Valentine’s Day isn’t Designed for Queer Couples
Valentine’s Day is a consumer ‘holiday’ that we’re bombarded with starting in the middle of January – whether you like it or not. Not only are red, white and pink treats and branded presents at almost every store, but we are shown images of happy couples in advertisements everywhere. Not only is this challenging for those who are single around Valentines Day, but it can also be challenging for those who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Valentine’s Day isn’t designed for queer couples.
Why isn’t Valentine’s Day Queer?
For many folks who identify as queer, Valentine’s Day is a reminder that their identity isn’t represented which can make them feel invisible or unimportant. It does this by reinforcing the idea that ‘ideal’ and happy relationships are heterosexual, monogamous, sexual and romantic. And really anyone who doesn’t fit into that ideal feels as though they’re failing somehow.
Think about the things we are surrounded by this time of year. Jewelry commercials are almost always depicting cisgender heterosexual couples and upholding the traditional gender norm of ‘the man’ giving a beautiful and expensive gift to his female partner. We see the same ideas reflected in the products; such as “His & Hers” monogrammed items and cards specifically address to husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. And if/when we attempt to participate in Valentine’s Day we are likely to be met by heternormative assumptions. For example, “oh your boyfriend will love this” when purchasing a gift. Or having a server at a restaurant assuming your gender or relationship status.
Yes, queer representation and queer-focused products do exist, and this continues to improve – but the ones that are available are not easily accessible. And the images we are bombarded with are of straightness.
Though being queer does not mean we have to reject Valentine’s Day as a whole. We all deserve to be able to celebrate our love no matter what it looks like. Many in the queer community are already good at subverting the norms, reclaiming and celebrating all types of love.
So, how can you celebrate Valentine’s Day as a queer person?
1. Have a movie night in with your loved one(s) or your close friends.
Valentine’s Day does not have to be about romantic love, so spend the day with people that you care about and find some great queer-focused films to watch together. Consider this list as a great starting point.
2. Buy (or make) a queer-friendly Valentine’s Day card.
It’s less likely that you’re going to walk into a Hallmark store and find a card that represents your identity so start thinking about it early. Give yourself to find some cool cards online (Etsy is a great place to start) or consider making your own.
3. Support queer businesses.
4. Go out with a group of queer couples (or as singles) to increase your visibility.
5. Consider making a Valentine’s donation to an LGBTQ+ organization rather than buying presents. If you’re in Vancouver consider one of the following options:
- Catherine White Holman Centre
- Community-Based Research Centre (for Gay Men’s Health)
- Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society
- Rainbow Refugee
- AIDS Vancouver
Remember that Valentine’s Day is just another day and regardless of how you feel about it, your relationship status, or your sexual orientation or gender identity you are valid and you will get through the day. Try to surround yourself with positive representations of queerness and queer love and remind yourself that love doesn’t have to look the way it’s advertised to you. Keep doing you!
For those who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ but also don’t love the way relationships are represented during Valentine’s Day or simply want to support your queer friends during this time of year what can you do?
How to be a queer ally during Valentine’s Day
1. Don’t assume someone has plans for Valentine’s Day. Meaning, don’t ask what their plans are unless you explicitly know they plan to celebrate it.
This not only helps to support queer folks who don’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day but also those who are single and don’t want to be reminded they don’t have plans (or at least not traditional plans).
2. Don’t assume the gender of someone’s partner.
Really you should never assume someone’s gender.
3. Don’t make assumptions about or judge how someone chooses to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Remember – Valentine’s Day is ultimately about celebrating love – which at its heart involves connection and unconditional acceptance. Consider ways you can connect and unconditionally accept yourself and others around you this Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day isn’t designed for queer people. Hear Emory’s story about his experience with Valentine’s Day as he grew into his queer identity.
Does your partner like Valentine’s Day more than you do? Discover why women like Valentine’s day and learn how to navigate it effectively so everyone is happy.