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This object ethnography will examine the materiality of a particular social relationship that expresses itself through a constellation of actants, engaging with each other through very material things. The specific social interaction of interest is the practice of flagging within the queer community. A brief ‘history’ of the practice will be outlined, but the goal of this ethnography is to understand the role of the materiality in flagging. The argument that this paper makes is that by flagging, human actants relinquish some of their human agency to specific objects, namely back pockets and bandanas. These objects incorporate this human agency to fulfill the potential of their intersection, which is to communicate to other human actants specific sexual acts that the human bearer desires.

While this may seem obvious enough, especially to those who engage in flagging, the ethnography aims to address issues concerning agency, specifically the agency of objects. To do this through objects, the study here will focus on the bandana and color, two materials that are of the most importance in flagging. Flagging is a social practice that needs materiality to exist. But it is not enough to put materials into association and through a passive display determine that things between humans happen. Rather, when these materialities converge upon the human body, the capacity for the agency of these things to be expressed is increased. It is the aspect of agency and a correlated potential that allows materiality to affect social practice. With changes in the agency, the potential of the materials as actants is activated in a specific way to meet the specific needs of the human actant that then result in a social practice. Turning to color and bandanas, the expression of human desire is achieved through an agential shift of materials – human agency becomes located to a degree in objects, color and bandana.

But this reassignment can only take place when these objects converge, and converge upon the human body. The bandana without the color says nothing about the sexual desire of the human actant. The bandana and color without a location on a human body say nothing about the sexual desire of the human actant. It is only upon a convergence of body, color, and bandana that agency can be relocated into materials; it is only upon the intersections of body, color and bandana that the practice of flagging can exist – that desire can be structured and made visible outside the body, out in the social world. In some way, the thing understood as internal to the human actant, desire, is made external through the materials. This externalization is necessary to the practice and afforded through specific interactions of materials, but the key element to the externalization is process of embedding human agency in to non-human things.

Flagging is a practice of placing a colored handkerchief in the left or right back pocket to communicate a specific sexual desire to be fulfilled by specific sexual acts. Different colors placed in either pocket signify the kind of sexual acts/desire that the person wishes to perform. The left pocket designates the person as a top, or the ‘dominant’ actor, the person that ‘does’ things. For example, a person flagging a red bandana in the left back pocket indicates that they are a fisting top – red signifies fisting – meaning that they will perform the act of fisting, thus ‘doing’ the fisting. It is in this sense that ‘dominant, active, and doing’ are used, not in the sense that the top is more active than the bottom, but that the top performs a specific activity and the bottom performs a specific activity in relation to the top. The right pocket designates the person as a bottom, or the ‘submissive’ actor, the person that ‘receives’ things. Thus, a person flagging a red bandana in the right back pocket indicates they are a bottom that wants to be fisted. The bandanas and their color correlates form a code that associates the bandanas and colors in specific ways according to sex acts.

The code, understood colloquially among queers as the ‘hanky code’, lists the different colors and patterns of bandanas in terms of the sex acts these colors and patterns signify. To list a few here, red indicates fisting, navy indicates fucking, black indicates heavy BD/SM, white indicates partnered masturbation, teal indicates cock and ball torture, yellow indicates watersports, or pissplay, light blue indicates fellatio, beige indicates rimming, orange indicates anything anytime anyplace (left pocket) or just cruising (right pocket). Some of the colors refer to fetishes rather than specific sexual acts. For example, purple indicates piercings, magenta indicates armpit fetish, lavender indicates drag queen fetish, leopard indicates tattoos, and paisley indicates boxer shorts fetish, red with a black stripe indicates bears (furry men and the men/boys that like them), and yellow could also fit into this category as watersports could be understood as a fetish. Colors also indicate specific relationships in the way of role-play, which also could be fetishistic, but stands as its own category. Thus, hunter green indicates daddy/boy play, rust indicates cowboy/horse play, blue indicates cop (as in police) play. Patterns are used to designate specific racial or ethnic interests, dots and stripes as the most common indicators. In this case, the color of the dots or stripes becomes the signifier of the ethnic/racial identity of the person desired, and the color of the bandana signifies the kind of sexual engagement desired. However, there are exceptions, such as red with a white stripe indicating shaving and red with a black stripe indicating bears, this exception probably due to the number of stripes, so more stripes would indicate the ethnic/racial preference. Some color and pattern combinations don’t specify ethnic/racial preferences, but rather simply indicate desired sex acts, for example red and white gingham indicate park sex and hounds tooth indicates biting.

