Straight Until Proven Guilty

7 min readApr 30

As more and more celebrities feel comfortable coming out to the public, people have had to find new and different ways to make their discomfort around it more acceptable. Rather than outwardly saying they do not want their favorite celebrities to end up being queer, they simply believe that it is unfair to speculate on the sexuality of others. Especially when that person happens to either be a woman they project onto or a man they find attractive. While this mindset ignores the long history of flagging done by closeted queer people, it also ignores the fact that by insisting that mentioning the possibility of someone’s queerness is always speculative and invasive, queerness itself is still seen as a deviant identity rather than equivalent to heterosexuality.

When sodomy laws were in effect in the U.S., they were used as a way to demonize homosexuality or suspected homosexuality in any form. Therefore, queer people throughout the country were forced to come up with various codes to communicate with one another both their sexuality and what they were seeking in regard to sex and relationships. These codes often lacked consistency, given that they varied between various queer communities in various cities, or even as simple as the differentiation between the gay scene and lesbian scene. Many of these codes are fairly well-known by those well-versed in the queer community, but (mostly purposefully), are still not fully understood by straight people. Hanky codes existed in both gay and lesbian communities, using different colored hankies to communicate what type of sex act one was most interested in. Other linguistic codes such as “dropping hairpins” or the color lavender in general exist to communicate homosexuality without having to actually use the words or fully expose oneself.

Due to the lack of understanding amongst most straight people, and the false idea that gay people have no reason to be closeted when they possess either money or power or live in big cities, the queer flagging that still exists goes fully unnoticed. This is not to say that all potential queer flagging means that the person in question actually identifies as queer, there are always occasions where coincidences happen, but to insist that this flagging does not exist only perpetuates the same erasure of queer people that created the need for flagging in the first place. Not only this, but the insistence that queer people are making up the very existence of flagging adds to the idea that queer people are attempting to “spread” queerness to…