Voluntary sexual experiences among prisoners: One prisoner’s experience

By a former Federal prisoner

When I was imprisoned in 2012, I had no idea what to expect, since I had never been arrested before. For many years I had lived as an openly gay man in a big city, so I was used to being open about my sexuality. When I went into prison I did not attempt to hide about myself, but that would have been impossible anyway, since they knew from the moment I arrived that I was gay. Everyone had heard about my case before I got there. That was OK to me, since I had no intention of going back into the closet.

When I went into the housing unit of about forty men, I was put into a four-man cell. They were not friendly when I first went in. The only people who were cordial to me were a Mexican man, and a man from El Salvador who sold me a used sweatshirt. They were both in their 30s. The Mexican invited me to sit at his table for meals, and spoke at length about his ideas for using satellites for scientific purposes. He knew that I was gay, and did not let that bother him at all. He asked me to write him a letter saying how much I liked him, so he could use it as a reference if he needed an introduction elsewhere. I thought it a rather strange request, but I went along with what he suggested and wrote that I thought his ideas had some valuable scientific applications. He did not seem too happy with my letter, and asked if I could make it more personal, saying how much I liked him. | added a couple lines about how I thought he was a very nice person, and I recommend him highly.

As I heard him talking with another Mexican in Spanish, I understood him to say that he hated being in this housing unit, and he wanted to be transferred to the other floor where he had several friends. I don’t think he realized I could understand what he was saying, but he quickly changed the subject and again told me how fortunate he felt to have met me. He suggested we should get a cell together as soon as a two-man came open. I thought that was a good idea, since he was the person who was most friendly to me.

A few days later one of the men in my cell was transferred, so this Mexican man asked to be transferred into my four-man cell. I had a bottom bunk and he took the other bottom bunk, whose foot was right next to the head of my bed. That first night, after the two men in the upper bunks were fast asleep, I was awakened when I felt his hands on my head. I looked up, and in the shadows I could see he had his sweatpants pulled down and he had a huge erection right in front of my face. I was surprised at his blatant sexual invitation because we had never discussed sex. I did not find him particularly attractive and I had not thought about him in a sexual way. But, though I was still coming into awareness, I let him put his penis in my mouth. He thrust into my throat and quickly ejaculated in my mouth. With not a word, he gave my head a little pat of affection, and then he lay back down in his bunk. I was amazed he was able to get himself in position at the end of his bed, thrust in my mouth, and then lie back down in his bunk with not a bit of difficulty. There was no sound at all during the entire encounter. I was pleased that he enjoyed it, and since much of my enjoyment of sex is seeing the other person enjoy himself, I felt good about it.

During the day we were not able to talk in private, but he was just as friendly as ever when we sat at the same table and talked during meals. That night I wondered what would happen, and I was not able to sleep. As soon as the two men in the upper bunks were snoring, and after the guard had made his midnight inspection looking into each cell, I felt the Mexican’s bare feet rubbing up against my hands that were at the head of my bed. I took my hands and rubbed his ankles and lower legs, to let him know I was agreeable.

Once again, he somehow managed to position himself at the foot of his bed. With his sweatpants pulled down, he stuck his penis into my mouth. This time he took longer, thrusting down my throat with gusto. Without a sound he let forth a stream of sperm, then kept his penis in my mouth without movement, savoring the satisfied feeling. After a bit, he silently pulled out, gave my hair an affectionate toss with his hand, and lay back down. How he did all this without making a sound was astounding to me, since I was used to making some noises of excitement during erotic encounters.

I later learned that sex in prison has to be done in complete silence, to keep from being discovered. Even though I was not touching my own penis, but focused solely on pleasuring him, I found these encounters strangely pleasurable. There are so few opportunities in prison to have any privacy, much less any chance to feel the body of another person in intimate embrace, that just having his penis in my mouth was enough to give me a great sense of satisfaction.

The entire focus of the prison establishment is to dehumanize prisoners in every possible way, without any sense of dignity. I felt that, to the extent I could give pleasure to another person, I was challenging the atmosphere of oppression with a loving human contact. In the sense that any kind of erotic behavior between prisoners is strictly prohibited, it was an act of resistance. I felt that if I could not do something as dramatic as an escape, or a riot to overpower the guards, at least I could give another human being some pleasure.

I feel strongly that these efforts helped me survive my years in prison. They were a major means by which I kept my sanity. They helped prevent me from feeling the total powerlessness that the guards wanted to impose on us. Even if these were small acts of resistance, they were very important in establishing a personal sense of an independent self. By doing these erotic acts, and other behaviors that were against the rules, I was able to keep from being swallowed into the institutionalization of my surroundings. I was inside the prison, but I prevented the prison from being inside me.

The next day I felt very good as I went to the visitor center to meet with my lawyer. I did not tell him about the events of the two previous nights, but I believed for the first time that I might be able to survive imprisonment. When I came out of the meeting, however, the guards in the strip-search room were very severe. They did an extra thorough search of my body as I stripped naked, which was the requirement before and after each visit that prisoners have with lawyers or family members. Once I had my prison uniform back on, they clamped handcuffs on me and led me off. I had no idea what was going on, and I questioned why they were doing this. They said nothing.

The guards led me in handcuffs into a bare room, where the prison psychologist was sitting. I was relieved to see her. She had been rather nice to me when I first was brought into prison, when she had asked me if I wanted to commit suicide. “Why would I want to commit suicide?” I asked her indignantly. “What I want is to dispel these ridiculous charges against me, and get out of here as soon as I can.” After interviewing me she had told me that I did not seem suicidal in the least, and she counseled me to be as calm as possible and try to get through my time day by day and moment by moment, until I could get out. It was good advice.

