When some LGBT readers hear the name Allison Moon, they automatically think about Moon's lesbian werewolf novels. But when Moon isn't writing horror stories, she's working as a sex educator.
When some LGBT readers hear the name Allison Moon, they automatically think about Moon's lesbian werewolf novels. In Lunatic Fringe and Hungry Ghost, she uses those lesbian werewolves as a means to explore lesbian politics in a hilarious way. But when Moon isn't writing horror stories, she's working as a sex educator.
The author has traveled the country teaching classes with names like "How to Drive a Vulva" and promoting her sex-ed website. She's currently expanding her practice by working on a book, Girl Sex 101, which combines comics and erotica to teach sex-ed to girls who identify as queer—a fluid umbrella term for gender and sexual minorities. Last year, she raised money for the book on Kickstarter and surpassed her funding goal by about $12,000.
Moon's latest release, a memoir titled Bad Dyke, explores the evolution of her sexual identity. Beginning with her first sexual fumblings in small-town America and continuing through her globetrotting adventures as a "bisexual polyglot," the unapologetic book takes readers through Moon's shifting thoughts on labels and sex. We follow Moon as she and her boyfriend seduce strangers on faraway beaches, and later we see her lose her attraction to men and identify as a lesbian.
Interested in learning more about Moon's unconventional career, I spoke to her about her memoir, teaching sex-ed, and her thoughts on the term queer and other labels.
VICE: What inspired you to jump from writing lesbian werewolf novels to writing a sex memoir?
Allison Moon: I wanted to try out nonfiction, and I love stories about sex lives—sex is endlessly fascinating to me. Most of the stories were already developed and performed for a show here in San Francisco called Bawdy Storytelling, but I wanted to develop the book into a more cohesive collection that explored the arc of my sexual identity, so I added stories like "The Skinny" and "Headline News," which are light on sex but introduced my burgeoning queer identity. From there I plumbed my past for moments of discovery, insight, or adventure that spoke to that theme.
Did your queer identity change or evolve while you were writing?
I put together the book in about two months, so not really. But I think the writing did help me uncover some long forgotten memories of crushes and puppy loves of girls from my childhood. It helped me create a more cohesive understanding of my own sexual narrative. With queers there are two prevailing narratives: the "I have always known!" versus the "And then suddenly everything was different!" I think the truth for most of us is in between, revealed in tiny moments of discovery or excitement—the movie star crush or quickening heartbeat when we're near a crush that we don't have the means of contextualizing.
I noticed that your identity, or maybe just the labels you used, changed when you were in a different social environment. That's happened in my life too, and it can be confusing. If you're attracted to a certain kind of guy but there aren't any around, for example, are you still bi?
Labels are so contextual. They're affected by region, age group, social strata, and plenty of other factors. Here in the Bay Area, queer is prevalent. In the Midwest, I often hear "gay woman" instead of lesbian. But a label isn't just how a person identifies inside her own mind, but rather she's describing relationships and interactions inside a community. When I describe fluidity of [identity], I often say, "Let's say you're a lesbian and your partner decides to transition her gender from female to male. What does that make you? Are you functionally straight now? If you maintain your lesbian identity are you betraying your partner's gender?"
This is precisely what I mean when I say labels fail the multiplicity of the human experience. We don't have words that sufficiently describe sexual people. This is why I chose to call the book (and myself) Bad Dyke. I am functionally a dyke—my culture, my community, and my preferred sex partners are all dyke. But then there's this one small issue of my primary partner.
It's so complicated.
Exactly. This is why I think queer is becoming so popular. People are craving umbrella identities that don't attempt to put a fine point on anything but rather open up a conversation.
You discuss a lot of these issues in Girl Sex 101. Is it a how-to book, except with erotica?
Girl Sex 101 is a hybrid illustrated sex-ed book and erotic novella all about queer lady sex. Erotica is awesome, but it can sometimes be too vague to be a teaching medium, but sex-ed how-to [books] can feel sterile and removed from real-life experiences. I thought combining these two genres would allow the strengths of both to deliver a better experience for the reader, one that's both hot and educational.
Tara Burns is the author of the Whore Diaries series. Follow her on Twitter.