It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a newly-out baby gay must be in want of rainbow-bedecked everything.
After I came out, I wanted a lil’ flag for my desk because if it’s good enough for Captain Holt, it’s good enough for me. I pondered the practicality and permanence of various bumper stickers and rainbow tattoos. I searched for the perfect shirt that proclaimed my queerness. It wasn’t just because I can be a bit single-minded (I can) or because I love to shop (I do). It was mostly because once I was ready, communicating my queerness felt great. I wanted to be visible, for lack of a better phrase, and I wanted to celebrate being more myself — even if that celebration was a party for one.
The baby gay in your life might want to wear a rainbow flag like a cape, or maybe they’re looking for something more subtle. Whatever their journey out of the closet looks like, they’ll be the easiest person you’ll shop for this holiday season. You can’t go wrong with a rainbow.
Something to Wear for Pride
I know I said right in the sub-heading that these shirts were for wearing to Pride, but that’s not entirely true. I mean, yes, the button-down is just waiting to be french-tucked, or dramatically-buttoned so you feel like Leo in “Romeo + Juliet.” And can I vouch for the rainbow-flag cape as both the perfect accessory and the perfect impromptu curtain in that Bates Motel-y B&B room you booked last minute during Asbury Park Pride? Hell yes I can! But that doesn’t mean these gifts are right for your baby gay, in particular. A tee shirt is a nice place to start when it comes to, let’s be real, kinda wearing your sweet baby gay-ngel heart on your sleeve/chest/abdomen. I’m “Queer and Forever Here” whether I’m marathoning “Bob’s Burgers” or out running errands, and the shirt is comfy enough for whatever context suits me best. Not something I can say for the cape, unfortunately!
Something to Read
It’s always been important to me to see my experiences reflected on a page, or to feel my perspective and empathy expanding with every turn of the page. Dammit, I love books. Here are the ones I’d give, if I were you.
Got a friend who is a baby in gay years but is otherwise #adulting on the regular? I wish they had a copy of “Would You Rather?” in their hands yesterday to remind them that their sexuality is valid and their identity is valid even if they haven’t known all their life.
“Mostly Dead Things” was my favorite book of 2019, and I know I’ll struggle to explain why without going far off-topic. Instead, I need you to know that at a reading I attended in Philadelphia, Kristen Arnett categorized excerpts from “Mostly Dead Things” as “sad gay” and “horny gay,” respectively. Both excerpts delivered. Package this book with “Fun Home” for the friend who loves great writing, and stories that explore complicated family dynamics and That Gay Shit.
And for the friend who’s in love for the first time? “We Are Okay” will wreck them, in a cathartic and thrilling way.
Help them gay all day
Rainbow trinkets are not just for when your roller derby team/queer-friendly church/nonprofit is tabling at a Pride event! Those sweet rainbow string lights from Target have proven more than worth their $6 price tag for me. They give off a cozy, warm light and they withstood 2-3 months of nightly use before the batteries needed to be changed.
And a mini rainbow flag goes a long way in a small space, according to me, myself, and the succulent pot I “decorated” while I moved myself into a new apartment last summer. Nearly a year before that, I was a baby gay whose friend helped check store after store for a lil’ flag I could call my own during a day trip to an artsy town with full-size pride flags on every flagpole. We couldn’t find a single rainbow flag for sale, like maybe the shop owners had come to blows competing to sell them at lower and lower prices, and had to negotiate a truce. But our half-joking “quest” made me feel seen and validated at a time when I really needed it, and I think that’s better than any gift I could suggest here. … But also: supporting your friends is (please, please do not @ me) not a gift so much as it is part of the territory of friendship, and your Secret Santa giftee probably wants stuff anyway.
For the One Who Puts the “Baby” in “Baby Gay”
Few things warm my heart as much as letters to Slate’s Care and Feeding advice column from parents, older siblings, and cool aunts/uncles/whomevers who are stressing about how to do right by their family’s literal baby gays. I’m not qualified to give parenting advice, but I am qualified to encourage you to buy your family’s babiest gay a copy of “Annie on my Mind” so that she doesn’t have to do the mental gymnastics re: how to check it out of the library discreetly. Make sure to tell her that slogging through that ear-piercing D-plot is worth it! And maybe gift this book alongside “Leah on the Offbeat,” which takes place in the same universe as “Love, Simon” and brings the big gay feels and will-they-won’t-they romance without the of-its-time prejudice the main characters face in “Annie on my Mind.” Another big plus with “Leah”? Bi representation!
Am I too old to start making embroidery floss bracelets again? Is the answer to that question a definitive yes because I found out roughly two days ago that my middle school friend group’s favorite craft is back? Whatever. Give your favorite gay teen a rainbow of embroidery floss for friendship bracelet-making and/or for the aesthetic. DIY friendship bracelets and scrunchies and big ole’ stickers are currently considered “VSCO girl things,” but I think the VSCO girls are on to something.
Wishing you and yours (baby gay pals and partners included) a merry and bright holigay season!