(WOMENSENEWS)–For the first time lesbian teens can see their relationships reflected in Hallmark ads. The Kansas City, Mo., greeting card giant is running an ad campaign featuring real couples sharing their feelings without saying "love." One of these couples is a mixed-race same-sex couple who have been together for two years. "You make my heart 50 times bigger," Eugenia say to her girlfriend Corinna.
The ad is refreshing and comforting to Jess Feeman, a lesbian teen who has often found the holiday a time to underscore the idea that heterosexual relationships are the norm.
"[I see] straight people going out to dinner and just being together all day and making out in public more than usual," Feeman, a senior at Palo Alto High School, said in an interview at the school. "It’s sort of, in a way, an exclusive holiday."
Feeman’s classmate Charlie agrees. "There is a great deal of heteronormativity surrounding" the holiday, said Charlie, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, "which pisses me off a little just because it reinforces the ‘wrongness’ of being queer."
For some the pressure to celebrate with chocolate, roses and dinner is uncomfortable because the dynamic doesn’t match their own relationship.
"I’ve never celebrated Valentine’s Day romantically," Jessica Feinberg, a lesbian freshman at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., said in an email. "Usually, I either treat it as a normal day or do something fun with friends.I would prefer to do spontaneous romantic things than do scripted romance that’s also overpriced and stressful."
Their Own Card Company
In 2011, Dina Proto and her wife noticed a lack of LGBT-friendly greeting cards on the market and started Teazled, from their home in Las Vegas. The company’s cards feature women spooning, kissing and having tea.
"We were no longer really willing to draw in longer hair or change someone’s outfit to change the card from being appropriate for a hetero couple to a same-sex couple," Proto said.
"A lot of times, store owners think that there’s no market for the LGBT community because they think they don’t have any LGBT people," said Proto in a phone interview. "But that is really not true. There’s a huge market that’s been ignored and negated for a long time."
With companies like Teazled and Hallmark appealing to a younger and gay market, Feeman, in Palo Alto, says she feels more inclined to make a traditional, romantic gesture. This week Feeman will fly to Michigan where her girlfriend is in college.
"I’ll probably bring her flowers, get her a gift and do nice things," Feeman said.
Proto doesn’t see why lesbians need to celebrate the holiday any differently from heterosexual couples.
"We value being able to be married to each other, and we value being able to celebrate Valentine’s Day or any other holiday," Proto said. "I don’t think how we celebrate is any different."
Charlie, being single, will celebrate platonic friendships this Valentine’s Day.
"This year, I’m doing really truly terrible punny cards and marshmallows for my friends," Charlie said. "And then I’m going to eat chocolate."
This story is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. In 2013 Women’s eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views.