The Beginner’s Guide to Gay Labels

Gay or Straight, if you’re new to the gay community, you might come across a few phrases or labels that you don’t have a clue what they mean. For the gays, that lack of understanding might land you in an interesting situation… such as showing up at a guy’s house for the first time expecting to go play water polo and finding out that “water sports” is something else entirely.

To avoid these awkward situations, here’s my take on a few of the labels and pieces of information you should be aware of- without venturing into the XXX realm of course, this isn’t xtube after all! I’ve added a few I’ve recently learned, as well as some coined by our very own Homorazzi cast members… and remember, we’re defining stereotypes here, so the descriptions are going to be extremely stereotypical in nature.

Redd’s article Giver or Receiver? Pitcher or Catcher? already talked a bit about the sexual labels, but I’ll recap them here quickly:

Role-based Basics

Top

This label applies to both Mo and Lezzy and is meant to refer to the person who will be doing the penetrating, whether they may or may not actually be on “top”. Other colloquial terms are Pitcher or Power Top (which is meant to indicate they don’t bottom… EVER.)

Bottom

This one is pretty obvious since we’ve already covered “top” but just in case: if you’re the bottom you can expect to be getting poked- and it applies to both Mo and Lezzy as well. Strictly speaking, that’s about all the top or bottom labels should really mean, but I’m not going to venture into the social implications of these labels at the moment. (That’s coming in a subsequent article!) Other terms for this are Catcher, Nelly and Power Bottom.

Versatile

I would venture to say that behind closed doors, most gay people fall into this category, which means that they are willing to pitch or catch depending on the situation and the partner.

Next, we have the various labels placed on various types of gay people, followed by some various other terms that may be important for you to know:

Gay Classifications

Twink

Twinks are generally quite young (18 to mid-20’s), skinny, have essentially no body hair and may frequently be found applying foundation or fake tanning lotion. Generally, they act as though the entire world revolves around the fact that they are young and gay.

Twunk

Essentially, this is a Twink with muscles. This can also apply to twinks as they get a little older and grow out of the initial: “Oh my God, I’m young and free and the world should know it” phase. Also, Twunks don’t necessarily wear foundation, but they’ll probably be found fake-baking with regularity.

Sandwich

Sandwich was coined amongst our group of friends and is meant to be used whilst in public when you see a hot guy. Sandwiches are definitely hot, usually muscular and in the prime of their life (I’ll leave that open to interpretation). If you’ve seen The Broken Hearts Club, this would be synonymous with “Meanwhile…”

Bear

The Bear is the polar opposite of the Twink. Bears are large and in charge, wouldn’t dream of shaving ANY of their body hair and frequently don’t wear deodorant. Large and jovial, these beasts range from muscle-daddy to Sumo wrestler, are generally a little older and are usually some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

Cub

Cubs are bears in the making (I know, how creative right?) Just like in good ol’ nature, Cubs are going to be smaller, younger and have less hair (usually) than their Bear counterparts. It’s not uncommon to see a Bear & Cub couple either (kind of like a Daddy/Twink situation only less… creepy.) [Editor’s Note: There is NOTHING creepy about that “situation”… trust me!]

Otter

The Otter label is either newer or just a lot less known than the others. There are also a couple differing opinions on what this means… but essentially it’s a sub-category of Bears. Otters are skinnier, but still rock the full-out body hair. They will usually be short-ish and although skinnier than bears, they usually still have round-ish features (but sometimes kind of flat, which is where the “Otter” part comes in.)

Chaser (aka, Chubby Chaser)

This is pretty self-explanatory, but it refers to someone who typically isn’t fat but who likes to date larger people. This isn’t a strictly gay term either, as evidenced by this video (which your boss probably won’t think is nearly as funny as you do if you open it at work).

Lipstick

This is a shout-out for all our fabulous Lesbianese girls. Lipstick refers to those lesbians who are ultra-girly and all the dudes want to get with. They are sexy, sultry and every Twink wants to be them… minus the vagina part.

Other Important Terms

Metrosexual

These guys really throw a wrench in our Gaydar sometimes. A Metrosexual guy is one who may outwardly appear gay (expert grooming, fantastic style) but who is actually straight. Usually, these guys make pretty awesome friends (as long as you can keep your friends from molesting them anyway).

Manscaping

Learn this term well and put it into practice (unless you’re a Bear of course). Manscaping is the colloquial term for grooming… and as a gay man, I’m here to tell you- again, unless you’re a Bear- you should be manscaping. Jamie provided us with some excellent tips here.

Fag Hag

There is a whole culture around this one, and you can read more on the specific relationship on Stephen’s post… however a Fag Hag technically means a straight girl who wants to have sex with gay men and contrary to popular belief, being called a Fag Hag isn’t a compliment. It means you’re creepy.

Fruit Fly

Although less popular- and not quite as easily rolled off the tongue- this term actually describes what most people think of when they think “Fag Hag”. Fruit Flies don’t want to have sex with us, they are just uber-fabulous girls who understand gay culture and love to hang out. The gay boys love them too and buzz around them… like flies,

Fag Stag

This one’s a new one for me, but apparently it’s code for a straight guy who hangs out with a lot of gay guys. I’d never heard of it before until doing some research on this article and thought it was good enough to make the list!

