Metro Weekly

How’s Your Love Life? A Metro Weekly Valentine’s Day Forum

For Valentine's Day, we assembled a reader's forum, with questions about love, romance, movies, sex, and celebrities.

Love means different things to different people — there is no one simple definition. But we all generally agree that along with love comes romance, and along with romance come specific tropes: wine, roses, chocolates, and sex.

Those tropes are out in full force every February 14, on Valentine’s Day, a holiday that some view as a celebration and affirmation of romance. Others take a more cynical viewpoint of the day as a revenue spike for the greeting card and candy industries.

Whatever your feelings about Valentine’s Day, it is an unavoidable fact of life in America. It originated, according to Wikipedia, “as a Christian feast day honoring a martyr named Valentine and through later folk traditions, it has also become a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.”

Regardless of the origins, it is a day in which couples (and throuples) of all sexualities display their love for one another. It is also a day where single people admittedly feel left out of the fun, with many ignoring the day completely.

Remarkably, however, in our Valentine’s Day Forum, most of the single respondents take a positive view of romance, there is a hopefulness in their answers, an underlying readiness for love to wash over them like a tsunami of roses, minus the thorns.

We presented our always-vocal readership with a random series of questions to learn more about their personal takes on love, romance, and Valentine’s Day.

Of the 35 people who participated — ranging in age from 21 to 75 and identifying across the LGBTQ spectrum (as well as a handful of allies) — the answers were mostly upbeat and warm.

Yes, there are a few in there who are clearly unhappy — but hopefully, by this time next year, they’ll be exchanging valentines of their own. Most, however, as you’ll see, are appreciative of the all-encompassing thrill of romance.

In these days of swipes and ghosting, it is, quite honestly, nice to see that love remains a many-splendored thing.

How’s your love life?

Gordon B, 75, D.C., Gay, Married: Emotionally? Couldn’t be better. I’m comfortable in my own skin and my husband and I have been together since the fall of 1972, married when D.C. enabled it in 2010. We have had a full, loving relationship — ups and downs as in any relationship but we navigate the issues just fine. As we age, however, one thing after another consumes us, health ailments, memory issues, less energy than 40 years ago, a full to-do list, family issues, friends’ struggles, et al. Nonetheless, as I see it, companionship, intimacy, friendship, common interests, and enough differences to complement one another carries the day emotionally.

Matthew Caws, 56, Cambridge, UK, Ally, Married: It’s very good. I feel at peace and settled. Settled, in this case, feels like a very good word.

Charlotte Clymer, 37, D.C., Lesbian and Trans, Single: In D.C., the only thing harder than finding a good date is trying to find an effective Republican Speaker of the House.

Schelli D, 55, Maryland, Lesbian, Widowed: It was grand for the last 17 years and on January 11, I lost my wife, best friend, and greatest love of my life. So, I find myself newly widowed and navigating a new world. I am fully expecting this to be the worst Valentine’s Day, only rivaled by my 9-year-old version when I had chicken pox.

Yuval David, D.C. and NYC, Gay, Married: Love is not just an emotion, it is a state of being. Living a life of love makes everything easier, deeper, and more meaningful. My love life is shaped by genuine and authentic love, with communication, connection, and mutual reciprocation.

John G, 52, Maryland, Bisexual, Casual Relationship: I’m in a long-distance relationship with an old friend until our family obligations work out to allow us to live together (between exes and kids and careers). We both dabble a bit.

David H, 38, Fayetteville, N.C., Gay, Single: It’s very nonexistent. I don’t have one, and I don’t deserve one.

William West Hopper, 66, D.C., Gay, Widowed: Well there are a lot of boys on the beach and a few handsome men out there. I am just now thinking about getting back out and at least dating. After growing up in the era of AIDS, and losing so many of my friends, I am not quite sure how to approach dating in the 21st Century.

Christopher Horgan, 29, Cork, Ireland, Demisexual: I have recently experienced heartbreak, and have been spending the last few months trying to come to terms with it as I move forward with my life.

