Ah, the hanky code, the original way of saying or asking what a guy is 'into.'

Nowadays, finding out what a guy is into is pretty straight forward on dating or hookup apps like Grindr or Scruff. You simple type, “into” and you’ll most likely get a pre-written reply of kinks, preferences and needs – which can read like a shopping list, use this hack to save you a lot of time. But what about the days before the internet? Or indeed how do you disclose whether you’re a top or a bottom or a piss fiend when you’re out and about or at a gay sauna or a cruising ground? Well that’s where the hanky code comes in.

By a stroke of genius someone decided that by simply putting a colour coded hanky in your back pocket, that you could tell all the guys around you exactly what you were looking for.

Where was the hanky code invented?

What are the colours in the hanky code and what do you they mean?

The hanky code has been around for quite some time (get ready for a gay history lesson).

Sources put the hanky code as an invention originating from San Francisco, in or around the mid-to-late 70s. It started off in the gay community when being incognito about your sexuality was a must. After time it was also adopted by the BDSM community as a well to communitcate preferences.

In 1983 the hanky code was cemented when Larry Townsend‘s The Leatherman’s Handbook II described the code in detail.

By wearing a seemingly innocuous hanky in your back pocket you could tell anybody, in the know, that you were a top, or bottom, whether you were there for a fucking or just wanks. Pretty ingenious.

Depending on what side you wore your hanky would determine whether you were a top or bottom, dom or sub. Wearing your hanky in your left pocket means you’re top or dom and wearing your hanky in the right pocket means you’re bottom or sub.

What are the hanky code colours and what do they mean?

There are over 20 different colours to the hanky code. Here are the eight more popular.

What does the black hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Black – BDSM. If you’re into BDSM then a black hanky is the way to go. If you’re dom then you’d wear it in your left pocket. If you take the submissive role then you’d pop it in your right pocket.
What does the white hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • White – Wanking/Cum. Say you’re in a bathouse, and you’re not there to fuck, but wanted to engage in mutual wanking or just wanna cum with someone, then a white hanky would be worn in either pocket, but again left if you’re slightly more dom, right if you’re more submissive.
What does the grey hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Grey – Bondage. Into some whipping and being tied up? Grey is colour for you. If you like being tied up then you’d wear it in your right pocket. if you’re looking to take control then a grey hanky in your left pocket lets everyone know you’re the boss.
What does the yellow hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Yellow – Piss. Wanna be pissed on? Wear a yellow hanky in your right pocket. Wanna piss on someone wear it in your left pocket.
What does the navy blue hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Navy Blue – Anal Sex. There to be fucked and you’re a bottom? Wear a navy hanky in your right back pocket. You’re the top? Wear a navy hanky in your left back pocket.
What does the orange hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Orange – Anything Anytime. Are you the kinda guy who’s into everything or extremely open minded? The orange hanky is your friend.
What does the pink hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Light Pink – Dildos. For toy play the light pink hanky is the way to go. Just remember if you want the toys to be used on you to wear the hanky in your left pocket.
What does the red hanky in the hanky code mean?
  • Red – Fisting. Into fisting, then the Red hanky is your go to. Depending on whether you’re the fistee (right pocket) or the fister (left pocket) determines which pocket you pop your red hanky in.

So, what if you’re into more than one thing? Say you’re into piss and a bottom who’s looking for a fucking? Well, my friend, you get a Navy and a Yellow hanky and you stuff them both into your back right pocket.

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Looking to buy some hankies? Well our partners over at THEGAYSHOP have these hankies. Go on, be a bit retro and keep this awesome piece of gay history alive and kicking.

About the author: Jack Devon Verified icon 1
Sexper and sex-positive. All things cock, balls and booty. UK-based sex writer who's looking to bring good sex advice to the gay masses. Always up for trying something new!  Send a message through his profile on THEGAYUK social.