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Let’s Talk Dirty to The Animals

Are you a jock, otter, bear, cub, or wolf? No, it’s not the latest Buzzfeed survey on Facebook. But rather, these descriptive terms are often used by gay men to identify and label other gays within the wide community.

Here is the most up-to-date, generally agreed upon typology groups used by gay men to describe each another.

Please note that not all of the groups appear here and the ones that do may have a subgroup. It is entirely possible that your group does not appear. Finally, some may disagree with these labels as there continues to be ongoing friction regarding what they mean. This is an attempt to offer clarity.

The Wolves

Characteristically, a wolf is a gay male who is semi-hairy, muscular, lean, attractive and sexually aggressive. A wolf is sometimes considered to be part
of the larger bear community or bear spectrum. Some also describe wolves as slimmer bears, but there is a lot of disagreement on this.

Most wolves have facial hair. Height or age is not assigned to wolves. Subgroups of wolves can be found in aging wolves, which are gay men with wolf-like features that are starting to turn a bit gray. And then there are full on silver or gray wolves, terms that describe an older wolf with gray or white facial/body hair

The Otters

In the gay world, an otter would be considered a thin gay male that is hairy and may or may not use a trimmer to shorten body hair. Some have beards, some do not. Otters are usually smaller in frame when compared to the heavier cub or bear. Otters look a lot like what you would see in a picture of an otter … they are hairy. A person can be an otter regardless of age. Otters are considered to be part of the larger bear community.

Otters characteristically are not super built but can be athletic. Again, they are hairy (some think they are smooth and that would be incorrect). Think of otters being somewhere between cubs and bears …not as massive as bears and certainly smaller than cubs.

The Chubs

In the gay world, the term chub is used to describe an overweight or obese man. Chubs are a distinct sub-group within the gay male population and can be confused with bears. Many bears reject extremely large or obese chubs and do not consider them as part of their subgroup. Chubs have their own events, such as “Mr. Chub International”. An extremely large chub is referred to as a superchub according to the research. It is important to note that there exists a group of people called chasers. These individuals are attracted romantically and physically to chubs. Chasers are much smaller than chubs.

The Bears

Characteristically, a bear would be a gay man that is somewhat large and usually heavy but can be muscular. The bear projects an image of masculinity.

Some bears are so caught up in projecting a masculine image that they shun other would be bears who they feel come off as effeminate. Many bears consider themselves to be harmless and even playful.

Bear Subtypes:

Muscle Bears: Body size is a function of muscle and not body fat.

Polar Bears: Older bear with gray/white hair on face and most of body.

Sugar Bears: Effeminate bears that are shunned by masculine bears

The Cubs

For gay men, the term cub is used to describe a younger (or younger looking) male, usually husky or heavier in body type and almost always hairy.

While many cubs have a beard, it is not a requirement to fit in this category. Body hair and huskiness are the dominant features for this gay descriptor.

Cubs are sometimes partnered with bears in passive relationships or with other cubs. Cubs can sometimes be considered an apprentice to a bear.

Cub Subtypes:

Muscle Cubs : Body size is attributable to muscular composition as opposed to body fat.

Sugar Cubs: Effeminate Cubs. Almost all cubs aspire to become bears within the larger bear community.

The Gym Bunnies

Gym bunnies are native to straight and gay worlds. Gym bunnies typically can be any age but usually below 50. Gym bunnies spend an obsessive amount of time working on their physique and are muscular and sculpted. Gym bunnies are similar to jocks except they are not usually connected to sports. Gym bunnies are at the gym to create a physique others will notice and look at. You often see gym bunnies at the beach. They are often considered to be pretty.

The Gym Rats

Gym rats are somewhat similar to gym bunnies but gym rats are described as being addicted to the gym. While they may enjoy attention from others in public, that is not their motivation for working out. Their primary motive for long, daily lifting sessions relates more to an obsessive need to strength train and grow bigger. They are typically lean and very well built. Gym rats are called this name because they “live” in the gym, much like a rat lives in a basement. They are always there. The straight equivalent to a gym rat would be a muscle head.

Gym bunnies and Gym Rats are closely related. Again, the primary difference is that gym bunnies are all about sculpting their bodies. Gym rats are typically concerned with adding muscle size with the hope of becoming a bull.

The Jocks

For gay men, jocks are almost always muscular with low body fat and attractive. A jock can be of any age but are generally thought to be somewhat younger because of their athletic abilities. Jocks are usually linked to actively playing sports. Years ago, the term “Jock” used to have a negative connotation in the straight world. For gays, to be called a jock is a compliment.

The Bulls

In the gay community, Bulls are considered to be super massive, muscular body builders that weigh somewhere in the 215-300 pound range.

Bulls are not necessarily part of the bear community and usually herd together as one might see them in their natural environment.

The Pups

A pup typically is a gay male who is fairly young in age, usually late teens to early 20s, give or take. Characteristically, pups have little experience in the gay world, are naïve, energetic and cute.

Pups are similar to cubs except pups are not involved in the bear community and likely do not even know this community exists within the larger gay spectrum.

You often hear more seasoned gay men tell very young gay men who are just coming out things like, “You are just a young pup- you have a lot to learn” or “You are just a pup – you are just a baby!”

Pups may have similar body types to twinks, however pups usually are super-new to the gay world. Twinks are not.

The Twinks

In gay terms, twinks are younger, slender, gay men that typically have little or no body hair and no facial hair.

Twinks are usually anywhere from 18 to mid-20s, give or take. A wrap on the twink is that many think that the world revolves around them.

The Twunks

Twunks are similar to twinks but are a lot more muscular. Some have assigned feminine and masculine characteristics to twunks. Sugar twunk, for example, to describe effeminate twunks.

Some have made the mistake of confusing twinks and twunks with tweakers. They are not related. Tweakers are younger gay men that use party drugs, like E and crystal meth and are very thin as a result of not ingesting enough calories. One does not need to be a tweaker however to tweak.

Final Thoughts

There has always been wide disagreement within the gay community around descriptive terms for body types and associated characteristics. It is possible that some simply feel that they do not fall into a given category.

If this is the case, there is always the “average” category, which is an area that many men gay men fall into. Average means the person is typically “average” in most areas, including body weight, height and hairiness.

Note that the term “daddy” is not used here. This is because a “daddy” is not connected to a specific body type. Wolves, bears, chubs and otters can technically be daddies.

A great video to stream or download is The Adonis Factor, a documentary that goes into fairly strong detail on gay body types.

Michael Buzzelli
Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)