Written by Renee Flowers.
Art by Ashley Miller.
I love Valentine’s Day so incredibly much. Honestly, celebrating my loved ones, giving thoughtful gifts, and having an excuse to be sentimental gets me riled up. That being said, I’m also acutely aware of the fact that Valentine’s Day can be a capitalistic, inaccessible, heteronormative celebration. So, how can we celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that’s consent-driven, queer, anti-capitalist, and allows room for the many loves in our lives? Here’s how I do it:
Check in with your loved ones about their wants and needs.
Oftentimes, I put so much pressure on having perfect holidays that the tiniest setback sends me spinning out of control. Avoid this by letting go of expectations and continuously communicating with your loved ones. Before planning an elaborate Valentine’s Day, check in with your loved ones about what they want and need. Have they had a hard week at work and just want to stay home and order take-out? This can be particularly important for those who have multiple partners and need to negotiate who will be spending time with whom—is your loved one feeling distant with their other partner and want to take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to repair and reconnect?
Keep the line of communication open leading up to Valentine’s Day and on the day itself. There can be a lot of pressure to be romantic and/or sexual the day of. Make sure to check in with your partner(s) about their physical and emotional state throughout the day, and remind yourself and them that there is no specific way you need to celebrate.
What does Valentine’s Day look like for the polyamorous community? How about the ace community? And to queer individuals?
Say “Fuck you” to the Hallmark version of love.
I was raised to believe that the only acceptable version of love is a monogamous heterosexual relationship that leads to marriage, children, and a nuclear family unit. Unfortunately, this exact type of romantic relationship is the kind that is most widely celebrated during Valentine’s Day. What does Valentine’s Day look like for the polyamorous community? How about the ace community? And to queer individuals?
We can say “fuck you” to this limiting version of love by de-centering romantic love and shifting our gaze away from the heteronormative nuclear family unit, which isolates us from each other and outside support systems. De-centering monogamous romantic love has granted me an immense amount of autonomy, as well as an increase in my social support systems. De-centering my romantic relationship has freed up time for me to prioritize all of my relationships equally, allowing room for growth and deep bonding with all my loves. Shifting my desire away from the traditional life trajectory of a hetero nuclear family unit to a more all-encompassing way of loving has opened up opportunities I never could have imagined. Try expanding your definition of love by celebrating with your non-sexual, aromantic or queer platonic relationships this Valentine’s Day.
You may find your own way of celebrating; it may be on February 14th or on a special day you and your loved ones have chosen. Just decide what works best for you.
Make your Valentine’s Day anti-capitalist.
The last thing I want to do is buy into the commercialism of the holiday. Yes, I love celebrating and supporting my loves, but that doesn’t mean I have to support the mass production of commercial gifts sold by companies that most likely exploit their employees. Don’t feel obligated to go out and buy a bunch of stuff in order to demonstrate your love. Oftentimes, handmade gifts or ones made from repurposed materials are much more meaningful. You could also try asking your loves what they really want or need. And don’t worry if you’re not artistically trained, they won’t mind one bit.
Here is a list of ideas of gifts for your sweeties:
- A hand-drawn card
- “Love coupons” for a massage or a home cooked meal
- A framed love poem
- Doing all their chores for them
- A playlist
- Paying their water bill
- A collage with memories you’ve shared together
And the list goes on! To me, queering Valentine’s Day means deconstructing every aspect of it—even the capitalist gift-giving part. If you’re really attached to spending money, support POC businesses and artists. Hire a local artist to draw a portrait of you and your love. Order cookies and flowers from a Black-owned business to be delivered to your sweetie. Put some thought into who you’re supporting with your spending.
Celebrating the holiday this way feels right to me. You may find your own way of celebrating; it may be on February 14th or on a special day you and your loved ones have chosen. Just decide what works best for you. As long as you focus on communication, consent, anti-capitalist gift-giving, and questioning heteronormative, monogamous, and mainstream romantic love, you can still shout “Fuck you!” to the Hallmark version of Valentine’s Day.
About the Author
Renee Flowers is an artist, writer, and activist. Her artistic endeavors involve community outreach and attempting to re-center disenfranchised voices, working directly with populations on projects that both empower and spread awareness.
Follow on IG: @user2473451