Queer black man behind the bar

Oguntodu, Joseph

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Transcript

Queer Black Man Behind Bars I am Joseph Dye Oguntodu. I have been incarcerated in the Ku Klux Klan world of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice since August 18, 2011. Previously I spent 10 months at Dallas County Jail with a majority in safekeeping. It was an opportunity to be around my queerlings. It was difficult for me to sleep because of the confinement. I did go to commissary weekly. I went to Ms. Elaine's classes on Wednesdays for HIV prevention. My mother visited me on Sunday mornings. I used the phone a lot. I couldn't receive hardback books per policy of Dallas County Jail. I wrote to many churches and they responded. I didn't know anything about addresses to legal places. I was lucky to have access to the yellow pages at the library. I had been on the psych caseload. I had a myriad of books. On Aug 17, 2011 the officers stated Oguntodu what's your last four. I told them. I had to get rid of books. I hugged a lot of people. Going to another place was difficult. It was muggy that Thursday. I had no shower slides. I was hungry. I met a few people on Middleton. The was no progressive church services. It was right wing prison church. I tried to fit in. I didn't see queerlings running around. It was severely hot. They called outside rec three times a day. They made us strip, shave our faces to compliance. Later day night Sept. 5, 2011 they told me I was on chain. I ended up on Byrd unit Sept. 6-19, 2011. I told Ms. [illegible] that I was gay, sex offender, etc. She let me in safekeeping. I had to be by myself for 1 day. I had a cellie named Jimmy that was Bi and associated with a trans Latina. I hated being moved on 9/19/11. They had the shower line. I was able to make commissary. I bought ice cream for myself and a random bi guy. I stayed overnight on Robertson Unit for 9/20-9/21/2011. I ended up at West Texas at the TL Roach Unit. I had to deal with staff that told me to stay out of their face, don't look at the women. Being forced to pay for protection because of my sex crime, not willing to fight and my queerness. They started playing the homosexual games where they touch each other inappropriately. These were mainly gang members. I was cheated out of $500.00 by a black gang member. Yet I still couldn't fit in. I met some queerlings Ava, Jimmy, and Cupcake. We didn't get to do much queer organizing. Yet I tired to stay active. I dealt with the religious drama. I was able to rest better, go to outside Rec, go to commissary weekly, check out books, etc. I made calls to check on my mother. I had to get a lot of mail. I didn't enroll in college. I should have. I sang in the church choir. I wasn't feeling it because of the anti-gay establishment there. The Pentecostals, Baptists, and others were swarming. I had some whom I didn't get along with because they were queer for me. Administration was doing dirty. On April 19, 2012, I was shipped off to Montford Unit to be placed on suicide watch because I told law library staff that I would like to prepare a will in case something happens. I was in Ad-seg placement from 7:28am-5:35pm stripped naked and cold. I felt inhumane. I stayed at Montford Apr 19 - May 13, 2012. I checked out thinking I was going back to Roach. They sent me to Robertson Unit which is maximum security. It was hard to adjust there because it was a medical unit they wrote many kites on people. I was kited out a few times once in medium custody and once in minimum custody. During that time I filed grievances weekly and filed 1983s. I got one major disciplinary overturned. I was shipped October 9,2014 due to my filing of 1983s. They sent me to a kid unit called Clemens. They served better food. I got involved with Toastmasters. It helped me to be an effective speaker. They gave me a job in laundry as a folder. It was very challenging getting up at 4 and going till 10. I was off Wed/Thurs. All I did after work was nap. I didn't feel great. They placed me in the dorms. I had issues with my co-workers. Staff were sweating the shirts/pants with no pocket and I said they all must include a pocket. Toastmasters was fun. I ended up serving on the board of directors as a Sgt at Arms from Oct 2015 - March 2016. I was called a "man of conviction. I was recruiting people. I ran for the seat in Early 2015 and lost. I was the first openly gay and black to hold the Sgt at Arms post in the history of the Toastmasters group on the Clemens Unit. I changed jobs to a janitor. I ended up working grave yard. It was an opportunity because I had more access. I would still get tired because I spoke every week. I stopped going to church from 2014-2016 because of the judgmental individuals. I had some allies whom I talked to. I had stayed case free for 2 yrs I gotten a disciplinary case for my engagement in homosexual activity. In TDCS they have zero tolerance for sex. Yet Lawrence V Garner overturned sodomy in 2003. They wouldn't pay its workers. We