Which Ear is The Gay Ear?

Which Ear is the Gay Ear? (History and Stereotypes)

Which ear is the gay ear? A lot of questions have been asked about the origin of this significant practice. Why is it called the gay ear? What is its history? who were those that pierced their ears first, how to pierce your ear currently and how to take care of it after piercing?

Which Ear is The Gay Ear?

Because homosexuals pierce their right ear more frequently than their left, when a heterosexual gets their right ear pierced, he is getting the gay ear pierced.

Brief History of the Gay Ear

The twentieth century was an era that brought about fear and confusion.

The whole idea of earrings being an exclusive reserve of females was soon swept under the carpet and men took up the fashion.

Then came the idea of the gay ear. Nobody knows if it was fashionable or shameful. The idea may have just come from people not being used to seeing men on earrings.

It is, therefore, possible that many felt men who wore them were trying to copy women and become more female.

The ear most homosexuals get pierced more often than not is the left ear, hence its reputation as the Gay ear.

It, therefore, suffices to say that when someone who is a heterosexual is piercing their left ear, it simply means that they are getting their gay ear pierced.


Which Ear is Gay Ear?

After learning why an ear is labeled gay, you may be wondering which of the ears is labeled gay.

Traditionally, a right-side piercing is identified as the gay ear. It is part of the LGBT “culture and code” used to secretly identify oneself in the community.

The left side is widely accepted as heterosexual or straight, while dual piercings indicate homosexuality or other varied expressions of sexuality.

Even with changing times and advancements, many people still associate piercing a part of a person’s body with sexual connotations.

For one to better appreciate the idea of piercings and what they stand for, it is imperative that we take a look at the America of the ’70s and ’80s.

Which Ear is The Gay Ear?

The Culture of Gay Ring Practice

During this time, it was not cool to be identified as LGBTQIA publicly.

During this period, there was no real social or legal cover for individuals who fell under the gay ear category.

A lot of people lived in fear for their families, jobs, properties, and even their own lives.

It isn’t uncommon to find people being physically attacked the moment they were discovered to be gay.

The need for some sort of secrecy led to innovations in regard to their lifestyles.

Usually, people who belong to this category will come together in secret bars and local parks in the dark hours of the night.

They often use subtle means to let people know they were gay.

Really quick, the gay ear phrase spread like wildfire through America at a time when piercing was just beginning to gain ground.

Piercing of the body was for a long time not what was generally accepted by all, it was mostly seen on rock stars.

How to Clean Pierced Ears

Usually, the greatest concern after the piercing is carried out deals with what happens immediately after it is done.

This is the most important aspect of the after-care process.

A piercing will be difficult to be infected if it has enough time to properly heal.

Even at that, piercing is a-holes in your body, which means, it can develop fungal and bacterial growths therefore you need to keep them clean always.

How to Keep Your Piercing Open

One challenge with leaving piercings for periods without an earring is that they can heal pretty quickly.

Piercings under a year old are expected to be filled at all times. If they are left open, they would close up quickly.

There are several products you can use to keep your piercings open. You may, however, make use of items such as a broken comb or a fishing line.

However, ensure that whatever it is you are using is properly sterilized.

What to Consider Before Piercing

The first thing you consider is where to place your piercing. Do some research on piercing studios,
and be sure it is certified by the Association of Professional Piercers.

Earlobe. Here is the go-to ear-piercing spot at the bottom of your ear. Earlobe piercing is easy to clean and take care of It heals much faster than other ear piercings as well.

Helix. Helix is the curvy tissue at the very top of the ear. This falls into second place after the lobe piercing in popularity.

It heals a little more slowly than a lobe piercing but is still easy to keep clean.

Tragus. Right above your earlobe. The harder section of your ear is on the edge of your face and right in front of your ear canal.

The tragus is not as common as the lobe or helix for piercing. It is a little more difficult to take care of.

There is some anecdotal evidence that a tragus piercing may have benefits for anxiety and migraines.

Tips for Cleaning an Ear Piercing

1. Clean your piercing when you do other regular hygiene habits.  Wipe it when you brush your teeth or take a shower to give yourself a gentle reminder every day.

2. Wash your hands. Wash with warm water and gentle soap before you touch your piercing to avoid introducing bacteria to the area.

3. You need to Clean with a clean cotton pad or swab, dipped in rubbing alcohol. Use this around the pierced area a few times a day to remove any bacteria.

4. Dab (don’t wipe) the piercing. Dry with a clean towel or tissue so you don’t damage the tissue while it’s healing.

5. Apply a small layer of petroleum jelly. Using this around the pierced area will reduce scabs and protect from bacteria.

6. Clean the pierced area whenever you take the piercing out. This includes when you put it back in, too.

Bacteria can quickly get on jewelry when you expose it to the air or set it on a surface like a counter or a table.

7. Avoid cleaning your piercing in the bathroom. This is especially true of public ones. Even the cleanest home bathrooms usually have high concentrations of bacteria.

8. Try not to lie in the pierced area for long periods of time. Sleeping or lying down on your piercing can trap moisture or bacteria in the area, increasing your risk of infection.

9. Don’t get any hair or body products in the piercing area.

Be careful when you use shampoo, soap, gel, pomade, hairspray, or other products that can get near the piercing and irritate the tissue.

10. Watch out for any abnormal or discolored discharge. See your piercer or doctor right away if you notice any unusual discharge as it might be a sign of an infection.


Perhaps it was the subdued homophobia that existed in my community in Illinois in the 1990s.

But as I became older, it seemed that, despite its seeming arbitrariness, the earring code was understood by everyone I came into contact with, regardless of where they were from.

The New York Times confirmed it in a 1991 article that stated gay men “often [wore] a single piece of jewelry in the right ear to indicate sexual preference.”

In 2009, the Times covered it once more in T Magazine, where the author stated that “the rule of thumb has always been that the right ear is the gay one.”

The reality is more nuanced historically. Over the years, wearing earrings as a guy has meant a variety of things.

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