Twink (gay slang)

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A group of men in the Capital Gay Pride parade in Albany, New York, June 2009. Naked Boy News host J.Son Dinant (center) is generally considered a twink.[1][2]

Twink is gay slang for a young man in his late teens to early twenties, with traits that can include attractiveness, having little or no body or facial hair, a slim to average build, or appearing to be younger than their actual age.


The exact origins of the term twink are disputed. Some trace its use to 1963, and may be derived from an older British gay slang term twank,[3] meaning "The quarry of a homosexual prostitute (male); a man willing and ready to become any dominant man's 'partner'."[3][4] The Oxford Dictionary claims twink has origins in the 1970s.[5] Another possible origin of the term maybe be a derivation from the snack cake Twinkie, commonly regarded as the quintessential junk food: "little nutritional value, sweet to the taste and creme-filled."[6][7][8] Cream is among the well-known food-related euphemistic terms for semen.[9] The definition of twink has broadened, and qualifiers (such as muscle or femme) narrow the meaning to a more specific type of twink.[10]


Twinks are often clean-shaven to emphasize a youthful, fresh-faced appearance.[11] They are generally in their early 20s and slim, often with a boyish appearance.[12] Some use the term to refer to those generally effeminate in nature, though this is not universal.[13] The term has been used by bears and other gay men in a derogatory and pejorative manner.[11][14] In some cases, it is a neutral descriptive term, and can be contrasted with bear.[15] The term is often modified by various descriptors, e.g., femme twink, Euro twink and muscle twink. The term is used in the gay pornography industry.[13][16]

There is a backronym that states that twink stands for "'teenaged, white, into no kink", although these criteria are neither necessary nor sufficient to allow one to be classified as a twink.[17][18]

In a 2007 book entitled Never Enough about a 2003 murder in Hong Kong the author Joe McGinniss in his book, described by the New York Times Book Review as hard-boiled clichés with a cartoonish first impression,[19] the author describes a court case in which twink was said to mean 'a gay slang term used to denote an attractive, boyish-looking gay man between the ages of 18 and 22, slender ectomorph and with little or no body hair, often blond, often but not necessarily Caucasian.'[20]

In Queering Pornography: Desiring Youth, Race and Fantasy in Gay Porn, essayist Zeb J. Tortorici notes that gay twink porn thrives on the production and performance of "consumable and visually/anally receptive masculinity."[21] A twink is "memorable for his outer packaging", not his "inner depth".[7]

Twink code[edit]

Similar to other "codes", like the bear code, the twink code is a set of symbols using letters, numerals, and other characters commonly found on modern, Western computer keyboards, and used for the describing and rating of twinks.[22] These codes are used in email, Usenet, and Internet forum postings to identify the physical type and preferences of the poster but have mostly fallen out of usage. The code includes physical traits such as "c" for color of hair (from blond to black), "l" for length of hair (from bald/clean-shaven to very long), "h" for degree of hairlessness, "y" for youthful appearance, and "e" for endowment.[22] It also includes personality traits such as "q" for "queeniness" and sexual preferences such as "k" for "the kinky factor".[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott Jacobson, Todd Levin, Jason Roede, Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk, pages 204-206, Random House, Inc., 2010, ISBN 0-307-59216-2, ISBN 978-0-307-59216-3.
  2. ^ Joan Z. Spade, Catherine G. Valentine, The kaleidoscope of gender: prisms, patterns, and possibilities, Pine Forge Press, 2007, pages 293-296, ISBN 1-4129-5146-1, ISBN 978-1-4129-5146-3.
  3. ^ a b "Online Etymology Dictionary". 
  4. ^ Eric Partridge (2 May 2006). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. ISBN 9781134963652. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Twinkie". Oxford Dictionary. Oxford Press. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Baker, Paul (2002). Polari - The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26180-5. Retrieved July 10, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b 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 December 4, 2007. 
  8. ^ Sagon, Candy (13 April 2005). "Twinkies, 75 Years And Counting". Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2008. 
  9. ^ Petkovich, Anthony (2002). The X Factory: Inside the American Hardcore Film Industry. Headpress. ISBN 978-1-900486-24-8. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ Scott Jacobson, Todd Levin, Jason Roede, Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk, pages 204-205, Random House, Inc., 2010, ISBN 0-307-59216-2, ISBN 978-0-307-59216-3.
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "The four young murder victims of serial killer Stephen Port". ITV News. 23 November 2016. Archived from the original on 24 November 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Williams, Joe (May 8, 2015). "Man arrested for having 'twink' images on his computer". Pink News. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ Sunderland, Mitchell (February 25, 2015). "It's Hard Out Here for a Twink". Vice News. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ Baker, Paul (2004). Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 79. ISBN 0-8264-7343-1. Retrieved December 4, 2007. 
  16. ^ Mowlabocus, Dr Sharif. Gaydar Culture: Gay Men, Technology and Embodiment in the Digital Age. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9781409492627. 
  17. ^ "Pride Panel Terms and Definitions". OSU Pride Center, Oregon State University. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Twink". The Free Dictionary [Acronyms]. Retrieved March 13, 2008. 
  19. ^ SHACOCHIS, BOB. "Sunday Book Review, Here Comes the Bride". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  20. ^ McGinniss, Joe (2007). Never Enough. Simon and Schuster. p. 280. ISBN 0-7432-9636-2. Retrieved July 10, 2008. 
  21. ^ Driver, Susan (2008). Queer Youth Cultures: Performative and Political Practices. SUNY Press. pp. 199–215. ISBN 978-0-7914-7886-8. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c Baker, Paul (2004). Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 207. ISBN 0-8264-7343-1. Retrieved December 4, 2007. 

Further reading[edit]

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