As lesbian, gay and bisexual people, what sets us apart — the source of our difference, our discrimination, and ultimately the change we can bring to the world — is whom we love.

Against this backdrop, declaring that love, whether privately in a card on Feb. 14, or publicly any day of the year, becomes a small act of revolution, of standing up for our own rights.

That’s why February is also Freedom to Marry month, when activists in many cities around the country hold events to focus on the rights gay couples are denied. 2011 also marks ten years of Marriage Equality USA’s annual marriage counter actions, in which gay couples apply for marriage licenses and are then denied, calling attention to the lack of rights we receive.

Those protests have never really caught on in Georgia, where gay marriage is banned by both a state law and a constitutional amendment.

But we can still use Valentine’s Day as an occasion to recommit ourselves not only to the person we love, but also to our right to love free of discrimination or violence.

Neither of those is easy. That’s why you’ll find advice in our special Dating & Sex section for how to avoid being a First Date Don’t, gifts for Valentine’s Day or any day you want to show your love, romantic restaurants, and even an exploration of the choice couples often face (but some rarely talk about) between monogamy and forging other models for our relationships.

Lest we forget that others still hate us for who we love, this issue also includes an interview with Christopher Staples, a gay Carrollton man whose home was burned after someone allegedly threw an anti-gay note through the window.

And in a promising note for the future, our Community section introduces you to a group of Cobb County teens organizing their very own Gaybie Hawkins dance — so they can not only dance with the people they love, but also raise money to help other LGBT youth.

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