This V-Day we’re celebrating love in all its forms with five incredible TEDxLondon talks about love, relationships, sex and society.

We’ve spent years exploring love in our talks and believe love amounts to so much more than mere romance or a couple’s happiness. We’ve seen love’s incredible power to heal, transform attitudes, spark action and encourage people to demand change – after all – people move mountains for those they love. 

But love also doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our speakers ask how do you build self love in a world that sees you as less than, why do so many of us still have to fight to love freely and what happens if we better understand different types of love outside of the romantic. 

1. Rewriting my story with poetry and love as a Queer Muslim by Sanah Ahsan

As a Queer, Pakistani, Muslim woman, Sanah shares how she works to meet herself with love and unconditional acceptance against structures defined by institutional dehumanisation and profit. 

Women of colour are often taught lethal lessons on self-hatred and shame. Systemic and societal hierarchies exist which render some lives as less human. 

We are not given guidance on how to love ourselves in a white world, which reinforces narratives that place us as less worthy. The beginning of self love is therefore recognising that we matter and we deserve love.

Black feminist writer and superhero, bell hooks, helped me understand that love is not a feeling, it is instead an action, a choice towards the spiritual growth of self and of others.

As a woman of colour I have often felt under siege and my emergent strategy is one of love.

2. Self love is the glue that puts us back together by Shocka

Mental health advocate, poet and artist, Shocka shares his message: only self love can heal you.

“Love thy self. Self love is the glue that puts us back together… 

It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t wake up in the morning and say yeah I love myself now. It doesn’t happen like that. It happens day by day, step by step. 

You continue building yourself up, treating yourself with respect and talking to yourself more positively.”

3. Bringing sexy back for the Asian community by Brown Girls Do It Too

Co-hosts of award-winning podcast, Brown Girls Do It Too, Poppy Jay and Rubina Pabani, are on a mission to redefine sexuality, sex and relationships for themselves and the wider Asian community.

“The universal truth about sex is that it’s seen as low brow, it’s seen as trashy, not just for brown people but for everybody. 

We found this amazing power in talking about sex. Cos sex is like the most intimate part of yourself, and once we spoke about that everything else is on the table – we broke down boundaries really quickly. 

Our podcast is about so much more than sex. It’s actually through the prism of sex that we talk about our relationships with our brown bodies, we talk about our mothers, we talk about daddy issues, we talk about toxic aunties, we talk about the brown men in our community and of course we talk about fanny farts.”

4. We are more than the sum of our parts by Adam all and Apple Derrieres

Drag duo Adam All and Apple Derrieres remind us to stand in solidarity with all people around the world who do not have the freedom to be who they are, to love freely and to celebrate all bodies regardless of their “parts”.

“We are a couple both on stage and off… Our performance and our work is based on our foundation of love which we share openly. 

We’re really lucky to have that kind of life. We are lucky to have the freedom to love each other so openly when people are being persecuted in the world for who they love and who they are.”

5. Friendships are your lifeline by William Young and Christopher Sweeney

Content note: this talk includes discussion of suicidal thoughts and ideation. Best friends Chris and Will shared how they navigated Will’s suicidal thoughts and tackled the worrying trends of poor mental health and suicide rates of male and/or LGBTQ+ people. Their message? Friends can be that lifeline in the dark. 

“Flinders University of Aging found that people over 70 with an extensive network of friends lived for 22% longer. Friendships actually help us live longer…

Crucially we believe you have to learn to open up and see your friendships as places where you can open up and be vulnerable and embrace and be honest about your true, authentic and emotional self.”

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