The hankie code revisited: From function to fashion | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-070X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0718



The hankie code, a semiotic system of sexual advertising popular among the gay leather community of the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, is described, and changes in both the sign system and its varied interpretive communities, are analysed and documented. This ethnographic study draws from interview data and Internet discussion posts. The mythology of the code, differences in generational perspectives, and use of the hankie sign system among heterosexual men are examined. It is concluded that the system is now used as fashion among a new generation of gay men and as communication among heterosexual men.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): gay; identity; semiotics; sexuality
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