14 February isn’t all hetero hearts and nuclear family flowers. Novelist Toni Davidson offers five gay perspectives on ST VALENTINE'S DAY.
Historic St Valentine was actually gay. History has placed him as a Roman priest who was martyred during the persecution of (‘laudius the (ioth around Al) 26‘). A variation on this states that he was the Bishop of Terni. also martyred in Rome. Gay historians however are keen to promote the version that
has Valentine as a young. handsome. non-believer who helped Christians during a time of persecution. He was caught. ptrt in jail and eventually became a believer himself. Desperately iso- lated. problems arose when his jailers discovered that he was sending letters to fellow inmates in which he wrote: ‘Remember Your Valentine‘ and ‘I Love You‘. Not for the last time in history. secre
messages of human and heartfelt desire were seen as something abominable. merely carnal and his jailers intercepting these notes acted with homophobic instinct and clubbed him to death on 14 February. In order to cover tip yet another death in jail. the prison authorities said that he was spreading the word and love of God.
A recent statistic published in a Canadian gay weekly stated that eight out of ten gay relationships observed St Valentine‘s. marking it in a variety of ways from romantic dinners for two in exclusive gay restaurants to partying until the small hours at Valentine Balls with cage dancers wearing little more than a heart on their sleeve; or thereabouts. The study acknowledged that most gay couples thought they were simply appropriating yet another hostile custom for their own hedonistic use. Many were critical about the blanket heterosexuality of St Valentine's Day in all its commercial guises from one-dimensional poetry to trite slogans on balloons but the study also found that many vows were exchanged on St Valentine‘s Day: promises of undying. non-monogamous love were declared. A few even advised that they had started their own cottage industry and set up gay St Valentine websites with banner
advertisements of an animated (‘upid wearing tight leather shorts and sporting good pec‘s.
Iconic The fading and struggling relationships an Australian study exposed are a pansexual issue. While heterosexual marriages end in official divorce. gay relationships grow old disgrace- fully. wending their unhappy way tip child- less cuI-de- sacs and dancing un- healthin into oblivion to dance tracks of yesteryear. However. on a more upbeat note. the cori- stant flux of gay icons and the shared apprecia- tion of everyone from Bette Davis (early years) to Bette Davis (later years) has been known to cement and promote relationships in the form of seamlessly synchronised dancing in
holding hands in public while talking about the gay rest home they plan to open for all those ageing queens out there.
James Renk was walking away from a gay club nearly a year ago. He was carrying a single rose given to him by a charming man he had met in the club. Their eyes had met and this being St Valentine‘s night. both were struck by
the immediacy and coincidence of their
attraction. James had even liked the way they had exchanged numbers. putting off the inevitability of meeting tip and starting something. James was struck both by the man‘s looks and by his gentle manner. Walking away from the club James was struck again. from behind. by two unknown assailants. In between blows James. now otit of hospital. is able to recall that he had heard homophobic abuse being shouted at him as he fell to the ground. He recalls too. the rose being stamped into the concrete close to his head.
Gay and lesbian relationships have assimilated the best and worst of heterosexual romance. They can holiday together. they can get married. they can adopt. they can get so bored with each other that their eyes drift to the next hunk on the horizon but they can and do work. It takes energy. commitment and love to keep a gay relationship going and that's sound advice for anyone struck by Cupid‘s arrow.
unexpected places or
Forget Kylie, Robbie or Madge, Mark Robertson sees today’s genuine gay icons coming from altogether more surprrsrng places.
Jesus Christ The Son of God. Has his own website where he can be dressed up in a variety of camp - outfits while nailed to the y‘- Cross; the (Ttlt rfred sailor is a ‘ particular favourite i‘k’ltit‘lltt‘ Of gay icon-ness he has his own ’Super" niusital, lor Pete’s sake.
i 1, _. 1'.
lkea The gay man's Habitat The Scandrnavran home furnishing superstore is soft, i)ll()lll, and cheerful, yet pr‘attrtal and (heap Just the rob for treating that (lilt, rninirnalrst ‘(iay rnan's apartrru—urt' feel Evrdencei Observe the (lientele on any given Sunday, then peruse your gay friends‘ homes.
Vinnie Jones The Wimbledon walloper is (urrently suing Attitude magazine to the tune of £25,000 for putting him topless on its cover. Evrdente: grabbing Gazza by the nuts on the field of play and cinematic displays of two smoking barrels.
Anna Nolan Big Brother’s top nun bar none, Anna's one— time wrrnple-wearing and lady-lovrng revelations were far more interesting than the Scouse lunk Craig's Genesis fanaticism Evrdence: she’s an ex-convent girl who plays a guitar. The hills are alive
Eminem The sleek, dyed londe hair, camp lilt
to his vorce and bright, white vests," all he needs is some bun-hugging strides to complete the ensemble. Evrdence: the thumbs up from Sir Elton and the love triangle in ’Stan'.