A Brief History of Gooning
“I’ve tried to research the history of gooning a bit,” said a gooner who goes by Gooner-Tay,* and who runs a small but vibrant gooning forum. “But because of the underground nature of this kink, not much is widely known or agreed upon,” even among gooning aficionados.
Broadly, many folks suspect the practice of repeatedly reaching the edge of orgasm in the pursuit of what we now know as the goon state predates the emergence of the term gooning. No one’s sure when, where, or why someone first coined or popularized that term to describe the practice. But many folks cite a 2005 Urban Dictionary definition of gooning—“getting so into masturbating, or jacking off, that the dude becomes a total goon; becomes stupid on his own cock”—as the earliest documentation of the term in roughly its modern usage. It draws on goon’s early 20th century American slang meaning, a dumb person, and puts a focus on what people who are deep in the goon state often look like: Slack-jawed and vacant, as unto a stereotypical goon.
This focus on the image of a dumb goon seems to reflect a widespread (but not universal) focus that’s developed among gooners on goon face, a visual representation of a person’s descent into the all-consuming goon state—of the loss of their senses and awareness. It usually involves going cross eyed and letting one’s mouth hang open, their tongue hanging out and spit running down it or out of the corner of their lips, and is often accompanied by supposedly mindless babbling. (Some people just make noises like grunts and yips, Anton, a gooner who shares gooning content with well over 10,000 social media followers, explained, but others “repeat genital-focused phrases, such as ‘I love my penis,’ which they sometimes stylize as ‘penus’”.) Several gooners insist that they make this face, and these sounds, without thinking about it. But others acknowledge that they consciously affect a goon face, because playing the part of the goon helps them let go of their minds and inhibitions and get into the goon state. Some even buy mouth guards to help them “retract their cheeks,” Anton added, which makes “making gooning faces more comfortable and different,” more extreme than usual.
The great purge of Tumblr of 2018 seemingly wiped out several key early gooning communities, robbing us of a vital history. But a number of gooners we spoke to said they first encountered the term between 2016 and 2019, which suggests that’s when it had a solid enough meaning and base to make gooning a thing, rather than one niche term for an older, unnamed practice. They stumbled on gooning as a term, idea, and activity while exploring other kinks, fetishes, and sex acts there were interested in at the time, such as edging, jerk-off instructions (JOI), and bating, as well as hypnosis into primal or vulnerable states, humiliation and degradation concerning one’s body or sexuality, and all sorts of submission and domination (dom/sub) play and dynamics.
Most people Zipper spoke to seemed to assume that the kink that led them down a rabbit hole to gooning was the one that inspired or incubated the practice, and built so or joined communities focusing on that kink as integral to the meaning and practice of gooning. But others, like Gunnar, don’t really see gooning as its own distinct kink. Instead, he views it as “a practice that can be applied” to any type of sexual activity. Sally similarly describes gooning “an umbrella” term for a ton of distinct kink-intersecting approaches to reaching the goon state.
Gooning seemingly took off as a digital culture thing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several folks Zipper spoke to explained that, during the lockdowns, they wanted to find new ways to masturbate—to make solo sex more fulfilling and interesting. They inevitably stumbled across gooning and, rather than explore it through the lens of another kink or fetish, started searching for “gooning” specifically, then joined the communities that felt right to them.
“While in lockdown… I found a popper training video,” Anton recalled. “There were some guys masturbating and just huffing poppers. No big deal. But there were also some guys doing stuff I had never seen, which made me both confused and horny. There was a suggested video with the word ‘gooning’ in it, so I clicked, and there was this guy with ball stretchers masturbating while he was grunting and rolling his eyes. I found that video extremely hot and kept digging for more of that content—which at the time was still very niche. It was difficult to find any gooning videos on regular porn sites. So I went on Twitter to discover a whole gooning community.”
The rapid explosion of interest in gooning in the last few years has led to attempts at mass commodification that flatten out everything interesting about gooning. Goddess Lola Minaj, who describes herself as a goonette and makes content for gooners, complains about the overuse of the “gooning” tag for “simple stroke and blow” videos. And Gooner-Tay laments the rise of OnlyFans accounts and social media bots that overuse the term goon, but don’t seem to understand it. “The syntax and context is all wrong,” he noted. “Gooners don’t ‘goon girls. They don’t ‘goon on tits.’”
But for now, this influx of faux gooning content hasn’t made much of a dent among consumers, especially in the gooning community, which remains as wonderfully wild and diverse as ever.