Small, kind gestures can mean the world to someone transitioning or who just came out. But how does one choose what to give, or how to express their continued love for and support of that person? In honor of Pride Month, Pittsburgh City Paper has a gift guide for just such an occasion, with options that also support local businesses.
“Decidedly Queered” flowers
Flowers carry many surprising meanings, some of which are significant to the LGBTQ experience. Better yet, they can be found at any local florist or nursery, presented as a bouquet or potted plant.
According to the JSTOR Daily article “Four Flowering Plants That Have Been Decidedly Queered,” influential writer Oscar Wilde made the green carnation a “secret, subtle hint that you were a man who loved other men.”
Vibrant purple flora are especially intertwined with LGBTQ history. Violets are connected with the lesbian ancient Greek poet Sappho, while lavender recalls the struggles of gay Americans who were persecuted by the government in the mid-20th century.
Initially used as a slur against gay men, pansies have been reclaimed by the community as an important symbol.
Greeting cards from Maude’s Paperwing Gallery
210 Grant Ave., Millvale. maudespaperwinggallery.com
The queer-owned shop Maude’s Paperwing Gallery has a seemingly endless selection of items tailored for the LGBTQ community, including flags, pins, prints, and more.
The Millvale establishment carries a number of greeting cards made for friends or loved ones who have come out. Choose from cards by Liv Lyszyk Prints, Ladyfingers Letterpress, The Third Arrow, or Ash and Chess, all of which are queer and/or trans-owned businesses. The cards feature messages for transgender or LGBTQ-specific recipients, such as “Congrats on your new name!” or “No matter where you end up on the spectrum you are loved all the same.”
Pick up any of these cards in person or order them online at the Maude’s website.
Prism collection from love,
489 Market Square, Downtown. lovestores.co
If you are Downtown for Pride events, stop at love, Pittsburgh’s new concept store in Market Square, which features a new rainbow-themed Prism collection. Create your own little gift box and show your unconditional affection with the Heart Prism sticker, card, and notebook. For good measure, add the collection’s namesake, a crystal able to catch the sun and make its own rainbows.
Books from Stories Like Me
4381 Murray Ave., Greenfield. storieslikeme.com
Buying for an LGBTQ child or teen presents its own challenges, as many Pride gifts are designed for adults. Luckily, the Greenfield bookstore Stories Like Me specializes in material for young readers across the LGBTQ spectrum, and across age groups, from children’s books to YA novels.
Owner Helen Campbell recommended a few titles to consider, including the activity-filled The Trans Self-Care Workbook, True You: A Gender Journey, the fictional Cemetery Boys, and This is our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them and Us, which is aimed at middle schoolers. Choose from these books or check out the shop’s permanent Pride table.
Bandanas from WorkshopPGH
5131 Penn Ave., Garfield/700 S. Trenton Ave., Wilkinsburg. workshop-pgh.square.site
Bandanas are an important part of LGBTQ culture (Google “hanky code”), making them an affordable, yet meaningful gift for anyone new to the community. WorkshopPGH carries a number of beautifully designed bandanas by local and/or queer artists. Consider the Love, Love, Love cotton kerchief by Portland, Ore.-based artist Lisa Congdon, or something from Pittsburgh’s own Mary Tremonte, aka Mary Mack, whose “queer ecology” hankies feature images of critters, birds, mushrooms, and more.
Donate to a local LGBTQ charity in the person’s name
For the recipients who have everything, or are the “no gifts” type, try donating to an LGBTQ cause in their name. Pittsburgh has a number of nonprofits and organizations dedicated to providing health care, housing, and other resources to the community. These include Allies for Health + Wellbeing, PGH Equality Center, QMNTY Center, Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation, and many others.