Dan K, 58, Virginia, Gay, Single: Pretty much non-existent. I’ve been single most of my adult life, with a few relationships I’d consider significant in that they lasted more than a year. It’s not for lack of being open to the possibility, and there is at least one guy who I’d consider “the one who got away.” I’m on a few apps, and sometimes hook up to scratch an itch, but my strong preference would be to date again.

I think the apps are a double-edged sword. They’re definitely convenient, and I know many people have met their partners on them. Hey, I met one of my best friends on one. But I think their main flaw is that they give people this idea that there’s always someone better in a few swipes. (The French call it “an embarrassment of riches,” but they say it in French, which sounds sexier.) It’s super easy to dismiss lots of people, or to forget that there are actual humans on the other end. Whenever I see “It’s only [name of app]” in a profile, I pretty much know to stay away because there’s no empathy there.

The worst habit/practice to fuck up dating is ghosting. I’ve lost count of the dates that have gone really well, where the guy asked me for my number, and then after a couple of texts and suggestions for second dates, just stopped corresponding. Like why show interest if you know you have none? Just thank me for the date and call it a night. We can’t all be attracted to everyone we meet — we’d be bouncing off the walls. But the feigned interest? I don’t get it.

I have friends, and I enjoy participating in a few regular activities in the community (volunteering and the arts), so it’s not like I’m not putting myself out there. It’ll happen if it happens, but I’m not putting my life on hold to wait for Prince Charming — or even lesser-known but equally adorable brother Steve.

Freddie Lutz, 73, Virginia, Gay, Committed Relationship: FABULOUS!

Colin M, 21, Chicago, Gay, Committed Relationship: Good! I have had a boyfriend for almost a year and I love him more every day, even through ups and downs. I truly thought I was aromantic until I met him, and it really was just my luck to have met him.

Dave M, 49, Beaufort, S.C., Gay, Single: Terrible.

Wes M, 76, D.C., Gay, Single: I have no love life. I fell in love in my late 20s but it was unrequited love. His girlfriend at the time forbade him to see me anymore because I was the only person who could take him away from her. That was some 50 years ago. Met another guy years later, but that turned out with me being “the other woman” so to speak, and it was his boyfriend this time. I still have feelings for both of them.

Adam Mac, 34, Nashville, Gay, Committed Relationship: It’s so great! I actually just got engaged last week on my birthday in the most beautiful and special way. I’m so excited to say “I do” to my favorite person.

Nell Minow, 71, U.S., Ally, Married: Sublime.

Devin N, 70, Gulfport, Fla., Bisexual, Single: Nonexistent. It’s hard to meet people.

Will O’Bryan, 56, D.C., Gay, Married: Absolutely satisfying.

Charles R, 38, Virginia, Gay, Single: “What is a love life?” for $200, please!

Joseph Reaves, 38, D.C., Queer, Single: Tumbleweeds.

Jose Romero, 45, D.C., Gay, Single: Dead like Halloween.

Andrew S, 22, Cincinnati, Gay, Committed Relationship: It’s still sprouting as it’s in the beginning stages (going on two months), but it’s going amazing!

Cameron S, 34, Los Angeles, Gay, Committed Relationship: Great! We’ll have been together for 7 full years this coming spring, and we love the life we’ve built together.

Howard S, 58, Montreal, Gay, Single: Nonexistent.

Lee S, 62, Baltimore, Gay, Committed Relationship: Truly wonderful! I’m in my best relationship, truly saving the best for last!

Roger S, 51, D.C., Gay, Married: If by love life you mean sex life, then it’s pretty good. We are fairly compatible sexually. In spite of busy work schedules, we work together to get adequate sleep and get our freak on.

Mark Schulte, 59, NYC, Bisexual, Single: Terrible! I just turned 59 last month & STILL have not met Mr. or Ms. Right!

Zane Simon, 39, Seattle, Ally, Married: Very fortunately fulfilled. I’ve been with a wonderful woman for 19 years now, who continues to be my best friend and partner in all things. I can’t imagine having a better love life.

Kevin T, 29, Sandy Springs, Ga., Ally, Single: I currently don’t have a love life to speak of, but am going to start dating this year.

Jim Young, 55, Virginia, Gay, Widowed: I am getting back out there after the death of my spouse 13 months ago.

How are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day?

