If one is able to look past the sea of red and pink cards and endless heart-shaped chocolate boxes in stores, they can see one of the paramount meanings behind the highly capitalized holiday of Valentine’s Day; love.
Finding the so-called “real” meaning of this holiday can be challenging when the marketing is all one can see.
This search can be especially challenging for people who identify within the queer community. Marketing, representation and general ability to display affection can all tie into this difficulty, Kasey Catlett, Multicultural Affairs assistant director, said.
Marketing especially can play into a person’s perception of Valentine’s Day.
Advertisements for products targeting couples often fail to illustrate the experiences of the queer people watching. This can, in part, lead to feelings of isolation, Catlett said.
Representation can have a variety of effects on a person’s life.
“If you don’t see yourself represented, it’s kind of damaging to the psyche. You feel less seen and therefore less valid,” Allysa Venzor, Gender and Sexuality Alliance president, said.
Representation does not come only in the form of advertising or media. Valentine’s Day can be a time for people to profess their love for one another and show affection with extravagant gifts.
Not all queer people have the ability to do this, for a number of reasons.
“If you grew up knowing that you, um, were not, like, you know, straight, it’s very much a different experience,” Venzor said.
Catlett said it’s typical for people who are not in a position to express their identities to retract from a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, which has themes that lie heavily in romance.
“This can be a very difficult time of the year for people,” Catlett said. “So allow yourself to not like Valentine’s Day.”
Having mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day? There are a couple things people can do to make this day a little less isolating. If loving someone else isn’t in the cards this Valentine’s Day, there is always self-love.
“Take this day to sort of treat yourself,” film junior K.C. Kramer said. “Make it a day about you.”
Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity to be intentional about self-care. Students in difficult situations can take the opportunity to reshape their feelings by taking themselves to a movie or even an individual massage, Catlett said.
Venzor recommends finding an LGBTQ film to watch as well as celebrating loved ones such as friends or family.
“Allow yourself to look past the, you know, Mylar heart balloons and the really cheap crappy candy and things like that, and allow yourself to say ‘you know, this sucks right now’ and that’s okay,” Catlett said. “There are people out there who are here to support and love.”