September 25, at 7: But you might be surprised at how much rape is actually observed by inmates. For those whose lives become defined by incarceration, desire and sexuality take on complicated forms. It gets underneath the surface of a reality that is unfortunately all too common here, fleshing out inmates as three-dimensional people with strengths and flaws just like everyone else.
I can speak only for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability. But more common, from what I could see, was an older prisoner taking a young and inexperienced kid under his wing.
Most often, this kid has no money and likes to get high; there are many such people in prison, and they tend to burn their bridges early and totally.
And so the older man, who has usually already served major time, feeds the kid, and gets him a little something to smoke or snort. In any case, very few bugarons—at least not the ones I personally came across or heard about—operate by force. The ones who do have nicknames that ring bells all across the state system: The latter, with a physique honed by two decades of prison weightlifting, was known for using shower-room fog to facilitate his surprise attacks, though it was said that he could be warded off with a knife, as he feared scarring his handsome face.
However, those inside for sex crimes are fair game to the booty bandits, and everyone knows that. In the through-the-looking-glass moral universe of incarceration, the bugarons are applauded for teaching the rapos a lesson, never mind the fact that they too are rapists.
The butt pirates—another actual, commonplace term—do not consider themselves gay in the least; sometimes they have wives and children, who may become victims themselves, if there are any diseases to be passed on.
AIDS testing is suggested but not mandatory in prison, and, statistically, the incarcerated population has a much higher rate of infection.
In any case, it is only the receiver in the act who is considered gay. But the hunger for touch does not always involve sex. It is all an excuse for touch. Consensual sex between incarcerated men happens all the time. Which is ironic, because then you will be locked in a room with another man for 24 hours of the day, with barely any supervision. If ever there was a venue for either forcible or consensual sex between men, it is therein provided. Openly gay men are not as oppressed as one might fear.
The feminine ones are often desired, and there is quite a bit of prostitution going on. Some truly look like women, and as a consequence they are well taken care of by their admirers. Others just look like men with breast implants. There was one called Grandma who was quite a fright, but apparently had customers anyway, because his dentures came out. I spent two years in a place like that, called Groveland Correctional Facility. It was a beautiful campus of a prison with a huge gay population.
They had to cut the bushes down to discourage some of the activities taking place around them. There were even competing gay gangs.
There were also plenty of young twinks sunning themselves and plotting evening escapades. But where could they do it? The guards used this quiet and safe prison as a nice place to spend their last few years before retirement, so they knew all the tricks of the trade. The showers were monitored, the bathroom stalls had no locks, and with every year, the vegetation was further reduced. I may never have learned the secret had I not had the pleasure and misfortune of being a library clerk.
I remember working on reclassifying the James Pattersons in the Young Adult section one day when I noticed a rhythmic movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned around and there was Dirty Tommy, hard at work with his hand under a table and another fellow with his eyes rolled up to the ceiling. This was too much; they were so close that I was practically a participant. Apparently Tommy had sworn fidelity to this dangerous, and apparently jealous, fellow. I kept his secret.