Learn more about gender and sexual identity in Alan Hunter’s “GenderQueer: A Sotry from a Different Closet”

Never Retallack  | Entertainment Editor

Gender and sexuality have been an ongoing and complex topic in societies all over the world. Those who are percieved as gay in any way face judgment and penalty like those who are.

In Allan Hunter’s book, “GenderQueer: A Story from a Different Closet,” they covers all these issues in a memoir style that takes readers on their journey, starting with their experience in middle school. Hunter describes how their story functions to highlight, “the realness of an identity that is not gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender, but it isn’t cisgender or heterosexual either.”

Hunter describes themself as a studious kid who followed the rules and listened to teachers. They were also someone who preferred to be around women and play with “girl toys” — which led to some ridicule. It wasn’t until their family moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico that they struggled with bullying immensely. 

Hunter’s style of writing, while not masterfully crafted, is deeply intimate and walks the readers through their thoughts and feelings from moment to moment. They name each bully that they faced in middle school, those who called them slurs because of how they dressed and styled themself. Hunter tried to seek help from their superiors, but nothing came of it, so much of Hunter’s story is how they work hard to control their anger so that they don’t antagonize the bullies more.

Along with the violence and emotional turmoil, they also detail how they feel about different girls that he meets, unafraid to share their intimate thoughts and desires. They mention each girl they fantasized about, whether or not they really interacted. They  spend most of their adolescent life wanting to have sex with a girl, but the only person who really touches them back was their male friend in high school.

Their younger sister, Kendra, was far more popular than them, and they often tagged along with her friends while in middle school. It wasn’t until high school when they joined the band and started to let loose a little that they started making connections; they made male friends and got girlfriends, but they were always wanting more.

There’s a certain point after college where a man goes pretty far with them, and they felt very uncomfortable and shaky afterwards. To their shock they realize they really are just heterosexual, all the people who called them gay had been wrong.

Sadly for Hunter, they faced a lot of harassment for how they were perceived — they even tried to take their own life. Later they realized a large part of how people developed their ideas about them was their wardrobe, wearing bright shirts with bold patterns.

Hunter’s journey of self-acceptance doesn’t start until college when they come out as someone who is genderqueer. Their gender is female, their sex is male and their orientation is attraction towards women. This understanding finally allowed them some peace and quiet.

Overall Review: 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.

 

Contact the author at howlentertainment@wou.edu