Every year when February rolls around, there’s always one thing on people’s minds: Valentine’s Day. While Valentine’s Day can be a lot of fun for couples, since it’s a great excuse to extravagantly express love for one another, it can be very unpleasant for people who are single. When you throw being closeted into the mix, Valentine’s Day becomes downright miserable.
As someone who came to terms with her bisexuality very openly, I’ve been lucky to have the support of my immediate family and friends. Many LGBTQ+ individuals don’t have that freedom, which can make a holiday like Valentine’s Day particularly painful.
But you don’t have to feel silenced or ignored because of your closeted status. For this Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas on how you can celebrate this holiday without feeling like you need to come out before you’re ready.
Get matching jewelry or accessories
For many closeted couples, having something subtle and small is a personal, sweet reminder of the relationship you share without broadcasting it to the world. You don’t have to go with a traditional (or cliché) heart pendant necklace either. Buying a set of matching rings, bracelets, keychains or even shoelaces is a simple way to commemorate your relationship, yet also represent a lot of meaning. Think of a memory that you share and how you can turn it into a physical symbol.
Friends often have matching accessories too, so this is one of the safer sentimental options for celebrating Valentine’s Day if you’re not ready to do something more public, like the traditional restaurant dinner date.
Spend the night in with a great movie or show
Whether you’re alone, with friends or with a crush, there’s nothing wrong with staying in on Valentine’s Day! If you can’t be public about your LGBTQ+ status, you can still celebrate it in private. LGBTQ+ films made me feel a lot more comfortable with my identity before I was ready to express it publicly. There are so many excellent LGBTQ+ films, but here are just a few that I really appreciate: “Moonlight,” “Fathers,” “Our Love Story,” “The Watermelon Woman,” “Alifu, The Prince/ss” and “Small Talk.”
Think about the future
Sometimes when I’m feeling down or hopeless, fantasizing about the future cheers me up. I love making mood boards in my journal, but you can do this on a larger canvas, bulletin board or even in a different format altogether. I like printing out pictures of places that I want to visit or plants that I’d like to have someday.
You can also write down what you’d like to do in the future, and it doesn’t have to be about coming out. Pair this relaxing exercise with other forms of self-care, like a face mask, aromatherapy or meditating to new music. Take Valentine’s Day as a day to dedicate love to yourself!
Join a safe space
If you’re tired of being alone, I want you to know that you don’t have to be. Rutgers is home to several LGBTQ+ organizations, which offer a safe space for LGBTQ+ folks to meet others and talk about their experiences in a welcoming environment.
The Rutgers Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities (SJE) is a great hub for different groups. Its affiliated clubs include UltraViolet, a club “for all LGBTOA women and allies,” TRANSmissions, a club “for trans and nonbinary students,” The LGBTQQIA People of Color Organization and more.
Outside of the SJE, there are still other LGBTQ+ organizations you can explore. As niche or general a community you’d like to join, Rutgers has several different options for you. Since almost all of these groups are open to allies too, you won’t be called out for checking them out.
Valentine’s Day is just 1 of 365 days of the year. I have a lot to say about how it’s just a totally arbitrary holiday that businesses use as a marketing scheme, but I know how frustrating it can be to see everyone else celebrating so openly when you simply can’t. Just know that your time will come. It might be harder than a lot of other days, but I believe that you can get through it.
Someday you won’t have to hide your love for someone else or for yourself — and all aspects of your identity. As annoying as it is to see couples posting their Valentine’s Day dates all over social media, I can’t wait for the day that everyone can publicly celebrate their love without fear and hesitation.