Chicken (gay slang)

This article is about a slang term for gay men. For other uses, see Chicken (disambiguation).

Chicken can be used, usually by gay men referring to other gay men, to mean a young gay man or young-appearing gay man—stereotypically describing an adolescent or pre-adolescent youth.

Author Bruce Rodgers defines the term as "1. any boy under the age of consent, heterosexual, fair of face, and unfamiliar with homosexuality ("So many chickens were flapping around that I thought we were touring Colonel Sanders' plantation”) 2. juvenile, youthful, young-looking."[1] Others have defined it as a young man who engages in sex for money or favors.[2]

In the subculture of the gay community which uses handkerchiefs or bandannas as a code, people who identify as "Chicken" wear a Kewpie doll in their left back pocket. Those who are interested in young men - referred to as chickenhawks—are denoted in the hanky code as wearing one on the right.[3]

The term has existed in the gay vernacular for many decades, and is still used today. David Henry Sterry, a former prostitute turned actor and director, titled his 2002 memoir, Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent.[4] Author Philip Herbst traces its origin to the 19th century, where it was used to describe the youngest sailors on a ship, who were often used for sexual purposes.[5]

See also


  1. Rodgers, Bruce, “Gay Talk: A (Sometimes Outrageous) Dictionary of Gay Slang” (Formerly entitled The Queens’ Vernacular); page 44; Parragon Books, New York, 1972
  2. Peak, D. R.; Review: Chicken,Self-portrait of a Young Man for Rent;; Retrieved on 2007-12-01
  3. Gay Hankie Codes; Retrieved on 2007-12-01
  4. Maurer, Daniel; GRILLING THE CHICKEN: Q&A WITH DAVID STERRY, FORMER RENT BOY; 2005-12-01; Retrieved on 2007-12-01
  5. Herbst, Philip; Wimmin, Wimps & Wallflowers: An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Gender and Sexual Orientation Bias in the United States; Intercultural Press (February 2001); Retrieved on 2007-12-01

External links

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