Richard Hatch: The Naked Truth
BY Brandon Voss
February 14 2011 12:25 PM ET
Even with some time having passed since your May 2009 release, you fully stand by your previous statements that antigay discrimination played a major part in your conviction?
It’s incontrovertible. This court refused to allow us to ask potential or selected jurors about their feelings toward homosexuals, even when many of them had submitted questionnaires that claimed “I could never find that fag innocent,” “I hate queers,” or “not a chance I could serve on this jury” — really unbelievable, blatant, clearly spoken homophobia that I didn’t even know existed. But I don’t blame the jurors; I blame the court and the bias of that particular judge from the outset.
Though most of your sentence was served at the Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia, which is a minimum-security facility, the first six months of your sentence were served in a maximum-security facility. We’ve all heard the same horror stories, so how did you feel going to prison as a famously gay man?
I was never afraid of being raped or of anything physical because I’m a healthy, strong guy, and I’ve always held my own. I also know that people are people, wherever they are, so I truly didn’t have the sense that they were going to be animals in prison. But it’s fascinating to me how sex is such a part of that all-male environment. In the Federal Correctional Institution, where I spend three years, there were 1,500 guys, one of whom was an in-process transsexual who was in there for prostitution. Her breasts had already grown in, so she ended up being removed from the prison after being raped. There’s also a lot more education than I imagined — access to information about how disease is transmitted, what to do if you feel threatened, etc. — but there was quite a bit of sex in there.
Were you able to connect with other gay people in prison? I want to imagine you in there like Jim Carrey in I Love You Philip Morris.
I haven’t seen that yet, but yeah, I met quite a few people in prison who were gay. There were even some gay people on staff.
Were gay staffers generally friendlier or more lenient?
No. Like with anything, it ran the spectrum. There’s as much homophobia among gay people as there is among straight people, and with gay people it’s often more damaging and destructive. Just look at our politicians. And with positions of power often come exaggerated homophobia, gay or not.
Have you maintained any of the friendships you made with gay prisoners?
Well, there are rules. Being currently on supervised release, I’m not allowed to be in contact with any felon with whom I was in prison.
You married your partner, Emiliano Cabral, in Nova Scotia in 2005. How did your relationship survive your long absence?
I’m the luckiest man on the planet. Our relationship is as strong as it has ever been. I adore him. But living in a country that doesn’t recognize our marriage is still infuriating beyond description. We’re in our eighth year now, and I can’t even begin to describe the additional torture, stress, and difficulty this has created only because we’re gay.