Will we change marriage or will marriage change us?

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When my new wife and I went to the bank to add her to my accounts, we arrived separately. I walked in first, told the greeter that I was here for my appointment. “Will your husband be joining you?” she asked. “Wife,” I said. “And yes, she’ll be here in just a moment.”

Once she arrived, we experienced no overt discrimination from the bank, and the banker handling my (our) account asked us questions about the wedding, seemingly interested. …


From the progressive down the street

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To my Neighbors,

You don’t know me. We don’t talk. Perhaps it’s because you spotted my bumper stickers when I moved in, or because I spotted your yard signs. Or perhaps it is because we both work, and no one is as good about knowing their neighbors as they used to be. Maybe we don’t know each other because we did not make time for each other.

I would like to try and make that time now. Because I can see that you’re angry, and I know what fear feels like. And I have been taught to love my neighbor…


I spent years afraid to see a doctor, but eventually, I needed to know what the tests would say about my cancer risk

Photo: Victoria Strukovskaya/Unsplash

My life began with an unexpected mass.

Though my parents had been trying to have a child, it wasn’t until my mother took a routine pregnancy test before a surgery to remove ovarian cysts that she found out she was pregnant. The cysts would have to stay until I came out, stubborn as always, feet first.

I tell this to the woman sitting across from me at a round table. The room we’re in looks like a conference room, somewhere I would sit with other educators to discuss adjustments in curriculum or how to handle a troublesome student. Instead, I’m…


How Unbelievable indicts our criminal justice system

It’s the initial recounting that’s the hardest. It’s the phone calls you make after leaving his house, or the party, or the place that you ended up that you don’t remember ending up in. It’s the way you pretend that it wasn’t a big deal that your friend didn’t pick up that phone. It’s the way you laugh off the hysterical text message you sent. It’s the half-completed story you told in your diary before you had to stop writing, before you went to go take yet another shower.

The serial rapist in…


From Tila Tequila to Are You the One?

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

In the Fall 2007, I could be found inside my dorm room, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila playing on my hidden computer screen. I’d left home about a month and a half earlier, a copy of Curve rolled up in my backpack and a pirated season of The L Word downloaded on my laptop. I had one foot in the closet, and one rainbow colored sock peeking out. I also had a boy back home who kept asking me are you sure you’re gay who I wanted very badly to love.

I don’t know, I said.


Book clubs and beyond

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

When I first moved back to Nashville four years ago, I had very few friends. Having spent the last eight years living in New York, I had maintained very little community in my hometown. And having gone to a religious, anti-lgbt school, I wasn’t super excited to reconnect with people I had known from my teenage years.

As a result, the first few months, maybe even the first year, was lonely. I downloaded dating apps, but had a hard time connecting with people, probably because I was incredibly depressed. I was working a job that was fairly isolating, office friendships…


“Hustlers” and how women get ahead

Screenshot from Trailer

When Wall Street crashed, I was living in an apartment in Brooklyn, later condemned. The stairs creaked dangerously when you walked up them. Holes in the walls let in bedbugs and rats and every other kind of creature known to man. The windows had gaps between the wall and the pane, letting in cold wind in the winter. My landlord’s religious convictions prohibited him from being alone in a room with me or shaking my hand or, apparently, taking my complaints about his property seriously. …


The problem of both sides in the classroom

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At the beginning of every school year, I tell my community college freshman that it is okay to disagree with me. I tell them that it is okay to disagree with the readings and with each other. I tell them that I want them to think critically about the texts that we read, to question everything.

I tell them this because I think that most students are taught to regurgitate what they’ve read, not think about it critically. And critical thinking is an important skill for both further education and for the existence of our democracy.

My educational past was…


The difference between courage and survival

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

Imagine you’re walking in the woods when, suddenly, you come up on a black bear. In the back of your mind, there are a million different survival strategies, but you only have a few seconds to decide: fight or flight. You remember reading somewhere that you should make yourself look big, threatening. You pick up a stick. You put your hands above your head in mock claws.

And, against all doubt, the bear begins to turn away. You’ll tell this tale to your friends as the time you scared away a bear. They’ll be impressed by your bravery. …


The potential downside of tying identity to science

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

A few months ago, I went in for genetic testing.

After a lifetime of worrying that I was going to die from breast cancer, just as my mother had, I decided to confront my fears and see if I had a mutation on either of the BRCA genes most responsible for inherited breast and ovarian cancers.

Ultimately, I tested negative for any mutations, which was a huge relief for me. But before I was allowed to test, I had to sign a document relieving the clinic and the lab of any liability of genetic discrimination. I had to acknowledge that…

Amber Stewart

Queer writer, essayist, educator, native Nashvillian, poet. She/Her/Hers.

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