According to Wikipedia, “Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender.” On closer inspection, this first extreme generalization is in many cases almost everything the heterosexual world knows about homosexual men: they are men who like men. Actually, anyone willing to stop and reflect about it with a little common sense and open-mindedness should understood that the reality is different, and a little bit more complex: the idea that gays like “men”, in a such undifferentiated way, is naïve, simplistic, and probably offensive. The gay world works with the same mechanisms of the heterosexual one: saying that heterosexual men like “women” would mean to ignore all the different personal tastes and their variations (a man can like shapely blondes while another is into oriental women) and to equate the romantic and sexual attraction to cattle breeding. Similarly, of course, homosexuals have different tastes and styles, reflected in their search for partners and the way they relate to each other. However, maybe because they were forced to live for a long time hiding their sexuality, gays have made up to this limit dedicating to sex a large part of their mental energy, even more than their heterosexual counterparts. Moreover, the fact that their orientation was condemned and opposed, means that its representation has assumed a deep cultural, even political, value, and has become often crucial to define their own identity as individuals. What may seem obvious to heterosexuals, their sexual identity, to homosexuals is often the result of a conquest, a struggle with the world and themselves; as every conquest, it is a source of pride, and must be showed. The representation of their specific identity, intended as a set of elements – such as appearance, age, social class, ethnicity, sexual preferences – assumed therefore great value to many people, and gave life, within the general homosexual identity, to the definition of different subgroups (perceived as such by themselves or from the outside) and of a specific terminology to identify them and their declensions. These groups, often strongly characterized by aesthetic or behavioral codes, tend sometimes to become very closed and self-referential (for different lifestyles and lack of mutual sexual interest), so as to discourage any contact and even to generate a degree of hostility to each other: there is a considerable homophobia within the gay community. Without going into this issue, it follows, however, that even within the gay world, there is sometimes a lack of knowledge about other groups and, trivially, the specific terminology that characterizes them. So, for all those interested to know it, here below you can find an attempt to systematize this terminology. It is, of course, a list that does not claim to be exhaustive or scientific: it deals with a subject that changes quickly according to time and local situations, following fashion and cultural processes. Most of all, it doesn’t mean gay reality is made of stereotypes: everyone is done his way, with his unique individuality.
The twink is a basic young (typically 18-25) who can pass for that barely legal look. Some are out right flamboyant while most are just boyish/innocent-like by nature. Many are slender if not extremely thin and often lack body hair and rarely, if ever, have facial hair. Twinks suffer from a bad reputation. Beyond having to deal with the “queenie” or “effeminate” stereotype, as a group they are often known for being drama queens, rude, snotty, and dumb. In fact, the term twink originates from a popular junk food–The Twinkie (you know, the Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling). The comparison connotes that twinks are only for short-term consumption and not a long-term relationship. (This is an unfair description, seeing as how most of the men in this classification are young and should be having fun and enjoying life.) Additionally, the comparison also points to the often sun-kissed skin most twinks have through either excessive sun worship or frequent visits to tanning salons. Twinks tend to travel in groups, and they are known for razor sharp tongues capable of verbally ripping anyone to shreds. Unless you can verbally spar, don’t enter into a word war with a twink.
A&F Boy (aka Gym Twink) – a twink who lives at the gym. Unlike the traditional twink, his body is not lean or waifish: he strives for muscle definition and will not break if handled roughly.
Twunk – can be a synonymous of gym twink, but it’s often a pejorative remark describing an older man trying to be a twink. Typically between the ages of 28-40, he still shops at Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, or American Eagle. Also, in efforts to reclaim lost youth, a twunk frequents tanning salons, wears clothing at least two sizes too small, and sometimes indulges in Botox or plastic surgery. Men who fit this definition will often lie about their age and will create drama if they hit on you and you reject them.
Gaisian – a twink of Asian descent. Often the subject of lust from gay non-Asian males, particularly fat old men who find pretty, slender, non-hirsute males to be enchanting, which is reasonable; what is less reasonable is that they actually expect to get into the pants of such males.
