A chickenhawk or chicken hawk is slang used in American and British gay culture to denote older males who prefer younger males for partners, who may less often be called "chickens",[1] i.e. the prey of the chickenhawk.[2] Other variations include chicken queen[3] and chicken plucker.[2]

It is sometimes used as a disparaging vulgarity within the LGBT community, or seen as a sexual slur against people in that community. The label can also be applied to a man who seeks partners with the look of someone young, regardless of their target's age.[4][5]

Much less frequently, "chickenhawk" indicates a man who uses underage boys for his sexual pleasure. The usage was publicized by members of the controversial group NAMBLA in the 1994 documentary film Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys,[6] although Time magazine reported it in this sense in 1975.[3]

The use and significance of this term have been the subject of academic discussions [7][8] as well as popular reports.


  • "Stephen Holden of the New York Times got pretty darn perturbed about Larry Clark’s Wassup Rockers, branding it a “chicken hawk” movie. It can’t be denied that Clark’s latest opus serves up the requisite lot of bare-chested teen boys, a twink (gay slang) motif going back to Clark’s 1971 photo classic, Tulsa. Yet I found it hard to get mad at Wassup Rockers, which opens this Friday at the Kendall Square. Its grimy-old-man ogling seems harmless — Clark’s feelings for his underage cast appear more affectionate and avuncular than exploitative."[9]
  • "They were joined onstage by Vance Nichols, who plays Nicholas, a male twink who’s more than a bit dim witted; Jon Lasister (Bobby), the stage manager of the drag show; Steven Greiner (Madeline McCray) who plays the role of Tony, drag diva Miss Tiki Torchsong; and Danny Proctor (Ray) who’s a chicken hawk club owner."[10]
  • "Where have we heard this before? Blame it on drugs and booze. I have trouble text messaging while sober. But now we are hearing that Congressman Mark Foley was a master of the BlackBerry as an alcoholic. It appears that for the powerful and important Foley, the effects of alcoholism were quite selective: freeing only his inner Chicken Hawk."[11]

See also


  1. This term is more common in the UK; the more common term in the US is twink..
  2. 2.0 2.1 Donald F. Reuter (2006). Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext, and the Sublime. St. Martin's Griffin. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Crossing Signals", Time magazine, September 8 1975. Retrieved on 2007-07-16. 
  4. "Shades of Rainbow; From both the Gay & Lesbian Perspective", Outcomebuffalo. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. "Chicken: A younger, new-to-the-scene, typically attractive gay male. Chicken Hawk: An older gay male that seeks out Chickens." 
  5. "Culture and Family Issues", Gay Talk: A (Sometimes Outrageous) Dictionary of Gay Slang. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. "chicken (fr naut [from nautical] chicken = a young recruit // sl [slang] usu [usually] in negative context as “You’re no spring chicken”) 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 Sander’s (sic) plantation” 2. juvenile, youthful, young-looking. Syn: chicken-looking (“You’re chicken-looking enough to pose for Maypo cereal boxes”); tender 3. (rare, kwn LV [known in Las Vegas], mid ’60s) to [sodomize] a pretty boy." 
  6. Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys at the Internet Movie Database
  7. Adam, Barry D. (2000) "Age Preferences among Gay and Bisexual Men", GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6(3):413–33
  8. Template:PDFlink by Jonathan Alexander, Barclay Barrios, Samantha Blackmon, Angela Crow, Keith Dorwick, Jacqueline Rhodes, and Randal Woodland
  9. Chicken hawk? — Larry Clark’s Wassup Rockers, Gerald Peary, The Phoenix, July, 2006
  10. Sitcom opens to full house at Play, Out & About, 2006
  11. The geezer and the page boy, Boulder Weekly, 2005

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