Matthew Caws: We have a kiddo, so we will probably have a Valentine’s lunch date while he’s at school.

Charlotte Clymer: I’m partying with a bunch of lesbians, which is objectively the best way to spend Valentine’s Day. Nobody does Valentine’s Day like lesbians. It is known.

Schelli D: My dad is going to be my Valentine’s date this year. We will probably go to dinner and hang out together.

Yuval David: My husband and I share and express our love on a daily basis — we really do — and we love it. I cannot say that we will do anything specifically on that day.

John G: We’re planning a rendezvous in a city equidistant for both of us.

David H: Alone, as usual.

Christopher Horgan: I’m planning to spend Valentine’s Day in the company of my pets.

Siregar J, 45, NYC, Gay, Married: Eating dark chocolates is what I am doing for Valentine’s Day 2024. I will campaign for the Democratic Party.

Dan K: Singles Awareness Day? No plans. May get together with some single friends.

Colin M: I’ll be spending literally all day and night in class.

Dave M: Wearing all black.

Adam Mac: We usually like to go have a nice dinner, but this year we are in the thick of raising a brand-new puppy, so nights out aren’t really on the table. Instead, we’ll just have a homemade Valentine’s night in.

Nell Minow: I’m going to cook my Valentine’s favorite dinner, including a Grand Marnier soufflé.

Devin N: It’s just another Wednesday.

Will O’Bryan: We’ve never done too much for Valentine’s Day. The husband has a birthday in March, so that’s a much bigger priority. I’m not a big fan of red meat, but he loves it. I’ll probably make him a steak.

Joseph Reaves: In church for Ash Wednesday. Wish I could have gotten tickets for Kevin Ross at The Birchmere

Jose Romero: With my dog River.

Cameron S: Actually, no big plans yet! We’re both pretty casual guys, so we’ll figure something out — no stress. We work during the weekdays, so we’re more excited about the long weekend after Valentine’s Day when we’re planning a fun road trip.

Howard S: Alone, as usual.

Mark Schulte: I will find something to do to get my mind off of it.

Zane Simon: Over the course of my relationship, Valentine’s Day has become just another day. I like to think of myself as much more of a romance maintenance person (incredibly sexy, I know), who treats his partner with love and kindness every day. We go out to dinner together, we cook together, we pay attention to one another.

It’s probably very stereotypical dude of me, but even the least cynical/corporate read on Valentine’s Day I’ve got says it’s there to capture, create, or reignite romance. If I’m not looking to do those things, then staying in and watching a movie is just fine.

David T, 63, D.C., Gay, Committed Relationship: We’re going to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to see Eric Roberson.

Jim Young: May go out to a bar, or dinner with friends, or see if anyone else online wants a body to hold.

On Valentine’s Day, is it more important for you to have a romantic encounter or just get laid?

Gordon B: At my age, romantic for sure. Forty years ago, getting laid would have been a sure plus for the holiday! Sex is fun.

Matthew Caws: In the past, neither was particularly important on Valentine’s Day. I think maybe I tried not to think about it unless I was in a relationship.

Charlotte Clymer: I’m looking for a more romantic encounter. I’m already getting fucked enough by House Republicans.

Schelli D: If I had to choose, I would go for the romance. My wife used to make little Valentine’s cards for me and hide them all over the house, so I would find them all day long. It was super romantic!

Yuval David: Both! Why not? I mean, love is love, right?!

John G: I have never been a huge fan of hookups or casual sex. I tend to prefer sex with someone I have a solid friendship with.

David H: Although I’ve never had any experience, I think it’s important to have a romantic encounter. You don’t want the whole thing to be false. There has to be truth to it, or else it’s meaningless.

William West Hopper: You can get laid anytime. Romance is much harder to come by than just sex. I remember back to my 20s, oh so many years ago, sex was pretty easy — and what we found out was that it was also deadly. I do not think sex is hard to find — quality is what is hard to find.

Christopher Horgan: I believe a romantic encounter is more important than a sexual one. Sex with a partner is beautiful but showing them how much you love them through thoughtful acts is worth more than sex.

Siregar J: What kind of question is this?

Dan K: As romance is missing in my life, if the opportunity came up, I’d choose romance over sex.

