Will You Be My Queer Valentine?
Too often Valentine’s Day and depictions of love in general focus solely on heterosexual romance. Rarely do queer people see themselves reflected, centred and celebrated in mainstream media and culture. Educator Vivek Shraya and illustrator Karen Campos Castillo create annual Queer Valentines for George Brown College Positive Space, as Shraya says, to “serve as a reminder that queer love is real and is worthy of celebration”. Their queer valentines celebrate all kinds of love from queer icons to self-pleasure.
This year, Ryerson’s Office of Sexual Violence and Support Education and the Student Health Assistance and Resilience Program (SHARP) partnered with Shraya and Campos Castillo to bring their beautiful designs to campus for the #PleasurePrinciple campaign. Our favourites include the "NO" Valentine that reminds us that it’s okay to have boundaries in relationships and "Feeling Myself" image that praises our flawless bodies. To learn more about this wonderful project, scroll down for a Q & A with Shraya and Campos Castillo.
Can you each share a little bit about who you are and the work you are doing?
As an educator/artist, you started this Valentine's project 10 years ago. Can you tell us more about how the project evolved? What inspired you to create these cards and what keeps you invested in celebrating queer love each each year?
The images celebrate peoples, bodies, and love that too often are not included in mainstream conversations about love. Which Valentine is your favourite and why?
I love the card that depicts a heart and the name of each person killed at the Pulse NightClub. Why did you choose to highlight this?
In what ways do you think these Valentines are educating the community?
Meet Vivek Shraya and Karen Campos Castillo
If you need support/information here is some information:
Planned Parenthood Toronto
If you self identify as LGBTQ, you can contact the LGBTQ Youthline:
People of all genders, can contact Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Centre:
If you self identify as a woman, you can call the Assaulted Women’s Hotline:
If you self identify as a man, you can call the Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse: 1-866-887-0015