Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer each day by asking them seven unique (and sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
I first found Yana Tallon-Hicks through fellow online sex columnists and writers. I immediately became an avid reader of her work. The way she tackles complex conversations around non-monogamy, questioning sexuality and experimenting with new sexual pleasures was both smart and fun. So often, people are terrified to ask questions about sex or even talk about pleasure with their partners. Yana makes talking about consent and relationships accessible and feel like something we can all integrate into our lives.
As a budding sex educator myself, seeing that other people are also committed to teaching consent and pleasure-based sex education gives me hope. It inspires me that someday maybe we’ll have a society that values consent and empowering our young people with holistic sex education. Yana is out there doing the work and providing people of all experiences with the knowledge to make informed sexual decisions. Today, we spent seven minutes in heaven getting to know Yana and a bit more about her work.
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Yana Tallon-Hicks: I’m Yana! I use she/her pronouns and I’m a pleasure-positive, consent-focused sex educator, I’m a sex columnist, and I’m a relationships therapist. I teach workshops about topics such as non-monogamy, sex toys, pleasure, and consent to a variety of audiences included teens, college students, and adults. I also do in-person therapy and online sex and relationship coaching for a wide variety of clients—mostly queer, women, femme, and/or non-monogamous folks.
I also obsess over how much I love my dog, eat a lot of baked goods, and do a lot of yoga.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
YTJ: I really appreciate the work of other sex educators, sexuality professionals, and artists. Watching them authentically hustle for the shared things we believe in is incredibly inspiring but also reminds me that I’m not The Only One carrying my hopes and dreams for a more pleasure-empowered world.
This really helps me burst the isolation/savior bubble that can come along with being an independently employed freelancer who essentially relates to people for a living but only from a professional standpoint. That can easily get really tiring if you can’t turn to the other people doing similar work in your community—even if that community is only found online.
GO: Who are your queer role models?
YTH: Making more space for my own personal vulnerability to influence my work is something I’m striving for these days. As an Aquarius with Virgo rising this isn’t the easiest task for me. So, my queer role models tend to be the people I observe doing their creative work in a way that is both authentically vulnerable and powerfully professional. So, Andre Shakti, Jiz Lee, Noel’le Longhaul, and Alok Vaid-Menon are all total bosses of their own creative life’s work and I really admire that.
I’m also quite lucky to cohabitate with a queer artist. My husband Patrick MacDonald inspires me to push my own vulnerability in my work every day by giving me permission to do so when I start doubting myself or thinking that I’m “too much.”
GO: Describe yourself in three words.
YTH: Organized. Enthusiastic. Wee.
GO: What podcasts are you listening to right now?
YTH: Sex Gets Real with Dawn Serra helps me recharge by listening to other sex educators.
My Dad Wrote a Porno might be the funniest podcast I’ve ever heard.
Recordings of therapeutic theory reviews as I’m currently studying for my Marriage & Family Therapy licensing exam.
GO: How do you feel access to LGBTQ inclusive sex education can change the way youth understand their own desires?
YTH: Wow, I could answer this question for hours. Briefly, though, traditional sex education projects fears, shame, and shuts down communication and consent by filtering everything through a cis-het lens of what sex, pleasure, and desire is.
By widening this lens to include all bodies, genders, and sexualities, we are not only freeing up young people to feel included in the landscape of sex and pleasure, but we are positively contributing to consent culture (rather than rape culture) by giving them access to the language, resources, and accurate information they need to have conversations about what helps them feel safe, empowered, and downright good in their relationships.