The Guysexual’s Guide To Gay Tribes And What They Mean

The Guysexual’s Guide To Gay Tribes And What They Mean

Kartik is having an existential crisis.

What is it? The inevitability of death? The crushing loneliness of realising all humans inherently are and will die alone? The meaninglessness of his dead-end job? The purpose of life? I’ve clearly thought this through.

Kartik shrugs, it’s worse. He doesn’t know what his gay tribe is.

What is a gay tribe?

No, a gay tribe is not a group of still-surviving, nomadic queer men. A tribe is, in fact, a social grouping of gay men based solely on their body type key physical characteristics. Also a feature of Grindr’s profile settings, tribes exist to help you find men you are attracted to, based on the quantity of hair on their bodies, and muscle on their bulk.

You start off with some pretty self-explanatory stereotypes: Twinks, Femmes, Geeks, Jocks and Daddies. And then in descending order of size/hair (yes, hair) and kink, you’ve got Bears, Wolves, Cubs and Otters. Is this marginalising the gay community or moulding a human zoo?

Kartik thinks that gay men shouldn’t be sorted into tribes according to their body type; this isn’t Hogwarts. He also finds it hard to relate to any one particular tribe.

Kartik is lanky and clean-shaven, so he’s not a Bear, but he’s also got tufts of hair on his chest, so he’s not one of those Clean Cut men. At 28, he’s too old to be a Twink, but also too young to be a Daddy. He works out regularly, but you can’t see his abs in HD, so that rules out him being a Jock or a Gym Bunny. At best, he’s a cross between a Twink and an Otter. Does that make him a Twotter? Or worse, an Oink?

These only make him sound like a swine (side note: although my romantically-inclined friend wants me to tell you that he’s no ‘Pig’.) So where does Kartik find his true calling?

The Twinks think he’s too scruffy, the Otters think he’s not scruffy enough. The Bears won’t accept him because he’s fit, and the Jocks shut him out because he’s not fit enough. It’s exasperating. For years now, Kartik has been shunted from tribe to tribe, trying to find his identity. Is there a tribe for gay men who feel like they don’t belong?

That’s all of us, I tell him.

So how can you identify your gay tribe?

It’s safe to say that Grindr is very likely to help you find your next hook-up, and much less likely to help you find your next soul mate, but it certainly won’t help you find yourself. Let’s face it, the quintessential gay man will never find his true calling with one particular tribe – he’ll always be a mash-up of two (or more) of these. Until then, answer these nine questions to find out which gay clique you’d fit into:

On a Saturday night, you’d rather be…
a. Doing shots at a bar
b. Watching a movie
c. Attending a gallery opening
d. Hitting the gym
e. Spending a quiet night in

You’d describe your body hair situation as:
a. Smooth
b. Average
c. Scruffy
d. Waxed
e. Hairy

Your favourite shade of red:
a. Fuchsia
b. Blue
c. Magenta
d. Red
e. Maroon

At a house party, your friends describe you as:
a. Spunky
b. Mysterious
c. Witty
d. Good-looking
e. Distinguished

If you were a famous Tom, you would be…
a. Tom Holland
b. Tom Cruise
c. Tom Hiddleston
d. Tom Hardy
e. Tom Selleck

The word ‘stan’ means:
a. An obsessive fan
b. Is it short for ‘understand’?
c. I was never one for pop culture. I think it’s highly overrated
d. This is a trick question
e. Is that a name?

In a relationship, you see yourself as:
a. The feisty one
b. What relationship?
c. The funny one
d. The fitter one
e. The older one

Choose your favourite sex prop:
a. Handcuffs
b. Blindfold
c. Dildo
d. Jockstrap
e. Whipped Cream

A song that you’d sing at karaoke:
a. A love ballad
b. An 80s pop song
c. The catchiest Bollywood number
d. A mash up of Queen’s hits
e. Any song by Stevie Wonder

Mostly A’s: You're a TWINK!

In gay terminology, a Twink is a young, slim man with minimal body hair, a clean-shaven face and the hopelessness of a doe-eyed ingénue. He’s feisty and fresh-faced, making him an easy target for stereotypical jokes and mature gay men. Somebody buy the boy an appletini already. He’s waiting.

A celebrity Twink you can relate to: Tom Holland or Shawn Mendes

But you might also be: a TWUNK!

A Twunk is a twink on a protein-rich diet. Characteristically more muscular, Twunks can be identified by their raging levels of self-confidence, only made possible by their dedication to allot two chest days at the gym every week. Fit in all the right areas, he’ll meet you for an iced Americano after his workout.

A celebrity Twunk you can relate to: Justin Beiber or Nick Jonas

Mostly B’s: You are DISCREET!

Hiding behind stock imagery and bathroom selfies that are strategically cropped right around the Adam’s apple, the discreet gay man is the most commonly found gay subculture in India. He’s on the roads. He’s in cyber cafes. He’s on your phones. He’s even in his closet.

A Discreet celebrity you can relate to: No one, because that’s the point.

But you might also be: Married, with kids.

In which case you should probably get the Kindle version of this book.

Mostly C’s: You're an OTTER!

The Otter is the antithesis to the Twink. Lean built with a sweater of scruff, he is laidback and lanky, and loves things ironically. The correlation between the man and the animal has never been clear, but who cares, because both are cute.

A celebrity Otter you can relate to: Aditya Roy Kapur

But you might also be: a GEEK!

One would imagine the Geek to be a cute, smart guy with glasses, but you’d be surprised. Deeply passionate and a man with many hobbies, the geek can’t decide what irritates him more: meat eaters who swear by soy milk lattes, or Grindr profiles which suggest they are sapiosexuals.

A celebrity Geek you can relate to: Ayushmann Khurana

Mostly D’s: You're a JOCK!

Conventionally very attractive, Jocks are poster boys for queer fantasies in the mainstream media. Brawny and broad-shouldered, they can be identified by their low body fat (or low IQs, as jealous cynical gay men would suggest) and their affinity for gym selfies.

A celebrity Jock you can relate to: Varun Dhawan

But you might also be: a BULL!

A Bull is a jock (also known as a Gym Rat™) on steroids. When he’s not lifting heavy weights at the gym, he’s lifting heavy weights at home. Built like a 16 axle truck, our heavyweight champion only sees red when he hears gym-averse ignorant people go on and on about the benefits of the keto diet.

A celebrity Bull you can relate to: Aamir Khan, in his post-Dangal avatar.

Side note: Gym Rats are not to be confused with Gym Bunnies. Although both are obsessed with the gym, the latter works out because he cares about how he looks, and the former looks because he cares about how he works out.

Mostly E’s: You're a BEAR!

A Bear's natural habitat is the zoo sports bar — breaking queer stereotypes by drinking his own body weight in beer. Typically stockier and older than most gay men, bears are known to be aggressively hairy and alarmingly cheerful – their jovial personalities directly proportional to the amount of hair on their chests.

If you are younger, you are probably a Cub.

A celebrity Bear you can relate to: Sunny Deol and John Travolta.

But you might also be: A DADDY!

Many will argue that the Daddy is not a queer subculture at all. Any gay man can be a daddy. But the daddy is special. He’s dapper, he’s debonair, and he’s dominating. The Daddy™ is not a parental figure in the conventional sense, because the only things he will ever father are the wet dreams of nubile and naïve gay men.

A celebrity daddy you can relate to: Anil Kapoor and Hugh Jackman

Illustration by Amrai Dua

Aniruddha Mahale