Gifts for my gay husband
June 9, 2016 10:39 PM   Subscribe

My husband is a gay man. I am a straight woman. This is not a problem. Finding a birthday present is the problem.

My husband realized he is gay about 6 months ago, and came out to me about a month after that. We've been married all our adult lives. We found out that our choice to remain in a mixed-orientation marriage is uncommon, but not unheard of, and it's working really well for us. He's out to a few close friends and our adult children, but not many other people.

But this has been a tumultuous year for many reasons, bringing both sadness and joy, and besides, he'll be turning 60 in a few months. I'd like to mark the occasion with a gift in the $200-$250 range, that acknowledges his orientation, his self-awareness and courage, and is something lasting to commemorate a "new" identity and a new decade. I could get him any number of shirts, sweaters, ties, or gift cards, but I'd like to give him something special.

His profession requires that his hands be unencumbered so no watches or rings. He's been a very conservative dresser all his life, sticking to neutrals and dark colours; now that he's out he's daring to wear cobalt blue! Although we're old folks, we are early adopters of tech, and he's a bit of a gear head. He doesn't drink much, some wine occasionally. Anything audio--gear or music--is dicey because he has very particular and discerning tastes. We're not sporty though he enjoys biking and pool (he's taken lessons). He reads a fair amount, but always on his iPad. He enjoys decorative art but doesn't like kitsch or tchotkes. He meditates and journals, and is very comfortable with Eastern and New Age woo philosophy. No grandkids yet. We're in Canada. Do you have any gift ideas?
posted by chausette puppette to Shopping (27 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I find reading on a kindle so much nicer than on an iPad. I'd recommend the paperwhite, it's incredible for reading at night.
posted by chrispy108 at 10:53 PM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Memorable experiences last longer than things.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:59 PM on June 9, 2016 [14 favorites]

Might a small, nicely framed picture of the rainbow flag flying proudly (e.g.) serve as one of a couple gifts? Congrats to him and to you guys.
posted by salvia at 11:11 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

$250 could get you a very nice statue of Buddha. I am thinking one like this guy - the symbolism being that although he has one appearance (the larger Buddha) he is no different than the other appearance (smaller Buddha at his heart). This plays with identity - the difference between outward appearance and the inner experience of one's own mind. You may have to look around to find a more fancy version if you so desire.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:16 PM on June 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

Your question made me smile, I admire you hugely for your position in this. Holding onto this degree of respect and tolerance after decades of marriage is a wonderful example for this spouse, 3 years into the journey / adventure / magical mystery railroad of shared highs and lows, to aspire to.

Your budget should cover a very nice older or possibly first edition of a book that's meaningful to him. Even if he only reads day to day on a device, it sounds like he's the sort of person who might still appreciate a book as an object in this context. My treasured piece of Eastern woo is a copy of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran which was gifted by my mother to her father, and then by her to me after he died.

There's obviously no way of knowing precisely what would count as meaningful to him, so I'll just finish by reccomending AbeBooks as a resource for finding this sort of thing.

All the best to you both in this new chapter, and beyond.
posted by protorp at 11:28 PM on June 9, 2016 [19 favorites]

Do you live near a major city?

June is Pride Month, so maybe a day or weekend trip to catch a Pride parade or two?
posted by spinifex23 at 11:35 PM on June 9, 2016 [16 favorites]

and is very comfortable with Eastern and New Age woo philosophy

If he believes in astrology and has never had a proper chart done, there is a very big difference between "popular"/sun sign astrology and getting a proper natal chart and professional reading. A custom reading is going to cost substantially more than the $15 generic print out bought at your local fair, so it might be in your price range. It also might be meaningful for him.
posted by Michele in California at 11:52 PM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

I ditto everything protorp says and have much respect for you. Your husband is a lucky man to have such an awesome partner. Ditto about June being pride month, invest in a weekend trip or fun experience for the BOTH of you.
posted by pearlybob at 12:21 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Other than the Buddha suggestion (which is still a little dicey) uh, you do know gay people are just like straight people, right? They like the same gifts.

What your husband will perceive a very special gift has nothing to do with his orientation. You know him as a person. What does he want?

Ask if you don't know!
posted by jbenben at 12:34 AM on June 10, 2016 [7 favorites]

You know his style better than me, but if he wears collared shirts, collar clips (random etsy) are a handsfree jewelry item. I see them most often on androgynous young gay people of all genders. It's an item that's a little more daring than the average straight man would wear, but that is not especially feminine (and in fact relies on a collared shirt).
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:34 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

It sounds to me like maybe you want a "coming out gift" not just a gift for a gay man? Maybe that might be a useful thing to look for or Google for, though it's not my expertise.
posted by Lady Li at 1:55 AM on June 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

You know, you said sweaters at the beginning like it was a dumb thing, but a really luxe-feeling cashmere sweater in a beautiful color that's a bit more on the cobalt side than black or navy might be really nice if he's the type to enjoy something like that.
posted by Night_owl at 4:04 AM on June 10, 2016 [7 favorites]

I agree that you should just get him something he'd really like! A sweater or gift certificate to ipad medium he'd consume. He has always been this same man and you know him so we! I'm not sure how it matters he is also attracted to men. Lots of people are attracted to lots of other people who are not their spouses without acting on it. These people get nice sweater or whatever else they really like when their birthdays come round.
posted by Kalmya at 4:12 AM on June 10, 2016

Another experience-type thing he might like would be going to some LGBT events, Pride or otherwise, although I'd recommend finding something with more of an older crowd. Sometimes you can find older, established gay bars that will do the trick. When you finally admit something like this to yourself, it feels really good to be around other people who are the same way. Very comforting.