The code also includes the placement of the handkerchief, colors and patterns carefully selected, upon the body. A bandana of a specific color and pattern placed on the left side of the body indicates the person as a top. A bandana of a specific color and pattern placed on the right side of the body indicates the person as a bottom. A bandana placed on a neutral area of the body, one is associated with both a left and right side, indicates a flexibility in the performance; the person would be either top or bottom, or both throughout the experience. These neutral areas are the head, the neck, and the central belt loops on a pair of pants. The left and right areas of the body used in flagging are often wrists, arms, or back pockets of pants. Wrists and back pockets are the most common places of deliberate[1] flagging, but as far as the flagging is understood as the performance related to the ‘hanky code’, back pockets are the places upon the body where top and bottom identities are indicated. The neck is the most common place of signifying flexibility with the roles of top and bottom. With some colors and patterns, the role is significantly different according to which pocket the bandana is in. Thus, orange in the left back pocket signifies anything, anytime, any place, but in the right back pocket signifies just cruising[2], or just looking and robin’s egg blue in the left back pocket signifies 69ing, but in the right back pocket signifies anything but 69.

The ‘history’ of flagging is best traced on the Internet, through websites that detail the ‘hanky code’. Most of these websites concur that flagging was a practice that began among gold miners in the 1840s in California. Gold miners wore bandanas to indicate which role, male or female, they would take during socials, as there was a lack of women. Some websites state that the presence of a bandana indicated the role, irrespective of the color, other state that the color indicated the role, and others state that color and position upon the body indicated the role. Flagging, as the practice is understood today, emerged as a common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, among gay[3] communities in the United States. It declined in the 1980s and 1990s[4] and more recently (2000+) has re-emerged as a practice among gays, but also queers and heteros.

Contemporarily, within the decades of the post-millennium, flagging is no longer a communication between gays, but is a communication between queers. Its material forms, color and bandanas, have also been appropriated by heteros of other alternative identities, making the deliberate action of flagging and its deliberate intention as a conversing actant between human actants all the more imperative in the practice today. That is, while flagging was a deliberate choice by gays in the 1970s as the common form of cruising under the radar of the oppressive and violent herteronormative gaze, today flagging is a deliberate choice of a different sort. It is deliberate in practice, in the intention that is associated with the association of material things – color, bandana, and body – but it embodies another deliberation, the intention of embedding sexual identity within the material color, thus engaging with the hanky code as a social context. Today, flagging must be ‘read’ by more than just the hanky code, but by other contextual materials as well. The practice in this sense is more deliberate and necessitates a different visibility that is not necessarily more flamboyant but necessarily more complex. The focus here however is specifically on the materiality that is color, using flagging as a way to tease out a nuance of color as material. In flagging, color takes the material form of the bandana to be its own. Like a mutant thing, it can embody other material things to express its own materiality. However, the ‘history’ of flagging, though unofficial and suspect to projecting politics into the past[5], it is being developed and attempted to be rendered into a context, or as Esther Newton says “history has placed gay people here; from here we are making history” (Newton 2000: 237).

It seems that part of the brief historical narrative attached to the hanky codes online is some way of establishing a queer place in history, or establishing a queer history in place and space. Either way, there is something intriguing about the need to connect farther and farther back, perhaps as some means of making queer culture and practice valid or authentic by evidentiary association to a continuity – from hetero contexts to gay contexts to queer contexts. Perhaps there is something to about rooting a queer practice in a hetero (though homosocial) origin, some way of making this queer thing valid in the eyes of a dominant heteronormative present. But these curiosities meander into the form of another related paper and are not to be addressed at any length here, as a larger discussion of the history-making would be too tangential to this discussion of materiality.

Though it is necessary to understand something about the constructed history and the actual practice of flagging, it is the material actants within this practice that allow alternative ways into materiality and the related debates about agency and subject/object relationships. That is, thinking through the materials of flagging, the practice becomes an exercise not only of practical assertion of a sexual identity, but an exercise in understanding materiality and it’s role in social contexts. Social practices depend on material things for their existence and the material things depend on social practices for their specific meanings. This relationship of interdependence is hard to disarticulate, but to loosen the things from their interconnected associations reveals ways of understanding, ways of making realities makes sense in the world. But here, understanding the materiality of the bandana through the materiality of color will expose how it is that material can have agency and how this agency is a potential that can be tapped into, displaced to something else, a force independent and yet dependent at the same time. Agency is not a thing of the human condition, but rather a thing of things, humans included.

