Valentine’s Day tradition is Korea is astonishingly insensitive to LGBTQ+
I’m not a big fan of Valentines’ Day for various reasons. Not because of what the holiday has come to represent which is giving and spreading love, but because of what I have experienced in Korea.
I don’t remember much about Valentine’s Day during my stay in Canada because the hype isn’t as big in Western nations, to be honest with you. I think we passed around hilarious Harry Potter Valentines memes and ate a few chocolates, reminded ourselves the importance of love, et cetera.
The hype in Asian countries though, man, seriously.
Pre-Facebook era was when kids at school compared the amount of chocolates they got. That I took no part in. Post-Facebook era is now taking a step further and posting about the things they got in great detail with all of those reactions and likes and comments. The streets are flooded with “Valentine’s Day Speciality cholcoates.” Just now I literally saw Royce chocolates limited edition — only on Valentine’s Day! I bought one because I happened to like Royce chocolates and we can’t get that stuff here on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the hype.
It’s not the hype that really, really ticked me off though. It’s something that kind of poked at my feminist soul, something pre-feminism Sally would never have questioned.
Friend A: “So… is Valentine’s day the girl giving the chocolate or the guy?”
Me: “I don’t know? Shouldn’t it be like a mutual thing if you’re in a relationship? Unless it’s a one-sided crush. I didn’t know gender applied.”
Friend B: “No, no. It’s the girl giving the chocolates to the guy. It’s White Day (This is an actual holiday in Korea where apparently guys do the exact same thing but with Candy) when guys give candy to girls to sort of reciprocate.”
Me: “Oh. Right. I guess I kind of forgot. Wait…but…”
Friend A: “What?”
Me: “What if you’re gay?”
I wouldn’t even have said this out loud if it wasn’t my friends. The idea of LGBTQ+ is honestly not widely discussed upon. Not neccessarily because of the stigma around it, but because nobody bothers. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who bothers to bring up issues about LGBTQ+ communities in Korea because the media never talks about it. I’m honestly fascinated with American culture, how the topic of LGBTQ+ discrimination, as horrible as that is, is considered an issue. In Korea, we don’t even bother to spare a thought about these communities that do exist.
And such black-and-white rhetoric is woven into the mainstream culture, a figment of that being this massive hype we call “Valentine’s Day.”
I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade — love is good, regardless of gender. It just annoyed me and frustrated me a little bit because these casual thoughts are what forms norms and it’s important to constantly try to make an effort to be inclusive. It did cheer me up a bit when I saw the poster from the ItGetsBetter Project.
It’s one of the things that I’ve gotten used to ever since I’ve had to endure being labelled a lot of things — making a constant effort to include. Society’s going to label us anyways so why not include everyone in the mix?