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The twink flag

Twink is a subcultural term used by gay men, referring to a subset of men who defy traditional masculinity, embracing traits that are generally seen as gendered and feminine. Twinks may be defined by physical appearance, tastes, expression of traditionally gendered traits, or personal affiliation.

The generic image of a twink is a thin man lacking facial hair and often body hair as well, who may or may not dress in ways that are not typically considered masculine. The twink aesthetic can usually be considered cleanly composed and non-compliant with the expectations generally held of men, and aligns relatively closely to city fashion trends. Twinks tend to be the origin of several gay stereotypes, particularly the effeminate ones.

The twink label did not originate as part of a sub-culture, but is instead a descriptive term for gay men who break with traditional gender norms and embody a particular subset of presentation.

Culture

The origin of the term is debated, and is usually agreed to have been reclaimed from a derogatory slang insulting twinks' perceived deficit of masculinity. Some argue that it came from the American confectionary brand Twinkies, with varying insulting claims such as twinks being "memorable for their outer packaging, not what's inside" or "little nutritional value, sweet to the taste, and cream-filled". Others trace the term to 1960s British slang word twank, describing an offensive perception of male sex workers. Either definition resulted in the same initial use of the word for affront, with it later being reclaimed as a self-applied identity. It is commonly used in the gay men's community.

The twink stereotype has been criticized for its homogenous descriptions, usually bringing to mind thin, white, able-bodied, blonde-haired young men. Modern usage, as with many terms, has extended to cover wider and more diverse parts of the community, including people of color. Twinks are common targets of homophobic abuse due to closely meeting gay stereotypes, and tend to be extremely sexualized in media. They also are stereotyped as being weak, vapid, rude, or snobby; this can result in their exclusion from the gay community, particularly where individuals within groups have actually met the disparaging stereotype and therefore "confirmed" it in the eyes of others in the group. Some subcultures have particular terms used for their crossover with the twink identity, such as "gym twink" (also known as "muscle twink"), which refers to a gay man generally small in stature, but muscular.

Flag

The twink flag is made up of three equally wide stripes, with pale pink at the top and pale yellow at the bottom. The central white stripe bears an interlocking pair of Mars symbols, often used as a symbol of homosexual men. These colors were chosen for their "soft" appearance, with the pink embracing femininity and the yellow branching away from.

Resources

  1. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/04/27/what-is-a-twink/
  2. Cassell's Dictionary of Slang
  3. Gay-2-Zee, Donald Reuter
  4. Polari - The Lost Language of Gay Men, Paul Baker
  5. Queer Youth Cultures, Susan Driver
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