t have to see the face she’s forced to wear. She is told that she’s lying about being a Tranz and is only trying to entice the men! That is my reality at The South Carolina Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program.

Somehow, this place slips by every civil rights law. I have no idea how they get away with such horrors as my LGBT family endure. I’d like to tell y’all about it, in hopes of the truth getting out: the only description I can give – disgusting! Though I insist upon proper pronoun use, I’m met with smirks and references to the gender on my birth certificate. I’m mocked by the staff to the point of me crying. I’m prohibited basic necessities such as clothes and hygiene products specified as for women. I have seen one of my Tranz sisters heavily reprimanded for simply painting her toe nails! She went to LOCKUP.

The “program” claims it is less restrictive than prison. It was very common for gay inmates to use colour pencils for make-up, yet it is aggressively prohibited in the LESS RESTRICTIVE THAN PRISON facility. In fact SCDC has begun to allow HRT [hormone replacement treatment], yet again it’s shot down here. Does their status as a “private facility” warrant such discrimination? Who do I need to ask this question?

South Carolina is the center of white, Christian conservatism in the South. This is my opinion. Anything outside of their approval window is to be mercilessly smashed! It is a constant struggle to manifest individuality and it’s exhausting. Like I said, I cry myself to sleep every night in unbearable agony. Sometimes I contemplate ending the pain permanently but I will not let my momma suffer that way. No dice, I love my mom. She supports me emotionally but just never will understand this place.

It’s just so unbelievable, you would have to listen to inmates tell it.  Nobody believes it or else don’t want to have anything to do with icky sex offender FAGGOTS. By the way, my female name is Rachel Evangelista. I adopted Mother Blanca Evangelista’s last name because I want to be like her when I grow up (Tranzform). Christopher Whaley c/o 4546 Broadriver Rd. Columbia SC 29210

It’s a Great Day to Be Alive

Sisters and Brothers. Our LGBTQI Community has many resources to help us with suicide, anxiety and depression and we need to help each other access them. These mental health issues are not to be taken lightly. In fact, they are to be taken head on.

We need to know how to seek help if we find ourselves in the struggles of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.  It’s said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. We as a people are stronger in truth – truth in who we are as human beings! Understanding our identity gives us strength. This strength allows us to uplift, embrace, encourage, educate and nurse each other.

These are common issues. They are not Queer Plagues. We do need to understand that we as LGBTQI people, have a huge family that we can lean on for support and encouragement.

UltraViolet is one of our most valuable resources. My dear loved ones, do not think that you are alone. Know that you are loved. There are 168 hours in one week. Take 10 of those hours and invest in yourself. Work out, read self-help books, anything for self-improvement. Make friends and Build Bridges!  Steven (White Raven) Turner #128259, POB 4000, Florence AZ 85132

Congratulations and Welcome Out

Tony Justich (from Oshkosh C.I.) “Thanks 4 all your support”

Robert Curtis (from Donovan S.P.) “…once I get settled, I will write you with my new address”

Jacob Snipes (from Bertie C.I.) “…no longer incarcerated … after 17 ½ long years inside the beast!”

Jeffrey Sexton (from Daniel Unit) “Thanks!  You will be in my heart.”

Frankie Brabent (from Oshkosh C.I.) …once I’m set up on the outs, I will send you an email and some love too.”

UV Rejected

Our Summer 2021 issue was rejected  by prison authorities at Walton CI in Florida, Apparently on pages 2-3, there were dangerously inflammatory words and on page 8, an article that discussed white supremacy attitudes and privileges was deemed racist [???].

One of our subscribers incarcerated at that prison sent us the form with the comment, “seems like they gay bashing!!!” What do you think?

graphic pencil drawing
graphic by: Sal Castro #3189203, 501 The City Dr South, Orange CA 97868

Hi Everyone

By Lisa Strawn

It has been 10 months [13 now] since I got out of San Quentin. I have made it out here only because I am a fighter. So I need all to know that when you have the moments when you are tired and you want to quit, well – you can’t because we need you out here. I never had it easy and always had to fight and for now, I don’t have to fight so hard.

I’m always committed to fighting for all inside and I mean all. It isn’t just Trans and LGBTQ people. It is all. And as I go about my daily life, all of you are thought about by me. No, I’m sorry I can’t write letters. Time does not permit. But I’m always gonna be a part of UltraViolet. They are family and so are all of you.

I need to tell you that I never thought I would be free and yes, I did work hard to be free and you all must do the same; no matter what. We have those who can’t be themselves for whatever the reason and it’s for us to show that we can be who we are.

Keep the light you have shining bright and stay focused. Help those who need the help but be good to yourself, always.  Be safe everyone and you are not forgotten.

I recently saw Caitlyn Jenner at a media event. She tried to hug me and I wouldn’t. I told the press, “Just because I’m Trans doesn’t mean I roll with her. I won’t vote for her because she bashed the LGBTQ community.”

Transgender Debate

Why are we debating the validity of the Transgender movement? I think, at its most fundamental level, we are looking at and questioning the function of sex and gender. So, now the question becomes: what does it mean to be a man or woman? What does that look like in action, in practice, in the here and now daily life. The questions about our roles in society are being asked. Questions like; what does a man or woman look like? How do they act? How do they have sex? These are the questions we are really asking when we wonder: what is a man or a woman?

These are not new questions, nor is it a new conflict. The very word ‘faggot’ comes from the close association between the kindling (and the fire) used to burn queers alive. (As well as witches, pagans and heretics.) The word alone should tell us what we are dealing with.

Why would I, born male and wearing a skirt and lipstick, bother people so much? Why does what I wear matter to anyone? It does, that’s for sure. More than 46% of Americans think that gender non-conformance is an aberration, un-natural, wrong, sick, evil. That’s over half our country! Why?

We live in a culture, the ‘Dominant Culture’ that has relegated women to the level of second class citizen (or worse). Those brave few who have stepped out of bounds all through history have been both vilified/killed and celebrated, often simultaneously. The outrage is even greater when a man takes on the role of a woman. Among the People of the Book (Jewish, Christian, Moslem) if a man stepped into the role of a woman, they could expect to be put to death. As though being female was lesser and that a man demeaned the value of man-ness by being feminine!?!

To this day it is illegal to be gay in many countries. Until only a few years ago, it was illegal in this country for gay people to have sex with each other. In many states it was the legal equivalent to bestiality. WTF!! The very idea that a person knows better than God? Hell no! If God made you a man, then man up. God doesn’t make mistakes!

So to get back to the original question, the question of what defines a man or woman. It seems that the only thing that really matters is how you feel about yourself.  I have been guilty of thinking that men must be like ‘this’ and women must be like ‘that’. I didn’t know any better and as a child I accepted the lessons of the Dominant Culture. I was a man. Men don’t cry. Only women show their feelings. I couldn’t wear make-up and I certainly couldn’t like other boys! I now realize how screwed up this all was and how it caused me so much trouble. Because men do cry and women are brave and strong. The rules I applied to each gender were completely bogus. Now that I am finally allowed (finally brave enough) to express my own identity, these rules/roles are being re-visited. I am truly a girl and I am strong and that’s okay. I am not unique either.

I was a stone cold coward. What people thought of me was so much more important than how I felt about myself. It still is really because I still present as male with some of my friends and family. The fear is real. And though I know 90% of it is just fear and not actual danger, I still can’t believe it. The only reason I ever came out as “gay” was because I was so in love with someone that could not hide or deny it. I would have gladly traded all the world’s love for his. Sadly I still would.

