Is It Time to Embrace the Dangly Earring?

I am going to admit it. I downloaded TikTok because I saw a TikTok video on Twitter of this really hot guy doing this sexy rope trick. There is no shortage of hot men on this app. After I downloaded it, I find myself going down the rabbit hole of TikTok videos whenever I’m bored. There are lots of cat videos, which as a cat lover, I find very cute. Then there are the videos of teachers telling funny stories of students. Of course, there are lots of drag queens, and I can’t resist watching a good drag queen. There are also the dances that are usually cute at first but then they get a little redundant. Finally, there is what seems like a never-ending supply of gay men on TikTok. It’s a total thirst trap. There are some sexy straight men too, but I prefer the gay ones. A lot of the videos, which are all under one minute, are humorous, while there are some that always have more serious content. I usually open up the app for entertainment, not a lecture, but I digress.

The point of this post is not really about TikTok, but it needed to serve as a sort of introduction to this post. One of the things I have noticed with a lot of the young gay men is that a large number of them are now wearing dangling earrings. Honestly, it’s not something I find very attractive. Some of the earrings that loop to another ear piercing higher up their ear remind me of Bajoran earrings from Star Trek. If you have ever watched Deep Space Nine or any episodes with Ro Lauren on The Next Generation, you know what I am talking about. The Bajoran earring was an elaborate piece of jewelry traditionally worn on the right ear by the Bajorans, male and female alike, as a symbol of their faith. Each person’s earring was individualized and bore the symbol of their family.

I know these guys aren’t wearing the dangling earrings as a homage to Star Trek, but I have to wonder: what is with this trend? Naturally, I decided to do a little research on the subject. According to an August 2019 article “It’s Time to Embrace the Dangly Earring” in GQ:

The trend traces most obviously to George Michael, who wore a single dangling silver cross during the 1980s. (Mr. T’s trailing feather hoops also deserve a mention.) But let’s start further back, in Elizabethan England. According to priest William Harrison’s 1557 text Description of England, some men—specifically “lusty courtiers…and gentlemen of courage”—at that time were wearing large earrings made from “gold, stones, or pearl.” (Harrison editorialized that earrings “rather disgrace than adorn their persons.”) Dangling pearl drops were worn by Sir Walter Raleigh, and, later, by King Charles I, whose taste for luxury goods played no small part in the English Civil War and his subsequent execution. Charles, who acquired his rare ovoid pearl earring at the age of fifteen, actually kept the earring on during his own beheading, after which it was removed and sent to his daughter and eventually ended up in the collection of an East Midlands estate.

The New York Times in November 2019 mentions the TikTok trend specifically, saying:

It has also permeated internet culture, with dangly men’s earrings popping up in TikTok videos and various memes. Zach Clayton, a 19-year-old internet celebrity who lives in Los Angeles, recently observed on Twitter: “I just went on TikTok for the first time in so damn long and every dude on there has one dangling earring.”

In the same article, The New York Times goes on to discuss how the trend has been co-opted by fashion designers:

Fashion designers have been quick to co-opt the trend, perhaps sensing that men’s dangly earrings are well suited for our nonbinary gender moment…Dangling earrings were sent down the runway at numerous men’s wear shows earlier this year, including at Celine, Balenciaga and Gucci.

While this trend may have been around since the 1500s, it seems that until recently, it was not something that was fashionable for the average person. At first it was something that the upper classes wore, then devolved to pirates, and by the 1980s to rock stars, to be more specific—George Michael. In the current social media frenzy climate, it seems to a fashion trend for many, but for some it is also a statement about non-gender conformity. While it is not a trend I think looks good, I think we will see more trends that bring attention to non-gender conformity as the LGBTQ+ community becomes freer and more open to gender expression as the world become more accepting of differing sexualities.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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