Thursday, March 26, 2009

Left or right?

I've just been out to a decent restaurant with my friend T, and we're wandering the streets together on our way home when we start chatting:

"What do you think about piercings?" asks T.

"What kind of piercings?" I reply, "There are earrings, nipple piercings, prince alberts ... ??"

"Urrgh no," shudders T, "nothing like that! I'm just thinking about getting a little stud in one of my ears :-)."

"Really? Well, I've never really fancied one myself, but I think that they can look quite good :-)."

"I'm still thinking about it," says T, "If I get stud, then even if I take it out I know that my sisters will still notice the little hole when I go home, so I'm not sure!"

"You shouldn't worry about your sisters," I reply, "You've got your own life to lead. The interesting question is, which ear will you get the stud put in?"

"Not sure, which do you think looks better?"

"Right hand side, definitely," I reply mischievously, "it'll look much better on the right :-)."

"Why are you so sure, what's the difference?"

I decide to come clean and admit what I know.

"Well, the right side is the gay side, isn't it?"

"Oh no! Really?" asks T, "In that case I'll definitely have to have it in the left!"

"Or is it the left side that's the gay side?"

"You're not trustworthy are you GB!" laughs T, "I can see that I'm going to have to do my own research on this."

Although I wish that T wasn't so closeted, I know that there's no point arguing about it with him. Everyone has to come out at their own pace.

A few days later, I decide to do some research, to check that my memory about the right ear being the gay side is correct. But I'm in for a shock. According to what I can find on the Internet, I'm showing my age! For example, a year ago Yahoo answers had the following:
Question: Which ear piercing means your gay? The right side or the left?

Best answer: Are you 10 years old? Being attracted to the same sex is gay. An ear piercing doesn't specify your sexuality. Get which ever ear you want pierced, and grow up.
Similarly, the relevent wikipedia article on the subject says
In various Western cultures, piercing the left vs. the right ear alone has sometimes been popularly perceived to be associated with a particular sexual orientation. In the late 60's it was said that "left is 'right' and right is 'wrong'"; the left ear being safe for piercing by straight men and a pierced right ear meaning one was gay. However, due to the lack of uniformity, such generalizations are essentially meaningless.
Although I still wonder. I only know a tiny number of guys with ear piercings, but that includes two straight guys who both have it on the left hand side. Is that an accident? I'm sure that if I was going to have a single ear pierced and I was straight, then even if I was told that the rule didn't apply any more I'd still have the piercing on the left hand side anyway! The key question is, what proportion of straight guys with just one ear pierced have the piercing on the left side and what proportion have the piercing on the right? If the overwhelming majority of them still have it on the left hand side just to be safe, then I'd argue that the rule still applies :-).


Anonymous said...

I hate to rain on anyone's parade here. But truth be told, the diamond (or similar) studs look good on very, very few people. So unless, you really have the looks and the bod of that Beckham man, think twice, think a lot, and leave it at that.

Just my 2 cents.


Anonymous said...

Have both done then no one is the wiser:-) but i honestly don't think it matters. Like everything else it's a personal thing...and yes GB it does show one is getting old LOL

alastair said...

At school, which was 12 years ago, the saying was, "Right ear, right queer."

I've yet to see a man who I think looks good with a single pierced lobe, and I've known a few. There's just something that I find tawdry and inelegant about them (my personal view, of course); on the other hand, I've seen single bolts through eyebrows and small rings through the top of the ear that look both masculine and sexy.

If your friend is so hung up on which side it goes in because of his worries of how it might be perceived, perhaps he should concentrate on dealing with that particular illness first?

Kenski said...

I thought it used to be right, then loads of str8 guys started following the trend and getting one on the right so it ended up something stupid like 2 in one side, one in the other...

I always thought that if I ever got one pierced it'd be the left and I'd spend all day pretending to be a pirate :-)

I prefer nipple piercings, though I doubt they're considered particularly gay these days. I have a bad habit of folding my arms in meetings at work when I'm bored and subconsciously tugging on mine. I'm sure it doesn't give clients a great impression!