Turning first to the bandana, a question presents itself – why a bandana? What about its materiality makes it the choice material for flagging? Other things can be flagged, but the most frequent flagged thing is the bandana? Examine a bandana. It is a textile. It can be folded and take up little space, or it can be stuffed and take up a lot of space (well, relative space!). It fits well into a pocket, tied around a neck or wrist and can be made visible to varying degrees. It is comprised entirely of color. In fact, a bandana is more a thing of color than a thing of fabric. When bandanas are considered as a material actively in the world, they are considered as a color. Their physicality as a fabric is rendered secondary, if it is remembered, to their materiality as color. The answers to questions posed at the beginning of this paragraph are found then not in a discussion of the materiality of the bandana, but rather in the materiality of color, for to be a bandana is to be a color.

That color is a material is a rather bold statement, one that assumes the argument that color is a thing, but challenges the traditional approach to color as constitutive of symbolism, language, and other immaterial things. To argue that color is a thing is provocative to a point, for within anthropology color has been understood “as a serious subject in two ways: as a matter of classification linked with language and as symbolism.” (Young 174). However, color, even as this thing, has not been understood as a material thing, but as a thing of language or of symbolism or, essentially of the mind. Scientifically, color is understood as a wavelength. It is not inherent in any thing, but rather is understood as an intense or dominant reflection of a specific wavelength. Color then is still a thing,

“In the Newtonian paradigm a surface appears red because it reflects more red light than any other: ‘every body reflects the Rays of its own Colour more copiously than the rest, and from their excess and predominance in the reflected Light has its Color’ (Newton 1730, in Hardin 1988: 187). Modern colour science, with its Newtonian legacy, dematerializes colour into wavelengths of light, which is both geometrically precise and empirically quantifiable.” (Young 175)

But is not yet understood as a material thing. As wavelength, though composed of particles, it is yet dematerialized into perceptions of the human eye. In another concept of color, Merleau-Ponty states that color is an amplification of being, “a sensation of redness and it’s motor reactions [are not two distinct facts]…we must be understood as meaning that red, by its texture as followed and adhered to by our gaze, is already the amplification of our being.” (Merleau Ponty 1962: 211). Placing color in direct association with a concept of being brings it closer to a material manifestation but does not quite render color as material.

To understand color as material and not just perception or thing of the eye and mind, “the experience of colour occurs when colour is understood as only connected with the processes that take place in the head as mediated through the eye and brain/mind.” (Young 174), or as an amplification of being, it might be useful to draw an analogy to water. Water is a material thing. It is composed of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen in a specific ratio: H2O. These elements have physical properties and in combination with one another create the thing we understand as water. Water does not have a physical shape as a material thing. It assumes the shape of that which contains it. Water can change physical states and is understood as frozen water (ice), liquid water (water) and vaporous water (air). These states of matter change the way in which we understand water and to a degree change some of the composition of water, but still these states are thought of as water, just in different form. Water present in these states is contained in different ways.

Color is like water. It is composed of particles that comprise wavelengths or is an extraction of particles of a property of another thing (think: plant matter extracted to make dyes). It does not have an a-priori physical shape and as water, it assumes the shape of that which contains it. Color then changes according to the thing in which it is embedded. Color is different in the mind than it is as a bandana. In the way that water shifts states, color shifts manifestation. Water is expressed through three states, but color is expressed through an infinite number of things. Water, though it is expressed in different form is not understood as an immaterial thing, lacking material qualities. Color too, though it is expressed through different material things need not be understood merely as a characteristic or property of those things, but as a material that finds expression through other materials. Just as water cannot be conceived of without a container, neither can color. As water is material, so color is material.

As color is a material thing, it is necessary to understand “what colours can do” (Young 173) that is how colors are actants. This move assumes that all things that are material are actants. An actant is a thing that has agency, or the potential to embody agency and wield it in relation to another thing upon interaction or encounter. Agency is understood best as a quality or thing of one “who ‘causes events to happen’ in their vicinity” (Gell 16). Agency is the ability of things to effect other things, it is a force that can be utilized by things and is expressed in relation to other things. Agency does not exist outside relationships and as such is also usefully thought of similarly to the physics concept of potential. Since colors are actants and have agency, they do things:

Colours may be harnessed to accomplish work that no other quality of things can, especially in the hands of knowledgeable practitioners. Colours may be combined to interact with one another producing an effect of vivacity and movement. Colours animate things a variety of ways, evoking space, emitting brilliance, endowing things with an aura of energy or light. (Young 173)

Yet, color is not understand analytically as a material thing, it is relegated to a quality of other things, it is not considered directly as “part of understanding how material things can constitute social relations” (Young 173). While color is a constitutive thing, integral to the composition of other things, it is just as material as those things it comprises as a character of them, “Material colours may tell us about the relationship between things and people, whether certain object are, for example, regarded as possessing an animation or agency, and what kind of spatial effect they are intended to produce, while other things are construed as passive.” (Young 179).

