In Hippo Eats Dwarf
I note the prevalence of stories about secret codes that various subcultures are said to use to indicate their sexual preferences to each other. For instance, there was a scare a few years ago that high school girls were wearing colored jelly bracelets
to indicate the sexual favors they were willing to perform. And objects hanging on powerlines
are supposed to have secret meanings (such as sex or drugs nearby) to those in the know. And the Toothing hoax
drew on the idea of people using bluetooth technology to send clandestine sexual propositions to those with similar technology in their immediate vicinity.
Apparently one set of codes that I missed are "hanky codes." Someone just posted about these on alt.folklore.urban
. Gay men supposedly had an elaborate set of codes constructed around the color of their handkerchiefs and where on their body, on their right or left, they were wearing them. These codes could be used at clubs to signal their sexual preferences. A full list of these codes can be found at pendorwright.com
(the list is not in any way 'safe for work').
I doubt these codes were ever widely used, simply because they seem too elaborate to easily memorize. You'd need to bring a chart along to remember what each code meant. However, I do think it's possible that some people used them simply to say that they had used them. As I note in my book: Reality Rule 3.4. If unusual sex claims are physically possible there is a high probability they will become trueeven if they aren't initially so.
I've received a few emails assuring me that simplified versions of the hanky code are indeed quite popular in gay clubs. Bandanas worn in jeans pockets are apparently frequently substituted for hankys.