When I came into the room on this day, however, she was not nice. She sternly ordered me to sit in the bare metal chair. “You know why you are here, don’t you!” I looked at her with a completely blank stare. “No, I have no idea. What is the matter?”

She gave me another look askance, but seeing no awareness on my face, she explained: “The reason you are here is because you committed a sexual assault on another prisoner! Your cellmate came to me and begged to be moved to another housing unit, because he said that you tried to rape him.”

I was so shocked at her statement that my mouth flew open. My look of disbelief must have been convincing, because I could see her mood change. My look of shock was genuine. What I thought was a loving secret encounter between us was now being presented as an assault. This was so far from the truth that I was dumbfounded.

In that instant, my memories raced through my head. Now, all of a sudden, it was clear why he wanted me to write him a letter of “recommendation.” Since everyone knew I was gay, he must have felt that if he presented a letter in my handwriting stating how much I liked him, that would be proof enough of my intent. Now, all of a sudden, it was clear that he wanted to use this incident to be transferred to the other housing unit. He was prepared to sacrifice me in order to get what he wanted.

“You were attracted to him and you enticed him into your cell to take advantage of him.” I gave her a look of disdain. I said forcefully, “No I am not attracted to him. I would never assault him, or anyone else.” all of which was the truth. Outside of prison, where I would not have felt so isolated and friendless, I would never have given a mediocre-looking person like him a second glance.

I debated in my mind how to respond. If I told her what actually happened, I would surely be punished for engaging in any sexual behavior, even if I did not initiate it. Instead of condemning his hypocrisy, I decided to deny the entire event. I spoke strongly: “This accusation is totally disgusting to me. He is the one who requested to be moved into my cell. Ask the guard on duty and he will tell you this is the truth. This inmate is just making this claim so he can be transferred to the other housing unit. Ask others in our unit and they will tell you.” These statements were also completely true. My look of disgust must have been enough to persuade the psychologist.

She told me to wait in the room. After a long wait she reentered, and said, “I spoke with the guard on duty and he told me this Mexican man did in fact request to be moved into the cell with you, so his account backs up what you told me. Also, we just interviewed the two other inmates in your cell, and neither one of them heard any kind of event in that cell during the last two nights. It would have been impossible to have a sexual assault going on and they would not be woken up.” I agreed wholeheartedly, which was a sincere statement since there was in fact no sexual assault. I told her that I did not and would not ever engage in any assault on anyone. I said that I have never had a sexual encounter at any time of my life that was not completely consensual. All these statements were true.

What I have learned in dealing with prison officials is the necessity of not admitting guilt. You don’t have to tell a lie, just do not admit guilt. The skill is in knowing the difference. Prison officials’ technique is to browbeat inmates until they break down and admit to a wrongdoing. If a person is strong, and does not admit guilt, the officials cannot establish proof. Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz said it best: in the United States criminal justice system, where the entire institution is weighted against the defendant, the three most important words in criminal defense are: deny, deny, and deny. Supreme confidence in oneself is an important characteristic to develop.

After the close call of this accusation, I had to lay low and not cause any further — suspicion. That was not difficult, since I was not in the least attracted to my next cellmates. When I was transferred to another floor, and got a cell to myself by making a (bribe) payment to the inmate who handled room assignments, I met a nice gay black man. I heard that he gave massages in exchange for commissary items, and I asked him if he could help me with my backache. He did that and more. We had mutual oral sex a few times and he wanted to share a cell with me. Incredibly, other African-American men criticized him for wanting to share a cell with a white man, even though they knew he was gay. It was unbelievable the extent to which prisons are segregated by race, reminding visitors of the South before 1964. The shocking thing is that it is blacks who want this segregation. They sit at “black tables” and if a person of another race tries to sit there they object. There are also “Latino tables” with the same proviso. Disgusting! Most whites do not care one way or another about this segregation, but the White Aryan shaved-head types sometimes do like their whites-only table (which usually means uneducated hetero bigots).

Shortly after I got there a Latino asked me if I wanted to pay him to be my “protector,” in case there was a riot, or if someone tries to come after me. I thanked him but said no. But we talked, and eventually he invited me up to his room. Once there, he covered the window on the door, and asked me to suck his penis. I did enthusiastically. He invited me back many times, and we became friends. He was the toughest tatooed macho man in the unit, but he was very nice to me.

After my black gay friend was sent to another unit when he got into a fight with a Mexican over how much food each one got, I also paid another black man to give me a massage. He was not attractive to me, but he gave great massages so I returned. The second time he massaged my butt really well. I moaned in pleasure when he stuck some fingers into me. The third time I came back he had a plastic glove from the medical unit. He put it on his penis and fucked me. It felt great, so I returned many times.

After he was transferred, a very handsome young black man came into my cell and massaged me. After a few times he let me suck his penis while I jacked off. He was really sweet, but was Christian so eventually he said he must stop because it was against his religion. He introduced me to his cellmate, another handsome muscular black man. He did not want to do anything sexual, but he gave my butt a really great massage. So I enjoyed that quite a bit even though there was nothing explicitly sexual. But eventually other blacks started criticizing him for being in the room of a white man so much, so that intimidated him and he stopped. But then, to my surprise, his cellmate (the original handsome young black Christian) came back to my room and let me suck his penis again. He would come by periodically. When I was transferred and leaving to another prison, he came to me and told me how great it was knowing me. We were good friends, and I wished him good luck, knowing I would never see him again. Really sweet guy.