In this way, colors are understood as things of communication, negotiating as an object between subjects in conversation with one another. Or do colors communicate as subjects with other subjects through agency, and in the case of flagging, through an embodied human agency, deliberately placed in color (in the bandana) by the human actant? Perhaps it works somehow in both ways, for as Young points out, “Colour, then, is at once knowledge and being. Colours can dispense with the distinction between subject and object and define how things/ persons move in the world through their animation and spatial distinctions.” (Young 182). Color, as an actant manifest in the form of a bandana can take up the identity of subject or object as suits the particular relationship with other actants. As color is an actant in flagging, it takes a more subject identity because the human actant places human agency within the color, so as to structure an relationship with other human actants as subjects with which the flagging human actant desires certain performances. In some ways, color in flagging departs from Young’s explanation of its materiality, for color becomes more than an amplification of being, but are a be-ing. Color is a thing that can take different material form; it can be contained by different material forms, assuming their materiality as it’s own. In this way people speak of the bandanas not as bandanas but appropriately as colors. It is not the bandana that conveys the desire; it is the color that is materially in the form of the bandana that conveys the desire. Color, then, is material as a bandana, just as water is material as atoms.

The prompting questions now do not revolve around the bandana as the material but the color as the material – Why color as the choice material for flagging? The answer emerges as a thing like this: “Shapes and forms, outlines and marks, that is truth. Color, to tell the truth, is another world, a splurging thing, an unmanageable thing, like a prancing horse or a runaway ladder in a stocking, something, this thing, this formless thing, that we need to fence in with actual lines and marks” (Taussig 32)

Color control. Control through small color on the body. The size and borders of the bandana and their operation signals might be related to some of the control that Taussig talks about with regard to color, needing to retain it, contain it, tame it – yet these flags indicate the wildness of the sex through the color. Color is contained and actions are constrained, but later, actions will run wild the way vibrant colors run wild in Taussig’s notion. Containment of color. Control of color. Control of the body. Control of persons. Control of interactions. Control of the future (sex acts to come). Social control of cruising culture. Color as control. Control through color.

But simultaneously color usurps the control by blurting out the secret, sticking the way it does out of the back pocket. Color controls the interaction and finds a material manifestation in the bandana. But color also indicates things that could happen outside the bounds of total control. Like a knowing smirk, the bandana ‘silently’ rides in the back pocket, ‘screaming’ desires – color is a material thing and an immaterial want. It is silent and loud at the same time. It is also practically, a perfect communicator in a social context where words may be better understood through color than through voice. Speech is contained. Desire is not. Color is contained. Action is not. Yet this contained color enacts so much of its potential through its specific containment first within the bandana and then within the back pocket. This potential is the agency it embodies, the communication it mediates and facilitates, and the ways in which is structures human relationships. Containment in this case is not restrictive but rather part of the complex discourse of no voices, the discourse of materials doing the work of human voices. Containment is part of the sentence structure of this discourse; it is formulaic and intended to be read a certain way. It is deliberate. It is meant to free up the body to act and to be indirectly and easily read.

While it structures social relationships between human actants, color is not understood as a material thing outside this social context: materiality is a matter of degree and kind (Engleke in Miller 2005: 136). In this way, while color is manifest as material through the bandana, it is dependent upon the physical form of the bandana in this social context for it to have material meaning. As agency is re-placed into the color of the bandana, meaning is emergent through the color as bandana in the back pocket on the body. Once color is established as a material, it is tempting to ascribed it the identity of object, static object. On the contrary, color is not object nor is it static, rather it is a thing with agency that is activated upon a relationship with other actants. It is a visual and material thing and expressed as a bandana it has a type of “brute factuality” (Küchler in Miller 2005: 212) states. But unlike Küchler’s contention that “Visual and material iconicity, on the other hand, leaves comparatively little to the imagination and, given its often brute factuality, remains largely mute in analysis so long as we are prepared to acknowledge connectivity as intrinsic only to words, not to things.” (Küchler in Miller 2005: 217), color as a thing of connectivity between actants, demonstrates that connectivity is indeed intrinsic to things, not just words. There is imagination in the iconicity of material things, in terms of their development, their social utility, and their agency. There is also potential imagination in potential future interactions that these materials (bandanas, colors, etc) speak to, and speak to quite directly, albeit without words but rather with suggested potential through visibility and display. Things ‘speak’, just without words. Words are not requisite to this discourse. It is a discourse of things, ‘spoken’ through materiality.

