I am a guy who has pierced both ears and let me tell you it was hard at first, people perceiving my move as a gay move since they knew that it is only gays who were piercing their ears at that time and my father wouldn’t have any of that. I remember when he first saw me, he immediately told me not to wear them in his house but do that gay stuff outside, I just sighed and went to my room.
The complicated origins of the ‘gay’ earring and whether anything has changed since we all learned about it as kids, it was a truth so firmly established that defying it meant social suicide. If you have an earring in your right ear, it means you’re gay. We accepted it as gospel and never questioned its validity.
It may have been the subtle homophobia of my Illinois community in the ’90s. But as I grew up, it seemed like everyone I met, no matter their place of origin, knew and understood the earring code, as arbitrary as it seems. Historically speaking, the truth is more complex. Earrings on guys have signified many things over the years, such as social stature or religious affiliation.
In the Western world, earrings, so long a purely female adornment, have recently been seen on increasing numbers of male ears. At first, it was assumed that the wearers were all effeminate homosexuals, but it soon became clear the habit was spreading to the more avant-garde of the young heterosexuals.
This led to some confusion and stories began to circulate that there was a secret code, that to wear an earring in a pierced left ear was homosexual, and in a pierced right ear was rebelled heterosexual. The problem was that nobody could remember which was supposed to be which. In the end, the male earring lost its sexual significance altogether, and simply became a generalized way of annoying middle-aged, latter-day puritans.
So for your information, gayness has a variety of complicated nonverbal signal languages, but earrings aren’t really one of them.