Pictured is one of the alternative valentines (by Chelsea Lyver) in this week's paper.
Pictured is one of the alternative valentines (by Chelsea Lyver) in this week’s paper.

What you hold in your hands is the second annual Self Love Week issue of Arthur.

Self Love Week is not a new concept, and it’s long been covered in the pages of Arthur, but it wasn’t until last year that we decided to do a special feature on it.

As the Centre for Gender and Social Justice (CGSJ) has characterized it, Self Love Week is an alternative to Valentines Day. It’s a week of “reclamation of love for self and a challenge to dominant ideas of romance.”

When I first arrived at Trent, the week was run only by the Trent Queer Collective and the CGSJ. It focused on queer-inclusive, sex-positive events. Frankly, for someone who hails from a very small town, it was incredibly exciting just to read about.

Since that time the scope of the week has broadened immensely. This is also reflected by the sheer amount of groups that are now involved. The Seasoned Spoon, the TCSA, the Community Race Relations Committee, Artspace, and of course, Arthur, are now taking part in or helping to produce the festivities.

It’s fitting that so many groups would be involved, as self love is an inherently malleable and dynamic concept. The way members of a racialized community would approach self love would differ greatly from how a trans woman would approach it, and both would differ from a cis woman’s approach. People whose identities intersect through several communities would have their own unique approach to it.

Furthermore, all of these voices are challenging the socially accepted and expected narrative of Valentines Day.

This is, in my mind, why Self Love Week makes for such an interesting special issue. There is no one way to love yourself or to love others.

In fact, an aromantic person would tell you that they actually don’t love others non-platonically, and that voice is a part of the self love conversation as well.

Furthermore, these are not conversations we regularly have. These are conversations usually relegated to the realm of the private.

Self Love Week is a rare opportunity to have a conversation about something intensely private, something folks usually try not to show, and do so in an open public forum, with an audience of people who may just feel the same way as you.

If not, they’re at least an audience who are willing to lend support.

This issue’s special feature is composed almost entirely of first-time or occasional contributors. It features poetry, something Arthur hasn’t published for years. I think these both speak to the uniqueness of the week in general.

And, for those who just can’t resist, it features some hilarious and subversive Valentines.

I highly encourage you to attend one of the many events going on this week. Or, at least to consider the idea of self love and what that means to you.