The sociologist Pepper Schwartz once said, “In the best of all possible worlds, February 14th is a pleasant and sentimental opportunity to lavish your partner with attention or move your relationship to the next level.” Unfortunately the reality is not so easy! Although Valentine’s Day receives a lot of attention, the LGBTQ+ community can sometimes feel left out of this holiday.
The romantic commercials and cute rom-coms often focus on cisgender, straight couples. LGBTQ+ people may feel invisible on Valentine’s Day, especially if they feel they have to hide their relationships and authentic selves from family, classmates or co-workers. LGBTQ+ couples of color may even feel more excluded from the narrative.
Luckily, there are some great, creative minds out there who have proposed some other options recently. Galentine’s Day is meant to celebrate female friendship and there is also Palentine’s Day which puts the emphasis on friendship rather than gender.
Kaleidoscope believes that Valentine’s Day is a holiday for everyone who would like to celebrate. It is a day to proclaim romantic love (even asexual love) for a partner, a spouse, a girlfriend, or boyfriend. And it is also a day to acknowledge parents, siblings, children, friends, and co-workers to show them that they are appreciated.
Here are some ways to make Valentine’s Day a happy and inclusive event:
DIY: Say “no thank you” to the heteronormative standards of Valentine’s Day and make your own cards or small gifts. Give your gifts to the people in your life who matter to you. They will love a homemade card or a loaf of banana bread!
Share on your social media: Just be aware of what you are posting. Try to share images of same gender couples as well as male/female couples. Share images of people of color or people with disabilities. Remember, everyone deserves to celebrate their love!
Think about using words in an inclusive manner: For example, when your colleagues are talking about plans for the holiday, are you assuming genders and identities? Try using the words “partner” or “spouse” instead of “husband” or “wife” when asking about your colleague’s plans to show that you are interested, but not making any assumptions.
Let Valentine’s Day be the start of more inclusivity year round: While Pride month in June is the official time to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ people have had in the world, it is always the right time for the LGBTQ+ community to feel included. Dr. Crystal Jones summed it up best when she said, “there is a huge difference between “all are welcome” and “this was created with you in mind.” Let’s have February 14th – whether it is Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or Palentine’s Day – be the beginning of an intention to follow Dr. Crystal Jones’ lead to let everyone know that ALL of the holidays are for YOU!
Happy everything everybody!
About the author
Jeri Rochman, JD, MA is the Program Director for Kaleidoscope and the very proud mom of a wonderful gay son. She is a National Board Certified Counselor, Certified Parent Educator and Trained Crisis Counselor. Interested in learning more about Kaleidoscope’s programs and services? She can be reached at [email protected].