 I share this personal and embarrassing fact about myself because I know I am not unique and I am overcoming my fears and putting myself out there so that we can all see that it’s possible to do so and to be okay. Amber AKA Gregory LaVallee #79373, POB 14, Concord NH 03301

Shorts from Inside

I just got your newsletter.  It’s nice to get an update on what is going on in the FREE WORLD. I have never seen any of my writings in any LGBTQ etc newsletters.  I am the Unheard Voice, a poem I wrote in 2020 because my voice is not heard.  Publish this if I’m wrong. Am I worth anyone’s time? Brinda Gee San Luis Obispo CA

I am fighting to have our civil rights in prison, to make a stand of who we are without them pushing us aside and to get policy changed for us to have equal rights even in a prison setting in the Nevada Prison System. Ms. Rachel Marie Carson City NV

Thank you for your informative paper. I need your help. I am a Non-Binary inmate who is bisexual and under SB#132, I am to be housed on SB #132 yard. [But] there are no Trans or non-binary’s here. Corcoran is very well known for corruption and being LGBTQ haters.  Please print this and help us that require SB#132 yards and housing and be transferred to prisons where by law we need to be. Dr. C.T. Marquette Corcoran CA

Thanks so much for publicizing the nazi-esq conditions in the Pennsylvania gulag system, We all deeply appreciate it !!!!  I’ll be 74 this year. I had 3 weeks of Adolf Trump’s covid shit and got my ‘Johnson” last month. Wish I could be out in the streets again putting my body on the line, my spirit is with all of you!!!! Please stay strong and safe. You are in my heart forever!  I’m a veteran of Days of Rage Chicago, Organizing Committee for the first NYC Anti War parade, hundreds of protests, sit-ins, smoke-ins, teach-ins etc. Love and power, C.T. Jones Houtzdale PA

I read the many letters from you who are fighting hard all over the country. You’re not alone. We’re strong and we’re everywhere. Please everyone donate a copy of any rehab info or LGBTQ info to your prison law library. When I was a law clerk at SATF in Corcoran CA, I put together a LGBTQ binder full of helpful info. Anyone can go to the library and get the help they need. H Meyers Bakersfield CA

Haaaaay. Thank you for the newspaper in a small county jail in Idaho. The scene is dead here, the paper and other LGBTQ+ outreaches is my only real enjoyment. To all the others out in there, know you are loved, adored, cherished, wanted and respected even when all the maggots around you abuse you. Remember, I’m here, you’re here, we’re all here together. Haters going to hate. But we’re always FABULOUS . Love to us all. “Dani” Potato Field USA

I received my first issue of UltraViolet and I am glad I did. I love how informative and important the issues at hand are in UV. Even the letters being written by inmates are important and can even make me look at myself. I’m writing this to let my family know that when Cupid strikes no matter where – Cherish it! Always communicate differences and don’t get mad and argue. Let that person know you love him/her. Plus, always fight for that person and what you believe in like it is the last day on earth because you’ll never know what events could alter your life forever. You don’t want to end up like me wondering what I could have done. Anyone is welcome to write me and I will write back. Wayne Walker #71630 High Desert SP, POB 650 Indian Springs NV 89070

I’m writing because I’m getting released in September and reading all of the stories from Transwomen helped me come out as Trans. I’ve officially been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria and I’m soon to start hormone therapy. I’ve hidden being Trans since I was 8 and when I came out, I was 25. The great people of UV have been great and I plan on keeping in touch. Thank you so much. M Hopkins St Louis MI

Let me tell you that I am a radical egalitarian who hates social injustice in all its many myriad of forms. In fact, I stand four square against the whole system of authoritarian government and corporate capitalist plutocracy, not to mention fanatical and dogmatic religious intolerance.  In short, I hate, hate everything that’s wrong with America (or is that Amerika?) and the entire world. Anyway, because I know you comrades at LAGAI share my views on these issues, I must express my deepest love for your cause and your newspaper. AN Rea Suffield CT

Some good news! I finally got the BOP to recognize me as transgender because they’d moved me from FCI Big Springs to FCI Texarkana.  The staff here are sooo much better. Thank you for your great organization! I hope y’all are doing well in this time of global turmoil. Take care, Have Fun and Be Safe. C Parson Texarkana TX

Janice in CO said, “Thanks you for your newsletter and all that you do.”

I was just transferred to Ashland FCI. We have a large LGBTQ community here and three transgender females that I have embraced and mentored already. I will gladly and proudly share your newspaper with everyone. We also have a large LGBTQ section in our book library which makes me proud. D Pizac Ashland KY

Shout out to all my trans sisters and brothers nationwide. This hole is hard. No books, No pillow, 1 bar of state soap to shower within a week. I have no clue when I’ll get out of the hole. UltraViolet, you provide a much needed informational front. On one hand, I can wear my gender affirming underclothes but on the other hand, I can’t shave in the hold so my dysphoria is super bad. I also feel like I let my sisters down by being put in the hole. Everyone keep your head up during this crazy covid time. I got my vaccine, did you get yours? M Handlang Charleston MO

Each day is a battle to love myself and ignore the inner critic. Among the myriad stigmas and issues we face and the struggle to simply love me for me, the guards can make an already sad place even tougher. Today my spirits have been lifted as I turn the pages of UltraViolet and ralize I am not alone. Thank you for all you do to advance our communities. Love always, Allena Richie Hondo TX

Pride My Ass!

by Claire and Deni

Queer radicals have been fighting for years to kick the cops out of Pride. From a 2019 “Cops and Corps Out of Pride” article in UltraViolet : “Gay Shame has put out a call to end all police participation in pride; all of it, NO police marching cutely in pride contingents, and particularly NO military style policing of the march in the name of protecting the queers. The police are not our friends and they don’t give a flying fuck about us…. LAGAI Queer Insurrection in the early 90’s carried a banner of a burning police car with the slogan  IT’S RIGHT TO REBEL directly behind the police contingent marching in pride.” A few years ago, local activists crashed the front of the SF parade with “Cops, Barricades, Corporations Out of our Parade” signs.

photo of banner

Nationally, San Diego Pride and Denver Pride are both prohibiting the police from marching. Sacramento and St. Louis banned the police but then reversed their decision.  In Seattle, which has two different Pride parades, the Capitol Hill Pride organizers banned police participation but the more mainstream Seattle pride group is still deciding. In 2017, Minneapolis/Twin Cities anti-violence program director Eva Wood at the Twin Cities LGBTQ-rights group OutFront, said she supported the organizers’ decision to ask police not to march after charges were dismissed against the cop who murdered Philando Castile. “I personally think they made the right call,” Wood said. “Specifically, the queer and trans people of color reached out to us saying cops in uniform at Pride might make white people feel safe, but not us.” Since the cop murder of George Floyd and international uprisings against that, Minneapolis Pride organizers decided to ban cops but then the lesbian Chief of Police pushed to meet with the committee and it was decided to eliminate the police squad car at the beginning of the parade but allow uniformed police officers to participate in the parade. (Whaaaat? Go figure.)

This year, NYC’s Pride announced in May that cops and “corrections officers,” including the Gay Officers Action League, can’t participate in the march until at least 2025, and for all NYPD to stay a block away from any in-person events, including the march. In San Francisco (still no official parade this year due to COVID), the “Pride Alliance” of the SFPD which marches in uniform has been banned from the parade just for this year and still might have booths.

The Aurora Colorado lesbian police chief was very distressed by the NY Pride decision and in a REALLY unclear on the concept statement said, “I look back at the Stonewall riots where the LGBTQ community stood up to the police for the treatment they were receiving at the time. How powerful it is now to see an officer march in a pride parade holding the hand of their partner, spouse, and significant other saying that was then, this is now. We are here to protect you.” Yeah, that would be the same Aurora PD that in August 2020 handcuffed and held a Black family at gunpoint due to cops’ mistake about a stolen car. In January, it was announced that no charges were being filed against these cops. But it’s probably good enough that the police chief said at the time that she was “heartbroken”  about the incident.  Oh, and she’s managed to maintain support from the Aurora cop union…

The New York Times was SO upset by the decision to kick the cops out of NY Pride that they even wrote an editorial against it, saying that it was politicizing the Pride celebration. In a response, J. Bryan Lowder in Slate said: “The Times editorial board believes that banning queer cops from marching in uniform is political, that tying police violence to actual police is a politicized move detached from the harm that actual victims have endured. And this is inappropriate, you see, because Pride is a “celebration,” a joyful party where “politics” are in poor taste. I’ll allow that that’s what Pride is for some—many, even. A mere celebration. But for others, Pride is meaningless without politics. Pride is political.”

