On guest blogger Steve Mason's post Finding Freedom In Prison (No I Don't Mean Jesus), discussing his time as a young incarcerated queer man, his experience of anti-gay violence there, closeting, and the freedom he experienced after coming out in prison. A number of Projectors posted supportive comments, but others criticized his brief mention of the fact that he received no helpful response to his requests for resources directed at some major LGBT orgs, and others wondered openly about why Mason is in prison and his trustworthiness.
Yasmin Nair left several comments on these topics, the most salient of which was this:
I find it curious that he's being painted here as some kind of scheming liar or at least as someone with a "grudge," and below, in others' comments, as someone who wanted to be a "spokesperson" - which is a blatant lie; he was merely asking for resources. What, exactly, does a man who is out as queer in jail, probably the worst kind of category to be in, have to gain by lying about all this?
For anyone interested, Regina Kunzel's book, "Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality," provides a fascinating history of how the LGBTQ community has, since the 1970s onwards, gradually turned its back on queer prisoners. What's really fascinating is that queer prison correspondence projects once proliferated as Gay Liberationists took it up on themselves to establish solidarity with their brethren in jail. Today, apparently, even the ACLU can't be bothered to have even the *names* of prisoner support programs?
Lastly, and here I'm referencing comments below, not the one above - perhaps our time is better spent considering the immense brutality of what Steve describes about prison conditions rather than whether or not his crime is good enough for us to reclaim him as one of us. It's the prison conditions we're talking about here, not an attempt to reconvict him.
What say you, Projectors? What should we think about Steve Mason's discussion of his experience of freedom in coming out while in prison in the face of homophobic violence -- is it relevant to discuss his negative experience with LGBT orgs, and is knowing his crime relevant to his discussion about queer prison life? Are we turning our backs on a young man who has faced homophobia and violence and survived while being out in a prison environment, and deserves our compassion? Yasmin Nair's full comment after the jump.