'10-Year Challenge' Reveals Shame in the Gay Community

’10-Year Challenge’ Reveals Shame in the Gay Community



Some researchers suggest that gay men commonly express femininity during adolescence, yet this is diminished to conform to masculine ideologies as adults. An especially influential example of this in the gay subculture is “twinks,” a common term to describe young, effeminate, typically white and slender gay men.

Although twinks are highly valorized by certain segments of the gay community for their youthfulness, they are also often negatively stereotyped. They deal with perceptions of frivolity, passivity and superficiality. and are fetishized or objectified as play-things that simultaneously affirms the masculinity of other men.

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Young twinks are encouraged to either masculinize their gender expression or become submissive for the consumption of more masculine gay men.

Within twink communities are high rates of sexual assault experiences and high suicide rates.


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Toxic masculinity

An especially influential study by clinical psychologist Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep found many gay men endorse femmephobic sentiments and engage in a processes of “defeminization” between adolescence and adulthood.

For many gay men, growing out of their femininity is seen as a sign of adulthood — an evolution of the body and self as they shed their former feminine and boyish self and enter adulthood as a stable and masculine man who has internalized dominant notions of masculinity.

With femininity’s associations with youthfulness and incompletion, masculinity is secured as a cultural symbol of adulthood. This adulthood is then associated with a masculine and athletic body. This evolution narrative crafts a spectrum of gender expression that places femininity on the left and masculinity on the right.

It creates an ideology that views feminine men as inferior or “not fully developed.”

Comments on these posts on social media about body size and youthful appearance bolster the narrative of femininity as inferior and infantile.


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The narrative of the 10-Year Challenge seems to be that all is OK once a femme defeminizes and grows into a respectable masculine man. These attitudes towards the “femmes of 2009” need to stop to avoid solidifying toxic masculinity in LGBTQ+ communities.

Adam Davies, is an Assistant Professor of University of Guelph and Rhea Ashley Hoskin, Postdoctoral Researcher in Femininities, Femme and Femmephobia, Queen’s University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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’10-Year Challenge’ Reveals Shame in the Gay Community
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