In 1997, handsome Mac Davis released an album, Texas in My Rear View Mirror. The album was a hit and the collection of Texas-themed songs presented on the release only added to the huge repertoire of music that Davis would leave for the world. The singer died on September 29, 2020, at the age of 78.
One song on the album contained lyrics about a young man only wanting to see Lubbock, Texas in his rearview mirror, which pretty much sums up the way most folks feel about the year 2021. It has been referred to being a “lost year,” “a horrible year,” and a “wasted 12 months,” as well as some more colorful monikers that aptly describe the months filled with the pandemic. The fellow in the song wanted more from life and just knew if he could put Lubbock behind him, life would be great again. That is the general feeling about 2021.
Just ask anyone and they will tell you what a rotten year 2021 turned out to be. COVID-19 spread like fire; businesses closed, no gatherings, no live music or theater, and the battle over to wear a mask or not took off and started a war.
Then there were the “vaxers” vs. the “non-vaxers.” People that were once friends actually became enemies over the vaccination. Some said the vaccine was “too new” and could “magnetize you,” while others claimed the government was secretly inserting a chip into the recipient’s system. There were arguments that the injection actually altered one’s DNA or led to birth deformities, strokes, blood clots, and other medical maladies. Most of the battle was stoked by politics, “fake news,” nut-case talk show hosts, and even an egomaniacal “president” that believed the virus itself, was a hoax. When it came to the vaccination, he initially did very little but tout his own encounter with the virus and how he “beat it” with no problem. Relying on his great brain (as he often says), he went so far as to suggest drinking bleach might make the virus go away. There were other crazy suggestions as to cures and remedies, but under his watch, science was the last to be considered!
Galveston fared fairly well with the pandemic as most citizens quickly got the vaccination when it was offered and, for the most part, stayed home or wore masks when out in public or patronizing businesses. Several members of the LGBTQ community contracted the virus and had a tough bout with it and, though they beat it, some did not and actually did die, leaving horrible pains of loss. Sweet Paul Menafry, the partner to real estate agent Hudson Holmes, lost his battle with COVID after a stay at UTMB. Paul’s passing was a hard shock and a sad reminder to all that we as humans are vulnerable and the virus is real.
As 2021 faded in its last few days in December, Christmas celebrations were in full swing, and things were OK. Some private parties offered the LGBTQ community a chance for friends to see each other again and even share hugs.
It looked as if 2021 was going to pass into memories, then the community lost two wonderful friends and supporters. Pamela Passino died after a lengthy illness and left behind her husband Jacques. Together, the Passions operated several businesses on the Island and in Houston, and over the years became a huge part of the Galveston scene; there were patrons of the arts and love a good parade and party.
Just as news was getting out about the loss of Pamela, word came that while on a cruise in Mexico, Island favorite Mary McGowan died. She and Ellen Klimenko, her life partner, were so much a part of everything in the community, from fundraisers to house parties and any event that brought the LGBTQ community together. At every gathering, Mary with her huge and contagious smile was always ready with her phone to snap pics and share them online. Like Pamela, Mary loved a good time, friends, and the community. Both leave huge holes and boat-loads of wonderful memories.
2021 did end and the ball dropped once again in New York. Friends gathered in homes, bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as living rooms to say goodbye to a “rotten” year and welcome 2022.
The new year looks promising, however, the beast of COVID is still among us and continues to morph into new strains. Let us pray that the entire Latin alphabet will not be consumed in naming variants that occur.
A new year is a time for new beginnings as well as a time to reflect and look back. Love those around you and take no one for granted. We have seen just how quickly things can change, and not always for the best. Like the Mac Davis song says, let’s all see 2021 in our collective rearview mirror.
Happy New Year with peace and happiness to all.