Heart beat: February 24, 2017

So, America just celebrated a holiday called “Valentine’s Day.” You may have heard something about it. Flowers, chocolates, romantic dinners … Personally, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of an act of martyrdom. Disclaimer the first: I love Valentine’s Day. From my perspective, Valentine’s Day has the potential to be a day full of random gestures of affection and general appreciation. And most everyone needs random gestures of affection and general appreciation, I think that’s pretty darn great. But there are some elements of Valentine’s Day that, for some, might be less than pretty darn great.

This past Valentine’s Day, I bought a rose for my beloved roommate, because she deserves happy things. Because it was meant as a surprise for later that afternoon, I spent most of the morning carrying it around. And because my acquaintances are good and caring people, I had the following conversation about six different times.

“Oooh, who’s the lucky guy?”

“Oh, um, my roommate?”

“Oh, really? Oh, that’s totally cool. How is living together working ou-”

“Oh, no, we aren’t dating. This is just a little surprise!”

“…………………. Oh.”

Disclaimer the second: I am a heterosexual female who is currently not in a relationship, and I don’t intend to speak for any experience but my own. But let’s break this down.

First of all, assuming anything about anyone’s love life is risky business. Of course, half of the people who I talked to weren’t assuming anything about my sexuality, but some might have been.

Second, when I explained that the flower was for a female friend, the assumption was made that it was a quote-unquote “friend.”

Third, when I reiterated that my situation was decidedly not romantic, most responded with disappointment. Now, am I offended that people assume I’m straight? Not at all, mostly because I am. But that isn’t true of everyone. Am I offended that people assumed that my gesture was romantic? Nope, because my roommate is awesome and anyone who dates her is the luckiest. But that isn’t true of everyone. Am I offended that people assumed that I’m disappointed about being single? Double nope, because sometimes I’m right there with them. But that isn’t true of everyone.

Valentine’s Day can be awesome, and frankly, we as a country need all of the expressions of love that we can muster. But Valentine’s Day often comes with many assumptions made about gender, sexuality and the prioritization of the romantic that could be very hurtful depending on the individual. Caring about the lives of others is not a bad thing, and I don’t intend to imply otherwise.

But in that caring and conversation, Valentine’s Day or not, always remember to let love be love.

isbell1@stolaf.edu

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