They have a whiskey and they look in your direction. You can see their eyes registering your face then traveling downwards, their gaze lingering on the red handkerchief folded square and neat in your ripped jeans, in your left back pocket. Flagging, or the hanky code, has been around for some time, some say since the gold rush.
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The handkerchief codealso known as the hanky codebandana codeor flaggingis a way of indicating, usually among gay male casual sex seekers or BDSM practitioners in the leather subculture in the United StatesCanada and Europe, whether they are a top or bottomand what kind of sex they are seeking, by wearing cotton color-coded handkerchiefs bandanasusually in the back pocket. This code was widely used in the sbut is much less used today. The terms bandana codehanky codeor flagging are much more widely used among those in the leather subculture than the term handkerchief code.
PIt seems like only a brief minute ago that on any night out in a gay nightclub, you would see all manner of guys there sporting bandanas and keys in their rear pockets, advertising to those in-the-know what they were into. Which pocket I used depended on my mood as I raced out the door at home, but there was no guarantee that that was the side it would stay on if the right guy showed some interest! Same applied to keys.
As well as deciphering the codes of hankies, key chains and earrings, Gay Semiotics guides us through archetypes, street fashions and various BDSM practices. Forty years on, the images can now be seen at Project Native Informant in London, along with other Fischer works from the s. For Fischer, the humour, the labels, the instructive text and the use of greyscale all served to undermine the romanticism that still surrounded photography in the US at the time.
The hanky code was widely used in the s by gay and bisexual men. The wearing of various colored bandanas around the neck was common in the mid- and late-nineteenth century among cowboyssteam railroad engineersand miners in the Western United States. It is thought that the wearing of bandanas by gay men originated in San Francisco after the Gold Rushwhen, because of a shortage of women, men dancing with each other in square dances developed a code wherein the man wearing the blue bandana took the male part in the square dance, and the man wearing the red bandana took the female part these bandanas were usually worn around the arm or hanging from the belt or in the back pocket of one's jeans [ citation needed ].