Another tough-guy tatooed Latino, about age 40, became friendly to me, and asked if I had any sex literature. I told him about a couple of gay novels I had. He surprised me by saying he wanted to read them. After I loaned them to him, he returned them saying the sex scenes were good but he wanted more explicit sex. That told me he was at least bisexual. He had a cell by himself, and he invited me to play chess with him. He was close with the guards, and he convinced them to allow me to stay in his room when we were in lockdown. I went there and after we played chess a bit he took out his penis and stuck it in my mouth. I did not object. He wanted to see my butt, so I pulled down my pants and bent over. He got really excited and licked it. Then he wanted to fuck me. I said OK, but he had to use a glove (condoms are not permitted in federal prisons). He did not have one, and still wanted to fuck me. I said no, he must use a glove. So instead he licked my butt while he jacked off. He loved to lick my butt, and did this several times. I am glad I insisted on a glove, though, because later I found out that he had hepatitis C.

People are always getting transferred in and out of housing units, so if you want to socialize you have to learn how to make friends quickly. Fortunately I had plenty of experience with this, because my parents moved around a lot when I was a child, and I had to adapt quickly to a new school environment. And then later, in my career, I lived in several different countries and in many parts of the USA. So it was easy for me to make some really close friends. Some people in prison are obviously mentally ill (they belong in a mental institution instead of a prison), some are downright mean, but some are among the nicest people I have ever met. It is a myth that all people in prison are social misfits. Of course, the guards treat most everyone as the scum of the earth. Perversely, some of the guards seem to treat those who are accused of violent crimes more respectfully than they do the people accused of non-violent crimes. And of course persons accused of sex charges are the lowest of the low. Many of the prisoners follow the same pattern, dismissively referring to those with sex charges as “chomos” (prison slang for child molesters).

So many inmates are coming and going that it is hard to place certain persons. I stood out, though, because I was more highly educated than anyone else in my unit. Though my nickname was “Professor” and some treated me with respect, most saw my education as an object of derision. Being in prison is the professional criminal’s opportunity to reverse the normal social status, and look down on those lowly “first-timers” or “short-timers” who do not know proper behavior in prison interactions.

Every week, new prisoners are coming in from different courts, or to medical units, or to different units within the same prison if they get into a fight with someone in the same unit. Some persons come in on a parole violation, which sent them back to prison for a shorter time. Others are moving from one prison to another. At this point I was attracted to another handsome black man who came into the unit. He was blind, and when he was having difficulty I offered to help guide him. He was very grateful. He asked if I could come to his room and read to him. I agreed. After I did this a couple times, he pulled down his pants and asked if I wanted to suck him. I did with enthusiasm. After that I would come to his room often. He really loved me to lick his penis, testicles, and butt. He had an exceptionally beautiful butt.

I don’t know why, but it seems that most of the men who approached me for sex while in prison are African-Americans. I do not have a preference for any particular race, and my attraction depends solely on the individual. Since men are continually being transferred in and out, I was involved with a number of different men of different races. But the vast majority did not identify themselves as gay. The gay-identified men did not want to have sex with me, even though they often befriended me. Finally I met a black gay-identified man who was interested in me. His face was not handsome, but when he came into my cell and pulled up his shirt he had an absolutely gorgeous chiseled chest. Then he pulled out his penis and it was huge. I could hardly get it all in my mouth, but I loved sucking him while I jacked off. He wanted to fuck me, but I said he had to get a glove. Finally he managed to get one from when he went to the medical unit, and he fucked me. It was so great I dreamed about him. He was very kind to me, and I liked the fact that he accepted himself as gay and did not hide it as most of the men did. Unfortunately, after that one time I was sent out. We planned to get a room together when I came back. Unfortunately, when I returned a month later, he was gone. His black cellmate told me he could not stand “that faggot” to be in his cell. He told me this even though he knew I was gay, and he was nice to me. So he said he kicked the gay guy out of his cell. He was put into the cell with another black man, a man I had had sex with. But evidently they did not get along, because the cellmate claimed that he pressured him to have sex and he did not want to. So they charged him with sexual assault and he was moved to another unit. I was sorry I was not there, because he could have fucked me every day if he wanted. He was really that good. I still remember him fondly.

There was only one white guy who came into my room for sex. He just came in to talk, many times, so I did not think he wanted sex. He was not handsome, so I did not pursue him. But one day he took off his shirt, and he had a really terrific body. I commented about it, and he asked if I wanted to see more. I said of course, so he pulled out his penis. To my surprise, it was also huge, and just as beautiful as the black man’s. I sucked him and jacked off. He came back several times. But then one day he came in and said he could not do it any more because it was against his religion. I tried to convince him there was nothing wrong with what we were doing, but he was not convinced. However, before I was transferred he asked for my address. I gave it to him and he wrote to me several times. He was transferred to a prison in Florida, and was lonely and said he missed me. I hope he can eventually free himself from his religious prejudices, and accept himself as gay. I have seen so many homosexually-inclined people make themselves totally miserable due to the impact of religion, that it has made me very opposed to any kind of fundamentalist religion.

After I finished my sentence and got out, my parole officer told me I cannot have any contact with any other felons. This rule is particularly cruel, since I would like to keep in touch with some of my closest friends who are still inside. But that is impossible, so I have not been able to write back to him or others I remember fondly. Life goes on, and one cannot grieve over friendships lost, due to stupid regulations that ignore our humanity. I really resent that.

