Having an earring in your right ear was taken as a sign of homosexuality by the majority of the students at the school, and to deny this was social death.
It was taken at face value without any doubts on our part. Maybe it was the underlying homophobia in my 1990s Illinois hometown.
As arbitrary as it may appear, the earring code seemed to be universally recognised by the people I met as I grew up.
The New York Times confirmed it: According to a study from 1991, “homosexual males commonly [wore] a single piece of jewellery in the right ear to signal sexual preference.”
In 2009, the Times once again revisited the topic, this time in T Magazine, with the author reflecting on his own piercing experience and noting that “the rule of thumb has always been that the right ear is the gay one.”
Certain Exceptions Prevails of Gay Piercing
Of course, there are always outliers. One of the most unmovable cultural signifiers is the “mono” piercing; more specifically, where on the ear it is located and what that implies about one’s sexuality.
Before the year 2000 and after, it was generally accepted that being gay was signified by wearing an earring in one’s right ear and being straight by wearing one in one’s left.
Demagogic aphorism “Left is right and right is bad” has been whispered onto gay and straight males (and their piercers) for decades, despite new data and celebrities proving contrary.
Despite its widespread use, no one can pinpoint the saying’s genesis. Or to clarify which side’s meaning is which. However, this dilemma is one that only the United States of America faces.
Which Ear Is The Gay Ear?
While ear piercing had been common among sailors for decades, it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the practise caught on among gay men and hippies.
As part of the LGBT “culture and code” for covertly identifying oneself to the group, a RIGHT-side piercing has traditionally been used to identify a guy as gay.
While some argue that having two piercings shows a propensity for the bisexual lifestyle, this is not the case.
Dual piercings do not indicate sexual preference, and the left side is often recognised as belonging to heterosexuals or straight people.
Some of these norms have been contested in recent years, but the dominant viewpoint persists.
What Piercing in Your Ear Is Considered Gay?
Having an earring in your right ear is a surefire way to let everyone know that you’re gay. It was taken at face value, and its veracity was never questioned.
This might have been due to the underlying homophobia that existed in some parts of Illinois back in the ’90s.
The earring code may seem arbitrary, but as the gays got older it seemed like everyone they met, no matter where they were from, recognised and understood it.
In reality, straight males wore earrings long before gays did. Many sailors wore earrings because they thought they would save them from drowning.
The history of the earring’s acceptance as a code among the gay community is murky at best.
It could have something to do with the fact that most people’s idea of masculinity was threatened by the wearing of earrings.