Picking someone a bouquet of flowers is a romantic, sweet gesture almost every day of the year. But on the 14th of February, it feels trite and empty.
I hate Valentine’s Day.
This is not because I am a bitter, lonely person who doesn’t believe in love. I fall in love again every day of my life, and the feelings flood forward in notes, stolen glances, and flowers. Romance is a central part of my life, feeding the thumping heart that propels me through hard days glaring back at injustice and violence and deepening the intimacy that I share with lovers and friends alike. It flows from the freedom to express in any given moment the deepest truths my body whispers about attraction and passion.
The obligation and the expectation of Valentine’s Day strangles that flow of tenderness and replaces it with a standard narrative of a “man” and a “woman” proving their love by buying chocolate hearts and flowery impersonal cards from companies that peddle romance. But it isn’t even the corporate, consumerist aspect of this holiday that really bothers me. It is the insult to genuine, easy romance that radiates from the people you love all around you each day.
To me, love isn’t just having nice feelings towards one person of the opposite gender. To me love is a life-altering experience of communion with the heart of another person that connects me as an individual to another person and simultaneously reminds me why I have to fight every fucking day to end systems of oppression that kill this depth of feeling. It was love that taught me to suffer. It was love that taught me empathy. It was love that taught me to rage for all the hearts broken by false borders and police murder and mass incarceration and war.
And Valentine’s Day teaches that love is a cheap box of chocolates mass-produced by broken hearts.
Tonight I am watching slasher films and eating junk food with friends, with lovers, with people I love deeply. Every other day of the year I will show my affection for the various sweethearts and partners and lovers with sweet songs and text messages and all the Valentine’s Day candies I can scavenge from dumpsters, but tonight the best way I know how to practice love is to fuck off all of that and just feel the bitterness and pain the comes when capitalism co-opts beautiful things to make a buck.
This is a manifesto for love, against Valentine’s Day.