By: Kristen Pinchbeck
I can’t believe it is already almost the second week of February. 2021 has felt like a whole year unto itself and like it has gone by in blink. February is the month of love, as well as Black History Month, and LGBTQ+ History Month. Later this month we will be talking about Black History Month as well as LGBTQ+ History Month, but for today we are going to talk about some Valentine’s Ideas!
Valentine’s Day looks a little different this year. Cupid is wearing a mask, and Cupid’s love arrow looks a lot like a vaccine needle this year. While it might be hard to surprise your loved one with a house full of roses like Patrick Dempsey did for Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama because you both are working from home, there are still some ways that you can make the day special.
5 At Home/Covid Safe Valentine’s Day Date Ideas
Cook dinner together
This can be a great way to spend some extra time together. Maybe pick a whole theme for your meal (italian, mexican, chinese, or even fast food like burgers and fries). Start by preparing an appetizer you can snack on while you make the main course. Put on some music, maybe share a glass of wine. Make a main course and then a desert to enjoy together after.
Movie Night In
My girlfriend set up the most amazing movie night in for our anniversary last year. She made posters that were movie themed, set up a whole “red carpet” hallway leading to the movie “theater”- our spare room. She transformed the spare room into the most amazing home theater with a concession stand, movie projector, a comfy sitting area with a blanket fort and led lights for soft lighting above us. It was seriously amazing and we hated to have to take it down.
Plan a hike/picnic at a social distanced park or in your backyard
I don’t know about you guys, but with how much we all have to be inside these days, getting out in some sunshine and fresh air is always restorative for me. Getting outside with your person for a beautiful hike, or even just to a local park for a picnic can be a great way to connect with each other and also be doing good things for your mental health.
At Home Spa Night
The last year has left all of us feeling pretty spent. An at home spa day where you both feel pampered could be the perfect way to spend your Valentine’s Day this year. Get some bath bombs with essential oils, light a couple candles, put on some soft music, take turns giving each other massages with a nice massage oil, use a couple restorative face masks. Use it as a time to pamper each other and relax together.
Set up a whole Date Night in your house
Each room in your house becomes a different date “location”. You can start in the kitchen, or even outside on your porch or patio for drinks. Then you can move to your dining room that has been set up like a romantic restaurant with candles and flowers for your dinner/main course. Maybe get take out from your favorite restaurant, or from a restaurant that is special to you like where you had your first date. Then, head to your living room for a night of dancing. If dancing isn’t your thing, you could turn off the lights and transform your living room into a home movie theater.
Just a few reminders for you this Valentine’s Day
Remember, it is supposed to be about showing your significant other that you love them, so don’t give in to the pressure around buying them the most gifts (unless gifts are their love language of course). Also, remember that our LGBT Valentines days are just as valid as heterosexual Valentine’s Days, even if our representation is very small. I don’t know if you guys needed to hear that, but I know I sure did/still do.
Single this Valentine’s Day?
Take this day to love yourself! Like our amazing Rue Paul said, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love anyone else?" Have a date at home with yourself, buy yourself some flowers if you like them, set up a movie night, have a spa night, connect with other single friends for a Galentine’s/Malentine’s Day (yes guys, it’s ok to have a group of friends you want to celebrate with), and celebrate the other relationships you have in your life (family, friends, siblings, coworkers, etc.). If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we take the relationships in our lives for granted. Let’s make Valentine’s 2021 about more than just the chocolates, but about showing all the people in our lives that we love them.
I hope everyone has a safe and love filled Valentine’s Day!
Be Kind To Yourself!
The San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center stands with our mission and is committed to fostering a safer and more inclusive SGV for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Our Board of Directors is saddened to learn about the violence committed against First Works Baptist Church in El Monte early this morning. We understand that cultivating a safe and inclusive environment means we must advocate for a respectful dialogue to reach an understanding, if not acceptance. The pandemic has intensified and clearly exposed the pervasiveness of violence against all individuals. We as an organization vow to acknowledge the world we live in and to take a stand against violence wherever it is.
While we strongly condemn the Church’s persecution of women and LGBTQ+ individuals, we know that the only way to create an inclusive society that celebrates the diversity of our community is through nonviolence. From the conquest of our lands, violence on our frontline care workers to domestic violence at home, our communities across borders have and continue to fight gender-based and militarized violence. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
In the harsh face of LGBTQ+ hate, we understand that promoting our community’s well being requires us to be proactive and committed. We are grateful to the thousands of individuals in the El Monte community who have stepped up to show their support for their LGBTQ+ family, friends, and neighbors, and we encourage you to continue to use your voice to fight for justice. In 2021, we are going to move forward to spread love and acceptance to future generations instead of digressing to violence. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the families and communities that were affected by this violence.
We would like to advise everyone to stay away from the church and allow the city and its officials to continue their active investigation. If you have information related to this morning’s bombing at First Works Baptist Church, we ask that you please notify the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.
With Hope and Unity,
The Board of Directors
San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center
By: Kristen Pinchbeck
Bloom Baby Bloom!
2021 is off to a tumultuous start to say the least. Between the pandemic raging in LA County with one person dying every 6 minutes due to Covid 19, Trump supporters storming the capital in an attempted and failed coup, and a hate group rising up right in our backyard of El Monte, we have been under full assault mode from every angle.
Amidst all of this craziness, our center is still meeting and still working to bring a safe space to the San Gabriel Valley where we can all come together.
We recently had our January Volunteer meeting where we all talked about what the center means to us and what our hopes are for the future. Our President, Camila, said that her hopes for this year are for us to “expand our beauty” throughout the San Gabriel Valley this year.
What are we doing to expand our Beauty?
Right now it seems like there is so much ugliness in the world around us, so our center wants to be a little spot of light for our neighbors. In our volunteer meeting, many volunteers shared stories of the way the center has been a light in their lives by providing a safe space where they can be their true selves and grow into their authenticity.
We want to help everyone in the SGV learn to be their true selves and grow in their authenticity by bringing this glittering light to you! Our two main methods of expanding our beauty throughout the San Gabriel Valley is through Education and Advocacy.
We are currently doing this through our different peer support groups, which can be found on our calendar of events. We will also be adding a couple new peer support groups this year, so stay on the look out for those!
The center is also working to expand Education in the SGV and beyond through our new Safe Space training program. So far two school districts have reached out to bring Safe Space training to them. This is a very exciting moment for us at the center!
We are also reaching out and being more active within our community. Our president recently wrote a letter to the El Monte City Council in response to the rise of a recent hate group. Her beautiful and strong letter is posted on our blog for those who are interested. Also, she was interviewed for the San Gabriel Valley Podcast.
Help Us Expand Our Beauty!
If you are looking for more beauty in your life, we are ready for you! Join us for a peer support group or a volunteer meeting. Bring your unique beauty and expertise into our group and help us Bloom Baby Bloom so we can share our beauty within the San Gabriel Valley!
The SGV is an incredibly diverse place with so many different people and places. As the center starts her next decade in the community, we want to know what ways would you like to see us expand more beauty into our communities? Be Kind To Yourself!