Across America, desperate hetero husbands are flooding CVS stores to search the depleted racks of Valentine’s Day greeting cards, wondering if they can get away with a blank, any occasion card. Or if their white better half will accept that lonesome last Mahogany edition card, provided they insist strongly that, of course, “all lives matter.”
They’re pondering whether the Valentine’s Day chocolate with Kylo Ren and his stormtroopers on the heart-shaped box will thrill their better halves… or if a crude but deadly lightsaber might slice them, the lesser halves, in half.
They are questioning if daisies or lilies might suffice, since every rose in the florist shop is spoken for. They’re realizing no candlelit romantic restaurant within 50 miles is taking a last minute reservation on tonight of all nights.
And as all of this is going on around us, dear friends, most of you are spending the evening with your love, doing whatever you do every other night ending in “y.” Or you’re alone. Or you’re with your kids, or friends.
But so very few of us are actively partaking in the Hallmark-hijacked holiday that florists and chocolatiers depend on, in the same way big box stores need Black Friday. If you are, then this is not for you, but thanks for reading along thus far.
Oh, and I know that world, all too well. Now, as a single, widowed, transgender mom, I’m using a gift card and a coupon to buy my kiddos Mexican food tonight (Buy one entree, get one free!). But there was a time when I participated in the straight observance of the day, and did so for decades before I transitioned. Somehow, it almost always disappointed, even when I was living as a happily married but deeply closeted man. And especially when I tried courting women, who all sensed I was not like “other guys.”
I remember the first Valentine’s Day of my college years, when I spent an hour standing in the snow awaiting the classmate I was crushing on to arrive at the corner outside our New York City art school. Our paths had crossed there almost every morning since September. I ditched my winter coat to show off my 3-piece suit, and wore totally inappropriate dress shoes for the snow all around. I shivered as I clutched the single red rose, eager to surprise my beau to be.
Except she was out sick that day. That was the day I discovered “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band.
The rest were not much better, even those I devoted to my beloved spouse, for a variety of reasons. And from the stories I’ve heard from friends who range from gold star lesbians to fabulously never-anything-but gay and fresh out-of-the-closet folks, and bi and trans, as well as non-binary gender non-conforming friends, this is not an uncommon experience. A lot of us had sucky Valentine’s Day experiences.
So you’re not alone! And tonight, even if you literally are alone, you’re really not, in the sense that our community, by and large, treats Valentine’s Day the same way too many non-ally, heteronormative couples look at Pride parades: it’s a curiosity, and may even be entertaining, but it’s most definitely not something we’re going to be caught doing.
Trans folk especially face a dilemma in that we are, for the most part, castaways from our original family and sometimes friends, too, and build new families and friendships that respect our authenticity. But given the unprecedented violence against our community — especially black trans women — and the unfounded fear of trans people that is all too widespread in parts of our nation, Valentine’s Day is a day ripe with potential for danger.
So what are we to do? I say, just live. Love. Be. Don’t surrender to the pressure to artificially inseminate romance into the halfway mark of this chilly month.
If you’re alone, no doubt you have friends in the same boat. Catch a movie, hit the lanes, enjoy each other’s company. Read a book. Do what you’re doing now, surfing the ‘net. Or workout.
But the only person to whom you really must show affection, make time for, and invest in, today and every day, is you. Because you are a valuable part of us.
We are stronger together. And together, love truly wins.