[Colored photo of author. He's wearing glasses and is giving the camera a nervous smile.]
The Dialogue of Xzyzst
Tonight I was handed a letter sent to me from a kind soul from the Netherlands. She asked if I had heard a recent episode of the very popular San Quentin State Prison's podcast called Ear Hustle (episode title: Down Low).
I had not, so it was great to see the brief header from the website. The print out leads with the following words:
"Of the thousands of incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, no one is openly gay. NO ONE."
So now there is a bit of a rumbling in my spirit, as I have been housed in San Quentin's condemned row for over 20 years and living as openly gay ever since I was 12 years old.
I will note here that the Ear Hustle people invited the death row population to join their podcast. I wrote them back, as did others here. Yet when they broadcasted the death row episode here in the prison, the host of the show played as if no one from the row contacted them. We all laughed at the sanitized death row episode they did manage to broadcast. In fact, not everyone featured in that episode are actually on death row, which many of us found to be systematically interesting.
For me, people talked about how the death row episode ended with two voices of someone who sounded pretty ethnographically gay, and it was if a mainline inmate was chosen to replace the voice of, well, me. Let me add to my note here that just before the release of Ear Hustle's death row episode, I received a letter from an organization named Flying Over Walls. The letter prompted me to contact Ear Hustle because there was interest of doing a LGBTQ San Quentin podcast. And yes, I wrote Flying Over Walls, added my story, and NO ONE contacted me. NO ONE, not even Ear Hustle.
That leaves my spirit to rumble over reading the Ear Hustle header, that out of 4,232 inmates at San Quentin State Prison, NO ONE is openly gay?
Please allow me to provide some clarity on this matter. Yes, in 2018-2019, there is a "crowded closet" within SQ, and it is created on a systematic level. Here is what I mean.
Every inmate passes through a reception process before they are endorsed by a facility. San Quentin's reception center units are Badger Station, Donner Station, and Alpine Station. Alpine is the protective custody unit for gang dropouts that require sensitive needs programs and present a security concern. More about this later.
In Donner Station, portions of that unit now houses condemned inmates. I was there just a few months ago and had an opportunity to engage with the new generation of inner city youth being massively incarcerated. One day, out of nowhere, I heard a slash like a large water slash. In front of the cell I was in, I noticed a young gay black boy standing in the holding cages, waiting to see a councilor and be endorsed to go to a prison program, soaking wet.
I ask my young fam, why was other inmates throwing water on him. He said,
"The first one wasn't no fuckin' water, and they don't want no gay homies over here, my nigga."
Then I heard a hawk up and a spit. Then three more spits. And I said,
"You ain't got no fucked up case?"
The young man said,
"Nawh, they don't let us in Badger and Donner. We get dumped and gotta go to Alpine. That's why you be hearing those whistles on the yard and in the chow hall because the dropouts made up they own gang. And gay homies get rushed by them too. Yeah, we're the only ting that everybody's enemies agree on."
In protective custody program for being openly gay.
Condemned officer Torres passed by. I asked if the young man could get some dry clothes, a T-shirt and new boxers that I had, and a towel to clean the urine, water, and spit off of him. Officer Torres said,
"I'm the condemned beeper. That's a reception center inmate. He needs to ask Desk Officer Redd."
Desk Officer Redd said,
"His councilor will be here in a minute, and I don't have laundry. He can get it when he gets to his new unit. Alpine, where 'it' belongs."
Later that night, I asked my young friends upstairs why gay homies get threatened like that. One inmate said,
"That's them old ass niggaz. We can't do nothing 'bout they politics. We don't give a fuck what a nigga do. If we did, homie, we wouldn't fuck wit chu foolz down there witchall. Told us you was gay too, but they can't tell us what to do. Feel me? So all I can say is, they don't allow them over here or in Badger, my nigga. I don't even know how he made it over here, but that wasn't no lil' nigga spittin'. That's J-Cat shit, my nigga."
That upset me, and it happened six times while I was in Donner Station and nobody did nothing about it.
If that's not a reason for our young LGBTQ family to stay in the crowded closet. I want to conclude with a more reviling reason why so many people are conditioned not to be open.
CDCR Title 15 Section 3375.2, Administrative Determinant #26 (SOR) Sexual Orientation.
"Inmates bisexual or homosexual orientation may require special placement."
Now, hummmmmm. Opine with me, if you will. Exactly what that means for our youths in prison?
a. Other subculture groups of inmates have the same policy and disposition as the department regulations.
b. Assaults, being spit on, and being drenched in human urine isn't even responded to with the basic human dignity for a clean and dry set of clothing.
c. And in spite of SQSP being designated as facility to house LGBTQ inmates, in 2018-2019, people don't feel safe enough to live open. No one? NO ONE?
I am someone, and I wrote a program called The Sound Mind Streamer, which guarantees the eradication of words and systematic ostraca that exists antithetical to LGBTQ values, morals, self-worth, and spiritual wellness.
And so far Lt. Sam Robinson hasn't approved this message.
The following is a list of public servants whom I've personally reached out to on this matter and, even more specifically, after I too was spit on through the gate, had to sternly and effectively physically defend myself against condemned inmate self-appointed gay taskforce. A correctional sergeant who exposed his erect penis to me through his uniform while propositioning me for sex in return for program advancement, who still works here, by the way. And I was forced to spend a total of 12 years in a single-man cage for exercise yard participation in a filthy dark area of SQSP that is both totally covered and wrapped away from direct sunlight.
Yes, I just said I spent 12 years with NO SUN because I'm open about being gay. Yes, the only one, out of 4,232 inmates, and not one of these people have done anything to prevent and end the ongoing abuses.
1. Facility Captain Avila = "Opening a non-designated yard here is too complicated."
2. Facility Lieutenant Torres = "I'll have a talk with Sergeant Rodriguez."
3. Warden Ron Davis = "I'm not opening another condemned yard."
4. Governor Jerry Brown = NO SHOW
5. Barbara Boxer = NO SHOW
6. Barbara Lewis = NO SHOW
7. Maxine Waters = NO SHOW
8. Jackie Spiers = NO SHOW (but please get well soon, great servant)
9. CDCR Director Kernen = NO SHOW (retired)
10. PREA Officer De Young = "Insufficient evidence that employee misconduct occurred."
11. The ACLU c/o LGBTQ division = Failure to respond
12. GLAD = Failure to respond
13. Kamala Harris = NO SHOW
14. Flying Over Walls = Community failure
15. SQ Law Officer = Covered up employee misconduct
2019 may 5
2019 apr 4
2019 mar 23
2018 nov 7
2018 oct 31
2018 aug 11