The Handkerchief Code System
I've always been interested in gay cultural history. Going back to the late 60s and into the 70s, gay men would put different colored handkerchiefs into their back pocket to signify different desires.
I'd love to hear thoughts on this. Why did this trend start? And did it end because it was just too complicated of a system? Was it only in certain gay segments or did everyone do it? Passing fad or something of real substance?
|by Anonymous||reply 42||Last Friday at 8:57 PM|
[quote]And did it end because it was just too complicated of a system?
AIDS is what ended it (and the whole clone look, practically overnight).
Your promiscuity was no longer something you wanted show the world.
|by Anonymous||reply 1||11/08/2015|
'Your promiscuity was no longer something you wanted show the world.'
|by Anonymous||reply 2||11/08/2015|
No, even during the height of AIDS, which was way over exaggerated, gays didn't care. I would go to bars and the same kind of stuff that went on now when on then.
|by Anonymous||reply 3||11/08/2015|
[quote]No, even during the height of AIDS, which was way over exaggerated,
|by Anonymous||reply 4||11/08/2015|
The hanky code allowed you to get some idea of what the other guy was "into," without even bothering to talk to him. Which was either a convenience, or a way of keeping the sex casual and impersonal, depending on your point of view.
|by Anonymous||reply 5||11/18/2015|
Did you wear a hanky to the hanky code, H.C. ?
|by Anonymous||reply 6||11/18/2015|
I liked the codes, if you were horny that night, didn't waste time finding the wrong guy.
|by Anonymous||reply 7||11/18/2015|
One of the problems was the confusion between coasts. S&M could mean Sado or slave/ masochist or master depending on the coast. I seem to remember that pink was also confusing, but I don't remember why.
The other issue was that it became too mainstream. Once it was printed on note cards and T shirts, the entire world knew your business.
|by Anonymous||reply 8||11/18/2015|
I should clarify, the S&M confusion depended on left of right pocket, not the color.
|by Anonymous||reply 10||11/18/2015|
Is this why gay men are so good at colors?
|by Anonymous||reply 11||11/18/2015|
[quote]One of the problems was the confusion between coasts. S&M could mean Sado or slave/ masochist or master depending on the coast.
As a bi-coastaI I was always getting confused & yes, this led to major cock-ups.
|by Anonymous||reply 12||11/18/2015|
R12, I don't know if you ever had this problem, but another confusion was with earrings. Gay men wore tiny hoops to indicate passive and aggressive. Again, it was switched on the coasts. The other problem was that is was also a Chicano macho thing. It indicated whether your first time was with a girl over 16 or under sixteen. (And, yes, they did not think it funny is asked , "If she was 16, do you wear a ring in your nose?") A lot of Chicano guys got hit on because of this, often with unhappy results.
|by Anonymous||reply 13||11/18/2015|
[quote]ZIPLOC BAGthas drugs
|by Anonymous||reply 14||11/18/2015|
The earring signals always seemed like an urban myth to me.
|by Anonymous||reply 15||11/18/2015|
I remember when I was in high school there was discussion about if you wore an earring in one ear it meant you were gay.
To me, at the time, I thought: If you wear an earring at all, you are probably gay.
|by Anonymous||reply 16||11/18/2015|
[quote]I remember when I was in high school there was discussion about if you wore an earring in one ear it meant you were gay. To me, at the time, I thought: If you wear an earring at all, you are probably gay.
Same with me.
I was in an acting class where the teacher was a gay man. He had his right ear pierced which meant he was gay. Then he had new headshots done and he said, "I'm not ashamed of the statement I'm making, but I wonder if it's going to hinder my getting tv and movie work?" Too Late Tyrone as my grandmother would say.
|by Anonymous||reply 17||11/18/2015|
People used to wonder whether it was a left pierced ear meant you were gay, or a right.
|by Anonymous||reply 18||11/18/2015|
The phrase we used to say in high school regarding earings was "left is right , right is wrong."
|by Anonymous||reply 19||11/18/2015|
[quote]"left is right , right is wrong."
|by Anonymous||reply 20||11/18/2015|
I seem to recall keys playing a part in the clone look of SF in the 70s. Keys were carried in your back pocket and attatched with a large metal clasp and hooked to the side loops on your 501s. Whether is was the left or right back pocket meant something. Memory fails.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||11/18/2015|
The keys made everyone look like a high school janitor.
The hipster millennials hook their keys to their belt loops with carabiners. (I think, possibly, so they can put their smartphones in their pants pocket without scratching the glass on their keys.) They look like janitors, too. And most of them carry backpacks or messenger bags. Why not put the keys in there?
|by Anonymous||reply 22||11/18/2015|
[quote] Whether it was the left or right back pocket meant something. Memory fails.
Right = passive. Left = active.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||11/18/2015|
[quote]Right = passive. Left = active.
So Bruce Springsteen was a bottom?
|by Anonymous||reply 24||11/18/2015|
That's a baseball cap, kaween.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||11/18/2015|
What was the color for bitterness and recrimination?
|by Anonymous||reply 27||11/18/2015|
R21 When I lived in DC, I knew a guy who used the keychain thing but WITH a color code-- he had a blue plastic key thing that he wore attached to his left belt loop, thus indicating he was a top, I guess.
|by Anonymous||reply 28||11/18/2015|
I guess colorblind gays made a lot of mistakes when dressing or picking up guys.
|by Anonymous||reply 29||11/18/2015|
So why don't we bring back this system? You know like a retro thing?
|by Anonymous||reply 30||11/18/2015|
[quote]Keys were carried in your back pocket and attatched with a large metal clasp and hooked to the side loops on your 501s.
I thought that was a lesbian thing.
|by Anonymous||reply 31||11/18/2015|
Fist or fisted, R30? Flog or flogged?
|by Anonymous||reply 32||11/18/2015|
Grew up in a rust-belt town. Bar tended as a young person, early 80s. I know that, originally, the bandana system was set up for participants in on the game, but by 1982, the straight guys were wearing the same thing in night clubs. Straight guys in acid wash, with a pink bandana outside their pockets. It was cool to them, but they didn't know why.
|by Anonymous||reply 33||11/22/2015|
I remember my very Catholic mother telling me about the hanky code when I was all of 7 in the 1970s. I have no idea how she knew about this (this is a woman who said she wanted to be a nun if she hadn't married), but maybe she was hiding something about my father.
|by Anonymous||reply 34||11/22/2015|
Yes, and I remember many gay boys who I had no idea were gay filling me in as well.
|by Anonymous||reply 35||12/14/2015|
The hanky codes have been updated, boys. Please keep up... (required viewing below)
|by Anonymous||reply 36||12/14/2015|
I went to Gay Days at Disney in 2001 and one of the days, I decided to wear a brown bandanna Tupac-style to the Magic Kingdom. I got a lot of unwanted attention from a lot of gross people until someone finally clued my oblivious ass in.
|by Anonymous||reply 38||Last Friday at 2:02 PM|
r38 But at least you got to meet Erna.
|by Anonymous||reply 39||Last Friday at 5:43 PM|
R38 what does the brown bandanna mean?
|by Anonymous||reply 40||Last Friday at 5:44 PM|
r40 He likes fruitcake, Rose.
|by Anonymous||reply 41||Last Friday at 6:48 PM|
The pierced ear trend goes back to the 18th century (or earlier) sailing ships and their crews, I believe. If you crossed the equator going South, the left ear was pierced. Going North, it was the right one. Or vice versa.
|by Anonymous||reply 42||Last Friday at 8:57 PM|