Monthly Archives: July 2020

Phone Calls

Yesterday afternoon, my best friend who lives in Texas called me. We talked for a few minutes; the conversation we had lasted maybe 30 seconds. The rest of the time for about 30 minutes or so, she talked to her three-year-old son who was in the backseat of the car. I have no idea why she called. I hate when people call me and apparently, don’t really want to talk to me. I have one friend I never have to worry about with that. She’s going to have something to say when she calls. However, my friend in Texas, my sister, and my aunt are the worst about calling and not really having anything to say. I guess they want me on the phone, but really have nothing to say. When my sister calls and does have something to say, it’s usually something idiotic, like telling me about a trip she took to Florida or Tennessee in the middle of a pandemic. Whenever Mama calls, she never wants to talk long, and she seems to try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. And people wonder why I have issues with talking on the phone.

After my friend called, my mother called. She wanted to tell me that a neighbor I grew up next to had died of pancreatic cancer. It’s sad because she left behind three young children. However, I barely knew the girl. Honestly, I don’t even remember her name. She lived next door but there was a pasture between us. I grew up in a very rural area. My mother didn’t really want us associating with the neighbors, so I never knew any of them very well. After she got through telling me this whole story about this woman who died, I mentioned that Olivia de Havilland died. Mama is a huge Gone with the Wind fan as is my sister. Apparently, my mother and sister had already had a conversation about Olivia de Havilland’s death, so it wasn’t news to her. Anyway, Mama was confused about who de Havilland had a long love affair with. I tried to tell her it was Errol Flynn, but she wasn’t listening to me and kept talking about the man she’d been in love with was the one who played all the pirates in movies. Again, I told her it was Errol Flynn, and she said, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” Then as I continued to try and talk to her, when she interrupts me and said, ” I have another phone call. Bye,” and hung up. 

Then I get another call. This time it was my niece, who apparently was at my parents’ house. (I won’t even get started on what’s wrong with that, since it is not safe for them to be around the grandchildren right now with the pandemic.) My niece basically said, “Hi, Uncle Joe,” and then it was like pulling teeth to get her to talk to me. She was obviously distracted by something. What it was, I don’t know. I tried asking her about school starting back, and eventually she answered me. Finally, she said, “Grandma wants to talk to you.” I was thinking I just talked to her, it had only been 2 or 3 minutes, but I didn’t say that. Mama proceeded to ask me if I will be able to come home at Christmas because apparently, she has heard that AOC is trying to shut down all travel. I started to write that I don’t know where she gets this stuff, but I do know. All her craziness comes from Fox News. I don’t even have to ask. Why can’t the FCC just shut that shitshow down for all the misinformation they spread. Anyway, I said that I would probably not be able to come home but it had nothing to do with AOC but with the fact that the university has asked us not to travel outside of Vermont, especially to high risk areas, of which Alabama is one such place. Then she tells me how sad it will make her if I can’t come home at Christmas. I said that it would make me sad too. I was in the middle of explaining about why the university doesn’t want us to travel and when I would start going back into the office, when she breaks into the middle of what I was saying to tell me that she needs to get off the phone. All she called for was to make a nasty remark about a Democrat and when I tried to tell her something, she didn’t want to hear it. My family drives me crazy.

So, I basically had four phone conversations about nothing yesterday afternoon. Finally, my friend Susan called. She always has plenty so say, whether I do or not. Last night, I was actually in the mood to talk, we ended up being on the phone for nearly two hours. When we both have a lot to say, we end up on the phone for a long time. I always feel better though after talking to Susan. If she hadn’t called, I would have probably remained in a pissed off mood about the useless phone calls I’d received that afternoon.

Pic of the Day

Salt and Light

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

— Matthew 5:13-16

Every Christian is called by God to be an influence on the world around them. Jesus began teaching this concept early in his ministry when he told his disciples he would make them fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19) Then, in the Sermon on the Mount, He used the illustrations of salt and light. (Matthew 5:13-16) They both have properties which affect things around them. Salt enhances flavor and is used as a preservative. To ‘be salt’ means to deliberately seek to influence the people in one’s life by showing them the unconditional love of Christ through good deeds. Light is a symbol meaning awareness, knowledge, and understanding. To ‘be light’ is to be a witness to others concerning the truth of God’s Word especially about who Christ is and how He died and rose again for our salvation.

These two images used by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, are one of His main teachings on morality and discipleship. They immediately follow the Beatitudes and are often interpreted as referring to Jesus’ expectations of his disciples. The general theme of Matthew 5:13–16 is promises and expectations.