Leon Koh said...

for the fun, just go ahead :)

gayconsultant said...

I think right = gay is or was mostly a European thing; in the US, I often heard left = top and right = bottom... Another dimension to consider! :-)

Anonymous said...

oh blimey gayconsultant how much more confusing can it get for poor T. I now think he should forget the whole idea if there are all these issues to go through just for a simple piercing....
let us know GB if he plucks up the courage either way!!!!!


GanymedeDC said...

I had mine pierced at a gay shop in Provincetown 30 years ago, and they pierced the left ear. Hmmm...was someone pulling the wool over my head? I assumed that a gay shop in a gay vacation spot would know what they were doing. No matter now, I have not worn the stud in years,

Shawn LI said...

In Singapore and many Asian countries right is still considered Gay

Jonny X said...

I live in Northern Ireland and I've heard 2 variants; the right for gay and left for straight one as you'd mentioned, but also that back in the days of the troubles (about 30 years ago) that a right piercing would signify someone was a catholic and left for a protestant. I used to have my left cartilage pierced but have since decided that none is the way to go.

Will said...

I got an ear pierced in the late 70s, the left one. I made the whole question moot by having the right ear done about five years later. At that time, both ears was unquestionably gay, one ear could be straight or gay, no matter which ear.

Then, lots of straight men had both ears done, by which time teh gays had begun the whole tattoo and body piercing route. Foiled again!--the straight boys began getting inked up and having metal inserted everywhere.

We are such trend-setters!

It also used to be that men who had sex with women were straight and men who had sex with men were homosexual. Now, it's anything goes here, at least on the two coasts and in occasional oases of sanity and civilization like Chicago, Austin, etc. It may or may not be denial, but huge numbers of men trolling for sex on the hook-up sites identify as straight even as they list a smorgasbord of desired oral and anal activities.

A-Philosophical said...

Pearcing is self-flagelation

GB said...

Very cunning SC, I ask left or right and you say 'neither' LOL! Trust me, it'll look good on T :-).

Actually first anonymous commenter, whoever you are, in terms of showing my age I feel somewhat vindicated by some of the other comments here. Left or right to denote sexuality certainly seems to be more of a European and Asian concept than a US concept.

Thanks for the information that right was still perceived as gay in the UK only 12 years go :-), alastair. The good thing about getting T to pierce one of his ears, though, is that it would be something his family probably wouldn't like. So on that basis it's an important step for him to take.

In my experience, Kenski, nipple sensitivity seems to be far more of a gay thing than a straight thing. On that basis, nipple piercing is likely to be much more gay than straight too!

I'm going to try and persuade him, Leon :-).

Indeed, GC, Will's and GanymedeDC's comments below seems to confirm that.

Ahhh second anonymous commenter, whoever you are, as far as I know T isn't a reader of this blog and I'm not going to pass on confusing information to him!

Interesting GanymedeDC, so it does seem that the right=gay hasn't been valid in the US for a long time.

Thanks very much for this comment Shawn, it's more proof that at least in some parts of the world this concept is still alive!

In terms of Catholics and Protestants Jonny, did both sides agree that right=Catholic and left=Protestant, or was it a Protestant idea to try and annoy Catholics by implying that they're all gay?

That's a fascinating comment Will :-), especially regarding straight guys and hook-up sites. In London, one often gets married guys or guys with girlfriends cruising online, but at that point they don't usually still pretend to be straight.

Maybe, A-Philosophical, only maybe!

GB xxx

Jonny X said...

"In terms of Catholics and Protestants Jonny, did both sides agree that right=Catholic and left=Protestant, or was it a Protestant idea to try and annoy Catholics by implying that they're all gay?"

To be honest GB, I did consider that very possibility. I'll have to ask some of my catholic friends and see if they have heard of this.

sophie said...

i don't even piercing in my ears and girls still come hitting on me =S
(i'm a girl, btw.)