Discourse and the activity of color pulls the discussion full circle to some claims made at the beginning, that color is a material thing, an actant with agency, that serves to structure a particular social relationship between human actants. It is able to perform this role as a thing because it is deliberately embedded with human agency that engages in human social discourse through a material manifestation, the bandana. Flagging is a way of engaging in a social context by establishing a particular way of communicating through things. The intention is to speak to other human actants indirectly through the desire signified by the color contained in the bandana, peeking out of the back pocket. The intention inescapable from flagging, visible in the deliberate use of color via bandana and the desire it encodes and displays, and the ground for communication between members of a particular social community that this act establishes creates color as a social agent.

Color has this particular form of agency because of the human agency imparted to it by the human actant, a deliberate move that allows a specific form of agency to become visible. Gell relates agency to causality by way of intentionality. That is, agency is not a thing of universal laws or the laws of physics, but rather a thing of intention, particularly human intention that can be accessed by human actants located within the human form or within another human form. But to locate agency within another material form requires a deliberate relinquishing of human agency, an intentionality that transmits the human agency to the thing, creating it as a social agent. Gell further elaborates, “That is to say ‘social agents’ can be drawn from categories which are as different as chalk and cheese (in fact, rather more different) because ‘social agency’ is not defined in terms of ‘basic’ biological attributes (such as inanimate thing vs. incarnate person) but is relational – it does not matter, in ascribing ‘social agent’ status, what a thing (or a person) ‘is’ in itself; what matters is where it stands in a network of social relations.” (Gell 14 of 30).

The ability of human actants to intentionally relocate some of their human agency into things works well with Gell’s idea of distributed personhood. Through the human agency embedded within the material color, a bit of the personhood of the human actant is distributed to that material location. This concept is made highly visible within the social context of flagging. Remember that flagging signifies the kind of sex a person wishes to perform. This desire relates to the human actant’s personhood via a sexual identity. That is, the sexual identity of the human actant, is a component of their personhood. When that identity is flagged, it is placed within the flag – the personhood is distributed to a material thing – an act made possible through an agential shift, from a potential thing agency to a thing with human agency, doing the work of conversation for the human actant.

It is imperative to understand color as material to understand flagging as a practice. Dependent upon the material form of the bandana, both flagging and color take shape through this form, in way just as Taussig states that color is a thing we need to mark and bound with lines. But the thing about color in as it appears in flagging is that it renders visible that which remains hidden – externalizes that which is internal. Color is the externalization of desire, as a “cut-up” (Taussig 37), color is removed from other contexts and social relationships and re-coded within the ‘hanky code’, re-coded within a queer social context. Each color signifies a sexual desire and an act associated that when performed will achieve that desire. Each color embodies the distributed sexual identity of the human actant and as a social actant thus through a transference of agency bound to this distributed personhood, each color externalizes a desire that is internal to the human actant. Not only does color as a material breakdown the dichotomy of subject/object rigidity, but it deconstructs the related dichotomy of internal/external.

Externalizing desire through color as a material in the form of the bandana does not remove it from its internal location within the human actant. Rather this form of externalization is a way of making visible something that remains invisible, and remains invisible while on display. Identity can never be fully externalized, nor can any of it’s aspects every be fully externalized – to externalize something entirely disallows access of the kind that occurs in flagging. Identity completely externalized would take on a different form, one inconceivable at this moment. Unlike the mind which is a thing outside the physical thing that this the brain and which human actants can access to varying degrees, identity is a thing that is within a person and expressed outside of a person so as to be accessed by human actants in relationship to the body material of the human being. As color is a form of be-ing, identity is a form of be-ing. But be-ing an externalized internal thing, identity through color deconstructs the strict relationship of interior/exterior and therefore subject/object. It is interior as it is concurrently exterior. It is accessed by human actants through color, but is not a thing they internalize through color. The relationship is one of expression outwards, expression visibly and this process necessarily derives from externalizing that which is within. The deconstruction is further accomplished by color as it assumes human agency through the practice of flagging and as it engages in the queer social context of casual sex.

