Fluffy "His & Hers" robes and slippers on window display in shopping centres. "Excuse me Ma'm, could I interest you in a Valentine's Day special offer for your boyfriend or husband", she said as she flashed me her rehearsed sales person smile. "No, thank you. I'm gay", I replied.
Leading up to Valentine's Day we are bombarded with heteronormative Valentine's Day advertising, gift cards, invites and assumptions constantly. People who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQI community need to repeatedly deal with being the unrecognised "other", especially during this time of year. Therefore, the invisible "othering" of LGBTQI relationships problematises the identities and lives of people who do not conform to heterosexual norms.
The non-inclusivity of LGBTQI relationships by advertising agencies, seasoned illustrators, event planners and product designers is pathetic. People who do not fit into boarders of any gender binaries exist and we deserve just as much visibility as heterosexual relationships. Normalising LQBTQI relationships and intimacy would create a foreground for more spaces where we can grapple with society's fear and intolerance. LGBTQI relationships need to be demystified.
There is an LGBTQI perspective that is ignored by the mainstream socio-cultural environment. South Africa's diversity goes beyond skin deep differences. There needs to be more intersectionality in the type of media that is made to be consumed by the public. In the digital age that we exist in, LGBTQI relationships need to become ubiquitous across cultures, religions, schools, media platforms, digital spaces and commercial spaces.
This illustration series as an attempt to fill in the neglected gap for LGBTQI lovers this Valentine's Day. We are here, we are queer and we deserve some lovin' too. Happy Valentine's Day LGBQI lovers.