Wednesday 5th of June 2013

Open Call for for photos, artwork and images....

We are currently working on our next Newsletter (which containst writing by and for LGBTQ prisoners) and are looking for contributions of artwork, photos and images that we can publish alongside the writing.

If you have a penpal inside prison, please encourage them to send us their artwork. Or if you have artwork to share we'd love to recieve drawings, images and graphics - either ones that you've created yourself or ones you've found that you think we should include.

The theme of this newsletter is:

"Identity Outside the Box"

We asked prisoners to tell us about:

-Multiple identities: do you feel like you don't fit neatly into one catetory; how does this affect how others percieve you

-Fluid or changing identities

-Don't feeal like you fit the boxes or categories of lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans?

-Do you feel like you are either male or female, both or neither?

-Does your gender fit your sexuality?

-How do you describe yourself?

-How does yoru sexual identity fit with other sides of yourself?

-Do you feel like other people put you in a box?

-Can you move between categories?

-How has your identity changed?

We welcome artwork on these themes or artwork that is generally relevant to the project (i.e. LGBT issues, prison issues, etc)

Please send contributions via email to bent.bars.project[at] or to our postal address: PO Box 66754, London, WC!A 9BF.

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

Check out our new Frequently Asked Questions Section!

Thursday 6th of December 2012

We've got brand new A3-sized posters to promote the project, one design for inside prisons and one design for outside prisons. We are hoping to put them up in libraries, community centres, queer social spaces and pubs. If you can help distribute them, please email us with your address and we can mail you some copies. (Please try to put them in places where they won't get taken down right away.)

A big thanks to A-K Pirata for the beautiful design and to Footprint for the printing. 

Thursday 9th of August 2012

Welcome to the 4th Bent Bars Newsletter!

Once again we have another fantastic edition of our newsletter – a collection of writing, artwork and poetry by prisoners involved in the Bent Bars Project. In this issue you’ll find letters and articles on the theme of ‘supporting each other’. We chose this topic as many prisoners contact us regularly about wanting to start support groups in prison and we thought it would be useful for those inside to share their experiences.

This issue includes lots of great poetry, artwork and letters on a variety of themes, including practical information on organizing, coming-out issues and personal stories.

A big thanks to all those who contributed and to the Bent Bars volunteers who worked on the layout, proof-reading, printing and mailout.

Feel free to download (available below)*, copy and distribute the newsletter widely.

*Please note the file is quite large (6.3MB). If you require a paper copy, please get in touch and we can send you one.

Summer 2012

Sunday 8th of July 2012

Anti-Racist & Proud @ Bristol Pride Parade - Sat 14th July 
11am Berkeley Square (BS8) to College Green

We call on Bristol’s LGBTQI community, friends and families, to join us on the “Anti-Racist and Proud” block on the We Are: Proud Parade.

We encourage you to wear Black and Pink, colours of pride, solidarity and freedom for LGBTQI people. 


“A “Pride” event is nothing if not political: a supreme demonstration of communities coming together to celebrate their diversity and often in the face of negativity from the fringes of those communities. In that regard a “Pride” event must always confront prejudice and show those who hold prejudices that they are at the edges of society, standing increasingly alone.” 
(Imaan, a UK group which supports LGBT Muslim people, families and friends)

In the summer of 1969, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex people in New York fought back against police violence at the Stonewall Inn. The following year Gay Liberation Day was organised to commemorate this Stonewall Uprising, to build a larger struggle of LGBTQI people and to work with other liberation movements. This is our history, and the history of Bristol’s We Are: Proud event.

The English Defence League, a far right movement, intend to march in Bristol on the same day as this year’s Bristol Pride. The EDL state that they are not racist, and claim that they are defending women’s and gay rights in the face of Islam. We challenge their position and know them to be a racist organisation who are attempting to use our LGBTQI communities to legitimise their racism.

The far right has been, and continues to be, an enemy rather than an ally in the fight for our sexual freedoms. On numerous marches staged by the EDL there have been racially motivated attacks and violence, as well as homophobic slurs thrown at any opposition

We, a collective of Bristol Queers, oppose all forms of oppression, including religious fundamentalism. We will fight homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in our daily lives, and we will fight racism, nationalism and Islamophobia within and beyond our own LGBTQI community. 

We refuse to allow the EDL to use “gay rights” as a tool to further their racist agenda, and we believe that here in 2012 it is as important as ever for us to take a firm and explicitly anti-racist stand. 

More info:
• Find Bristol Queercafe on Facebook
• Twitter: @stopedl #stopedl
• Updates on

If you're coming from out of town and need crash space, please email
Thursday 31st of May 2012

Challenging Convictions: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition.

DEADLINE EXTENDED Completed submissions due: June 15, 2012.

Like much prison abolition work, the call for this anthology comes from frustration and hope: frustration with organizers against sexual assault and domestic violence who treat the police as a universally available and as a good solution; frustration with prison abolitionists who only use “domestic violence” and “rape” as provocative examples; and, frustration with academic discussions that use only distanced third-person case studies and statistics to talk about sexual violence and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). But, this project also shares the hope and worth of working toward building communities without prisons and without sexual violence. Most importantly, it is anchored in the belief that resisting prisons, domestic violence, and sexual assault are inseparable.

