5 Mistakes People Make When Buying Gay Couples Gifts

gay couple holiday gifts
Buying for a gay couple this holiday?

Tips for getting gifts for gay couples

Do you have a gay couple on your holiday list? Trying to figure out what to buy them? Feeling stressed because you’re not sure what to get?

If so, you wouldn't be alone. Picking out presents for same sex couples can sometimes be a challenge.

This is particularly true if you are close to only one person in the relationship or if you don’t know the couple all that well.

In an effort to help readers with this challenge, we decided to pen this article as a guide for helping.

lgbt holiday gift ideas
Queer holiday gifts

We're a long term gay couple

Just a little about us. We’re a married couple that’s been together for 25-years. That means long before gay acceptance broke out across America, we were an item.

During some of those early years, we kept our relationship private – even from family members. As time went on and perceptions of gay folks changed, we slowly began to let people know we were more than just “roommates”.

For younger gay men reading this, like millennials, the very notion of hiding may seem crazy. All we can say is that back then, being “out” carried certain risks, particularly for couples.

gay gifts and holidays
Gay couples are like anyone else

Obviously, that’s all changed. With same sex marriage now a reality and LGBT folks more open about their relationships than ever before, hiding is less common.

But what hasn’t caught up with the times is the issue of recognizing gay couples during special occasions. Here, we’re talking the holidays.

Gay Gift Mistake Story

Here’s an example. Last Christmas, we exchanged gifts with a straight couple named Stephen and Janet. They’re neighbors of ours that we’ve known for about a year.

As presents, we bought them an Amazon Gift Card, plus some toys for their pet dog.

And what did they get us?

We’re embarrassed to say it was an adult toy – with lubricant to boot.

Please don’t get us wrong. We’re not prudes and love practical jokes. And we appreciate that they took the time to buy us something. And yes, the old axiom, “It’s not about the gift – it’s the thought that counts” has merit.

Still, we were kind of bummed. The gift just screamed gay stereotypes and was based off inaccurate assumptions.

Several days after Christmas, we ran into the duo at a coffee shop. Somehow, the gift issue came up and Stephen jokingly asked, “Did you guys use it yet?”.

cute gay couples
Gay couples aren't all that different that straight couples

Trying to be cordial, Brian (my husband) replied with an uncomfortable question. “How would you two like it if we had given you two that gift?”

Both Stephen and Janet immediately went silent. You could almost see the light bulbs go off in their heads – an “ah ha” moment if you will.

As we talked more about it, the both of them acknowledged it was more of a gag gift than anything else. “We thought that’s what gay men would like,” admitted Janet.

Never mind that like them, we have a dog. And like them, we enjoy shopping at Amazon too. But instead of seeing us as human beings who happened to be in a same sex relationship, they gave into stereotypes and made poor choice.

Buying for Gay Couples

We’re sharing this story with you because over our nearly two and half decades together, we’ve seen lots of “Stephen and Janet” situations – committed by straights and gays alike.

Here’s the deal. Gay couples are no different than any other couple. We prefer presents that are practical in nature with a high degree of utility.

And so if you are a family member, friend or co-worker of a gay couple that is struggling to get them something this holiday season, we hope the following tips are helpful. And yes, some of this is common sense.

Let’s jump right in!

five
5 mistakes when buying gifts for gay couples

1. Avoid gay stereotype gifts  

When you are making gift selections gay couples, it’s important to not give into stereotypes. Under this point, here are some things to avoid:

  • Unless you are super close to the couple, don’t buy sexually charged gifts.
  • Skip the “Pride Mugs” and “Pride T-Shirts”. While certainly cute, they have little utility.
  • Don’t assume that just because they’re gay, they must love alcohol. Here’s a secret – a lot of gay folks don’t drink at all.

2. Forgetting their pet

Does the duo you know have a pet? If so, it’s important to keep that animal in mind. That’s because for many gay couples, pets are their children.

If they have a fur baby, like a dog or cat, you’ll want to get something that recognizes this point.

Here are some tips:

  • It’s OK to ask the couple what their pets likes or needs.
  • If you are unsure, buy a gift certificate from Petco or Amazon.
  • Include their pet’s name in your holiday card. Let’s say their dog’s name is Spot. Writing something like, “Happy Holidays John, Brian and Spot”. It will mean the world to them!

3. Assumptive gift buying

Many well intentioned people buy gay couples gifts based on assumptions. In some ways, these are connected to stereotypes. In other ways, they’re borne from a place of ignorance.

Examples:

  • Buying show tickets because “gay people love theater”. While certainly true for some LGBT folks, it’s not the case for all. It never hurts to ask first.
  • Buying the couple concert tickets or music albums based on gay stereotypes. Not every gay man digs Brittany Spears or wants to see Madonna.
gay mixed couple
Remember them both

4. Giving Only to One

Believe it or not, there are some people who think it is OK to buy a gift for just one person in the relationship. Example: The both of us still have family members who send Christmas cards or holiday gifts with just one person’s name on it.

Never mind that we’ve been together since 1993 or that some of our family members are on their second or third marriages. They still pull this crap.

Related: Holiday gifts for gay men, boyfriends and couples

What they don’t realize is this: not only do their actions minimize and disrespect our relational bond, their recognition of just one of us speaks volumes about how they feel about LGBT people.

We mean no offense when we say the following but we’re going to do it anyway.

If you have a problem with the gay person in your life being in a same sex relationship, you are better off not getting them anything as opposed to buying for just one.

Here are a few tips under this point:

  • When you send a card to a gay couple, offer holiday greetings to both This is particularly true for long term couples or LGBT folks that are married.
  • Buy practical gifts that both men will use.
  • If your family conducts a gift exchange (aka: pulling names from a hat), remember to include both parties that make up the couple in the activity.

On a related note, we’d also like to say this. A “Family” gathering must include the gay person’s husband, wife or partner.

Never tell your gay son or daughter, “It’s family only” when extending an invitation to a holiday event – particularly if they are partnered or married.

Think about it. Would you seriously ever say that to your straight child and suggest they not bring their spouse?

Years ago, one of my uncles (John Hollywood) did this to me and I’ll level with you – I’ve never stepped foot in their door since.

5. Using gifts to make religious statements 

Some people use the holidays to express religious beliefs. In most cases, that’s perfectly understandable. After all, Christmas time is technically a moment some folks pause to celebrate the birth of Christ.

But with that shared, the holidays aren’t the time to disparage, condemn or pass judgment on the gay couple in your life.

We’ll never forget the Christmas that one of our family members thought it would be a good idea to give us a religious themed book as a “present”.

Inside, it was filled with anti-gay rhetoric and hate.

Obviously, we sent the book back to them. We also told them that in the future, it would be best if they didn’t buy us anything.

And so our point here is to simply say that if you are going to buy a gift for a same sex couple, do so because you want to celebrate the love they share together.

Wrapping Things Up

Buying gifts for gay couples really isn't that complicated. They’re just like anyone else. Practical gifts that everyone in the household can enjoy is the best way to go.

If all else fails and you aren’t sure what to get them, consider a neutral gift such as gift certificates from Amazon or Target.

We hope you found some of the tips we've made here useful! Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

MV would like to thank Greg and Chuck for their contributions and insights.

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