Pandemic Dating Diaries

Of course there was a risk, but for me it was worth it

Orange and pink rectangular blocks arranged in the shape of a heart with one piece missing (an orange one next to the heart)
Orange and pink rectangular blocks arranged in the shape of a heart with one piece missing (an orange one next to the heart)
Image: jayk7/Moment/Getty Images

The Pandemic Dating Diaries is a series from The Bold Italic featuring moments in love, dating, and sex during the Covid-19 pandemic. Have a story you’d like to submit? Email us or DM us on Twitter or Instagram.

I remember the first night I held Anthony in my arms, the first night we had sex. The sex was hot, but more than that, it just felt good to be touched by a human nearly five months into the pandemic. If the consequences are disastrous for a baby who isn’t held and touched, is it really any better for us adults?

Feeling his heartbeat and his beads of sweat running down on me, I breathed a sweet sigh of relief. My coronavirus dry spell, officially broken. …

The unsung heroes of 2020 need a major raise

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Photo: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

I’m met with a series of incredulous looks every time I tell someone, “I teach wilderness and outdoor education… on Zoom.” It can be done, dear readers, but it’s hard to pull off. Just yesterday I sent my students away from their screens on a 45-minute bird-watching expedition — just sit and observe the birds in their neighborhoods. Some told me it was “hella boring,” while others told me it was good for their mental health.

I’m a teacher by day (and a journalist by night), and I’ve experienced firsthand how hard this year has been for educators. They are tired, burnt out, and weary on Zoom. …

You probably don’t want to find out firsthand

Lake Merritt with Oakland skyline.
Lake Merritt with Oakland skyline.
Lake Merritt. Photo: Davel5957/Getty Images

On the sunny side of the bay, flocking to Lake Merritt to bask on its grassy shores is a weekend ritual that Oaklanders live for. Even on the hottest days we’ve recently endured, though, you won’t see anyone dare to dip into the water itself. There’s an unspoken understanding that the actual water in Lake Merritt is, well, pretty gross.

I recently conducted a poll on my Instagram stories with this simple question: “Would you swim in Lake Merritt?” About 10 of my friends answered, resoundingly, with “No!” Several simply responded with laughing emojis. Others cited trash, pollution, and sewage that’s funneled into Lake Merritt as reasons not to take a dip. Are their claims valid? …

This is what’s at stake for my communities this Election Day.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Dear voters,

I’m sitting in my bed, propped up by an angular wedge-shaped pillow. My eyes are tired and my left pectoral muscle is sore and bruised to a light green shade that’s turning somewhat black. I had a double mastectomy last week. “Did I have cancer?” you may wonder. No, not of the literal kind.

I am transgender. I did get a mastectomy to save my life, but not because anything was wrong physically with my breasts. It’s just weird (and distressing) to be a man and to still have boobs so I opted to have mine surgically removed. …

Coming out is constant, fluid, beautiful, and tiresome

A masculine-appearing person emerging from a pink room into a blue room through a vertical rectangular opening in the wall.
A masculine-appearing person emerging from a pink room into a blue room through a vertical rectangular opening in the wall.
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Stone/Getty Images Plus

Coming up on one year ago, I came out of the closet publicly here on Medium as bisexual. I thought, in that moment, the hardest part was over. I came out publicly — my friends, family, colleagues, and Medium readers all knew my long-hidden secret: I am attracted to both men and women.

Naively, I thought that the hardest part was over. Little did I know, coming out is a process that is almost never done for LGBTQ+ folx. We come out over and over, day after day, sometimes countless times a day… for the rest of our lives?!

Yes, you heard me. And it can be tiresome. …

These are the seven things I wish someone had prepared me for.

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Photo by Kyle on Unsplash

Being transgender is hard. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve accepted yourself or how much those around you have accepted you or how far along in your transition you are. There are, inevitably, stressors and, challenges to being trans.

No one prepared me for what these were, but I’m hoping today to shed some light on some truths that have unfolded for me with the hope that for some baby trans person your journey may be smoother as a result of knowing this information ahead of time.

1. You’ll lose friends and family

I’m starting with this one because it’s the hardest truth but it is the truth. You will lose friends and family members due to your gender transition, plain and simple. I have family members that stopped talking to me after I came out as Danni and won’t return phone calls and texts. I have queer women friends who stopped talking to me the moment I came out and crossed the line into masculinity. My parents lost their sh*t when I told them I was having top surgery and I’m not sure what will happen to our relationship moving forward. …

The Californian’s Dilemma

While the world fell apart, I needed a safe haven: Oakland

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Illustration: Randi Pace

This week in The Bold Italic, we are publishing The Californian’s Dilemma, a series that goes beyond the headlines about the “California Exodus,” featuring essays from San Franciscans about why they’re choosing to stay or leave. Check back daily for new essays.

My Dearest Los Angeles,

As you now know, I’m gone. I left at the end of April, when I finally said, “It’s over. I’m done. I quit. I can’t take it anymore, L.A.”

That pandemic night, I packed everything I could from my Angeleno bungalow into my navy blue Subaru and left for greener pastures in Oakland, a place I had faith in while the world unraveled. …

I’m transgender and this is what saves my mental health.

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Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Allow me to set the stage for you for a minute. It’s May 2020, COVID19 is running rampant through the world and I’ve just moved from Los Angeles back to the San Francisco Bay Area —my dearest Oakland, to be precise.

I’m transgender and newer in my gender transition (that’s what this whole column is about: my gender transition and grappling with healthy masculinity). I was feeling pretty good about life and moving back to the Bay Area when an unwelcomed visitor came to greet me. Yes, every transgender man’s worst nightmare: his period.

Half the time I can’t even say the word period it makes me so uncomfortable. That and the word boobs. So I opt for ‘cycle’ and ‘chest’ to make it slightly more manageable and to be totally honest, more manly. …

A transgender man chronicles his journey and relationship to masculinity.

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

When I was in college, I wanted to be a cultural anthropologist when I grew up. I was taking anthropologically based courses, working with a mentor, and beginning to build connections in the world of academic anthropology.

The year of my graduation was 2009, however. The economy was shit (if you recall) and my mentor was brutally honest with me about the prospects of becoming an anthropologist and the likelihood of ever securing satisfying work in a city where I wanted to well, live.

I’d spent most of 2009 living in Mexico City working as an intern in a U.S. Embassy based educational program. I shook Hillary Clinton’s hand. The year prior, I’d watched Obama get elected from a bar inside Buenos Aires circa 4 a.m. I’d made it onto Univisión, the Spanish television network, as I was one of few ex-pats that could comfortably and coherently string together enough drunken Spanish at 4 a.m. to express my deep, guttural elation that we’d elected our first Biracial Black Man. …

Reflections on creativity in the midst of fear.

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// photo by Danny Kantrowitz


Daniel Lyons

Author, Storyteller, Poet, and Queer Mental Health Advocate. Transgender Badass ~ he/him/él 🌈

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