Yellow, or reading archives diagonally
in Bound together
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Detailing the history of the Leather Archives & Museum, the only bricks-and-mortar archive to be solely dedicated to the collection, preservation, and display of leather histories, this chapter takes a cue from Michel Foucault’s habit for reading archives on the diagonal, using the hanky code, a color-coded sexual signaling system developed in the 1970s, as an organizing principle for apprehending the social lifeways of gay and lesbian leatherfolks. By choosing yellow as a focal point in unspooling leather histories—a color whose relation to golden showers, or the erotics of pissing, remains consistent across the many historical iterations of the hanky code— the depth and breadth of the institution’s collections are put into coordination with the constellated visual and material cultures of gay and lesbian leather communities.

Bound together

Leather, sex, archives, and contemporary art


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