Valentines Day: Celebrating Love and Heteronormativity

By Brooklyn Dennison, Editor-in-Chief

Valentine’s Day means a lot of different things for people. For some, it’s a day to celebrate your love for your partner or to spend with your friends and have brunch. For others, it’s a day of sadness and dread.

However, despite people’s different views on the day of love, one thing is almost guaranteed: there is never room for queer people at the table.

Trudging down the gift card aisle, I stop at the Valentine’s Day section and I fail to see anything that represents my relationship. Most, if not all, of the cards, depict a straight cis couple.

I know representation is difficult for the money-hungry capitalist corporations, but queerness is not a new concept and has been relatively accepted in the United States for a while. So, what’s the deal?

Origins of the Holiday

According to a 
piece by Arnie Seipel, featured on NPR, he shows that the origins of Valentine’s Day are heteronormative in itself. Celebrating the feast of Lupercalia, Romans would sacrifice goats and hit women with the hides for fertility.

While this is just one of several origin tales, the intent of the story is ultimately cis-heteronormative. Wild Roman warriors hitting women for fertility is not just the grounds for the worst first date, but it is just a theatrical way of saying that men and women courted and probably had children.

Profiting From “Love”

Depending on what origin story you want to believe, at some point, people began exchanging gifts and declaring their love to each other. Along with other origin stories, the 
Smithsonian explains that February became attributed with mating among the English.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote that birds mated and produced eggs during the month and William Shakespeare’s character, Ophelia, was Hamlet’s Valentine. Eventually, according to the Smithsonian, people just started using Feb. 14 as an excuse to write to whom they liked. Thus- Valentine’s Day cards became something to be capitalized on.

In an article by the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $18.2 billion last year on Valentine’s day and they predict that $19.6 billion will be spent this year (if only I had that much to pay off student loans).

Although there is a huge market for Valentine’s Day, the majority of it is heteronormative. If you’ve ever taken a Women’s Studies course, you may have learned that the status quo runs the world, including the economy, and the status quo is not queer.

What to Do?

If you enjoy a holiday, you probably don’t want to get rid of it. However, you can support LGBTQ+ people while celebrating it. Instead of going to Hallmark to get your sweetheart gifts, peruse the internet for queer-owned businesses.

Here are some businesses to get you started: 
Automic Gold for elegant jewelry, Lagusta’s Luscious for chocolates and other sweets and Jade and Fox for bath and skin care items.