(NEW PARAGRAPH TO FOLLOW DIRECTLY AFTER THE LAST PARAGRAPH IN PART ONE OF 'A LIFE WITHIN A LIFE')
Late in 2006 I was released from prison in time for the major holidays, and although I was free, I was still bound by the years of needing to bury the emotion of missing holidays with your family due to being incarcerated. Although I was free, I was far from free. Prison seems to leave a person somewhat damaged, possibly a form of PTSD, I don't really know?
I did well for myself rather quickly. I spent my first five months in a studio apartment, then transitioned to a one bedroom and rented out the bedroom and lived in the living room. Five more months would pass, and I was nine months into working toward completing my hours so I could qualify to take the electrician's journeyman exam. At the ten month mark I purchased my first home, life was going well. I was making a solid wage, I had a new car, a truck, and was moved into my house. At the time things were stable, I was finishing up my therapy that you continued once released, I was staying out of trouble, and I was actually beginning to enjoy life.
One of my closest friends I'd made while incarcerated, introduced me to his family and I was doing all I could to help them, for him. He still had 7-8 years to do, and he had a mother, three sisters, two brothers, and pile full of nieces and nephews, not to mention his own son and a son he'd helped raise who wasn't his by birth, but nevertheless he took him as his own. This newly acquired family would come with great blessing and many curses. The blessings, the love they had for me and the love I had for them. The curse, two of his brothers committed suicide within months of each other and I did all I could to help the family through these tragedies, but such horrific events can't pass without affecting you.
Through these two tragic deaths I met a woman who was friends with my friend's sister. She and I quickly hit it off and I soon began to believe that I could possibly make a relationship with her work. She also had three sons who I was also quickly becoming attached to and them to me. After about six months of hanging out we began to spend a bit of time alone, without the boys, and so came the marriage conversation.
Mid-stride of marriage talks our relationship fell to pieces in a bad way, and I found myself eventually in jail for probation violations. Between my time with her, and the five months in jail, I found myself about $100,000 poorer. I not only lost this amount of money, but the happiest days of my entire life as well. Having a family and children is something I'd always dreamnt of, and it was gone. My heart had been torn from my body. My drive to live and survive had left with them all. Depression would immediately begin to set in, and only worsen as each day, week, month, and year passed. This was the turning point in my life that led me down a path to eventual life in prison.
I quickly turned to one night stands with men via Craigslist, Grinder, Adam 4 Adam, Gay.com, and Yahoo Chat Rooms in order to self medicate. This, however, only led me into more emptiness and feeling more worthless. When this wasn't enough, and working more wasn't enough, I turned back to motorsports on top of work and sexual excursions. I never dove into anything half-assed though, so this too became yet another full-time ordeal on top of my already full-time job. I also still had to squeeze in my extracurricular activity, sex. All this 'running' left me further into the pit I was quickly unearthing.
Through all this, only my closest friends knew of my sexuality. The majority of my daily acquaintances knew nothing about that part of my life, I was still very much living a double life which only made taking further steps into deceptive ways that much easier. I was on a road to destruction long before I imploded. I attempted age appropriate same sex relationships, and at times I enjoyed that, and felt okay, but I couldn't ever seem to get over the loss of what I felt was my family. I did all I could to not be home, because to be home was a constant reminder of my loss. The empty bedrooms, and the quiet house created a pain worse than any I'd ever experienced. I even attempted to fill my home by renting out rooms to friends and strangers, and this too would prove insufficient.
I eventually became addicted to the acceptance and 'love' I felt through communicating nonstop with multiple people at once via Facebook, texting, chat rooms, and Skype. One day while in a chatroom I discovered underage males who were seeking out adult men. This quickly became my new medication, I felt as though I was once again content and happy, although I realize after the fact it was just another form of false happiness. I began to have multiple online 'relationships' with these people I encountered online, nothing ever seemingly enough. Once I had what I thought I wanted or needed, I always found myself unsatisfied and seeking out more.
Next I began receiving images that underage males were posting. Eventually I also was sharing photos, and sharing video via Skype. I was deep into a hellacious cycle that could have no good ending. All that was happening was that I was falling deeper and deeper into depression, and deeper and deeper into secrecy and isolation.
The final death blow came when an underage race fan who I'd been communicating with off and on, never inapproproatly, had his accounts overtaken by a detective. The conversation quickly took a turn in a negative direction, and in my depressed stupor I fell face first into a trap that landed me a second sexual-related strike which in this state means you receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Equipped with the knowledge I'd never again experience freedom, I was free from the stress that my life prior to my arrest had caused, but was now enveloped in a new cloak of depression. I would spend much of my first three years surrounded by hopelessness and a lack of purpose or joy. Many days I sat there thinking, 'this is all I have to look forward to?' as I looked around my cell, in a place 4 1/2 hours away from my family and friends. Many days, beginning with the day of my arrest, I considered ways I might put an end to my suffering, and the suffering I'd caused so many others. It was only the love of my family and friends, and the foundation I'd been raised upon through the church that saved me.