UV readers know well the Stonewall origins of queers fighting back against the cops. CNN’s article about Pride/cops quoted Miss Majors, Stonewall trans activist, about why she is historically against cops at Pride events: “At the time, just to be transgender was against the law. Wear a dress — go straight to jail. Or, ‘You’re crazy,’ so we’re going to take you to the mental hospital,” Miss Major writes in an excerpt shared with CNN. “They’ve been beating us the f*** up, and continue to do so. And showing everybody else how to beat us up and kill us. That’s where their loyalty lies.”

Referring back to 2017 when Columbus, Ohio protesters were beaten and arrested for blocking the parade for a moment of silence against the murder of Philando Castile and violence against trans women of color, Andrea Ritchie, lawyer and author of “Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color” said, “Literally you’re having a protest against police violence at which police are committing violence.” Ritchie was on-call legal support at NYC Pride for 10 years, and she said she’s witnessed police violence — such as arrests, macing or beatings — at Pride every single year. “It doesn’t matter whether the cop that’s administering that violence is queer, or Black, or brown,” Ritchie told CNN. “No one should be experiencing that violence.”

In SF, the Pride decision was spurred on by the 2019 cop attack against anti-police and anti-corporate protesters who blocked the parade route for almost an hour. One of those protesters, Taryn Saldivar, has filed a federal lawsuit against SF and law enforcement officers for the SFPD actions. In a statement to the BAR newspaper, Alex U. Inn, longtime community activist and community parade grand marshal in 2017 said the Pride organization is “FINALLY! ‘LISTENING TO BLACK VOICES!”  Inn wrote, “It took them long enough. Carolyn [Wysinger, SF Pride board president] is trying to make it look like it’s her idea and something new that they’ve come up with when many of us REAL activists, especially our BIPOC activists, have been saying this for many, many, many years. No police presence at PEOPLE’S MARCH 2020 was the answer to SF Pride’s ignorance and their continuation of putting Black lives at harm.”

Inn has said that the 2nd annual People’s March and Rally down Polk Street to City Hall (following the route of the first “gay-in” in 1970 that grew to become the official San Francisco Pride parade), would be held on Sunday, June 27. You can be sure the cops are not welcome there. But definitely bring your radical politics!

Prisoners’ Submissions

pencil drawing from prisoner

graphic by Toni Love Valenzela #3144589, Lacy Facility, 51 City Dr. South, Orange, CA 92868

Making a Change

I read your newsletter every time it glides under my door and I read it again and again. It amazes me how out of touch this prison is when it comes to most of the things you all talk about.

Yes, I am a Lesbian. I was when on the streets as well as now. I have been the queen of many drag shows even though I am a woman. I have been dubbed by our Mother herself out of Modesto CA. I have been here for 18 years, doing a double life sentence. Although I love to read about our community, I’m afraid not a lot of the women nor trans are as educated as I wished them to be. The C.O.s still address them as ‘mam’ or ‘she’ even though it’s clear they are in transition. We have a small amount of what we call the “real deal” (-: A lot of these girls come in here looking for a quick fix for love [for the] rest of us this is a life style.

The ‘Finally a Change” and “Prison is Still Prison” articles brought tears to my eyes. It still blows me away how ignorant people still are after all this time. I haven’t been out for a while but when I see the TV and there is a Vera Wang wedding ring being advertised and you see 2 women or the Black girl with freckles or big white girls in clothing ads or the Asian girl on the make-up ads … even the ones where we are all united looks like a step forward. I mean, come on, that’s what United States means, right? Coming together. This next generation, man, everyone better watch out. It could go many ways. My heart and my soul are into making a change. If anyone can help me do that here in this prison, please write me. Oh and all you that are coming, welcome. Please look me up, I am in IAC. Hopefully we won’t be locked down for quarantine, I can show you around.

Darlene R Fouse #X17951, CA Institute for Women/WA-860L, 16756 Chino-Corona Rd. Corona CA 92880

Expose the Unjust Justice System

First off, I want to shoot a recognized shout out to my LGBT Family! You are the only family I have and I cherish that to the fullest extent. However, my intentions of writing this article is not based on sentiment. It’s all love though! Now down to business.  Our family here at Jefferson City C.C. in Missouri is facing oppression that we should not have to face. As well as the rest of the population that inhabits this prison. We are all being denied adequate Health Care.

The medical staff tell us we must fill out Health Services Request forms (HSRs) whenever we have a complaint. Well, there’s two major problems with that declaration. The first being they do not provide us with sufficient access to those forms that they insist we fill out. Secondly, when we are able to obtain one of these nearly extinct “proper medical forms” and we fill it out with our professed complaints and we turn them in, we do not receive any kind of notification or response that our request has been received let alone acknowledged. This is blatantly denying us all the right (as human beings) to access to adequate medical care. That is also a direct violation of our constitutional rights under the 8th Amendment: the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot obtain relief even when we seek it through the “proper channels” that they call protocol!

As I am a Transgender woman currently undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy, this is a more personal issue. This does not change the fact that I am NOT the only one affected by this deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Being placed on HRT puts me into a special medical category called “chronic care. Any person placed in “chronic care” is supposed to be monitored and assessed every 90 days by a medical team and on an ‘as needed’ basis. I am going to expose the fact that they have not followed that protocol either. This is the scariest part of all these evil wrong doings (at least from my point of view speaking specifically HRT). Estrogen has high risks especially when taking it in high doses. One of the risks is cancer. How do I know that these lumps that are forming in my breast aren’t cancer cells instead of growing buds, if I can’t get medical staff to assess me?

Due to the severity of the danger presented to the LGBT people of this prison as well as others, I am calling out in despair for action against these evil tormentors especially during a time of crisis such as the Corona Virus Pandemic!! Please anybody that is on the outside, and inside, that is willing to help, that would be greatly appreciated! This oppression needs to come to an end! Let’s expose this unjust so called ‘justice system’. Much love and respect from the United Homosexual Family here in Missouri and from Tequila AKA Seaneal. Ms Sease Beard #1251289, Jefferson City C.C./8-B-108, 8200 No More Victims Rd. Jefferson City MO 65101

It’s Gotten Out of Hand

We can’t even exist amongst anything without giving it a damn title. Today, more than ever before, critics are compelled to push labels onto other human beings as if we’re some canned food on the shelf. At one point, and of course currently in many places, I was exclusively identified as: Blacky, Africano, Negroid, Hood, Ghetto dweller, Thugg, Drug Dealer, Gangster, Gang banger, Pimp, Convicted felon turned Crime Novelist.

Each of those rather hard core attributes fit for some [that] Society will aim to keep in the most darkest place of misfortune – Prison. Would any names be softened if the target was of the LGBTQ+? Nope! To my discomfort, I’ve stood in pain while listening to my former circle call Trannies “fag” or “punk”. The pain came from wanting to safeguard my own secret from the verbal abuse. Yet I wish those Trannies could stand next to me now because while they were taking those jabs, not once did they consider to expose me. I’ve partied with them and they chose to let the experience stand as a lesson of what I’d face eventually.

In the 90’s era of hip hop, the rapper (Nore) called people like me Homo-Thuggz in his song ‘What-what’. Wendy Williams was a radio host at Hot-97 during that same time and used a game called “Guess the Gay rapper” to expose a rapper from Jersey City. But on the whole, we were all subjected to the tag of “on the down low”.

Wow! Can I please just be considered me? Why has that been so hard to understand? For so long, society has made it difficult even for myself to accept my own truth.