were still held in slavery. They write cases for not going to work, not shaving, etc. We couldn't stay in the chow hall long. They tell us to get up after 5 minutes. This was the same when we went to the shaver line. We got screwed over on medical appointments and mailroom. There is no order. Each day is different. There is a severe mental health crisis. The queer community is so divided. I had relationships with different people. I still got preyed on by the Blacks. I wasn't sexually attracted to blacks. The African staff wanted to know me, shake my bunk down, inquire about my case, family, etc. I felt very embarrassed by this. When they found out I was gay. They started belittling me. I was told that I walked like a woman. I still remained exhausted. I been denied parole 3 times already due to my crime and probation violation. The issue I have has been blacks wanting me to have sex with them. There is a lot of animals around here. They are real tough. They want to fight. I am constantly provoked daily. I was held in solitary confinement for 74 days Apr 11- June 24, 2016 due to 2 sexual cases and plus awaiting being shipped. I filed paperwork asking to be house with queerlings on another unit. I was denied. They sent me to Eastham. My last cellmate was gay. It was a relief. I wrote to various books to prison distributors. They sent me great books. I was jumped by a gang member on Oct 20, 2008 close to my cell. Officer Gonzales witnessed it. I fell to the ground. I suffered a swollen face. I couldn't hardly walk to the showers and almost fell. My equilibrium was off. I filed paperwork. I was shipped Nov 18, 2016 en route to Michael which is about 3 hrs away from home. They still didn't place me in safekeeping because state classification denied because they didn't feel anything was wrong with me. I discharged 9/1/2020. Since being on the Michael unit I had several bogus disciplinary cases written on me inclusive of the law library and my previous for field squad. I felt that working outdoors was slavery. I was subjected to hostility by the gang members. It seemed as though I get death threats. I was told that Homosexuals and their families should be killed by a black inmate that lived in my pod. Yet he was moved. Others said sinister things. I have a cellmate whom I lived with since Mar 19, 2017. Since this time he has called me scary, stupid, etc. Yet he bullies me daily. He feels that he is right all the time. He had to be first to everything. I told him I don't [illegible] kids. I am not your [illegible] [illegible] and you act like a lost puppy dog. He has gotten worse. I had to changed my faith to Buddhism on Eastern Religions because I don't belong in the Christian world. On Tuesdays I have been going to services where more queerlings are there. I am still learning more about after being traumatized by the fundamentalists. I had to deal with waits on medical services. They glorify conformity. I am told to stop dropping sick calls. They are inhumane. This is Correctional Managed Health Care. They feed us sack lunches/ dinners constantly because they claim they are short staff. As a G4 medium custody offender we are often ordered to be escorted by an another officer. Other units I been on they didn't require escorts. I was denied minimum custody April 10th, 2017. It has been difficult living with the elder population. They act like 7 yr olds. The Whites in prisons are in fear. Most that live in my pod are over 40. It is very to explain things to them for they don't catch things the first time. The African staff here can't communicate well. It causes a lot of severe friction. They criticize me because I don't know the language. I get in arguments with them. They don't understand appointments. They are constantly judgmental. I stress so much dealing with the prison. I am tired of staff botheringme. It is a central type of prison. They have a bunch of cameras up. They wasted taxpayer money on them than on education. They claim they lack funds. They cut healthcare and education which is important. The water system is not great. They refuse to filter the water. This is from the river. On Eastham the water causing us to have cramps. They shut the water off constantly. Since being on Michael other queer people had called me "renegade punk." I am labelled as different. I am long-winded. I just believe in expressing myself. Its hard to sleep at night with all the constant banging of keys, shouting from staff and inmates. It's hardly quiet around here. The chaplains are not much of help. They are underpaid and feel they can overcontrol inmates. They are severely inhospitable. We don't have a Buddhist Chaplain. They took away our yoga mats which makes it harder to meditate. I have not been in [illegible] pain since meditating. I hate taking my chronic care meds. They cause side effects, including gas, diarrhea, etc. Due to the chow hall food, they don't wash the vegetables / drain them. The best food is at breakfast. They constantly serve pancakes or eggs every other day. They