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.
ISBN-10: 1632932903
ISBN-13: 978-1632932907
LCCN: 2019049386
"Allan Hunter's debut book Genderqueer: A Story from a Different Closet takes a personal look at the topic of gender and the dilemma that comes from not conforming to gender norms. The book brings up an important conversation that needs to be addressed while taking a deep dive into the term genderqueer."

Arielle Gulley. Daily Utah Chronicle — University of Utah

"GenderQueer will resonate in a special way with people in Los Alamos because it's the setting for Derek's story. The story takes off from eighth grade, the year his family moved to a certain quirky town in New Mexico. Echoes of the story, which takes place in the 1970s, are everywhere in 2020 Los Alamos. Derek walks the same streets and high school halls Los Alamos kids walk today, and odds are, some of them are struggling to find their place, as Derek was in the 70s...

When Derek came to Los Alamos, he was on the cusp of puberty and the discovery that he was attracted to girls. Derek discovered he was not gay; he was a different kind of heterosexual. Inside, he felt like a girl, but his body was telling him that his sexuality was directed toward other girls (the female kind). The struggle was on to find a place for himself and an identity that truly represented him.

As Derek matures, what perhaps strikes the reader most is his strength and courage. He absolutely refuses to be someone he is not in the face of all kinds of pressure, from hostility to misunderstanding of him by those who are close. A few good friends and his loving family see Derek through, but it's a very rocky road."

Bonnie Gordon, The Los Alamos Daily Post

"First and foremost, what this book does really well is testify to the importance of the 'Q' in LGBTQ. When many people furrowed their eyebrows at the addition to another letter in the acronym, people like this author were fighting to show how necessary it was. Derek's story takes place in a time way before the 'Q' was introduced, way before most began to understand or care about gender issues.

However, even though Genderqueer takes place in the 70s, there are many parallels to today's world that will make the story resonate with today's LGBTQ youth. Derek's confusion and desperation to understand who he is is so palpable that anyone who has gone through anything similar, or is currently going through anything similar, will be able to relate. With this story, Alan D. Hunter sheds light on a gender identity that is relatively unknown to the general public while also giving others who share a similar story to him validation that there is nothing wrong with who they are."

Anna Vanseveran. St. Norbert Times — St. Norbert College (link goes to entire newspaper issue as PDF)

"Allan D. Hunter's GenderQueer: A Story from a Different Closet is an eye-opening first-person account of Derek, born male, who identifies as a girl. While this hardly raises an eyebrow in the 21st century, in the 1970s, Derek had no role models and no points of reference.

If you are of a generation with Derek, give or take, you thrill with him at his first car, put wings on his heart. You feel the rush of first love, and first touch, when attraction becomes physical. You feel the pain of rejection and being misunderstood.

You may not be able to read the book in one sitting—it takes time to absorb."

Sherri Rase. Out in Jersey

"...a time capsule of queer life in the late seventies. True to the time period, the book has some problematic aspects, and may be at odds with some of our queer values today. This seems to be by design, conveying a much different world for queer people. The book is an interesting read, with rich, although at times painfully detailed descriptions of the main character's coming-of-age and evolution of identity"

Rachel Lange, Senior Editor. QueerPGH

"When Derek Hunter moves to Los Alamos from Valdosta, Georgia, in eighth grade, he is bullied mercilessly. A tall, thin boy with glasses, who likes to wear stovepipe pants and slicked-back hair instead of bell-bottoms and long tresses (this is 1974), he embraces nonconformism mostly because he has nothing in common with boys his age.

What he knows about boys is "ribald and crude" and a "constant undercurrent of threat." He favors the company of girls, who are more accepting and physically attractive. Boys he begins to think of as "them," as the enemy. And they return the favor in terms of verbal and physical bullying.

In this tortured litany of harassment mostly set in Northern New Mexico, author Hunter, who lived in New Mexico until the mid-1980s, before moving to New York to become an activist in gender theory, presents a coming-of-age novel of ambivalent identity that the protagonist ultimately figures out on his own."

