I had my Pride OpEd all written, even already placed on the page, when I got the text I’ve been expecting, but one that you are never really quite ready for. My friend Moon (known to most as Coyote Moon) was finally in her transition phase to the next life. As I got ready to go see her possibly for the last time, I decided my OpEd had to be about her.
Moon has had cancer for a very long time. This bout, which is finally taking her from us, is about her fourth. She’s been a trooper throughout – one of the bravest souls I’ve ever met. She fought and fought until she just didn’t want to fight anymore. Last year she decided she was sick and tired of chemo and decided to stop treatment. Her doctors told her she had six months, so we threw her a huge celebration of life party at Crown Point. I’d say about 150 people came from every walk of her life. And she’s had many.
Born Alicia Tulio to a Mexican mother and a Filipino father, she was the fourth oldest of five; with two brothers and two sisters. She legally changed her name to Coyote Moon while working at Sempra’s South Bay Substation in the 1970s. She was the only female working at that plant for the longest time and suffered a lot of discrimination and harassment there, but always stood up for herself. I heard many stories about it. She later transferred to the infamous Sempra Headquarters building on Ash Street, downtown. During her Sempra years, she married a coworker, had two children, divorced and then returned to the LGBTQ community. I met her a couple decades ago when we were both part of WomenMoto, a lesbian motorcycle riding group here in San Diego.
Moon is one of the smartest and funniest people I’ve ever known. I told her that tonight, as I sat by her bedside holding her hand. I am pretty sure she heard me.
She’s an avid sports fan; Chargers, Padres, Golden State Warriors, SDSU, to name a few of her favorites. She very publicly denounced the Chargers and gave up her season tickets when they moved north, but privately she and I texted throughout each of their games on TV, like little kids on the sidelines.
After her kids were grown and she retired, she became a full time activist. She volunteered at The San Diego Community Center’s front desk for years before being forced to take a break from her volunteer duties (rumor has it that it was linked to some cookies she brought in to share).
She was one of the leaders of the “dykes on bikes” at the front of the parade for as long as I can remember. Last year, even after losing lots of weight with a terminal cancer diagnosis, once again she climbed on her bike and joyously rode in the parade, while a dozen family members and friends lined the streets and cheered her on. She was exhausted afterward, but she did it. She was also an annual Pride Festival VIP ticket holder and a devoted She Fest attendee.
Moon loved her activist life almost as much as her two adult children and her grandson Jimmy. About 10 or 12 years ago, she sold her University Heights condo and bought her aunt’s house in National City. We all thought she was crazy, moving so far away from the gayborhood, but she was heading back to her roots. She had grown up in National City and spent much of her childhood in and around that home.
Once there, she threw herself into National City politics, becoming “besties” with then-Mayor Ron Morrison for a time but she soon became one of his fiercest critics and supported Alejandra Sotelo-Solis to succeed him. I reveled in her Facebook rants and followed her posts on the National City politics page.
When protestors tried to shut down Drag Queen Storytime at the Chula Vista Public Library, Moon was front and center with the counter-protestors holding big creative signs that she’d made herself and she always made the nightly news.
One year, she and one of her best friends took her Moondoggy RV and drove to Florida to take the Melissa Etheridge cruise. Their road trip had more ups and downs than the seven-day cruise! But Moon was always making memories (and taking selfies).
She did return to the volunteer desk at The Center for a bit, until her grandson was born and the cancer was taking up too much of her time. She started swimming at the National City public pool in between chemo treatments to keep herself active and made fast friends with the older ladies group she swam with. She had them all in stitches and they loved her as much as her best friends do.
Moon’s niece, Teresa Fillmore, has been honoring her aunt’s life by making bracelets and necklaces using silver “moon” beads along with other beads of various colors and shapes. She handed out hundreds of them at Moon’s celebration of life party last year, and again at Pride after watching Moon ride in the parade. She will be at She Fest this weekend to pass out more bracelets and plans on taking even more to this year’s parade and possibly the festival, too. Follow her on Instagram @makerofbracelets.
With Pride just around the corner, it’s hard to imagine Moon not being there. But her spirit will always be there, and with me, her loved ones, and her many friends and all the lives she’s touched along the way. She’s shown us all how to live out loud, even when you are dying.
P.S. Thank you for all the positive feedback we’ve received about our first issue. Keep picking us up, keep reading, get involved, write us letters and pitch us stories. Happy Pride.