When I was transferred and in transit, I was put into a room by myself. A handsome young Latino man who was in charge of bringing around the book cart was very kind to me. He picked out some good books for me to read. I asked if there were any gay novels. He asked if I liked him, and I said yes. He asked if I will let him use my phone card, he wanted to make a call to his family that he has not been able to talk to for a long time. I said OK and gave him my number. After that, he came into my cell and sat on the toilet in the corner, out of view from the outside. He took off his shirt and pulled down his pants and jacked off. He did not want me to touch him, but I jacked off while looking at his beautiful body. After that he was transferred and I did not see him again. But when I next tried to make a phone call I discovered that all of the money in my account was gone. It was over $80, so I knew he had somehow used it all up. That was an expensive orgasm, so I learned never to trust anyone who wants to use my phone account. But at least he was very nice to me, and nice to look at, so I got a good memory at least.

After my transfer I got to my new assignment in a low security Federal Correctional Institute (FCI). When I arrived there I saw that several men had pictures of women in bikinis posted inside their locker door. I found out the guards did not bother them if the photos were kept inside the locker. So, with my gay liberationist attitude I figured if they could put up pictures of women then I can put up pictures of men. Big mistake! A friend of mine sent me a photo of a handsome Hawaiian man, probably about age 30, with big muscles. It was obviously an erotic photo even though the man was wearing a traditional Hawaiian loincloth. They could not claim it was pornographic, so the guards did not take it down. But some gay friends warned me I was asking for trouble if I kept it up. I said I did not want any trouble, but I would not be intimidated by homophobic double standards. If they wanted to have their photos of bikini clad women, then | should be able to have a similar picture of a man.

This did not go well. I heard that some macho Latino inmates got very upset about having to look at that photo when they passed my bunk on the way to the bathroom. My bunk was right next to the bathroom door, and they often did pullups on the pole over the bathroom door. I watched them as I lay on my bunk. When they realized I was gay, from seeing the photo on my locker door, they got very upset as I looked at them even though I was careful not to be obvious in my stare. But still they could tell I enjoyed looking at their bare-chested muscled bodies. They cannot stand being looked at, in the same way they ogle good looking females. It is all very macho and sexist, and homophobic, but that is prison culture.

One night as I was asleep one of the Latino skinheads poked me and motioned me to follow him into the bathroom. Even though I was groggy I got up and went in there. He was waiting at the door of the farthest toilet stall, and he motioned me inside. I was fearful that he might want to beat me up, but I long ago learned not to live my life based on my fears, and so I took a chance. I went inside. He locked the staff door and pulled out his penis. Without a word I sat on the toilet and he put his penis in my mouth. It must have been awhile since he had an orgasm, because he came in my mouth very quickly. He put his hand on my shoulder, gave a little affectionate squeeze, and then was gone. Not a word was said. I sat there in silence after he left, enjoying the experience but thinking about how both the Bureau of Prisons and the homophobic culture of the inmates themselves make for an oppressive situation. I wrote him a note, saying that I enjoyed meeting him and hope we can interact again. He was obviously in need of money, because he was always doing others’ laundry, cleaning, and running errands in exchange for commissary goods. I told him I would be happy to pay him if he could do some things for me. I gave him the note a couple days later when I saw him and no one else was there. But he never responded and did not acknowledge me when we saw each other. I never had any further interaction with him, which was sad.

He was probably intimidated because word was going around about me. When I tried to sit and watch a movie on TV one evening, a Latino man told me I could not sit there. I gave no objection, but never tried to watch TV again. I heard that more fights broke out in prisons over which channel to watch on TV than any other single thing, so I avoided it. I preferred to spend my time reading books and magazines at my bunk, or in the small prison library when it was open. A group of gay prisoners asked me to teach them about gay history, which I was knowledgeable about. We met at a picnic table next to the baseball field, and had a little seminar. One inmate, a handsome gay black man, indicated an interest in me. He asked where we could go for sex. I said either the bathroom late at night, or I had heard sometimes guys went into the small shed next to the baseball field, right after the softball players had left for the evening and before there was lockdown for the night. He later told me he checked out each of those locations, but he was afraid of being discovered, so we never did anything sexual.

What happened next was unexpected. I came back to my bunk after the library closed, and found coffee grounds thrown all over my bunk mattress. This was a warning sign that a person was about to be beaten or stabbed. Alarmed, I made the mistake of complaining to the guard. She came down, looked at the mess on my bed, and told me to report it to the officer in the safety office. I went there and told the officer what happened. When I came back, I found that the female guard had searched my locker. She had found some photos of barechested musclemen I had torn out of bodybuilding magazines. She intentionally left them on my bunk for everyone to see. As I walked in, I heard several Latinos saying slurs like “puto” (whore). After that experience I learned never to report to a guard about a complaint against other inmates. All the guards do is make it worse, like she did.

She was very cold to me when I returned. She told me I must go back to the officer’s station. I went, and he told me she had reported that I had child pornography in my locker. I said that was not true, and asked to see it. He refused, but told me I was being sent to the Special Housing Unit (SHU). This is the isolation section, where inmates are assigned for punishment. I loaded up all my possessions in a duffle bag and left the dorm.

