Case 022: The Chain Gayngfiled February 19, 2020
With the arrival of a new decade, The Inqueery’s Codes and Communications division has been busier than ever deciphering the era’s nascent signifiers. In ages past, gays signalled their preferences to one another through handkerchiefs, iced coffee, and tote bag holds. But today, as norms blur between the LGBTQ+ community and the dominant culture—with straight people attending Ariana Grande concerts en masse—how do we set ourselves apart to say “Hey, jhuzh!” to family?
After reviewing hours of CCTV footage from raves and Rupi Kaur readings, The Inqueery is confidently announcing the definitive queer signifier of 2020: the chain necklace. Ranging from subtle to excessive, chains acts as a mark for all types of queer expression. Here, we compile the most popular styles:
The Slim Chain – In silver or gold, this slight accessory casts a darling light on any neckline; the way it dreamily drapes over the clavicles suggests a rare, delicate beauty that must be cherished. While the slim chain is often the most affordable and lightweight of the options, it’s effect can’t be underestimated: In the age of Chalamet, as twinks self-weaponize, the slim chain acts as a sort of badge of honor. “I’m a bottom,” says Benton Loughty, 24, an aspiring screenwriter based in Silver Lake. “Everyone claims to be a top nowadays. I wanted to take a stand. Once I put it on, I felt understood…and a little defiant.” Naturally, the slim chain has found great success far beyond twink discourse. “When I came out as a lesbian, I felt this expectation to overhaul my look,” says Tanner Von Hyen, 33, an animal patrol officer in Baltimore. “My chain lets me slide effortlessly from andro to femme depending on what bar I’m going to.”
The Chunky Chain – While the slim chain hints at a growing network of subversives, the chunky chain is armor for the queer warrior. More commonly seen in gold, this thick filigree of knots tells the world that you’re ready to fight like your ancestors. “Whenever we’d watch Bring It On at all-girl slumber parties, I wanted to be Missy,” says Tawny Gillert, 30, a glassblower in Charleston. “I loved her fake tattoos, her attitude. When I wear my chain, it’s like giving a middle finger to the world. I feel powerful.” And for many queers who feel miscast in stagnant gender roles, the chunky chain can help reclaim a highbrow machismo. “I know I’m loud, I’m gay, I’m whatever,” says Jack Twohey, 26, a contemporary dancer in Chicago. “But that doesn’t mean I have to deny my masculinity, such as it is. I’m wearing my thick chain, honey, and you can’t have it!”
The Talisman – The perfect piece for the lone agent, the gay spy, the wannabe Scorpio moon, who can slip seemlessly between gallery openings, sex parties, and ragers at Peter Thiel’s mansion. Choose the chiseled visage of Medusa, Aphrodite, or any other lux bitch from antiquity, hang it on a fine silver or gold necklace, suspend it over an open chest, and voilà, you’re a queer of mystery. You’re not part of a particular scene, but you’re able to infiltrate any crowd. “I binged that Versace show on FX, so I had to go out and get a chain that weekend,” says Connor Jacobs, 24, a marketing associate based in the East Village. Like a symbol of a lost religion, the talisman elevates you from style dilettante to fashion sage. “I found this necklace with a gold Japanese character pendant and suddenly, I started getting attention from every sort of person. To be honest, I don’t know what it means, but it’s gotten me laid in all five boroughs.”
Our Conclusion: Let a chain mark your identity on the queer spectrum, from Troye Sivan to Tony Soprano.
Gay Rating: Sarah Michelle Gellar’s coke cross in Cruel Intentions.