Bent Bars Project
The Bent Bars Project is a new letter-writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain. The project aims to develop stronger connections and build solidarity between LGBTQ communities outside and inside prison walls.
Although many overtly homophobic and transphobic laws have been recently overturned in Britain, the criminal (in)justice system continues to target and criminalize queer, trans and gender non-conforming people. We don’t know exactly how many LGBTQ people are currently behind bars, but we do know queer, trans and gender non-conforming people, particularly those from poor backgrounds and communities of colour, are disproportionately funneled into the prison system as a result of systemic discrimination, inequality and social exclusion. We also know that queer, trans and gender non-conforming people are subject to increased isolation, harassment, violence and assault when in prison.
Bent Bars aims to work in solidarity with prisoners by sharing resources, providing mutual support and drawing public attention to the struggles of queer and trans people behind bars.
The project is still in the early stages of formation, but we also hope to collect and distribute information for LGBT/queer/trans prisoners on harm reduction practices (safer sex, safer drug-use), HIV and HepC prevention, homophobia, transphobia, coming out in prison, etc.
Penpals greatly needed!
We are looking for non-imprisoned and formerly imprisoned LGBTQ people who are interested in becoming penpals. In the first month since we initiated the project, we received more than 100 requests from LGBTQ prisoners for penpals, and the requests keep coming. So we are urgently looking for non-imprisoned folks to write to prisoners. We are especially looking for gay/bi men and transwoman to be penpals.
Becoming a penpal can give a person in prison vital emotional support, help prisoners be less vulnerable to violence and assist in building networks and resources for release. Time commitment is whatever you want it to be – writing one letter a month, which can take as little as half and hour, would be great.
We are also looking for folks who want to get involved in the Bent Bars Collective, which coordinates the letter writing program, collects resources for queer/trans prisoners and does public education work on queer/trans prison issues.
Interested in becoming a penpal or becoming part of the Bent Bars Collective?
Or join us at our next letter-writing meeting:
For more info:
Bent Bars Project
P.O. Box 66754