Stuff Queer People Need To Know

Photo: Bandanas folded up and laid out in rainbow order for the hanky code or flagging. Photo source: Google Images

Flagging, also know as the hanky code, is a way to signal to others what type of sex, kink or fetish someone is seeking. It’s an subtle way to express a potentially taboo or deviant desire publicly to those initiated to the code while going unnoticed by the normative culture. Flagging opens a platform for negotiating those desires by inviting potentially sexual attention. (And while flagging means being open to being propositioned and to being rejected, a flag is not be misconstrued as consent.)

Photo: A person wearing blue jeans with multiple bandana hankies in the pockets flagging all different colors. Photo source: Google Images.

In the gay cruising culture of the mid-20th century, men would wear their keys on their belt on the left to indicate if he was a top or dominate partner and on the right to indicate if he was a bottom or reciprocal partner, according to Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Susan Stryker

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