The first verse of this passage introduces the phrase “salt of the earth”:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

— Matthew 5:13

The value of salt, especially in the ancient world cannot be underestimated. Roman soldiers received their wages in salt. The Greeks considered salt to be divine. Mosaic Law required all offerings presented by the Israelites to contain salt. (Lev. 2:13) When Jesus told his disciples they were “the salt of the earth”, they understood the metaphor. While the universal importance of salt is not as readily apparent in our modern world, the mandate Jesus gave to his first disciples is still relevant and applicable to His followers today.

What are the characteristics of salt which caused the Lord to use it in this context? I believe it is about preservation and keeping faith fresh. Those first disciples would have been intimately familiar with this function of salt. Without refrigeration, the fish they caught would quickly spoil and rot unless packed in salt. Once salted, the fish could be safely stored and used when needed. 

We have been given a wonderful privilege to be the salt of the earth, but Jesus gave us a warning. The second half of Matthew 5:13 states: “But if salt loses its taste, how would its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.” Jesus did not say we can lose our salvation; He said we can lose our saltiness. When salt is contaminated it becomes corrosive and poisonous. Salt cannot even be used in the field, so it has to be thrown on the road. The Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus plowed over and sowed the city of Carthage with salt after defeating it in the Third Punic War (146 BC) to prevent the city from ever flourishing again. Whether that happened or not is up for debate, but the idea of sowing the land with salt as a punishment for its inhabitants was widely known. Therefore, if we allow disobedience, carelessness, and indifference to rule our lives, we have become contaminated salt and have lost our worth.

The second verse introduces the “City upon a Hill”:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

— Matthew 5:14

As “salt”, the Christian is to counteract the power of sin. As “light”, we are to illuminate or make visible. Our lives are to be an ongoing witness to the reality of Christ’s presence in our lives. When we worship God with pure hearts, when we love others as ourselves, when we do good without growing weary, we are shining lights. It is important, however, to know it is not our light, but the reflection of the Light of the world, Jesus Himself, people will see in u

The later verses refer to not hiding a lamp under a bushel which also occurs in Luke 8:16–18.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

— Matthew 5:15–16

The key idea of the parable is that “Light is to be revealed, not concealed.” The light here has been interpreted as referring to Jesus or to His message or to the believer’s response to that message. Jesus quotes a pessimistic proverb on how the rich get richer and the poor keep losing even the little they have. He later denounces the saying in the next parable in Mark, which alludes to Joel 3:13 in assuring that God’s judgment on the ruling powers will come and holds out revolutionary hope to those resigned to thinking nothing will ever change.

Out of these four verses one of the most famous phrases is the introduction to the “City upon a Hill.” Since colonial times, this phrase has been linked to the colonies which would become the United States. In modern context, it is used in United States politics to refer to America acting as a “beacon of hope” for the world. This scripture was cited at the end of Puritan John Winthrop’s lecture or treatise, “A Model of Christian Charity” delivered on March 21, 1630 at Holyrood Church in Southampton before his first group of Massachusetts Bay colonists embarked on the ship Arbella to settle Boston. Winthrop warned his fellow Puritans their new community would be “as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us” meaning, if the Puritans failed to uphold their covenant with God, then their sins and errors would be exposed for all the world to see: “So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world”. Winthrop’s lecture was forgotten for nearly 200 years until the Massachusetts Historical Society published it in 1838. It remained an obscure reference for more than another century until Cold War era historians and political leaders made it relevant to their time crediting Winthrop’s text as the foundational document of the idea of American exceptionalism.

On 9 January 1961, President-Elect John F. Kennedy quoted the phrase during an address delivered to the General Court of Massachusetts. On November 3, 1980, Ronald Reagan referred to the same event and image in his Election Eve Address “A Vision for America”. Reagan was reported to have been inspired by author Manly P. Hall and his book, The Secret Destiny of America, which alleged a secret order of philosophers had created the idea of America as a country for religious freedom and self-governance. Reagan would reference this concept through multiple speeches notably again in his January 11, 1989, farewell speech to the nation. U.S. Senator Barack Obama also referred to the topic in his commencement address on June 2, 2006 at the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 2016, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney incorporated the idiom into a condemnation of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign:

His domestic policies would lead to recession; his foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president, and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.

During the 2016 presidential race, Texas Senator Ted Cruz used the phrase during his speech announcing the suspension of his campaign. President Barack Obama also alluded to President Ronald Reagan’s use of the phrase during his speech at the Democratic National Convention the same year, as he proposed a vision of America in contrast to that of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Sadly, the United States under Trump and the Republican Party (or the Hypocrite Party as I’ve begun calling them, as it seems much more descriptive of their beliefs) has moved away from being the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and the city upon a hill as they destroy the foundations of the United States.

