Ed. Note: This column was first published in 2012.
Every year on this fateful day I read the updates pouring down my newsfeed: declarations of love, lyrically written woes of despair, and the preachings of “Singles Awareness Day” advocates. Yet rarely do I see a call to action for LGBTQ teens, a group more heavily effected by Valentine’s Day then most would like to admit.
While the following can be said to anyone, I feel its most pertinent to gay teens as our Valentine’s Day experiences may deviate from what we see as desirable. While “Glee” episodes may give some hope, simultaneously they offer an at times unrealistic idea of what high school life can be for a gay teen.
Truth be told, for many gay teens this Valentine’s Day there will be no bf/gf to give a card to in the hallway or to take out to dinner that night. In fact for many straight high schoolers this will also be true. For some this will once again bring forth that burning sensation in the pit of our stomach that dwells on loneliness. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to be frustrated or annoyed at the thought of what your Valentine’s Day isn’t. Its understandable that you want someone to care for and to appreciate, and to have reciprocated those same things.
But it’s not okay to let that ruin what could otherwise be a fantastic day or to obsess over it for weeks at a time. No one should have their boxers in a bunch for that long a duration over something like this.
Prior to my coming out I felt that burning in the pit of my stomach, most often (oddly enough) after watching a harmless gay romantic-comedy on logotv.com. I used to love (and still do) hopping in bed, dog and hot cocoa in toe, and flipping to a new movie which somehow connected me to a world I felt distant from though I knew it existed… It felt so devious at the time, the thought that I could see two people living out a life, albeit fictional, that my parents would eventually pray for me to be saved from – it was empowering.
Yet then came this lonely heat in my gut, one not from the hot cocoa mind you.
It wasn’t a frequent feeling, but when it came it was hard to ignore and its something we shouldn’t ignore. I made an effort to recognize it for what it was and began asking myself: why dwell on the things that aren’t when we can appreciate the things that are?
Easier said than done, but go with me on this – what if we choose to be happy, choose to love ourselves and care less about “needing” a relationship on Valentine’s Day or in general? To appreciate that coal within ourselves that burns because we are capable of caring for someone and praise that pain for it will make a great relationship all the better one day – the ones worth waiting for will happen and when they do that burning coal will be there to start the first spark of a firework.
The coal is as much a reminder that we don’t have someone as it is symbol of our potential to love – and that is noteworthy!
While we wait for that day, we need to remember that we have more love in our lives than we tend to recognize and sometimes we forget to appreciate it.
To all of you out there who are single this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget about the love you do have – the endless quantity you can give. Tell those you love why you love them, be them family, friends, or teachers. Take this day typically celebrated for couples as a reminder to give openly the love that you have and to take a step back from worrying about relationships.
Remember to give yourself love as well. Appreciate who you are and believe that you are worthy of love and are worthy of a day without loneliness.
And if you do need something to keep your mind on – why not use this as motivation to work towards a cause. Marriage Equality is growing to be a more realistic possibility in states across America every day! Take a hand in our effort and support your local government in making the right decision whether that’s through calling your governor or raising funds for organizations leading the way.
Don’t think that the burning in your stomach is ever just a punishment, if anything it is a blessing and a motivator unlike any other.