UPDATE WE HAVE A HOME!
I’m incredibly excited to announce that Kiss & Ride has found its first home! K&R will be opening inside Liminal Space Collective (LSC) this October. Liminal Space Collective is a radical community space in the heart of Little Five Points that strives to create and sustain a community that is inclusive and supportive of women, GNC, BIPOC, queer, and disabled folx in individual and collective pursuits of healing, media, music, and art.
Kiss & Ride’s store will be located in an intimate 214 sqft space within LSC. Think of it kind of like a permanent/long-term pop-up shop! This space will allow us to connect with the community in person, allow customers to put their hands on products, and give us more experience in building out a business.
When you come into K&R you’ll find bookcases filled with toys, books, art, and resources! There will be testers for every product we carry. You can pick things up and explore them. You can turn on toys to see how they feel. You can try on straps and harnesses to find the right fit. We want to take the guesswork out of shopping for sexual wellness items.
This spot, partnership, and community feels like such an amazing fit for K&R and the space we want to create. I firmly believe that this opportunity is a huge step towards Kiss & Ride's ultimate goal of having its own store and community space one day.
The new goal is to raise $15,000. This will allow us to buy more inventory from queer and trans makers and have some extra rent support for the first handful of months. Kiss & Ride is always working on grants, loans, and other financial avenues but these can be difficult to find when working in the sexual wellness industry.
Kiss & Ride
Kiss & Ride is a queer-centered and disability inclusive sexual wellness store opening in Atlanta. Our mission is to create a queer-centered store that provides space for sharing educational resources, art, and community. We believe Atlanta’s queer community deserves in-person access to a space where folks feel safe and comfortable learning and exploring. We are certainly not the first to dream of such a store, and we look up to and learn from those that prioritize gender-affirming products and sex education like enby, shebop, and come as you are. Kiss & Ride is in the very beginning stage of its life, but we are excited to start sharing our vision with you.
While traveling in Madrid with my partner, we came across a small sex store. The store was like nothing I had ever seen. It was open and welcoming. There were no hidden corners that made me feel embarrassed to be there. The owner explained to us that there was a trauma support group held after hours as well as a variety of educational classes. I was able to ask questions, put my hands on toys, and openly talk to my partner about what interested us. I walked away with my first vibrator and only a *small* amount of shame. (Which was a success considering how deeply rooted I had been in purity culture.)
Kiss & Ride aspires to open a brick-and-mortar location similar to this in Atlanta. We want to create a welcoming, approachable, and accessible space. We want to celebrate sex and sexual wellness in a way that helps combat the shame that many feel when exploring adult spaces. We hope to find a space that allows us to host educational nights, meetups, and other types of small gatherings.
The more traditional sex shops are located in North Atlanta (Chersire Bridge, Fulton Industrial, etc.), and we want to provide south Atlanta with a closer resource.
Why This Space is Needed
Kiss & Ride created a survey to better understand the needs and wants of our community. Over 100 people answered.
- When asked “Do you feel comfortable shopping in Atlanta's adult stores and asking staff questions you might have?” 13.5% of people said yes, 28.1% said somewhat, and 58.4% answered no.
- When asked “Do you feel like Atlanta's adult stores carry items that affirm your gender and/or sexuality?” 4.5% of people said yes, 50.6% said somewhat, and 44.9% answered no.
- When asked “If you have a disability, do you feel like Atlanta's adult stores carry items that help make sex more accessible to you? ” 4.2% of people said yes, 20.8% said somewhat, and 75% answered no.
Participants were asked in what ways they would benefit from this type of store. Here are some of their answers.
“Lgbtq+ folks rely on community and safe spaces. Having a sex and wellness shop specifically geared toward queers would provide access to products designed for queer pleasure and affirmation. We need pathways to pleasure that are specifically designed for us and for bolstering our well-being.”
“I would feel so much more comfortable shopping in a store that understands my unique anatomy and sexual needs as a trans man. I would also feel much more confident asking questions in a store where my body is welcomed and expected”
“I would feel much more comfortable purchasing sex toys in a place that I know is sensitive to my disability and sexual orientation. Most importantly, as a woman I would benefit from a space where I know I will not be preyed upon.”
“There’s a comfort level when shopping at a queer business. Especially when it comes to intimate conversations/questions/items. I wouldn’t fear judgment based on the way I present.”
“I would benefit from being able to shop for items in a safe and understanding space, also being able to see products and have questions answered instead of just guessing online.”
“The ability to go into a store that feels catered towards me and my safety would make me feel much more comfortable to take care of my sexual health”
“My partner has chronic illness, so a queer-centered disability inclusive space with approachable staff would be incredible and affirming”
Participants were asked what they would like to see from a queer-centered and disability inclusive store. Here are some of their answers.
“so much. there's a lot lacking in our community. first couple of things to come to mind besides more inclusive products, are classes for folks to learn and share more about their needs and how to use the products. creating a safer space for trauma-informed conversations about healing from various forms of trauma.”
“It’s my greatest hope that k&r can have a space to serve the community with the option to shop safely and privately, but also a space that can host events, workshops, wellness courses, etc. atlanta needs kiss & ride.”
“Information on intimacy with all kinds of bodies, open discourse around intimacy and disabilities would be such a wonderful and supportive resource as well!”
“More items that help folks with chronic pain, gender affirming sex toys, and sexual health literacy”
“Prioritization of POC through accessible pricing and representation”
About the Founder
My name is Sarah, and I was born and raised in Georgia. I would say I received a good heaping of the “bible belt” experience. Growing up in southern christianity, I was introduced to purity culture at a young age. And while I could go into great detail about purity culture and the negative impacts, I’ll leave that for another day. I’ll simply say that the lack of sex education I received and the demonizing of “the” act itself left me extremely disconnected from my body. I found myself searching for information on sex at pure romance parties, tumblr, and in starships when shopping for cheesy bachelorette party supplies. I was desperately trying to understand something unapproachable to me.
I eventually had sexual experiences that helped better my understanding of sex with others and myself. However, I still felt unsure of what should be happening with my body. What should things feel like? How should I be “performing?” What if I’m doing it all wrong? Does sex hurt for everyone all the time? What happens if I can’t pee after sex? And can I use this KIND of lube with THIS kind of material?
If sex itself wasn’t confusing enough, I started unpacking sexuality and gender. As I grew to understand these aspects of myself, my understanding of sex somehow became more muddled. Sex was starting to be redefined for me. It was exciting and frightening all at once.
As I was seeking a more concrete and confident understanding of sex, the idea of creating a queer-centered sex store started slowly coming together. I talked about this idea with friends, and we all shared the same sentiments. We wanted to see a place where people could learn about their bodies. We dreamed of an approachable space where folks, including myself, felt comfortable exploring what sexual wellness meant to them. We wanted to find gender-affirming items, accessible toys, and educational resources. We wanted a space where we could put our hands on things and learn.
From my own journey and the wants and needs of those around me, Kiss & Ride was formed.
As I say all this, I find it really important to note that I am not a sex educator. I don’t have lived experience with all of sex and its intersectionalities. (My experience is limited to what I’ve experienced as a white abled bodied queer person.) My role is to help facilitate this space where we can learn and grow alongside each other.
You don’t know how much your support of Kiss & Ride so far means to us. From sharing Instagram posts to coming out to markets and everything in between, you all are making this possible. We’re excited to continue to grow our community together. Thank you.
Signing off and getting off,