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B. Pietras
B. Pietras is an author with essays in Creative Nonfiction, Buzzfeed, TriQuarterly, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a collection of essays about queer shame, as well as a novel. You can read more of his work at

Secret Museums

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B. Pietras Creative Nonfiction | Summer 2019 | 16 minutes (4,291 words)


I was a freshman in high school when my religion teacher faced the class and asked, with a knowing smile, “How many of you have seen pornography?”

There were about twenty boys in the classroom that day, and until then, we probably weren’t paying full attention—some of us were thinking about lunch, others about the quiz next period. But when the question came, everything in the dusty room seemed to go still; the air itself seemed to thicken, to prickle against our skin. Tense, wary of a trap, we watched one another out of the corners of our eyes. Did he really expect us to answer honestly? And what would happen if we did?

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