why can't black men be twinks?
From Timothée Chalamet to Troye Sivan, twinkness and whiteness seem to be closely related.
The “straight” world learned what a twink is last week. T Magazine’s culture piece “The Age of the Twink” presented the label as if it was something that originated a fews weeks ago, like an out-of-nowhere viral meme. Twinks have been around for years, hunny. Maybe even decades. Just ask porn studios like Sean Cody and Cockyboys or take a scroll through Pornhub. What the T Magazine piece truly illuminated, inadvertently, was how closely twinkness and whiteness are releated. In his writing, the author positioned 11 white men as twinks (including Troye Sivan, Olly Alexander, and Adam Rippon) and only one black male (Jaden Smith). And if you google “white twink,” the first page of results will all be porn videos featuring a white boy getting sexually dominated by hyper-masculine black men. Where the hell are the black twinks?
White men are not the only people to have slim, hairless bodies and boyish, puppy-dog features, but they are most frequently the ones exalted for “twinkish” physical qualities.
Timothée Chalamet’s lanky, “art twink” frame has inarguably contributed to the world’s infatuation with him. But the same sharp pelvis, jutting collarbone, and long, Mr. Fantastic-esque arms can be found on a lot of black men (Ashton Sanders, Alfred Enoch, Playboy Carti). They just don’t get an entire porn category or article dedicated to them.
“From my experience as a young, thin, and naturally smooth gay black man, I never got the same praise as my white peers who share the same twink characteristics,” journalist Aaron Barksdale, 27, tells me, going on to highlight the fact black men are rarely allowed to take on feminine or vulnerable physical qualities. “In fact, I’ve felt undesirable and overlooked because of my lack of muscle and body hair.”
As a queer black male, I have felt the same isolatation from twinkdom as Aaron. I am skinny (from a fast-metabolism I can not overpower), 6’3, have dimples as deep as craters, and was once mockingly told by a guy I have “naivety” in my eyes. Yet I’ve never walked around calling myself a twink. In fact, the thought of calling myself one never occurred to me, nor has anyone ever called me it. The label I, and the boys I have been with, have always associated my looks with was this: Black. Much like being a twink, that comes with its own set of sexual expectations and roles. Now, problematics aside, imagine if “black” and “twink” were allowed to converge? We could call ourselves Blinks.
So lets come up with some black twinks, so the world can better imagine our existence. The OG black twink was probably Michael Jackson during his Thriller era, with his baby-smooth skin, soft, high-pitched voice, and skinny jeans. Images of Will Smith as the crop-top wearing Fresh Prince of Bel Air also come to mind. And Prince never stopped being a twink, assless chaps and all. Oh, and peak twink has always been Pharrell.
Now that I think about it, my childhood love for Lil’ Romeo, Bow Wow, and Corbin Bleu probably had something to do with their twink-leaning qualities at the time (make of it what you want, but the child stars have interestingly all become more muscular as adults, closer to being “twunks”). Of today, let’s say celebrities like sibling rap-duo Rae Sremmurd, model Reece King, and rapper Lil Yachty.
If we are going to make queer culture more diverse, we need to seriously interrogate the language and tribes we have built up over the years. Opening up twinkdom to black people also requires opening up the qualifiers. Because black men and white men have very different standard physical features. Twinks, bears, otters — what are these words actually describing? I don’t have the answer, and maybe none of us do, but it’s important we ask the question.