Whether in love or limbo, gay people about Toronto are busy squaring away their romantic plans for Valentine’s Day. Xtra chatted with a handful of Toronto lovers to ask how they plan to mark the event.
“Valentine’s is a special time to demonstrate to someone you care about so much that you can’t live without them,” says Pascal Dessureault, board chair of the 519 Church St Community Centre. “I plan on taking my partner for a nice romantic dinner at Fabarnak.”
Dessureault’s someone is his partner of six years, Andre Ferreira. A publicist for Purolator Courier by day, Dessureault won’t be playing cupid delivery man on Feb 14. “My birthday is days before Valentine’s, so typically there’s no gift giving,” he says. Mark Challen
Mark Challen’s fondest Valentine’s memory is of the heart-shaped cakes his mom baked.
“Let’s see, the official colour is pink and there’s cake involved. Valentine’s is pretty ultimate when you’re a little gay kid,” says the House & Home personality. He says he’s going to make breakfast for his partner of 10 years and later attend a friend’s Valentine’s party, where he plans to dole out copies of Gay Men Don’t Get Fat by Simon Doonan and DVD sets of Season 2 of Downton Abbey.
“It feels better than just looking inwardly at my relationship at Valentine’s,” he says. Challen can’t resist sharing a tip: “Buy your gifts in bulk at the beginning of the year. It’s an easy way to handle gift giving.”
Woody’s general manager, Dean Odorico, will be mixing business with pleasure on Valentine’s when he participates in the bar’s annual Meet Your Match singles mixer.
Single, searching and a self-described romantic, Odorico will be one of the messaging men.
“It’s a lot of fun. People love getting messages,” he says. “And judging from the reaction and popularity, people have a lot of success with it . . . I personally have had success with it.”
Spending the night at work doesn’t bother him.
“It’s good to see the place in full swing, and I get to scare the bartenders,” he says, laughing. “Valentine’s reminds me that maybe there is someone out there who’s Mr Right. I’ve had my share of bad relationships, and coming out of them I get gun shy, but I never stop looking.”
Comedian Elvira Kurt is torn this Valentine’s.
“The crabby Hungarian side of me thinks this is so contrived,” she says. “I mean, is this greeting card of a holiday really what Saint Valentine had in mind? Then there’s another side of me that takes any excuse to celebrate and make up for 364 days of bad behaviour.”
Either way, Kurt will be taking her partner, Chloë Brushwood Rose, to Palais Royale for the girls-only dance on Feb 10. “The cabs will be ordered and the kids (Madeline, 6, and Zander, 2) will be foisted on another for a night of lady-loving-lady dancing!”
Married for 10 years, Kurt keeps her relationship fresh by avoiding the wife label. “My ‘lesbian lover’ or ‘girlfriend’ makes me feel like I’m cheating on the girl I’m married to,” she says, laughing.
It may come as a surprise that couples counsellor Phillip Coupal has not become a Valentine’s Scrooge. He says his many help-seeking clients are more prone to breaking up than breaking bread.
“Valentine’s is like an extra little holiday to do something romantic, fun and pleasurable,” he says.
This year, it will be a wet one. Coupal and husband, Tony Dunn, are members of the Downtown Toronto Swim Club. After a few lengths at the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre pool, they plan to hit their east-end neighbourhood for drinks at WAYLA bar then dinner at a favourite haunt like Leslie Jones.
Although the couple have been together 37 years – married for six of them – the holiday is still important for Coupal. “Valentine’s can be taken really seriously and cause great stress, but with a little lightness, joy, pleasure and experimentation, it can be a lot of fun,” he says.
For real estate agent Brian Elder, nesting at home is a priority at Valentine’s. He’s planning to share the evening with his partner of eight years, Charles Duchesne.
“Normally we make a nice dinner at home, sit in the dining room in front of the fireplace and spend time together,” he says.
The two don’t go overboard for Valentine’s.
“We take notice of it and of each other a little more, but we don’t really buy into the commercialism of it,” Elder says.