I can't bring myself to put out the greens until the first day of March, and while that's right around the corner, let's stay in the present - like it or not, February is for Valentines.
I know that V-day (pun intended!!!) has both supporters and detractors, but it can't be denied that the month of cupid, chocolate and flowers kicks our culture into overdrive for the ideal of romantic love; an ideal that is usually represented in a manner consistent with heteronormativity.
That's where GLAAD comes in...
Put on by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) (a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality by amplifying the voice of the LGBT community, empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively) the GLAAD Media Awards are - according to the organization - the largest, most visible LGBT gala in the nation. And this year, GLAAD is celebrating it's 25th Anniversary with awards shows held in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco bringing 5,000 attendees, corporate partners and celebrities together to recognize outstanding representations of the LGBT community in the media and GLAAD's vital work to achieve full equality.
While I was checking out GLAAD's website for information on the New York awards show (who knows, the PPT may have to make an appearance on the scene ;-) I discovered a timely piece on Valentine's Day; it's a resource kit for crafting V-Day coverage that integrates LGBT couples' romantic celebrations. While aimed at the media, I think it's such a great resource for everyone - a real awareness and sensitivity raiser - that I've pasted some of it below; click here for the whole thing, plus links to local and national organizations and resources for marriage, marriage equality, civil unions, and commitment ceremonies:
Valentine's Day Media Resource Kit
Valentine's Day receives a great deal of media attention. Print and electronic press outlets nationwide share stories of couples proclaiming their love and commitment for one another. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples are often excluded from Valentine's Day media coverage—and LGBT couples of color receive even less attention in both mainstream and people of color media. GLAAD hopes that the following resources will help you produce Valentine's Day stories that reflect the true diversity of our society by including LGBT couples in the coverage of this romantic holiday.
LGBT people and relationships are often excluded by the kinds of language media professionals choose to use. Consider the language used to describe couples in general: Does it assume that all couples are heterosexual? Does it allow for non-traditional families? Does it subtly endorse opposite-sex relationships while marginalizing same-sex commitments? GLAAD encourages media to use words and descriptions that can be universally applied to all couples – gay and straight – and that respect the significance of their commitments.
LGBT people use a variety of terms to describe their relationships and significant others, including: partner, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, lover, husband/wife, companion, same gender loving couples (for couples from communities of African descent), marriage, partnership and family, among others. We encourage you to ask people which term they would like you to use. Also, please do not put quotation marks around the description, as this implies the described relationship is somehow illegitimate.
GLAAD'S Media Reference Guide contains a comprehensive glossary of LGBT-related terminology.
NEWSPAPERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX UNIONS
A growing number of newspapers are committed to reporting on weddings, civil unions and commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. In 2008, six years after persuading The New York Times to open its Weddings/Celebrations pages to same-sex couples and launching its Announcing Equality campaign, GLAAD now reports that 1,049 newspapers – nearly 72 percent of all daily newspapers in the United States – now accept wedding and/or commitment ceremony announcements for gay and lesbian couples. In late 2002, only 70 newspapers said they would print such announcements.
In reporting on LGBT couples, please also remember that they are as diverse as the rest of society, crossing lines of gender, race, age, income, class, family structure, religion, geography and political affiliation. We encourage you to reflect this diversity in your coverage.
Please consider integrating LGBT couples into your Valentine's Day feature story. You might cover topics such as:
- Couples looking back at how they met
- Valentine's Day weddings and anniversaries
- Dating trends (meeting online, dating services, blind dates, etc.)
- Anniversaries of marriage equality legislation: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), Washington, D.C. (2009) and New Hampshire (2009)
- Valentine's Day events for singles
- Long-distance relationships
- Surprise marriage proposals on Valentine's Day
- Retired couples re-igniting romance
- Planning a Valentine's Day getaway
- Couples' favorite poems, songs, vacation spots, etc.
- Choosing the perfect Valentine's Day gift
- High school sweethearts
- Celebrity couples and break-ups
- Wedding-day successes and disasters
- Balancing romance and family obligations
- Workplace romances
- Bi-national couples’ stories
- Making Valentine’s Day dinner reservations – especially at the last minute
-Finding a babysitter on Valentine’s Day
- Include romantic lesbian/gay-owned restaurants in your area in your list of Valentines Day dating recommendations.
- Include lesbian/gay-themed comedies or dramas in your list of all-time most romantic movies.
- List relationship development books for same-sex couples in features about keeping romance alive.
- Talk to local jewelry stores, wedding planners, bakeries, florists and other companies that offer services and products for same-sex couples' commitment ceremonies.
- Talk to pastors who conduct same-sex ceremonies at inclusive churches, particularly in communities of color.
So I'm thinkin', in our current media and cultural climate, how might True Blood couples like...
|Lafayette and Jesus|
|Russell and Talbot|
...negotiate the joys and pitfalls of Valentine's Day? Would there be venues for their tales of couplehood to be heard, validated, celebrated?
I make no judgement on these relationship in the sense that I'm neither lifting them up as model unions nor denouncing them for their flaws; these are not perfect relationships (if there were such a thing) but I have singled these couples out for a reason.
Sure, hooking up is fun and who am I to say that recreational sex is bad (I wouldn't say that, but that's neither here nor there) whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer, or...Pamsexual (OK, OK, a silly play on words - I mean pansexual which is the way Kristin Bauer van Straten describes her character Pam). But for the purposes of this post, hook-ups aren't what I'm talking about...
|Pam and Yvetta|
|Bill and Sam...saved by the cell!|
We don't often see complex and nuanced homosexual relationships on TV, but that's changing. Back in October fellow TB blogger sunnynala posted on True Blood Underground, True Blood found to be the most inclusive television program of LGBT characters. That piece also draws from GLAAD - as mine does - and gives good stats on LGBT characters on broadcast and cable TV plus a good discussion in the comments section on the topic.
Even Sookie and Bill - who at the end of S2, were it not for the no-good-rapscallion-V-head weres kidnapping the groom-to-be would have been celebrating a very special engagement, since human-vampire marriage does not yet enjoy universal marriage equality in the world of True Blood - bring issues of injustice that are relevant to the LGBT community to the fore...
.reinforcing for me that, as Alan Ball says, while the vampires are not stand-ins for the LGBT community per se; the show is conveying a broader message more like that of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Injustice anywhere (and to anyone) is a threat to justice everywhere (and to everyone)". [parenthetical phrases are mine, but I think are in MLK's spirit].
On that note, nighty-night all!