Every week, I’ll be doing a mini feature on my site (& blasting it on social media) on activists, artists, and educators who are doing important things in the world. Like Levar Burton says, the only thing these folks have in common is that I like them, and I hope you do too.
This week’s feature is Allison Moon.
Like Caitlin Thornbrugh & JP Howard, I met Allison at the 2011 Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers Retreat at UCLA. Allison wowed us all with her bawdy storytelling and lesbian werewolf novels, which were in the process of coming out (get it? Sorry, had to). Her work is prolific and multifaceted, engaging not only with fantastical themes and situations, but also safety, pleasure, and life enhancement within the queer community. Girl Sex 101, which was released in 2015, was the first trans-inclusive lesbian sex education book to be released, and the book is a triumph; it is a text that shows Allison’s deep connection to expanding ideas of sexuality and fidelity, and her commitment to creating space in a community that very much needs these ideas. You can find her work here and here.
Marginalized communities are often build on tectonic plates, owing to the fact
that many of us experience the intersecting traumas of personal identity and oppression. It’s
rare that our people, portrayed in media, exist as joyous creatures, capable of fun and play.
More often than not, our identities are used as a way to teach a lesson—about the unraveling
of a world, or the need for fortitude. Allison’s work shows a queer public at play, not just
sexually, but also imaginatively.
What themes or ideas do you feel your work engages with?
I’m wildly interested in the transmutability of identity. To be alive is to change, and all of my work explores that in some way. In the Tales of the Pack novels I make those transformations explicit with werewolves. In my memoir Bad Dyke, i talk about coming into a lesbian identity, and then falling in love with a cis man which makes me reevaluate everything I believed about myself. Girl Sex 101 is trans inclusive and written in a way to make women of all experience levels feel welcomed in the material. I’m also engaged in a personal process of reducing cynicism and replacing it with awe and joy. This is mostly done through my podcast: Artgasm, all about the intersections of art, media, and sex. I have conversations with people about the life-affirming implications of art creation and art appreciation. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found much of my new, dramatic work centers around artists and their need to create vital work— I’m having a lot of nascent thoughts about legacy.
What were you like as a child?
Shy and precocious. I think on some level I resented being a child. I always wanted to be invited to the “adults table.” I liked being praised for my maturity, so I worked hard to cultivate aspects of my personality that coded as “adult.” I spent a lot of time alone. I was lucky enough to live in a semi-rural environment for much of my childhood, so I spent a lot of time riding my bike down dirt paths, hiking, and exploring solo.
Can you remember the first piece of art– performance, literary, fine, street–you saw/read that wowed you?
When I was in junior high, my mother let me tag along on a business trip to New York City. I saw my first Broadway play: Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. As one might expect from Steve Martin, the play walks a fine line between camp and reverence. At that point, I was a baby atheist, desperate to find magic in my provincial world. The final scene captured that feeling of awe I was seeking. It helped me learn to find the sublime in art and science, and it has stuck with me ever since.
What work do you do in the world that you feel proud of?
Teaching sex ed at a university level fulfills me. I pride myself on my ability to merge humor and approachability with solid sex-ed. So many young people are entering the world without any fact-based sex education. I try to help mitigate that harm by offering in-person learning opportunities, and also through my books like Girl Sex 101.
What’s keeping you embodied right now?
I’ve recently moved to a house in woodsy suburbs. Prior to this I lived for 15 years in the most concrete-y parts of two big cities. Now, I rake, I plant trees, I tend a garden, and I go on long hikes. I have enough privacy that I can be naked outside whenever I want. It has been the single best thing I’ve done for my mental and physical health in recent memory. In some ways, I’ve gone full circle- back to my youth wandering through forests for hours just for fun.
Tell us a story.
A few years ago I was invited to a party with the theme “The End of the World As We Know It.” The invitation asked us to consider how we would spend the night if we knew the world (as we knew it) was to end the next morning. I knew I wouldn’t want to be in a basement apartment in North Hollywood. So i packed my car and drove out to Joshua Tree to camp beneath the stars. I cooked ramen on a camp stove, and watched shooting stars. Around midnight, I saw four UFOs: bouncing lights on the mountain tops tracing huge parabolas in the sky. They bounded on the mountain for hours. One by one they disappeared until one remained. It bounced for a while longer, then hovered at the apex of a leap. The light turned from steady red to flashing, and then it flew, silently directly overhead, crossing the valley in flight. At dawn I hiked through the valley, knowing that in some small way, the world as I knew it had been forever changed.