Few holidays evoke such dichotomous responses as the day called Valentine's. Named for a 3rd century Roman saint, what once was a day for celebrating love and lust in Pagan communities slowly evolved into a day that is filled with the pressures of capitalistic consumption.
Queering Valentine's Day: 3 Ways to Make the Day Your Own
Whether you love it or you hate it often depends on how we feel both about consumerism and the concept of romantic love; have extra cash to burn and someone you want to romance and it’s not so bad, wanting to not consume more goods or feeling pressured to couple up and it can seem like a day to avoid altogether. But love it or hate it there is no denying its influence on culture and our ability to feel good about our partnered status come February 14th.
As queer folks, we have both a unique advantage and disadvantage when it comes to candy hearts day. For one we may often feel disadvantaged by how much heterosexism and cis-normativity play an integral part in the capitalistic projects of the holiday. Most advertisements, media portrayals, and social expectations revolve around cisgender men and cisgender women falling in love.
The male partner must “live up to” the expectations of wooing the object of his affection with cards and chocolates, at the minimum. With the additional pressures added by social media more and more, couples see the day as a way to demonstrate to the world just how much their mates are willing to express their devotion- almost exclusively through monetary means. The biggest bouquet, the fanciest dinner, clothes, and hair done ahead- all allegedly lead to the greatest relationship satisfaction.
For people in the LGBTQ+ community making our expressions of love queer, or decidedly different than the social norm, is something we are experts in, giving us the innate tools to change things for the better.
"Queering Valentine's Day to me looks like not limiting expressions of love to my romantic partners."
Looking at Valentine's through a different lens can help you embrace it
I asked one of my favorite queer, ethically non-monogamous couples, Katie and Sam, about what queering Valentine’s day means to them. Katie shared how her love for Valentines Day has evolved,
“I've always really loved Valentine's Day, even when I was single. Queering Valentine's Day to me looks like not limiting expressions of love to my romantic partners. I've been part of groups that have had "Galentine's days" and other celebrations of friendship, but in particular, queering valentine's day is about taking a day that is known for its commercialism and intentionally embracing radical love for all members of our community.”
Sam, echoed a similar sentiment when it comes to making V-Day their own, “For me, Valentine’s Day is an intentional celebration of love in the way that I choose to experience and express it. That means aggressively expropriating the imagery and traditions of Valentine’s Day from cisgender, heterosexual folk and making them my own. It gives me great pleasure to take traditions that were not meant for me and to make them my own.”
Celebrate with a toy like the LELO Hula Beads remote vibrator
"It gives me great pleasure to take traditions that were not meant for me and to make them my own.”
Queering Valentine's Day is about taking the wisdom that is the cornerstone of the LGBTQ experience and allowing it to radically transform how we, and the circles we move within, experience this day of love. Here are 3 ways to queer your February 14th and make it a day you can embrace:
- Expanding Who ‘Love’ Includes. Romantic, sexual love that is part of a monogamous partnership with professions of lifelong fidelity is far from the only or best form of love, yet Valentine's Day marketing, fairytales, and rom coms would often want us to believe it is. Queering Valentines Day means redefining who we include in our love circle.
Love is equally valid if it doesn’t include a romantic connection or a sexual side. The love we have as ace/aro people is incredibly important as is love for platonic friends and family members. Make a list of people who you identify as “loving” and make time to reach out to them on V-Day and tell them how much they mean to you. If it feels right send them a favorite treat or homemade card. If a romantic or sexual partner is part of this list takes time to deeply connect instead of only opting for commercialized offerings.
Spending time meditating together, sharing letters from the heart, or dedicating the day to exploring sexually together like with the LELO SILA Cruise clitoral massager that uses sonic waves to stimulate your pleasure points, or the versatile HULA Beads, which can be used on any body in myriad ways - even controlled from a short distance via remote control.
Take your clitoral massage into "cruise" mode with the Sila Cruise. Pressing the toy more firmly against yourself releases extra power!
- Self-Love as Paramount. Taking a day away from all other obligations to devote to the love of your own incredible self is something I wish we all were encouraged to do more often. We need dedicated time to sit with our thoughts and recognize all that we are. Start by listing 5 things you like about your body, 5 things you like about your personality, and 5 things you are proud of doing for yourself. None of these needs to be momentous, simply giving thanks for the way your laugh makes your friends smile, or the fact that you remembered to nourish yourself today is huge.
Taking part of the day to romance yourself, mixing a favorite drink, taking an extra-long bath, or practicing auto-erotic love with a toy like the LELO Smart Wand 2 wand vibrator that offers 10 powerful massage patterns you can use on your sore shoulders or between your legs and everywhere in between... all are fabulous ways to love the one person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with- yourself.
- Love of Community. We have talked about loving all kinds of important people in our life one-on-one but what about spreading love to a community at large? Offering a self-love workshop at the local LGBTQ center, loving the planet with a beach clean-up and foraging afterward, or hosting an Instagram live for a Galentine's day for people without many in-person connections are all ways to offer love that is exponentially embracing.
The LELO Smart Wand 2 wand vibrator works for almost every body
Valentine's may have a complex history and we may still roll our eyes at how limiting love’s depictions can be, but as queer folks, we know that just because society has deemed love to fit into a teeny tiny box does not mean that this is true.
We get to set the boundaries for who we love and the way in which we define the word. By breaking free from these boxes we can make this day, and any other day of the year, one that is liberating and inclusive of our truths.
Dr. Laura McGuire (they/them or she/her) is an internationally recognized consultant, survivor, researcher, seminarian, and author of the book Creating Cultures of Consent (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).
Dr. McGuire is a certified full-spectrum doula, professional teacher, a certified sexual health educator, and a vinyasa yoga instructor. Their experience includes both public and private sectors, middle schools, high schools, and university settings.
They currently are earning their Masters of Divinity at Earlham Seminary where they are studying the intersections of Judaism, trauma-informed care, and restorative-justice in faith settings. Dr. McGuire lives in the United States, where they work as an adjunct professor at Widener University and consultant at The National Center for Equity and Agency.