The Evolution of the Twink

Queer discovery and progress through an example, upon first glance, one may not take to seriously

IMAGE: Is it time to update the twink pride flag by simply removing the sex assigned at birth marker? — Pride-color-schemes.tumblr.com

I consider myself a twink. I’m slim/skinny in build, tend to give off a femininely-boyish demeanor, and wash down my PrEP with a glass of iced coffee while dancing in the mirror to pop hits. However, there’s definitely more to unpack towards what it means to be a twink. Or rather, unpacking the who, what, and hows of our perception of twinkness.

Though Queer “tribe” labels are more playful categorizations rather than serious identification labels, I think it’s important to understand how the particular twink grouping is truly a reflection of our current and forward-moving understanding as Queer people and society as a whole.

Am I really a twink?

Considering the above, I’m Queer. Individually Queer I mean. I identify as Queer in sexual orientation and I identify as Genderqueer in gender identity falling under the nonbinary umbrella. At one point in my life, I thought I was a cisgender gay man but realized I’m not. Self-discovery is beautiful, isn’t it? But since my primary identifier is the “Q” in “LGBTQ” rather than the “G” (Gay more a secondary identifier), does that make me any less of a twink?

Dictionary.com defines a twink as, “a young, attractive gay man with a slim, boyish appearance.” This definition goes on to say the origin of the word twink, first recorded between 1960–1965 as a shortening of the word “twinkie” was used to describe, “A gay or effeminate man; a younger male regarded as an object of gay male desire.” Are you serious?

My sex assigned at birth was male, but as I said, I’m nonbinary, specifically genderqueer, and go by They/He/She pronouns. What’s also interesting is that this definition both adds and subtracts from my personal understanding of what a twink is. Boyish, yes, effeminate, yes, slim, yes, but what about these other variables? Is age really a determinate? What do they mean by “attractive?” Why does another person’s sexual desire have to do with whether a different person is a twink or not? What happened to personal autonomy?

I think it’s safe to assume that the gender expression of a twink is someone who holds a “boyish” or semi-masculine foundation, from which more feminine characteristics than stem. The other aspects stated we still need to discuss.

Unfortunately, its exactly what you think it is

I hate to say it, but all signs are pointing in the direction that the origins of being a twink come from a deeply heteronormative place. A binary structure that planted its roots within the same group of people this ideology continues to oppress: The LGBTQ+ community. Heteronormativity in this instance taking the form of the dreaded practice of intermarginalization. Ew.

Let’s examine an even more problematic definition of what a twink is. Urban Dictionary defines a twink as, “…usually considered a homosexual male with attractive, boyish qualities. Typically from the ages of 18–25, and often thought as a young, white, fashionable male.” Oh yuck. That’s their top definition too.

Right off the bat, we can say that race and ethnicity are not determinates in being a twink. Period, full stop. This idea only emphasizes the gay, White, cismale, politically centrist power dynamic that has plagued LGBTQ+ inclusion and misrepresented Queer needs for far too long. On their own of course, besides the centrist part, these identities shouldn’t be negatively connotated. We can also quickly eliminate the ideas of “attractiveness” and being “fashionable” as inherently subjective. There is no true universal standard of being these things; in general, or within the Queer community.

Now, what about age? The first definition just stated a twink as a “young” person. The second definition specifically includes the 18–25 age range that a twink supposedly is. As I write this, I’m 23. Will I no longer be a twink in three years? One can be boyish, an adjective, at any age. Even if we were to go along with this age specificity, our perception of physical age differs. Are balding and wrinkles signs that twinkness is absent in an individual? What if someone looks “younger” or “older” than they actually are in their years old? Who makes this call? The nefarious gay council the evangelicals believe exists? Age in the case of being a twink is tied to our ideas of youthfulness, another adjective. Therefore age restrictions on being a twink can be thrown in the garbage as well.

I would also say that weight also shouldn’t be a determinant of being a twink. However, because we have set body types that make other tribes like otters, cubs, bears, etc., I would say that factor still stands. But that shouldn’t be weaponized for the purpose of exclusion. There’s no set weight range with being a twink, and there never should be. That’s toxic. Be your healthiest self whatever body type that may be. Also the body hair variable, in my opinion, reaches the same conclusion as body type. It stands, but shouldn’t be strictly defined or used to degrade or harm others.

Outside of the stated definitions, there’s also the very sexist and misogynistic underlying to all of this that assumes that all twinks are bottoms because their femininity is somehow synonymous with submissive nature. Bottoming also assumed to always be expressed submissively. The sexual orientation view of twinks always being 100% homosexual is also an issue. Down with the patriarchy already. Yes, I personally happen to be a submissive bottom, but no physicality or demeanor is synonymous with sexual preference like being more sexually submissive, being a bottom, both, neither, or a fluid existing combination.

That leaves the main question overall to unpack. Is physical anatomy the focus of twinkdom, or is it gender identity? My answer: Both concepts are absurd and irrelevant in deciding who is a twink and who isn’t.

Wrap it up sis

In conclusion, everything I just said.

Being a twink involves gender expression factors including but not limited to demeanor, general appearance, and personality characteristics. No longer is it to be associated with gender identity, sex assigned at birth, or any exclusionary definitions that only do harm than good. Twink truth is a Queer person who, of a boyish or generally/vaguely masculine base, expresses feminine qualities from so.

The evolution of the twink is a perfect example of how the Queer community is progressing together for the better. As our Queer identifications become much more expansive and inclusive, so are the subcultures within our Queer collective. Language constantly adapts, and we as Queer people are tying our individual identities more and more with the fact that subjects like sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and even sex assigned at birth exist as spectrums.

To roll out this expansion of what it means to be of a particular Queer tribe, I think we should remove the sex assigned at birth marker from the twink pride flag and just leave it with the colored stripes it already has. An easy step forward, right?

My name is Max, I’m Queer, Genderqueer, and I’m a twink. So are you gay, cisgender man if you see yourself as one, and so are you many more.

Yay, I’m glad we cleared that up. Now if you excuse me, I have a new bright pink jockstrap I need to try on.

Democratic socialist Queer rights activist who is sexually liberated and respects their mental health. Email me: mthm100@gmail.com

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