Nathan Allen

Queer Ecology is a framework to break down boundaries

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Public Domain Photo via FreeVintageIllustrations.

“I did not move to Minnesota for the north woods, … I had only the vaguest idea of what the term meant when I first saw them in early spring, the birch, aspen, and tamarack skinned of their needles and leaves. I thought they looked diseased.” (pg. 3)

“I moved there to try to leave behind — or at least, at a remoter distance — the plague that had consumed my life for the past six years.” (pg. 3)

Jan Zita Grover, North Enough: AIDS and Other Clear Cuts

Prior to her move to Minnesota, Jan Zita Grover had been an AIDS worker in San Francisco during the 1980s. The Californian city was hit hard by the virus and Grover was undoubtedly present during pain and disease. Being a front line AIDS worker, at that time, meant sitting with the feeling of life ending — that moment of time when life leaves the material body — all the time. …

These things were out of bounds on the big screen

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Movies are constantly pushing the envelope. They move, like a boat, on the sea of shifting cultural values and norms. At least, that is what I thought. At one point in history, there was an actual set of rules about what movies could and could not show (or even suggest).

Formally, these rules were under the “Motion Picture Production Code,” which was also dubbed the Hays code after Will H. Hays, the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. The code called for the self-censoring of major studios concerning the content they were creating in films. A few rules are still in effect today; others are a relic of a prejudiced mindset. …

Feminine gay men are seen as “less natural”

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Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

“I’m gay — but I’m not gay gay.”

All gay/bi/dudes-who-like-dudes have run into this person. That masculine guy who thinks that since he likes football, has a deep voice, grew up on a farm, etc., he is different, in some meaningful way, than feminine men. And I think that in a sense, society has taught him that. The way I see it is this. Guys — whatever their sexual orientation — who are not stereotypically masculine are burdened with prejudice that others aren’t.

This prejudice, then, is portrayed in a neater package as a “preference.” Such a preference does not remain solely in dating/hookup situations. Social science is revealing that across the board, feminine gay men have societal prejudices leveled against them. …

Exploring the geological epoch of “the Anthropocene”

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash. Edit by Author.

Atom bombs, plastic landscapes, tomatoes with the DNA of fish, rapidly changing climate— these are all features of our current environmental period. Humankind has manipulated, extinguished, prodded, destroyed, created anew, and otherwise molded the earth and its various systems into what it is today.

Some scientists, and to a greater degree non-scientists, have proposed and begun to use the term “anthropocene” to “emphasize the central role of mankind in geology and ecology”

The anthropocene is the epoch of mankind’s sculpting of the world — of humans being the main cause of environmental change. When did this era start? Where did its name originate? …

Their intimacy was afforded by class and race

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The cabinet of the Confederate States at Montgomery / from photographs by Whitehurst, of Washington, and Hinton, of Montgomery, Alabama. Library of Congress. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Contrary to what your southern family might have led you to believe, gay and lesbian history is not a twenty-first-century fad — or even local only to the west coast and New England. LGBTQ+ people have been around as long as people themselves have existed, and they have existed everywhere.

As can be guessed, though, certain other identities and social circumstances have created situations in which some people were allowed to be more expressive than others. In what follows is one such story — the tale of Jim and Jeff.

The archival letters you will read are kind; and, they are (sexually) suggestive. From the letters, we can see that the two men were in some type of relationship that extended past mere friendliness. They point to the existence of gay history and how this history is allowed or complicated by race and class. …

“We have an intimate relation to theory. It gets stuck to our bodies”

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Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

House Bill 2 or, the bathroom bill, was an infamous law hotly debated in my state of North Carolina as I was graduating from high school. I remember how hostile people in my hometown were about the idea that they might be using the same bathroom as transgender people.

The law for those who don’t know was passed by Governor Pat McCrory in 2016 and prohibited trans individuals to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity. It was a direct response to a Charlotte, NC ordinance that allowed for some public protections of trans community members. Conservative pundits hailed that it was a safety measure for women and children. …

The 1949 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for the lobotomy

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Brain internal organ vintage style illustration via rawpixel.

Netflix’s Ratched is insane. It’s really scary. It’s really bloody. And, it comments, in a peculiar way, on how bad we used to be at treating mental illness. Among the clergymen murders and supposed sexual “disorders,” the show points to one interesting procedure — the lobotomy.

Lobotomy is a word that often brings out astonishment in people (rightly so, I think). The most known form of the procedure involved a surgical ice pick and a hammer. …

Updated: 23 Nov 2020

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Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

I am so glad that you want to write for Pollen. This submission guide will hopefully answer any questions you have both about the process as well as the types of stories we are looking for.

a. Our Vision

b. What We Are Publishing

c. Have A Draft? Look here first:

d. Submitting Your Story

Our Vision

Pollen is a collection of stories that are trying to get a grip on the environment. Those places that are around us, above and below — even our own bodies. …

Most people have no idea

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Photo by diana spatariu on Unsplash

Since going on a certain mood stabilizing medication, I have had some pretty crazy dreams. I have flown on a butterfly, wrote a master’s thesis, and I keep running into cults weirdly enough.

Usually, I can remember (especially if I write it down) what I saw, and to a lesser degree, what I heard in my dreams. However, I cannot remember a single instance of smelling something in my dreams.

Why is that, I wondered? I smell things during my waking life — why not during my sleeping life? Here’s some ideas.

Reviewing the Research on Smelly Dreams

As much as I hate to admit it, there have been some pretty weird circumstances in my dreams that definitely should have smelled like something. But they didn’t. …

But being content with that fact is.

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Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like you aren’t good enough? Like you may never become a famous gymnast, academic, or CEO, even though you really want to? Good. You’re absolutely correct.

No matter what your parents told you when you were younger, you cannot do anything — even if you put your mind to it. You, me, the guy at the bakery, the person who made the shirt you’re wearing, your kids, your kids’ kids, and most people are unwaveringly ordinary.

Most of us never hit the jackpot; we never become a person that more than maybe 50 people will remember after our deaths. …


Nathan Allen

writer. illustrator. manic collector of pens and notebooks. bug guy from North Carolina. see my work at

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