Twink (gay slang)

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This model, photographed for a twink-themed series, is a typical embodiment of the twink visual archetype

"Twink" is gay slang for a gay man who is usually (but not always) in his late teens to twenties whose traits may include a slim to average physique, a youthful appearance that may belie an older age, having little or no body hair, flamboyancy, and general physical attractiveness.[1][2][3] Twink is used both as a neutral descriptor, which can be compared with bear,[4] and as a pejorative.[1][5] The term is often modified by various descriptors (e.g. femme twink, Euro twink, muscle twink) and is commonly used in the gay pornography industry.[3][6][7]


The exact origins of the term twink are disputed. Some trace its first appearance to 1963, although it may be derived from an older British gay slang term twank, which means: "The quarry of a homosexual prostitute (male); a man willing and ready to become any dominant man's 'partner'".[8] Oxford Dictionaries claims twink has origins in the 1970s.[9][10]

Another possible origin of the term may be a derivation from the American snack cake Twinkie, commonly regarded as the quintessential junk food. The food is described as "little nutritional value, sweet to the taste, and creme-filled";[11][12][13] by comparison, the young men are described as "short, and blond, and full of creme",[12] with creme being a euphemism for semen.[12][14]

A backronym has been constructed for twink, according to which it stands for "'teenaged, white, into no kink", although these specified traits are not universally accepted as either necessary or sufficient to classify an individual as a "twink".[15][16]


Grindr survey asking users what subculture they identify with
Grindr survey asking users what subculture they identify with prior to its update in 2017, using twink as an example

Popular culture[edit]

In his book, Never Enough (2007), about a murder committed in 2003 in Hong Kong, described by the New York Times Book Review as hard-boiled clichés with a cartoonish first impression,[17] Joe McGinniss describes a court case in which twink was defined as "a gay slang term used to denote an attractive, boyish-looking gay man between the ages of 18 and 23, slender ectomorph and with little or no body hair, often blond, often but not necessarily Caucasian."[18]

Essayist Zeb J. Tortorici notes that gay twink porn thrives on the production and performance of "consumable and visually/anally receptive masculinity."[19] A twink is "memorable for his outer packaging", not his "inner depth".[12] Twink can be seen as a popular subgenre in gay porn widely consumed across the globe.[20]

The term also serves to identify a subculture within gay culture for which members of the community may self-identify, but their stable assurance mostly comes from acceptance by other members. The subculture, as examined now, serves as a purely physical marker for attributes any one person may hold and/or acquire, highly dependent on normative society's take on beauty standards as a whole and what the community puts forth and prescribes to.[21]

Grindr, a popular dating app for gay men, lists the term as one of many "tribes" for users to "identify themselves with a niche group and filter their search to help find their type of guy."[22]


Susan Driver accused the word twink of relying on "ageist and racist tropes of youth and white desirability".[20][8] In regards to the term, Driver's epistemology finds that it is "a young, white, and performed masculinity that can be fetishized, consumed, ... clearly coded in terms of race and age: White, young",[20] thus establishing the intersection for which race and age come together to create a hyper-sexualized denomination, often associated with sexual acts and the pornographic industry.[20]

Jones, Ciardha, and Elliott observed that the "use of twink pornography—depicting men in their late teens or early 20s who are typically of slim build—was mentioned by some users" that are "exclusively attracted to children" as a legal outlet for sexual release.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wright, Les (2001). The Bear Book II: Further Readings in the History and Evolution of a Gay Subculture. Haworth Press. p. 8. ISBN 0789006367.
  2. ^ "The Four Young Murder Victims of Serial Killer Stephen Port". ITV News. 23 November 2016. Archived from the original on 24 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Joe (8 May 2015). "Man Arrested for Having 'Twink' Images on His Computer". Pink News. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  4. ^ Baker, Paul (2004). Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 79. ISBN 0-8264-7343-1. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  5. ^ Sunderland, Mitchell (25 February 2015). "It's Hard Out Here for a Twink". News. Vice. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. ^ Jacobson, Scott; Levin, Todd; Roede, Jason (2010). Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk. Random House, Inc. pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-0-307-59216-3. ISBN 978-0-307-59216-3.
  7. ^ Mowlabocus, Sharif, Dr. (28 December 2012). Gaydar Culture: Gay Men, Technology, and Embodiment in the Digital Age. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9781409492627.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ a b Partridge, Eric (2006). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 2025. ISBN 9781134963652. Retrieved 27 August 2015 – via
  9. ^ "Twinkie". Oxford Dictionary. Oxford Press. Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary".
  11. ^ Baker, Paul (2002). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26180-5. Retrieved 10 July 2008 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ a b c d Reuter, Donald F. (2006). Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext, and the Sublime. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 215. ISBN 0-312-35427-4. Retrieved 4 December 2007 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Sagon, Candy (13 April 2005). "Twinkies, 75 Years And Counting". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  14. ^ Petkovich, Anthony (2002). The X Factory: Inside the American Hardcore Film Industry. Headpress. ISBN 978-1-900486-24-8. Retrieved 2 August 2013 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Terms and Definitions". OSU Pride Center. Pride Panel. Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  16. ^ "Twink". The Free Dictionary. Acronyms. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  17. ^ SHACOCHIS, BOB (16 December 2007). "Sunday Book Review, Here Comes the Bride". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  18. ^ McGinniss, Joe (2007). Never Enough. Simon and Schuster. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-7432-9636-6. Retrieved 10 July 2008. McGinniss never enough twink.
  19. ^ Driver, Susan (2008). Queer Youth Cultures: Performative and Political Practices. SUNY Press. pp. 199–215. ISBN 978-0-7914-7886-8. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  20. ^ a b c d Driver, Susan (2010). "Queering pornography". Queer Youth Cultures. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-7337-5.
  21. ^ Maki, Justin L. (2017). "Gay Subculture Identification: Training Counselors to Work With Gay Men". Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS: 1–12 – via ACA Knowledge Center.
  22. ^ Grindr. "The New Grindr: Zero Feet Away". (Press release). Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  23. ^ Jones, Sarah J.; Ó Ciardha, Caoilte; Elliott, Ian A. (October 2021). "Identifying the Coping Strategies of Nonoffending Pedophilic and Hebephilic Individuals From Their Online Forum Posts". Sexual Abuse. 33 (7): 793–815. doi:10.1177/1079063220965953. ISSN 1079-0632. PMC 8419289. PMID 33084517.

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