While reading about “Salt and Light” for this post, I was struck by the belief that to ‘be salt’ means to deliberately seek to influence the people in one’s life by showing them the unconditional love of Christ through good deeds. And yet, as I was researching further, I read numerous articles about how this did not pertain to the LGBTQ+ community. Those so-called religious scholars claimed these verses should be used to condemn homosexuality. For them, “the unconditional love of Christ” only pertains to those who believe in their own hateful views. They can’t have it both ways. 

Jesus warns against hypocrisy in what are known as the “Woes of the Pharisees,” a list of criticisms by Jesus against scribes and Pharisees recorded in the Gospels of Luke 11:37–54 and Matthew 23:1–39. The Woes illustrate the differences between inner and outer moral states. In the New Testament, the Pharisees are people who place the letter of the law above the spirit of the law (Mark 2:3–28, 3:1–6).  In the Gospels, Jesus is often shown as being critical of Pharisees. The Pharisees, like Jesus, believed in the resurrection of the dead, and in divine judgment. They advocated prayer, almsgiving, and fasting as spiritual practices. The argument over the “Spirit of the Law” vs. the “Letter of the Law” was part of early Jewish dialogue as well. 

If we want to follow the spirit and the letter of the law, then we must believe what Jesus tells us. Christians must “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus doesn’t allow us to exclude anyone. We are all God’s children, and we all receive God’s love. So, I will end with this verse:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

— 1 John 4:7-8

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Starbucks

Back when I was teaching college in Alabama, I used to go by Starbucks every Tuesday and Thursday before class and get a venti vanilla latte. I always went to this one particular Starbucks that was not exactly on my way to the university; however, the hottest guy worked in this particular Starbucks. I always went there to flirt with him. I’m pretty sure he was gay. No straight man back then wore designer clothes to work at a Starbucks in Alabama. He has that southern gay boy sense of fashion. He wore designer accessories with his uniform (Gucci belt, designer shoes, etc.) He was really cute—dark hair and eyes, tall and skinny, with a cute little butt that I knew would look fabulous out of his tight-fitting pants. He always seemed so happy to see me when I would go in, more so than many people that come into the café. I’d seen him interact with other customers, and I never saw him wave hello to anyone else or smile when they walked in. He always gave me a big wave, smile big, and say, “Hey man, how’s it going?” I was probably imagining that he seemed nicer to me, but I can have my little fantasies occasionally. It probably meant nothing; he just saw me every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon on my way to teach. He was always friendly nonetheless, and if he was able to do so, he always struck up a conversation, though it was mostly about how beautiful the weather was that day. I always just wanted to say, “So, what time do you get off work? I think you are really hot and would love to get to know you better.” However, just like now, I was a shy person and would never do that.

He always made the very best vanilla lattes. I know it is a Starbucks after all, and their drinks should usually taste the same no matter which location you bought it, but there was definitely something different about the way he made mine. I miss those vanilla lattes. I never did ask him out or do anything beyond being just mildly flirtatious. Eventually, a new chair took over the history department at the university, and he hired a whole new group of adjuncts to teach the lower level history classes. Since I wasn’t going to teach anymore, I quit going by Starbucks twice a week, and I don’t’ remember ever seeing that guy again. I wonder where he is now.

Pic of the Day

Plain, Simple Garak

Elim Garak

One of my favorite characters in the Star Trek universe is a Cardassian. In general, the Cardassians were not known as the nicest of races. Captain Edward Jellico, who was briefly in command of the Enterprise-D, said of them, “Cardassians are like… timber wolves… predators… bold in large numbers… cautious by themselves… and with an instinctive need to establish a dominant position in any social gathering.” The Cardassians were similar to the Romulans in their xenophobic tendencies, and also shared the Romulan belief there is no such thing as luck. Like the Breen, they treated their prisoners with little tolerance or sympathy; they had no qualms using torture to extract information. Some Cardassians were even known to enjoy torturing their prisoners whether there was information to be extracted or not. 

Ideal Cardassian life was one of complete loyalty and servitude to the State and to the family. Like the Chinese, family was the building block of Cardassian society, and as such, the hierarchical system of respect also applied to one’s rulers and one’s family. The Cardassian government was assumed by its citizens to be omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent; the government was anything but benevolent. An example of the Cardassian approach to life was found in their jurisprudence and criminal trials in which the conclusion was always determined beforehand: the ruling of each case was a guilty verdict; the purpose of the proceeding was not justice in the Human sense, but instead bringing the offender to recognize the power and benevolence of the State. A trial, therefore, was an opportunity for the State to reveal how someone’s guilt was proven by what they considered, “the most efficient criminal investigation system in the quadrant.” 

