LGBTQ Prison Organizing

by Will McKeithen

Organizing by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex, and gender diverse prisoners in Washington has a long but largely undocumented history. In recent years, several groups have emerged both inside and outside prison walls to support LGBTQ+ inmates. In 2016, prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex’s Twin Rivers Unit founded the LGBTQ+ support group TRU Unity. TRU Unity holds weekly meetings to discuss LGBTQ+ history, relationship skills, coming out stories, and homophobia and transphobia in prison. In 2017 and 2018, TRU Unity organized a PRIDE celebration, including speeches by prisoners and non-incarcerated LGBTQ+ non-profits and community groups. LGBTQ+ folks at other Washington prisons have begun organizing similar groups. 
 
Free world queers and allies have also been organizing. In 2015, several activists founded a Black and Pink chapter based in Seattle and Tacoma. Black and Pink is an open family of LGBTQ+ folks inside and outside of prison working together to end prison. Black and Pink’s Seattle-Tacoma chapter focuses on supporting pen pal relationships between LGBTQ+ folks who are locked up and their queer family outside. In 2019, Black and Pink will work to support LGBTQ+ prisoner groups like TRU Unity. 
 
This archive documents these new and ongoing efforts to abolish prisons and champion queer liberation.

Will McKeithen is an organizer with the Seattle-Tacoma chapter of Black and Pink, an educator, and an author.

Archival materials coming soon! Be sure to check out the blog by Amber Fayefox Kim, “the musings of a trans woman in prison” in Washington.

Updates from the University of Washington Bothell's Project on Mass Incarceration in Washington State