Nearly three year into my life sentence I finally began to accept my destiny as well as who I was. It had been around 29 years that I'd battled internally with my sexuality and finally a peace had come over me that people, and God, loved me as I was. I was able to finally say 'I am gay' and believe it, and be okay with it. It was through a Charles Stanley sermon on 'Roots' that finally led me to this freedom. The sermon spoke of inspecting and dealing with the root damage in our lives. This search led me to uncover the roots behind my life's behaviors, and allowed me to distinguish between the issues in my life, separating the age appropriate same sex attraction from my issues with lust, and those two from my attraction to teen-aged males and the battle of emotional co-dependency. I had grouped these four as one for most of my life when they were, and are, four separate issues. It was the combining of these that led me into unhealthy relationships, and even the healthy ones seemed unhealthy which kept me living a life of secrecy when I didn't need to. One secret or lie always makes it easier to have more secrets and lies.
Living in prison as a gay male isn't always easy, however, through testimonies I've read in the prison LGBT publication by Black and Pink, I've heard some horrible stories of abuse and mistreatment towards LGBT inmates by both staff and other inmates. I have been very fortunate to not be able to share such horror stories. The extent of my experience has been dealing with the talk behind my back, people jokingly calling me gay, fag, homo, etc. For the most part, the words don't bother me, but even those harmless words wear on you at times.
Another thing you tend to deal with is people thinking that because you are gay, you want to have sexual relations with every man you see, this is such a false belief, and so annoying. This belief comes not only from other inmates, but also staff, if you're gay, your just a freaking whore, and want sex from everyone, all the time, that is completely false.
Another issue I have faced is harassment from staff members. I will say that in my own experience 99% of staff are very professional and understanding. I did, however, face harassment for my first three years while at Clallam Bay from an officer in my unit. He was very immature, completely unprofessional, and simply stated, an ass. He made it his business to share with other inmates that I was gay, and that I was a sex offender. Luckily the people he told (that I know of) already knew, so the harm was contained, but nevertheless that is not okay. He would constantly mimick and make jokes and gestures towards me. I ignored him, avoided him, hoping the 'bully' would move on if I didn't react, but he wouldn't move on. I eventually reported him, and after an eight month investigation it was decided that my complaint was unfounded. Basically, according to the Superintendent, there wasn't enough evidence to do anything, but that didn't mean the report wouldn't be in his file. I also reported him to the ACLU, so that will remain on file. In the end it affected me negatively, more than him, but at least I finally said something so if he harasses someone else down the road, my report will then make a difference.
Yet another prejudice against our community within a prison setting is the ability to cell up with a friend. Being gay, you can't have a close friend (in the eyes of staff or other inmates) without the assumption being you are having sex with the person. Beings I tend to surround myself with non-LGBT individuals, this tends to have a negative affect on the non-LGBT person as much or more so than it does me. Thankfully I've made some pretty good friends over the years who don't give two shits what others think or say. But, this belief left me unable to cell up with friends. For three years I was housed by myself. I'm happy to say, the place I am now is a bit more realistic and has allowed me to cell up with my best friend.
Where I am now, we have an LGBT support group, and had the first Pride Event in our state this past June. I am thankful to live in a progressive state, where they are making positive changes to make life in prison more bearable for those who don't fit the mold that many still believe everyone should fit inside. The changes aren't only coming from the top or staff within, inmates are also becoming more understanding and accepting of a diverse population which is a good thing. I've found that it is often the younger generation who are the most accepting. Because of them, it has begun to overflow onto the older generation. You'll probably always have the people who are stuck in their ways and beliefs, and that is their choice, but I am thankful to those who have open minds and caring hearts.
I will end with this, my hope is that our world would continue to evolve, that prejudice and racism would one day be a thing of our past. Any form of prejudice is horrible and is evidence of ignorance within an individual. If we would look to Jesus as an example of how to live their life, our world would be a much safer, happier, and peaceful place to co-exist.
I am currently (August 16th, 2017) working on the complete story of my life which I hope to publish in the not too distant future. Follow the ministry (which I founded in 2015) online for updates on future published works. (go2cm.org cmblog.orgcmfbook.org cmtwitt.org)
For more writings by me, visit my blog page at cmblog.org