María Dolores Gonzales. Taos News (Taos NM)

"Courageous Insights -- My friend lent me this book and it was a little bit slow, albeit entertaining, to get to the point but the point was so huge, so profound and so worthwhile for understanding not just people that are gender fluid or whatever but for understanding how gender influences our culture as a whole and infiltrates almost every aspect of our interactions in the world and in our minds. It also is a wonderful reflection on young adulthood as you follow his post high school zig zags finding his place in the world."

SomerLov, Taos NM, Barnes & Noble review --

"Well-Written Non Cis-Gender Coming Of Age Tale -- A fresh first-person take on living in America, as first a vulnerable closeted youth with gender non-conformity, then the author blossoms into a success, finding inclusivity. The struggle to get there is real and poignant. An affirming read for anyone on this journey of self-discovery. This author writes in a comfortable, conversational tone, like a trusted, validating friend."
JemezWanderer, New York, Barnes & Noble review --

"In a world of increasingly complex gender identity issues, Genderqueer transcends labels and categorizations. It tells the story of one person's voyage outside the box at a time when there was no roadmap for the journey. This book extends a warm, open and affirming hand to people who are struggling to understand their own personal mix of gender and sexuality — and to those who want to understand and support their quest."
Susan F. Edwards, editor, author, journalist

"Having facilitated 20Something, a queer support group in New York City, for many years, I have observed many of our young members explore a variety of experiences that speak to the development of their gender identity and sexual orientation. When Allan Hunter was our guest, his storytelling and amusing anecdotes helped open conversations they may never otherwise have on their own exploration of gender. We know Allan's book will be a valued resource for many queer youth."

Nicholas Tamborra, Organizer, 20Something

"Allan Hunter's story highlights what it means to find that engrained understandings of how gender was understood in the late 20th century failed to accommodate individuals that did not fit the binary standards."

Ann M Peiffer, PhD, Women's and Gender Studies Program, Mars Hill University

"In a world which is still conservative at large and prejudiced for the most part, Derek's story is agonizing despite being inspirational. I say this because it shows us just how hurtful and indifferent people can be, especially if you are trying to tell the truth about something that they'd much rather pretend doesn't exist...

No amount of research into theoretical assumptions and claims can replace the experience of reading someone's life story and knowing what they've been through. The narrative style is simple yet powerful. By the time you reach the final page, you'll feel like you've had quite the journey...

Characters: This is obviously about the main character or the author himself. I don't think its necessary to mention again how moved I was by his story. I, however, would like to talk about the brilliant way in which the others are depicted. Some characters represent a particular way of thinking. No matter what we think about stereotyping, it's true that some people share the same sort of antagonism and hatred when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community and this group appears pretty frequently in the book, needless to say. The author has merged several like minded people into a few characters because they are significant only because of their point of view. This has resulted in a story not overcrowded with characters and has left enough space for Derek to reveal himself to the reader...

Genderqueer succeeds greatly as a memoir because it excels in every sub-category."

Saradia Chatterjee (Blogger: Crazy Curious Sara) Crazy Curious Reader

"Society has gotten better at describing and acknowledging the many differences in people where sex, gender, and sexual preferences are concerned, but I realized that I didn't have as good a handle on some of those possibilities. LGBT, I get, but if you're in that Q+ that gets appended by some people, what does it mean? After reading GenderQueer, I feel like I've got a better handle on it.

Big Al Big Al's Books & Pals (Blog)

"What the book lacks in sufficient LGBTQ history, it makes up for with its constant reminder that not everything can be neatly defined and boxed up in a category...

I kept trying to relate, and of course I was unable to because I have not had to define my sexual orientation or my sexual identity, as it were. What I did do was imagine myself screaming out into a deep void and not hearing a single echo back. Perhaps this is a way to describe the intense feelings of loneliness Derek felt as he failed to see 'himself' in anyone else around him."

Meg Orton For the Love of Meg (Blog)

"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

I ...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.

A very human story but one that provides an important insight into gender and identity."