Typically straight-acting and masculine, a jock is a muscular gay who typically is into sports and has the all-American boy look. This guy prides himself on the fact that no one thinks he is gay until he tells. His love of sports is just about the only unaffected aspect of his masculinity. He wears T-shirts and ball caps with his favorite team logo, and likes guys who are “non-scene,” unless the scene is a gay sports team. Just as there are many kinds of sports however, there are many types of jocks: they can be nice guys, and they can look like the boy next door, with more muscle tone than muscle. In fact, for most North American Gays, the athletic body type is more on the order of what is also sometimes known as the “swimmer’s build,” as exhibited by surfers, lifeguards, lounge lizards, and, of course, swimmers.
Gym Bunny (aka Gym Rat) – evolution of the gym twink, he has the muscular, weightlifter’s body that has been shaped and refined through hours of blood, sweat, and tears in gyms around the world. Unlike the jock’s, his body is never a result of the honest innocent participation in ordinary sports or athletics, such as basketball, football, or hockey: it is a manufactured body, created by thousands of man-hours (or girly-man hours) of backbreaking bench presses, flies, butterfly curls, dips, and other iron-pushing maneuvers, executed in a four-on, one-off punishing schedule of gym-going. Although the physical routine is exhausting, each workout is rewarded with a chance to check out the object of one’s lubricious affections in the showers, in order to ascertain whether he has the necessary qualifications to be shagged.
Muscle Mary (aka Gym Queen) – like a gym bunny, with a more effeminate nature. They roll in packs and only date each other. You never see them during the winter months because they are in the gym 24/7. Come summer, he’s wearing the smallest tank-top or the tightest t-shirt. Don’t bother lusting after him, because you do not exist in his world.
Bears tend to have hairy bodies and facial hair; some are heavy-set; some project an image of working-class masculinity in their grooming and appearance, though none of these are requirements or unique indicators. Typically, Bears are friendly, polite, and easy-going, a far cry from their animal namesake. Their larger body types contain some of the kindest hearts. If a bear were to accidentally step on you at a bar, he would be the first one to apologize and feel awful for potentially hurting you. However, just like their namesakes, a bear is a dangerous gay when provoked and prodded with a stick (no pun intended). Their size alone would be enough to take down an entire gaggle of gays. But unlike real bears, these Bears travel in packs. When you take on one Bear, the entire cave is threatened. While Bears have a wide range of interests, they are some natural proclivities of the subculture that seem pretty standard. Most Bears enjoy food and drink. Beer is the alcohol of choice. Rarely, do you see a Bear sipping a Cosmo or calling himself a Vegan. They indulge in the simpler pleasure of life such as camping, lying in the sun, or communing with other Bears. Bears can often be spotted in the wild wearing open flannel shirts exposing their guts and hirsute bodies, combat boots, and baseball caps. They are not slaves to fashion. This is not to say that Bears don’t play dress up (they are gay after all!), but they are more at home wearing loose fit, extremely casual clothing.
Black Bear – a bear of African-American descent
Brown Bear – a bear of Latin descent.
Daddy Bear – a mature bear, who is often looking for a cub (see below) for a relationship.
Grizzly Bear – an extremely dominant and typically extremely tall, heavy, or hairy bear.
Koala Bear – a bear of Australian descent.
Panda Bear – a bear of Asian descent.
Pocket Bear – a bear of short stature.
Polar Bear – a bear with white or grey hair.
Kosher Bear – a Jewish bear.
Muscle bear – a muscular version of a bear.
Wolf – a hairy (body hair and usually facial hair as well) masculine man, but unlike the bear, he is not heavy set and typically muscular and toned.
Otter – a man who is hairy but not heavy. A skinny version of a bear or a wolf but without the muscle.
Lion – a bear (regardless of age) with long red or blond hair.
Cub – as the word says, a younger version of a bear. Cubs are usually smaller and have less hair than their bear counterparts. It’s not uncommon to see a Bear & Cub couple either (kind of like a Daddy/Twink situation only less… creepy.) The term is also affectionately used to describe a bear’s husband/partner who fulfills the passive role in the sexual relationship.
It’s a related group, but not necessarily part of the bear spectrum: they are the super-massive bodybuilder types exceeding 135kg/300lbs. May or may not be hairy.
A chub is a large, overweight or obese men. Similar to the bears, except typically not as hairy, they have the highest body weight and largest waist size of any clique. Although there is some overlap between the two groups, chubs have their own distinct subculture and community.