After I got settled in the tiny isolation cell (a bunk bed, sink, toilet, and shower, with a tiny window looking out on another building wall) I still was wondering what happened. Finally the corrections officers brought me out for a hearing with the disciplinary officer. He told me I was being charged with child pornography. | asked to see what they were calling child pornography. He showed me a photo of a young man who was unclothed, but the way he was standing hid his genitals and buttocks. I said this was not pornography, because there was no view of genitals. Also, I pointed out, it was purchased from a photo company that specializes in providing attractive photos of women and men for prisoners. I pointed out that all the models were over 18, and that this young man, while obviously young looking, was legally an adult. I pointed out that I ordered this photo through the mail, and my order was read when my mail went out (as all inmates’ mail is read) and that the photo was inspected and approved by the prison mailroom officer when it came, or otherwise I would not have received it. I pointed out that the mailroom officer saw it was from an adult models photo company, and approved it.

Somewhat to my surprise, the officer accepted my testimony. So he said he was dropping the child pornography charge against me, since the photo the female guard had sent him was neither a child nor pornography. But, he said, he was keeping me in the SHU because he had heard of threats against me. To protect me he was transferring me to a different prison where, he said, I would be safe from violence.

I had to wait in that tiny isolation cell for almost three months. As long as I had books to read I was OK with this, because at least in isolation I was safe from violence. ‘

Once a week the guards would bring around a cart full of books, and they would give us a choice of what we wanted to read. Most of the books were trashy romance paperbacks, of no interest to me. I asked a guard if she had any non-fiction books. She asked me what “non-fiction” means. That is the level of education of the guards. Really stupid people.

One day a guard announced that they had run out of space, and I would be getting a cellmate. When the cellmate came in I was overjoyed, because he was a Latino young man who had been very nice to me. He was working on his master’s degree in sociology, through correspondence courses, and very intelligent. Even though he was heterosexual, he had run afoul of the homophobic Latino gang because he had refused their order that he should not talk to the gay prisoners. He told them he would associate with whomever he pleased, and he would not let them order him around. In response, they threatened to knife him. The guards put him into the SHU for his own protection.

I liked him a lot, and was hoping that in our private cell he might want to have some erotic fun. Unfortunately, I found out he was a very serious Catholic. Not only was he against any sex outside of heterosexual marriage, but he believed even masturbation to be a sin. I said that masturbation is healthy, and I do not share that belief. He replied if I want to masturbate to please do it when he does not see it. After that, I only masturbated when he was fast asleep or if he was taken out of the cell for administrative reasons or for weekly exercise. He was really into exercising, so he went out every chance he could. He stripped down to his undershorts to exercise in the cell, and he never objected as I watched him move his sexy body. He was really a nice person, and we had many great conversations, about history, politics, the military (he and I were both veterans, and we both hated the army), and other topics. When I was finally ordered to leave for my transfer, he said as I left “Vaya con Dios” (Go with God). He knew I was not a believer, but when I replied “Y tu tambien” (and you also) he got tears in his eyes as I left. He is one of the special friends I remember.

When I was sent, along with all the others being transferred in handcuffs and leg chains, we were packed into a special Bureau of Prisons airplane, and flown to | the Oklahoma City federal transfer center. When I got there I was fortunate to get a room with a man who was leaving. He left only three hours after I arrived. Then a handsome young man from Guatemala arrived as my cellmate a few hours later. He asked if I mind if he exercises in his undershorts. | said, “You can exercise in the nude if you like.” He was very pleased with that, and he right away stripped naked. I asked if he wanted me to suck him, but he did not. But he seemed to enjoy me watching him as he exercised his naked body. He spent most of the time naked in the next three days we were there. That was very pleasant.

When I arrived at the next prison, I learned to my relief that this prison had very low levels of violence. I was pleased to learn that most of the prisoners there were on sex charges. So I thought I would be safe. But then I found that the men who were convicted of sex crimes against females looked down on the gay men there. Even as low on the totem pole as sex offenders are, they can always manage to find some other group that they will consider lower. So I was in the bottom group. Being highly educated made me even more despised, especially by the guards. A friend told me that one of the guards told another guard, even as I first arrived there and they had not had any interaction with me at all, “We are going to break him.” I am pleased to report that they never did. A few of the guards were nice, and treated us like human beings, but most of them were despicable. I consider them to be among the worst of humanity.

I learned that a couple months before my arrival some inmates were discovered having sex in the stacks of the library. So, in response, the warden ordered many of the books thrown away, and only short stacks of books were allowed in the library. The Bureau of Prisons mandate to prevent any sexual activity has higher priority than providing books or education.