Almost all Cardassians lived in fear of the Obsidian Order, the chief intelligence agency of the Cardassian Union, whose constant surveillance had led to the sudden elimination of numerous “traitors.” It was said The Order was so efficient a Cardassian citizen couldn’t sit down to a meal without each dish being duly noted and recorded including its preparation and the exact measurement of each ingredient. Dr. Julian Bashir wondered what happened to people who ate something that was “not in agreement” with the Order, and Odo noted that people had “disappeared” for less. Every Cardassian home was equipped with surveillance equipment to keep an eye on its citizens. Only members of the Central Command, the military leaders of Cardassia, could turn off the cameras and only occasionally. The Order was the ultimate Big Brother.

Some of the alien races of Star Trek, especially the enemies of the Federation, had an equivalent in Earth history especially during the Cold War era of The Original Series. The Klingons represented the Soviets, the Romulans were like the Communist Chinese, the Cardassians were representative of Nazi Germany, the Bajorans similar to the persecuted Jews of Europe. Cardassians took control of Bajor in 2319 establishing the Bajoran Occupational Government. Initially, the Bajoran people offered them little resistance. However, the Cardassians rapidly pacified the planet and began a coordinated scheme of strip-mining, forced labor, slavery, and genocide. The brutality of the Cardassian military drove many Bajorans to form a resistance to the Occupation. Using guerrilla and terrorist tactics, the resistance continually harassed Cardassian forces. Under constant attack and unable to subdue the Bajoran resistance, facing pressure from both internal civilian elements in the Cardassian Central Command and from the Federation, the Cardassians withdrew from Bajor in 2369. However, many Cardassians, such as Gul Dukat, continued to want to regain control of Bajor and to exterminate its people.

While the Cardassians were a brutal race, they sometimes showed signs of being a kind and warmhearted people. One of the most complex characters in Star Trek history is one of my favorites, Elim Garak. He was the Cardassian tailor and Promenade shopkeeper of Garak’s Clothiers who lived on Deep Space Nine. He first appeared in the episode, “Past Prologue” where he introduced himself to Dr. Bashir who believed Garak was a spy. As soon as I saw this conversation, I knew Garak would be an interesting character. He proved to have some of the best lines in the series beginning with this: after Garak asks Bashir to stop by his shop if he desires new apparel or some interesting conversation, Bashir says, “You’re very kind, Mister Garak.” To which Garak replies, “Oh, it’s just Garak. Plain, simple Garak.” Right away viewers knew there was nothing plain or simple about Garak. He had previously been an agent of the Obsidian Order but had been exiled to Terok Nor, the Cardassian name for Deep Space Nine. 

The true reason for Garak’s exile is never revealed during the series. When he does tell Bashir why he was exiled, he tells him three different stories all involving a man named Elim which Bashir later learns is Garak’s first name. When Bashir asks Garak, “Of all the stories you told me which ones were true and which ones weren’t?” Garak replies, “My dear Doctor, they’re all true.” Bashir says, “Even the lies?” to which Garak replies in his standard obfuscation, “Especially the lies.” Garak once told Bashir, “Truth is in the eye of the beholder, Doctor. I never tell the truth because I don’t believe there is such a thing. That is why I prefer the straight-line simplicity of cutting cloth.” Garak believed, “Lying is a skill like any other. And if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practice constantly.” Bashir once tried to tell Garak the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” While Bashir believed the moral to be that lying too much will cause people to never believe a person, Garak retorted he believed the point was, “That you should never tell the same lie twice.” As his father, Enabran Tain, the one-time head of the Obsidian Order once said of him, one of Garak’s basic philosophies is, “Never tell the truth when a lie will do.” Garak once explained his belief that, “the truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination.”

