Which Ear is the Gay Ear?

Estimated read time 3 min read

Earrings, once a feminine form of adornment, have recently begun appearing on male ears. As a result, stories began spreading that an earring in the right ear indicated homosexuality while one on the left was straight.

As gender roles continue to get more fluid, this notion is quickly fading. But which ear is the gay ear?

The Left Ear

The question of which ear is the gay ear comes up from time to time when guys are considering getting their ears pierced. The truth is that there isn’t a definitive answer to this question. It all depends on the person’s personal style and preferences.

Back when the LGBTQ community was still underground huddling in secret bars and meeting up in dark trails in local parks, piercings started to become popular methods for discreetly signaling that one was homosexual. The “gay ear” phrase was born out of this era as people gathered around this code and figured out ways to subtly communicate their sexual orientation without having to reveal it from the outside world.

The “gay ear” was the most prominent form of this, but it wasn’t the only method of signaling. There was also flagging, which involved keeping a handkerchief in the left back pocket to indicate that you were a top and wearing one on the right to show that you were a bottom.

The Right Ear

In the era before gay rights were common, it was still dangerous to be out as homosexual. This is why many men used to use subtle signals like ear piercings to drop hints about their sexual orientation. They would pierce their right ear to indicate that they were gay.

It is not clear how this ear-piercing code came about, but it seems to have gained popularity in the 1960s. Even some straight men began to get their ears pierced in this way.

Of course, the right-ear-piercing code wasn’t the only way that people used to signal their sexual orientation. Another popular method was called “flagging.” In this code, putting a handkerchief in the left back pocket indicated that you were a top while wearing one in the right meant that you were a bottom.

The Bottom Line

The “gay ear” is a cultural phenomenon that stems from the time when gay and LGBTQIA lives were much more clandestine. People gathered in secret bars and dark trails of local parks and used different forms of code based on location to subtly let people in the know what their sexual orientation was without putting themselves at risk of losing their jobs, families, homes, or even their lives.

When piercings started to come back into style, one of those codes became the saying that men who wore earrings in their right ear were gay. While this fad has largely died out over the years, it still pops up from time to time when guys are wondering which ear they should get pierced.

The bottom line is that if you’re comfortable with your own sexuality and want to express it, then get whatever piercing you desire! There’s no wrong answer to this question. Just make sure to clean your piercings regularly to avoid bacterial or fungal growth.


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