3 Steps to Queering Valentine’s Day

If there is anyone who knows the deepest depths of heteronormative relationships, it’s me.

Let me explain.

Back in the early 2000s I was a conservative national newspapers’ Nuptials Columnist. While you may be amazed by this notch in my curriculum vitae belt, the truth is, this humble piece of Journalism Lite sat beside the obituary section. Black and white photos of dead people were stitched beside couples believing in their invincibility. While I did interview quite a few couples with tear-jerker-type romantic stories leading up to their wedding day, most of them left me feeling as unsettled as listening to a Penderecki composition – backwards.

“When did you know your wife was the one?” I would ask.

“Well, my dad said, ‘Son, you have to either shit or get off the pot,’” was one groom’s reply.

“How did you choose your wedding date?”

“We chose Valentine’s Day so that I wouldn’t forget and my wife wouldn’t get mad at me.”

I often wonder whether this couple is still together. I picture this clueless husband watching Valentine’s Day advertisements on the TV, a dim light bulb flickering in his brain, then slipping out to buy a dollar store box of chocolates. I imagine him placing the heart-shaped consolation prize nonchalantly on the kitchen counter while his unhappy wife tearfully prepares an uneventful and forgotten dinner.

I pray into being the most expensive, luxurious vibrator into this poor woman’s underwear drawer. I pray into being long lasting batteries. I pray into being a detailed rolodex of fantasies, each one of them including brave and adventurous lovers.

Not to say all het couples are like this. Not to say all queer couples are not. But being queer to me means “imagining.” Not queer as in “look at how we fuck around with what objects/body parts go into what orifices” but queer as in “how can we imagine the love we truly want?” Queer as in the verb, as in the active re-imagining of life.

So how can we queer the fuck out of Valentine’s Day?

Perhaps we must start with what we know Valentine’s Day is about to the heteronormative population.

We know it is about coupledom.
We know it is about monogamy.
We know it is about purchasing something for a special someone to confirm said coupledom and monogamy.

Let’s queer this.

Instead of coupledom can it be instead about truth in love? As in:

The truth is, I’ve been too much of a coward all these years to not admit that our friendship was more than just a platonic safe zone. My intentions were always to nudge you just left of pal-centre to get you to kiss me one day. I’m braver now, and know myself better. So if you’re game, I’m wondering if I can hold your hand?

Instead of monogamy, can it be about choice? As in:

Thank you, lover, for being in this place with me where we can choose each other, choose others, choose to share space, choose space away, choose alone time, choose journeys apart and together. You are a beautiful choice full of freedom and without ownership.

Instead of buying things could it be about non-capitalist exchange? As in:

Holy shit, I am one lucky unicorn to have such an amazing friend who has been with me through illness, through difficult disagreements, through my growing up and getting old. Life has been so very good to me, simply because you’ve been a part of it all. If you’re into it, I’d love to tuck you into your bed, set you up with Netflix trash to watch while I make you a delicious dinner considering your list of food sensitivities.


And while we’re at it can we make this an everyday thing? Choice, truth and exchange are what queers do so well.

Catherine Hernandez

Catherine Hernandez is playwright, performer and award-winning author. She is the author of M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (Flamingo Rampant) and Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is the Artistic Director of b current performing arts.

Read all posts by Catherine Hernandez

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