Anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble describes the role played by queer inmates in recent uprisings at Holman Prison, Alabama. This article first appeared on his blog, Anarchy Live!
The web has been abuzz with information about the recent riots here in Alabama at Holman prison – the stabbing of a warden and correctional officer, the fires that were set, the overcrowding, etc. – but what has been left out of this narrative is that the catalyst for the riots was a fight between two queer prisoners about queer relations. After quelling their beef, a pig and the warden attempted to intervene and was stabbed.
No one wants to mention that out of the six prisoners who were charged with the stabbings of the warden and correctional officer, four are queer. Historically, attempts have been made to write queer resistance out of history. But, despite all the attempts, queer folk have refused to allow these stories to go unknown.
What I think most people refuse to acknowledge is that prisons are extensions of patriarchal control. Male prisons are hyper-macho environments with very hierarchical structures and class divisions. In the prisons, queer prisoners have taken on a submissive and passive persona, because they themselves are not immune to all the psychological bullshit that society teaches about gender, sex, and class, and how that gender should be lived – you know, ‘females are weak and only to use, and control.’ The queer prisoner is on the bottom of the social ladder, just above snitches. The life of the queer prisoner is one of gross disrespect, violence, and oppression, from prisoners and pigs alike. Most prisoners look at being queer as an abomination, as something nasty and weak.
But on March 11, 2016, that narrative was shattered after queer prisoners went on the offensive against the pigs.
One queer prisoner went from dorm to dorm inviting, exhorting, and encouraging prisoners to come out of their cells and join in tearing the prison down. One dorm refused and placed a lock and chain on their dorm’s cell door, successfully locking themselves in and everyone else out. The queer prisoner started calling these guys on this and called them pigs, Uncle Tom, etc. all while brandishing a knife.
And this is not the only instance of queer resistance against the pigs:
– In 2012, a stabbing of a guard in the segregation unit at Holman was taking place while showers were being done, and Fredricka, a queer prisoner’s, cell door hadn’t closed and she ran out the cell, down the stairs and into the control unit. She kicked the pig down who was in the control unit, handcuffed him and opened some of the segregation cell doors, allowing other prisoners to come out their cell and attack the police.
– Also in 2012 at Holman prison, queer prisoners formed the “Gay Militia” as a prison gang for the protection of themselves against homophobes.
– At Donaldson prison in Alabama, queer prisoners form F.A.G. as a self-defense organization.
– In 2015 at Holman prison, a queer prisoner set fire to a guard in the segregation unit.
The history of queer resistance is long and beautiful. It didn’t start with Stonewall.