Many prison inmates are 'gay for the stay'

Staff encouragement was overt. They would facilitate lesbian relationships

Kate Johns
Tuesday 07 May 2013 10:41 BST
City Lawyer Kate Johns
City Lawyer Kate Johns (James Noble/ Noble Draper Pictures Ltd)

Consensual, same-sex prisoner relationships are common among both male and female inmates. It’s not a reflection of their sexuality, but more out of pragmatism and as a counterbalance to loneliness. The expression is “gay for the stay”.

Strangely, the lesbian women I knew inside (there were many, but not as many as one would think) were totally disgusted by the idea of a prison relationship, thinking that their sexuality would be trivialised.

Staff encouragement of such relationships was overt – Holloway prison has a far higher than average ratio of gay female custodial staff who would openly favour and facilitate such relationships.

Commonly, women with a history of abusive (male) relationships would engage in lesbian relationships behind bars, often as an overt attempt to “punish” the partner outside, who would invariably be furnished with details. Even though phone calls are taped I have never known disciplinary action taken in regard of sexual activity although technically it is an offence.

Some custodial staff – mostly male – are well known for their attempts to have relationships.

Equally, making a false allegation against staff is a powerful weapon which can lead to immediate suspension and, in practice, career damage. Male officers are especially prone to this – ironically those who display the greatest awareness of social welfare issues.

Kate Johns is a City lawyer who was convicted of fraud and sentenced to five years in prison. She was released last year.

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