Even worse, I learned that in this prison massages were not allowed. That was a major part of my enjoyment when I was at the previous prison, so I missed that. There was no privacy at all in the dormitory setting where prisoners’ bunks were crowded close together. There were a number of openly gay men, but none had the activist reputation that I had. I heard later that rumors swirled that I was organizing a gay pride march on the compound, which was ridiculous. I think some of the gay inmates may have been responsible for that particular rumor. It is hard to know for sure. Some of them had a less than ideal sense of caution. Things improved considerably when I got into a room. My cellmate was a bisexual man about age 40. very nice. We both liked the same type of music, and he rigged up little speakers so we could have a little disco party. He had a great sense of humor, and we joked around so much even the men in the next cells complained about our loud laughter. We had great discussions about history, politics, and comparing our sexual attractions. Though my attractions are mainly about adult men, he was a true pedophile. He had scant interest in adults, but loved to look at kids. Interestingly, he had never tried to have sex with a minor. He satisfied himself by masturbating while looking at child pornography. He took care of neighbors’ kids, and was very nice to them, but he never did anything sexual. When he was arrested for possession of child pornography, the FBI agents were certain that he must have sexually assaulted a neighbor’s child. They pressured the neighbor kids to say he molested them, but none did. So the only charge against him was looking at porn. He is an example that the vast majority of men who look at child porn never touch a child. The supposition that they all want to rape children is not supported by the evidence. The pedophiles I met were very gentle personalities, without any inclination toward violence. One person I met opened up and told me his sexual pleasure was gained by baby diapers. He had no desire to have sex with an actual baby, but for reasons he did not understand he got his greatest pleasure by rubbing baby diapers against his penis while he masturbated. He felt very guilty about this. Since he was completing his prison sentence, I told him he should not feel guilty, but once he was out if he wanted to buy diapers and masturbate that does not hurt anyone. Rather than waste his time and energy trying to figure out why he was so attracted to diapers, I told him to just relax and enjoy his paraphilia. Actually, I said, he was fortunate to be so easily satisfied by something that is so inexpensive to buy. As long as he did not bother an actual child, I said, he should feel free to indulge his desire for diapers as much as he wishes. This shows the difference in my attitude from the attitude of the government, which is intent on wiping out any sexual feeling that is outside the norm. They say their goal is to protect children, but the actual goal is to repress sex. If they were really concerned about children they would not waste so much time and money persecuting sexual minorities, and would instead focus on the real problems endangering children: automobiles, drownings, and physical beatings by their own parents. Of course, no one wants to talk about those issues.

Once I got into the cell I had a degree of privacy. There was a Mexican across the hall, about age 40, who approached me for sex. He wanted me to fuck him. Normally I am the “passivo” but he sucked my penis so nicely that I got a raging erection. He loved to sit right down on it. We could not manage to get any gloves from the medical unit, because the nurses were so strict about inmates not having gloves, but he vowed that he was not infected with anything. I told him my status from my recent blood tests, showing I was not infectious with anything, so we committed not to have sex with anyone else. For the next two years we only had sex with each other. The fact that neither one of us got sick with anything was proof that we were both telling the truth to each other. Usually once a week, late at night he would sneak out of his cell when his cellmates were asleep, and come over to my cell. My cellmate was very considerate, and he did not mind if we were pumping away vigorously in the bottom bunk. A couple of times we were totally naked, and a guard looked in the window. I am sure he saw us, and we were scared, but that guard was one of the nicest ones, and he did not report us.

We were very grateful to that guard, because just a few months before there was a gay couple who were very devoted to each other. They finally managed to get into a cell together. Then one night a guard looked into their window and saw them engaging in oral sex. The guard threw them into the SHU, and ordered them transferred into different housing units. The only time they could see each other was during meals at the mess hall. They always sat together, sometimes managing to hold hands furtively beneath the table. It was obvious they really loved each other, and it made me angry that the guard had forced them to break up. Sex and love cannot exist in the Bureau of Prisons, at least by the formal regulations. But love finds a way, despite all the constraints.

I wanted to have a full relationship with the Mexican man, but he was a conservative Mormon and could not abide any criticism of the LDS Church. I am very progressive, so we could not talk politics. I tried to get him to read some progressive writings, but he reacted badly. I thought he was a hypocrite to be engaging in sex with a man while supporting conservative causes, but he did not like me pressing him on his religion. He did not want to be seen with me on the outside, so I had to be satisfied with him sneaking over to my cell late at night about once a week. He was very enthusiastic in sex, though, so that made up for the other lackings.

After being at this prison for two years I was suddenly informed I was being transferred. I had to quickly say my goodbyes to my friends, and there were five men who had tears in their eyes as I left. I was sad to be leaving my friends, but not sad to leave the oppressive guards who were so cruel to inmates. I was sent back to the Oklahoma federal transfer center.

This time I met a mixed-race young man with a great body. I was lucky to have a cell to myself, and he came in often. He could stand in the shower and I could suck him without us being seen. I thought he was totally satisfied with me, but a few days later a young transgender person from Honduras arrived. He brought her into my cell and fucked her in the rear while I stood guard at my cell door. Afterward, he told me he wanted to be with the transgender person instead of me. But then later the transgender said she was more attracted to me than to him. The trans was very beautiful and feminine, and I was attracted to her. So she planned to move into my cell the next day. That night, however, the guard woke me up and said I was being sent to another prison. So I never got a chance to have sex with the beautiful transperson. We never even got a chance to say goodbye. That is the reality of life in prison.

When I got to the next prison, I found that it was so overcrowded that I was assigned to a bunk that was in the middle of the hallway. There was no privacy at all there. However, I was there no more than a week when I met two black men and two Latinos who wanted me to suck them. We waited until late at night and went into the bathroom. I was very nervous that we might get caught, but still managed to enjoy it. One of the black men said he wanted to get a cell, and asked if I would move in with him “and be my bitch.” He meant this term in an endearing way. Once again I found that it was black men and Latinos who wanted to have sex with me, but no whites. I was attracted to some white guys, but they did not reciprocate. Then a black man invited me into his cell, and I sucked him. | was hoping to get into the same cell with one of them, but it never happened.

Then a nice Mexican man would invite me into his cell when his cellmate was gone, and I would suck him. He really liked me, and wanted to get a cell with me. But then he was suddenly transferred, so once again our hopes were frustrated.

My bunk was in the hallway just outside the door to a cell. Two black men shared that cell, one in his 50s and the other in his 20s. I was friendly to both of them, but I had no inclination either was interested in sex. One night, however, as I lay in my bunk, in the darkness a hand reached across the bed and started rubbing my leg. I did not react, and the hand came higher. I scooted down, to be closer, and the hand started fingering my butt. It felt good, so I let him. The next day, he told me quietly to reverse the way I was sleeping, and put my head at the end closest to his door. I did that. Late that night I looked up and in the shadows saw a large erect penis next to my face. I almost laughed, but instead I started licking it. This happened every night for several nights. I was afraid someone would see us, so I told him to bring me into his cell. He said he could not while his cellmate was there.

