Editor’s Note: There are NSFW text and images in this post.
How did you learn about sex?
From health class? Your parents? Your first time? Porn?
It’s hard to learn about sex at all, even harder if you’re on the LGBTQ spectrum.
For that reason, many of us have to seek out info on our own, leading us to the internet or that more experienced friend. Sometimes that works out well. Other times, not so much.
As a reader, I looked for books, finding a dark corner of the library where I could surreptitiously flip through pages. I didn’t find much worth the effort. It’s hard to learn about sex from a book. The concepts may be well explained, but sex is such a kinesthetic, emotional, and visual experience, there’s only so much words alone can get across.
And while our (often pathetic) classroom sex-ed covers plumbing, it rarely considers pleasure, identity, and emotional connection. In other words, understanding only plumbing decontextualizes sex. It’s like learning about pipes without understanding cooking, bathing, cleaning, drinking, and the many other reasons why humans need and enjoy water.
Likewise, if we learn only about anatomy and procreation, we aren’t equipped to understand why we may want or not want sex. Nor are we prepared to become sexual investigators, exploring what makes us feel good, how we like to be touched, and what makes us feel safe– all of which are required for good sex. And without safe ways to learn about these things without actually having to try them out, a lot of us go into our first sexual experience confused or scared.
When I felt connected to characters, I understood their emotional journeys, taking sex out of the realm of “this is how babies are made” and into “this is how communities are strengthened, love is born, and fears triggered.” Stories made me understand sex not just as an exercise, but as a force. Like money or art, sex is an exchange of energy. Fiction helped me understand the many ways of negotiating that energy, and how to make my own choices around it.
In my new book, Girl Sex 101, I wanted to offer two tracks of sex-ed: one fact-based, mechanics of bodies and how they process pleasure, specifically aimed at queer women, and one story-based exploration of how sex and friendship are interrelated. Each chapter of Girl Sex 101 opens with a story of two ex-girlfriends on a road trip from Vancouver to San Diego. Along the way they get into sexy adventures that test their friendship, push their boundaries, and expand their minds. I want to give readers an access point for understanding not just the mechanics of sex, but how sex can impact the rest of our lives. It is sex in context.
Too often in my sex-ed workshops, I meet people who insist that getting consent or asking for preferences is clunky or “inorganic.” This is because we don’t have any role modeling of hot, organic sexual conversation! I decided to show my characters having consent conversations, safer sex negotiations, and speaking up about their preferences so readers can see how it can be done well:
<<<< excerpt from Girl Sex 101:
Dixie traces a fingertip from Layla’s ear, along her neck and chest, to circle her nipple. “You mean you have a hard time asking for what you want?”
Dixie leans in and kisses the path her finger traced, whispering into Layla’s clavicle, “Oh that’s easy. Lay back and relax. We’re going to play a game.”
Layla’s heart beats hard against her ribs. Dixie leans over her and strokes her face with light touch. Layla shivers.
“You like that?” Dixie asks.
Layla grins. “Is this the game?” Dixie glides her light fingered touch down Layla’s cheek to her neck and chest.
“How do you like your nipples played with?”
Layla shrugs and mumbles, “You know, the usual way.”
“Oh honey.” Dixie chuckles. “All the ways are the usual ways.” Dixie licks the tip of Layla’s nipple and says, “I’m going to gently bite your nipple. I want you to slowly count up from one, and as you do, I’m going to increase the pressure on your nipple. Stop counting when it stops feeling good, okay?”
Layla smiles. “One. . .” she says.
“Two . . .”
“Three. . . ” She sighs.
“Four. . . ” “Five . . .” She moans.
Dixie relaxes and kisses Layla’s breast. “Six and a half then?” Dixie purrs. “I can work with that.”
There is no shortage of sexual information on the internet, but there is a shortage of fact-based, judgment-free, body-positive, and queer-positive role-modeling. Girl Sex 101 will add one voice to the conversation. My videos and other sex-ed content add more. But to create a truly queer-centric and sex-positive movement, we need many diverse voices willing to speak up about what turns them on. This can mean posting videos or participating in online chats, or it can mean being willing to tell your partner what you want or don’t want. Or it can be educating your friends with honest, shame-free, sex ed.
I’m passionate about making the world safer and more nurturing for LGBTQIA people, and this means providing real information about sex, not just the mechanics, but the bodies, spirits, and minds of people.
Who will you help learn good information about sexuality? Whose life will you change by giving them permission to be curious and engaged? How will your story of your own sexual life help influence the choices of others a few steps behind on their own journeys?
Allison Moon is the author of Girl Sex 101 and the Tales of the Pack series of novels about lesbian werewolves. Both books in the series, Lunatic Fringe and Hungry Ghost, were nominated for Goldie Awards for lesbian fiction. Allison was a 2011 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBT Authors Fellow. Allison is also a sex educator who has presented her workshops– on strap-on sex, polyamory, sexual self-expression, erotica writing, and more– to thousands of people around the US and Canada.
Keep up with Girl Sex 101 @girlsex101