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 from PRIDE can be found here. 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