I May Not Look Like a “Respectable” Teacher, But I’m a Good One
As part of our Education Week series, Edgar Gomez reflects on how presenting himself authentically as a teacher cultivates a more open and honest learning environment.
I can dress like themand get a cushy college gig after I graduate, or I can wear something that affirms my queer identity and stay broke forever.
Wait, are you allowed to say ? Is that professional?Quick, say something smart!
Ajar? Global warming? Girl, all of that is even weirder than when you said . Talk normal!
Was that too gay? Too Southern? Too Puerto Rican? Did I even pronounce that right? me
I talk like me: with a lisp, peppering every other sentence with “pero like,” clapping my hands to make points like my mom, bestowing snaps like my friends do when we hear something powerful. I teach like me: populating my syllabus with the writers whose work I admire, most of them BIPOC and/or queer and still alive.
My students like me in business casualbut what if I came in here with some eyeshadow on? In a skirt?
Work isn’t supposed to affirm youJust keep your head down and collect your check. Be grateful. Don’t complain.
Tell the truth.
High-Risk Homosexualin spite ofbecause
NoI don’t want to go back.Pretty Woman
Edgar Gomez (he/she/they) is a Florida-born writer with roots in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. A graduate of University of California, Riverside’s MFA program, he is a recipient of the 2019 Marcia McQuern Award for nonfiction. His words have appeared in Poets & Writers, Narratively, Catapult, Lithub, The Rumpus, Electric Lit, Plus Magazine, and elsewhere online and in print. His memoir, High-Risk Homosexual, was named a Best LGBTQ Book by Harper’s Bazaar. He lives in New York and Puerto Rico. Find him on Twitter @OtroEdgarGomez.
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I privately couldn’t get over the fact that she’d even felt comfortable speaking to me that way.