I don’t even know where to start this to be honest. But I’ll start by letting you know that I am not a writer, so please bear with me.
I am, however, Paris. I’m usually running around our community in Hillcrest, working at InsideOUT or performing. The time I’ve been able to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, mainly the Hillcrest community, I’ve learned that there’s no better company to be a part of in celebration or hardship. We look around at our community members, neighbors, friends, and chosen family and we see the ones who are mobilizing, finding a way to contribute and giving their all so humbly. From leaders like Nicole, Big Mike and Robb Rodriguez making sure everyone has access to food, to your neighbors sharing what they can, to friends telling you we’re going to get through this, to our chosen family checking in on us and reassuring us that we’re not in this alone — how lucky are we, right? I sure hope we’re all looking up to the ones who are helping during these times of hardship. That’s kind of where I got my queue.
When this pandemic began taking control, I found myself in constant stress and fear. I feared for my employees at the restaurant, I feared for the health of my loved ones and our community, and overall, I feared the unknown. I had to find a way to take back some form of control and looked to the things I know: I know how to run a business; I know I have access to information; I know how to sew; and I know I needed to open my eyes to a broader picture — and that’s when I started sewing facial masks.
Community centers, like our own here in Hillcrest, were still offering their services as they are vital, and businesses like many of ours in the MO’s Universe were still offering takeout to help Hillcrest continue to have access to food, feel some form of normalcy and help keep staff employed. There was also a large number of smaller-scale facilities (which, if you think large hospitals have difficulties, imagine the smaller ones) and they needed help as well.
I began with a small lot of masks and asked around to see who really needed them. Everyone was gracious for the help and slowly, I found myself regularly sewing a batch and then spending a small part of the day delivering them. Every delivery was met with kindness and so much gratitude; it was infectious and it kept me going. This was all about a month ago, before the full shelter-in-place order was announced and I was able to stay under the radar. Eventually, folks started finding out as I began getting tagged in photos and posts on social media but by that time, I had already committed to a regular rotation of deliveries. I had to be honest with myself that I can only make so many a day so I had to find a way to extend people’s access to masks.
With the power of technology, I was able to put out some live videos and photos of fabric patterns to help others make them at home. As apprehensive as I was about making those videos, it was well worth it. Seeing everyone really put their best foot forward to do what they can for their (and others’) safety is amazing. You see that people know their actions can affect those around them. It shows that people care and want to get past this. It shows that when given the opportunity or the tools, people want to be involved and maybe, just like I felt, want to take some form of control back in what is our temporary, but very real, reality.
I honestly didn’t know where to take this article when I was first asked to contribute. I was mortified at the thought of talking about myself and how many masks I’m doing with numbers and statistics because I didn’t see how that mattered. What matters is how infectious compassion, kindness and love are. Even in that statement alone, I feel like we’re able to take a word like “infectious,” which is so commonly associated with such sadness, and make it a word about love. That’s what brought me here and moved me forward every day during this difficult time. The strong people around us are a reminder that there’s always a way to contribute and while we may not have much control in the situation at hand, we have control in how we react and move forward — and even how we take a scary word like “infectious” and turn it into a word meaning love and light.
If you would like to learn about ways to help, reach out to your local community centers like The San Diego LGBTQ Center, senior living facilities, family centers, service and medication providers like Being Alive, youth centers, homeless facilities or services, hospitals and urgent care centers. Simply asking if there’s anything you can do or anything specific they may need can go a long way. Each of these places has a strong group of employees and volunteers that put their own well-being on the line daily to get us all through this. A lot of these places still operate their food programs and may need canned goods and non-perishables. Many might simply need a vote of confidence in the form of a thank-you card and a gift card for coffee. Your kindness has no limitations.
Infected with love,
Paris Antonette S. Quion