August 2, 2012

Gay Peter Pan-isms: No jewelry or body adornment

If gays are supposed to be more feminine, and if they're supposed to be so obsessed with getting attention for their fashionable clothes, then why don't they wear any jewelry? And why don't they opt for other forms of body adornment or modification? (Leaving aside the post-op freaks.)

To document this, just do a google image search for gays, gay men, gay pride parade, or whatever you want, and notice how little body adornment there is. Sure, back in the day some of them used to wear an earring in their right ear to signal they were queer. Even back then, though, that was it -- no more adornment than normal men, who were just as likely to wear an earring, just in the left ear. Not to mention the rings, necklaces, wallet chains, pins and buttons, sweatbands, etc., that could all be found on normal men. Even when queers did "accesorize," it wasn't as much.

They're also less likely to have piercings and tattoos, or else that would've been a huge stereotype by now. There was an explosion in the popularity of piercings and tattoos over the past 10-15 years among hetero guys, and no one ever said "that's such a homo thing to do." Leaving aside the occasional fag with an earring in his right ear, I can't remember ever seeing one with other parts of his face pierced -- that's more of a straight hipster thing. Ditto for tattoos -- at least ones visible in everyday situations. I can't remember ever seeing a queer with one, and I must see dozens every day in my city.

As I pointed out before, gay men favor shorts, sandals, and t-shirts, just like other man-children. Their concern with clothing is not to look dashing -- that would be too grown-up for their tastes. They want to feel as kiddie as possible. Perhaps their aversion to body adornment is another aspect of that. (Search this blog for "Peter Pan" to see just how much of their weirdness can be explained by that principle.)

That is the main split between the more and less adorned -- you earn the right to wear more adornment as you get older. Adornment has many functions, but two of the most important are to signal which group you belong to, and what your rank is within that group. During the 2000s, for example, sporting a puka shell necklace meant you belonged to the frat crowd. And throughout the world, gaining a level in status is usually accompanied by an extra piece of decoration (still widely in use even in America within the military, or who's allowed to wear cuff-links within the office). Aside from cases of signalling one's hierarchical rank, other major status changes that proceed with maturity, like a rite of passage, also tend to involve wearing more jewelry, such as putting on an engagement ring, and then after that a wedding ring.

Pre-pubescent children are allowed some decoration, but not too much and not too soon. And when you are allowed, you feel like, "Awesome, they're letting me be more of a grown-up!" I still remember how psyched up I got when, around age 8 or 9, my mother let me pick out a gold necklace at the Ohio State Fair. It was a thin chain with a winged skull pendant, like a frontal Hells Angels logo, that had red stone or glass in its eye sockets. Man, I wore that thing everywhere. Or maybe you tried to look more mature and badass by wearing a shark's tooth necklace. Even if it was just one of those rings from the 25-cent vending machine, you felt more grown up putting it on.

And the same goes for body modifications. You have to earn the right to be designated a member of some particular tribe whose members have a particular tattoo, scarring, or branding design. Even within that group, you acquire more mods as you rise in status. That lives on in America within the military, although it's much more informal and unofficial. And again, when you were little and were allowed to slap on a few temporary tattoos, didn't you feel more grown up?

Queers then, as perpetual children, do not feel like initiated members of a group who should display their allegiance to their overarching tribe, so they don't wear body adornment for that purpose. And no, putting a rainbow flag on their car bumper or hanging one in their house window doesn't count -- that's not their body. And since stunted man-children have not gained any kind of higher status within their group, gays feel no need to wear adornment to show their status or rank. And obviously they don't wear rings, etc., to show commitment, given how uninterested they are in fidelity.

And it's broader than the lack of their own unique jewelry, tattoo designs, etc., to mark themselves apart from heteros. They don't adorn themselves to show membership in any group, not just the homo tribe, nor do they indicate status within any group. They just feel that it's against their nature or something, and would really prefer not to go there. It's just like a kid who doesn't want to do more mature things like signalling commitment or adherence to anyone other than himself.

