Now that I'm dating again, I've started to look at the holiday with fresh eyes. They're the eyes of a single mom — a little jaded, a little hopeful and a little uncertain of how I fit into the romantic jigsaw puzzle. And this time around, these fresh eyes are seeing a startling picture.
I see advertisements for engagement rings, in which a man gives a woman a diamond ring that no one should be expected to afford. I see restaurants peddling their cuisine with images of a man pulling out a chair for his girlfriend, and smiling with adoration. I see a greeting card aisle chock full of pictures of men courting the women they love.
Look, I'm straight and dating to find a good man. But there's something about the images we're fed that seems a little off to me. Love comes in many shapes and sizes. Why are we only celebrating the love of a man for a woman? It seems to me that we are all searching for where we fit into the romantic jigsaw puzzle of this nation, so we should be representing all forms of love in our mass media, our advertisements and even in our communities.
Certainly, I'm specifically talking about the under-representation of LGBTQ couples in Valentine's Day festivities. There is something powerful about knowing that others are comfortable with celebrating love as it exists, rather than the type of love we've set up as an ideal.
This isn't just about gay and lesbian friends, though. When my marriage disintegrated, it was love that sustained me. The love we celebrate on Valentine's Day — that romantic love between a man and a woman — was precisely the love that nearly destroyed me. The love that saw me through the heartache of romantic loss was the love of my sisters, my parents, my daughter and my friends. They never gave me an engagement ring, nor did they take me out to a fancy restaurant on one supposedly important night of the year. They sustained me with late night phone calls, morning coffee dates and words that communicated I mattered to them.
Unconditional love — that sustaining force that comes from many unexpected sources — is precisely what we should revere on Valentine's Day.
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