My name’s Angele Cooper. I’m from Los Angeles, California.
When I was 25 years old, I had just got out of a really bad breakup. I was going through a lot of depression and dealing with, like, a lot of suicidal thoughts. I was really conflicted with myself and really wanting to not be queer, not be a lesbian. And then a couple of weeks later, my buddy calls me and he offers me this opportunity to be a part of this docuseries.
The docuseries that I got contacted for entailed me pretty much going undercover in jail to be able to, first off, show the experience of a person while they’re incarcerated and then second off, being able to provide the COs and the officers with specific notes as far as, like, how drugs are getting in, like, the gang culture inside there. So I was pretty much like an informant. I accepted and within a week later, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia and then they put me into the Fulton County jail.
Within my time in there I had the opportunity to bond with a lot of these women. We would pray together. We danced together. We’d sing together. We just really enjoyed each other. One day, an inmate came in. She came into my pod. She got bunked with me. Me and her started to get really close and connected. So she started to, like – we would work out together, we’d just talk about life together, talk about our futures together. We had such a strong connection that I ended up falling in love with her. Our relationship went from being quite platonic, cordial, to now be becoming intimate.
You know, when you’re inside jail, you’re stuck with your thoughts. And for me, luckily, I was blessed enough to have very, very beautiful spirits around me. People be like, “Angele, like, you’ve been a lesbian since you were 6 years old! Girl, accept it!”
There’s one woman in there that was very spiritual and she would be like, “God is love. You are love. We are love.” They taught me that when they look at me, they saw light in me, which enabled me to see light within myself.
So my birthday is November 3, and it was November 2. And I was actually turning 26. The woman and the other inmates threw me a birthday party. All of them got together and they used, like, the money off of their books to like buy, like, cake items, chips, Kool-Aid. Like, everything that you could possibly imagine. They cut up uniforms and they made them into, like, dresses – like, dresses and skirts because at the party, like, they wanted to have like strippers at the party. We were, like, eating chips with, like, nacho sauce. It was – it was, like, absolutely amazing.
The connection that I had with this woman in particular, I started to feel a bit of guilt. So the following morning, I had just woken up, went downstairs, took a shower, came back to the room and she was just lying down reading a book.
And she had asked me, “Hey, you want to come lay next to me?”
And I said, “Yeah,” so I laid next to her.
I walked back to the bed and she’s like, “What’re you doing?”
I’m like, “I’m just going to write a letter. I just wanna write something right now just because I love to write.” So I laid in bed and I started writing this letter and it was pretty much like, Hey, I just wanna let you know that my real name is Angele Cooper and that I’m really in here because of yada yada yada. She sat there as she opened the letter, like, within the book. And she just read it and her – I literally saw her like heart just sink. She was, like, really upset. But then that night, she was fine.
She was just like, “You know, I’m glad that you told me. I’m happy that you told me. And, like, it makes me really happy that you, you know, that you’re able to share that with me.”
The next day, I’m in the shower. Another inmate came up to me and was like, “Hey, just a heads up. So-and-so told us that you’re undercover.”
And I was like, What?”
And then the next morning, one of the producers of the docuseries came into the facility and had me, like leave the pod. And he put me – sat me in a chair just like this, and was like, “Hey, we know that you blew your cover. Your time is up.” I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to any of those women. Like, it literally went for me waking up to them calling me out to me, like, leaving.
After they took me out of of jail, after they brought me out, they put me in a hotel. And I was receiving phone calls like minute after minute after minute after minute. And it was from, like, my lover that I had when I was inside. Finally, I got – I answer the phone and I got a hold of her and we finally talked. For a few weeks after me getting out of jail, me and her talked all the time. She’d always call me. I’d send her books, I’d send her stuff. Unfortunately, when she got out of jail, she ended up relapsing and going back to heroin. Now we talk because she’s in rehab and she’s clean so we – so we talk every so often.
That experience, with her alone, there’s one thing that she said to me that has always stuck with me, actually, to this day. She would always be like, “Why don’t you give yourself credit? Why don’t you accept yourself? Why don’t you let your walls down? Allow yourself to love yourself.”
Coming out, I was just so much more stronger. Now I rep my queerness. I’m like, “Yeah!” I’m always posting on social media. Like, you know, if I have a girlfriend, I post her. If I’m at a queer event, I’ll post it. At the end of the day, like, you have to love yourself. You have to see the light within yourself because that’s the only way you will be allowed to love others and see light in others. And just have that self knowledge and that personal freedom of being who you are unapologetically.