Valentine’s day Problematics with Heteronormativity in Imagery

Make It a Queer Valentine's Day

Boy offers red roses to a blushing girl in a dress, the empty space is filled with flowers and red hearts. I give up trying to find a Valentine’s day card to my same sex spouse from the bookshop. Every queer themed image is important, because there’s so little of LGBTIQ imagery. Art has ability to change the viewer but it also grows along changing society. Love isn’t just boy and girl kissing.

Love isn’t heteronormative but often described like it and around Valentine’s day the imagery is everywhere. As a visual person it angers me to see the void of queer imagery in the media, because by creating something people are able to see and watch, makes it somehow more real. It’s a tangible evidence of the creator and the subject.

Queer is seen as shocking alternative with no future

“– visuals of same-sex kisses and other gay images do much more than illustrate happy moments.

In making formerly private content public, such scenes “help to create queer culture by generating alternative images of – and possibilities for – love and intimacy,” says Meyer.

— Whether in art or in mass media, such images convey universal emotion, while also drawing power from their ability to shock.”

I remember the hunger and need of younger me to find the pictures that would represent my relationship status and love life. Eight years back there was so few queer characters in movies or TV-series and I haven’t yet found the right books nor music which would resonate within me. Often stories which included queer themes were dark and bittersweet and didn’t give the hope for stable and happy future. When fairy-tales and romantic comedies “promised” true love’s kiss and happy ever after, queer characters lost their loved ones, suffered loneliness, disappeared or died.

Fiction doesn’t make up for lack of real life role models

Janina introduced yaoi manga for me when I was sixteen. The stories of young persons falling in love and experiencing passion were like the wardrobe to Narnia. Even though the plots are simple and characters are often regular Mary Sues, the drawn imagery of same-sex couples and non-binary characters was enough to help me over the hardest times. There were people behind those images who were thinking like me and who wanted to tell stories of us.

Still, they were just that, stories, but how about real people? There’s certain kind of blind spot in media when it comes to everyday imagery of queer people and lives. Even though the famous gaydar has some truth in it, it’s really hard to identify other queer people from all the persons you meet. I’m quite an introvert and I don’t feel comfortable chatting with new people so new friends are seldom made. We still don’t have many friends with same kind of relationship as us, but here the pictures from social media and art make the difference.

As Meyer says, images of queer love, relationships and people give possibilities for the viewer, imagery and art can change the way we see ourselves and our future. It is big reason why we decided to start blogging. The lack of positive feedback is worrisome. It’s so hard to see what is missing and correct those wholes when there has been no wall at all, although the corner stones have been there long time.

Problematics with Heteronormativity in Imagery - Queer Household

Art has a powerful voice

Artists have been the explorers and there’s plenty of great queer themed artwork right from the Antique period. The problem is, that those kind of images are easy to leave outside of the books and lectures and one needs to search them. Me and Janina have both been reading Art history in High School and still the historical imagery wasn’t something we found at the time. Other point is that many art pieces are very symbolic and the meaning does not open very easily. There’s has been kind of silence when it comes to marking images and works as queer themed.

During last few years I have found photography as an interesting media when it comes to queer themes. Few of my favourite artists who use that media are Nir Arieli, Meg Allen and Sara Swaty. Saara Mäntylä photographed few years back one project I was taking part of and I was very delighted to learn this week that Mäntylä has been lately working with queer themes. Her newest exhibition opens 16th of February (2015) as a collaboration with Arctic Pride and Arctic Design Week in Rovaniemi, Finland.

Adding queer imagery to the Valentine's Day - Queer Household

Imagery, art and culture go hand in hand

Last five years or so have been huge for LGBTIQ community. The discussion and change of marriage laws has been big boost for overall media when it comes to queer representation. Documentary wedding imagery has come forward along with advertisements for engaged couples and newly weds. On the other hand Wilcox’s article brings forward worry about losing the core of the word queer.

“Meyer links Art and Queer Culture to current developments in the lesbian and gay movement that have focused on marriage rights. While both he and [Catherine] Lord support the right for same-sex couples to marry, they are concerned that the drive toward assimilation may erase the history of dissidence and transgression that has, in their eyes, constituted so much of queer culture.”

This same argument has been around for several decades according to my understanding. In my mind, imagery, art and culture are supposed to change and develop with the changing of world and society.

The amount of queer pictures is still counted in promilles rather than prosents in the glittery and colourful media shower we live in. There’s still newness in them and rarity which means they get huge amount of screen time compared to other similar adverts, pictures and stories. I mean people know Ellen DeGeneress and Portia DeRossi and David Burtka and Neil Patric Harris around the world. I know about the Honey Maid -brand even thought they don’t sell it in where I live! I feel we have reached the positive circle, where those few images give birth to plenty of similar ones.

When we started blogging, we made the decision to stand proudly as we are, with our own names and faces. This is the way we want to contribute to the LGBTIQ community, by creating images and stories of our live. Let’s take lot’s of pictures of our unique love, our wonderful sweethearts, hot dates, comfortable homes and also have courage to send them forward. Sometimes the single image can be the gift which make’s someone take that one step forward with a smile.


Has the lack of queer imagery effected your life? Or do you even feel that something is missing?




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