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    Goodbye and Good Riddance 2020

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    2020 was our “annus horribilis” (horrible year), to paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II. For most, 2021 cannot come soon enough, and this next year I hope will be our “annus mirabilis”—a wonderful year. 

    Everyone everywhere, from world leaders and royalty to prison inmates and the homeless, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic that defined much of 2020. The virus came close to home for me when both sides of my family were hit by the virus here in the U.S. and back home in the U.K. Joyfully, everyone in my family pulled through, but that was not the case for all, and my heart is with all those we lost; too many, taken too soon.

    2020 for me was also a year of complete upheaval, filled with anxiety and dread coupled with a wave of hope and appreciation of our true wealth—our good health, family, and friends. I hope 2021 will allow us all to get back to a sense of normalcy, with bars & restaurants surviving and thriving once again, events happening, hugging allowed, and COVID-19 in the rear-view mirror.

    I asked some friends in our LGBTQI+ community what 2020 was about for them and what their hopes are for 2021. I also included some photos and comments from a brilliant book, Food People (Are the Best People), produced during the pandemic by Bay Area photographer Kristen Loken:

    Happy Holidays and keep hope in your heart for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2021.

    Jan Wahl, Empress of Entertainment 

    “2020 was a year of Revaluations. I never knew I could have such a deep level of anger toward a political figure and at the same time be praying so hard for change.”

    “I hope 2021 will be a way to bring the joy of show business to people’s hearts.”

    Sister Roma, The Most Photographed Nun in the World

    “2020 to me was unprecedented. Ugh. I’m so tired of this word. I’m even more tired of shocking behavior and circumstances that warrant its use. Enough already!”

    “My hopes for 2021 are to return to precedent, a reset, a renewed balance, and harmony for all.”

    Chef Mat Schuster, Canela Restaurant

    “2020 to me was … a marathon every day.”

    “My hopes for 2021 are … a new president, a healthy year for the world, and some time to relax!”

    Cliff Baker, Photographer 

    “2020 was a year of growing anxiety about the direction in which this country appeared to be heading. Although I have often been critical of our political system, never before have I seen democracy itself imperiled by a leader who demonstrated so little respect for the rule of law or the precedents that had seemingly been well established by prior administrations.”

    “2021: I hope for a less partisan and divisive future that will lead to a restoration of civility and mutual respect in our political discourse as well as a pandemic brought under control, children back in school, restaurants and theaters re-opened, travel restrictions lifted, the economy revived for everyone’s benefit, and peaceful nights of sleep taken for granted once again.”

    BeBe Sweetbriar, Activist/Drag Artist/Performer

    “2020 to me was a time to take personal inventory of who I am and who I need to be to better myself and my community.”

    “My hopes for 2021 are that we as a community of humans will reflect on 2020 as a wakeup call on how poorly we value each other as fellow human beings, and will take steps in our individual lives to do better toward our neighbors.”

    Eric LaSalle, U.S. Park Ranger

    “2020 to me was filled with non-normal days of patrol; smoke-filled air and a deadly virus plaguing the world.”

    “My hopes for 2021 reveal smiles of joy, riding, great wine, and gym moments that include others than myself.”

    Dan Kerman, KRON4 News Reporter

    “2020 was a year filled with frustration, fear, anxiety, and ultimately hope, as well as a greater appreciation for the ones near and dear to me.”

    “My hopes for 2021 are that we will see an end to the virus and a year of good health, equity, opportunity, and happiness for everyone.”

    Juanita MORE! Drag Superstar & Fashion Icon

    “2020 has been a s–t show. As it ends, I plan on wrapping up the year lip-syncing to the Steven Sondheim song “I’m Still Here” from the Broadway musical Follies. ‘Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all, and my dear, I’m still here.'”

    “My hope for 2021 is that we continue to move courageously forward in our fight for racial equality, find beauty in each other’s differences, have faith in our future on this planet, and share loads and loads of love.”

    Chef Preeti Mistry 

    “2020 to me was a time for the world to pause, for the curtain to be pulled back from our leaders’ charades (in all industries) and for so many to connect with the power of community action and aid.”

    “My hopes for 2021 are we build back all the damage that has been done this year in a way that benefits all and not just those at the top.”

    Three other friends thoughtfully answered some additional questions.

    Liam Mayclem: How has food been a part of this time on a personal or professional level?

    Jen Biesty, Shakewell Bar & Restaurant:

    “Food, drink, and hospitality are our life, our craft. We will keep being the best Shakewell we can be, and we will stay healthy.”

    “We are trying to keep our customers happy and healthy, and we are trying to keep our farmers, fishmongers, and producers all connected and supported by our customers—this is the name of the game. We will get through this together. Chicken and Churros for Everyone!!!!”

    Chef Sarah Kirnon:

    “The fact that food is a basic human right, and that so many people don’t have access to three meals a day—let alone healthy food. The industry that I have known all my life has contributed to that, by creating divide in how we eat, and who we serve.

    Liam Mayclem: Where do you find joy now?

    Alice Waters, Chez Panisse:

    “Hearing Janet Napolitano speak the words “regenerative” and “organic”—that was a real joy!”

    “I can find happiness having my daughter here: our closeness, our love of cooking together, our love of nature, just seeing the rose come out every day, watching it and then all of a sudden, it bursts forth. I’ve never had the time to experience that. I’ve always had solace in nature. I’m really seeing the victory garden, growing food. If there’s lettuce outside, you can always make yourself a salad!”

    Food People (Are the Best People) is published by Acorn Press with a portion of the profits going to the nonprofit No Kid Hungry, a movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers, and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry. To learn more and to purchase the book:

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information:

    Published on December 17, 2020