Water Sports / Golden Shower

This one is important. Water sports aren’t actually sports at all, and hopefully you can tell from the synonymous term what it’s really all about. That’s right kids. Pee.

Gay Curious

Let’s be honest- this really means “I’ve slept with all your guy friends but don’t want to admit it”.

Hasbian/Yestergay

These are also new terms for me and I just had to include them. A Hasbian is a Lesbian who has chosen to live a heterosexual life. Conversely, a Yestergay is a gay man who has chosen to live a heterosexual life. I love a good play on words and these totally made me laugh.

This list could just go on and on really, and there are a whole lot more sex-related terms that you may want to brush up on… but I’m going to let someone else discuss those if they so choose (and the Homorazzi cast member who fits the profile to do so knows exactly who he is!) *WINK*

Hopefully you’ve learned something new and/or had a good chuckle or two!

  • Thanks. I appreciate the help.

  • SuperBus

    Or someone who is technically bisexual, but once thought they were strictly homosexual, and their life partner is a heterosexual.
    I have a good friend who believed she was totally lesbian, only dated girls for years, but one day met a man who she was sexually attracted to and fell head over heels for. Then they got married.
    She doesn’t deny she’s still attracted to women too, though. But she’s still technically a hasbian.

  • Lontra

    Also don’t forget the Ursulas (female bears) & Lontras (female otters). A very special and sometimes forgotten group of women.

  • DK

    You’ve got twinks all wrong. We can be just as masculine as any other guy. Twinks are just thin, hairless, and young-looking. The ones who wear make-up are femboys. Why aren’t they on the list? Or studs or bulls? Btw otters don’t have to be round at all. They can be hairy guys of average size or even hairy versions of twinks.

  • Justin

    I still have no idea where I fit in all of this. I’ve been trying to figure it out since I was 13.

  • Brian

    I agree, you can be a bear and still practice good hygiene. I consider myself a bear and yes, I use deodorant.

  • J Russell

    Spot on Correct here GB. thank you! JR

  • Ddawg

    Chicken? A gayboy between 18 and 21, a ‘freshly hatched’ gayboy, not old enough to drink (legally).

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  • I’m hairy but also skinny. I don’t think I belong in the bear classification though.

  • William

    Do all gays fit into a category?

  • diydominick

    No. This is just for gay people that subscribe to popular gay culture. These terms are essentially useless if you view sexuality as who you’re attracted to, not as a fandom.

  • diydominick

    These terms only apply to you if you decide they do. You don’t have to fit or identify with these terms. These terms are part of a cultural group and have nothing to do with sexuality.

  • sagar

    what does body play means in gay world

  • Uk “Draken” Drake

    You know what would be useful? A discussion on the best way to explain to straight American guys that gay men aren’t going to muscle them into a van and defile them on a tear-stained mattress!
    I’m a straight guy with gay friends and I’m constantly trying to get through to neanderthal American guys online that none of the crap they’ve been fed at their churches is true!

  • Anna Giladi

    Yup. The “all gay men are always out to screw all straight men” BS. The same thing that stands between them and jobs involving child care. I don’t get how these straight men don’t realize how baselessly insulting they are.

  • Emanuel Alfredsson

    How about some gender-neutral Bi and Pan-sexual terms?

    Dolphin – A Bisexual Twink/Shane with Sapio tendencies.

    More to Come!

  • Francis Salvatore Torchio

    One other label that should be mentioned is antelope. An antelope physically resembles a twink; tall, slender, small boned with delicate looking features and can be somewhat androgynous in facial appearance.

  • Proud Fag Hag

    Fag hag initially started as a derogatory term, today it’s being used to describe a girl who has a lot or mainly gay friends. You probably guessed by now I am considered to be one. I am not considered creepy, nor want to fuck my gay friends. It’s not a compliment nor insult, just a situation.
    Other fag hags I know are extraordinary women.

  • A concerned faggot

    Because pansexuality is the epitome of why tumblr should be nuked from orbit

  • Lisette

    They missed a couple things…

    A twink is also called a chicken. There is also a twunk, that is a twink with a little bit of muscle. I have heard some people say a twunk is also a chicken, but a healthy chicken, some have used the terms: rooster, farm-raised chicken and prized chicken or rooster! As a side note: when 2 or more chickens are gathered together, it is a chicken coup!

    Wolves: think bear, less hairy, more built, more aggressive and definitely a top! Think Wolverine as a gay man.

    Giraffe: a relatively new term that is solely based on height and weight… a gay man who is over 6’5″ and thin.

    Panda: Chubby and balding.

    Most gay and lesbian people claim they they disdain labels and do not place a label upon themselves. Well, if the truth be told, like it or not, accept it or not; although he or she may not place a label on themselves, a label is placed on them anyway! Labels are basically a quick description of the person, based on appearance, lifestyle, persona and attitude. The more labels, the better the description. As an example:

    Me.. I’m a lesbian female and author of the, “lesbian survival guide.” Although we lesbians have our own set of labels, many labels cross over between gay men and gay women. In relation to gay men, I am something of a lipstick fruit-fly. But, my lesbian label is a bit of an oxymoron: A jockette lipstick, who has a tendency to be a bit of a power-dyke, if the need arises.