Twinks, Fairies, and Queens: A Historical Inquiry into Effeminate Gay Bottom Identity

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Effeminate gay bottoms, or gender nonconforming men who are anally receptive and/or give oral sex to other men who are also "gender nonconforming," are persistently marginalized in gay and LGBTQ+ communities in Britain and the US. For some LGBTQ+ commentators, "twink" has become relexified to mean a young-looking, slim, hairless effeminate bottom, whereas originally the term primarily denoted a body type and age bracket among gay men. This article explores how the twink has come to bear connotations of effeminacy and bottom subjectivity, highlighting the steady erosion of other available cultural terms to denote a bottom whose gender expression does not conform to dominant cultural masculine stereotypes. It offers an analysis of two key historical effeminate bottom identities in Britain and the US, the "fairy" and "queen," and argues that the twink not only now carries connotations originally attached to these historical identities, but that it merges their gendered and sexual connotations with new characteristics concerning age and body type that may cause considerable anxiety among contemporary gay men due to their unsustainable "shelf life."
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Early online date19 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2023


  • Homosexuality
  • effeminacy
  • gay bottoms
  • gay men
  • twink


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