Coping With Covid

Members of the LGBTQ community on how they are coping with social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic

BY PAULO MURILLO

PERSONAL JOURNEY

“I have found that slowing my life down has many upsides including reading and meditating twice a day. Currently I am reading two books, How to Think Like A Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson and Out of the Shadows by Walt Odets. Both of them in their own way about personal interiority, personal journey and the desire to understand character, pleasure and the temporariness of life. And I am eating cookies and watching more TV!”

—WeHo Mayor John D’Amico, West Hollywood

NEVER GIVE UP

“I tested positive for COVID-19. One is suddenly hit with your own mortality. A spinning array of thoughts about the life I lived permeated my fever-induced consciousness. However, I quickly realized that my fight to get well would require me to dispense with all the negative news, statistics and death rates, and focus on what makes me happy. Chatting with family and friends, reminiscing of fun times past and fun times still to come, renewed my strength. While not being able to do the physical things, watching comedy movies and listening to music that has always filled my soul with joy proved not only to be therapeutic but at least for me, antidotal to surviving this virus. Laughter and music heals. If I could write a song, I would write a song to never give up on my life.”

—Kaimi Herron, Los Angeles

BAKED SOME COOKIES

“The first few days were a jail sentence where I could only focus on what I couldn’t do. Then it occurred to me that for the first time in my life our entire planet agrees that the best course of action for me is to stay indoors and relax. This changed a jail sentence into a staycation. My spouse and I baked some cookies and the whole family laughed, snacked, and played Rummy. I produced some Electronic Music, had an early cocktail hour, practiced Contact Juggling, and added a few pages to the book that I am writing. These are confusing times that we live in, but don’t forget that this is your time too. So create art, enjoy music, re-read your favorite book, try eating a plant based diet, play games with your children, call an old friend, and relax with loved ones.”

—Delia D. Rawdon, West Hills

BACK TO BASICS

“A lot of my family and friends are in New York and the ones who live in Manhattan, they don’t have much space. In California most of us have backyards or balconies, so we’re lucky to have that. It’s back to basics. I’m trying to get back in shape. Bike riding has been amazing, which I love. I feel like I’m forced to take a minute for myself and my wellbeing. It’s tough, but I feel blessed. I have a partner who can also work from home and I have my dogs to keep me sane. I think we’re okay.”

—John Stapleton, Palm Springs

HELPING NEIGHBORS

“Since this pandemic, I have been continuing my work, advocacy and leadership remotely and using video conferences to get things done. I have heavily switched gears to helping my West Hollywood community through co-organizing a group called Weho Neighbors Helping Neighbors and individually helping residents where I can. Personally, I have been dancing and weightlifting as a workout, cooking a lot more, meditating, catching up on shows and enjoying hanging out with my wife and fur-babies while at home.”

—Sepi Shyne, West Hollywood

CLEANING OUT

“I am cleaning out all cupboards and closets and preparing to take blankets and pillows to the animal shelter. And sending messages on text and online to remind everyone I’m still in business and so are they!”

—Bobby Trendy, West Hollywood

POSITIVE ATTITUDE

“I work at a gym, so my work is on hold. Luckily on my paid leave. I now have more time to work on my fantasy dragons made out of Papier-mâché and I’m staying busy. I’m at home 90 percent of the time. I only leave to go to the grocery store and I try to exercise whenever I can. I’m really trying to eat healthy, drinking lots of water and just maintain a positive attitude and try not to panic. It’s going to be rough starting over and dealing with the public, but we’re doing our best in California to maintain our distance, so I believe we’re going to be okay.”

—Alberto Reyes, Culver City

TIME OF REDISCOVERING 

“Not being able to socialize and be affectionate with people I love and care about has been hard. However I do see this as time of rediscovering what’s important to me and enjoying the things I haven’t been able to because I’m so busy. I’ve been reaching out to friends and family. I’ve been reading a great book called Path of the Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca and Living a Magical Life. And I’ve been playing those video games that were still in the wrapper. I’m appreciating life more and finally allowing myself to enjoy rest and relaxation.”

—Gabriel Green, West Hollywood

WITH MY DOG

“These are unchartered waters and there’s so much uncertainty. The thing I find works best for me is to be as normal as possible. I have an early morning walking partner two times a week. Now we go on separate routes, but we call each other and chat through it. My life partner and I have not changed our routine, but also make sure to give each other some space. And for the tough moments, I make sure to have a little feel good music dance party with my dog. It’s a great mood changer.”

—Sam Borelli, West Hollywood

FUN AND DISTRACTION

“I work out of my home, so life has not changed drastically. I feel it’s important to maintain as much normalcy as possible. I’m still writing my column every week and posting it on www.BillyMasters.com. Also, I’ve begun broadcasting “Billy Masters LIVE” on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon Pacific time. It gives me a chance to interview some of my favorite people like Bruce Vilanch, Charles Busch, Steve Kmetko, Andrea Martin, Jenifer Lewis—just too many to mention. It also gives me a chance to interact directly with fans and give people an hour of fun and distraction—and perhaps some information.”

—Billy Masters, West Hollywood