Twink

Welcome back khổng lồ our website series InQueery, where we delve inlớn the his, er, michael-shanks.comstory of our favorite queer words. In this episode, YouTuber, author, & entrepreneur Connor Franta explores the history of the word everyone seems khổng lồ be talking about lately — "twink."


What is a twink, who is a twink, and where did the word come from? You may twink you know, but do you really? Connor is here to lớn answer your burning questions và teach you a thing or two about queer history. Cheông xã out the video clip above sầu và the script below.

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There are plenty of "tribes" in the gay male community — bears, otters, và daddies, oh my! But we're here to lớn dive sầu inkhổng lồ the wonderful world of twinks. So: What is a twink, and where did the word come from? Let’s take a stroll baông xã through time to figure out just where the concept originated.


These days, we’re all pretty much in agreement about what the word “twink” means: It’s a pretty exclusionary term, tightly focused on young men who are slender, hairless, usually blond, và usually trắng.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines "twink" as a noun: a “wink” or “twinkling,” và also as a verb, meaning khổng lồ “punish” or “thrash.” Oh Webster, you dirty bird!


Go baông chồng 100 years, and you’re unlikely lớn hear “twink” in queer circles. But in England, you might hear the word “twank,” referring to lớn what we would Call sugar daddies. A far cry from the word’s meaning today!

Of course, young hairless fair-featured men still existed, but they had different monikers back then. They went by mollies in Engl&, and knabe in Germany — a problematic term, since it translates lớn “boy” và raises questions about age of consent. Sadly, there isn’t much gay porn that survives from the 1800s, so if there was a Victorian version of Bel Ami, it’s lost to the ages.

“Twink” might have sầu evolved as shorthvà for the term “twinkletoes.” In a 1919 novel called Twinkletoes: A Tale of Limehouse, a girl is first nicknamed “Twinkletoes” which is then just shortened to “twink.” In the book, one observer comments, “Ain’t she a dam queer kid?”

“Twink” as gay slang might have come from straight culture, which simply wasn’t using the word lớn its full potential. In the early lớn mid-20th century, the word was widely accepted khổng lồ refer to lớn twinkling, as in something sparkly & shiny and new. There was a home perm kit called Twink, & a baseball team in Los Angeles called The Hollywood Twinks. I know a few Hollywood twinks myself... (it's me).

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Browse through old newspaper sports sections from the 1930s through the 1950s, and you’ll find headlines lượt thích “Twinks Badly Mauled by Seattle” and “Twinks Hold Stiff Workout.”


A lot of people assume that the word “twink” derives from the fluffy, insubstantial, cream-filled snaông chồng. Tasty to eat, but of no nutritional value. Linguists are skeptical about that, though. It’s a cute story, but there’s no evidence that queers were particularly invested in Twinkies as a basis for slang. Just the opposite, in fact — in the late 70s, Twinkies developed an intensely negative sầu association after they were implicated in the murder of Harvey Milk.

It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true: Harvey’s killer, Dan White, claimed that he had been suffering from depression và pointed to lớn his binge-eating of Twinkies as proof. It was a super weird argument lớn make in court, and gave sầu rise khổng lồ the term “Twinkie Defense,” meaning an outlandish excuse for committing a crime. If any slang is derived from Twinkies, it’s that.

Prior lớn internet porn, there was a lot of confusion about exactly what a twink really was. The book Homolexis defined it as “as attractive youth” in 1985, which is pretty cthua trận to what we’d say today. But if you go bachồng lớn the 70s, there’s a lot more variety.

The 1972 book The Queens’ Vernacular defined “twinkle-toes” as “effeminate.” In 1975, the leather culture resource Drummer Magazine defined “twink” as the masochist or slave sầu in a relationship, & added that “twinkie” was an unrelated term referring to young men. And in 1978, a language survey called the Maledicta stated that “a youthful, effeminate young man” should be called “twinkle-toes.”

Because queer communities tended to be geographically isolated back then, it seems as though different cities and subcultures had their own meanings for all these different words. But the term seems lớn have become common và accepted by the 90’s, when a 1995 article in The Advocate casually used the word “twink” khổng lồ describe the b& Take That — fair enough.

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The spread of “twink” in queer communities might even be related to lớn the Internet making twink-related pornography readily available. For a time, twinks were a bit of a novelty. It was impossible lớn troll 90s porn sites without being bombarded by images of slender young men.


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