This year Valentines Day coincides with Ash Wednesday. To a significant portion of the population this doesn’t mean much. They still celebrate as usual, minus the meat if they’re being especially devout, and for the non-religious it changes nothing. For me it means I’m typing this as I sit alone at The Empanada Company with a spinach and cheese filled puff pastry washing every bite down with a healthy dose of regret.
I generally try to avoid the pity party of being single on Valentines Day, but I’ve already cried twice this morning listening to “Liability” by Lorde and another time later just because work stress got to me. I just feel spent. I’ve spent most of my life repressing who I am because the Catholic Church isn’t super supportive of its gay followers and since I’ve been out I’ve pretty much avoided dating because my family doesn’t approve, hereby finding myself in this quandary where I don’t want to be alone and yet continue to be to appease others. This isn’t the lifestyle of someone wanting to be their authentic self. To be fair even if I was putting myself out there, I’d probably still be single, because that’s just how life works.
So here I am, now enjoying a chocolate filled empanada and typing this because I’m feeling so tired of this way of doing things. Say I was a straight man, and there was a girl I wanted to ask out there is no pressure whatsoever of going up to them and doing it. If they’re into you they say yes. If they’re not, they say no. And If they’re a lesbian then they’ll say no and you would justify it to yourself saying well it’s not my fault. For me it isn’t so simple. If I go up to a guy I like and try to ask them out without knowing their sexuality I risk both public embarrassment if I’m rejected as well as possible physical harm depending on how fragile the masculinity of said boy. There isn’t a no harm-no foul mechanism built in for me. In my situation I’ve now put this guy in the mindset that, if he’s straight I’ve now questioned his heterosexuality and his manhood and potentially ruined a friendship. I personally don’t have enough built-in confidence to risk this. I physically lock up thinking about it.
I don’t know these days whether this situation is something I’ve made up in my mind or some remnant of Catholic guilt, where even though I know being me isn’t a problem, I was raised thinking otherwise and that lingers on. I personally have he belief that Jesus is pretty cool with me. I’ve never killed anyone and try to be a decent person even if my resting bitch face says otherwise. I hate the double standard of the church, especially among the Trump/Conservative echo chamber. The church disapproves of many actions, like birth control and pre-marital sex, yet those couples are still all cool in the eyes of the higher ups do to their ability to procreate. Meanwhile I’m still stuck in the back pew looking on while everyone else enjoys the god-given liberties inherent of their hetero graces. To them, Jesus said love everyone, but not them. I see how silly that is, and I’d like to think that I’m not in the minority here, but let’s be real. Traditions are hard to break and an institution like the Church takes ages to make progressive changes. Can’t hurt to wish and pray otherwise.
I recently went to a pre-screening of the movie, “Love, Simon” and words can’t even begin to explain what it felt like to see a version of myself on screen. The movie is an adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s , “Simon vs. the Homo Saphiens Agenda” centering around a high school student who slowly begins coming to terms with his sexual identity through an anonymous email correspondence with a fellow student and then finds himself outed by a fellow classmate and dealing with the fallout from everything. Growing up, I never had access to books or movies about gay boys like myself. I never had anyone saying that it was okay to be yourself. So for me these works of art are therapeutic, because I know they will be a source of strength and encouragement to the me’s of the future, those boys and girls who are thinking they’re not normal. Being a teenager is hard enough, hell, being an adult isn’t much better and when you have a conflict of identity on top of it all it begins to weigh on you and that pressure is enough to drive you mad. I honestly believe this movie will save lives. It means the world to see a movie where the gay character is happy and authentic and not there to play the part of the humorous sidekick or tragic Oscar winning plot line. It comes out in March and I encourage everyone to see it regardless of sexuality because it’s important to see things that stretch your world view.
I knew I wanted to write a Valentines Day post this year and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but I know this. It’s okay to love. Yourself, others, friends, family, pets, food. It’s okay to love meaningfully and free of guilt. It’s okay to love life. It’s okay to love the idea of love. To do otherwise is to do yourself a disservice. I’ll be finishing my night with a workout, followed by a back to back screening of 500 Days of Summer and The Fault in Your Stars with a bottle of white wine I put in the chiller last night. It may not be ideal, but it’s completely and utterly me and I love that it’s my tradition.
Happy Valentines Day.