After several nights of me sucking him in the hallway, I approached the younger cellmate. I was not that attracted to him, but I asked if he would like me to suck him. Without a second’s hesitation he said yes. But he said I could only do it when his cellmate was away. The next day he invited me in when he was alone, and I sucked him. The next day I talked with the older man. I offered to suck both of them. He reacted very negatively, saying no he did not want his cellmate to know about him being sexual with me. I said the cellmate likes me, and I do not think there would be a problem. But he was completely against the idea.

So, for the next few months each one invited me into the cell when the other was away, for me to suck them. But they each were adamant that I should not tell the other. They were both so paranoid that the other would find out. I thought the whole thing was so hypocritical. They each created so much nervousness and misery in worrying that other inmates would think they were homosexual that it was tragic. Still, I did enjoy sucking them, and find myself having erotic dreams about them wanting sex with me so much that they would sneak me into their cell whenever they had a chance.

After months of living in the hallway, at last I got a chance to get into a cell. But it was in another building, where I only knew two people. One was a heavily tatooed Native American and the other was mixed race. My new cellmate was an obese black man who was a strict Christian, always reading his Bible. He and I did not get along at all. But when he was away at his prison job the Native American visited and we had great sex. This macho shaved-head tatted man then revealed to me that when he got out of prison he wanted to become a transgender woman. I was shocked, because he was such a tough-guy macho. He wanted me to move into his cell with him, but his cell was upstairs with a steep climb and I preferred staying on the ground floor.

The mixed race man, in his 30s also wanted to get into a cell with me. He came over when my cellmate was gone, and we had great sex. He was trying to arrange to get a room for us. Then suddenly they announced I was being transferred again. I did not like this, because I really preferred this prison the best. The guards were not as oppressive as at the other prisons where I was before, and it seemed like there were so many men who wanted to have sex with me. Even though I am older, I think one reason I was so popular is because much of my focus was on giving pleasure to the other person. I have been told many times that I give a great blowjob. I pride myself on that, and on creating a little pleasure in the lives of those men I befriended.

The main thing I did not like about this prison was that it was so overcrowded, which resulted in me and many other inmates being forced to sleep in the hallway. Once I got a room with a cellmate I liked, I felt like it would be the best place of all. So I was frustrated that now I had to leave. As they called my name on the loudspeaker to leave, I saw both the black cellmates in the building where I was earlier, wildly waving to me. Though each was so paranoid that the other would find out about their activities with me, at this time they were both loudly calling my name and waving “Goodbye, good luck” like I was their closest friend in the world. It was really touching, that they did not seem to care if the whole prison heard them yelling goodbye to me and calling my name for all to hear.

Months later, when I was living at a halfway house, I got several phone calls from one of the handsome black men I had sex with at this last prison. He told me how much he missed me and how much he enjoyed our times together. It was very touching. I had thoughts that he might want to come live with me after we both got out, but later learned it is forbidden for ex-prisoners to associate with any other inmates.

It was frustrating for me to leave. The medical care at this prison was much better than any other place I had been, and the doctors treated me like a human being instead of a slimeball. This prison was by far the best location I had been in, except that I had to sleep in the hallway for most of the time. Now that I was on the verge of getting a good cellmate, I was looking forward to a good time during my last few months of my sentence. But this prison was so overcrowded they had to get rid of some people. I was sent back to the prison I was located at previously.

I was happy to see my old friends, but my former cellmate had a new person in there. So I was stuck in a bunk in the crowded dormitory with many others. It was especially frustrating because my old Mormon Mexican boyfriend wanted to have sex with me again, but it was impossible for us to find a location. We only managed a couple of fleeting times together when my old cellmate guarded over the room for us to have a few moments of privacy. It was frustrating. But at this point I was focused on getting out, after years of imprisonment. When my date of departure arrived, I said my goodbyes again. Once again I was moved at how many men had tears in their eyes as I left. I had developed some really good friendships here, despite the limitations.

Early on the morning of my departure I was put in a van going to the downtown bus station. The only other person leaving in the van was a Native man from the Crow reservation. He and I had sex a few times when I was at that prison before, and when we got to the bus station he made some slight suggestion that we should go into the bathroom and have some fun while we waited for our buses. I resisted that idea. After all these years I had finally gotten out, and I was not about to risk being sent back due to arrest for public sex. So I curtly declined. My focus was elsewhere.

I was sent to a halfway house due to my being released six months early for good behavior. I had never engaged in any violence, and despite my protests against abusive guards I had not accumulated any demerits. So I was very glad to be leaving. My case manager promised that I would be held at the halfway house for a few weeks and then sent home. Instead, when I got to the halfway house, I was told that they only released inmates who lived in the local area. Since my house was across the state line, and about four hours’ drive away, I had to remain in the halfway house for the full six months of my term. I was very upset about this, and wished all the more that I had been able to remain in the good prison where I had been previously.

The main complaint I had about this halfway house was the complete lack of privacy. It was one huge dormitory, with observation cameras everywhere. I met a few guys I was interested in, but there was no option to get a cell together. At one point, a white young gay man in his 20s came into my shower stall when we were in there taking showers late at night. He wanted to have sex, but I was too nervous that another person would come in and discover us.

