More Than A Rose: Growing A Garden Of Queer Intimacy
Every queer person can imagine the day: a pink pastel Valentine’s Day filled with traditional displays of love for a romantic partner. A rose, maybe some chocolates, or dinner out to a new place. These celebrations look a lot like the heteronormative love we’ve been conditioned to desire and subconsciously replicate. Queer intimacy on Valentine’s Day can be hard to find.
What if this Valentine’s Day, we dedicated time to appreciating all of the wonderful intimacy that our lives contain? What if we used Valentine’s Day to celebrate friends, lovers, or even strangers? Think about it: almost everything we’re taught about intimacy relates to gender norms and the context of a heterosexual relationship. How different would Valentine’s Day look if we added other types of flowers to our bouquet of roses?
According to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth who found their family, school, or community to be affirming had much lower rates of attempting suicide. As it stands, queer people are twice as likely to have a mental health condition and trans individuals are four times as likely to have one. Isolation and lack of intimacy can play a large part in generating the feelings of depression or hopelessness that many queer people in our country display.
Clear some room in your metaphorical Valentine’s Day vase: we know there is room in our lives for a bouquet of beautiful relationships and intimacies. Scroll down to learn about all the ways we can relate to one another!
Intimacies of The Body
These first four intimacies you’ll be able to really feel: they deal with how we exist physically with one another. These physical intimacies ground our bodies in relation to someone else.
Whether it’s a hug, a squeeze on the shoulder, or even just the dentist with their hands in your mouth and your head on their lap, physical intimacy puts you up close and personal with someone.
This goes without saying, but sexual intimacy is a huge part of how we relate to people. Revealing your body to someone in this vulnerable way creates a connection that is unique to anything else.
Experiential intimacy might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of being intimate, but you’ll certainly understand it after bingeing a TV show with someone or bumping elbows with someone nearby on a dance floor. There may be no words spoken, but the connection is there!
Your work bestie may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think “intimate”, and that’s okay. Sharing adversity and problem solving alongside someone can create a unique bond.
Intimacies of The Mind
How your brain processes and communicates concepts is a set of intimacies all its own. Knowing how someone thinks is a level of intimacy we often forget about. Do these cards represent anyone special to you?
We all have that friend we compare Wordle guesses with or that person who we know will help us tackle that logic problem. Intellectual intimacy–thinking about things big and small with someone else–is a big part of any relationship.
We all have that “stream of consciousness” friend in our lives, the person we text at any hour of the day for any reason at all. A neat cloud you saw. A comment a coworker said. That social intimacy and constant contact is a powerful way to relate to someone.
This might be rare, but conflict intimacy is a true sign of your connection to another person. It might look like that intense debate you have with a friend on a hot-button topic or the high-school acquaintance who can’t help but “play the devil’s advocate” on your Facebook post. Either way, the process of working through conflict with another soul is a powerful way to connect.
Sharing a hope for your universe or a common fundamental truth with another person is a powerful force. Religions, ideologies, and spirituality have been uniting people for centuries, and today it is no different.
Intimacies of the Heart and Soul
These final three types of intimacy speak to our core. They’re our fundamental impulses, emotional processes, and aesthetic tendencies. Where do you see these show up in your life?
Pop culture might call this a “ride or die” friend. They know the best and the worst of you. You’re in so deep with them, there is no other reality besides their friendship.
The act of creation is incredibly vulnerable, even when it comes to knitting. Knowing why someone likes a certain type of yarn or stitch over another is intimate knowledge.
A shared sense of aesthetic values can create a powerful bond. In practice, this might look like thirsting over the same movie star. It’s the simple things.
A Bouquet of Intimacy
When it comes down to it, we have an abundance of ways we connect with people. Big or small, intentional or not, every day represents countless opportunities to enrich our own life and the lives of others. Our vase is full, not only of roses, but of freesias, daisies, lilies, and more.
Intimacy is the opposite of loneliness. By stitching ourselves to other people wherever we can, we fight the depression, isolation, and sorrow that can often affect queer people.
Regardless of your identity, promoting kindness, vulnerability, and intimacy in our daily lives can help grow the kind of world that we are proud to call home. If you are in need of mental health resources or want to become a patient here at Howard Brown Health, visit the links below: