Non-Fiction / Memoir / LGBTQ Coming-of-Age / Coming-out Story
Publisher: Sunstone Press
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 story before genderqueer was trending.
I was in the house by myself and heard the doorbell chime. Denise Spears. “Umm, Jan isn’t here at the moment, but do you want to hang out for a while?” I asked, hoping she’d say yes.
“That’s okay because I actually came over to see you,” she explained, smiling at me. She came in and I closed the door, which latched with a resonant chunk in the quiet room. I was feeling pretty tongue-tied; I couldn’t think of anything clever to say. Denise looked a little nervous herself.
“I’m glad you came over. I like it when you’re here.” We hugged. After a couple moments I realized I should be acting like a host. Or at least not just staring happily at her and not saying anything. “Do you want anything, like to drink?”
“Not unless you want,” she replied.
Denise was smiling shyly, eyes down. She was wearing snug jeans shorts, with the legs rolled up to make cute little leg bands. I thought about how nice it would be to get my fingers inside that denim. This was maybe my big chance, if that’s what she had in mind. I wondered if she’d known that we’d have the place to ourselves when she’d decided to come over.
Maybe she did.
“I’ve been thinking about you and that hay ride,” she said, then blushed, “and, umm, you know.”
“I think about you too. And yeah…”
It wasn’t like how it was with Terri, who was always sort of challenging me to do stuff. I totally trusted Denise and I knew there was no risk that she was trying to set me up for embarrassment or humiliation. But somehow it felt serious and not like playing around the way it had been on the hayride or in Jan’s bedroom. “It was funny when Jan caught us on the floor that day,” I said, just to have something to say.
Denise chuckled. “I know, right? Like she couldn’t decide who to be mad at.”
I gestured to the living room couch, and we sat there, our backs to the big window.
Denise seemed fragile and somehow younger today and I was a lot more conscious of the age difference. It felt wrong somehow to try to start making out. As if she wanted me to like her and would therefore let me do things whether she wanted to or not. It hadn’t felt that way before, and maybe she was actually impatient for things to happen. But how it seemed was like we were both uncertain about what to do.
We kissed and held hands and talked on the couch for a half hour, then she said she’d better be heading home.
About the Author
Allan Hunter grew up partly in Valdosta GA and partly in Los Alamos NM and first attempted to come out as genderqueer in 1980, an endeavor made difficult by the fact that there was no such term for it in 1980. He has used many words and phrases over the intervening years, including “sissy” and “coed feminist” and “straightbackwards”, but currently identifies as a “gender invert” which is a subtype of genderqueer, and colloquially refers to himself as a “male girl”.
He has lived in the greater New York City / Long Island region since 1984. He came to the area in order to major in women’s studies and to discuss gender and related topics, and is the author of Same Door, Different Closet: A Heterosexual Sissy’s Coming-Out Party (published in the academic journal FEMINISM and PSYCHOLOGY in 1992).
Same Door, Different Closet was reprinted twice in subsequent anthologies (Fem & Psych’s own special reader HETEROSEXUALITY in 1993, and Heasley & Crane’s SEXUAL LIVES: A READER ON THE THEORIES AND REALITIES OF HUMAN SEXUALITIES, McGraw-Hill 2002). A second theory paper, The Feminist Perspective in (and/or On) the Field of Sociology was made available for credited distribution and was included in a compendium, READINGS IN FEMINIST THEORY, Ed. S. M. Channa, Cosmo Publications.
GenderQueer is his first serious attempt to write for the market outside of the academic journal environment.
He is active in local and regional organizations where he speaks to small groups about gender issues. He has addressed college women’s studies groups, alternative-lifestyle social groups, and given talks at LGBT centers.