Being Queer on Valentines Day
Photographed by Joelle Beauchamp of Sofia Randazzo and Izzy Demers
By Jack Turpen
On Valentine's Day, being single is met with a lot of eye rolling. Being single, and straight, means you are more likely to get out of having to be alone on Valentine's day. But being queer on Valentine's day, is another worldly level of loneliness and frustration. Contrary to popular belief, straight people have a lot more nerve than I. They have been getting away with everything for centuries. I feel a lot of it just has to do with the generations we belong to. My age group is a much more eager to flaunt whatever they can, social media has allowed this. I am not sure why everyone feels it is their duty to report every detail about their lives to the public, although I will not act as though I do not do the same thing.
Romance has become a bit of an equation, giving society the structure that so many boring people require. You find someone to enjoy your time with, and you make it everyone else's problem. I’m aware of how bitter it reads, but imagine you are in the shoes, probably stilettos, of someone in the LGBTQ+ community. Imagine a world filled with a consistent state of watching, being forced to hide based on the consensus that is formed around you.
I find nothing more irritating than these naive human beings cohabitating the spaces around me that I am trying my hardest to belong in. I have been a passenger of the hate train my whole life, it simply spikes depending on the time of year. As we enter February, my blood pressure begins to rise. I know what day is to come, the day on which everyone is determined to appear as though they have found love, they have found someone.
The day comes quicker than anticipated, leaving social media a feeding frenzy of trolls showing off the other shills they choose to spend their romantic time with. When I was new, I desired a public love affair. One that sat people desperately by their phones, waiting for visual proof of my deliberate affection for another human. This was the only way I saw love, meaning this obnoxious affection was what was expected.
Since that age, I have never again felt the urge to be with someone so publicly. I no longer require the reactions of strangers regarding the way I am with someone. But in itself, that feeling holds trauma. The media I was so starved of made me bitter. There was no idea of what a gay relationship should look like, or an idea that gay love should be displayed publicly. Once there finally was ideas of gay love being portrayed, all they did was set a specific standard. Getting that representation has only made me less comfortable, as it has been so specifically fetishized and misrepresented. Queer love was rarer considering it had to take place in the shadows. Now that it is featured in the daylight, a standard has been set regarding the ways we are supposed to have it. Queer people will forever be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Flowers do not grow just to be picked and love does not spark just to be flaunted. But love will never feel real until other people know about it.
I was with a guy who was named Figment. Figment never really existed; but he did for me. I told everyone about Figment, only because I felt so lucky. I never questioned and I never disagreed. I was afraid to shake the boat since I had done it once before and it sank. The only reason I could actually care about Figment was because I shared him. If I was never shared, was I ever cared about? When you are queer, you will constantly feel crazy. Figment was only one of many figments of my imagination. Looking back upon the shitty screenplays that most of my relationships were, I think I was the figment. Even within those moments, I never felt a need. It will always be a double-edged sword. I do not believe in shouting my love from the rooftops, but I also know if I do not tell someone I will only drive myself insane. I understand both sides, but I choose to remain under the same illusion.
Repression only results in larger abundances of expression. Queer people should be able to prance along the same fields of flowers that cisgendered and straight people prance. But since they have never been able to do so, they are going to prance a little more aggressively. Those who still cannot prance are going to stomp on those flowers, ripping the roots out to make sure they do not grow back.
I would hope I am not the type to ever have a need to prance in those flowers. I can fantasize the feeling of it, but I know what being obnoxious looks like. I remain on the hate train, no destination in sight. I will continue to love in the way I feel necessary, that security is one of the best things I have gotten through aging. The bitter taste behind this writing has only been brought upon by the way I have been groomed. In the end, we all get it. There is a right way to love, and it is stupid. Love is embarrassing and it is cringey, it is something I finally understand. But, that does not mean it is the way I choose to do it. Queer people are different, they are better than most. They love based on the standards set for them. Let us start to set our own standard, as the one that was given to us is embarrassing.