The Undervalued, Old School Orange Hanky

I’m Alexander Cheves, a writer, author, and sex educator. My nickname is Beastly. I give adult advice on this blog — no question is off-limits. To ask me something, email AskBeastly@gmail.com or send a message via the Ask Beastly contact form.

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I have a sex question for you, Beastly

It feels like it might be a little bit complicated though so I’ll just type it all out here and if you would rather have me send it as an email or whatever, that’s fine just let me know.

So one of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What are you into?” And I find it frustrating because my answer is super long and it’s not fun to type out

I’m like a 100% switch, and sometimes I explain that I’m like a sexual chameleon or a sexual ditto – whatever my partner is into, I will also be really into. They like piss? Great, me too. Fisting? Alright let’s do it. Rubber? Rad. Bondage? Sure thing, tie me up. They wanna breed me? Great, I’m a hole (that one’s new but I’m liking it). They wanna get bred? Bend over, pig.

But whenever someone asks me what I’m into, I’m always frustrated because I seriously need them to tell me. I can’t supply the fantasy.

SOOOOO here’s the question. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Is there a name for it? Can we make one? I’m so tired of explaining it. I want a label so I don’t have to anymore

Hi Hot Neighbor Jeff,

Before I launch into your question, I must first tell my readers that this question is not anonymous. Readers, this question comes from my friend named Jeff, who was once my neighbor, so he is forever named “Hot Neighbor Jeff.” He’s hot. He’s also one of my favorite intimate friends, someone I care for deeply and love getting naked with.

Hot Neighbor Jeff: back in the day of the hanky code, you would have flagged with an orange hanky in your left pocket to symbolize that you are down for anything. In the hanky code — how gay men cruised on the streets before the Internet and communicated their kinks to others — an orange hanky in the left back pocket of your jeans would have meant “anything goes.” On the right, it would have meant “not looking for anything.” (There is some debate on this; some say orange on the left meant “anything goes” as a top, on the right meant “anything goes” as a bottom, and around the neck meant “anything goes” as versatile, as a hanky around the neck generally symbolized versatility in all colors.)

I think the former interpretation is more useful, but it doesn’t matter, because the hanky code has largely fallen out of use in the gay male community. Entities more destructive have arisen in its place — hookup apps, which demand us present our sexual interests, and indeed our entire selves, with profile tags, as bulleted “intos,” interests and features that can be searched and filtered.

Gay culture has always had an ever-evolving lexicon of terms and labels; hookup apps have simply redefined the way we use our words and how we see them. And not for the better, in my opinion.

Picking a single word to describe oneself is an impossible task when you’re open to everything, but that is what the apps — and by extension, potential sex partners — demand us to do. I understand your frustration. I imagine it’s the same frustration shared by most sexually mature people, who usually realize after some years of play that they are not just one thing.

I think it is a beginner’s impulse to totally align oneself with one clear, no-exceptions label or list one’s kinks and sexual interests like they are complete and exhaustive. Doing either of these is, I imagine, attractive to sexual newcomers who might need clear-cut scripts and modes of behavior when navigating new experiences for the first time. But I think that changes with experience. I went to a gay sex party recently where every attendee was given a glow stick that was color-coded to his professed sex role. I went with a friend, and he and I were both escorts and very experienced, and we both felt the entire setup of the party was stupid. His exact words: “I don’t want anyone policing my sexuality.” All the thrill and mystery of figuring out what a person is into and what you want to do with them — which is the joy of any sex party — was stripped from this one, and the result was lackluster. There were no surprises, no thrill at finding a dom top or hungry bottom in the crowd.

Once the newness of sex wears off, I think most queer men naturally grow more versatile — and sex-positive, open-minded guys like us usually become more open and game for new experiences. I think this is one major reason why experienced homos tend to grow dissatisfied and frustrated with hookup apps (at least, that is what I observe).

I think hookup app culture has normalized and standardized the “What are you into?” question. Back in the day when gay men cruised public parks and fucked in toilets and backrooms, there was no way to know for certain what the stranger you were pulling into the dark was into — unless, of course, he was leather-clad in certain gear and flagging a hanky. So gay men had to be pretty versatile, and according to every gay man I’ve met who lived in that time, versatility was the default mode of gay sexuality — there were no categories for “top” and “bottom” except in kink and BDSM, where “top” and “bottom” were synonymous with “dominant” and “submissive.”

I think the modern-day rigidity of labels like “top,” “bottom,” and “versatile” are purely a tech invention, a by-product of sites like Manhunt and, later, apps like Grindr and Scruff, which are little more than targeted marketing scams. Thanks to digital sex platforms — which, though frustrating, are likely here to stay — we now have to present ourselves with tags. We now have to be “looking” for certain things, and be defined by certain categorical traits. This is stupid and diminutive — it reduces the rich complexity of gay sexuality into something oversimplified and cheap — but such is much of our culture now.

I don’t think you’re an anomaly. I think a lot of us share your feelings. I know you well enough to know that you are indeed sexually mature — you’re not new, you’re open-minded, you’re sex-positive even with the sex you’re not into. You don’t yuck anyone’s yum. You’re game for new experiences. You aim to please, no matter what. (You always leave me smitten.) Sadly, modern hookup apps — and, by extension, the sexual lexicon they foster — have not created a modern tag for “anything goes.” I can’t filter my Scruff feed to only show guys who are game for whatever I’m into. And that’s a shame.

The best course I can recommend? Lose the apps, for starters, and borrow the old hanky code for your own purposes. Practice calling yourself an “anything goes” guy, and don’t play with people who demand your list of “intos.” You don’t have to provide one, and if that’s what they need, they should look elsewhere, and so should you.

Being open to new experiences and wanting to match your partner’s fantasies is awesome. Some of the best playmates are those who simply aim to please. The older and more experienced I become, I have increasingly grown into an “anything goes” guy, and I’ve only gotten better at sex.

Kink is a little different. Within kink, I still think the above is true — beginners identify strongly with a label (“pup,” “master,” whatever) and more experienced kinksters grow more open to new roles — but I don’t think it’s necessarily a sign of sexual immaturity to stick with a single role in kink. I know boys who have been boys for decades and will always be “boy” — and everything that entails — for their Sirs and Masters. There is a strong submissive side to me, so in kink training, I am a “boy.” In kink sessions, I live in that label, doing everything as a bottom and doing what I’m told. But my kink life is just one facet of my complex sexual identity. In kink, I may be only one thing. Outside kink, I contain multitudes.

In kink, you would be a switch. But I know you’re talking about more than kink. You’re talking about the full sexual buffet, cuddling to cum feeding — whatever he’s into, you’re into. You are “anything goes” and down for whatever. Say that, and if they don’t consider that satisfactory, move on.

Love, Beastly

4 Comments

  1. This was by far the most excellent and hold on est article I’ve read in a long time! Thank you from the bottom of my sodomite heart!

    Like

  2. I like to think I’m “anything goes” as well, but surely even with that, we all have some boundaries. Otherwise, one says “anything goes”, and the other chap says, so what about BLAH, and you say, well, no, not quite that. So for me, I’m anything goes with a few lines. Make sense?

    Like

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