The Truth About Twinks

This posting is part II in my series explaining the various subgroups in the gay male culture. Today’s topic is the Twink. (To read Part I: A Reference Guide to Gay Bear Culture, click here).

For those of you who have ever wondered just what a twink was when your gay friends talked about one, this post will hopefully clear up your confusion and give you a basic understanding of those gay boys who fall under the twink classification.

A Group of Twinkies

A Group of Twinkies

Definition of a Twink: Men (or boys) in the gay community who are rarely above 30 years old. Many are slender if not extremely thin and often lack body hair and rarely, if ever, have facial hair (as opposed to the bears, who are considered their polar opposites). Traditionally, these gay men  most closely represent the stereotype of gay men as being “queenie” or “effeminate.” They are often portrayed as wild partiers, who are either still in the closet, newly gay, or still struggling through coming out issues.

Characteristics of a Twink: Twinks suffer from a bad reputation. Beyond having to deal with the “queenie” or “effeminate” stereotype, as a group they are often known for being drama queens, rude, snotty, and dumb. In fact, the term twink originates from a popular junk food–The Twinkie. The comparison connotes that twinks are only for short-term consumption and not a long-term relationship. (This is an unfair description, seeing as how most of the men in this classification are young and should  be having fun and enjoying life.) Additionally, the comparison also points to the often sun-kissed skin most twinks have through either excessive sun worship or frequent visits to tanning salons. Like Bears, Twinks tend to travel in groups, and while not as physically dangerous as a pack of Bears, they are known for razor sharp tongues capable of verbally ripping anyone to shreds. Unless you can verbally spar, don’t enter into a word war with a twink.

What Do Twinkies Do in the Box? Like Bears, Twinks are more than just what a few individuals enjoy. However, there are some standard past times of this younger set of gay men. On average, clubbing ranks among the highest. Walk into any trendy gay hot spot, and you will find groups of twinks twirling on the dance floor or luxuriating in the VIP section. The drinks of choice are typically fruity and vibrant in color, such as a Cosmo, or low in calories like a vodka and Red Bull. Most twinks are obsessed with fashion, music, popular trends, hooking up, and coming out. And, due to their age, most are enrolled in college.

Twink Wrapping: Twinks enjoy shopping for the latest youthful trends. They frequent stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, or American Eagle. While they enjoy the finer fashion designers–Armani, Prada, and Hugo Boss–their lack of sustainable income (unless they come from money or are attached to a wealthy daddy-husband), means they typically cannot afford to splurge their college funds on fashion. Whether the outfit is high fashion or not, you will be hard-pressed to find a twink not dressed to impress, whether it’s Friday night at a club or Sunday morning brunch. The world is their runway. And like most models, it isn’t uncommon for a Twink to forego food in favor of looking his best. Many will often engage in crash dieting to achieve the desired lean and waifish look.

Types of Twinks: Within this category, you will also find a few subcategories that also fall under the larger Twink classification.

  • All-American Twink represents the epitome of popularity and physical perfection. He is extremely athletic and his hair is always perfectly manicured.

    Zac Efron--All American Twink

    Zac Efron--All American Twink

  • Beach Twink refers to the type of younger gay male who spends his days at, you guessed it, the beach. His hair is typically almost platinum blonde from sun exposure.
  • Gaysian is a twink of Asian descent.
  • Gym Twink are those boys who live at the gym. Unlike the traditional twink, their bodies are not lean or waifish. Gym Twinks strive for muscle definition and will not break if handled roughly.

    Taylor Lautner--a Gym Twink

    Taylor Lautner--a Gym Twink example

  • Twunk is a pejorative remark describing an older man trying to be a twink. This type of gay man is typically between the ages of 28-40, who still shops at Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, or American Eagle. Also, in efforts to reclaim lost youth, a twunk frequents tanning salons, wears clothing at least two sizes too small, and sometimes indulges in Botox or plastic surgery. Men who fit this definition will often lie about their age and will create drama if they hit on you and you reject them.

Twink Admirers: Individuals who seek the company of twinks have their own classifications as well.

  • Daddies represent the older men who pursue younger men for sexual and/or long-term relationships. These men typically support twinks by paying their bills and their rent all in the hopes of stealing some of the youthful energy the twink possesses in abundance.
  • Fag Hags are girls who typically are only friends with gay boys. They accompany them to clubs and help their gays sweep up their broken hearts. It is a relationship that is sacrosanct, often more meaningful than most sexual relationships the gay boy or hag are currently involved in.

Twinks and those that gravitate toward them are an eclectic group of individuals. If you’re looking for someone to party with or who knows the latest fashions, find yourself a twink BFF. They’ll have you dressed to kill and party ready in no time.

A Reference Guide to the Gay Bear Culture

Post Updated: 4/18/2015, Original Post, 9/18/2011

It’s been almost four years since I originally wrote this post, and as I was going through it, I decided it was time to update the reference guide to reflect the various comments and e-mails I received over the past few years.