consistently feed pork/beef/patties, beef or pork/rice, pork or beef vegetable casseroles in order to stack up the inmates. They offer dessert once a week on Wednesdays. They haven't served chicken quarters to these or regular trays except on the 4th of July. Every unit is different they count so much here. Many don't count correctly. The employees don't have experience. Many are bigoted. They won't go to college. A lot of staff are resigning and going into the oil fields for more money. They waste time creating cases. Time here is difficult. Many have [illegible]. I had to train myself to be alert as I discharge 9/1/2020. I have to learn the art of small talk. I have to get out of the prison mindset. I can educate the public about my experience here. This is not a comfortable place. I hate wearing white daily. I don't like the grey socks they give us for they cause inflammation. The canvas shoes and black steel toed boots are severely uncomfortable. I am tired of being abused by staff and inmates. i never been assaulted by staff. I have been threatened to be gassed. I am allergic to it. It has made me cough / sneeze. I witnessed fights, people passing out from k2. It is very traumatizing. I was punched in the lip twice by a Latino gang member in the cell because I was gay. The gang policy dictates if one is caught with a homosexual, they will be subjected to violence. Some get away with it. Many are seeking a buddy. Being queer in prison is much harder than in the outside because in the free world there is more room. In prison one is confined. Everyone is in your business. They gossip constantly like a woman. They are not discreet. They make fun of people. I call it go-sipping where they are sipping on the go. I had to shut people down. The majority of prisoners are caught up in it. I still don't feel safe and secure as a queer black man. I hated that there's not a Democratic President. Hillary Clinton was uniquely qualified then Donald Trump. I was deeply shocked. As a queer black man I do believe in speaking up. Years ago before coming to prison I was still in the closet. I didn't watch Ellen, Rupaul, nor Will & Grace. I was reared in an all black community where one minded their business. My mother worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. I had to follow in her footsteps. Yet I involved myself in extracurricular activities in order to be a productive citizen. I have burnt out at times and needed the rest. I seen books which inspired me from Bill Clinton's My Life to Love, Ellen by Betty Degeneres. I am wanting to read more queer history. I want the progressive colleges across this nation to know that a queer black man is upcoming. There is no put up or shut up around here. I am a polarizing figure. I am seeking strong minded people to join me in the fight for marriage equality. We can't tell anyone which bathroom to use. Just as we have Freedom from Religion. We must keep ourselves at work. We can't sit down. I constantly be on the go daily. I don't like sitting still except when I have to (food motivates me. I hate when my energy is drained people consistently waste my energy. I hate not being understood. I need to learn many personality types in prison. They change too much daily. I can't never make a person happy. People are sensitive here. They don't have thick skin. Right now it is severely hot. i am trying to maintain my composure. I had went off due to the weather conditions. Where is my freedom as a queer man to love another man without staff writing disciplinaries for establishing a relationship. The Africans telling me "Get out of there" the scene of being chewed out by Staff for being in an authorized area. Staff break rules what makes them any different than us. They wear gray clothing and wear white. Both make us hot and cause us to flame up in attitude. People looking for attention. Where is our freedom? As a queer black man behind the bar I ask are you out. Do you have any homophobia in your heart? There are people around who don't know who they are. They hide behind the religious bigotry, gangs. It is time in 2017 to come out. It doesn't matter if your an elder, teen, woman, man, gender nonconforming or whatever you are. Stop living that lie. Quit hiding in fear. Many inmates get mad at me for studying them too closely. They want to fight because they feel like it will help them gain more respect. Maybe as a reader over the Internet you might question everything I have written. I value your opinions. Maybe there's something I might not have covered that you might want to address. I may not know all the answers as a queer black man. This ride in prison is bumpy like a roller coaster. I thank Hamilton College for allowing a queer prisoner like me to express myself. I hope to visit your college upon release and extend the handshake. Thank you in advance. Sincerely, Joseph Oguntodu

Author: Oguntodu, Joseph

Author Location: Texas

Date: July 13, 2017

Genre: Essay

Extent: 10 pages

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