Almost 1800 years ago, Saint Valentine was sentenced to death for surreptitiously marrying couples despite the Roman Emperor’s decree to halt marriages. While awaiting his punishment, Valentine met, corresponded and fell in love with a prison guard’s daughter. On the day of his death, Valentine wrote a small note to his lady that said simply, Love from your Valentine. Thus began the Valentine tradition of exchanging notes, flowers and love.
Today, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike engage in similar Valentine’s practices. That’s right — sorry to disappoint, but Valentine’s Day for any homosexual is celebrated, or not celebrated, quite similarly to any heterosexual. There are no underground gay Valentine’s Day orgies for us to rejoice in our communal promiscuity. Nor is there peculiar gay protocol for a homosexual couple to follow on V-Day that a heterosexual couple wouldn’t: I assure you we homos eat an expensive dinner and exchange teddy bears like the rest of you. So, in this respect, I cannot rant on the purported discrepant perceptions and practices of Valentine’s Day within the heterosexual and homosexual populations. I can, however, use this column and the topic for just the opposite.
It’s been damn easy for me to sit on my columnist’s pedestal and proclaim myself to be, at first, your not-so-typical gay, and then, with subsequent columns, to prove perhaps the opposite, that I am your stereotypical, boy-crazy queer who seeks nothing more than insignificant sexual encounters with other boy-crazy whores. And maybe there is a small part of me, like anyone, that succumbs to that sexual stereotype. But that’s no reason for me to exploit myself as such. In fact, on days such as Valentine’s Day, I want to proclaim nothing of the sort. Instead I’d rather tell you, show you, what else I’m packing — (figuratively speaking, silly).
You might be surprised to hear this: I want what you want on Valentine’s Day. You: heterosexual, homosexual, Asian, Black, male, female reader … I wish for what you wish for on Feb. 14. I want an amazing person in my life — Someone smart and funny and attractive and creative and witty and sweet. I want to watch movies with him alone on Saturday nights. I want to talk to him endlessly about trivial and not-so-trivial things. I want to learn about and understand him, and I want him to understand me. Without hesitation, I declare that I want simply what St. Valentine gave to his cell-block visitor: Love from (my) valentine.
Sure, it’s fun to hook up and to meet guys on The Facebook, but it’s more fun to share something substantial with someone special — Someone with whom I truly relate and to whom I want to give all of myself. Someone with whom I am totally vulnerable and completely strong at the same time. Someone with whom sex isn’t commodified or cheapened by lack of real emotion.
My goal, then, is to set the record straight (or gay — or whatever). Whereas, in the past, I might have happily proclaimed that I got some last weekend, today I proclaim that I haven’t gotten any of what I really desire for a long, long time. That’s because what I desire, in my gay little heart of hearts, is difficult to obtain and maintain — for me, and for anyone. But like you, I do desire it. On Valentine’s Day I have the same duplicitous reaction as any single person … That is, the mixed feeling of liberation on one hand and that inevitable disappointment that I won’t be receiving flowers, chocolates or any other commercialized gifts on the other. Such things, such emotions, are universal.
It has not been my intention to interject a rift between the homosexual and heterosexual communities by pointing out blatant discordancies between them. Nor am I attempting to start grand social movements toward sexual-orientation-based equality. I’m surely not trying to speak for and represent every homosexual in the University community and beyond. But, I do have a forum through which to speak, to voice my opinions, and sometimes, to share my mostly fabricated sexploits. This week, though, I wish to use the forum differently — to show you not that which is expected of me, but rather, what I truly want you to see of and in me.
Actually, this is my second draft of this particular column. The first I wrote is similarly themed, but I had unconsciously laced it with a superficiality that one might expect from a big, young homo. After proofing it, I felt that I had sold myself short — that I wasn’t showing readers the parts of myself that are more real than any random hook up or queer drama — the parts of myself that supersede my sexual orientation and the implications of it.
Because, many things do supersede sexual orientation (and race, SES, etc). And at the risk of sounding trite, love is one of them. Perhaps that’s why such a simple tradition as sending a love note to someone, as Saint. Valentine did so romantically almost 2000 years ago, has lived on in countless cultures and for countless lovers.
Everyone loves to be loved, and St. Valentine’s Day celebrates that.
This column was written and submitted because of two lovely ladies: Talia Miller, who, while totally wasted, had the balls to call me out on writing a better column, and Linda Smith, who, in being integral in all of my life decisions, proclaimed it suitable for submission. You two are definitely my heterosexual Valentines. Applications currently being accepted for homosexual Valentines at email@example.com.