Homosexuality in the bear scene

I

Impartial

Guest
I for one am bemused and have a morbid fear by this sub culture of the gay community, can someone please explain its attraction.

The bear community is a subculture in the gay community. Bears are gay and bisexual men with stocky or heavyset builds, and usually have hairy bodies and facial hair. Bears often exhibit an outwardly masculine appearance. Some bears place great importance on presenting a hyper-masculine image and shun interaction with men who display effeminate style and mannerisms. Bears are typically contrasted with twinks.

There is much debate as to the definition of a bear, with some saying that anyone who identifies themselves as a bear is a bear, and others arguing that bears must have certain physical characteristics, such as a stocky build, hairy chest, and facial hair.

Contents [hide]
1 Origins and behavior
2 References in pop culture
2.1 Television
2.2 Books
2.3 Periodicals
2.4 Film
3 Terminology
4 Bear Codes
5 See also
6 External links

[edit]
Origins and behavior
The bear community originated in San Francisco in the 1970s as an outgrowth of the leather and "girth and mirth" communities. It was created by men who felt that mainstream gay culture was unwelcoming to men who did not fit a particular bodily norm (thin, hairless, and young). In turn, some people both in and out of the bear community criticize it as tending to exclude people who do not fit into their own standards of what a "real man" is.

Some bears dissociate themselves from the gay community at large; bears often have their own local bars and clubs, and there are many social events geared towards bears where they can socialize with other members of the bear community. Some of these events, often referred to as "bear gatherings" or "bear runs," have beauty pageants where titles and sashes (some made of leather) are given out to winners. (Example: "Mr. Washington, D.C. Bear, 2002.")

Bears marching in San Francisco Pride 2004.The bear community has spread all over the world, with bear clubs in North America, Australia, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Bear clubs often serve as social and sexual networks for older, hairier, heavier gay and bisexual men, and members contribute to their local gay communities through fundraising and other functions. Bear events are common in those areas and lots of flux and interaction occur between members of the different communities.

[edit]
References in pop culture
Though not generally widely known outside of the gay community, the "bear" concept has surfaced in pop culture.

[edit]
Television
On the American television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a stocky and hairy man receiving a makeover was informed by one of the hosts that, "In our community, you would be called a cub!"
In The Simpsons episode "Three Gays of the Condo", Homer runs into Waylon Smithers in the gay part of town; one of Smithers' friends asks, "Hey Waylon, who's the bear? Woof!"
In American Wedding, a character (appropriately named Bear) at a gay bar flirts with Stifler, after Stifler growls at him. The 'woof' can be heard.
In the British television show Absolutely Fabulous, during the episode entitled "Gay", the character of Bo (Mo Gaffney) attempts to put her husband Marshall's potential homosexual tendencies to the test by setting him up on a date with a "daddy bear".
The Kids in the Hall Season 5 episode 2 1994, a skit called Grizzly showed Kevin McDonnald being "attacked by a bear" in a gay bar and surviving by flashing back to his Boy Scout training, eventually "playing dead". transcript
In The L Word, season three's episode 2 (Lost Weekend), characters Jenny and Moira enter a club's "Bear Night" and dance among large, bearded men.
[edit]
Books
Les K. Wright edited two nonfiction anthologies, The Bear Book: Readings in the History and Evolution of a Gay Male Subculture (1997, ISBN 1560238909), and The Bear Book 2 (2001, ISBN 1560231653), both from Haworth Press.
Ray Kampf authored The Bear Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Those Who Are Husky, Hairy and Homosexual, and Those Who Love 'Em (2000, ISBN 1560239972).
Ron Jackson Suresha authored a 2002 nonfiction anthology, Bears on Bears: Interviews & Discussions (ISBN 1555835783), 25 dialogues with 57 bear-identified men and bear-lovers from around the world, including interviews with comedian Bruce Vilanch, porn model Jack Radcliffe, and Survivor star Richard Hatch. Suresha edited two fiction anthologies, Bearotica (2002, ISBN 1555835775), and Bear Lust (2004, ISBN 1555838189), also published by Alyson Publications.
Bear Like Me a 2003 novel by Jonathan Cohen (ISBN 1560234180), Southern Tier Editions (Fiction)
In the book I'm A Believer by Jessica Adams (ISBN 0312321074), one of the central characters is a bear.
More Bear Cookin': Bigger and Better (ISBN 1560233265) a 2005 cookbook by PJ Gray, illustrated by Terry J
[edit]
Periodicals
In August 2003, weblogger Andrew Sullivan acknowledged himself a bear in an article on the bear community for Salon.com.
A Bear's Life 2005, magazine, Bear Brother's Enterprises Ltd. [1]
[edit]
Film
Cachorro (Bear Cub), dir. Miguel Abaladejo, Spain, 2004 website (Official Website, Spanish) website (Official Website, English)
website (IMDb main details page)