As far as I know, I'm the only one to notice this pattern and give an adequate explanation, although admittedly most of the results for "gay jewelry" weren't very academic. Just about every theory involving homosexuality is totally idiotic, so I'm happy to have come up with a reductive, single-minded research approach that not only explains most of what everyone else had noticed, but explains new patterns too -- ones that are not explainable by other popular approaches, e.g. that male homosexuality is about feminization. Instead it's about infantilization.

Whatever pathogen damages the brain to cause homosexuality (the Gay Germ, as Greg Cochran calls it), apparently harms the area(s) responsible for emotional, social, and moral development. They stay stunted at around age 10, or perhaps develop twice as slowly as normal males.


  1. I basically agree with you.

    However, its kind of depressing, since I personally just wear a t-shirt and jeans. I never thought about it, but I guess its an honest indicator that I don't belong to any tribal group.

    I have also noticed the large rise in tatoos. How can that be explained, given that falling-crime generally sees a breakdown in tribal identifiers?

  2. My hunch is that it was part of that brief post-9/11 cultural reaction that moved partly back toward a rising-crime culture.

    But college-aged girls right now seem a lot less likely to have tramp stamps, or other tattoos, than they were 8 years ago. And their male peers seem to be a lot less likely to get the barb-wire, tribal, or kanji tattoo, or any other kind in fact. Piercings also seem less popular.

    Not that those things have vanished among young people, just on the decline, and more of a niche thing now, where during the early-mid-2000s it was fairly mainstream to get a tattoo, wear a belly ring, etc.

  3. To a man (or man-child), gay guys I know are big amusement park buffs. I never gave it much thought until now, but it meshes perfectly with your Peter Panism explanation.

    I loved them a decade ago, but now they're about as appealing as the mall is (another place older gays seem to like). My current girlfriend is 21 and wants to go this summer. I need to find a fag to go with her in my place.

  4. At the very least there is a sizable slice of the gay population that is into heavy body modification. Take a look at Zombie's pics of the Folsom Street Fair in 2007 or 08.

  5. Gays are not really femme nor butch. They're childish. Or more adolescent. And the outraged PC gay lobby examplifies this impulse perfectly. When you criticize them, they throw tantrums and scream at the top of their lungs. That's a very childish reaction at a criticism. And they name-call you (e.g. homophobic) and project their desires unto you (e.g. you must be secretly gay or something). The Peter Pan explanation is one to something.

  6. I didn't know the left vs right rule. When I was young I assumed any male with ear piercings was gay and/or a pirate.

    I have also heard that various forms of piercings/modifications in other spots are more prevalent among them.

  7. "gay guys I know are big amusement park buffs."

    Ha, I never heard of that. I haven't known any socially since college (thank god). Now all I can detect is what's observable in public spaces.

    "At the very least there is a sizable slice of the gay population that is into heavy body modification."

    Right, jewelry and body adornment are not absent among them, but just more of a niche thing than among hetero men.

    "I didn't know the left vs right rule."

    That was one of the first things about a guy's personal appearance that he feared being thought gay for. Not because gays invented it or were more likely to sport earrings, but because they put their own unique twist on it ("I make it with a little lemon twissst").

    Now there's all kinds of things that they've colonized and normal men are hesitant to wear. Non-garbage-bag jeans, colors, etc.

  8. I've also noticed this Peter Pan thing in their taste in movies. My gay friend doesn't like anything serious or dramatic, preferring teen summer movies.

  9. I've also noticed a lot of guys recently putting sunglasses on in real life and in their facebook profiles. You think this is a sign that people are going back to adornments?

  10. I see sunglasses as yet another cocooning device, not really something that accentuates a person's looks. That's what commentators said way back when they started getting popular in the late '30s with the Hollywood crowd.


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