Andrew Robinson

Garak, though, was more than just a pathological liar. Played by Andrew Robinson, originally a stage actor, he is also known for his portrayals of the serial killer Scorpio in the crime film, Dirty Harry (1971); Larry Cotton in the horror film, Hellraiser (1987); and as the title character in the ABC television film, Liberace (1988). Without Robinson, the character of Garak never would have become as intriguing as it did. In fact, the character might have had only one appearance in the series. Robinson commented, “Garak is one of those guys, we all know someone a bit like him who you can’t trust as far as you can spit. The moment you see him you put your hand on your wallet, and the moment he opens his mouth you know he’s going to lie to you, but yet, somehow, you’d rather be in his company than with almost anybody else. He’s a charming rogue, you can’t deny it. Even I get sucked in by him. Although it’s me playing him. When I see Garak on TV, I swear to God this is true, I’m fascinated.” Robinson also said of the character, “He’s all subtext. If a smart guy like Garak says he’s ‘plain and simple’, you realize he’s not plain and not simple. There is a lot going on. Regardless of how innocuous or simple each line is, there’s always something going on underneath that belies the line. And his eyes and the tone of his voice say something different than the words he’s speaking. It’s not an easy thing to work with subtext, but when you do it well, you really get people’s attention.”

Garak was also one of the most sexually ambiguous characters in Star Trek history. Robinson stated in an interview, “I started out playing Garak as someone who doesn’t have a defined sexuality. He’s not gay, he’s not straight, it’s a non-issue for him. Basically, his sexuality is inclusive. But, it’s Star Trek, and there were a couple of things working against that. One is that Americans are very nervous about sexual ambiguity. Also, this is a family show; they have to keep it on the ‘straight and narrow’ so I backed off from it. Originally, in that first episode, I loved the man’s absolute fearlessness about presenting himself to an attractive Human being. The fact that the attractive Human being is a man (Bashir) doesn’t make any difference to him, but that was a little too sophisticated, I think. For the most part, the writers supported the character beautifully, but in that area, they just made a choice not to go there, and if they don’t want to go there, I can’t, because the writing doesn’t support it.” Ira Steven Behr, the executive producer of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, commented, “I wish we could have done a little bit more with the Garak character…. I mean, he was clearly gay or queer or however you want to say it. I think I would have loved to have taken that and seen where that went and how that affected his relationship with Bashir.” I would have loved for the show’s creators to have explored that part of Garak. It took twenty-five more years before we saw LGBTQ+ characters in Star Trek: Discovery. There had been a few hints, or even winks, to LGBTQ+ characters. It could have come sooner and been bolder with Garak’s character, and we wouldn’t have had to wait twenty-five years.

Behr once said, “Garak is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. So, who he is, what he really is, who the hell knows? And I think it took a more sophisticated audience to really get behind that kind of a character, because back in the day, it seemed anyway, that mystery and … I don’t want to say subtlety, but something along those lines … that’s not what people wanted, they wanted their TNG good, bad, everything very clear, everything very clean, everything very understandable. And at the end of the day, everything was safe. Everything was basically safe. And Garak is not a safe character. The fact that now he’s so popular says something about how the audience has matured. And that’s a good thing.” Hans Beimler, a writer, producer, and script editor of many Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, commented, “To me, the guy that embodied the show was Garak. He was a fuckin’ spy, man! He was a bad guy in a way. But you got to know and understand him. And he got to know us and understand us. Even appreciate us. He wasn’t such a bad guy at the end of the show.”

Garak had been intended to be a one-off character; Robinson said he first portrayed the character, because he needed money that month to pay his bills. The producers were impressed with Robinson’s performance and decided to develop the character after Robinson agreed to return. The decision to incorporate Garak into more of the series led to Garak becoming a pivotal character transforming him into someone of importance, of unusual complexity, and of resonance. Garak became known throughout the series for the ruthlessness of his past with the Obsidian Order, but at various times, he uses contacts on Cardassia to help Starfleet and even the Bajorans. He was known to be a witty conversationalist and a skilled tailor, but underneath his friendly and charming exterior, he was a proficient assassin, saboteur, and expert liar able to adapt to a variety of situations. Occasionally, he was used by Starfleet as a backchannel to the Cardassians when a direct message was not possible. By the end of the series, he was a different man. 

On numerous occasions, Garak was seen to have internal conflicts between his morals and his obligations to the Cardassian Central Command. One of my favorite episodes is, “In the Pale Moonlight.” This episode shows the Federation on the brink of losing the Federation-Dominion War. With mounting losses and the specter of defeat, Captain Sisko must put aside his Federation morals in an attempt to turn the tide of the war.  Sisko enlists Garak’s help to “persuade” the Romulans to join the Federation/Klingon alliance. Deep down, Sisko knew Garak could do things that he, morally, could not. Garak tells him at the end of the episode, “That’s why you came to me, isn’t it, Captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren’t capable of doing. Well, it worked. And you’ll get what you wanted: a war between the Romulans and the Dominion. And if your conscience is bothering you, you should soothe it with the knowledge that you may have just saved the entire Alpha Quadrant, and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal… and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer. I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a bargain.”

Pic of the Day

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.

Pic of the Day