Hanky Code:

The hanky code is a color code system that men can use to indicate preferred fetish or sexual preferences by wearing one or more color handkerchiefs in their left or right pockets.

In gay culture a man will often wear his keys on his left to indicate he prefers to take the top or dominant role, or on the right to indicate he prefers the bottom or submissive role. In the leather community an armband worn on the left or the right arm is used to indicate the same preference.

During the 1970’s the hanky code developed to further define the wearer’s preferences. While there is not a universally agreed on code, most codes do agree on the most common colors. Wearing a hanky in a back pocket is also referred to as flagging. Popularity of the hanky code declined during the 1980’s, only remaining popular in the Leather Community.

Larry Townsend’s The Leatherman’s Handbook II, 1983 second edition, included the following table which is generally considered authoritative. Implicit in this list of hanky color codes is the concept of right/left polarity.

Dark BlueAnal sex
Light BlueOral sex
Kelly GreenHustler/prostitution
OrangeAnything, anywhere, anytime (but not necessarily anyone)
PurpleInto piercing
Pink (light)Dildo/anal toys

Other colors have been added over the years, the more common include:

Gray with BlackLight SM
CharcoalLatex / Rubber
Robin’s Egg Blue69’er
Teal BlueCock & Ball play
LavenderDrag Queens
Dark PinkTit play
MajentaArm pits
Hunter GreenDaddy / Boy
Olive DrabMilitary Uniforms
Black / White CheckSafe Sex
Red / White StripeShaving
Red / Black StripeFurry Bears
PaisleyBoxer Shorts

In some cases meanings can differ. More inclusive lists can be found at:

Please note that wearing a bandana in a back pocket has also become popular among rock ‘n’ roll musicians in more recent years. Asking can avoid misunderstandings.

Printable PDF version

Additional Information:

Trust, Honor and Respect

Please note that CMEN does not control the content of linked web sites, the organizations who own these web sites accept sole responsibility for their content. Information on this page is provided for educational purposes and does not imply endorsement by CMEN.

Exploring the Leather CommunityLeather Events and OrganizationsWearing LeatherLeather CareLeather ShopsHanky CodeExploring Kink