Felicity Grace Terry (Blogger) Pen and Paper

"The book makes it plain that the 'Q' recently added to the LGBTQIA+ is necessary because the "T" for transgender doesn't necessarily cover all of the individuals in the category of 'anyone whose gender is different from what people originally assumed it to be...' "

Noah Young. The Clock — Plymouth State Univerity

"This memoir is a personal journey about a person who has lived a life struggling to accept who they are based on the reactions of those around them. A lot of the book is hard to read, hearing how cruel people can be. But I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand gender and sexuality on a deeper and more intimate level."

Never Retallack. The Western Howl — Western Oregon University

"...A very raw, at times heartbreaking and at times creepy, but uplifting story of finding out who you are... regardless of what the world says you should be."

Margaret Adelle (Goodreads)

"Too much angst and navel gazing for me, but that is what he's doing with the book -- trying to figure himself out. He is insightful in his gazing and was terribly bullied throughout his whole school life for being different enough to be noticed. And he was super sensitive and feminist from a young age in a way rarely seen by men, which made all the male taunting and stereotyping that much harder for him. Good for Hunter for putting this out for the others off the spectrum of typical genders to relate to and for finally finding his peace with his label(s)."

Christina (Goodreads)

"Although the book is described as a memoir, it reads like fiction. This makes the book compelling and enjoyable to read, and it is far more effective than if the author had approached the topic as a textbook might... GenderQueer is honest, intimate and at times, uncomfortable. The protagonist is extremely vulnerable, bringing the audience into private moments and personal thoughts."

Jaime Fields. The Whitman Wire — Whitman College

"This is a fascinating story about one man's journey. I learned so much from this book. I always thought gender and sex were the same thing, and they are not. This was such an eye opener for me.
...sometimes knowing I'm not alone, that there are others like me is freeing, and that I'm not weird I'm just queer. It's truly liberating to find I do belong. Nobody should have to hide who they are.

Justine Smith. (GoodReads)

"The discussion around gender identity and sexual orientation has progressed exponentially in the past decade. Same-sex marriage became legal nationwide only five years ago, and the LGBTQ community continues to fight for equal rights. With this constant push for change, some can only imagine the struggles of coming to terms with your gender identity during the late 1960s and 1970s.

GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet offers an eye-opening view into the upbringing of a gender-nonconforming person in an era when many people didn't know such an identity existed..."

Camryn DeLuca. The Diamondback — University of Maryland

"Derek says he came out of a different closet, but the same door. The "door" represents the struggle one faces about discovering his identity and/or his sexual orientation. The "closet" represents the harboring of one's gender identity and/or sexual orientation, a secret that is not meant to be a secret. Derek's decision to wear a denim wraparound skirt showcased he had come to terms with his identity and was no longer inside the closet"

Aazan Ahmad. The Pinnacle — Berea College

"GenderQueer: A Story from a Different Closet is a coming-out and coming-of-age story of a gender non-conforming individual...the story takes place during the 1970s and 1980s, a time period in which many individuals of the LGBT community were treated with more hostility than today...

[One] group that was not necessarily included was the genderqueer community, now commonly symbolized as the "Q" in LGBTQ, and this is precisely what this book focuses on. Many people are not familiar with the genderqueer identity and this book gives a first-hand account of what someone with this identity experiences. Hunter delves into serious and intimate topics throughout the book, making it very realistic and raw, which was overwhelming at times...despite the fact it may make some of us uncomfortable, it is crucial to aiding our understanding of Hunter's experience "

Adam HartzerThe Lake Forest Stentor — Lake Forest College

"This is a novel that is bracingly raw and personal, yet always feels authentic in its sense of place and voice. Its visibility gives an insight into a point of view that doesn't live in the "traditional" gender boxes...

It is in the last half of the book, when Derek starts to realize the whole person he is inside where the book reaches its is incredibly satisfying to see Derek hit his stride and finally find his sense of place and belonging in the world. "

Joan Rittberg The Snapper — Millersville University

"'s clear from the beginning of the novel where the story is heading. Hunter introduces their ideas of gender at the start of the novel when they talk about their personality as a child – how they don't identify with the rough behavior usually prescribed to the male gender – and these thoughts stay with them and influence their growing up.

When the revelation is made, it's not something that comes out of left field. Because of course it's not – these things don't just appear one day like a magic trick. It's always there, even if it's not super obvious at first."

