A buddy of mine who's on the heterosexual dating scene told me recently that the dating websites have been buzzing with a real frenzy of activity leading up to today as people look desperately for someone, anyone, to be their Valentine. They'll have a date for tonight, "make love" to a near-stranger, snuggle up to them afterwards, and fantasize, just for tonight at least, that this will be Mr or Ms Right.
It was a sobering conversation in so many ways. That social world, which seemed so distant from me, has turned out to be closer than I thought.
In the gay community so far as I experienced it, Valentine's wasn't such a big deal, freighted as it was with associations with heterosexual romance that I would say were generally viewed with a mixture of disdain and envy. To quote from a Pink Triangle Day missive sent by an old gay activist friend of mine,
We realize that this date, February 14th, has traditionally been celebrated as a St. Valentine's Day and dedicated to the expression of heterosexual affection. We take this opportunity to challenge what Christopher Isherwood has called the "heterosexual dictatorship" by affirming for ourselves and for the world, the existence, the strength and the beauty of gay love.
My friend goes on,
While Valentine Day greetings as overwhelmingly focused on couple-dom, Pink Triangle Day provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge the value, the important and the central role which non-sexual relationships play in most of our lives.
I can't help thinking there's an element of sour grapes in all of this, founded upon the notorious instability of most (not all) gay couples. But the usual critique of gay ideology isn't really my main concern today. And at least the affirmation of non-sexual friendship is a commendable thing.
Somehow I suspect that if those people looking so desperately for a Valentine's date had stronger relationships with their friends, they wouldn't have to spin fantasies of fulfillment through romance. And conversely, I suppose, that if they spent less energy looking for love in the wrong places, they'd have more to give to relationships of genuine mutuality, as I've discussed previously in a different context.
The solution to the problem of oppressive romantic ideals of course isn't to detach Eros from couple-dom altogether through the false promises of "free love." Nor to affirm the value of non-sexual friendships in any way that would deny the nobility of marriage as a vocation; the exclusivity and permanence of the marriage bond are signs of the unbreakable covenant love between God and man.
A longing for that unbreakable love, sometimes perceived very dimly and expressed in sadly distorted ways, draws us all to the heart of the Father. He made us that way.
On a practical note, dear readers, you might take a moment today to call a single friend who may be lonely.