Father Tony

Facing Saint Valentine

Filed By Father Tony | January 28, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine's Day is a lethal holiday, which is to say that it's not a holiday at all. More like the visit of an orderly bearing clean sheets to death row inmates in various stages of awareness and acceptance of life and love. I hope you will give yourselves permission to avoid its anxiety. Here's why and how easily to do it.

I have yet to meet a queer couple telling me they fell in love because of something said or given on St. Valentine's Day although I suspect that such a couple may exist somewhere in the universe.

I have yet to meet a queer couple telling me that their love was saved by something said or given on Saint Valentine's Day.

The running of this annual romantic marathon is really not the sine qua non of love and does little to strengthen the heart muscles.

Everywhere, there are couples queer or otherwise who will scramble to make some expression of love on February 14th and will never quite be sure that their gift was strong enough, convincing and adequately appreciated. Everyone coupled will be glad when February 15th arrives, finding their partners not packed up and moved out. The uncoupled - both those who got laid on the 14th and those who didn't - will be relieved to once again be able to place their singlehood on the back burner of daily life.

Most of the above folks, in order to survive the 14th of February, will spend ridiculous amounts of money and time that could and should be devoted otherwise.

Look, I'm just as sentimental as the next guy. Gifts and sweet words are my language of love, actually, and my husband has learned to address that hunger, no matter how silly we both know it to be, and no matter how foreign that language may be to him. He also knows that what I really value is the fact that he takes time from his busy day to make some personal statement of what we both already know to be true and steadfast. What we give and say on Saint Valentine's Day is not proof or evidence of love; but a celebration of what we have together, and a celebration of the fact that after all these years, we still enjoy celebrating it.

OK then. Celebration is the keyword. Whether you are single or coupled, I would advise you to use the day to celebrate love by celebrating the people you already have in your life.

I know a couple that was going through a rough patch a few years ago. A dozen guys were at table over dinner on Saint Valentine's Day at the home of friends. After some wine, one of the couple bitterly blurted out that his partner had not given him anything for Valentine's Day. Silence followed. The partner, seated across from him, stood up and took off his shirt. Written across his chest was "I love you Mark". He then said "It's been on me for three days. But you wouldn't know that because you never look at me." Just then, our host emerged from the kitchen with an awkwardly pink heart-shaped cake.

If you are already coupled, try this exercise which is sometimes performed by couples' counselors: sit facing each other and remain silent while looking at each other with unbroken attention for one full minute. Seriously, this is much more difficult than it sounds. Then tell each other how it felt. Your words may surprise you.

Let Valentine's Day not be about imaginary lovers that probably don't exist. Let the day not be about the imaginary version of your partner that you'd prefer existed. Let the day be a celebration of your own self-love and the love you feel for all the good folks already in your life. You and they will all and always come up short and flawed as lovers. Celebrate that as well. And regarding the financial aspect of the holiday, instead of running to the mall at the last minute, consider making a donation to The Stonewall Library and Archives where the history of LGBTQ love is alive and needs your cash to stay open.

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Of course Valentine's Day celebrations are not the definitive word on the status of one's love or worth or life. But what is wrong with reminding ourselves of the importance of love in life? I feel truly blessed that I have had loving friends through the years, and that I have a particular loving relationship - a partner.
I think that the message to gays should be , to be open to love, and not simply the next night at the club, which eventually gets old and vacuous. Valentine's Day reminds us that gays can have a spiritual life also in the form of love.
I was surprised years ago when visiting Viterbo, Italy (north of Rome) to see the grave of Valentine in the cathedral. Valentine was buried with his dear companion Hilary (a man), in the same grave. Shouldn't Valentine's Day have additional significance for us gays then?
Too many of my gay friends over the years have felt that because they are gay, they are not entitled to love or a long-standing relationship. This is one of the homophobic fallacies that society gave us. Hogwash. Gays are the best lovers.
Everyone should be open to love, especially on Valentine's Day. If one feels that he doesn't have love in his life now, the first step is to be open to it, value it ( but don't obsess about it). Love will find you.

Dear Father Tony,
O My Gawd ! Now we have the Grinch who stole Valentine Day? Very few GLBT persons are honored as fathers or mothers on Father's Day or Mother's Day. Many are not comfortable with alot of the religious based holidays. That only leaves us Halloween, Bette Midler's Birthday, and Valentine Day that you just stole from us. Take a walk through the gayborhood of Society Hill in Philadelphia, and you will see lots of bars, restaurants, florists, filled with proposals for our people to feel connected and to celebrate Valentine Day. I have never seen so many hearts in one neighborhood as there are already blooming in January on Spruce Street or 12th.
Valentine Day is a day to take a bubble bath or hot tub with someone you like/love. Look into his eyes, not just his crotch. Smile and hold each other. If you can afford it, rent a hotel room in your own town and have a special day or night or both. Really, Father Tony, I thought that you were more of a romantic than you sound today. It's a day to take off work and go to the art museum, hear a concert, or walk in the park. Like, act romantic a bit? Write a note and leave it under his pillow. Buy some shocking underwearfor you both. Cuddle in front of the tube, and watch Jersey Shore or Blue Mountain, or a movie. In the cold of winter, plan your summer vacation together someplace where it is warm. But please, don't just write it off as a day not for GLBT. Ain't got no lover? Learn how to smile, and not complain. Be grateful you are not in Haiti. Get off your butt. But please, let us keep Valentine Day.

I like Valentine's Day too and haven't noticed people freaking out about it. Thanksgiving and Christmas worries people who don't get long with their families, people who are not out to their families, people who worry about bringing home a lover for the celebration. Valentine's day is about you and your love. If you don't have a special person in your life, maybe it's appropriate to examine if this is important to you in the long run. If it is, and there are issues in this department, to the point of fearing February 14 as a "lethal holiday", I suggest some counseling. The sooner the better, because many guys bum out when too many years pass and they are not atached, if this is what they are seeking. On the other hand. lots of guys profess to be what once was called "a confirmed bachelor". If this is the case, fine. But you're fooling yourself if you think you are a confirmed bachelor and Valentine's Day gives you the creeps.

I always bought a valentine card for my boyfriends, now my husband, in Washington, DC at Lambda Rising. Back when I was younger and very frisky, I had a stack of cards to send to several boyfriends, and I would enjoy the (in person) responses.
Today I was walking past the store on Connecticut Avenue, NW in DuPont Circle, and I saw that Lambda Rising is actually closing forever today. I originally heard that the store- gay icon, was closing when the owner Deacon Maccubbin announced this after this past Thanksgiving. For many years now, I just send one Valentine card - to my spouse. But I guess this year, it won't be from Lambda Rising.
Deacon, Thanks for all that you have done for the LGBT community for over 35 years. Many of us should be sending you a Valentine.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 29, 2010 1:43 AM

There is always "sweetest day." :)

Everything that has been said in the comments to date proves the thesis of this post, even if it seems that some of you only read a portion of it. I know. I do that all the time. If you are coupled, you see it that way. If you are single you see it that way. The recommendations either way are for a PERSONAL expression of love already kindled.So how about the guys who don't have love in their lives? What do you say to them?