A Dirty Shame, dir. John Waters, U.S., 2004 - film that features men from the bear scene, although there has been some debate whether this is a positive portrayal
There are also many short films about bears which can be seen in film festivals (gay/queer film festivals as well as local/international film festivals) including:

Men on Fur on Men, dirs. Martin Borden and Clark Niklolai, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 8 mins.
A Bear’s Story, dir. Vincent Mtzlpick, US, 2003, video, 21 mins Website.
Porn Proof, dir. Chris Street, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 3 mins.
More Than Hair Care Products, dir. Pendra Wilson, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 5 mins.
Hard Fat, dir. Frederic Moffet, Canada, 2001, video, 23 mins.
Lazy Bear 2002, dir. Greg Garcia, US, 2002, DVD, 18 mins.
Making of “A Bear’s Story”, dir. Village TV, US, 2003, video, 7 mins.
My Heart the Cook, dirs. Jerry McCadden and Clark Nikolai, Canada, 2001, miniDV, 2 mins.
[edit]
Terminology
Some terminology relating to the bear community includes:

bear - a man with a beard or van Dyck, typically with a hairy chest and body and a stocky or heavyset build; often older (or older looking) and displaying a masculine appearance and mannerisms.
chaser - a term that refers to someone who is not a bear, cub, or otter, but is sexually or romantically attracted to them (this term is often used in various communities to describe an outsider who has sexual attraction to people within that community).
cub - a younger (or younger looking) version of a bear, typically but not always with a smaller frame. The term is sometimes used to imply the passive partner in a relationship.
daddybear - is an older more husky guy sometimes looking for a daddy/son relationship or a Bearcub.
panda bear - an Asian bear.
muscle bear - a muscular bear.
muscle cub - a muscular cub.
otter - a man who is hairy, but is not large or stocky - typically thinner, or with lean muscle.
papa bear - see daddybear
polar bear - is an older guy with white or grey fur/beard.
pocket bear - shorter bear.
manatee - heavyset, hairless bear (usually derogatory)
sugar bear - a "sugar daddy" bear; a bear who wants the company of a younger or more traditionally attractive male or "chaser" in exchange for favors/gifts
woof! - A greeting sometimes used when a bear spots another bear in public and wants to express physical attraction. He will make a growling noise ("Grrrr!") or say "Woof!"
fluffy - A camp or effeminate bear (also sometimes used as a derogatory name for bears)
[edit]
Bear Codes
"Bear codes" are sometimes used in e-mail (often as part of a signature block), web postings, and online profiles to identify various bear-related attributes of the author or poster. See, e.g., "The Bear Codes" on the Resources for Bears Web site. A sample bear code is:

B4 s- m g++ w d+c t+ f+ k+ r e+(+?)
Bear Code may be the earliest example of Internet self-classification codes. Familiarity with this classification system is concentrated in the subcommunity of bears who were early adopters of Internet communications, and is not widespread within the general community.

[edit]
See also
Chubby culture
Homosexuality
Masculinity
Homomasculinity
Normal, Ohio
Sexual orientation
[edit]
External links
Resources for Bears
Bear Like Me - the first bear novel
Ron Jackson Suresha, author, Bears on Bears; and editor, Bearotica & Bear Lust
"I am bear, hear me roar," Andrew Sullivan's article
Brief Salon article by Camille Paglia on bears
A Bear's Life magazine
New Jersey Area Bears Club.
 
?

+++++++++

Guest
I dunno if this was posted in jest or not, but here goes...

I'm a heavyset, hairy (masculine) guy with facial hair. And I usually only go for guys who are of a similar nature.

