What is Flagging?
Flagging is a practice among gay BDSM practitioners that involves the use of colored handkerchiefs as a sign or indication of someone’s fetish, kink and/or preferred sex role. It is usually worn in the back pocket or as a bandana. Flagging is also known as Hanky Code, Banana Code, or Handkerchief Code.
The Hanky Code started as a joke. In 1970, a Village Voice journalist jokingly suggested the use of different colored hankies as an indication of sexual preference, instead of wearing keys on their belt. Keys on the left side of the belt meant that the wearer is dominant, while keys on the right side meant the wearer is submissive.
Modern flagging is not limited to gay men only but has extended to all members of the Queer community.
Dos, Don’ts & Tips
The color and placement of the handkerchief on the body indicate different fetish, kink, or sexual preference:
- A handkerchief in the back right pocket means the wearer is submissive.
- A handkerchief in the left-back pocket may indicate being Dom.
- A hankie tied around the neck may often signify the wearer is open to switching.
- Not everyone with a hankie in their back pocket is trying to send a message. Ask the person directly whether or not the hankie is flagging.
- Women may also use flags to announce their sexual preferences: It is often seen in a form of bandana or headband, fingernail painting, belt made of handkerchiefs, head accessories, scarves and/or ribbons.
- Flagging has now expanded to actual flags bearing numerous colors for various subcultures.
Related Fetishes and Practices
Some popular colors used include red for Fisting, grey for Bondage, black for heavy Sadomasochism, light pink for Dildo Play, dark pink for Tit Torture, Yellow for Piss Play, white for Voyeur, Coral for Foot Fetish, and Beige for Rim Jobs. The color Orange is mostly used to signify that the wearer is down for anything, while navy blue is for Penetration.