Of all the secular holidays we celebrate in America, Valentine’s Day is by far the most pathetic. At least St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t take itself too seriously—we all know we’ll end up with green shit smudged all over our faces, vomiting in an Uber on our way to some bar that sounds vaguely Irish.
But if St. Patrick’s Day is the middle-aged alcoholic lesbian who laughs at herself for thinking her liver is young enough to handle a kegger, Valentine’s Day is the hopeful twink who believes he is absolutely worthless and destined for spinsterhood unless he has a pre-arranged, wildly orchestrated date on February 14th. And if he spends it alone? He writes tear-spattered love letters to his unwitting future husband and hides them in a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.
I mean, let’s reflect: a day was invented to increase sales for candy conglomerates and greeting card companies in the financial slump of Q1. “I know,” said some sweaty businessman somewhere, “let’s promote sales by making up a holiday!”
“But what will this holiday celebrate?” asked the sensible intern, Peter. “Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality and justice? The incredible contributions of American presidents?”
“Shut the fuck up, Peter, you ruin everything,” slobbered Sweaty. “I don’t know. Love or whatever.”
So what’s the case for boycotting Valentine’s Day? It’s a hetero-centric celebration of commercialism, competition, and unrealistic expectations. Let me explain.
Despite children passing around scraps of paper to their classmates, February 14th remains a holiday for teens and up: those whose sexualities and gender identities are fairly established and accepted by their peers. As a result, LGBT folks are less likely to spend their first viable Valentine’s Days with dates we actually want. This may have spared us from the pressures of the holiday, but it also withheld from us the excitement of the fad.
While I was on my lunch break this Thursday, a couple of straight guys were sitting next to me. They talked about boring things for a while, but then I heard the older one say the word “sexual” in an English accent, no naturally I had to eavesdrop. It turns out the younger of the two was asking his older British colleague for advice. He explained that he and his girlfriend are at a critical juncture in their relationship, and while she claimed she didn’t care for pageantry, he felt compelled to construct an elaborate day-long date to impress her, her friends, and her family. Breakfast in bed, a tour of the Theo Chocolate Factory, dinner downtown, jewelry, visiting the viewing deck of the Columbia Tower, mind-blowing sex—he said the holiday felt like an excessive, expensive, anxiety-provoking exam to prove he is “husband material.”
Good luck sustaining a boner with that kind of pressure, Greg.
The older of the two described Valentine’s Day as a “second birthday” for (straight) women, one that (straight) men can Pass or Fail. In his opinion, (straight) women use this holiday as a test to gauge their boyfriend’s ability to extend effort.
I’ve never been a fan of the holiday, but overhearing this conversation helped me realize how detrimental it is to society as a whole. It holds straight people to impossible standards based on their gender roles, it alienates queer folks, and it perpetuates the idea that we need relationships/gifts/dates to prove to the world—and ourselves—that we are in fact loveable. Showing someone that you care about them and affirming their presence in your life is a beautiful thing! Feeling required to receive or provide this care and affirmation on one particular day of the year is dumb.
So if you have a date on The Big Day, good for you. Enjoy it, but do yourself the tremendous favor of ridding yourself of ALL expectations. If you don’t have a date, make fun of the most annoying Instagram photos in your feed all night. And when you do have a date—because you’re a winner and you will—revel in it for the fact that it isn’t an evaluation or test, but a chemistry experiment.
Zealous agreement? Scathing opposition? Wet t-shirt pics? Leave a comment below, tell SGS your thoughts on social media, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.