Illustrated Guide – Hanky Codes (2)

This gorgeous poster of the Gay Leatherman’s Hanky Codes was months of research and work by Ben Bear, and he has released it as a free high-res download in two formats (a 2′ x 3′ poster or as 5 tabloid sized panels) on his Ace of Spades PDX website.

This month’s poster coincides with Oregon Leather Pride 2017, which will begin later this week. It is, to the best of my research, the first and only true visual document of the Gay Leatherman’s Hanky Codes, a form of non-verbal communication that some historians believe dates back to the mid-1950’s in San Francisco. It signified the wants and desires of those wearing them, called “flagging”.

We posted an original 1970s Hanky Codes flyer by Worn Out West as an Illustrated Guide previously, so it’s fun to compare the two.

Here’s the detail for yellow:

This is a regular series of illustrated guides. You can find the others here.


• Deviance & Desire – Illustrated Guide – Hanky Codes
• LeatherNJOnline – The Hanky Code
• San Francisco Bay Times – Mike Holland of the Castro’s Iconic ‘Worn Out West’ Store
• Flagging Opnicious Rampant – Hanky Codes
• Wikipedia – Hankerchief Code

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *