Michael Sunderland takes issue with the term "twink" at Vice:

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For the first decade of my life as a gay man, countless older homosexuals branded me as a twink. For those outside the gay world, the term probably conjures up images of those Hostess desserts—vanilla cake on the outside, sweet and creamy in the center. Similar to those treats, twinks are usually white, smooth, and everyone wants to eat their insides. But the word is not really one of endearment. Just as soon as an older gay would jump at the chance to rim the asshole of one of those "hairless manboys," he'd also deride the twink for his over-the-top flamboyancy.

Being labeled a twink is like getting the scarlet letter of the gay universe. The first time I remember being called one was at a grimy, now defunct gay strip club in Oakland, Florida, called Oz when I was 18. A geezer who looked like the Penguin in Batman Returns mistook me for one of the gay dancers whipping their dicks around for dollars and yelped out, "Twink!" The way it rolled off his tongue stung. I could sense his lust and his scorn. And it made me, a young gay man just coming into his own, feel kind of small. From then on, I endured a constant stream of twink-calling—especially when I made the mistake of wearing cutoff shorts or a tight-fitting white T-shirt. It wasn't until last summer that it finally stopped, thanks to a beard and chest hair (which has, unfortunately, earned me another derogatory moniker—otter).

Sunderland interviewed some young and hairless gay white male Brooklynites about "the way they are fetishized and criticized in the gay community." Not all of the skinny young white gay men he spoke to have a problem wearing "the scarlet letter of the gay universe." (What?) I have a problem with Sunderland framing "twink" as a hate term. In my experience "twink" is used with affection, irony, and longing far more often than it's used to put someone down. I say this as someone who married a twink. It's also a term that many young and hairless gay white males embrace—including some of the guys Sunderland interviews. And I've never heard anyone use "otter" as a "derogatory moniker." That's just unhinged.

Anyway: twink is apparently a hate term now too. Please make a note of it.

UPDATE: Yeah, that pretty much nails it...


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