Which Ear Is The Gay Ear?
In the 50’s and 60’s, gay men would wear an earring in their right ear as a signal to other gay men, letting them know that they were gay as well. In a time when being obviously gay was problematic and even dangerous – this discreet marker let gay men tell each other that they were available.
These days, the ‘gay ear’ phenomenon has faded into obscurity as being gay has become less and less stigmatised. ‘Cruising’, or discreetly visiting known spots for impromptu hookups, is not as popular these days as it once was. If a modern gay man is still looking for some discretion, he can use apps like Grindr to find someone who is up for an encounter.
Why Earrings Of All Things?
Piercings in general are usually seen as a fashion choice for women. In the 20th century, it was uncommon for men to even consider getting a piercing of any kind, much less an earring. Over time, gay men tried to stand out by getting ear piercings, leading to the concept of the ‘gay’ ear piercing.
A common saying that made its way around the piercing community was ‘left is right, right is wrong’, wrong in this case meaning ‘gay’. It became a rule of thumb for straight males wanting a single, rebellious piercing, without being mistaken as gay. The saying is pretty homophobic and has mostly faded into obscurity in 2019.
Other Gay Signals
There was a time when LGBT people needed some silent method of signalling to call out to each other. A few decades ago, the world was a pretty scary place for anyone who wasn’t straight. So the LGBT community created many different systems of nonverbal communication to signal each other as to what their orientation was, their roles, or even their fetishes.
The ‘handkerchief code’ was a way of signalling what kinds of sex you were into. A handkerchief would be worn outside your back pocket, and the colour of that handkerchief would specify your kink. Red means fisting, dark blue means anal, grey means bondage, etc.
Often, the kinds of outfits you wore could also signal your orientation. Leather was a sign of rebellion, even within the gay community. Keys hanging from your belt loop could also be a sign of your gayness. The earring was just another way to let people know you were gay. That being said, the gay community often disputes whether or not the gay ear piercing was ever a real thing.
So Was It A Real Thing?
Some people contend that the ‘gay ear’ was never really a signal the way handkerchiefs and other things were. Some members of the community would go as far as to say the whole thing was made up by straight people to feel superior to gay people. The ‘gay ear’ hasn’t endured as much as other gay imagery, and these days, you’ll have a hard time finding younger gay men who even know about it in the first place.
The Gay Ear Today
The gay ear idea doesn’t hold so much water these days; it isn’t unusual for a straight guy to have one or more piercings in their ears. News flash, gay people aren’t on the prowl hunting down anyone with a right or left ear piercing.
Ear piercings for guys are no longer a symbol of homosexuality or even effeminacy. So boys, if you’re thinking of getting an ear piercing don’t be fooled into thinking that left or right means gay!
Celebs Rocking The Right Ear Piercing
An earring can be a normal part of your everyday outfit, or it can be a subtle symbol of rebellion or individuality. Here are a few celebs who’ve nailed the ‘gay ear’ style:
Harry wore this amazing look to the 2019 Met Gala, and it certainly turned some heads!
Justin Timberlake is a flashy guy! He isn’t afraid to flaunt some glitter in our faces when the opportunity calls for it.
Just his bandmates, Zayn is stylish as hell. In addition to his many tattoos, he can rock a piercing like it’s nobody’s business.
Elton John is the former king of style, and he hasn’t forgotten how to look daring. This look from Cannes 2019 showcases his eye-popping fashion sense for the world to see.