A Queer Complaint Against Valentine’s Day

ec08db75f9ef95c1180ca428f5ecf0e1 By Naomi Kolb

It’s been hard to miss the fact that Valentine’s Day is this week with the bake sales, posters, and sex-themed events that have been seemingly taking over our campus lately. I’ve been actively trying not to be bitter about Valentine’s Day because this is the first year in awhile that Cupid forgot to fire the magical arrow that would land me a cutie to spend it with. Rather than being bitter about “not having anyone” to spend this holiday with though, I’m making genuine efforts to appreciate the love that I already have in my life. Just because I don’t have a romantic partner this year doesn’t mean that I don’t have anyone at all.

One of the legitimate complaints that I’d like to lodge against Valentine’s Day is the fact that it totally overemphasizes romantic and sexual love as the be-all-end-all, and specifically straight romantic and sexual love. None of that represents what my or my friend’s lives look like in college. For the most part, we’re a bunch of queers stumbling through loving each other in the best ways that we know how. The love that I have in my life right now might not consist of Netflix and Chill or romantic dinner dates, and I’m OK with that. The love that I’ve got in my life right now is singing at the top of my lungs while making dinner, calling my friend two time zones away to read her a passage from a book that I love, listening to previously unspoken poetry over Saturday morning brunch, and is certainly more than enough to fill my heart with even if I don’t have a romantic partner this Valentine’s Day.

I’m not ready to write off Valentine’s Day altogether – I’m not saying screw romantic love, screw relationships, or screw straight people. However, I am definitely saying screw the idea that you need a romantic partner to be happy and fulfilled. I’ve never been happier than I am right now, and I’m doing it without a traditional romantic partner by my side. This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to be busy loving myself and loving my friends more than ever before. Maybe Cupid didn’t miss me this year after all – maybe he just aimed his arrows towards unexpected places that still landed exactly where I needed them to be.

Discover PSU’s Resource Centers


PSU Queer Resource Center

By: Andreea N.

Are you familiar with Portland State University’s resource centers? They provide students with the tools, resources and support networks to better integrate into the community. They also help students excel in their studies and increase social, cultural and global awareness.

Diversity and Multicultural Student Services (DMSS)
DMSS works with students from ethnically-diverse backgrounds to guide their academic success through a student-centered inclusive environment. It offers many programs and resources, including Latino Student Services, Native American Student Services, the Diversity Scholarship Program and much more.

Disability Resource Center
PSU recognizes and respects students’ abilities, skills and talents. If you have a disability or you’re teaching a course in which a student has a disability, the resource center is here to help. Adopting a confidential and sensitive approach, the center empowers all university students through accessibility and assistance. If you’re interested in helping out, sign up to be a note taker!

Women’s Resource Center
The WRC has an interesting “her-story.” The center started out as a Women’s Faculty Club open to female faculty members and wives of professors. Now, WRC sponsors quite a few programs focused on students’ wellbeing and community development. The four programs offered include the Interpersonal Violence Program, Leadership in Action, Empowerment Project and Community Events. Click here for details on becoming a volunteer.

Queer Resource Center
QRC provides students along the sexuality and gender spectrum with a community that supports and empowers intersecting identities of LGBTQQIAAP to succeed and integrate within PSU. Through the collaboration of students, faculty and staff, the center offers Trans Resources, Gender Neutral Bathrooms, Queer Students of Color Resources and many more services. Check out the QRC community calendar for awesome PSU and local events.

You don’t look like a lesbian

Hey,you’re pretty cute. Do you give out your phone number?” he asked.

No, I have a girlfriend,” I replied flatly, hoping he would leave me alone.

Oh, you’re a lesbian? That’s cool. I couldn’t even tell. You don’t look like a lesbian”. End of conversation.

Apparently this isn't what lesbians look like.

Apparently this isn’t what girls who date girls look like.

There are so many things that I wanted to say in reply to this well-intentioned, though obviously misinformed person. My gut reaction was: “Your blatant ignorance is very annoying, please leave me alone,” but that felt rude. He clearly had no ill intentions, and this issue goes deeper than one dude hitting on me at a bus station, doesn’t it? Yes it does.

As a stereotypically feminine woman in a serious monogamous relationship with another stereotypically feminine woman, this was not the first time I’ve encountered an inappropriate reaction to my sexual orientation or my relationship. Here are the most common ones:

Oooh, what a hot couple”. Flattering.

Would you be interested in a three-way?” Not flattering.

I’m cool with lesbian. Lesbians are hot. Gay dudes weird me out though”. Not OK.

What we don’t get often at all are outwardly negative responses to our relationship. Even in the more conservative places in the metro area. I have deduced that this is caused by two things:

1. We live in Portland, and seeing two girls holding hands and kissing isn’t that rare.

2. We are both stereotypically feminine.

What’s wrong with the fact that it’s easier for us than other women in relationships with women? We shouldn’t be accepted just because men can still imagine enjoying having sex with us!!

I don’t fault anyone for finding my girlfriend or myself attractive. What I do fault them for is finding my more masculine presenting friends who are women dating women “repulsive” or even just “off-putting” because they “look like lesbians”. People are people are people are people. The privilege I experience as a feminine woman dating a feminine woman does not make me think or feel anything other than that I fit in with the ideals of our patriarchal society better than someone else, and only because of my gender expression. Queer comes in all sorts of colors, all are valid, all are beautiful, and all should be viewed as equal.