Monday, June 28, 2004

What is a “Twinkie”?

For more than a decade, the term “Twinkie” has been in use in the gay community, especially in the leather and bear sectors, to describe a certain type of guy.  While it is usually used derisively, in good queer form it has been embraced by those it was used to describe and turned into it’s own self-affirming and descriptive term.

It amazes me, though, the number of people who apparently have no idea what the term means.  They have this hazy idea that it means “young guys” or “club kids,” but they miss the what-should-be-obvious derivation.  (Maybe this is an indicator of the post-modern nature of our society today, that we refuse to look for the obvious or surface connection, instead expecting irony or conspiracy in everything.)

Here, then, is a definition (as posted to the Handball list at QueerNet):
A "Twinkie" is made of light, golden sponge cake, stuffed with cream filling, loaded with preservatives, and not very good for you.  (With apologies to Hostess.)

Ergo, human Twinkies are likewise fluffy, full of cream, and not very good for you.  They are often quite young, but if Twinkies have an alleged 17-year shelf life, so may human ones…

(Hostess also used to make both chocolate and chocolate-covered Twinkies, just in case you think the human variety is only blond.)

Comment by Fritz (from New York) on June 28, 2004
You may think you are being witty, Jim, but by posting that drivel publicly, you not only offended our young friend in San Diego, but potentially everyone on the list who is under 30 or maybe interested in guys under 30.  Please note that this is not a public post, it is private to you.  What I find astonishing is that a self-styled “daddy” who is 36, turning 37 soon, would put out a public post so contemptuous of younger guys.  If you are not interested in meeting, connecting with and perhaps helping younger guys, because, according to your post, they are all “fluffy, full of cream, and not very good for you”, what in hell gives you the right to call yourself a “Daddy”?  I’ve earned that right, boy, both by benefit of age and by being willing to meet and judge any man on his personal attraction for me and to me, his willingness to learn, and his intrinsic merits, not arbitrary standards of age, race, class, income, etc.  There is a word for such arbitrary judgements, and the word is bigotry.  By my calculations, legal age plus your shelf-life of a “Twinkie” is 18 +17 = 35.  Since you recently passed that barrier, do I detect a faint whiff of bitterness from an ex-twinkie who now wants to pretend to be a daddy?  Get a life, and learn a little humility when talking to a forum of men who have far more experience and compassion than you are willing to demonstrate.  If you consider this a flame, so be it.  One of the benefits of my advanced age — I’m approaching 60, and proud of it, and I’d hate to see your opinions of older men — is a flame-proof asbestos suit against wannabes on the Internet who think they are being clever.

Two words, Jim. Grow up!
And my response back to him, which I sent back publicly (intentionally so, despite his original comment being not to the list) to the list the original definition was posted to, also on June 28, 2004
I’m sorry you were unable to see the humor intended and (I think) inherent in what I posted.  Several other people e-mailed me to say they enjoyed it (but that’s just anecdotal evidence, I realize).  But you know…

The surest way to get me to air something publicly is to all but dare me to post it, to let the world see you attempt to smack someone down.  Want to try to avoid having them smack you back?  If you’ve got something foul to say about a public post I made, dear, you can say it publicly.  Or I’ll say it for you, in your own words, by letting everyone know exactly what you’ve said.  Especially if you are someone who repeatedly shares his “wisdom” and “goodwill” with the list, establishing a gentle and fatherly tone.

Any respect I had for you is gone, Fritz.  But I’m sure you expected that, and that the feeling is mutual.

Updated on February 11, 2011
In other words, Fritz somehow assumed that (a) I hated the fact that I was in my mid-30s and growing older and (b) that I believed that “Twinkie” applied to all gay men in their 20s.  Neither of which was true, of course.

But to reiterate for clarity:
If a guy is fluffy, full of cream, and not very good for you, he's a “Twinkie”.  Such gay guys are often (but not always) young.
Apropos of nothing, Fritz died in 2010.

This was the first blog post I’ve done addressing this.  See also this one for a later one, with some research into the origins of the term.