Things That Matter

Amid A Year Of Heartbreak, These Were The Moments That Gave Us Hope In 2020

Looking back on 2020, there will be the standout moments: where you were when you realized the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic; when you found out that the shutdown was coming to your town, your city; for millions of Americans, the moment you lost your job; for millions more, when you found out that a parent or loved one had gotten sick or died from the disease; for nearly everyone, the moment you found out you’d lost a friend or treasured icon.

It was a series of emotional moments because everything else was the same — stuck in our homes, it became hard to differentiate between days, weeks, months. It was only the moments that stood out.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as many people stood up and gave us hope amid the uncertainty and loss.

People took to the streets to march for Black and Brown lives.

People, for the most part, stayed inside when told to. We were bored, lonely, horny, scared, appalled — but people stayed home if they could. But then the recent killings of several unarmed Black people — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and sadly even more since them — renewed and reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement.

People had been watching the news out of the U.S. for months, seeing the undeniable reports that Black and Latinx communities had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the petulant incompetence of an administration that repeatedly and calculatedly failed those communities, and the destructiveness of a deeply broken health system. And after months of social distancing, those who could do so safely took to the streets, and faced a police response that more than proved their point.

Bad Bunny brought attention to anti-trans violence in Puerto Rico.

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Throughout his rise as the world’s biggest reggaetón star, Bad Bunny has been known to challenge the genre’s hypermasculine ideals. But he stepped into LGBTQ+ advocacy when he brought mainstream attention to the murder of Puerto Rican trans woman Alexa Negrón Luciano by paying tribute to her on Fallon in a live performance this February. Considering he also made his drag debut in his “Yo Perreo Sola” video this year, it’s refreshing to see a global superstar breaking down gender norms and rallying behind the trans community.

Crowds clapped to celebrate our front-line workers.

For many people, staying at home meant just that: work from home, relax at home, socialise at home, cook at home, and do your best to get through it. For healthcare and support workers, though, this has not been an opportunity to catch up on the Netflix queue. In a few places, it’s been a full-on horror movie; in most places, it’s meant ethical dilemmas, long hours chafing in PPE (some of it improvised amid shortages), heartbreaking FaceTimes with next of kin, and angry or terrified members of the public.

Kamala Harris speaking for women everywhere when she told Mike Pence, “I’m speaking.”

Credit: Julio Cortez / Getty Images

It was a moment that resonated with exasperated women around the world: During the vice presidential debate, after Mike Pence had interrupted soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris for the umpteenth time, she quietly but decisively stated, “Mister Vice president, I’m speaking. I’m speaking.” Shortly after the debate, it became a trending sound on TikTok, remixed with Megan Thee Stallion’s “Girls in the Hood.”

We got a new president-elect and a soon-to-be-over Trump presidency.

It was one joyous day in the middle of the worst year ever — when the networks began calling Pennsylvania for Biden, and it dawned on the country that there might be a light at the end of this Trumpian tunnel. Philadelphia had come through with enough votes to clinch the election. 

Marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform sweeps across the country.

Credit: Paul Demaron / Getty Images

How many of us were biting our nails on election night, dreading the possibility of anther four years under a Trump presidency? Well, despite the drawn out process for presidential results, we got to see historic wins for cannabis legalization.

Six legalization initiatives were on ballots across the country; six initiatives passed. Mississippi got medical weed. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana got recreational. South Dakota became the first state to vote in both medical and recreational at the same time. There’s a lot of bad things to say about 2020, but at least we can look back on it as a tipping-point year in ending the disastrous War on Drugs.

A cute af owl emerged from the less than cute Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

there a better metaphor for 2020 than the typically majestic and inspiring Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree being unearthed this year as a decrepit shell of its fallen brethren of years past? But for optimists — should any still exist — a 2021 metaphor arrived soon after in the form of Rockefeller, a diminutive owl that emerged from the arboreal wreckage. 

Scientists developed a vaccine for COVID-19 in record-breaking time.

In November, the world heard the news that not one – but three – COVID-19 vaccines under development reported promising levels of effectiveness, with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being approved and rolled out in the UK in December.

Lil Nas X was the best, most unapologetic gay rapper on the internet.

Lil Nas X wasn’t the first mainstream rapper to come out of the closet, but he’s definitely the first to truly have fun poking fun at the homophobia often associated with the genre. His unapologetic confidence — from rapping about bottoming to dressing as Nicki Minaj for Halloween — is inspiring, and watching him playfully respond to homophobes who needlessly take offense to his actions is a never-ending delight

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