In second grade, we made Valentine’s Day cardholders out of two red construction-paper hearts. They were sown together with white yarn and pinned to the bulletin board a few days before Valentine’s Day. Everyone’s hearts were on display. I had faith that I would get Valentine cards from a number of my fellow students, but I hoped I’d get a special one from Peggy or some other student that wanted to give me a unique card, not just any one from a package that you could buy at Woolworth’s.
Every day I’d look into my heart to see what cards were there and compare to others in my class, as if the number of cards determined how loved I was, but we were not allowed to take out the cards and look at them until Valentine’s Day. When we were finally able to take our hearts down, it was easy to tell if that special card was there. It would be bigger than the others. And it was there, a card from Peggy. On the front there was a picture of dog, and it said, I’m panting for your love. But to my surprise, there was another from Anne. When the card was closed, two half hearts came together to make a whole, and when it was opened, it said, your heart makes me whole.
Today, in years and distance, I’m far removed from that second-grade school room, yet every Valentine’s Day my heart is open and vulnerable, as are the hearts of many LGBT individuals. Yes, the past year has been a great year for the community. We’ve won the right to marriage equality and many states have laws of nondiscrimination, but none of this ensures how many valentines you will receive, it doesn’t ensure that special one, it doesn’t ensure love.
Valentine’s Day is a poignant reminder of how far we’ve yet to go. Laws cannot guarantee acceptance. Some LGBT individuals wish for love from religious zealots that want to damn them to hell as sinners who act in defiance of God’s will. They are in our face shouting biblical words to justify their hate. Some wish for parents to accept them for who they are and not try to make them into something the parent expects. At family gatherings they long to sit at the grown-up’s table, even the kid’s table in the kitchen. They want to be recognized for who they are, and enjoy the love of their family. And some still search the web and bars for that one special valentine, a person that will make their heart race and put a wide smile on their face. What ever, who ever it is, my wish is that all LGBT individuals find the valentine of their dreams this year.
Timmothy J. Holt is a retired geriatric physician and lives with his partner and their cat and dog in Chicago. He is the award-winning author of numerous creative works, including the new book, “Square Affair.” Learn more about Holt at www.timmholt.com