Stories from isolation of incarcerated LGBTQ youth

I was in foster care. I was there for 18 months and then I left the family. There was a lot of drug abuse and physical abuse there. I have two sisters and two brothers. One is a twin. He’s in juvie in XXXX. All the kids are in different foster homes. My sister was in foster care then she was adopted at 10 and moved to XXXX. I’m in touch with my mother and father. They are sober now. They are trying to get me back. I tried to live with them three or four times. I have been bisexual since I was seven or eight. My dad doesn’t like it but he’s dealing with it. My mom is fine with it one minute and another minute she is saying, “Why are you doing this?” I would AWOL a lot from my foster home and go to my real home. My mom and dad would call and say I violated a court order. My mom doesn’t like the friends I have. Some are gay some are straight. Me being open with them didn’t work. It scares them. My mom was never stable and I would get into fights with her. I leave next month and go to XXXX. That’s a level 12. I will sustain a program and complete it. My sexuality with the other kids is confused. Some of them are fine with it, others are overwhelmed by it and don’t like it. There are a few kids and some staff I trust here (he mentions five staff—-all women). I don’t trust case people with deep feelings. If you tell them stuff it could scare them and they have a mandate to report it. I would like to go to college and study cosmetology or designing something…something creative. I am by nature a funny and helpful person. What makes me upset is when someone uses the word ‘Faggot.’
— B.C. Age 15
I’ve been here on and off for a year. In and out. I really don’t have a home. My grandma takes me on pass sometimes, but this is kinda my home right now. I don’t know where my mom is. My dad’s somewhere in XXXX. He just got out of jail. He’s trying to get me back. He had never been in jail before, but then all of a sudden it all caught up with him and they got him for a bunch of drugs and assault. I was living with my grandparents in XXXX until I was about 5. Then I was too much trouble so they sent me to live with my mom. Then she gave me up, and then from 6 on I was living with my other grandparents until last year. Then my grandparents adopted me but then they revoked the adoption because they thought I was too much trouble. They go to church meetings everyday. They’re ordained ministers. I’m bisexual, but if they knew they would disown me. I don’t think they worship a god, they worship the church itself. Its this big evangelical church run by XXXX over by XXXX University. Everything they say is “XXXX would say this” or “XXXX would do this.” School is a little difficult—the social aspect of it. I really need an alternative school. A lot of kids picked on me. The foods Ok here, but it’s pretty greasy and the vegetables are all overcooked. You could take the meat they give you and squeeze it and the grease would fill up a cup. I’m hungry most of the day here.
— D.H. Age 15
I was living in Las Vegas. Partying a lot. Was trying to be a DJ. Doing lots of drugs, X, Acid, MDMA, Alcohol. They tried to guilt trip me into living with my grandmother. She runs a bunch of women’s shelters. My Mom is emotionally distant and my step dad is very aggressive. They are Catholic and Jehovah’s Witnesses and don’t like that I am gay. I am here for curfew violation and running away from rehab. I shouldn’t be in rehab as I stop doing drugs whenever I want. I am not addicted to anything…..I just take different drugs when I want…. so rehab wasn’t right for me…so I ran away. Being Gay in a place like this is hell. This is not good at all. A lot of these guys think they can have sex with me anytime they want and as long as they are in prison it doesn’t make them gay. And it doesn’t count as long as they are giving rather than getting. These are a bunch of closet fags and a lot of homophobics. If I report them to the staff they hate me. I am here for 4-6 months…but I am not sure I will make it.
— B.V. Age 16
I’m from McMinnville, Oregon. I have a suicide bed. I’ve been here 3 times. The top bunks are the safest, because if the other girls are attacking you they cant get to you as fast. There’s not a lot of gang activity but I would be called “gang affiliated.” I’ve been in programs since I was 12. Nobody visits me. I’ve been here 2 weeks on this trip for parole violation. I fled an individual living program (ILP) in XXXX. I didn’t steal, but somebody said I was doing that. I was skipping school, being rude, and had a bad attitude. My case manager was saying all these bad things about me but it wasn’t true. I didn’t like the ILP, I fled to go about 4 hours away from XXXX where my sponsor was and people I knew respected me. My mom couldn’t call me because it’s long distance. When I was about 12 years old when I started smoking weed. When I was 14 I picked up my first major. I assaulted 4 cops, they put their hands on me. No one’s going to take care of you. You have to take care of yourself. There was a lot of meth involved. I have two autistic little brothers, and a little cousin my mother takes care of because my aunt is a meth addict and couldn’t take care of my cousin, and my uncle beat a guy with a hammer, so he’s doing time – so mom’s a little busy. She doesn’t work. My dad is an alcoholic. I haven’t seen him in a long time. I go to rehab, I work at it, and then something happens and I give up. I’ve been in foster homes that were pretty abusive. My mom doesn’t have any time for me. I never missed school a lot. When I went to XXXX they wanted me to do a GED. I wanted to do a diploma, but they forgot to switch me on the roster. I don’t mind this place…they don’t bug me here. I may be a DSD (down since day one) girl. I’m gay. I don’t think being gay is bad at all, but everyone has their own beliefs. Not a lot of gay girls here. Some are bi-sexual – of convenience – or gay for the stay. When I’m here I’m supposed to be 88% good. I usually get 98% ratings. When I’m here I don’t keep track of the time. There’s no point. Oh yeah, I was raped when I was 15. People cry here all the time in group and everyone is very supportive. Then they walk away and people talk shit about it.
— I.M.B.T. Age 17
Been here two months for a violation. They make me take out all the studs they can. But the one in my throat and in my cheeks are implants. I ran away from placement. It was a group home with 65 kids in XXXX. Sometimes they would give you home passes, but I went AWOL about 15 times. I live in XXXX with my mom, dad, and sister. She is 17. I have two married sisters. I’m in 10th grade. They have me charged with battery and assault. The first time I went to placement, I was 11 for battery of a kid at school. I was in sixth grade. The police came to school and arrested me at school. The other girl had a black eye and a busted lip. From school they took me to XXXX. I called home, but I had to spend the night there. They said that I needed to realize what I did. And then they put me in placement the next day and I AWOLed. Then I went to XXXX Placement. There were 65 kids there. Then I went to XXXX. One of the placements had six beds. They are gonna send me from here to placement. I want to go to a six-bed home again. But mostly, I want to go home. I have to finish my placement program first. My release date is in four months. I’ve never been to a foster home. I don’t do drugs. Just some weed. I have a girlfriend here. And on the outs. My parents are real catholic. They say God doesn’t like you being with girls, but they’re glad that I do, because that way I won’t get pregnant. She’s been in almost three months. But she’s a good girl. Yeah, they would describe me as part of the Eastside Gang. No, I haven’t been sexually abused. But God thinks I can do better with my life, and He knows I will do better.
— K.N. Age 15