Amanda Knox gained worldwide fame as the American student studying abroad who was convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher. It was a conviction that put Amanda behind bars in an Italian prison for 4 long years until she was ‘definitively acquitted’ by the Supreme Court of Cassation in 2015 and released from prison.
Since being released from Italian prison almost two years ago, Amanda Knox has been working on completing her degree, and she’s also done some freelance journalism for VICE‘s Broadly. On Valentine’s Day, Amanda Knox penned a long article for Broadly about the lesbian relationships that took place while she was locked up in Italy. Here are a few excerpts from what Amanda experienced and witnessed while locked up abroad:
Inmates had crushes on one another. They passed love letters through the bars. They gave each other presents: drawings of flowers, or little crocheted satchels for holding a Walkman.
Many of these women will have identified as heterosexual—colloquially, they were, “gay for the stay.”
It’s near-impossible to quantify how many people have romantic or sexual relationships while incarcerated: The data simply doesn’t exist. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons publishes an annual report that details the number of alleged and substantiated claims of sexual assault that occur behind bars, it doesn’t factor in adult, consensual relationships. Nonetheless, my own personal experience of prison suggested that such relationships are common.
Bunch’s bond with Rebecca was deep and intimate. “It meant so much to me to have someone to watch out for and cook for,” she says. “To have someone that I could trust. To share my fears and concerns with. Someone to give me a love letter or squeeze my hand when a court date was continued or a petition denied. And after 17 years in prison, I craved touch.”
‘Gay for the stay’ is something you often hear associated with prison. It’s something borne out of the human need for intimacy, and it’s a rather fascinating phenomenon of the human condition. Amanda touches on this a little more in her Broadly article before discussing her lesbian experience with a fellow female inmate named ‘Leny’:
Leny wanted to hold hands. “I’ve changed women before,” she’d tell me. “I can do things to you that no man can.” I felt objectified and I’d get annoyed. “You can’t change me,” I’d respond. She’d think I was playing hard to get. One day, Leny kissed me.
I gritted my teeth and half-smiled, wavering between embarrassment and anger. It was bad enough that the prison institution took ownership of my body―that I was caged and strip-searched on a regular basis and had already been sexually harassed by male guards. As a prisoner, Leny should have understood that, but unlike me, Leny was serving a short stint, and didn’t feel as acutely as I did the loss of privacy, dignity, and autonomy. A small town drug dealer, Leny didn’t know what it felt like to have her past, present, and future stolen―not like I did.
I told Leny that since she couldn’t respect my boundaries, we couldn’t be friends anymore. Things became tense. On break from work, Leny loitered outside my cell, arguing with me about how I was over-reacting. I was relieved when she was finally released, although she continued to write. She sent me jazz CDs which she inscribed on the inside jacket, “Love always, Leny.” I never replied.
The entire Broadly article is fascinating, and I highly suggest reading it in its entirety if you’ve ever been intrigued about what life is like behind bars. Amanda’s story with Leny isn’t nearly as juicy as the stuff we’ve become accustomed to seeing in TV shows like Orange is the New Black. But that’s all fiction, Amanda’s stories of lesbian relationships in prison are about real life, and it’s much more fascinating.
You can also find Amanda Knox HERE on Twitter (@amamaknox).