Are You Gay or Just Happy to See Me: The Queer Code Trivia Quiz

I was chilling at the gay bar years ago when I noticed that more than one person had a handkerchief hanging from their back pocket. I overheard someone ask, “are you flagging?” while I stood awkwardly to the side, definitely thinking I was subtle when I’m sure it was obvious I was listening in on their conversation. Anyways, I promptly googled “the hanky code” when I got home from the bar and bought a certain handkerchief of a certain color so I could get in on this underground club.

Do you remember the first non-verbal ~thing~ that made you look at someone and realize they were probably queer? Or give the dyke nod as you pass each other at the airport without exchanging a word? Was it their hair cut? Fashion choice? A giant rainbow “I’M GAY” printed on their sweatshirt? A swagger, a certain shade of red lipstick, a carabiner of keys, or a tattoo? Some queer band blasting from their headphones, a single dangling earring, a Tegan and Sara shirt perhaps?

Honestly, we all know it’s more of a vibe than anything physical, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be obsessed with how we express our queerness/sexuality/gender in ways that aren’t us stating bluntly: “I’m in the club, if ya get my drift.” So here’s a quiz about various non-verbal (visual! written! music! etc!) ways we communicate our queerness. Tell me your score in the comments, and share your favorite queer clues, too!


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I'm a cartoonist living in Minneapolis. Co-Author and artist of A Quick And Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns. Author of Grease Bats, coming out Fall 2019 with Boom! Studios! If I'm not working I'm socializing. If I'm not out with friends I'm drawing. If I'm not doing any of those things I'm probably depressed. Support me using Patreon.

Archie has written 117 articles for us.


  1. D 67% :(
    BUT I definitely got the one about The Ladder right, even though it wasn’t “the first lesbian magazine” like the question said (well ok first national distribution). Vice Versa by Lisa Ben was the first technically!

    • Flannel is a material–think about it, (if you are in an environment that has like actual cold winter) flannel sheets are generally solid colors like any other sheet and not plaid. I mean. I’d actually genuinely buy the heck out of several sets of plaid flannel sheets because I have neither enough flannel nor plaid in my life (and also need multiple sheets for those occasions my cat or (thankfully much more rarely my dog bc he’s like 65 pounds and produces MUCH MORE VOLUME to clean up there than the cats) pukes on my sheets in the middle of the night bc I still need something to cover my mattress for sleeping).

  2. Can’t believe I missed Wild Side West! I haven’t been in years, but it always felt like a neighborhood bar owned by lesbians and not specifically a queer bar. Loved hanging out back among the discarded toilets/planters with my WSW-sponsered basketball team, the Half Pints. Since you asked, yes we were the shortest team in the league.

  3. 47% SOLID thanks. I found these questions like wildly easy or wildly impossible and I was just guessing wildly. I know my gaydar needs work but my historical gaydar is evidently pretty much in need of a complete rebuild I guess. Well. Is it a rebuild if you never had it in the first place? Build it ground up?

  4. I am so bad at all of these trivia quizzes.

    Quiz Grade: E
    Score: 8
    Percentage: 53%

    I was in college in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s so my signifiers were baggy jeans (preferably button fly) and “wife beater” tanks. (Is there a better term for those? That’s what we called them at the time but in retrospect it’s terrible.) Also if you wore your watch with the face on the inside of your wrist. IDK where that even came from but it was a thing.

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