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Types Around Town: Twinks

Just what is a twink? It's not always easy to say, but one thing is really clear - they're young and slim and without a whole lot of body hair.

Youth is the main marker of a twink, young and boyish. And they seem to be skinny. But are all young skinny gay men twinks? Not necessarily. Just the same way you can be forty, carrying a little weight and hairy and gay but not think of yourself as a bear, so you can be young and slim and not think of yourself as a twink.

Twinks don't seem as organised as bears. There are no "Twink Weeks" for the young, skinny and smooth to all get together and have fun. Maybe it's because they're mainly so young - they haven't started to organise yet, they're just having so much fun!

There's a hint in the term and the look that these guys aren't so into being butch and staunch - not that they're necessarily femme either, but they seem happy in a different form of masculinity, still definitely young men but not so worried about being macho. It's sort of like being a teenager in gay years. You can get away with all sorts of shit while you're still a twink, the rest of the gay world doesn't expect too much, you're still finding your feet and stuff.

So often when you talk to young gay guys who are coming out they say "What I really want is a boyfriend", but the gay world isn't good at giving them that. It's not always that welcoming when you're young, it can seem a scary and hard place, with pressure on you to have sex and take drugs. Think about it - most of our meeting places are bars or clubs, where there's booze and drugs - not the best place for a young guy coming out to meet his first love.

So it makes sense that some twinks are only into other twinks. It is easier when you come out to hang out with guys around your own age, you feel safer and less like meat on the block. And that's something twinks complain of at times, that older guys just see them as hot young sex-toys, and then you hear twinks talking about creepy older guys who pester them, and there is some truth in that.

The gay world does have a habit of sexualising everything and everyone - if you're a young guy that can be hot and fun, but it can also be scary and you can end up feeling used, so twinks running in a pack makes sense. You keep an eye on your mates, have someone to talk and dance with, and maybe even someone to love.

But like with any group, ideas about what a twink is or isn't are flexible. Twinks are more likely to be on Grindr than Scruff or Growlr, it's true, but there are always exceptions and some twinks like nothing more than to cuddle up to a bear and vice versa.

What happens when twinks get older? Some guys struggle to let go and keep on trying to look the way they did when they were 20. And that's understandable; with both gay culture and mainstream culture placing so much value on youthfulness, it's hard to let go you of your youthful identity. Most guys eventually accept that now they're 25 they're not really twinks anymore and it's time to move on to something else. Time to pump up those muscles and stop waxing your legs and get a little more mainstream gay, a little more macho maybe. Or time to settle down with that cute man you love.

Maybe you'll even grow up into a bear!

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