This weekend I, and many other people I consider chosen family, said goodbye to an era and a venue where I came of age, forged the person I am today, and found, for the first time, a home. Tears were shed, hearts felt broken, we held each other to tell stories about the beautiful moments we had enjoyed. It felt a little bare already, a bit naked, as the curtained and draped decor had already been stripped away. But the soul was still there, in the warmth of the pink room, the shine of the stripper pole, the silliness of the Judgmental Tiger.
When I first came to Mission Control and Kinky Salon, it was Halloween, I was underage and terrified I'd be found out. I don't remember what I wore, but I remember feeling so guilty that I ended up volunteering to scrub the floors after the event. I began volunteering after that, and ten years later, I can't help filling water jugs or cleaning spills. It feels like a home to me.
I saw my first stripper performance at Mission Control, and solidified my admiration for the athleticism and sensuality involved. I watched burlesque and for the first time thought "I could do that one day"- and did. I excitedly helped to plan a festival in Maui that brought multiple cultures together. I had my very first orgasm without the use of a vibrator. I made costumes I never realized I'd have the confidence to wear, and felt beautiful in them. I went to my first swinger party as a queer woman and felt accepted and comfortable. I sat in those walls and learned how to throw my own Kinky Salon event in the UK, hoping to share even a bit of that sparkle I had grown to love.
It hasn't always been easy. There have been moments where my idealism was challenged. I have felt out of place, like my body was undesirable, like my politics were unwelcome. But I have fought through those feelings and made it a place where I feel safe and happy, where my voice could be heard. The people who came to Mission Control for any of the events invested, and tried to always make it better. I appreciate that dedication as a respite in a society where people often opt for ignorant bliss.
I want to acknowledge how Kinky Salon changed my life, my path, my San Francisco. It gave me the strength to say both no and yes to the pleasure I wanted. It gave me a place where I could learn how to give difficult feedback to those close to me, and feel heard and respected. It taught me how to be held accountable without being defensive. I learned to trust in my own abilities and in my gut feelings. I found within its walls both lovers and friends.
Mission Control, yes, is far more than a space. I know that. But that space had been a container for so much magic and love over the years that it's difficult not to feel a deep sense of loss. I hope to help carry that beauty into the next space, and may I continue to cherish it for another ten years.