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.

Color Interest
Black S&M
Gray Bondage
Dark Blue Anal sex
Light Blue Oral sex
Brown Scat
Kelly Green Hustler/prostitution
Orange Anything, anywhere, anytime (but not necessarily anyone)
Purple Into piercing
Red Fisting
Pink (light) Dildo/anal toys
White Masturbation
Yellow Watersports

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

Gray with Black Light SM
Charcoal Latex / Rubber
Robin’s Egg Blue 69’er
Teal Blue Cock & Ball play
Lavender Drag Queens
Dark Pink Tit play
Mauve Navels
Majenta Arm pits
Fuschia Spanking
Coral Toes
Rust Cowboys
Hunter Green Daddy / Boy
Olive Drab Military Uniforms
Beige Rimming
Tan Cigars
Black / White Check Safe Sex
Red / White Stripe Shaving
Red / Black Stripe Furry Bears
Paisley Boxer Shorts
Leopard Tattos

More inclusive lists can be found at: www.sacbolt.com/hankycode.html, www.chicagoleather.com/hanky.html, www.leathernjonline.com/hanky.htm and www.thetwilightguard.org/tg_hanky.html. In some cases meanings can differ.

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

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