What is reconstructed is a reality of actants that embody agency and enact it through various intersubjective relationships in which all objects can be subjects and all subjects can be objects contingent upon the relationship established by the activities and corresponding agencies of the actants involved. In this way, actants can adopt an identity of subject or object and relate to other actants within that framework, but this subject/object split is not the base case of reality, as the materials that constitute flagging have demonstrated. Identity is mutable as it is immutable. It can be locked into a position, but its duration need not be forever. Identity can remain as constant as a human actant that persists in believing itself as a subject confronting/encountering objects or identity can change as the color of the bandana in the back pocket can change.

Flagging is not the only case of queer communication through color, or queer identity rendered visible through material color. Indeed, color, as a material has been the most prominent form of queer expression since the Lesbian and Gay Rights movements in the 1970s – specifically the rainbow flag and the colors pink and purple. Queer slang and verbal communication is termed ‘lavender language’ and the color pink traces back to pink triangles used in German concentration camps in WWII to designate homosexuals within the persecuted populations. Material color finds many forms of expression in the queer community. The materiality of queer communication is flamboyant. Coloring outside the lines, queers who flag cut-up color, removing it from its normative contexts and deliberately re-code it as a material actant embedded with human agency within an alternative social practice of desire.


[1] Flagging is a deliberate practice. In some cases, a bandana that could be read as a flag is not actually a flag. This confusion within the practice is a recent development in its resurgent form. That is, fashion has appropriated the material components of flagging and today when a person is displaying a bandana they may or may not be flagging, instead articulating certain fashion statement. Hipsters and Hip-Hoppers are two groups of people that frequently integrate bandanas into their styles, as part of their identity displays, but these displays are not related to flagging or sexual acts and desires. The uses of bandanas by Hipsters and Hip-Hoppers (ugh, that name is not acceptable but I cannot come up with a simpler term – by Hip-Hoppers I mean people of MTV/Bling/Rap culture and I guess this slides into gang usage too) relates more to other aspects of their identity that they make visible, or fashion statements that create them as visibly distinct from people around them. It is interesting the correlation between Hipsters, Hip-Hoppers, bandanas and music. In fact, social identities today seem to be highly related to genres of music – that is people identify according to the music to which they listen. I am sure that there is a genealogy of this form of social identification, but all of this could be another paper. The point is that I will discuss the deliberate nature of flagging a bit later in the paper.

[2] Cruising is a term used in the queer community as a way to describe looking for a sexual partner. To cruise is to be on the actively seeking a partner to end the night with, such that a person cruising will asset themselves in certain ways, making themselves visually and socially available. Cruising entails intent, in fact is all about intent. It is a mentality a person enters when they enter a social situation and want to end up with a sexual partner for that night (or day I suppose). Cruising is often done at bars, gyms, cafés, clubs, beaches, pools, and parties but can take place at grocery stores, thrift stores, parks, hiking trails and apparently archaeological sites.

[3] The term gay here means ‘gay male’. I am using it without the ‘male’ attachment as a political move because the term on its own refers to males, as in men. Saying ‘gay males’ or ‘gay men’ then becomes a redundant label. ‘Gay women’ are lesbians. While ‘gay’ is often used as a term to be inclusive, it privileges males and men implicitly because it’s meaning is for, of, and by males as in men. Thus the use of this term to include women perpetuates male privilege within the queer community, enacting implicit violence against women by subordinating them under a term that is meant for men. Queer is more inclusive as it does not carry the oppressive weight of male privilege between its letters. It is my current opinion that the term gay should not be used to signify lesbians or any other queer other than men, because it is a term for men, not for men and women, or trans or spirits or whomever else. It is a specific label and its expansion is akin to a colonization that perpetuates male privilege and undermines the efforts within the queer community to breakdown hierarchies and build up other social structures. If we keep using gay as an all-inclusive term we are not really escaping some of the structures of heteronormativity and heterosociety that oppress us, and others, and that we critique. The term gay locks us into implicit dominance by men. We are not all gay, but we are all queer. This is how I stand now. In this paper, gay will mean men, not all queers. Queer will be the term for all people who identify as homosexual of any degree.

[4]I am not sure why exactly though there may be some connection to the AIDs crisis in the gay community.

[5] Queers are often accused of projecting present discourse into past events, and while this may be the case in some moments, the past is not a neutral heterosexual territory, but rather has been constructed as such, with a deliberate exclusion of queers to assert its own continuity and thereby authority.