Crazy love to my entire LGBTQ+ Fam! I was amazed at all those who recognized my short comment in the previous issue. I just want to add, it’s not over. Keep that mask on! Stay safe! Robert A (the Boogie Mann) Thompson #AN7958, CTF/north RB#326, PO Box 705, Soledad CA 93960

drawing from prisoner

Survival: My Only Option

As a Trans-woman who is 110% out and proud, I get my fair share of hate coming my way. We as LGBTQIA+ have been hated on since the dawn of time. Where do you think that has led us? It has led us to be the highest group of people to commit suicide! LGBT+ people are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to the general population with Trans people being four times likely. I have tried to commit suicide on multiple occasions: OD-ing on pain pills, cutting my wrists and/or jumping off roofs. I did these suicide attempts because people were not accepting me as the woman I am, instead of the man I NEVER was. The main people that caused me pain were my parents and siblings once I told them I was Trans and they kicked me out of their life.

It has been 11 years since I spoke with my family but I’m proud to say I am doing good despite not having them in my life. In fact, I’m doing GREAT. The last time I tried committing suicide I was 24 years old. I’m 29 now so it’s been almost 5 years since that time. Since that time, I have come to realize in prison that survival is my only option. I have been sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and verbally assaulted dozens of times in the past 5 years that I’ve been here in prison but it has not changed me. There are going to be times when you feel like killing yourself over another person hating you for who you are and there may be times you got assaulted. I want you to know you CAN be a survivor like me. I am proof that just because you are hurt, does not mean it should take control of your life. I am living proof that you can survive as long as you put your mind to it! I may not have family support but I still have family in the LGBTQ+ Community. All you folks who think you are alone, you need to know you are loved by your brothers and sisters.

Having LAGAI, the Transgender Law Center, The TGI Justice Project, The Utah Pride Center, The Utah Equality Center, Black and Pink and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (just to name a few) has really helped me survive! Please take advantage of the many resources that are available to in our community. You are LOVED. You are important. And you CAN survive!

Feel free to write me any time and I will write back. Please only use lined/blank paper or postcards when you write me. Also: only blue or black ink. Utah state rules.

Daisy Mae Ross/David Torrey #228565, Utah S.P. PO Box 250, Draper UT 84020

Shorts from Inside

When was the last time someone was hurt by equality?  #erasehate.  AC, Cheshire CT

Since 2015 I’ve been struggling as a transwoman on all male units. For the past three and a half years I’ve struggled to not only gain recognition of my gender identity – but trying to obtain medical care as well. Through the encouragement I received from so many readers of UV, I kept trying. I’m so excited to announce that my efforts have not only helped change policy, but that on March 23 I had my first appointment (via zoom) with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sexual Health to begin medical transition. My legal transition was completed in 2017. To my brothers, sisters and other beautiful people I want to share the words that have, and still continue to, move me forward: “All we can do is try, if we make an attempt, then we didn’t fail. So far I haven’t failed and neither will you.” – Lisa Strawn. Kendra-Michelle Lovejoy, Moose Lake MN

I am a 30 year old trans-woman half white-half Filipino, serving 12 at an Arizona Men’s Prison! I’ve been on Hormone-therapy for 2 years, 5 months and am allowed to order women’s clothing (bras, panties), make-up and other items like curlers and barrettes. I am currently trying to legally change my name through my county’s Superior Court (Maricopa County). I’ve been denied two times for my sex-reassignment surgery because the AZ DOC said they weren’t going to pay for it! I get released in 2025 and am trying to prepare for my surgery as much as I can before release. I think about GASS and suicide everyday in here and have attempted both several times. God bless UV and hello to all my sisters!  Amy Rose Vehmeier, Florence AZ

It’s 2021 and runaway kids are still unable to get a proper education. In fact, runaways are part of the Ultra Violet Prism. I think it’s time for a change.  It’s 2021 and we should provide more resources for all youth. We as a people can do that. In and outside the LGBTQ Community, people are miseducated or not educated at all. (On so many levels.) Runaways have it even harder because the youth don’t have access to the things most people have. Prison, Death or Addiction is very likely to be in a runaway’s future. White Raven, Florence AZ

I especially enjoyed your March/April edition. I appreciate the way you present such colorful perspective, and the perseverance and grit that always fills your pages. I was moved to read about the legends you lost this year. The smiles they carried were incredibly telling. I’m smiling myself after a recent accomplishment and hoping you might share the moment with me. I was a guest speaker yesterday for a university law symposium. They booked me from Ad-Seg; I’ve never heard of anything like that. A lot of tears were shared … Cissy Lovey, Boise ID

Please support and promote #GONELONGENOUGH on all your social media. #GONELONGENOUGH stands for a number of criminal justice and prison reform issues, including: lowering sentences and abolishing mandatory minimums. We’ve made the first step. Without a second step, there’s no real progress being made. Let’s move together in criminal justice and prison reform. Make #GONELONGENOUGH that second step. Kelly Jones,

Hello out there. I want to express that I worked 7 long months to create a LGBTQ bookshelf on my unit. I’m a big reader and got tired of not seeing anything related to the LGBTQ [community] so I got to work. We are one in all LGBTQ prison communities and we need to stand together. Alexander Williams, Navasota TX

To all my trans family, I know it’s been a tough year dealing with COVID-19, but we made it. We as trans people have to stick together, we need each other, we lift each other up. It’s bad enuff we have to deal with CDCR and their BS, we don’t need the hate amongst us, between us. Because at the end of the day, who understands you? Your trans fam. C’mon y’all. Love one another! Punkin Pie, Mule Creek, CA

Hello UV and LAGAI! I just now received my very first UV issue and I am already hooked! I am a proud member and advocate of the LGBTQ community and have been openly gay since 2012. When I was arrested and sentenced to FCI Elkton where I currently am, I felt abandoned and shunned by those on the outside [that] I thought were my friends and family. But now since I have been down over 3 years I have found a stronger, closer family: all of you in the LGBTQ family! Because of you all I have become more comfortable and accepting of myself, and no hate or evil in this world is going to change that! I hope everyone is staying safe throughout this COVID crisis. Let us all stay strong and united and spread all the love we can in this world. Jamie AKA “Spark”, Lisbon OH

Hello to all you kings, queens and royals in between. I’m Dominic, a 25 year old transgender and currently incarcerated. I have 12 years left! Reading UV has had a big impact on me. I enjoy reading about out LGBTQ Community and of course the inside short stories from other people like myself. UV family, you give me hope that I will make it out of this horrible place. I’m so proud to be a subscriber. To all my LGBTQ Family across the world, remember we must stick together, together we can make a change. DH, Taber City NC

This is Ms Foxie B, founder of the Rainbow Coalition of Arkansas. This has been a great year so far even while the sky is fallin. Bowels of this prison, the walls rise twenty feet, blocking out the sun, creating a cement and steel tomb for the living whose life of hell is never done. No quiet or solitude yet always alone, trying to keep sanity in place. A hard task for any person who has to wear a mask to cover all emotion. Within the dark bowels of this prison, the animal instinct needed to survive exists in each prisoner’s heart and mind, as he continues his lone fight to stay alive. I just want you all to read and understand life. Girls, stay out of the SuperMax 18 month program.  It’s harsh time. Ms Malakhen Asar Maakheru, Grady AR

I am super excited to now be a part of an amazing newsletter I’ve heard so much about. I have to admit, after receiving my first ever newsletter, March 2021, some of the articles brought tears to my eyes. UltraViolet has put forth a tremendous platform for each one of us to be able to come together. I look forward to all of my future issues and hope to learn more. To all, keep up the great work and never stop fighting for what’s right! Stay beautiful. TV, Orange, CA

I’d like to give a shout out to all the great, hardworking staff of UV and all UV readers. Special shout out to Joe Rouse in MI, Tara Belcher in AL, Chantee Haywood in TX, Mia Rosal, Lindsey Heiman, Brianna Harding, Jodi Arias in AZ, Eva Contreas in CA. And any others I might’ve missed. You are all beautiful women worth fighting for. I’ve been locked up 16 years with 1 more to go. I promise to keep in touch with all you! Please have faith. Adrien Espinoza, Phoenix AZ

The Process for My Change

I have recently begun the process of getting the prison to recognize my trans-gender identity. The process is a little involved I’m sure you know. In New Hampshire it starts with a visit to Mental Health (MH) sick call. As I was a scared, confused person, working with a MH counselor was a good idea. The MH counselor meets with you four or five times over the course of a month or two. It’s a process designed to “weed out” the insincere or those who are not actually trans (their words, not mine).

