By Dr. Laura McGuire
Happy Valentine’s Day, all you quality queers and allies! It’s Dr. Laura here to give you some advice and insight for the Big V…Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s is a lovely time of year—lovely, that is, if you have cash to blow, a perfect relationship, and are a fan of the pink/red/white color scheme. For the rest of us, it’s often an entire month of pressure, disappointment, and aching loneliness.
As a recently single queer myself, I thought I would give all of you fabulous single-folk some Valentine’s Day ideas to help you not only survive, but thrive on February 14. Whoo! We can do this together.
First of all, a little background on the heart-heavy holiday. Saint Valentine was a third-century Catholic priest famous for helping lovelorn Christian couples marry during a time when it was against the law. (I mean, imagine that: people trying to block couples from marrying because of religious opinion. Why, who would dare try such a thing?) Valentine helped young couples in the name of love, and thus he was dubbed the patron saint of amour.
A hop and a skip later, the Romans were holding big, sexy celebrations every February to honor fertility. The new sheriffs in town, the Christians, were none too happy with this merriment, and replaced the partying with a time to honor their new saint. Since then, Valentine’s Day has gone in and out of fashion. When mass-produced cards became available, so did the obligation to give one to your sweetie on this special day.
Now maybe you are still sitting there saying, “Well, where is the part about being single and not crying all day, like I always do?” Let me explain some ways to take the origins of this day, sprinkle in some gayness and modernity, and make it a day you can look forward to whether you are single, taken, or otherwise occupied.
L-O-V-E Isn’t Just for Romantic Partners
Love is a huge concept. It is a feeling, a reaction, and a choice—all at once, and separately. We learn how to deal with love in the first few years of our lives by seeing how our primary caregivers show us affection. We love those who first show us that the world is a safe place where we will be listened to and protected. If we get the opposite message while growing up, we will fear love and react by either avoiding it or anxiously clinging to it.
As we grow, we may find love in all kinds of places. We might love our pets and feel the first sense of unconditional love from them. We love friends, coworkers, neighbors, and even the celebrities and characters in books we read and movies we watch. We feel attached to these figures, and hopefully feel some of their love in return.
Valentine’s Day is a day for love. Period. End of story. There is no reason that that has to be limited to romantic or sexual love. If your dog, cat, or iguana is the being that you are closest to, and who is there every day to cheer you on, then celebrate that. Do you have a friend or group of friends who adore you, support you, and make you feel sane? Celebrate that! If your grandfather is your biggest fan, take him out to a fancy dinner on the 14th and tell him how much he means to you. Just because a love relationship is platonic does not mean it is any less worthy of your time, money, or attention.
As LGBTQ people, we automatically had to fight for our right to live the truth of who we were meant to fall in love with. That’s amazing. Straight/cis people will never know that accomplishment. You have so many reasons to love and celebrate who you have become! Self-love takes many forms: masturbation, solo-dates, and making self-care a financial and scheduling priority. Want to see a movie that no one else wants to? Take yourself—and while you are at it, buy your favorite candy, popcorn, and drink without having to check in with another living soul.
Sexually, now is a great time to reconnect with your body. Touch yourself with your hands, use objects like a rolled-up pillow or a new kind of sex toy to explore what feels good to you now. Watch feminist porn to discover new ideas that turn you on. You might be surprised at how your desires or bodily reactions differ from when you were with former partners. You must be your first lover, friend, and companion. Many people will come and go from your life, but your relationship with yourself is truly forever.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Houston!
Dr. Laura McGuire is certified as a sexuality educator through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. Learn more about her work at drlauramcguire.com.