Have you ever heard of the hanky code? It’s truly a part of gay history and culture. And in this episode of the kinky ABC we’re gonna tell you about it.

For us kinksters it was always difficult to find the right play partner. A sexy ass and a cute smile simply aren’t enough to judge whether the guy likes the same kind of games that I do. That is likely why Grindr isn’t as popular in the kink scene as with fuckers. We need more information in the profiles that gives us knowledge about what stuff they’re into, like on other sexual profiles as for example recon, planetromeo or other kind of dating platforms.

These make it pretty easy for us with their filters. Oh that one looks cute, he’s got a perky butt… oh and he wants to be fisted. Perfect. I’ll take him. A cruise, a few messages, and if things go well, often a bit later, he stands at the front of your doorstep. Kinda like a pizza delivery. Dating has become quite effortless in todays times. But how was that done before smartphones?

Back in those times, you still had to go out of your apartment for that. Either in a gay bar, a club, or another cruising hotspot like a park etc. But how could you tell who’s into fisting, and who is top or bottom? Even the latter one wasn’t very clearly visible just from looks or talk often, because even if he was very manly and had a big dick, that might be just wishful thinking for some.

To resolve that issue in the beginning of the 70’s the gay scene started to develop the first «secret» codes. So secret in fact that, in the year ’75 it was published and explained in the Time Magazine. In the beginnings it was keys, rings or earrings that signalized it. If you wore it left, on the side of your heart, you were a top. If you wore it right, you were a bottom. When you wore it around your neck, you were versatile. At least in America. In Europe it was the other way around. Left means Bottom, Right means Top. So it payed off to ask where one came from. Today most people know the American Code. And although it was still a little confusing, back then that already quite helped to answer one of the “back of the mind” questions out there for most normal gays.

For most kinky gays it wasn’t really revolutionary yet. Sure, you could assume ones role, but if you didn’t stand in a fisting orgy or so, you still were quite uncertain about their interests. And there’s no mention yet for hankeys either if you read the description. Where does that come from?

For that, we need to go back a bit. See, the original hankey code dates way back into the times of the cowboys. Back then, hankeys were utility wear, worn often and for convenience. And so it was not suprising they also used it for signalisation, though not in a sexual way. They used it for dancing. See, the wild west was often a rough place. And that made it often not the most popular place for women. Therefore when the cowboys went into the saloons to have fun and put on their traditional squaredance, at times, since it was a pair dance, the men had to assume the roles of the female dancing partner. But closed dancing can make it difficult to see who’s who. So they used their hankeys to identify the roles. If you wore a blue hankey, you had the man dancing part. And if you wore a red one, the female.

This hankeys were adapted by the scene and merged with the left/right rule. And since the 70’s there were no shortage of colours anywhere, it expanded to show any kind of kinky interest. Things kept being added to it, and over time it became what you see below:

One very important code back in the 80’s was the black / white checkered hanky. Because of the safer sex during the aids pandemic.

Since those times though, with gear production industrialisation, smartphones, and general evolvement of the community, the hankeys slowly diminished in use. The colours and rules of the code still exist though, and evolved with our culture.

For example, while many choose their fetish outfit color mainly for style, there are also some that do it to integrate and show of their interest with the hanky code color. Red is a very common colour there. In the fetish scene it is very known to be the color of fisters. And yellow as the color for piss lovers too.

It’s not just pure full on fetish outfits either. Often it is also used subtle, with kinky accessories such as leather bracelets. If one wears a blue edged leather bracelet on the left side for example…

So it pays of to know a little about the hanky code. You never know, it might come in handy one day. Even if you just choose your own fetish outfit. Or to know why everybody keeps asking you for fisting, or whether he can twist your nipples 🙂

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