What happened to all the twinks? I’m not referring to the beautiful, jacked-up 20 year-old boys who make their livings dancing half naked on podiums and posing in their underwear. I’m referring to the skinny boys in midriffs, covered in glitter who weren’t afraid to express their femininity. Ever since bigger became better and masculinity in the gay community became the norm for what is considered attractive, the image of the effeminate young gay guy who likes show tunes and tight fitting clothing has disappeared from public view. In his place are perfectly sculptured bodies of bros who dress like dudes who try to pass as jocks. With the onslaught of regularly updated images of ‘masc’ gay guys that fill our feeds and our minds and our fantasies, we have subconsciously been persuaded to value masculinity as desirable in a mate. As such, the colourful assortment of gay men that used to make up the spectrum of homosexuality has dwindled down to just a few archetypes that now form the basis of our aspirations.
The twink of yesteryear has suffered the most in the age of masculinity. Unable to grow a beard or chest hair to keep up with changing tastes, his only option is to join a gym and exercise his femininity away. Turning his back on his nature and often mocking the person he once was, the 2015 twink strives to look like the cover model of a gay magazine or a YouTube star from a homoerotic underwear advertisement. He is forced to turn to athletic enhancers to increase his size because his naturally skinny frame won’t develop as quickly as he would like. Striving for impossible perfection and acceptance, he looks to social media to parade his gains and show the world how far he has come from a girly boy to a man brimming with alluring bravado.
The twink is dead, reborn and remodelled to fit into a gay world where effeminateness makes us writher in discomfort because it highlights our own insecurities. Don’t tell me that you’ve never in your life felt slightly uncomfortable while in the presence of an overly expressive gay guy. It may have been only once, in high school, many years ago but for that one moment that flamboyant person held up a mirror to something inside of you that you didn’t like. Then again maybe you can’t relate to this experience and for that you are a better person than most because within the greater gay subconscious, flamboyance is something that makes us uneasy.
Although, maybe it’s something more than our own insecurities that make us resent feminine qualities? Something else all together? Something greater and at the same time, far worse? Maybe it is the move forward towards gay/straight equality that has altered our perception of male femininity.
Progress in social acceptance has made us strive harder to be like our straight counterparts but the victim of this social change has been the twink. There’s no place for yesterday’s twink in a gay world which wants to model itself on the straight world. Once upon a time the outrageous twink served as a big ‘up yours’ to the world of bigots, homophobes and fear mongers. ‘You don’t like gays’, he would say, ‘well look at how gay I can be’. Nowadays our mantra is ‘we are just like you’ and while our lives are in many ways better for it, diversity of expression within our own community has suffered. We have even turned in on ourselves and ostracised those who are not as quick to change. One only needs to logon to a gay dating app to see discriminatory profiles with bios such as ‘masc 4 masc’ or ‘no fems’ or ‘looking for REAL men’. This pressure from within, caused by changes from without, has forced many young gay men to conform to a narrow representation of homosexuality, one that espouses the idea that straight-acting, masculine ‘men’ are the pinnacle of desirability.
We have buried the twink of years past and in doing so we have lost a part of our own identities. We must learn again to embrace the differences within our own community by first respecting and nurturing ourselves. While it’s hard to be yourself in a straight world where they want you to be just like them, it’s even harder to be yourself in a gay world where the pressure to conform is often greater. The bravest thing you can do is to be yourself, as feminine, gay, flamboyant or naturally masculine as that may be. In doing so you will be commemorating all those twinks who have died looking for love, acceptance and bigger biceps.
Image Credit: Pantelis