In piercing studios around the country similar questions are still posed today: “Does one side have any special meaning? You know….
What Side of The Ear is The Gay Side
To find out how an ear piercing could hold this kind of meaning we need to look back to the 70’s and 80’s in America. There was once a period when it was socially unacceptable to be openly gay or lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
This is a time where there were no legal or social protections for persons who were apart of these groups. Many people lived in fear of losing their jobs, homes, families, and even their lives.
It was normal to be violently attacked if it were found out that you were anything than straight. This desire for secrecy led to some ingenious ways to maintain a lifestyle that was normally frowned upon.
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Congregate Together in Secret Bars, or Meet Up Around Trails in Local Parks After Dark
People in these societies would congregate together in secret bars, or meet up around trails in local parks after dark, they even employed particular sorts of code (which differed from area to location) to quietly notify people they were gay.
These cryptic symbols served as a shield, a means of communicating with those in the know about one’s preferences without risking social isolation or perhaps one’s life.
As people began to catch wind of what the LGBTQIA+ communities were using, a term few remember as familiar was born: “Left is right and right is wrong.” (At the time, “wrong” referred to the homosexual community.)
During the time that piercing was seeing a boom in popularity, this expression spread throughout the United States. For a long time, the general public did not approve of the practise of body piercing. Only musicians and tattoo artists dared wear it.
Around the time that multiple piercings of the earlobe became more common, a cultural shift occurred. Someone who is especially defiant might even pierce their cartilage in protest.
With the gradual normalisation of piercing, the association between a single piercing in a man’s right lobe with homosexuality became firmly established.
Let us not forget that this was a period in which secrecy literally meant life or death. But much like in a game of telephone, the truth can get muddled as words go from person to person.
Between its inception and now, we have heard various iterations of this term. It varied from city to city and state to state.
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The left ear served as a symbol in cultures when this was the case. Others completely rewrote the script, suggesting that both piercings represent Bi or Trans. As this underground fad spread across the country, it spawned countless imitations. This led to widespread confusion about which ear should be considered “the gay ear.”