After this rigorous screening, the MH counselor puts in an official request to the “GD Committee”. This committee is made up of relevant department heads and they decide if you are actually trans or not. If you are found to be transgender, you are given the MH diagnosis of Gender Dysmorphia. A mental disorder or illness. So, there are some things about this process that should alarm us. Like the fact that I need ‘authorization’ to be transgender! I just don’t understand the thinking. It’s demeaning, disgusting and degrading. I realize that in prison security is important and that the costs of treatment can be expensive. So, stop locking us up!! To tell someone that the essence of their being is wrong or invalid is just plain evil.

I guess out there [in the streets] you only need to state you are trans and that’s that. In here, it’s a punishable offense to wear make-up if you’re not an official trans-girl. I have a skirt that I made, that’s a huge no-no. A bra or feminine underwear? Absolutely not. I have been in for fifteen years now. I’m not a young and pretty girl any more (to be fair, I was never that pretty). I would never have opened myself up to the abuse and drama that every trans-girl gets from both prisoners and staff, if I was not a transgender. Being queer is invisible, wearing make-up is like wearing a target on my face. Survival is heavily dependent on staying under the radar. I have not yet been ‘approved’ to be transgender but I’m already getting the negative attention. I’m ok with that. I’m trying to learn to use it to my advantage. So far, not so well.

But the thing that really bothers me, and it should bother all of us, is that being trangender is a “disorder”. WTF? There is nothing wrong with me (not in that regard at least). This feels like some sort of concession to the morality Nazis who insist that if you’re not a straight heterosexual, you are an abomination, a sinning SOB destined for whatever Candyland Hell they believe in. If I am not hetero then I am not normal? If I am not born the biological gender of my soul then I have a mental disorder? Wouldn’t that be a physical disorder? Oh no! That is not possible because god doesn’t make mistakes. Oh alright, that makes it all make sense!!??

I am a Native two spirit. I am a Heathen who honors the God and Goddess, Odin and Freyja. Every aspect of who I am has been attacked and destroyed by the ‘dominant culture’. I am in the minority, I know, but I wish others would feel the rage I feel and fight back against the systemic disrespect and oppression leveled at us all. I mean no disrespect to those of you who are part of the ‘dominant culture’. It’s not the people of the culture I hate, it’s the culture of the people. And I do mean hate! For over a thousand years that culture has been killing my people, my religion and my identity with the assurance that they were doing good. If their beliefs could co-exist with other beliefs and not try to convert, save or fix everyone else, I’d be fine. Live and let live. But they can’t. They believe we are doomed and they want to save us. It’s a real tragedy, good people doing evil things believing it’s good.

I want to contribute to UV. I want to get into the fight, effect change, motivate others and shed light on the secret lies of our society. Especially the prisons and ‘criminal justice’ system.

Your ally, Amber AKA Gregory LaVallee #79373, PO Box 14, Concord NH 03301

Prisoners’ Writings

Shorts From Inside

Today I feel like I hit the jackpot! I found a portion of your paper and “man oh man”. I want a subscription and I’d like to put this in your paper:  The LGBTQ community here at the Oregon State Penitentiary is proud to announce that we have been allowed to form our own support group.  We are the “Equality Eight”. We have speakers from the outside come in and since we are only a few months old, we lack resources for LGBTQers  returning to the outside world.  So, the $64,000 question; would any of your readers know of anything available?  Mainly housing and employment opportunities.  If so, please contact me at Angel Gomez #5822493, O.S.P. 2605 State St Salem OR 97310

The 2-spirit prison population is growing due to the growing number of out Native Americans.  Here is a group that advocates for them. Lavender 2-Spirit Foundation c/o S Soria, 3924 Hogue Ave, Stockton CA 95204. Omie J Williams #BD5287, Corcoran S.P. 4/AR#4, PO Box 3476, Corcoran CA 93212

Hello to whom this may concern.  My name is Lo and I’m a lesbian that’s currently at California Institution for Women.  I started a LGBTQ group here at this prison two years ago. I’m requesting UltraViolet and I’m having people in our community write to you guys.  Thank you. LD, Corona CA

Esteemed Cultural Shamans and Activists:  Recently I was given a copy of your excellent paper.  WOW! It sure brought it back for me; the activism and clear-thinking found in the words of the paper were not only on point but well written. I am interested in writing for your paper. I have been involved with a variety of activism from ACT-UP NYC, founding the first needle exchange to medicinal usage of cannabis in both NYC and California. Currently I write for the prison paper here at Avenal S.P. in Avenal CA where I am currently incarcerated. The column I started and wrote for is called “Health Reboot”. I appreciated the obit done for John Iverson in the Spring 2019 issue. I knew John as an activist and notably through the health facility I started call CHAMP in San Francisco.  He was a very committed, resourceful and hard working person. I appreciate all of your efforts on behalf of those of us who are prisoners and the overall community. VH, Avenal CA

I’ve been getting the newsletter ‘UltraViolet’ for a while now but never thought about submitting an article until this morning. I just received my Spring 2019 issue and after reading it, I was compelled to write. That being said…I’ll say this…thank you for producing a newsletter strictly for us LGBTQI people. We get a whole lot of hate and not enough love. I am a bi-sexual, Black man doing time in Ohio and my heart is in the hands of a transgender named Sherry B. To my community…continue to do ya’ll [best] and love one another through all the madness and chaos. Our naked truth is our sexuality and sexual preference. You’re not wrong for being real and authentic.  Love your life.  Love yourself. Pray for the haters.  Gay is here to stay!!! They better get used to us. DJ, Toledo OH

Thank you for the newspaper.  It was encouraging to read about efforts to exclude the police from Pride parades and celebrations. It is nice to see that someone gets it and realizes that the police are not their friends and only make things worse.  Maybe a society does need some form of police, in the same way that there needs to be garbage collectors and sewer workers but it is nothing to be proud of and the police in the u.s. certainly do much more harm than good.  Thank you again for telling the truth and speaking out.  CF, Torrington WY

 I am from Iran and was wrongfully convicted in Texas not based on evidence but based upon my nationality.  My question to you is – how can I get the help from social media and state officials to change me into what I want to be; a transgender!? This is inside me since I was little.  But I grew up in Iran and you know that was impossible. Can you get me support from the outside world please?  Ahmad Peyravi  #1162216 Hughes Unit, Rte 2, Box 4400 Gatesville TX 76597

Dear LAGAI, I have recently joined a LGBTQ human rights advocacy and support network.   For the LGBTQ family: if you need help  with a problem you are having or want to be a member, contact The GSM Advocacy & Support Network, Mrs. Karla R Wilcox-Nelson, 725 Locust St NE Salem OR 97301. GG, Tehachapi  CA