I've wrestled a lot with the whole bear scene. I don't feel the need to belong to any particular homosexual sub-culture, and I especially don't feel comfortable describing myself as a bear despite my appearance and my preference in guys. There's a lot of aspects of the bear culture that just don't interest me in the slightest... first and foremost the whole idea of having to call myself a bear/cub/whatever, the relationships with huge age differences (daddy and son), the leather. And if I may be superficial for a second, most bears don't really attract me- I don't want a date with a guy who looks like he worked on my car last weekend. If that's what makes people happy, more power to them. I'll do without.

Most of the "alternative" people I know still say I'd fall into the bear category, though. And sadly, most of the guys I've seen have done the same. So I don't know. I really don't like labels.
 
D

dazzak

Guest
I don't know why

But I thought you were an American girl.
 
C

Codreanu

Guest
"men may become hairy as bears..."

"men may become hairy as bears, if such is their fancy, without fear of excommunication or deprivation of their political rights" -- Charles Mackay

Such is the signature of one of the "bears" (yes, there are several) on the Jandek list. Who would have thought JANDEK would have such a fanbase.

Do they know something we don't?
http://tisue.net/jandek/images/covers/0776.jpg
(Jandek - "The Door Behind" (album cover))
 
Q

Quentin Jon

Guest
ah now this picture of freeyourself...

now i understand what the bear reference on freeyourselfs tshirt means

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v180/diverman/rev.jpg

> I for one am bemused and have a morbid fear by this sub culture of the gay
> community, can someone please explain its attraction.

> The bear community is a subculture in the gay community. Bears are gay and
> bisexual men with stocky or heavyset builds, and usually have hairy bodies
> and facial hair. Bears often exhibit an outwardly masculine appearance.
> Some bears place great importance on presenting a hyper-masculine image
> and shun interaction with men who display effeminate style and mannerisms.
> Bears are typically contrasted with twinks.

> There is much debate as to the definition of a bear, with some saying that
> anyone who identifies themselves as a bear is a bear, and others arguing
> that bears must have certain physical characteristics, such as a stocky
> build, hairy chest, and facial hair.

> Contents [hide]
> 1 Origins and behavior
> 2 References in pop culture
> 2.1 Television
> 2.2 Books
> 2.3 Periodicals
> 2.4 Film
> 3 Terminology
> 4 Bear Codes
> 5 See also
> 6 External links

> [edit]
> Origins and behavior
> The bear community originated in San Francisco in the 1970s as an
> outgrowth of the leather and "girth and mirth" communities. It
> was created by men who felt that mainstream gay culture was unwelcoming to
> men who did not fit a particular bodily norm (thin, hairless, and young).
> In turn, some people both in and out of the bear community criticize it as
> tending to exclude people who do not fit into their own standards of what
> a "real man" is.

> Some bears dissociate themselves from the gay community at large; bears
> often have their own local bars and clubs, and there are many social
> events geared towards bears where they can socialize with other members of
> the bear community. Some of these events, often referred to as "bear
> gatherings" or "bear runs," have beauty pageants where
> titles and sashes (some made of leather) are given out to winners.
> (Example: "Mr. Washington, D.C. Bear, 2002.")

> Bears marching in San Francisco Pride 2004.The bear community has spread
> all over the world, with bear clubs in North America, Australia, Europe,
> Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Bear clubs often serve as social and
> sexual networks for older, hairier, heavier gay and bisexual men, and
> members contribute to their local gay communities through fundraising and
> other functions. Bear events are common in those areas and lots of flux
> and interaction occur between members of the different communities.

> [edit]
> References in pop culture
> Though not generally widely known outside of the gay community, the
> "bear" concept has surfaced in pop culture.

