Here’s The Thing

by Bob Woolsey

illustration by Gina MacKay

This year, I’m taking back Valentine’s Day.

We all know about what a lazy, miserable excuse for a holiday this is. You don’t even get the day off work and yet you have to plan and scheme and try and woo your significant other who, if your relationship is based on any kind of solid ground, gave up caring about large sweeping gestures a long time ago. Right?

Okay, so maybe I’m a little anti-Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’ve lost that loving feeling. Maybe it’s gone, gone, gone, and I can’t hold on. Oh, whoa, oh. However, I will say that I have a good excuse for this stance and that it’s rooted deep in my shriveled up queer little heart. Yes, I am a homosexual.

This fact, coupled with the no-good holiday that is Valentine’s Day, has troubled me to no end through my adolescence and into my young adult years. I mean, let’s face it, when you’re out there trying to convince people that you’re “into” this whole heterosexual thing, Valentine’s Day takes on a whole new level of stress. Look everyone; I’m giving this girl a card. She’s my valentine. Oh yeah, this girl and me, we’re a thing. Meanwhile, I’m sweating bullets and my internal monologue can’t stop repeating the phrase,“This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.” It’s a tough life being a gay kid in central British Columbia. Especially circa the late ‘90s. I’m not trying to say that my life has been harder than yours; it’s just coming out that way.

I attribute the love I hold for my current home to these troubling years. That, and the mountains. It wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver that I witnessed people being gay and also totally normal. Needless to say, I had observed that in my hometown of 1,200 people as well. I just didn’t know that I had, since all of those people were also closeted. The idea of what a gay person was when I was growing up resembled that fat goblin king from the Hobbit way more than anything that I saw when I looked in the mirror. I actually remember thinking that everyone must have this problem. That everyone in the world fantasizes about homosexual encounters and somehow just deals with it like they do with the immense lameness of Valentine’s Day. I may have been incorrect on that one.

Needless to say, I’ve since come to terms with my sexuality, but I’ve never come to terms with my feelings about Valentine’s Day. Somehow, over the past six years of being out I’ve managed to hold down a pretty successful relationship through five of them without ever formally celebrating Valentine’s Day. Could I have possibly been placing too much value on this arbitrary day to celebrate love? Could it be that the other 364 days of the year are perhaps just as important as this single day? If I had been born in the early ‘90s instead of the early ‘80s, would I have had a shot with any of the guys from One Direction? I suppose not, otherwise I’d probably be dating one of the Backstreet Boys right now.

In any event, while I do recognize the ridiculousness inherent in the very idea of Valentine’s Day, I don’t want to waste a perfectly good opportunity to eat chocolate and shower the one I love with, well, love. Here’s the thing about holidays: yes, they’re overly commercialized, they’re stressful, and they’re extremely trite when compared to what they’re supposed to represent. But that’s only if you let society dictate what a holiday should mean to you. And let me tell you, trying to live up to society’s expectations is way too hard. Just go out there and do your thing. It’s probably going to be awkward, a little weird, and possibly even kind of difficult. But it’ll be you.