Another year, another season of walking through Walmart and being slapped in the face with giant teddy bears and aisles of chocolate hearts. Valentine’s Day is upon us and celebrating queer representation on this day of love is critical.
Despite same-sex marriage becoming legal back in 2015, the U.S. has only done so much in the past five years to acknowledge sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBT community still struggles with cultural acceptance with more than half of the country having no specific laws for protection against discrimination. LGBT Map.org states, “44 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (including 5% of LGBTQ population living in states that preempt local nondiscrimination laws).”
Most people would think that same-sex couples are being normalized in the media through pop culture, but queer inclusion has only made small advances. Last year GLAAD reported, “Of the 110 releases from major studios in 2018, 20 (18.2%) included characters that were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.” Unfortunately, they mention that, “For the second year in a row, transgender characters were absent from the 110 major studio releases and inclusion of queer people of color saw a significant drop.”
With society focusing on cis heteronormativity for Valentine’s day, it is important for queer couples to know they matter too. Here is a short list of things to do on Valentine’s day as non-traditional alternatives.
- LGBT Films
Whether in theaters or on Netflix at home, there are plenty of renowned movies advocating LGBT rights and experiences. From 1956 Tea and Sympathy, to 1998 Edge of Seventeen, to 2016 Moonlight, you can cuddle up to some good laughs and tears over years of queer cinema. If you don’t know where to start here is a link to the “50 best gay movies- the most essential films ever made.” A huge shout-out to Netflix by the way! Currently, Netflix is the most LGBTQ+ friendly source of TV we have today having doubled the number of queer characters it streams in the past year compared to other major US networks!
- Charming Gifts and Cards
Typical Valentine’s cards are catered to “for him” and “for her” relationships. This also goes hand and hand with commercialism of products meant to match specifically for men and women. There is also the absence of inclusion for trans men and women, non-binary couples, aromantic/ asexual individuals, and even polymerous relationships! If you’re struggling to find certain stores that have queer related gifts and cards you can also check out websites such as Zazzle, Love Pop Cards, Etsy, and Rainbow Depot . And if you are thinking of spicing things up for the day or trying something new, look into sex-positive workshops or head to your local adult store.
- Support the Community
There are over 73 countries where homosexuality is deemed illegal, and according to Independent, “In 13 countries, being gay or bisexual is punishable by death.” It’s imperative to not only be an ally within the US but fight for other countries that do not protect queer couples. You can make donations to organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, or check out this link for 10 more nonprofits that make a difference: . You can even support LGBT businesses by purchasing their products. Volunteer for marginalized groups too through Black and Pink and The Trevor Project. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day by advocating for the freedom to love!
- LGBT Friendly _________
LGBT friendly restaurants, shops, events, and clubs can be found with a quick search online. When I was in college in Akron, Ohio, my girlfriend and I would visit Highland Square, which is home to businesses that support the gay community. A fun and memorable date night is great but keeping your safety in mind as a queer couple is also priority.
Take advantage of Valentine’s Day with a getaway to gay paradise. Whether that be Orlando, Florida for the Gay Days at Disney World or all the way in Sitges, Spain for Eurovision, there are loads of locations that cater to queer couples and families.
- Spending the Night In
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be filled with expensive dinners and crowded flower shops. Try a stay-at-home date or even new hobbies like baking and scrapbooking. Whatever you decide to do, celebrate your love every day and cherish the time you have with your partner.