The saving grace for me is that, for the first time in years, I could go outside on my own. It was permitted to leave the halfway house to go to the weekly sex offender therapy treatment program, for medical appointments, to go to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, to do personal shopping, and a few free hours per week for recreation. I took advantage of the time outside to the maximum.

But since I always came back at the allotted time I was eventually given more time away. I went to the library, some bookstores, saw some lectures, ate at better restaurants than anything I had to eat while imprisoned, and enjoyed going to some good movies. The doctor I went to see was very nice, and he gave me an order to go to the gym three times a week. I told the halfway house that I was going to a mainstream gym nearby. But nobody checked on me and instead I started going to a gay spa.

The gay spa was great because it had a large indoor pool that was large enough to swim laps, a good exercise room, plus a nice warm jacuzzi to soak afterwards. But the best part is that it had private rooms. I could rent a room for ten dollars, and relax after my swim. Everyone there was looking for sex, so I had a wonderful time. I usually had two orgasms every time I went there. It became my little private gay heaven away from the prison atmosphere. Being able to go to that gay spa three times a week was the way I survived those final months. Even though I was resentful about being detained there longer than what I had been promised, it ended up being tolerable. I had sex with more people those last six months at the gay spa than during my entire time in prison. I was making up for lost time, especially being able to enjoy a long relaxed session of erotic pleasure, without worry that a guard might discover us.

Sometimes I had a bit of worry that the halfway house might find out about my visits to the gay spa, but there was never any problem. Inmates who had been there longer told me that as long as a person gets back on time, with dependability, the staff do not check up on them. Right next to the entry of the spa was a restaurant, and if anyone from the halfway house saw me in that area I planned to tell them I was going to that restaurant. But I never had a problem because I always made it back to the halfway house promptly at my time due.

At the spa I had sex with mostly white men, but also enjoyed a shy Japanese man my age. He and I became close, and he told me his interesting personal history. But the person I became closest to was a black man a few years older than me. He took me to his apartment and we had wild sex. He liked me to suck him, and if he had trouble keeping an erection he strapped on a dildo and fucked me with it. I liked that he just took control of my body, and used me to his pleasure, while also giving me great pleasure. As we got closer I told him about my situation, and he revealed that he had been in prison many years before, for possession of marijuana. So he knew what I was going through. He was very kind to me. After our wild sex sessions he would take me to a fast food place to get a bite to eat, then drove me back to the halfway house. We did this quite a number of times,

Before I left to return to my home, he brought me a present of a big dildo for me to take with me as a memory of our fun times together. He said he would visit me once I got settled at home. But then, once I got home I learned from my parole officer that no one on probation can associate with any ex-felons. That is one of the questions that I have to answer on the periodic lie detector tests that everyone on parole is required to undergo. So I did not want to take any chances of getting a parole violation and being sent back to prison. Because of this rule, I never contacted him again. I felt bad that I broke my promise to him, because it would have been nice to have a visit from him. I still sometimes have erotic dreams of him. But these are the constraints I live under. I do not want to do anything that will endanger my freedom. I am determined not to have to go through the horrid prison experience again.

Though I have many bad memories of prison, I also have some good memories of the friendships I developed there. I met some really good people. And being able to sneak in some sex was integral to my psychological survival during those years. I think it is a denial of basic human rights for the Bureau of Prisons to deny adult men the right to engage in intimacy with other adult men if they are both doing it consensually. There are many changes that need to be made in the effort of prison reform in the United States, but one of the most important should be the right of prisoners to express their sexual desires. Sex is central to human life, and to repress that desire is a violation of human dignity. That is central to the dehumanizing way prisoners are treated in America. It is barbaric and oppressive to the extreme.

Until that basic human right of sexual expression is recognized, it is not surprising if prisoners continue to break the rules and live their lives to whatever extent they are able. I sympathize with them, and hope they can be as successful as I was, in allowing myself at least some pleasure during my years of oppression.

Sex is an integral part of the personal resistance to oppression that prisoners have the opportunity to use, as a means of psychological survival during their years of incarceration. People who have never been in prison may find it hard to understand why sex is such an important topic for those who have lost their freedom. Sex is not tangential, but central to psychological survival. Efforts at prison reform need to acknowledge this basic human need, and make it an explicit part of a campaign for a more humane approach to justice and human rights. I write this personal testimony as a means to emphasize this part of the campaign for prison reform.

2 thoughts on “Voluntary sexual experiences among prisoners: One prisoner’s experience”

  1. Hello.

    I am from South Africa, Mbombela in Mpumalanga province. I learned more about what happens in prisons actually sex wise & about all the ill-treatment of some wardens plus that wardens aren’t the same and the prisons too, differ from one another.

    I personally have been on trial cell for just two weeks and was out of bail and I have seen nothing about sex there. On trial at the Mbombela Correctional Service Centre, they safeguard all inmates on trial due to the fact that you have not been found guilty & sentenced. Should anything happens you can sue the state, get realised and the state paying a lot of money if that case can be held up by a tough lawyer.

    Every morning after inspection, the wardens in charge ask if you have any complaint or request and if you feel not okay to speak there, “the office is all yours during canteen times 2 times a day plus is open for everyone!”

    Otherwise in South Africa they really hide sex in prison.

    Thank very much for sharing this story to the public, it is really eyes opening!

  2. This is such an astonishing piece. The writing itself is great— lucid, smart and beautifully told. Mostly it just feels important to hear testimonies like these. Thank you, to whoever’s story this is. I’ll be thinking about it for long, long time.

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