It's that time of the year again - where love and legs are up in the air!
No, I'm not describing a typical date with yours truly.
I'm talking about Valentine's Day.
In contrast, courting couples, "married" couples and even adulterous couples would act all lovey-dovey and shower each other with romantic presents - in the process, losing all good sense and falling prey to retail traps everywhere.
Beyond spoiling our significant others with hideous heart-shaped hampers, Valentine's Day is also an ideal time to shower some love and affection on a group of someones who occupy a very special place in our hearts: our gay and lesbian friends.
When talking about friends, I'm not talking about casual acquaintances of the "hi-bye!" variety with whom we exchange air-kisses and trade gossips, nor party pals with whom we hit the club circuit every weekend.
I'm talking about friends who comfort us when we're weeping over our break-ups, stand by us during trying times and tell us the truth all the time - like when our new jeans make our asses look like J Lo's.
Moreover, if we look back at our rides on the merry-go-round of love, we'll soon realise that while our lovers would often come and go - there is one constant in our lives: our close friends.
But besides being there for us most, if not all, of the time, our gay and lesbian friends also deserve our special attention this Valentine's Day because they have increasingly become our "other family." Let me elaborate.
As gays and lesbians, we often find ourselves excluded from the traditional and heterosexist definition of a "family unit" and in many parts of the world, we are denied the legal rights to form our own "family unit."
During the AIDS crisis, gay men and women often banded together to care for their ailing friends who were abandoned by their biological families. Even today, many gay men and women still look to their gay and lesbian friends for support and love, more so in homophobic societies.
In the process, we form our own alternative "family" comprising partners, close friends, household pets and sometimes even ex-boyfriends/girlfriends - and these "families" often prove to be as (or if not more) dependable than flesh and blood.
So on this Valentine's Day, let's make an earnest attempt to celebrate our love for these special gay and lesbian friends who have become an integral part of our lives, and with whom we have laughed, cried and grown up with.
The reason is simple.
For as Orland Outland so succinctly puts it: "We often choose our lovers on the strength of today's desires, but we choose our friends for life (The Principles: The Gay Man's Guide to Getting (And Keeping) Mr. Right)."
Alvin Tan would like to dedicate this article to his partner Louis as well as his close friends David, Joshua, Sylvester, AE, Croven, Andrew, Dak, L.H., Y.T. and Edric.