Gainer – a guy who like the idea or physical act of growing bigger, fatter and/or rounder. They come in all shapes and sizes and their fantasies, goals and ideal guys vary all the way from the first-15-pounds frat boys to superchub territory. Gainers don’t have to be big, because gaining is as much about the mentality as it is about the physical results. Some gainers will only gain a few pounds to be satisfied, some will pack on several hundred and some will never grow.
A pup is a gay adolescent or young man (18-26), with many of the attributes we associate with puppy dogs: cute, inexperienced, naive, bright-eyed, eager, energetic, huggable. A pup hasn’t learned attitude yet. Similar to a twink, but with the possibility of a brain, not as edgy or trendy, and minus the sense that they’re always one step from being totally wasted. A pup is also very like a cub, but isn’t interested in bear culture, not a bear apprentice.
Like the name implies, a daddy is an older man sexually involved in a relationship or having a sexual interest in a younger man. The age gap may differ, but the relationship involves the traditional parental hierarchy of father-son dynamics, the daddy providing emotional support and guidance along with sexual encouragement and nurturing to the inexperienced and vulnerable partner.
He is completely different from the similarly labeled daddy, although this can sometimes lead to some confusion. These men typically support twinks by paying their bills and their rent all in the hopes of stealing some of the youthful energy the twink possesses in abundance.
The gay-lister (aka A-Gay) is at the top of the list of gay society in his town, has power, money, and privilege. Usually snarky – but does it well – he knows the best hotels, restaurants, clubs and bars to go to; also knows the owners. Body toned by the personal trainer, hair done by celebrity stylist, wardrobe picked out at Barneys. He usually works in advertising, PR, marketing, or the entertainment industry and makes a ton of cash which he uses to have a perfect apartment, a fantastic wardrobe and a summer home near all the other gay-listers. You can try to get invited to their parties, but you will never belong.
Homiesexual (homeboy + homosexual) is a slang term in urban culture whose origins etymologists generally trace to African-American language from the late 19th century, with the word “homeboy” meaning a male friend from back home. They are quite clearly black, gay, out, proud, and identified with ghetto/hip-hop culture. They’re not flamboyant, in the sense of outrageous, ostentatiously effeminate, campy, etc.; they’re homeboys – queer home boys, but still home boys, with all the displays of hypermasculinity that go along with the homey identity. Typically dresses like a hypebeast (i.e. sagging skinny jeans, plaid shirt, fitted caps, etc.) and is part of a hip-hop dance crew (or pretends to be).
Homothug – like the homisexual, unless he pretends to be straight.
Down-low boy – refers to a subculture of black men who have sex with men (abbreviated as MSM). Rejecting a gay culture they perceive as white and effeminate, they have settled on a new identity, with its own vocabulary and customs and its own name. There have always been men — black and white — who have had secret sexual lives with men. But the creation of an organized, underground subculture largely made up of black men who otherwise live straight lives is a phenomenon of the last decade. Most date or marry women and engage sexually with men they meet only in anonymous settings like bathhouses and parks or through the Internet. Other DL men form romantic relationships with men and may even be peripheral participants in mainstream gay culture, all unknown to their colleagues and families. Most DL men identify themselves not as gay or bisexual but first and foremost as black. To them, as to many blacks, that equates to being inherently masculine.
A leatherman is a gay with a leather fetish or who wears leathers clothing, usually black, such as boots and motorcycle jackets. The leather culture was born after the WWII stressing masculinity in contradiction of androgynous and effeminate gay stereotypes; it typically includes both a style of dress and an affiliation with BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sado/Masochism, also called “SM”) practice. Both the style of dress and the kinds of BDSM activities characteristic may differ between different communities, and between Old Guard and newer generations of players.
CLUB KID (or Circuit Kid)
Deeply involved into the party scene, he attends circuit parties, t-dances, raves and other clubbing events quite frequently and is thus very well connected with promoters, bartenders, club staff, and even owners.
Typically following trends or taking trends and altering them to his own personal style, the divo is deeply into fashion and clothes. Very focused on appearance, socializing, and attitude. Typically has a sassy and somewhat over the top persona. Admires and may even idolize celebrities and strives to be like one.
A guy who has an active interest in the video game community. Somewhat of a nerdy type.
Ok, at this point things should be clearer to you, or otherwise completely muddled. Anyway, if you are curious to know witch kind of gay you are (or would be), you can visit the Gay Cliques Census, a very interesting interactive survey on gay social groups.