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Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Red Tie in Gay New York


 Seeing Red in the 1900's

These days it’s easy for gay men to hook up, but imagine living in New York in the 1900's? How would you meet someone without Grindr or Scruff ?

Illustration by J.C. Leyendecker

 
Illustration by J.C. Leyendecker 

If you were flamboyant, you could wear a green suit. A green suit must have been like those awful "freedom rings" that guys wore in the 1990's? Excessively bright feathers in the band of your hat was also a way of flagging gay and possibly getting your ass kicked.

For most gay men, the green suits and flashy feathers were too daring and conspicuous; wearing a red tie was slightly more on the down low. It was a signal used by many in New York’s gay circles.  If you wore a red tie in one of New York’s cruising areas, you would catch the attention of gay men.  It was a bold choice in an era that favored more conservative colors, but easier to pull off than wearing a t-shirt that says, “I love cock!”  

Why searching for illustrations to go with this article, I came across three Arrow Shirt Illustrations by J.C. Leyendecker, one of the great illustrators of that time period, and also a gay man. It's interesting that these three illustrations all show the men wearing red ties! Leyendecker and his friends must have a big laugh; pulling that over on his unsuspecting clients. 

 
Illustration by J.C. Leyendecker

Everything eventually goes out of fashion and by the 1980's, conservative Republican douche bags were the only ones wearing red ties, how times had changed!



Much of this information came from "Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940" by George Chauncey. http://books.google.com/books/about/Gay_New_York.html?id=NNHGuVdPELYC

 


 

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