Pub Date: November 16, 2021

Author: Kate Walter

Kate Walter loved her life as a single gay woman and writer living in New York City’s famous Westbeth Artists Housing in Greenwich Village. In early 2020, just as the lively community was gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary, New York City went into Covid 19 pandemic lockdown. Westbeth turned into a ghost town. Kate’s carefully constructed social life crashed. Suddenly, she was trapped at home, living in the pandemic epicenter. Kate was lonely and scared. The isolation was hard on everyone—for cultural creators, perhaps an extra degree of hard. She melted down in lockdown. She dreamed the city was on fire. She hit the wall.  But she picked herself up and called upon her resilience and spiritual practices to stay safe and get through the isolation. More than a year later, as Westbeth and New York City reawakened, Kate emerged with a deeper appreciation for her home and the everyday things she took for granted. As she gradually took off her mask and started to enjoy life again, she felt forever changed. 


In Behind the Mask, Kate Walter has crafted an intimate and impassioned account of one woman’s life during the pandemic. In a series of essays, she examines a year of lockdown, the fears of isolation, the memories that tragedy and loneliness forced to the surface, the moments of humor, and especially the acts of kindness that brought New Yorkers, and her community at Westbeth, together. Gabrielle Selz, author, Light on Fire: The Art and Life of Sam Francis and UnStill Life


A compelling memoir of the covid pandemic lockdown and its impact on one woman’s life. Kate Walter – a longtime resident of the iconic Westbeth Artists community – shares the loneliness and sorrow of being isolated from family, friends, and activities. As she examines lessons learned throughout the ordeal, she rediscovers hope in surprising ways. Each vignette is rich with engaging personal and contextual detail. Beautifully written, this is a warmly insightful read with universal appeal.

Carol J. Binkowski, author, Opening Carnegie Hall: The Creation and First Performances of America’s Premier Concert Stag


A moving, colorful account of covid, the Village, family, being gay and living life with spirit, truth, and heart.

— Donna Florio author, Growing Up Bank Street, A Greenwich Village Memoir


Covid struck us in two dimensions, the public and the private. Kate Walter’s chronicle of the plague year in Manhattan, from the ambulance sirens of one March to the vaccine hopes of another, illuminates both dimensions. It’s a season-by-season narrative of one woman’s progress through a city stunned yet bravely resilient and through the personal challenges faced by everyone who treasures the daily encounters that define urban living and the cosmopolitan spirit. These essays are vignettes of fear and loss and of hope and determination. If we wonder how New York, and the rest of us, got through a terrible year, Behind the Mask just may have the answer.

Bill Scheller, author, America: A History in Art and In All Directions: Thirty Years of Travel


Kate’s writing always connects with readers. She picks important and interesting subjects and writes about them in a way that people can identify with. Her writing style is accessible and compelling, and her honesty about whatever it is that she’s personally going through at that moment — or commenting about — really comes through. The way she personalizes the events of our day really resonates.

—Lincoln Anderson, editor and publisher, The Village Sun, former editor, The Villager.


“There’s a section of pandemic writing prompts: 12 sets of questions to use to think through the last year and a half and what it’s meant—such as: “Did living through this extraordinary experience change your outlook on life?” If you’ve been meaning to leave a written record of this time for posterity, this list would be a great place to start.” —Bookish Beck blog