By Amanda Shen
Valentine’s Day. A day characterized by pastel-colored Necco Sweethearts, pink and red glittered Hallmark cards, cheaply made stuffed bears holding hearts and roses, and crinkly chocolate wrappers. A day whose true purpose has been largely forgotten. As with most holiday traditions, Valentine’s Day has completely transformed in our society into a festival of consumerism. Amidst all the rampant spending and last-minute attempts to buy roses, it is important to remember the significance of the holiday: quite simply, love.
In recent decades, society’s definition of love has expanded significantly to include LGBTQ individuals. However, the LGBTQ community still largely remains excluded from Valentine’s Day graphics and media. Rarely are LGBTQ couples depicted in Valentine’s Day Hallmark cards or in short clips of happy couples shared by national press outlets. Here at South, our administration and specifically the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Club have done a notable job in expanding this definition of love and creating an accepting environment for LGBTQ individuals. For the past several years, GSA has arranged Love Is Love Day during the week of Valentine’s Day to promote the idea that love should not be discouraged or disregarded simply based on one’s sexual preference or gender identity. During Love Is Love Day, GSA generally hosts a bake sale after school, sells purple t-shirts (color that symbolizes spirit in the LGBTQ rainbow), and prints out flyers defining terms people aren’t generally aware of or commonly mix up like “transsexual” and “transvestite.”
In spite of GSA’s good intentions, their goal of creating a more accepting environment for LGBTQ individuals cannot truly be achieved with just Love Is Love Day. By setting aside a single day in the 365 days of a year to embrace the LGBTQ community and promote all types of love, we run the risk of forgetting that these are ideals that should be practiced in our daily lives. In a way, Love Is Love Day can also instill a false sense of reassurance to those who claim to support the LGBTQ community—as if recognizing or celebrating the LGBTQ community on a single day can fulfill some “quota” of demonstration and support for the rest of the year.
We cannot just stop here and show support for LGBTQ equality on one day: Love Is Love Day and other days set aside to support the LGBTQ community, such as National Coming Out Day, must act as springboards for long-lasting, impactful changes to our society’s degree of acceptance and understanding.
Ultimately, it is up to the students to be the driving force behind these changes. When GSA makes the effort to increase students’ understanding of the LGBTQ community, it is our job to recognize this information and seize the opportunity to become more well-versed about this growing community and its values. It is meaningless for GSA to make hundreds of flyers defining misused LGBTQ terms if we continue casually throwing around these words incorrectly in our daily lives. When we wear purple on Love Is Love Day and buy cookies or brownies at the GSA bake sales, we should know and support the intent and cause for which we take such action.
There are so many opportunities at South to avoid simply watching Love Is Love Day pass by and then going back to our routine lifestyles. Whether it be as simple as attending one of GSA’s weekly meetings or becoming more aware of the vocabulary we use in our daily interactions, these small actions align us with the LGBTQ community and demonstrate the very acceptance we should practice on Love Is Love Day—and every day.