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Gay Tribes Defined: What They Mean And What Might Yours Be!

Gay Tribes Defined: What They Mean And What Might Yours Be!

Gay tribes are conventionally defined as social groupings of gay men based purely on their physical characteristics. Tribes as a concept were popularized by Grindr, the number one dating app for gay men. Specifically, Grindr is a section that allows users to pick which Tribe they belong to and indicate which group or Tribe they are interested in…

Although the concept of gay tribes has sometimes been criticized as unnecessarily labeling men in the gay community and trying to put them into boxes they may not fit into, the concept of gay men dividing themselves into groups under specific names is much older than dating apps. For example, the bear category, which today is accepted as one of the gay tribes, dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when closeted gay men gave themselves such identifiers and met at parties and over the newly emerging Internet.

Magazines, articles, and guides were also written by members of their community, grouping gay men into categories based on their body types and some other characteristics and naming them after animals, including bears, otters, wolves, etc. This method made it easier for gay men to quickly identify themselves and indicate what groups of men they were interested in without drawing too much attention to themselves.

However, these days,  what was once a survival and concealment mechanism has become a fun and unique way to signal membership in the gay community. Grindr Tribes was introduced in 2013 to allow app users to self-identify according to about twelve different categories. While most gay men may find that they might not completely fit into one group, the best bet is to choose the one that most closely aligns with your body type. At this point, you probably might be wondering which gay Tribe you might belong to.

To decide, you must first be acquainted with most of the tribes. I’ll talk about each one briefly, as well as what it means to be a Twunk, for example, or a Poz. Hopefully, when you’re done reading, you’ll have no doubts as to which group you fall under and which ones you’re attracted to.

Gay Tribes Defined What They Mean and What Might Yours Be

Gym Bunny

Gym bunnies and jocks are similar, but while a jock enjoys being active for his own sake most of the time, a gym bunny’s greatest ambition is to maintain a body as close to perfect as possible.

To them,  an inch of extra fat is enough to cause for panic, and their favorite pastime is usually admiring themselves and taking selfies in front of mirrors. Gym bunnies are vain, so prepare to deal with that. A gym membership is probably the best gift you can give a gym Bunny.

Classic Muscle Gym Tank Top


Bears are probably one of the oldest gay tribes with a name and particular distinct traits. Bears emerged in the 1980s and have been a thriving community since then. The word is usually used to describe older men who are covered with hair facial and body hair. They are usually built with a large and stout frame. The ones with salt-and-pepper hair are sometimes called ‘grizzlies .’

More muscular bears are sometimes called ‘muscle bears,’ and they may sometimes differentiate themselves from the ones who have more fat than muscles. The main indicator of being a bear is being covered in body hair. For some people, the hairier, the better. Bears are usually dominant in nature.

Gay Bear Unisex Hoodie grindr tribes meaning - bear


The ‘leather’ subculture, as it relates to their gay community, is a bit. On one hand, it is not a tag that is unique to the community. As a matter of fact, it is conventionally accepted as a fetish community that anyone, gay or straight, can be a part of.

On the other hand, it is a rather prominent subculture in the gay community and therefore deserves recognition. The leather tribe encompasses people who are into leather as a kink. It may or may not involve BDSM. When it does, whips, chains, and restraints used during play are usually made of leather.

When it doesn’t,  it usually appears in the form of leather pants, boots, jackets, and other clothing worn to parties, festivals, and even pride parades. The biker subgroup can also be found under this group.

Leather Gay Police Officer Costume
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The discreet gay man is a bittersweet concept. On the one hand,  it’s an encouraging sign that they, at least, are not in the closet (as a matter of fact, some people consider closeted gay men part of a gay tribe). However, a deeper look into the cause of the secrecy might reveal some heartwrenching reasons. Psychoanalysis aside, though, the discreet gay values his privacy.

His pictures are usually strategically cropped, usually, with his face, birthmarks, and any other identifying details cropped out. His Grindr profile is carefully devoid of any overly personal information,  and it might take weeks or even months of getting to know you before he decides to meet in person. Sometimes, an in-person meeting may not be on the table,  and you’ll have to make do with hurried phone calls and texts.

Discreet Gay Man


Otters are another tribe of gay men that are characterized by hair and scruff, but unlike bears, they are usually younger and leaner. They are usually more active and typically filled with a sense of fun and adventure.

Otters are typically smaller than bears and like to dress super casually and outdoorsy. Otters and bears are usually found together, and although they belong to different communities, they sometimes attend the same parties and meet-ups. The term emerged as an offshoot of bears, as otters are usually leaner and hairy. As with other gay tribes, the otters have a few flags with which they represent themselves. Most of them usually feature a paw print. As otters grow older, they may become bears. 

Gay Otter T-Shirt grindr tribes meaning - otter


If you’re a gay who prefers to remain clean-shaven, 

wears nice clothes and gets a manicure at least once a month, you probably belong to this category. And while those characteristics might not sound substantial enough to build an entire community off of, you’d be surprised. The clean-cut gay keeps his hair short and neatly styled. They are usually into vanilla-style sex, with no weird or questionable fetishism.

They’re usually not up for random hookups and dating with the intent of forming a faithful, monogamous relationship with their partner. Condoms are a must, and a clean-cut bottom is likely to douche before they have sex. Alcohol and drugs are usually not their things. 

Clean Cut Gay Man On Dating App


Wolves are sometimes described as what otters become when they grow older, but some younger people also identify as wolves. They are usually lean and muscular, with a lot of hair, usually on their arms, legs, and chest; wolves are usually confident and assertive.

They differ from bears in the fact that they are usually leaner and from otters in the fact that they are usually hairier. Wolf pride flags usually consist of brown, beige, grays, and whites, with usually a Wolf paw or outline of a Wolf in one corner. There is no official flag, but several variations exist. Wolves usually have some sort of facial hair.