> [edit]
> Television
> On the American television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a stocky
> and hairy man receiving a makeover was informed by one of the hosts that,
> "In our community, you would be called a cub!"
> In The Simpsons episode "Three Gays of the Condo", Homer runs
> into Waylon Smithers in the gay part of town; one of Smithers' friends
> asks, "Hey Waylon, who's the bear? Woof!"
> In American Wedding, a character (appropriately named Bear) at a gay bar
> flirts with Stifler, after Stifler growls at him. The 'woof' can be heard.
> In the British television show Absolutely Fabulous, during the episode
> entitled "Gay", the character of Bo (Mo Gaffney) attempts to put
> her husband Marshall's potential homosexual tendencies to the test by
> setting him up on a date with a "daddy bear".
> The Kids in the Hall Season 5 episode 2 1994, a skit called Grizzly showed
> Kevin McDonnald being "attacked by a bear" in a gay bar and
> surviving by flashing back to his Boy Scout training, eventually
> "playing dead". transcript
> In The L Word, season three's episode 2 (Lost Weekend), characters Jenny
> and Moira enter a club's "Bear Night" and dance among large,
> bearded men.
> [edit]
> Books
> Les K. Wright edited two nonfiction anthologies, The Bear Book: Readings
> in the History and Evolution of a Gay Male Subculture (1997, ISBN
> 1560238909), and The Bear Book 2 (2001, ISBN 1560231653), both from
> Haworth Press.
> Ray Kampf authored The Bear Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Those Who
> Are Husky, Hairy and Homosexual, and Those Who Love 'Em (2000, ISBN
> 1560239972).
> Ron Jackson Suresha authored a 2002 nonfiction anthology, Bears on Bears:
> Interviews & Discussions (ISBN 1555835783), 25 dialogues with 57
> bear-identified men and bear-lovers from around the world, including
> interviews with comedian Bruce Vilanch, porn model Jack Radcliffe, and
> Survivor star Richard Hatch. Suresha edited two fiction anthologies,
> Bearotica (2002, ISBN 1555835775), and Bear Lust (2004, ISBN 1555838189),
> also published by Alyson Publications.
> Bear Like Me a 2003 novel by Jonathan Cohen (ISBN 1560234180), Southern
> Tier Editions (Fiction)
> In the book I'm A Believer by Jessica Adams (ISBN 0312321074), one of the
> central characters is a bear.
> More Bear Cookin': Bigger and Better (ISBN 1560233265) a 2005 cookbook by
> PJ Gray, illustrated by Terry J
> [edit]
> Periodicals
> In August 2003, weblogger Andrew Sullivan acknowledged himself a bear in
> an article on the bear community for Salon.com.
> A Bear's Life 2005, magazine, Bear Brother's Enterprises Ltd. [1]
> [edit]
> Film
> Cachorro (Bear Cub), dir. Miguel Abaladejo, Spain, 2004 website (Official
> Website, Spanish) website (Official Website, English)
> website (IMDb main details page)

> A Dirty Shame, dir. John Waters, U.S., 2004 - film that features men from
> the bear scene, although there has been some debate whether this is a
> positive portrayal
> There are also many short films about bears which can be seen in film
> festivals (gay/queer film festivals as well as local/international film
> festivals) including:

> Men on Fur on Men, dirs. Martin Borden and Clark Niklolai, Canada, 2003,
> miniDV, 8 mins.
> A Bear’s Story, dir. Vincent Mtzlpick, US, 2003, video, 21 mins Website.
> Porn Proof, dir. Chris Street, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 3 mins.
> More Than Hair Care Products, dir. Pendra Wilson, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 5
> mins.
> Hard Fat, dir. Frederic Moffet, Canada, 2001, video, 23 mins.
> Lazy Bear 2002, dir. Greg Garcia, US, 2002, DVD, 18 mins.
> Making of “A Bear’s Story”, dir. Village TV, US, 2003, video, 7 mins.
> My Heart the Cook, dirs. Jerry McCadden and Clark Nikolai, Canada, 2001,
> miniDV, 2 mins.
> [edit]
> Terminology
> Some terminology relating to the bear community includes:

