Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Holidays

Queer Valentine’s Day around the world

A conspicuous display of hetero romance, how can we make February 14 our day, too?

Valentine’s Day, February 14th, is most often associated with heterosexual love or romance. Cards you find usually have opposite-sex couples pictured on them. Movies that arrive in theaters at this time, like 2022’s “Marry Me” with Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, focus on hetero romance. Commercials for the holiday rarely show candy, flowers, or a diamond-studded ring being exchanged by anyone besides a binary couple. In other words, LGBTQ+ folx don’t usually see themselves and can feel excluded when it comes to Valentine’s Day. So before I delve into the “world” of V Day, I want to give you my queer take on this holiday. After all, you are reading Queer Forty magazine. 

While you probably won’t find this mentioned on the calendar, February 13th is Galentine’s Day. A great way to celebrate female friendships, this “holiday” came about for those without a significant other. Think of it as a way to help de-stigmatize being single. Whether it’s with a gal pal, on a first date, with a dear friend, or even a parent, it can be a nice way to show someone you care about them. One of my best friends is my ex-wife and I always enjoy going out with her for dinner or calling something in, streaming a movie or having a game night. To us, Valentine’s Day is friendship day. I suppose we could change the script and call it Palentine’s Day for anyone to go out with any friend they choose without the need to gender-ize or sexualize the occasion. Just enjoy spending some time with someone you care about.

Some LGBTQ+ people have a new take on this hearts-and-flowers holiday. They have reclaimed it as being more queer than people think. After all, those romantic comedies and commercials showing same-sex couples struggling to find love, to make their relationship work, to be accepted by friends and family…that’s the LGBTQ+ experience to a T. Maybe in the near future, Hollywood will finally pick up on it and put out an LGBTQ+ rom-com around Valentine’s Day.

Still others see it as another way to celebrate Pride. It’s a day to break away from the stereotype that chocolate and flowers and love and romance are only for straight people. It’s a day to celebrate relationships that defy the heteronormative culture and overcome the stigma that gets piled on LGBTQ+ people. It’s a day to find acceptance, appreciation and nurtance. So perhaps for Valentine’s Day you’ll catch a drag show, drop in at your favorite LGBTQ+ owned restaurant or find your own way to have a gay old time. 

Interestingly enough, exactly a week after V Day, starts Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. This annual, international celebration, now in its 7th year, spreads awareness and acceptance of aromanticism while also celebrating it. While those who identify on the aromantic spectrum (aros) experience little to no romantic attraction, it’s important to understand that aromanticism is a romantic orientation, not a sexual one. Aros may or may not engage in activities that are usually viewed as romantic — a perfect example is kissing, being uncomfortable with romance, being single, having a partner or being married – those are specific characteristics that vary among aromantic people. That said, for some aromantic folx, Valentine’s Day is just another day. 

However, Valentine’s Day, is one of the three most popular holidays around the world. Celebrated throughout North, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, different cultures and countries have their own ways to commemorate this heartfelt holiday.

Asia

Singapore, China and South Korea celebrate Valentine’s Day, spending the largest amounts of money on valentine gifts in all of East Asia. In the Philippines, red roses are the way to show you care as flower prices rise around Araw ng mga Puso, their day of affection. 

Some Asian countries have valentine customs that are a little different from the ones most consider to be part of the holiday. In some cities in Lebanon, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with the entire family – it is more about family love than about a couple’s love. A tasty Lebanese valentines gift is often a bouquet of cupcakes instead of flowers. 

The Qixi Festival is the “Chinese Valentine’s Day” and is recognized on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar (also late August). In Japan, many people enjoy a romantic “date night” associated with Saint Valentine’s Day on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile in South Korea, there are love-related holidays on the 14th day of every month, such as Candle Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day. Imagine the possibilities. 

There are also several Asian countries that do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. Malaysia, Pakistan, and India are among the countries that do not readily approve of this romantic holiday. Whether due to religious, cultural or governmental reasons, Valentine’s Day is not openly celebrated by the populace of these places. Many modern folx do take part in the holiday, but often only in the privacy of their own homes. 

Europe

Many European countries join in the valentine festivities including Spain, Greece, France, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom. In fact, the UK spends around £1.3 billion on chocolates, flowers and other Valentine’s Day presents, including an estimated 25 million cards. In Ireland, many Christians make a pilgrimage to Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church on St. Valentine’s Day to say a prayer in hopes of finding their true love. France celebrates “Fête des Amoureux” every two years on the Sunday closest to February 14th by dressing up in 19th century costumes and putting on a show for the village. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day is not just for folx who are in love. The Finns’ Valentine’s Day is called ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s Day.” As the name implies, this day is more about recognizing friendship rather than significant others. (I’m already there!)

Latin America

They celebrate their own version of Valentine’s Day in South and Central America. Many Latin Americans, aside from celebrating Day of Lovers and Day of Love and Friendship, also perform acts of appreciation and kindness for their friends on “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day). In Brazil, “Dia dos Namorados” (Lovers’ Day) is celebrated on June 12 in honor of St. Anthony, the saint of marriage. Colombia commemorates “Día del amor y la amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship) on the third Saturday in September. 

North America

Both the US and Canada enjoy Valentine’s Day in much the same manner. The US likes to celebrate in a big way, spending over 160 billions dollars each year and mailing out about 190 million cards. Although this year may be different due to the pandemic’s new variant and the stay-at-home attitude many people still  have. In the past, American school children nationwide would exchange hundreds of millions of cards with their classmates on Valentine’s Day.

No matter what country you are in or if you celebrate or not, Valentine’s Day can remind us of love with its adorable cupids, rosy red hearts, and beautiful flowers. And we know there are many forms of love – love for a significant other, for a relative or friend, for a pet, even for nature. One way of showing love to the people in our lives is with a handwritten card. This simple connective act boosts joy in both the sender and receiver. This simple token of caring, especially during these pandemic times, is a great way to let someone know they’re important to you. 

Queermark’s “Many Forms of Love” card is perfect to give to anyone you care about, whether for Valentine’s Day or any time. You’ll find this heart-covered card available on Queery’s website (at the link below) with a portion of the proceeds benefiting The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center’s TransMission, a scholarship program that offers assistance with the cost for gender-affirming medical, legal or other needs that insurance does not cover. Help a great cause, warm someone’s heart, and support the LGBTQ+ community. 

https://www.queery.us/many-forms-of-love-card

And if you’re not into all the Valentine’s festivities, you might want to consider Queery’s Celebration card. A rainbow frosted cupcake with its brightly colored wrapper can help remind a friend or family member that you see and celebrate their true and authentic self. Great for now, or any time of year, you’ll find them here: https://www.queery.us/birthday-celebration-cards

Valentine’s Day is February 14th. Enjoy the day, no matter how you celebrate it (or not)!

Geoff Peckman

Geoff Peckman is a Graphic Designer and Art Director for Queery. He’s over 40 (way over), gay and uses he/him/his pronouns. His creativity crosses from innovating distinct logos and artwork to writing entertaining and informative articles for the LGBTQ community.

Geoff Peckman has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Geoff Peckman

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