I am not only a long time subscriber to your newsletter but I am also an even longer resident of San Francisco.  I decided, well the government actually decided, that I would enjoy (yeah, right) a temporary (not life) visit at one of their wonderful facilities in sunny California.  I am writing this letter because every time I read your newsletter you always include a letter from the Shorts From Inside section from someone I would love to correspond with.  The problem is that there is never any address included.  While the BOP prohibits me from corresponding with persons currently incarcerated with other FEDERAL PRISONERS, there is no prohibition with communicating with persons in state, county, city facilities.  So my question is whether there is any way to get the addresses of the various persons who write or is that verboten (I have always wanted to use that word).  Please let me know because the more people I can write to, the merrier I am.  In any event, thank you for your news, it is great to have a voice on the outside speaking in.  Damian Nino #96899-011 FCI Lompoc FCI, 3600 Guard Rd, Lompoc CA 93436

I have nothing but wisdom and knowledge and I must share that or the Great God Allah will take even that.  You keep up the good work.  CONSIDER THIS FAMILY: The less you deal with certain people, the more your life will improve.  Anytime you tolerate mediocrity in others, be they friend or family or lover, it speaks to your own.  Remember this: those who don’t increase you will eventually decrease you. Never discuss problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution because it’s always those who’ve failed, trying to tell you how to win.  To quote Alice Walker, “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies you the right to grow.”   JS, Windsor NC

Just wanted to write in and say UV is great, inspires me in my struggle, and others claim I inspire them…so we’re making things happen, together.  I’m a transwomyn, down 25 years, in the NY DOC.  Also transitioning, and pending (preop) placement in female facility (maybe…) and evaluation for SRS (!) – but it becomes increasingly dangerous to be in general population – NY DOC’s don’t have ‘sensitive needs yard’ and only have ‘protective custody’ which is the same of SHU (solitary confinement).  I’m out, louder and proud.  GQ, Beacon NY

Hello LAGAI and all LGBTQI famm! Today is a beautiful day for me and LAGAI’s UV played an important role.  Yesterday I received the March/April issue as well as receiving the results to my Gender Dysphoria psychological evaluation.  I became appropriately diagnosed with GD and received my Transgender 128-3C Chrono allowing me to purchase feminine hygiene through the canteen on the yard and quarterly package programs through the mail.  I identify as Gender Non-Conforming, yet I believe this falls under Gender Dysphoric Diagnosis.  I am so widely hated by the staff in the CDRC.  Yet every day I carry the sword of love and shield of your solidarity and battle these struggles, often in wanton hopeless desperation  I benefit so much from writing letters, I encourage it heavily. If anyone out there takes the time from now until 2023, I will write back. Bradley ‘Seagull’ Quinby #AV0665, CA Medical Facility PO Box 2000, Vacaville CA 95696

Thank you for advocating for prisoners’ rights.  I recently completed a prison experience using materials that were available to me while I was in segregation.  It is a thoughtful, introspective presentation of self that guides you through the fight for basic rights within a private prison company that is currently holding Idaho residents on the Mexican border.  It is available for free download at  You are welcome to share this. Lovingly embattled, PI, Boise ID

I am writing in hopes to be included in the many that are so lucky to be able to receive the UltraViolet newspaper so that I can read it and spread it around to my lesbian peers here that would also be more than happy to have some literature that we can relate to.  There are so many of us lesbian women here that would love to have books and things to read to pass our time so that we didn’t have to just sit here in our cells 23 hours a day with nothing to do, so please don’t hesitate to send things I can pass around. The only limits are 3 books and magazines weekly.  Bless you and all you do. Your proud lesbian friend, Antoinette Pagan #5299218 Century Regional Detention Facility, 11705 S Alameda St. Lynwood CA 90262 [ed. note: books etc must be sent directly from the publisher]

I am a prisoner at MBP MDOC! I am openly Gay transgender.  And yes it is tough being Black, young (18 years old), a transgender and in prison. I am in prison for shoplifting (unarmed robbery0.  However, I should be home April 2020. I would just like to let you know your LAGAI articles are very encouraging and motivational for me. I am not subscribed a friend of mine lets me borrow hers and once I’m reading it, I don’t feel like a prisoner, I feel free. I never want to put it down.  Being in prison, it is hard especially when you’re the “cutest”, youngest of 3 transgenders on the whole compound.  Daily I get harassed and degraded by officers as well as prisoners!  Everyone is so bias when it comes to “OPENLY” gay.  I think we’re so brave for standing firm in what we believe.  Thanks for supporting me and others while we can’t.  TD, Marquette MI

I’m a transfemale.  I got my hands on one of your old prints and could not believe that you had not been shown to me.  I am one of the only demigirls that are not afraid to stand up to the BOP [Bureau of Prisons] here. Everyone has the right to fight to be themselves, you help give them the will to do that.  Thank you for that.  Silently speaking, CA, Tucson AZ

In remembrance to Roxsanna [Hernandez]and all transgender sisters worldwide who have been murdered for being their true self, and for trying to find a safe place to live, we all need to make a stand and say no more LGBTQ hate crimes.  Though we cannot do this by force and violence.  We need to show everyone that hate hurts both the person holding hate toward another person and the person they release that hate upon. In no way has hate or violence ever been good for anything or anyone. We need to begin to understand and respect those who reject us if we want them to show us respect and understand us.  If neither side is willing to budge then we face a never ending battle.So in remembrance of all LGBTQ people around the world who have been killed, let’s come together and find a peaceful way to end this battle.  Respectfully, GG, Tehachapi CA

More Needs to be Done

Those of us incarcerated can appreciate the fact that president trump was able to get the First Step Act approved.  It was very interesting to witness the results of such an action.

However, more needs to be done not to mention that on the state level the system is broken.  All across America we have been calling for help. Very little has been done.

We continue to see in the state population those who suffer with lie threatening chronic medical issues.  Also an aging population.   I have seen so many men die to the point I fear of dying in prison. A great percentage of us are concerned, will we be next?  Especially when the medical treatment is beyond poor and broken.

All the state is concerned with the ‘MONEY’ and not our lives.  All one has to do is judge the professionalism that they lack, the way we are treated … like thrown away savages.  This very conduct takes away from those nurses and/or medical staff that treat us more than fair.  They go out of their way to help us and even stand with us.  And are told they are treating us too much like humans.

So the entire system is BROKEN and something needs to be done to send us home.  We already know that the sentencing guidelines do not work.  Just look at what has caused MASS INCARCERATION in the first place? So many black men have fallen victim to a system that has created MASS INCARCERATION.  Those who have been elected have created a life threatening system that has turned into quicksand. If anyone can help or want to help, please contact me. Antonio L Ripley, Licensed Minister #0344995, Nashville C.I. PO Box 600, Nashville TN 27856

[ed. note: the First Step Act attempts to reform the federal prison system of the United States of America, The act, among many provisions, retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act, , restricts the use of restraints on pregnant women, expands compassionate release for terminally ill patients, places prisoners closer to family in some cases, mandates de-escalation training for correctional officers and employees, and improves feminine hygiene in prison. The Act was due to go into effect last April.]

drawing by prisoner
Graphic by Ms Cleveland Wright (Foxxie Bee) #119139, PO Box 970, Marianna AR 72360

They Already Have Our Freedom

I just want to inform you that I’m in SCI Muncy and there is a lot of stuff going on here.  Like that we just got a new memo about “Changes to PA DOC Privileged Correspondence”. Also this prison is filled basically to maximum capacity.  Anyways, a lot of my friends are lifers and they have to adapt to this drastic change along with them and other inmates who just received a memo that they are trying to make the prison a smoke free prison.  People who have been smoking for years have to quit after July 1, 2019 because lighters, tobacco and many other tobacco products will be considered contraband.  An average of 85% of staff and inmates smoke or chew and 15% don’t at all or quit already. But a lot of staff and inmates despise this new rule, especially inmates.  They feel this way because even though they made a few mistakes and have been doing years for it, they are still American citizens and even though DOC tries to say that we don’t have rights, I feel like we do.  I feel like these changes are going to start riots or uproars between staff and inmates, staff and staff, and inmates against other inmates.  The DOC says they will still let us buy what they call E-cigarettes but after long use of it, people can develop ‘popcorn lung’.  So I just don’t understand why they prison is trying to take away the little things we do have when they already have our freedom.   Smart Communication PA DOC/Angelina Alicea #OY5540, SCI Muncy  PO Box 33028. St Petersburg, FL 33733

