DIY: Some Super Gay Envelopes

Hey, remember that pen pal thing? The part where we all write other Autostraddlers so we don’t only get bills in the mailbox? If you’ve gotten your pen pal assignment (and don’t worry if you haven’t, Laura’s still sending out emails because there are a bajillion of you!) then you’ll know if your new friend would like  to receive a letter full of love wrapped up in a plain envelope or a super gay one. For those with option numero dos, let’s gay up some envelopes!

For every project listed here, you’ll need an envelope!  If you don’t have one, you can totally make one.

You will also need:

an ultra fine point Sharpie
a very gay book
– a piece of paper
rubber cement
water color paints
a small paintbrush
– a mug you don’t drink out of, filled with water
– scrap newspaper

Effort Level One:  Stickers!

i can haz letter?


The nice part about stickers is that they require almost no effort.  They are also fairly inexpensive.  And they can be used to decorate or seal an envelope.  The above sticker is from The DK Baby Animals sticker book, but other suggestions include donating to Autostraddle to get a Whiskey Kitten sticker, or even buying a lovely You Do You sticker from our shop.

Effort Level Two:  Words, Words, Words!

Other options include The Feminine Mystique or transcripts of Buffy.

Choose a page or two from your Very Gay Book (I chose Tipping the Velvet.)  Start from the top left corner and write your copy fairly small along the top edge.  Leave a small gap when you get to the corner to avoid future word crashes, turn the envelope and continue to write along the edge.  Wash, rinse and repeat until you wind up with a border of gay words surrounding a clear square in which to write an address.

Cut a small square of of paper big enough to write your return address on and rubber cement it to top left corner of your envelope.  Voilà!  Address, stuff and send!

Effort Level Three:  Address the Rainbow!

super gay rainbow envelope

Rainbows will make your pen pal happy!

Variation one: Lay the scrap newspaper down first because you do not want water colors all over your new crafty table.  Dip your brush in the water to activate the water colors.  Start with the cool colors and begin to layer on several different shades of purple at the right edge of the envelope.  Repeat with each color of the rainbow until you reach the left edge, ending with red on the left edge.  Remember, rainbows are ROYGBIV.  Or not.  You do you.

This also serves as a form of stress relief.

Variation two:  Lay down quite a bit of scrap newspaper to catch the paint that’s going to fly.  Go heavy on the water this time.  Dip your brush in a lot of water and activate a pigment of your choice.  Hold the paintbrush securely and flick your wrist in the general direction of the envelope.  The more water you use, the splotchier your Jackson Pollock masterpiece will be.  Let the envelope dry, then pick your favorite color and outline the edges on the face of the envelope.  Once the front is dry, flip to the back outline the back edges.  If you paint over the enclosure, separate it immediately so that you don’t inadvertently seal your envelope before you get the chance to use it.

Effort Level Four:  Gay Thumbprints!

Use a lot of water on a color until you can comfortably coat your thumb in a pigment.  For the butch/femme thumbprints, coat your thumb in blue and forefinger in pink (or whatever colors you pick, these two just happen to be my choices.)  Put one of each fingerprint on the face of the envelope, pressing firmly enough to leave your mark. Let the finger prints dry.  Draw your desired facial features on the thumbs with your Sharpie.  To make the bouquet, draw the stems on with sharpie first.  Then using a very light touch, dab your paintbrush on top of the stems to create your flowers.  For more defined flowers, let each color you use dry before moving on to the next color.  Last, add some color to the stems (and to your butch thumbprint’s cheeks, if you so choose.)

Now this is just pure snail mail happiness.

Also try a genderqueer thumbprint!  The order is the same: thumbprint first, let it dry.  Then draw on features (and in this case, confetti) with an ultra fine point Sharpie, and add the color to the rainbow hair and confetti last.  Of course, try every option/expression/person/thumbprint/ color.  There are as many kinds of queer envelopes as there are queer people.  Have at it, y’all!  Let’s transgress the postal system!

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. Ahhh fingers crossed my gal wants a gay envelope! All these ideas are fantastic! Though even if she doesn’t I can still make it pretty just not, like, pussies in your face, pretty….. :)

  2. Are we still able to sign up for the penpal joy? I am new to AS and would love to join in on the fun!

    • sorry guys, everyone’s already matched up! we’re going to have another one in the future (after julia and i have figured out a way to do this that allows us to tell you who your pen pal is in less than 3 months) so just hold on and it’ll happen!

  3. Also, like totes unrelated but: nice books you’ve got there in the background :)

  4. I want to make and receive gay envelopes! But I didn’t have a mailing address until thIs week. :/
    I’ll find a use for these new skills eventually.

  5. I really hope my pen pal reads this post.

    I was so excited that I wrote and mailed my pen pal the same day I got the assignment. Squeee!

  6. My penpal is getting some tricked-out envelopes whether it’s allowed to be gay or not. I have like, fifty National Geographic envelopes I need to use.


    • Hey Carly–

      The pen pals are all matched up, but there will be another round in the future, according to Laura.

  7. ;_; Still haven’t obtained my assignment. Is there a ballpark estimate as to when we’ll all be set up?

    • Seconding this. The only reason I’m concerned is because I’m moving in 3 weeks, and I’d hate to miss out after signing up what seems like so long ago.

      And I’d hate for my penpal to write me and never receive a reply due to no fault of their own. I could ruin someone’s life here.

  8. I still cannot get over the thumbprint ones. The genderqueer one is just so happy! I can’t even handle it.

  9. In what universe is neatly writing out a passage from a book in a tight space less effort than painting? Well, maybe is you handwriting is nice…

    I haven’t gotten my assignment yet either, but you can bet I’m going all out as soon as I do!

  10. I already sent my first letter (Hi, penpal!) but I see confetti thumbprint people in the near future….

  11. can’t wait to know who my pal is! But wait… what if I dindt sign on time? how can I know? :(

  12. Ok if my pen pal doesn’t want gay envelopes, I will MAKE A GAY ENVELOPE and put it a bigger, lamer envelope!!! Oui?

  13. Are only half the people getting their penpal’s information via email?
    The other half have to wait for their letter to arrive? :0

  14. Anybody have suggestions for where to get good stationery(online or otherwise)? My search has been to no avail. I may be picky, but there’s just not much selection out there. I love being crafty and DIY’y, but I’m super busy too. Any leads? (to be honest I’ve been putting off my first letter because I want it to look just right! I hope my pen pal hasn’t ditched me yet!)

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