Gay Wolf Unisex Hoodie - grindr tribes meaning - wolf
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The chub tribe deserves a mention, if only to give them the recognition and appreciation they’ve been denied for a while. The gay community can sometimes be superficial, valuing lean, sculpted bodies and disregarding the more natural, tubby ones.

Chub describes younger gays who have love handles instead of abs; chubby cheeks instead of chiseled cheekbones. Chubs are usually laid back a day easygoing, and fun to be around a lot of the time. They are usually shaved and hairless.

Chubby Gay Man At Pride Parade


The word ‘twink’ has entered everyday lingo. It is usually used to describe a slender, small-statured gay man without body hair and with boyish features. Although it has sometimes been used in a derogatory manner, especially by heterosexuals, members of the twink community usually use it to describe themselves for quite a while now.

Twinks can typically be found in the company of bigger, older men like daddies or bears. They are usually smooth-shaven and thin, and even the ones who are not so young have a truthful appearance. Twinks are usually expected to be bottoms, although some of them turn out to be tops. The name Twink may have originated from the popular snack cake Twinkie – but much like a twinks age, we can never really be sure…

Twink Unisex T-Shirt grindr tribes meaning - Twink (1)


It’s difficult to exaggerate the impact of HIV/AIDS on the gay community. A whole generation of gay else’s was lost, and it added an extra layer of stigma and ostracization to a community that was already living on the sidelines and still struggling for recognition.

While it was later discovered that the virus was not exclusive to gay people as was previously thought, that prejudice remained, and even within the gay community, there is still a reluctance to associate with people who are HIV-positive. The term ‘poz’ is used by people living with the virus to signal their status. Poz-friendly, on the other hand, refers to people who are open to pursuing relationships ships with HIV-positive people,  even though they themselves may not be.

Before you label yourself as Poz-friendly, though, be sure to get rid of any subconscious biases and prejudices you might hold to avoid causing offense.

Positive & Proud Gay Man


From the name, you can probably guess that the word ‘twunk’ is somehow related to ‘twink,’ and you’d be right. The word is coined from ‘twink’ and ‘hunk .’A Twunk usually combines the youthful features of a twink with a lean but muscled body.

Some twinks evolve into twinks as they grow older and their bodies change. Twinks are more likely to be tops than twinks. The term is less common than its more popular root words, and you’re not likely to hear it as much, especially in these modern times.

Twunk Unisex T-Shirt grindr tribes meaning - twunk


Jock status is often seen as the Holy Grail of the gay community: highly sought-after and inaccessible to all but the most determined of gays. As the name implies, jockstraps are gay men who dedicate themselves to active sports. They are usually attractive, muscular men without much body fat. You can often find them rocking a chiseled set of abs.

Jocks are often thrillseekers and can be found chasing the next high through extreme sports. They can sometimes be stereotyped as vain and overly invested in their body image, but this is not always the case. The term ‘jock’ can have negative connotations in the straight community,  but gay jocks usually proudly wear the title.

Bondage Harness + Jockstrap Set (2 Piece Outfit)


Rugged is the opposite of clean-cut and is more of an umbrella tribe that can encompass a number of communities, including otter, wolf, and even jock. Rugged simply means a little rough around the ages. It can be used to describe an outdoors type who practically lives in hiking boots, jeans, and plaid shirts. A rugged gay man is happiest going fishing, hunting, or taking long hikes through the woods.

They are very active and, in the process, might be a little neglectful of their personal appearance, growing their beard out and forgetting to trim their nails once in a while. It’s all part of their charm, though. They are usually very ripped as a result of all their activities.

Rugged Gay Man


The trans tribe category is regarded as reductive by some, especially as it can seem like it ‘others’ trans gays, but some members of the community also find it helpful to be able to identify their fellow trans gays.

The trans community is well-established, with specific flags and colors that are easily identifiable. Trans folks of all orientations are usually wary of chasers – people who fetishize them for their transness -so it’s important to not come on all creepy and objectifying if you’re trying to have a relationship with one. Acknowledge their trans identity,  but it should not be the primary reason why you’re dating them.

Trans And Proud Eco Tote Bag grindr tribes meaning - trans


Daddy is one of the few tribes that is a unique term specific to the queer community. The word daddy usually calls to mind an older, sophisticated man, perhaps with distinguished silver streaks at his temples, and a taste for Shakespeare and the opera. It’s exactly the same thing, in this case, but in gay. Daddies are usually in the forty-plus range, depending on how distinguished they look.

They are usually dapper, with an impeccable sense of style and a tongue that can say complicated luxury brands like Vacheron Constantin and Brunello Cucinelli without stumbling over a single syllable. For gays who have no problem dating men older than them, daddies are ideal partners. Taking a few culture and etiquette classes before you hook up with one is probably a good idea if you’re looking to make a good impression.

Daddy Dom 3:4 Sleeve Raglan Shirt


A geek can technically be called the opposite of a jock. 

While a jock is into sports and adrenaline-raising activities, a geek is more likely to be found reading a good book or playing a game like chess. The quintessential picture of a geek is a young, clean-shaven guy with hair that keeps flopping into his face, wearing a Star Trek-themed t-shirt and glasses that make him look cuter. This doesn’t mean you won’t find them wearing a hot AF gay jockstrap (at least in our experience…).

Ignore the looks though; geeks often have a sharp wit, and make up for their slight holiday and thin arms with a cutting tongue that can reduce even the bravest of jocks to tears. Annoy them at your own peril. Take a geek to a museum or bookshop for a date, and they’ll be proposing to you within the week.

Gay Geek Organic Cotton Apron
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