Contrary to what some people believe, all gay men aren’t the same. We don’t all enjoy Broadway musicals, dress up in the latest fashions, or walk with too much honey on our hips. Not every single gay man turns his nose up in disgust at sporting events, outdoor activities, or manual labor. The gay male culture is actually a cornucopia of men with different tastes, interests, and body types. We are a microcosm of the American culture just like every other subculture in the world. Not every African American listens to rap nor do all Latinos speak Spanish and watch telanovelas (Spanish soap operas). To believe that every single person within any particular culture is representative of the culture as a whole is not only ridiculous but illogical.

Therefore in an effort to increase understanding of the various subcultures within the larger nomenclature that is the gay community, I have decided to write a series of posts aimed at explaining the different types of men who comprise the gay community at large.

Now, just to clarify, gay men sometimes uses terms and classifications to identify other groups within our own that often confuses our straight friends. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked just what is a bear? Once I begin the explanation and delve into the various categories within the bear subculture, their eyes either glass over due to the sheer excess of information provided, or they (and by they, I mean my straight, male friends) will ask what kind of bear am I?

For some reason, my straight male friends feel the need to be classified by the terms we use to describe other gay men. And from what I hear from my gay brothers, their straight guy friends pose the same questions to them. Perhaps it’s their need to feel included (no man wants to be left out of any team even if they really play for the opposition!) or perhaps they just want to see exactly how desirable they are to other men. Let’s face it, our straight male friends might not want to slip between the sheets with another man, but they want to at least know what their options were if they did.

Therefore as a nod to all my straight male friends, the first group I shall tackle are the lovable, affable Bears.


A group of Bears

Definition of Bear: Men in the gay community who have hairy bodies and facial hair. Many are stocky and/or muscular (generally larger in mass than any other classification of gay men in the community). They often portray themselves as the epitome of masculinity through their rugged appearance and demeanor.

Characteristics of a Bear: Typically, Bears are friendly, polite, and easy-going, a far cry from their animal namesake. Their larger body types contain some of the kindest hearts. If a bear were to accidentally step on you at a bar, he would be the first one to apologize and feel awful for potentially hurting you. However, just like their namesakes, a bear is a dangerous gay when provoked and prodded with a stick (no pun intended). Their size alone would be enough to take down an entire gaggle of gays. But unlike real bears, these Bears travel in packs. When you take on one Bear, the entire cave is threatened.

What Does a Bear Do in the Woods?: While Bears have a wide range of interests, they are some natural proclivities of the subculture that seem pretty standard. Most Bears enjoy food and drink. Beer is the alcohol of choice. Rarely, do you see a Bear sipping a Cosmo or calling himself a Vegan. They indulge in the simpler pleasure of life such as camping, laying in the sun, or communing with other Bears.

Bear Wear: Bears can often be spotted in the wild wearing open flannel shirts exposing their guts and hirsute bodies, combat boots, and baseball caps. They are not slaves to fashion. This is not to say that Bears don’t play dress up. (They are gay after all!) But they are more at home wearing lose fit, extremely casual clothing.

Bear Subcategories: The term Bear doesn’t apply to every single hairy gay man. In fact, within the Bear subculture  you will find an entire slew of different classifications.

  • Berenstien Bear is a bear of Jewish descent
  • Black Bear is a bear of African-American descent.
  • Brown Bear is a bear of Latin descent.
  • Care Bear is a bear who “cares” about his appearance and cares about fashion
  • Chubby Bear is a bear who is heavy set and hairy.
  • Cub is a term used to describe a bear relatively younger in age. The term is also affectionally used to describe a bear’s husband/partner who fulfills the passive role in the sexual relationship.
  • Daddy Bear describes a mature bear, who is often looking for a Cub (or younger man) for a relationship.
  • Grizzly Bear means that the individual is extremely dominant and typically extremely tall, heavy, or hairy.
  • Honey Badger describes a bear, who is blond and is usually muscular and not heavy.
  • Koala Bear is a bear of Australian descent.
  • Otter describes a man who is hairy but not heavy. An otter’s build is leaner and muscular.
  • Otter Cub describes a younger man who is heavy but not hairy. His build is also leaner and muscular
  • Panda Bear denotes a bear of Asian descent.
  • Papa Bear describes a bear who has children and devotes most of the time he used to spend drinking and clubbing to his children.
  • Pocket Bear describes a bear of short stature.
  • Polar Bear is a bear with white or grey hair.
  • Seal Bear is a mostly hairless, heavier man. He’s a seal because his body is slick like a seal.
  • Shape Shifting Bear is a bear that moves, at various times of his life, through different subcategories. He can go from a Chub Bear to an Otter to a Wolf.
  • Silver Fox describes a distinguished gentleman with salt and pepper hair.
  • Silver Otter describes a man who is hairy (not heavy), but whose hair is overall white
  • Wolf is a term for a bear who is rugged and outdoorsy but typically also a biker. A wolf can also be sexually aggressive.
  • Yogi Bear describes a bear who likes camping and hiking but also enjoys laying around the cave playing video games.

Bear Admirers: Those who are attracted to bears or hang out with them also have their own set of descriptions.

  • Chaser describes a man who is sexually attracted to heavy set gay men.
  • Goldilocks is usually a woman who hangs out with a group of bears. This is the Bear culture’s term for their “fag hag.”

Goldilocks, the original Bear fag hag

As you can see, Bears and those that love them, come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and interests. If you want to learn more, find a Bear and befriend him. You’ll be glad you did.