Tag Archives: Christopher Street

Learn the History of the 1970's Gay Men's Handkerchief Code

Learn the History of the 1970’s Gay Men’s Handkerchief Code

The handkerchief code (also known as the bandana code, and flagging) is a system of  using color-coded cloth handkerchiefs or bandanas for non-verbally communicating a gay man’s interests in sexual activities. The code was most widely used in the 1970s in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe, by men seeking casual sex, or BDSM practitioners.

The modern hanky code is often reported to have started in New York City around 1970, when a journalist for the Village Voice joked that instead of simply wearing a set of keys on one side or the other (then a common code to indicate whether someone was a “top” or a “bottom”), it would be more efficient to subtly announce their particular sexual tastes by wearing different colored handkerchiefs. Also Alan Selby, founder of Mr. Leather in San Francisco, claimed that he created the first hanky code with his business partners at Leather ‘n’ Things in 1972, when their bandana supplier inadvertently doubled their order and the expanded code would help them sell the extra colors they had received. But with no real documentation each claim must be taken with a grain of salt.

While there was no single authoritative standard for the code. This table is drawn from Larry Townsend‘s The Leatherman’s Handbook II  and is generally considered authoritative. Implicit in this list is the concept of left/right polarity, left as usual indicating the top, dominant, or active partner; right the bottom, submissive, or passive partner.

What color are you?

Check out the color chart below on the inside of the business card of Christopher Street clothing store All American Boy from back in the day.

One of the First AIDS Memorials Located On Christopher Street in NYC May Be Lost Forever

Situated on Christopher Street in New York City, St. Veronica’s Catholic Church which was founded in 1890  and sat directly in the middle of Ground Zero during the AIDS Crisis.   But unlike many other institutions with ties to the Roman Catholic Church which had shut out most of the AIDS victims. St. Veronica’s and nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital did all they could to help and lend comfort to the plagues victim’, their friends and family.

In 1985 the church rectory was given to some of Mother Teresa’s nuns, who opened one of the city’s early AIDS hospice centers.  A few years later, in 1991, the church installed the memorial, a series of plaques with the names of men who died from the disease drilled into the choir loft. A small table with fresh flowers and a lone candle completed the memorial.

For many, this out-of-the-way memorial, somewhat hidden up in a choir loft, was one of the few places where they could grieve the deaths of loved ones. Ms. Cook said she often witnessed individuals climbing the rickety wooden steps leading up to the memorial.

“It was the saddest thing you’ve ever seen. You just wanted to cry,” she said.

The Rev. Kenneth Smith, the pastor of the church beginning in 1990, said he reached out to leaders from the gay community to see how the church might help.

Monsignor Smith said people dying from AIDS often had no one to pray with them, a role he tried to fill for several years during the height of the crisis.

“It was like to ministering to anyone else who’s dying from a disease. If you were a priest, you’d understand what I mean,” he said. “They’d go to a hospital. I visited them in the hospital. I administered the sacraments. I’d be with them when they died. I would celebrate their funerals.”

But some in St. Veronica’s congregation were not as kind.  “It was difficult. Extremely difficult,” Monsignor Smith said. “There were many people who didn’t think the church should be involved with people who were suffering from AIDS or involved in the burial of people who died with AIDS.”

But still St. Veronica’s remained steadfast in support of not only the victims of the dreaded disease but also the LGBT community as a whole opening its halls to support groups and Gay AA and NA meetings.

After the  attendance of parishioners began to dwindle the  church itself was downgraded from a parish a decade ago and is now in danger of being sold off by the Catholic church and has put the AIDS memorial in danger. The future of the building is unknown but despite the fact that it was  granted landmark status cannot be torn down or significantly altered the memorial itself would be taken from Christopher Street and put in storage  for “possible”  future use in other churches.”

Or it might be lost forever, like the lives it represents.

No matter what religion you are or what you believe.  PLEASE take a moment to write or call The Archdioceses of New York and demand that St. Veronica’s and it’s AIDS Memorial be saved and be sure to check out the Village AIDS Memorial Facebook Page.

Archdioceses of New York
1011 First Ave
New York, NY 10021

Phone: 212-371-1000

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Metropolitan Bar Guide from Where It’s At Magazine March 6, 1978.

This is just the first page of many. Now you can count the number of NYC gay bars on your fingers.

Those were the days my friends.

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*Image thanks to Charles Cosentino and the THEN & NOW: Uncle Charlie Remembers Facebook page.

Stonewall Inn Window Smashed With Baseball Bat, Teen Charged

Stonewall Inn Window Smashed With Baseball Bat, Teen Charged

The Stonewall Inn known to many as the birth of the gay rights movement had its front window smashed in with a baseball bat early Saturday morning, causing over $7,000 worth of damage to the window and the bar’s iconic Stonewall Inn neon sign, according to the NYPD.

William Gomez, 19, was hanging out in the bar with co-workers when he was thrown out of the legendary Christopher St. bar by a bouncer.

Gomez returned with a baseball bat about 4:30 a.m. and smashed the bar’s window with it, punching holes in the glass and damaging the neon sign that sits in the window.

Gomez’s mother, who declined to give her name, told the Daily News her son isn’t gay and his girlfriend is expecting their child soon. She said he went to the bar with a group of co-workers.

She says her son called her Saturday from the 100 Center Street lockup, claiming a bouncer had punched him in the face before he was thrown out of the bar.

“He said that a bodyguard was messing with one of his co-workers and he told him to stop,” she said. “He then thought the conversation was over but at one point he was punched in the face.”

“He’s a quiet boy,” his mother said. “He doesn’t get into trouble.”

Police sources say he has been arrested several times before. He was charged with assault in Brooklyn last year, was accused of criminal impersonation in 2015 and was arrested on a robbery charge in 2014, the sources said.

Gomez has been charged with reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief.

Vanishing NYC Gay Landmarks: Boots & Saddles On Christopher Street to Close After 40 Years

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Iconic New York City gay bar Boots & Saddle, (Lovingly known as Bras & Girddles to older LGBT New Yorkers)  at 76 Christopher Street in NYC’s West Village, will close after forty years in business because of the city’s ever rising rents.

DNA Info reports:

“We cannot afford to pay a rent increase on its space at 76 Christopher St. and will shut down soon after 40 years in the Village, managing owner Rob Ziegler said.

“I’m sad,” said Ziegler, who started as a bartender at Boots & Saddle in 1999 and later became an owner. “I’ve been here 15 years. Fifteen years is a long time.”

Ziegler said a new landlord is taking over the building in the coming months and plans to raise rent for the 700-square-foot bar by thousands of dollars per month, to the “high twenties.”

This tiny bar in the 70’s and 80’s (when Christopher Street and the West Village was THE place to be on a Saturday night) is where the hottest men in NY always stoppped in for their first drink of the night. Being the first bar on the strip and opened at 8:00 a.m. to catch the die hard party crowd who came stumbling out of the after hours clubs

While Boots & Saddles will be sorley missed and be counted among the many missing as gay landmark to many gay men of certain age it’s been gone since 2009 when the owners took the beloved dark wooded cruisy bar with the trough urinal in the mens room and did heavy renovations that included blond-wood wainscoting, pale brown walls, the occasional vase of flowers and flat-screen TVs.

Did you visit the old Boots & Saddles in it’s heyday?  Have any pre-1999 pictures?  We’d for you to share them with us.

Before all the memories disappear.