As candy hearts, boxed chocolates, and bouquets of roses line the aisles of stores across the country, there is a part of Valentine’s day that often goes unseen. Queer people are excluded from this holiday that only focuses on heterosexual love.
Cards only have options for “him” and “her,” and those that identify as non-binary are not included. Companies that spend months advertising for Valentine’s Day market solely to the audience of straight couples, leaving out an underrepresented group of queer people. Jewelry advertisements only show straight couples in love, reinforcing gender norms instead of embracing all types of love.
The heteronormative practices of this holiday are extremely outdated. According to the Cosmopolitan, “The successful love stories we’re shown and incidentally told to aspire to are pretty much always between men and women. This excludes LGBTQ+ people and tells them their relationships aren’t worthy of celebrating.” Romance movies are shown on repeat, such as Love, Actually and The Notebook, yet there are no queer love movies that truly represent these couples. While Love, Simon exists, just one popular gay movie can’t compete with the literal thousands of love movies for straight couples. Hallmark movies showing a white man and woman falling in love, while the “gay best friend” only serves the plot instead of having their own queer love story. According to QCA Approved, “Only one Hallmark movie features two gay leads falling in love.”
In addition to feelings of exclusion, this holiday can be difficult for those still in the closet, or who feel that it is not safe to openly show their love. According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLESN), “64% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe in school due to sexual orientation,” and “44% experienced physical harassment.” Queer students don’t feel safe showing their love at school, making the holiday only for straight couples.
This Valentine’s day, make sure to showcase all types of love in your life, platonic and romantic. While Valentine’s day promotes grand gestures, do what is safest and most comfortable for you. Remember to love yourself for who you are. For straight allies, support your queer friends in their journey this valentine’s day, as they may feel especially excluded.