Inside Voices:  C.A.G.E.; Everyday…; Shorts From Inside

Articles from Prisoners


Dear staff – Four other inmates and myself started the class called CAGE (Cultural Awareness Gender Education). What our class will teach will be an array of topics relating to the LGBTQ community and the rest of the inmate population who are interested in the dynamics of LGBTQ as a whole and as an individual.

logo from Transgender Day of Remembrance
graphic from Transgender Day of Remembrance

The facilitators and I are reaching out to you for support of information be it hand-outs, flyers, videos and/or possible guest speakers.  I’m sure it’ll be highly unlikely for someone to come all the way down from San Francisco to be a guest speaker, however we’re calling out for help for ideas. [This is] ‘non-monetary’ help, that means we don’t need your money, we are just seeking information to better facilitate the LGBTQ community and the population as a whole.  Is there anyone out there who can help us? Rudolph ‘3 Bears’ Garcia #AY1321 CIM/A-3-181 PO Box 368 Chino CA 91708


Approximately once every two weeks, a transgender human is killed, for no other reason than being transgendered.

EVERYDAY a trans human is denied a diagnosis that provides access to effective health care

EVERYDAY a trans human is told directly or indirectly, they are not the gender that they identify as, and/or that they must conform to their sex assigned at birth.

EVERYDAY a trans human is denied medical care by a provider that is unskilled in gender identity issues.

EVERYDAY a confined trans human is told directly or indirectly that they are not entitled to basic human rights due to their gender identity.

EVERYDAY a state official (DOC, DHS etc) hides behind 11th Amendment protections, to engage in harmful behavior against trans humans, including writing olicies that promote these behaviors, citing “safety and security issues”.

EVERYDAY a confined MTF trans human contemplates self-surgery because they are denied effective treatment to address their gender identity concerns.

As a result of these thing, EVERYDAY a transgendered person contemplates suicide as a result of internalized transphobia … 41% of trans humans attempt suicide and EVERYDAY too many succeed (one is too many).

When will the “Russian Roulette” with trans humans end? Will you take a stand to end these dangerous practices?  Because if it’s ’ot you, then who? If not Now, then when?  Ms Kendra-Michelle Lovejoy, 1111 Hwy 73, Moose Lake MN 55767

Shorts From Inside

graphic of prisoner with chains
by Jessie D Milo, Corcoran S.P.

Thanks for printing “The Horrors of Self-Surgery”! I received quite a bit of mail from around the country. Unfortunately I have attempted again in July – and more recently, I have been placed on an individual Program Plan (IPP). Interestingly they referenced my attempts at Gender Affirming Self-Surgery (GASS) as ‘self-surgery’, not ‘self-harm’ or ‘mutilation’. They also have me seeing a psychiatrist to evaluate me for Gender Dysphoria and the psychologist, who wrote our Trans Policy, wants to speak with me to get a better understanding of what it is like to be trans, and what I experience on a daily basis. Can anyone say “Progress”? Kendra-Michelle Lovejoy MN

I am glad that there is a paper for us activists of the LGBTQ family to have our voices heard on the inside and out. As I read about the predators in the newspaper and hear about them on the news (Kkkavanaugh and Bill Cosby), it brings to mind the predators on the inside. To all my brothers and sisters who are LGBTQ who are indigent and locked up, it’s OK to say NO. You all know who these predators are.  They are the ones who pressure us into sex. They first bribe us with drugs or commissary. THAT’S PROSTITUTION. You should never have to sell your body for something. Then they will say they can protect you and that they are the only ones who care about you. They try to completely isolate you. Don’t believe them. Most prison systems have an officer to go to but it seems like they can only help after you have been raped. So it is up to us to take a firm stand and say NO!  Anybody who sees this happening to our brothers and sisters needs to stand in solidarity when they are being terrorized. Jerry Kinsey, Huntsville TX

Deep down with most

 Individuals they desire

 One good friend-one that

 They can share their feelings

 Without fear or shame or

 Betrayal… Rayfield Johnson, 1010 W Columbia H3, Farmington MO

I’m writing to request that you cancel my subscription to UltraViolet. I’m set to parole so I’ll no longer be at this address.  It is my intention to make contact with you and find a way to pay it forward at some point in the near future. You have been with me this entire trip. One of the very few constants in my life in a place where it’s difficult to find anyone or anything positive to count on, I knew I could always count on you. Thank you for your dedication, your love and your continued support. “…what care I, how other peoples have behaved in other ages? The foundation of all revolutionary thought lies in this idea that NOW is what matters” Diderot.  Sending love and appreciation from the back of the closet.  Benito Gutierrez, Chowchilla CA

With the exception of Portland and Eugene, Oregon remains grounded in homophobia. And I am not in Portland or Eugene. During my incarceration I have been unable to be myself because being ‘out’ I am still punished through housing and the limiting of employment. UV has been greatly appreciated as a source of support. Thank you. Josh, Umatilla OR

I appreciate the newsletter and answering my reply.  I am getting out of prison earlier than expected due to classes I took. When I get established I can get back on the mailing list from the streets. Thanks again. Steve, Cal City CA

I just wanted to let you know how much I truly enjoy your newsletter but I’m lucky to receive a copy once a year )-: It might be this uptight Mormon prison just not letting me receive them like I should be. I wouldn’t doubt it. Anyway, this was just supposed to be a shout out and to send my love. Thank you very much for your time and all that you do for me and my LGBTQIA family. Darren, Draper UT

There are 2900 men at this Unit. The need for unity and peer education is very much needed. The transgender inmates are being targeted by staff and inmates alike and I’m trying to change this best I can. Darrell Linbocker #378848, 3899 Hwy 98, New Boston TX 75570

Once again I am amazed by the talent and dedication that this organization brings to the progressive movement of ‘our’ struggle for life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. I received the fall edition of UltraViolet and was very, very impressed with the lay-out, stories, articles and overall presentation of this newsletter. And that was just my first edition. Paul, Gatesville TX

Hello; I need others to know what’s going on. I changed all my state ID card, birth certificate, medical card and indictment papers to all say female. But in the Illinois DOC I am being housed as a male inmate. I am fighting this issue right now and need others to know and start asking questions to the IDOC (Why??) I cannot fight alone, I am a transgender female, will you help in letting everyone know where I am and my full name. Please. I know I am 100% Gay and LGBT is my life for Life!!! Ms Keith Brackett #B75025, Lincoln IL 62656

Hello to all of you in San Francisco. Just wanted all of you all to know that our prayers and thoughts are with you all during your time of troubles with the fires. We live in a crazy time you know, with all our technology and we cannot defend against something as fundamental as an ember. I consider myself a twin-spirit – a bear on the outside and a sweet young pretty thing on the inside. Furthermore, I am a Certified Legal Aide within the KY DOC and I take my job very seriously. Therein lies the rub, as they say and I find myself in the sand that is quick more times than not. Maybe I will learn caution before my time is through, but maybe not. Fortune favors the bold, does it not? Thank you for being there for us all. All of us KYers will keep y’all in our hearts. Dennis, Eddyville KY

I’m a queer 35 year old black male from Grand Prairie, TX. I want to shout out to my fellow queerlings across the nation. I’ve been in TX all of my life.  Please take time to fellowship with the Queer Community in prison and outside.  We are all going to need help when we are released.  I want to come to [the] Castro, I’m a good queer lover.  It’s hard to sleep at night.  There’s a lot of isolation especially being in the middle of nowhere.  I wish you were all a weekly queer paper.  Joseph, Colorado City TX

Report from the Tijuana Border

by Amanda

“They need medics in Tijuana” a friend called to tell me.  I’d already decided that the long drive was too much for my body when thinking of going to the border solidarity actions. But, somehow, I decided to go ahead anyway and show up. I was so impressed I could get out of the car and walk a few steps when we arrived in Tijuana that I was excited to see what help I could offer.