But also, I would recommend buying a little rainbow decorative item. He can keep it on his dresser at home or something, sweep it into a drawer if someone comes over and he's not out with them. It's just nice having an acknowledgment.

Best of luck!
posted by possibilityleft at 4:40 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would go with a really nice, hand bound journal with a leather cover.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 4:53 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

What about a donation to an (local?) organization that specifically supports older people who coming out? Apparently it's a population with very real needs, as he's no doubt had ample opportunity to contemplate lately.
posted by teremala at 5:22 AM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I suggest tickets to a great concert or theater performance. If you could arrange for the kids to attend too, I think that would be a nice recognition of the day.
posted by areaperson at 5:27 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Back in 2008, my then-boyfriend's brother finally got a divorce from the lying, cheating, emotionally abusive, lazy, litigious piece of scum he was married to. To commemorate the event, celebrate him finally having the courage to break free, and recognize that he was starting a new life, my ex got him a hand stamped pendant necklace that said "New Day 2008".*

There are people on Etsy who will do custom orders for this sort of thing. He can put it on a long chain and wear it under his shirt, if he wants. It's a nice gift that will last forever, and reminds him that there are people who support him and understand. A dog tag shape works well for this. You could also have your name and a personal message on the other side.

*Of course, within six months he was involved with another woman who was just as bad or worse, who tricked him into getting her pregnant and then, after letting him and his family pay for all her pregnancy expenses and expensive baby gifts, refused to let them see the baby and skipped town. Sigh.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:53 AM on June 10, 2016

I would go with a really nice, hand bound journal with a leather cover.

And a superior pen to go with it.
posted by briank at 5:58 AM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

How would a nice key ring be received?

60th + the year you came out says a keepsake present, to me.
posted by BibiRose at 6:10 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

The timing is close enough... get him a beautifully framed print of Trudeau raising the Pride Flag on Parliament Hill.

(That said, I really think your best bet is to stick with stuff that you know he as a person likes. Being gay isn't the sum total of my identity, and I personally would rather most people, especially straight people, give me things they know I like rather than trying to divine part of my identity they cannot possibly understand.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:19 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

An antique sextant, astrolabe, compass, or other piece of navigational equipment, to commemorate his finding his true path, and celebrate charting his future.
posted by ejs at 7:24 AM on June 10, 2016 [20 favorites]

For something tangible I like the suggestions of a really nice journal and pen.

But maybe book him for a meditation retreat. My husband (who is not gay) quite enjoyed a Vispassana retreat a couple of years ago.
posted by vignettist at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2016

This is slightly more than your price range, but Jane Mount at Ideal Bookshelf has this really cool thing where you send her a list of books that shaped your life, are important to you, etc, and she paints an original piece of them together. (If you browse around on that site, there may be cheaper/different options.)

This was my gift to myself on my 30th birthday, and it's something I really treasure. For a book lover it's like having a portrait of your life journey, in a way.
posted by sallybrown at 8:05 AM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

How does he feel about tattoos? My partner was heterosexually married for 22 years before he came out to himself, and within the year to his (then) wife and children. His transition was less smooth than it sounds like you and your husband's (although everything worked out great, it took a bit of time). He punctuated the biggest part of it--when he moved into his own place--with a poignant, beautiful, small tattoo. It's a ribbon on which is written "move forward." It was in the $250 range, albeit we were living in a Big Expensive Tattoo City at the time.

What about a donation to an (local?) organization that specifically supports older people who coming out? Apparently it's a population with very real needs, as he's no doubt had ample opportunity to contemplate lately.

This is a wonderful idea, too. SAGE is the principal U.S. org that's active on this issue. If you contact them I'm sure they'd direct you to their Canadian equivalent.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you do end up going the nice leather journal / fancy (fountain?) pen direction, I'm happy to natter on about recommendations. (just, some, ideas.)

This is such a lovely post, and if it's the thought that counts, you've clearly got that in spades!
posted by sazerac at 9:36 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thank you so much everyone! All these ideas are great. I keep a list of "future gift ideas" for each family member and everything mentioned here will go on that list. I grok well the reminder that gay people like the same presents straight people do. He's getting some *slightly* more colourful sweatshirts (he wears sweatshirts all the time) for Fathers' Day this weekend, and our anniversary is just shortly after his birthday, so there'll be a couples' experience thing, plus a gift card for his favourite thing for those occasions. But his 60th birthday is a personal milestone, and as I mentioned, it seems important to acknowledge his journey.

The answers I noted as "best" are especially appealing for *this* birthday and I will recommend some of them to our kids as well. Thank you for these ideas.

Thank you also for the expressions of support. I will certainly mention SAGE to my husband to look for a local variant. I posted through a sockpuppet account because my husband's privacy is key here, not just mine. "Our Marriage v2.0" is evolving gradually!
posted by chausette puppette at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2016 [12 favorites]

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