Celia Brockert The Times-Delphic — Drake University

"...a treacherous and often realistic tale that's packed with frustration, desperation and yearning. Hunter does an amazing job of captivating the raw emotions of a person seeking their own truths in a world where everyone else seems to know who they are and what their place is in the world...

We see Derek from a very young age get picked on and beat up. He tries time and time again not to let the bullies get into his head, but it proves more and more difficult. All the while he starts to believe the things they say about him. He seeks out answers in both healthy and unhealthy ways, often getting him in all sorts of trouble...

Overall this book is very eye-opening. It puts into words a story for people that are almost never represented. It shakes its metaphoric fist in the face of erasure, saying, 'I'm here and I will not be forgotten.'"

Zarqua Ansari The Beacon — Wilkes University

"The author tells a story of a boy, teen and now man who alternates between attempting to fit in and be accepted and trying to be true to what he sees as his real self."

Fran Lewis (Book Blogger) Just Reviews

"GenderQueer tells the journey Derek travels from an awkward and confused teenager to hard won maturity as a self-accepting adult. And believe me, Derek's journey isn't always a fun ride."

Bookish Jen (Book Blogger) TheBookSelfBlog

"I have to say author Allan D. Hunter did a great job in this memoir novel. It took heart to write this novel and connect the reader to Derek in the way Hunter did. He did a great job of bringing to light a subject matter that isn't out there as much as it should be. This book is very original, and the voice conveyed through the character really drew me in. Following Derek throughout his life and having him question things, I believe, will connect with a lot of readers and give you a new perspective."

Carly Rae (Book Blogger)

"An interesting surprise is how much the book reads like fiction. Each part of the book is its own smaller story subtly blending to the next. As though it were a typed out series of stories a parent would tell their kid after as they matured closer to equals. Sharing it not only as a form of entertainment or a lesson to avoid the mistakes he made but as a way to explain that there are others who go down similar paths of hardship. That ultimately there is good somewhere toward the end.

If there's one thing the book stood out with however, it was the degree of honesty in the story, at times to a fault. The book covers many explicit topics sparing no uncomfortable detail and is certainly intended for a mature reader. The language and hate speech and the uncomfortable emphasis on sexual desires bring a coarse realism to the scenes of torment and awkwardness of his younger years. The amount of intimacy the author put into the story pulls the reader in and allows them to mirror the feeling Derek felt in the moment."

David Heilman Wildcat News — Community College of Allegheny County

"Rating: 5 out of 5 fairies

"GenderQueer will open your eyes. Being different is never easy. It's especially hard when you don't fall into what's still considered the standard in today's society. When you're part of the LGBTQ+ community, it can be especially difficult. A lot of this story spoke to me on a deep level as a member of the community, and I honestly hope that some people who don't understand what the "Q" can encompass learn from this story. It's well written and I hope those less familiar with those who don't conform to traditional gender roles learn something new."

Liliyana Shadowlyn The Faerie Review

"Gender has gotten to be a pretty complicated subject. Personally, I was born female and I identify as female. I know or have met many other people for whom their gender does not match their biological sex. This may result in them deciding to alter their physical form to match their gender identity, as is the case with those who are trans. However, some may not feel out of place in their given body even though it doesn't match their gender identity. That is the case for Allan D. Hunter, or as they go by in the book, Derek.

This is what is now referred to as "gender queer." It's the Q in LGBTQIA...

GenderQueer is very well written. It is not just any memoir that somebody threw together. This one took years of passion and it shows."

Amanja (Blogger) Amanja Reads Too Much

"The story starts from the 1970s, when Derek is a young boy. He always finds it difficult to find the right kind of company for himself and stays aloof. Always finding himself different from the 'other boys', he is more comfortable with his sister's friends. Changing schools frequently only adds to his problems. The book talks about several instances wherein Derek tries to fit in but is shunned away by his peers. All throughout, he tries to identify what is 'wrong' with him and tries to reason why he relates more to being a girl...

Seeing the lack of acceptance even today, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been at that time. An important message highlighted is the human need to fit in and how the society reacts if they do not find everything as per their expectations...the book just reels you in"

Urvashi Jain Book.amor (Instagram)