Organizers of this anthology want to hear from survivors in conversation with prison abolition struggles. We are interested in receiving submissions from survivors who are/have been imprisoned, and survivors who have not. Both those survivors who have sought police intervention, as well as those who haven't, are encouraged to submit. We are looking for personal essays and creative non-fiction from fellow survivors who are interested in discussing their unique needs in anti-violence work and prison abolitionism.

Discussions of sexual assault, domestic violence, police violence, prejudice within courts, and imprisonment cannot be separated from experiences of privilege and marginalization. Overwhelmingly people who are perceived to be white, straight, able-bodied, normatively masculine, settlers who are legal residents/citizens, and/or financially stable are less likely to experience violence, while also less likely to encounter the criminal injustice system than those who are not accorded the privileges associated with these positions. At the same time, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and shelters are often designed with certain privileges assumed. We are especially interested in contributions that explore how experiences of race, ability, gender, citizenship, sexuality, or class inform your understandings of, or interactions with cops, prisons, and sexual assault/domestic violence support.

Potential topics:
· What does justice look like to you?
· Perspectives on police and prisons as a default response to sexual assault
· What do you want people in the prison abolition movement with no first hand experiences of survivorship to know?
· How did you overcome depression/feelings of futility when dealing with these systems?
· Critical reflections on why the legal system has or has not felt like an option for you
· Perspectives on the cops/PIC participating in rape culture
· Restorative justice and other methods for responding to sexual violence outside of the PIC? (if you are a settler be conscious of appropriations of indigenous methods)
· How have you felt about conversations you’ve had about the PIC?
· How sexual assault inside and outside of the PIC is treated by organizers against sexual assault, domestic violence, and the PIC
· Police and prison guards as triggers
· Responding to sexual assault and domestic violence when communities weren’t there for you
· What the legal system offers survivors and what it doesn’t
· Rants at manarchists, the writers/directors of televised cop dramas, and communities that let you down
· Survivor shaming for reporting and for not reporting to police

Please submit first-person accounts, critical reflections, essays, and creative non-fiction to byJUNE 15, 2012 with “Submission” as the subject line.

· One submission per person;
· English language (we are happy to work with authors who may need assistance writing in English);
· Pseudonyms welcomed, as are name changes in the written piece.

If you are passing this on to someone without computer access:
· We accept scans of hand written letters (please include contact info for the author);
· Contact us if you require a mailing address.

Early submissions are encouraged. First time authors encouraged.

If you have questions, we welcome emails to with “Question” in the subject line. We are looking for both shorter pieces of writing and longer pieces, but if your piece is more than 20 pages consider sending us an email to run the idea by us.

Please attach a short biography that you are comfortable sharing with the editors (200 word max.). This is not about your credentials, but getting to know you and where you are coming from. All information you provide will be kept confidential.

About selection and editing: Submissions will be reviewed by a group of readers who will consider if and how each written piece could contribute to the finished project. Each piece will be read by at least two readers who will contribute to the decision to accept/reject/edit the piece. Some of us working on this project have been made to feel alone as both survivors and abolitionists. Some of us have managed to carve spaces within these communities. Now we are looking to open the conversation and hear from people we’ve never met, who have struggled to practice politics in a rape culture and police state. We believe that the needs of survivors matter in these movements, and we don’t need someone else to speak for us or about us as case studies and numbers. We want to hear from you.

For more information please visit:

Thursday 31st of May 2012

The Bent Bars Collective has endorsed the Stop the Arrests campaign which calls for a moratorium on the arrest of sex workers in London during the Olympics. 

For more details about the campaign see:


Monday 13th of February 2012

Here's celebrating three years of Bent Bars Project!  Back in February 2009, a few of us were in discussion about the need to develop stronger links between LGBTQ people inside and outside prison. We put one small advert in InsideTime newspaper notifying prisoners of a new penpal project for LGBTQ-identified prisoners. Little did we know what a massive response we'd get.

Since then, we've been in contact with more than 300 prisoners and have made more than 200 penpal matches. More than 250 non-prisoners have been involved in the project, whether as penpals, fundraisers, supporters and general volunteers. 

We've produced three newsletters, launched a new website, and hosted events in London, Leeds, and Bristol. But most importantly we've made important connections with people inside and outside prison, in ways that have generated new friendships, allies and networks of support. 

We are still a small do-it-yourself project, run by a completely volunteer organising collective who meet on a weekly basis. But the project has grown considerably in scope since its initial beginnings and we are now much more able to keep up with the steady strem of mail coming through the post.

The Organizing Collective is reminded on a regular basis of how much the project means to people both inside and out, so a big cheers to everyone who has been involved in bringing care and energy to the project.

Tuesday 1st of November 2011

Once again we have received a fantastic range of writing, poetry and artwork from prisoners involved in the Bent Bars Project, which we are very excited to share with you. This issue covers topics ranging from pride and vulnerability, strength and survival, dealing with loss, passing time and resisting isolation. Some of have written about gender journeys, some about experiences with family, overcoming self harm and dealing with homophobia. Others have written about friendship, discovery and support inside. 

For new readers, this newsletter is written by and for prisoners who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex or queer (LGBTQ). We aim to create space for LGBTQ prisoner voices to be heard and to provide an opportunity for people inside to share experiences with each other.

To read past newsletters, check out our Newsletters Page (under the "Resources & Links" Section).