My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

Twinks and bears and thugs, oh my

by Paul Bellini

Recently, I shot a video segment for My Gay Toronto at Glad Day Bookshop. In the segment, store manager Scott Dagostino shows me various coffee table books featuring unclad hunks. After musing over books about sexy redheads and old beefcake pix from the 50s, I draw his attention to a book called Dominicanos. Specifically, I ask to see the “hot thug” on the cover of the book. For the purposes of discussion, I am including a picture of the book’s cover.

Apparently, a reader was offended by what was perceived as a racial slur. I hate having to defend myself against such a silly accusation, but I shall. For the record, the dictionary definition of ‘thug’ is “a violent person, particularly a criminal.” If it has any racial component at all, it is in the word’s Hindi origins. In modern times, ‘thug’ is used to describe tough dudes covered in tats, and includes other anti-social behaviour such as smoking, sagging and shirtlessness. Nowhere does it define the word in racial terms. “Thug” is a stereotype, to be sure, but not a racial one. 

It may be true that the modern interpretation of “thug” was popularized by Tupac Shakur, but it is also true that thugs can be caucasian, Asian, Inuit, even female. So to call me out for a racial slur is simply unfair. What is it about so many gay men, who have so much time on their hands, that all they can do is troll the internet looking for presumed discrimination? When I looked at the cover of Dominicanos, I saw a hot guy smoking, with tattoos, and looking like he could beat the shit out of me. It’s hot, but his race or ethnic identity has nothing to do with it. 

“Thug” is a category used in gay porn circles, no different from the term ‘scally’ to describe British toughies. Indeed, it is no different from distinctions like ‘twink’ or ‘bear’ which we all use all the time. About the only thing I can declare is that I find the thug look hot, and I know that I’m not the only one. So dear readers, please think twice before accusing someone else of a racial slur, lest you reveal your own intellectual deficits.