The handkerchief code (also known as the hanky code, the bandana code, and flagging) is a color-coded system, employed in the 1970s by gay men to alert others of their preferred sexual fetishes and that they were looking for casual-sex. If they were a top/dominant seeking a bottom/submissive, they would wear the flag in its respective position. Wearing a handkerchief on the left side of the body typically indicated that this person was a “top” (one considered active in the practice of the act/fetish indicated by the color of the handkerchief), while wearing it on the right side of the body would indicate one is a “bottom” (one considered passive in the practice of the act/fetish indicated by the color of the handkerchief). I only know of this because I watched the 1980 Al Pacino movie Cruising, where he worked as an undercover New York policeman, assigned to infiltrate the world of homosexual sadomasochistic sex.
It is thought that gay men wearing of bandanas originated in San Francisco after the Gold Rush, when, because of a shortage of women, men were dancing with each other in square dances and they 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. The code was used by gay men to communicate with each other in the noisy and distracting environment of gay bars, although it is out of fashion now, at one time it as a great conversation starter. With a quick glance at your rear end, (the bandana being tucked in your back pocket) anyone who is in-the-know would be aware of what you’re interested in sexually.
The color that you flagged would specify the sex act that you were seeking and you could always change colors depending on the mood that you were in. A Black hankie was a signal that you were into S&M, Dark Blue meant Anal sex, Light Blue said you wanted Oral sex, Brown not surprisingly meant that you were interested in Scat sex which involves human feces. This is getting more gross than I wanted to get, so I will just list the other major colors and if you are interested, than you can look up what they mean. Green, Grey, Purple, Red, Yellow and Orange where anything goes. I have nothing against wearing leather, boots, whips and chains, but this has never been my scene.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver – #291 hosted by Michael – where we are supposed to use the word flag as a noun or a verb, but I went with the adjective flagging.