> bear - a man with a beard or van Dyck, typically with a hairy chest and
> body and a stocky or heavyset build; often older (or older looking) and
> displaying a masculine appearance and mannerisms.
> chaser - a term that refers to someone who is not a bear, cub, or otter,
> but is sexually or romantically attracted to them (this term is often used
> in various communities to describe an outsider who has sexual attraction
> to people within that community).
> cub - a younger (or younger looking) version of a bear, typically but not
> always with a smaller frame. The term is sometimes used to imply the
> passive partner in a relationship.
> daddybear - is an older more husky guy sometimes looking for a daddy/son
> relationship or a Bearcub.
> panda bear - an Asian bear.
> muscle bear - a muscular bear.
> muscle cub - a muscular cub.
> otter - a man who is hairy, but is not large or stocky - typically
> thinner, or with lean muscle.
> papa bear - see daddybear
> polar bear - is an older guy with white or grey fur/beard.
> pocket bear - shorter bear.
> manatee - heavyset, hairless bear (usually derogatory)
> sugar bear - a "sugar daddy" bear; a bear who wants the company
> of a younger or more traditionally attractive male or "chaser"
> in exchange for favors/gifts
> woof! - A greeting sometimes used when a bear spots another bear in public
> and wants to express physical attraction. He will make a growling noise
> ("Grrrr!") or say "Woof!"
> fluffy - A camp or effeminate bear (also sometimes used as a derogatory
> name for bears)
> [edit]
> Bear Codes
> "Bear codes" are sometimes used in e-mail (often as part of a
> signature block), web postings, and online profiles to identify various
> bear-related attributes of the author or poster. See, e.g., "The Bear
> Codes" on the Resources for Bears Web site. A sample bear code is:

> B4 s- m g++ w d+c t+ f+ k+ r e+(+?)
> Bear Code may be the earliest example of Internet self-classification
> codes. Familiarity with this classification system is concentrated in the
> subcommunity of bears who were early adopters of Internet communications,
> and is not widespread within the general community.

> [edit]
> See also
> Chubby culture
> Homosexuality
> Masculinity
> Homomasculinity
> Normal, Ohio
> Sexual orientation
> [edit]
> External links
> Resources for Bears
> Bear Like Me - the first bear novel
> Ron Jackson Suresha, author, Bears on Bears; and editor, Bearotica &
> Bear Lust
> "I am bear, hear me roar," Andrew Sullivan's article
> Brief Salon article by Camille Paglia on bears
> A Bear's Life magazine
> New Jersey Area Bears Club.




freeyourself bear boy
 
L

LoafingOaf

Guest
Andrew Sullivan on bears

Andrew Sullivan once wrote about that scene. Here, I'll look for it.

Okay.....

http://www.andrewsullivan.com/print.php?artnum=20030802

Da Bears
Behind a Hairy Sub-Sub-Culture

I was flattered at first. A burly, stubbled, broad-shouldered man, who could barely keep tufts of hair from sprouting from under his t-shirt corners, leered at me across the bar. He was drunk, alas. But it was five minutes to closing and this was Provincetown in July. "You know what I think is so f***ing hot about you?" he ventured. I batted my eyelashes. "Your pot-belly, man," he went on. "It's so f***ing hot." Then he reached over and rubbed.

It was Bear Week in Ptown. Bear week? Well, where do I begin? Every time I try and write a semi-serious sociological assessment of the phenomenon, I find myself erasing large amounts of text. Part of being a bear is not taking being a bear too seriously. And almost every bear and bear-admirer I asked during the festivities came up with different analyses of whatit is ormightbe to be a "bear." But no one can deny that bears are one of the fastest growing new subcultures in gay America - and that their emergence from the forests into the sunlight is culturally fascinating. Quite what it means for the future of gay America is another thing entirely. But my, er, gut tells me it's, er, a big deal. So here's my own idiosyncratic, CIA-unapproved take on what this new and obviously growing phenomenon in the gay sub-sub-culture amounts to.

Bearism grew up in San Francisco at places like the revived Lone Star bar in the early 1990s and has metastasized since. From a bunch of heavy, hairy fellas getting together casually, it's now a full-scale phenom, with "American Bear" magazine, a "bear flag," bear conferences, a "Bear Book," "Bearotica," and on and on. Perhapsthe most obvious place to start is physical appearance. "Bears" almost all have facial hair - the more the better. Of all the various caharcteristics of Beardom, this seems to be one of the most essential. The Ur-bears have bushy beards that meander down their necks and merge with a large forest of chest and back-hair to provde a sort of all-hair body environment. Bears are also big guys. Yeah, I know that might come off as a bit of a euphemism. A townie friend of mine suggested making t-shirts for the week, with the slogan "Fat Is The New Black." But obesity, while not unknown, is not that widespread. Bears at their most typical look like regular, beer-drinking, unkempt men in their thirties, forties and fifties. They have guts. They have furry backs. They don't know what cologne is and they tend not to wear deoderant. One mode of interaction is the occasional sniff of each others' armpits. Nature's narcotic.

