29 Jul 2020



Derek is a girl. He wasn’t one of the boys as a kid. He admired, befriended, and socialized with the girls and always knew he was one of them, despite being male. That wasn’t always accepted or understood, but he didn’t care—he knew who he was. Now he’s a teenager and boys and girls are flirting and dating and his identity has become a lot more complicated: he’s attracted to the girls. The other girls. The female ones.

         This is Derek’s story, the story of a different kind of male hero—a genderqueer person’s tale. It follows Derek from his debut as an eighth grader in Los Alamos, New Mexico until his unorthodox coming out at the age of twenty-one on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque.

This century’s first decade saw many LGBT centers and services rebranding themselves as LGBTQ. The “Q” in LGBTQ is a new addition. It represents other forms of “queer” in an inclusive wave-of-the hand toward folks claiming to vary from conventional gender and orientation, such as genderqueer people. People who are affirmatively tolerant on gay, lesbian and transgender issues still ask “Why do we need to add another letter to the acronym? Isn’t anyone who isn’t mainstream already covered by ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘bisexual’ or ‘trans’? I’m all in favor of people having the right to call themselves whatever they want, but seriously, do we need this term?”

         Derek’s tale testifies to the real-life relevance of that “Q.” This is a genderqueer coming-of-age and coming-out story from an era long before genderqueer was trending.
- Back Cover Blurb

I guess I'd shot my mouth off.
- First Sentence, Part One: School. At A Party: 1979

This is who I am, how I am. Get used to it! I will never again tolerate people being mean and nasty to me and acting like I deserve it because I don't act like a guy. From now on being all worried about that is gonna be their problem.
- Memorable Moment, Page 166

MY THOUGHTS ...  A memoir written as a narrative tale, the story of one man's journey of self discovery. Set in the 1970's/80's, a period in time that alas wasn't quite as enlightened when it comes to all manner of things LGBTQ+, Genderqueer is the 'coming-out story of Derek, a male-bodied girl-gendered >hetero genderqueer'.

With much of the book chronicling instances in which the author as a boy/young man was made to feel - I hate to use the word and had thought to use the metaphor 'like a round peg in a square hole' but somehow that didn't feel strong enough so, abnormal, there I've said it - the author was made to feel abnormal, for the most part this wasn't comfortable reading and arguably the former portions spent on the author's early life experiences were a tad too drawn out, and yet that said ... 

Not always a journey easily travelled (and especially not then) I think that not to have chronicled these events and, perhaps more importantly, the feelings they gave rise to, in such detail would have been to do a disservice to the experiences of not only Derek but also to generations of people who have rarely been represented; whose stories have never been told.

Saddened, frustrated, outraged and yet heartened and more knowledgeable for the reading of GenderQueer. Derek's need to better understand and accept himself a universal one and therefore something we can all relate to what ever our sex, gender or orientation, his story a story that might offer a new perspective to those of us wishing to better understand ourselves or others.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... A very human story but one that provides an important insight into gender and identity.

My sincere thanks for the author, Allan D Hunter, for sending me a copy of his book.

Image result for name felicity


Paige said...

These are such important stories! SO glad they are getting told and shared. Thanks for this review.

the bookworm said...

This sounds like an insightful read. Like you mention, stories and struggles like these need to be told and shared. Great review.

Kelly said...

I'll admit.... I sometimes get confused by the different terminology and what it all represents. Am I correct in understanding the author is a male who identifies as a female, yet is attracted to females? So "genderqueer" would be a mashup of being transgender, but homosexual? (or is that term even still in use?)

I can't imagine the emotional turmoil of dealing with this in the 70s/80s. Thanks for an interesting review of a difficult topic.

Allan Hunter said...

Hi, Kelly! (I'm the author). I don't identify as a female -- I reserve that word for physical architecture. My sex is male not female. But my gender (which is NOT about physical architecture) was girl, not boy, when I was growing up. I don't know if that makes me homosexual or heterosexual, it's confusing, isn't it?! I don't go around calling myself "lesbian" because lesbians have a different set of things they have to deal with, and I don't want to appropriate their identity. Oh, and no I don't identify as "transgender". Most transgender women want to be perceived and viewed as WOMEN not as trans women. I'm not like that. I want to be perceived as male and as femme or girl, not as a man and also not as female.

I have a poster I carry around with me when I do talks and presentations (i.e. in the pre-COVOD era). It reads "No, that's still not it. It's something else".

So many books, so little time said...

Oh I hadn't heard of this, will need to head and check it out, trying to broaden my reading in a lot of subjects. You know how much I genre hop anyway xxx

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

nightwingsraven said...

After reading your review and
the author's response to Kelly.
It sounds definitely like a
thought provoking and insightful
book about gender and identity.
I will add it to my list and
thank you for your excellent

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Sounds like a good read that would answer a lot of questions. Thanks for sharing!

sherry fundin said...

i find it confusing, but we are all people. i wish we could all get along but that is tough

sherry @ fundinmental

Literary Feline said...

This is a new to me title. It sounds like a very worthwhile and relevant read, and one I am interested in. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Felicity!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sounds like a really important book, but definitely an emotional read too I'm sure. These type of books are still needed!