Dear Dr. Date,You …

Dear Dr. Date,
You may want to further revise your advice to gay men who want to hit on other men around campus but don’t because they’re not sure whether they’re gay.
Rather than just blurting out “I’m gay,” gays use symbols to subtly identify themselves to each other. “Have you ever been to the Saloon?” is a good one because of the generic sounding name of one of Minneapolis’ hottest gay clubs. If the answer is “no,” nothing very personal has been revealed. “A friend of Dorothy,” a frequenter of the river flats near Shriners, a member of ‘All God’s Children’, a reader of FocusPoint, or a fan of Tribe 8 or James Baldwin wouldn’t necessarily be taken as being gay by someone who wasn’t in the know. Using gay code is a way to broach the subject indirectly and tentatively, which was what Unable to read minds was looking for. People who are in the know are usually cool, if not always interested. Have you ever heard of the bandanna code?
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’m supposed to be telling you this stuff. Oh well. Times change. And it’s your job to see that they do. Keep it up.
— Informant

Thanks for the tips. The message I send to gays is the same message I send out to straights: Be honest about your intentions. While blurting, “I’m gay!” or, “I’m in love with you!” may not be the best way to approach, I still feel you should get that idea across sooner rather than later.
Because mild to extreme homophobia is an ever present problem, I understand the hesitation to tell someone you are gay. I was suggesting that the author of Tuesday’s letter state matter-of-factly that he is gay without any unspoken implications. I don’t think it’d be a good idea for him to say, “I’m gay,” but really mean, “I’m gay and I want you.” In a perfect world (which this is clearly not), if the pursued man was, in fact, gay, a matter-of-fact statement would put him more at ease. Of course, in a really perfect world, no one would care if someone was gay or not.
I am familiar with the bandanna code. For those not familiar, the hanky code is a way of advertising your particular sexual interest by wearing a bandanna. The message you send depends on the color of the bandanna and on which side of the body it is worn. Due to regional variances, the hanky code isn’t always a reliable indicator of style.
Since I grew up on the plains, bandannas have been an integral part of my entire life. I own several and wear them regularly although not to signify my sexual interests. Judging by the colors, however, I’m apparently into pubic shaving, vampirism and hard-core S&M.