Be my heterosexual Valentine: calling out M & S

First, a quick straw poll of the queer women reading this: would you be thrilled to receive cufflinks as your romantic Valentine treat from your girl? Now the queer dudes: what would you say about a lovely delicate bracelet?

I suppose, there are some gay girls who’d love a pair of smart cufflinks, as well as guys who may find a spot in their heart for a chain wristlet with a heart charm, in which case you’ll be happy to go ahead and throw 5 quid at the set of Marks & Spencer’s very red Valentine crackers.

Me, if I wanted a piece of gooey schmaltz to share with my girlfriend on Monday, I’d have to thwart my middle-class urges and go further afield than my local Marks’s. Because, look:

You get a bracelet and cuff-links. Oh, you’re dating somebody of the same sex as you? Tough.

It may come as a shock to Marks & Spencer that non-heterosexual people would ever consider shopping there. Maybe the thinking is that all the exciting, counter-culture gays wouldn’t step over the threshold of the fortress of conventionality such as an M&S shop. Or maybe it’s that it’s more convenient for the marketing department to erase the queer folk from their customer base completely.

It’s so easy to put some theatrical rhetoric on the diversity page of your website, saying things like “Not only are we responsive to the needs of our employees and customers but we also take pride in the role we play in the community at large. Because of this we value diversity very highly.” In your employees, perhaps, because they can sue you. Your customers? It’s much easier just to go with the thoughtless corporate discrimination.

Tell me though, dear Marks and Sparks, if you prick us, do we not bleed? If you expend a huge marketing budget to convince us to be more in love on a particular day of the year, do we not go hunting for achingly corny trinkets?

It’s fine, I didn’t want the crackers. I don’t have a girlfriend right now, plus I’d like to think there’s actually a limit to my sentimentality. Yet, if this time next year I’m dating a girl who desires to be showered with heart-shaped knick-knacks and silly little gifts, I fully intend to spoil her. It’s a shame Marks & Spencer don’t want my custom.

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