When Did “Otter” Become a Thing?

A text from a good friend (and ex-boyfriend actually) of mine texted me this afternoon – accompanied by the picture in question.

Someone called me an otter. What does that even mean and when did “otter” become a thing lol. Based on that picture do I qualify as an otter? I think they’re real cute when the sleep and hold hands

Which really got me thinking. Well played, sir, well played. Way to spark an intellectual conversation and make me think. And on a Friday of all days too.

  • Where do all these terms come from?
  • Who thinks this shit up?
  • What’s really in a name after all?

We’re a weird species, us gays. We have a name for everyone. I get it. We’re judgmental. We hate to be classified as one thing – especially as “gay” in general for the most part – and try to break the mold…only to box ourselves into another one.

So here goes nothing…

JOCK: Self-explanatory. Think sports player. Done. Makes sense. No sense dwelling on this one (plus I’m at the office and can’t be doing too much pondering/visualizing on this one…)

TWINK: Skinny. Sometimes eating-disorder-skinny. Typically hairless. 18-25 is an appropriate age range for a general classification of this look. Or younger if you’re my old roommate. Oh whoops? But really…where does the word “twink” come from? Dumb.

BEAR: Okay. I get it. You’re large. You’re hairy. You’re like a grizzly hear. Now why does a bear “woof” when they’re interested in you? I can’t tell you how many times a bear has woofed (literally barked “woof” across the bar) at me when I bartended during college – and after on several occasions when I’ve been out. Interesting.

OTTER: A thin, not-so-hairy version of a bear. You’ll see the photo my ex sent me next to the definition of this in the Webster’s Gay Dictionary of the World. But still…an “otter”…really? Who comes up with this shit?

I mean honestly…who sat down and was like “Today I’m going to name the gays. You look like a grizzly bear so I’ll call you a bear, but since you’re confused all the time, feel free to say “woof” so everyone knows you’re missing some brain cells and have no idea what a bear says.” I mean, the last I knew a bear growls…but then again, they’re usually sleeping when I’m at the zoo and (thankfully) I’ve yet to see one in the wild – partially because I’m allergic to nature unless we’re talking about getting drunk on a patio or at the beach. Then I approve wholeheartedly of nature.

I understand jocks. I kind of get twinks. I ultimately understand bears, just not the whole “woof” aspect that’s associated with it.

But “otters” are a whole different realm. How in the hell does a gay resemble an otter? Swimmers are typically hairless for speed (and the ever-important aesthetic aspect that goes along with successfully rocking a Speedo). Real otters swim. Gay otters might, but I still don’t get it. Shouldn’t gays who swim be the ones termed otter?

So on that note, I’m going to sit here and ponder some more as to why we insist on being such judgmental, must-fit-into-a-box animals. Do I have a good answer for my ex as to what an otter is? Well, not really. But I do know that he fits the bill according to the gay definition of it. But where does the term “otter” come from and why the hell is an otter an otter? I have no idea. Do I care? Nope. All I know is that I couldn’t agree more that otters look cute when they sleep and hold hands…and that’s all that really matters.

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