Freddie Lutz: Romantic. Valentine’s Day is all about love.

Colin M: Neither matters to me specifically on Valentine’s Day. But in life, romance means so much more to me.

Todd M, 53, USA, Gay, Committed Relationship: Romantic encounter because it is less pressure than having to put out.

Adam Mac: Ha! Any day is a good day to have a romantic encounter when you’ve been together as long as we have!

Nell Minow: A question I have not thought about since I was a teenager and started dating my husband. But romance, always romance.

Will O’Bryan: What’s the difference? Even a one-and-done can be super romantic!

Charles R: I’ve always found that a romantic encounter can lead to something more everlasting. That initial connection, and spark, is just simply electric!

Joseph Reaves: A little romance before you take me to Poundtown.

Cameron S: I guess I’d say having a romantic encounter feels more important to the holiday you can get laid any day of the week!

Howard S: I just want to have a nice evening with someone across from me. Whatever happens, happens.

Lee S: It’s more important that I have a romantic encounter, having someone I love and who loves me and just spend the day, celebrating that love, be it going for a walk and talking about our past year together, watching a good movie together or preparing a great meal together. The get laid part can happen any day of the year. Just not significant for me.

Roger S: Getting laid is always a priority, but we may make extra effort to make sex more exciting on Valentine’s Day. It’s a way to show you care.

Mark Schulte: At my age, anything will do!

Kevin T: I would prefer to have a romantic encounter over a one-night stand. If I’m sleeping with someone, it’s because I love them deeply and trust they feel the same about me.

What is your idea of a perfect date?

Matthew Caws: I think dinner and a fair amount of walking, not for exercise’s sake, but because I think different circumstances steer the conversation in different ways. Walking-talking is its own particular thing and it would be nice to get some of that in as well. Out for a drink in an almost empty bar afterwards?

Charlotte Clymer: November 5th, 2024 — Joe Biden is reelected in a landslide against Donald Trump. It’s called early in the evening. We all spend the rest of the night partying. We all make out with each other. That’s my idea of a perfect date.

Yuval David: The perfect date all depends on the people and their needs, wants, and desires. Knowing that about each other and wishing to mutually share and fulfill that for each other will always lead to the perfect date.

Sister Wanda Dreams, 74, D.C., Gay, Single: Meet at a bar and go home and get laid!

David H: I’ve never been on a date, but I think that a simple movie and dinner date is a good start. Nothing too extravagant.

William West Hopper: Being a homebody, I have no problem with a nice home-cooked meal, some nice music playing, a fire in the fireplace, and a bottle of nice wine.

Christopher Horgan: My perfect date consists of a one-on-one with the person where we share funny stories while having a nice meal. I find humor attractive, so a person who can laugh at their own stories is always a plus for me.

Siregar J: Getting enough food to eat at a restaurant and some drinks is my idea of a good date. I love eating dates also.

Colin M: Dinner (nothing fancy!) and a movie (at a theater!).

Dave M: These days, finding someone who is willing to date and not just hook up is a challenge!

Wes M: A candle-lit dinner at the Skydome, atop the 15-story Hilton DoubleTree Hotel at 300 Army Navy Drive. It’s the only rotating restaurant in the D.C.-area.

Nell Minow: A day of museums, restaurants, and then a movie.

Devin N: Lunch, dinner, bike ride, museum, state fair, etc.

Will O’Bryan: A dinner that includes champagne and chocolate. But it can’t be too heavy, because nobody wants to get down when they’re bloated. A date wouldn’t be perfect without a happy ending. To be clear, I’ve had loads of great dates with myself over the years. Usually, the dinner with champagne and chocolate was followed with a movie. And a happy ending.

Charles R: I unfortunately do not have an ideal (or perhaps scripted?) perfect date. Quite honestly, I’ve always just gone with the flow and just simply treasure the time that I am spending with my date however that may look.

Jose Romero: Good conversation, long walks, and getting to know one another.

Andrew S: I like going out and doing something interactive such as going to the museum or going to a theme park, then ending the day snuggling and watching a movie.

Lee S: The perfect Valentine’s Day date for me is to go to a seafood restaurant, wearing bibs and just going to town on some steamed seafood. Then, going for a walk. Then home, shower together and cuddle, while listening to our love songs.

