A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Ron and I left town and spent a weekend at Vitambi Springs, the popular wilderness resort and campground near Clewiston, for rest and relaxation. Not surprisingly, Vitambi Springs had changed to fit the new normal.
The once-popular Bolo Café and Bongo Bar were closed; and Vitambi discouraged its guests from treating the resort as a party or a playground. The few of us who were there kept our social distance from each other, even at the clothing-optional swimming pool and at the Saturday night bonfire.
But there is a pandemic going on and sacrifices must be made, for our sake and the sake of our fellow campers. Even so, Ron is my favorite person and Vitambi Springs is my favorite place and a weekend with Ron at Vitambi makes me happy no matter what the circumstances are.
Back home, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc with our lives, our economy, and our culture. Personally, I have much to be grateful for. Not only was I fortunate enough to avoid the virus (thus far), but I have been able to lead a close to normal life, unlike some of my friends. Though much of my social life is virtual (thanks to Zoom) I still go out to shop, to exercise at the gym, visit friends, eat at restaurants, and spend time with Ron.
In each case I try my best to obey the protocols; to wear my face masks and observe social distance.
Speaking of face masks; there are so many unusual and colorful masks out there that it is hard to keep up with them. Even so, I will try my best to collect as many of them as time, money and common sense would allow. I will be a face mask model; and each time I acquire a new mask I will take a selfie and post it on Facebook. (It sure beats dancing in my underwear for Tik Tok.) I await your suggestions.
Meanwhile, my home state of Florida has become the new epicenter for COVID-19, which is nothing to brag about. Misgoverned as we are by our Trumpist Governor Ron DeSantis, Floridians came out of hiding all too soon, crowding our beaches and bars and clubs and restaurants and swimming pools. Local efforts to restrict unsafe behavior does not seem to do much good, and it is only a matter of time before the Sunshine State goes back into lockdown. (We might be in a lockdown by the time you read this article.) I hope not. A second lockdown will damage our economy and drive most small businesses out of existence.
But life goes on, and the U.S. is headed towards a momentous election, if not a second civil war. The American people are divided on virtually everything, even the way we deal with this pandemic. Most of our leaders from the White House to the doghouse seem woefully inadequate to do their jobs in a year when we face multiple troubles: economic crisis, racial unrest, climate change and, of course, COVID-19. We need leaders who will guide us through these and other disasters. So, stay healthy, put on your face masks, and VOTE.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.