Nearly twelve months ago on New Year’s Eve, my partner and I stayed home and quietly toasted the exit of 2019, confident that 2020 would be a vast improvement over a year that included a presidential impeachment, massive earthquakes, mass shootings, the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral. And who could forget Gayle King subdue a ranting, out-of-control R. Kelly simply by calling him “Robert”?
But we were wrong, weren’t we? Little did we know as we blithely sipped our champagne that night that 2020 was revving up to make 2019 look like a Sunday School picnic.
For better or for worse, several individuals emerged that exemplify this jaw-dropping year. We salute them all and thank them for providing blessed distraction when we needed it most.
• Dolly Parton. In November, the Country Queen of Rhinestones and Sass cemented her saintly status by contributing a cool $1 million to fight Covid-19. What does this have to do with LGBTQ stuff? Absolutely nothing, except maybe the fact that she has been long rumored to be in a lesbian relationship with her lifelong best friend Judy though Carl Dean, Dolly’s husband of 54 years, might dispute that. Whatever. More Germaine is Dolly’s unconditional support of the LGBTQ community.
In August, she was honored with a GLAAD Media Award for an episode of Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings that focused on a gay couple who comes out at a family wedding. And weee-e-eee-e-eee will always love you, Dolly.
• Pete Buttigieg. We got to know the proudly gay South Bend, Indiana mayor in 2019 when he flung his hat into the Democratic Presidential primary, which he lost to Joe Biden. But did he really lose? Maybe not.
This year, Mayor Pete became the Democratic Party’s de facto voice of reason on myriad cable news shows, answering questions with all the intelligence, sensitivity, and wit one should expect from an elected official. We expect great things from this man. A high-profile cabinet position in the Biden Administration would remind America’s allies and adversaries alike that America is back, baby, and can use big words and complete sentences.
• Mary Trump. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man was penned by Mary Trump based on her personal experience not only as Donald Trump’s long-estranged niece, and but also her professional experience as a clinical psychologist. The first time we encountered Mary our gaydar started clanging louder than a priest at the Tony Awards, making her merciless excoriation of Uncle President sublimely delicious. Even more delicious: the book sold 1.35 million copies in its first week of publication, crowning Mary the Trump family’s best-selling author.
• Rachel Maddow. We’ve loved Rachel for a long, long time, based on her genius-level wisdom and ability to communicate the intricacies of even the most convoluted political news stories in the language that even Eric Trump can understand. And we love her off-the-cuff references to her committed relationship to her partner Susan. Susan contracted Covid-19 in October, forcing Rachel into quarantine to care for Susan, even vacating her MSNBC anchor desk on election night — the Super Bowl for cable news.
But no political commentary Rachel might have offered the evening of November 3 could have had the impact of her opening monologue the night she returned to her job. Her description of watching her beloved suffer from Covid captured not only the nondiscriminatory nature of the virus and the horror it can wreak but also stands as a testament that love is love is love is love. Google it. Dare you not to cry.
• Joe Exotic. This platinum blonde mulleted, out and proud, former Eastvale, Texas police officer Joseph Allen Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage has a taste for big cats, boys, and bigamy. He became a global pop culture icon when Netflix unveiled Joe Exotic, a reality series featuring the nutjob who is also a country singer/songwriter and owner/operator of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, a tourist attraction that housed and displayed multiple lions and tigers. Here we met Joe’s husbands (five of them, with at least a couple of them in overlapping marriages), staff and Joe’s arch-nemesis Carole Baskin, who herself owns Big Cat Rescue in Florida, another menagerie for big cats. Allegedly, one of Carole’s ex-husbands ended up as dinner for one of her big cats.
These things happen.
After gaining superstardom, Joe is serving prison time for allegedly arranging a murder-for-hire scheme to bump off Baskin who later went on to network TV fame as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars because of course, she did.
We appreciate Joe and Company for proving to the world that gay people can be just as much of a train wreck as straight people. That’s true equality.
Ah, 2020, you crazy bitch. Thanks for the good times. Now get out.
Happy New Year, everybody!