Zane Simon: I haven’t dated in so long that putting something together here feels like the purest realm of fantasy. That said, my wife and I have the best time together when we get a chance to actually go away for a weekend. Rent someplace small and remote and just spend a couple of days together with no timetables or responsibilities. Really relax.

Kevin T: I’ve never thought about it before. Probably dinner and a movie so my date and I could get to know each other over the food and then discuss the movie after. I like learning about others.

What’s your favorite romantic movie (LGBTQ or otherwise)?

Gordon B: Casablanca. It’s a wonderful film, with a moving story and romance, great performances, and though fiction, it does shed light on what life was like during WWII. But the number one charm for me is Dooley Wilson singing “As Time Goes By.”

Matthew Caws: Harold and Maude, because despite both being complicated, they become their happiest, funniest, most excited selves around each other.

Charlotte Clymer: Anything with Gabrielle Union is elite. Plus: she’s famously a trans ally.

Schelli D: West Side Story. It’s just so romantic and tragic. It was a favorite for my wife and me. It is one of the best adaptations of Romeo & Juliet ever made.

John G: I don’t know if I even have one. Maybe Impromptu with Hugh Grant and Judy Davis.

David H: Andrew Haigh’s Weekendd. It’s more than just a film about sex. It’s about the complexities of modern gay dating. It’s also a film about emotional connection and the often emotional journey to fully realize the intimacy of that connection.

William West Hopper: Sadly, Gay Movies are rarely romantic — they are often the guys who get into some trouble and die. No one lives happily ever after as they should, or as shown in straight romance movies.

Christopher Horgan: The love shown in Portrait of a Lady on Fire transcends time. It is the love we search for our whole life but often never find, but for those lucky enough to find it, it transforms them forever.

Siregar J: The Wedding Singer, because I am a karaoke guy.

Dan K: On Golden Pond always struck me as a really romantic flick, where a couple still shows each other affection and attention from a relationship steeped in love and time.

Colin M: Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of the most beautiful films about the ache of queer desire, both fulfilled and unfulfilled. The rich colors and the Orpheus metaphor and the chemistry between two beautiful leads bring a wash of emotion in its final moments. A close second would be Carol. I guess lesbians just do romance better.

Todd M: Trick or Beautiful Thing. Happy endings (not like that), and they are relatable (especially Beautiful Thing).

Wes M: My Beautiful Laundrette has a beautiful interracial love affair in London. My favorite line is “Omar has always been worth waiting for.”

Adam Mac: I actually just turned on The Proposal the other day because it was playing on TV, and I forgot how much I love that movie! Sandra Bullock is absolute perfection in it, but Betty White steals the show.

Nell Minow: There are so many movies, many of them wonderful, about falling in love but very few about staying in love. That’s why my favorite is Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in Two for the Road, about a couple’s vacations in the south of France over the first ten years of their relationship, meeting as students and hitchhiking, then as young marrieds, later as parents finding that success can be as challenging as wishing for success. It’s sophisticated, elegant, and very smart about relationships, plus those gorgeous stars, beautiful scenery, and Henry Mancini score.

Will O’Bryan: Would Andor count? It was awfully romantic…. But I’ll go with Trick. Talk about happy endings! When I saw it, I was getting ready to move back to D.C. from the West Coast, so the New York City setting helped to clinch it for me. While stars Christian Campbell and John Paul Pitoc might be straight, they had sizzling screen chemistry. Tori Spelling was hilarious. The whole thing is so sweet, as well as sexy. But Miss Coco Peru keeps it from being saccharine.

Charles R: Love, Simon. It is just absolutely cute as can be and is something that I can very much relate to.

Joseph Reaves: The Ski Trip, which was directed by the late Maurice Jamal. My first time seeing Black gay men, love, and lust on screen. Filmed in my hometown of New York City.

Cameron S: Moonlight feels like a strange choice because there’s a whole lot more at play here than just romance, but the final third of the movie — especially the diner sequence between Chiron and Kevin — is just oozing with emotion and love and lust and everything left unsaid.

Howard S: I don’t watch those, but I probably should start so I can have an idea what romance is all about.

