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The straight and narrow focus of Valentine’s Day

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Daniel Cope shares his views on the heterosexuality of Valentine’s Day…

Valentine’s Day can be a sickly affair whatever your relationship status or sexual orientation. There is something about the overabundance of cutesy love hearts and roses that can make many an eye roll. I should say that I write as someone who is happily in a relationship so I’m not entirely cynical towards showing a bit of romance. Valentine’s Day for me and my partner means a nice meal, preferably out in order to minimise stress, and a good film (not Fifty Shades).

As a gay man in the 21st century, in the UK, I can’t help but feel lucky that I can go out with my boyfriend and not be hounded for simply being in love. I’m certainly not suggesting that this still doesn’t go on because it does; it’s just more subtle these days. Nevertheless, I simply don’t have to worry about the level of intolerance faced by gay men in the latter half of the last century.

…I blame the overt heterosexuality of the Valentine’s Day, if I’m honest.

Last Valentine’s, my partner and I were booked in at a well-established restaurant in Leamington for a night of candlelit fine-dining. I was feeling overly sympathetic towards all the single teens that had been dragged out for a meal by their families who would clearly rather be at home listening to angsty music (we’ve all been there). My boyfriend, meanwhile, was dealing with a fairly awkward situation. “Erm, can we have the Valentine’s menu please?” I woke up from my day-dream to receive a grimace from my partner as he posed the question to the waiter. The waiter was obviously quite flustered at this and rushed to produce the menu, while the normal menu that had been placed in front of us swiftly vanished.

This whole scenario could have easily been avoided if we’d just been given the two menus and our order would have spoken for us. I could sit here on my soapbox and tell you why that was an example of the subtle inequality that faces the LGBT+ community, but I’m not going to. I believe that this was an honest mistake on the waiter’s part. We could have been two mates going out for a meal, but on Valentine’s Day this was pretty unlikely. The simple fact is that we were a couple. The solution should have been to put both menus down so that the restaurant’s waiter doesn’t have to use their judgement. How could they be expected to know otherwise? Nevertheless, the waiter was wonderful to us once he realised his mistake. I blame the overt heterosexuality of the Valentine’s Day, if I’m honest. It proliferates all over those cards, music videos and adverts to the extent that Valentine’s still continues to have a straight and narrow focus in mind. This has to change.

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