Twinks are typically associated with a few key tropes: general physical attractiveness, a slim build, and a youthful appearance that lacks facial hair and often body hair as well. In his book Never Enough (2007), Joe McGinniss describes a court case in which twink was defined as "a gay slang term used to denote an attractive, boyish-looking gay man between the ages of 18 and 23, slender ectomorph and with little or no body hair, often blond, often but not necessarily Caucasian."
The origins of the term twink are disputed.
One possibility is that the term originates from twank, an older British gay slang term which means "the quarry of a homosexual prostitute (male); a man willing and ready to become any dominant man's 'partner'". This would date the term back to the 1920-30s.
Another possible origin of the term may be derived from Twinkie, an American snake cake. The food is described as "little nutritional value, sweet to the taste, and creme-filled"; by comparison, the young men are described as "short, and blond, and full of creme". Cream is a well-known food-related euphemistic terms for semen. Wiktionary lists this as the official etymology. This dates the term back to 1963.
Oxford Dictionaries claims twink originates from the 1950s and is related to the word twinkle.
While the exact origins of the colors are unknown, the pink stripe is commonly seen as a celebration of the effeminate nature of many twinks.
Perceptions and discrimination
The twink stereotype has been criticized for its homogenous descriptions, usually bringing to mind thin, white, able-bodied, blond-haired young men. As with many terms, modern usage has broadened the term to include more diverse parts of the community.
Twinks are often common targets of homophobia due to closely meeting gay stereotypes. They also tend to be sexualized in media.
- McGinniss, Joe. Never Enough. Simon & Schuster, 2007. English. ISBN 9780743296366. (web archive)
- Partridge, Eric. The New Partridge Dictionary of slang and unconventional English. Dalzell, Tom (Senior Editor); Victor, Terry (Editor), vol. 2, Routledge, 2006. English. ISBN 9781134963652. (web archive)
- Baker, Paul. Polari - The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge, 2002. English. ISBN 9781134506354. (web archive)
- Reuter, Donald F.. Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext, and the Sublime. St. Martin's Press, 2006. English. ISBN 9780312354275. (web archive)
- Driver, Susan. Queer Youth Cultures. SUNY Press, 2008. English. ISBN 9780791478868. (web archive)