Mark Schulte: Anything where boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back.

Zane Simon: If we’re talking rom-coms, then it’s Lover Come Back. Rock Hudson has all the chemistry in the world with Tony Randall and Doris Day is too fun. If it’s just a romance story, plain and simple, then I’d say Night of the Iguana. The combination of Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr with a Tennessee Williams script and John Huston directing creates the perfect recipe to make love out of life’s tragedy. As for LGBTQ romance, it’s very very hard to beat Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but I’ll give Point Break an honorary shout.

Kevin T: You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I love the witty dialogue, the actors’ chemistry pops off the screen both when they’re rivals and keyboard romantics, and it has a warmth to it that always lifts my spirits. A great balance of humor, romance, and sweetness.

Jim Young: Steel Magnolias. It moves across the seasons and shows what really matters in a group of friends and how they support each other. It contrasts the one-on-one romantic relationships from newlyweds to the long-married couples.

If you could spend Valentine’s Day with the celebrity of your dreams, who would that be and what would you want to do?

Gordon B: If this is someone here today, Mayor Pete. If by dreams you mean anyone in history, I’d be hard-pressed to name just one. Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Elton John, Marsden Hartley, Ellsworth Kelly. I could go on and on and on.

Matthew Caws: Kurt Vonnegut, having my wife and I over for dinner.

Charlotte Clymer: I wanna get high and listen to Paul Giamatti read a book to me. Then Paul Giamatti comes out with me and all my lesbian gals and we all dance and party.

Schelli D: Going off script here, I would want to spend it with the core cast of The Golden Girls. I can imagine sitting on their lanai sipping cocktails, laughing my ass off, eating chocolates and of course, cheesecake.

Yuval David: Golda Meir! She was a powerhouse, a brilliant woman, and was completely authentic, all while getting things done. I would want to go for a walk with her and talk about the ways of the world, what we can do to make this a better and more just world, and why we lead our activism from a place of love for humanity.

John G: Timothée Chalamet. My partner would understand.

David H: Tom Hardy. I think he would be a fantastic date. We could go to the movies, have dinner, and we could read to each other.

William West Hopper: The Kelce Brothers. I love that brotherly and manly energy they have. And I don’t even like football.

Christopher Horgan: Unfortunately I do not have a celebrity crush, but I would totally go to dinner with George Lucas if it meant he would show me his unreleased passion projects.

Siregar J: I want to meet Rupert Everett. I want to walk his dog with him.

Dan K: I guess my gay celebrity crush would have to be Russell Tovey. There’s not much I wouldn’t want to do.

Freddie Lutz: Tina Turner. Listen to her sing to me.

Colin M: Again, because Valentine’s Day isn’t special to me and my celebrity pick would be the same every day, I would spend the day with Tilda Swinton and she would be in control of what we do.

Todd M: Jake Gyllenhaal, and just let him woo me the entire day.

Wes M: Richard Chamberlain, who played roles in Dr. Kildare and The Thorn Birds.

Adam Mac: Is it Harry Styles? I think it’s Harry Styles.

Nell Minow: I’d have Paul McCartney serenade us while we eat the Grand Marnier soufflé!

Devin N: Melissa McCarthy. I’d just follow her around, ask how she managed to produce so much great work in just a few years, what it was like to stop, whether she misses the action, what keeps her fulfilled now.

Joseph Reaves: Lil Nas X, and I would want an intimate audience with those delicious lips.

Jose Romero: Matt Bomer. Just look into his eyes.

Andrew S: Lady Gaga, of course. I think it would be iconic to have an amazing Italian dinner with her.

Cameron S: Honestly, I’d want to do a double date with Melanie Lynskey and her husband Jason Ritter — a dinner and drinks somewhere fun. I just think they’re both so talented and fun, and I love the love they have for each other.

Lee S: I would pick Denzel Washington. He’s a very good-looking, talented, and brilliant man and I would love to talk and ask questions about life from his perspective over a great meal.

Mark Schulte: Any porn star. And have sex, of course!

David T: Idris Elba. (And none of your business!)

Jim Young: Pierce Brosnan. And I would make him take me to Greece to reenact Mamma Mia 1 and 2.

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