It's armpit and piss freaks war back there!
SUPERSWEET's Poonperm Paitayawat divulges the gay man’s guide to thumbing a ride with the ultimate secret code in Gayville - coloured pocket hankies! Ever wondered what a green scarf in the left pocket signals? Or a purple hanky up top? If so, shame on you, you dirty bitch! Read on to learn how, what, when and why it all started, and what our reporter got up to when he tried it for himself…
A Day with the Hanky.
Knowing I’ve been single all my life and desperate to find my other half, my fairy godmother appeared and gave me something she said would make my wish come true. What she actually handed over to me was a “Gay Hankies” list, because she wasn’t actually my godmother at all but my boss, and this isn’t a typical Cinderella fairytale, but a tale of “fairies” featuring explicit, adult content.
Needless to quip, I seriously frowned upon her, told her this wasn’t the 70s and that people nowadays use Gaydar for meet-ups and hook-ups, but she insisted the list would do me good and I, against my will, took her straight advice.
For your information, I am a 24-year-old gay, 5’6” tall, lean, relatively fashionable, relatively good-looking but not much interested in gay culture. I am, more or less, a gay-scene virgin. The “Gay Hankies” thing, if successful, would become a divine initiation for me into the gay world. Gay - what a great word.
Getting ready, I lay out all the handkerchiefs I have. My, I do have quite a collection… It’s not that surprising - handkerchiefs have long been used to accessorise men, perfecting our folding skills, stuffing them into jacket pockets and hoping they’ll redeem us from the otherwise boring men’s outfit. I have some Prada ones, some Etro, some Paul Smith, one with a Teddy Bear pattern and one printed all over with Mickey Mouse .
The love-igniting “Gay Hankies” list says, “The hanky code is a traditional form of signalling to others what your sexual preferences and interests are.” That sounds alright. “Gay men used this code to communicate with each other in the noisy and distracting environment of gay bars.” It also says, “worn in the rear trouser pocket on the left side of the body for top or giver; on the right for bottom or taker.” That’s quite informative, but I need to know a bit more.
The hanky code, aka ‘bandana code,’ was popularised in the 70s in the US and predominantly in gay leather and BDSM subculture. Gay people owe much to the cowboys and miners in San Francisco post Gold Rush; that is, due to shortage of women, men participating in square dances wore a bandana in the right rear trouser pocket to suggest they were taking the male part, and the left the female part, hence giver and taker, bottom and top. Et voila: Here originated the Gay Hanky Code.
Gay hankies are practical rather than decorative. Colours and prints are crucial. The List seems to be in favour of mono-hues - black, blue, green, red, yellow, brown…I’m sure nobody can memorise all these codes. Brown worries me, but maybe people just stick to the “colours” they are into. Pity, because almost all of mine are way too colourful. Well, I have to be careful from now on. A wrong hanky may land me up the wrong end.
I start with my Prada hanky in geometric print and contrasting colours. It’s predominantly apricot, meaning “I’m a chubby chaser.” But there’s also a bit of pale yellow, meaning “I’m into spits and drool.” Flecks of black suggest “I’m into heavy SM.” Whoooooh! If guys understood these signals right I’d be eyeing for a fat guy into heavy SM who loves to spit! That isn’t so nice.
The teddy bear hanky suggests I’m looking for cuddles. A little too mild? The Etro hankies are, like Prada, polychromes. Shockingly, a Mickey Mouse print doesn’t carry any code. At the end, I’m torn between two PS handkerchiefs. One is dark red and the other blue. One means “looking for a two-handed fister,” the other “wants head.”
I’m definitely up for one of these. I won’t divulge which, but let’s just say I head along to Soho flashing my arse like a red flag in front of a bull. If you want to know the ending to this, you’ll just have to wait until morning.
NB: And if you want to really pull up a gay hanky chart, just google it!
Words: Poonperm Paitayawat
Illustration: Juliet Sugg