It is true that a lot of solidarity help is needed in Tijuana. Most helpful are people who speak Spanish, have a vehicle, and can stay for 5-7 days to integrate into the work. Flexibility is key. One nurse I met was a specialized, experienced wound care person and ended up happily doing translation. We met at a press conference for the hunger strikers. Every day I did different things and had no idea at the beginning of the day what I would be doing. One criticism I heard of North Americans is that we want to be able to plan when we are coming and what we will be doing. This is a humanitarian crisis and people on the ground are overwhelmed getting through each day, usually don’t have time to answer the backlog of messages and emails they receive. 

Conditions on the ground are always changing and, if trusted, you will be doing many things…but perhaps not what you initially thought. If you want to volunteer, go with an open mind. There is an ebb and flow of volunteers so that weekends may have more folks and by mid-week few remain.  

The central organizing hub in Tijuana is the amazing autonomous space, Enclave Caracol, which is serious about feminism and an alternative to binary genders, and even works to change the heavily gendered Spanish language. Enclave is a community center with a plethora of posters including Pride, decolonize,  and   “Todos con Marichuy” (the indigenous woman backed by  Zapatistas who ran for President of Mexico*). Workshops and cultural presentation are offered of everything from dance to self care to how to deal with the effects of tear gas. I have rarely been in as gender fluid and inclusive a space where so many struggles are respected.  

I was honored to sit in a few of the daily meetings and see how thoughtfully people approached the work, needs, and resources. Enclave houses Comida no bombas / Food not Bombs and feeds homeless Mexicans, deportees, and anyone else who shows up since 2011. They are a community center which has integrated many caravan members. While I was there, one of the community meetings discussed whether to increase the number of meals provided daily to be able to support the Benito Juarez camp which now had no food after Mexican authorities closed the stadium flooded by torrential rain and  moved thousands of people a 30 minute car ride away to el Barretal, a fenced space which had been a night club and where some services are provided with long lines and military control/”protection”. Some people decided to stay camped on the street in front of the Benito Juarez stadium even though authorities tried to get them to leave and took away the limited services previously provided.  The camp residents I talked with felt el Barretal was isolated and too far away, difficult to get work, and although there were some services offered, they preferred to camp in the street in front of Benito Juarez..  

The collective decided to make more food and bring it to the site of the Benito camp. This was doubling the number of meals a day that were served at 2 separate sites. “We just have to start earlier” people decided who already were working very long days. I ended up working in the kitchen to support this change as there were not nearly enough volunteers. Enclave has put out a call for more volunteers.

Enclave also has a tenant, the legal team, Al Otro Lado, which is on the top floors. They help migrants understand the process of seeking asylum in the US. I was never able to make it through their morning orientation since I got pulled out after 5 minutes to do other things. 2 of the women I traveled with were volunteering with al Otro Lado and kept very busy. Al Otro Lado also has an ongoing call out for volunteers.

As for medical care, I was able to do some, but it seems the most helpful thing is to organize a fairly self-sufficient group to provide everything needed for a mobile clinic. Enclave has a clinic space which I cleaned out and organized. I understand that at times people pass through to staff it. Anyone with a complicated problem goes to the General Hospital where I’m told patients are seen without charge for up to 2 months, no documentation needed.

Women from the caravan called for a hunger strike on November 29 to demand the US implement a faster asylum process & to the Mexican government to expedite humanitarian visas. It is so slow now that people would be waiting many months to get a chance to present their asylum claim. I was called to the hunger strike camp to check on a baby who had been bitten by a rat in the night. I imagine this is happening to other children as well.

I was able to connect with the LGBTQ caravans and able to provide some health care in addition to translation and logistics support. Trans women who apply for asylum are sent to Cibola Detention Facility which has a dedicated wing for Trans women. The hope is that they can support each other being together. However, Cibola is the Detention Center where Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez was briefly housed, possibly where she was shackled and beaten, before she died from lack of medical care. When Cibola was a private prison, it lost its contract due to  human rights violations and months later reopened as a detention center.

I can say that Diversidad sin Fronteras and Santa Fe Dreamers Project has been doing a lot to support our family. Past issues of UV have talked about their work. Your donations to these groups are being well spent. In addition to money, there is a need for folks here in the US to step up for everything from providing housing to concretely helping folks navigate the complexities of this new life after getting out of detainment.

photo of young man in Mexico

It’s a bad time to be a migrant. The fear of the stranger is nothing new though worldwide today xenophobia seems to be ever stronger. The Dutch are talking about housing migrants on an island 2 miles off their coast which previously had been used to quarantine sick animals. In 1913 the Dominican Republic stripped citizenship, retroactively to 1929 of any Dominican born of foreign parents (mainly Haitians). The last boat that saved the lives of 10,000s of refugees in the Mediterranean is being forced to close down.  And the US just allowed a 7 year old girl to die in ICE custody rather than seek prompt medical care for her overheating and dehydration. 

The recent caravans from Honduras and Central America have left thousands of people camped out in Tijuana hoping for asylum and entry into the US. Military has been called up, migrants are now called terrorists, and the US refuses to follow our own laws granting asylum requests.

Central America has suffered from centuries of colonialism and exploitation with harsh punishment for any resistance. This continues today under neoliberal policies, repression of indigenous opposition to mining, deforestation, and dams. The  2009 US supported coup of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras created an even greater level of corruption and violence from gangs and drugs which have become embedded in the state police forces. Also, there has been a number of years of drought and crop failure in the “dry zone” of Central America causing food scarcity for 2 million people. The cruelty of neoliberalism in partnership with world banks and the elite is shown by the privatization of water in Choluteca, Honduras for the last 5 years, restricting water usage for 200,000 residents and farmers in a time of decreasing rainfall. Climate disruption and chaos is another face of global imperialism. The pollution and carbon dioxide of the wealthy developed countries disproportionately  affects poor and vulnerable people around the world. Mass migrations which dwarf the current “immigration crisis” are in our earth’s future. This was the point of the 2018 UN Climate report which details what a huge difference to the lives of millions and millions of people around the world hangs in the balance of the earth warming 1.5 degree C instead of 2 degrees C.

On the ground in Tijuana, I heard again and again from mothers that they had to leave their homes. In addition to the violence which killed family members, they had no food for their children. Living on the streets with inadequate food, sanitation, and health services in Mexico is not a new experience for many of them. What is new is collectively taking their destiny into their own hands and trying to change it together. This was the beauty of the caravans and inspired the amazing generosity people have showed the caravans as they passed. Although much has been made of Mexicans who are anti-immigrant, most of what I saw was solidarity. There are also camps of homeless Mexicans that are indistinguishable from those of the migrants. In the rain and cold, I thought of the many homeless encampments in Oakland, without any services, that are constantly being evicted and harassed.

When I returned from Tijuana, I had the viral crud so many I saw there had. I had bilingual, dystopian dreams while sweating out my sickness. We are looking to make a new world where there is a place for the generations to come.  The horrors of famine, floods, drought and air we cannot breathe that will cause most of us who survive to become refugees is unacceptable. The struggle continues on many fronts from the streets of Oakland to Palestine, Haiti, Tijuana, Honduras, Bolivia, the Philippines, Nigeria, and on and on. La lucha sigue.

*Marichuy’s campaign was not interested in taking power or in winning the privilege to rule over others but based on communal governance, a respect for the earth and others, and a commitment to healing from centuries of colonial domination. Centering the voices and values of indigenous communities – women and girls, especially – Marichuy’s campaign tour featured all women speakers who stressed the profound gender inequalities in Mexican systems of governance, the history of violence against Mexican women, and the culture of capitalism that extends impunity to those who commit femicides.