Bears are known secondly for their attitude. They're friendly - more Yogi than "Bears Gone Wild." They're mellow. They're flirtatious in a non-imposing kind of way. If a bear sees another hot-looking bear, his most likely expression will be the one word: "Woof." (Yes, I know that sounds like a dog. But somehow it makes sense.) The sexual tension isn't that tense, because the sexual imperiative is less intense than in other gay sub-cultures. This came home to me this year in Provincetown, because in a gay resort town in the summer, you get to see the various sub-sub-cultures inter-mingle or follow one another. The contrasts can be quite severe. To give one example: we have what the locals call "Circuit Week" overJuly 4 when all the party-boys and drug-addicts show up to take drugs, dance and drink bottled water for days on end. I have no problem with that. But the perfect torsoes, testosteroned rivalry, crystal-nerves and endless egg-whites all make for a somewhat over-wrought time. When the bears arrive, all that unease evaporates. They're cheerful; they don't give a shit what others think of them; they're more overtly social than sexual; they drink rather than do drugs; they seem, on the whole, older and far more grown-up than their party-boy cousins. They eat and drink and joke and cuddle and stroke and generally have a great time. And their mellowness is wonderfully infectious.

Whence the name? Well, it's obvious in a way. They kinda look like bears. Big and burly and friendly, they are legions of Yogis, followed by quite a few Boo-boos. The smaller, younger ones tend to be known as "cubs." The more muscular ones go by the name of "muscle-bears." (For an X-rated gallery of such fellows, log on to www.musclebears.com. For a sample of Bear erotica, try this sampling.) Some leaner types who aren't that hairy but enjoy the atmosphere that follows the bears are known as "otters." There are other nuances. Bears like to enjoy the outdoors and organize joint camping trips and festivals in the forests. They tend not to have kids; and they avoid politics. To the outside world, they are largely invisible, because they don't fit the obvious stereotype of gay men, the kind that is featured somewhat offensively on "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy." These bears look more like the straight guys than the queer eyes.

But their masculinity is of a casual, unstrained type. One of the least reported but significant cultural shifts among gay men in recent years has been a greater ease with the notion of being men and a refusal to acquiesce in the notion that gayness is somehow in conflict with masculinity. In the past, gay manifestations of masculinity have taken a somewhat extreme or caricatured form - from the leathermen to the huge bodybuilders. Bears, to my mind, represent a welcome calming down of this trend. They are unabashedly masculine but undemonstrative about it. They are attractive precisely because they don't try so hard. And they add to their outdoorsy gruffness an appealing interior softness. They have eschewed the rock-hard muscle torso for the round and soft and hairy belly. As always, Camille Paglia gets it just about right:
"In their defiant hirsutism, gay bears are more virile than the generoic bubble-butt junior stud, since body hair is stimulated by testosterone. But the ears' fatness resembles not the warlike Viking mass of a Hell's angel but the capacious bosom of the earth mother. They gay Bear is simultaneously animalistic and nurturing, a romp in the wild followed by nap time on a comfy cushion."
That captures something of their unforced maleness. But Paglia under-estimates, I think, a rebellion among many gay men against both the feminizing impulses of the broader culture on the right and left and against prevailing norms in gay culture as a whole. In recent years, after all, men have come under withering attack - not just from the p.c. pomo left which tends to view all forms of unabashed maleness as oppressive but also from the nannying right which views men as socially irresponsible sexual miscreants. Bears are simply saying that they're men first and unashamed of it. More, in fact. What they're saying is that central to the gay male experience is an actual love of men. And men are not "boys," they're not feminized, hairless, fatless icons on a dance floor. They're grumpy and kind and responsible and also happy to be themselves. There is no contradiction between being a gay man and being a man as traditionally understood. And if that includes cracking open a six-pack and watching the game; or developing a beer-and-nachos belly; or working in a blue-collar job; or having the clothes sense of the average check-out guy; or preferring the company of men to women; then so be it.

But what bears also do, of course, is take this frumpy, ordinary image of undemonstrative masculinity and eroticize it. Instead of sexualizing the perfect abs or the biggest bicep, bears look at a mature man's belly and see in it the essence of maleness and the motherlode of their sexual attraction. What women often do to their men - clean them up, domesticate them, clothe them properly, groom them, tame them - is exactly what bears resist. Go to the Dug-Out at the edge of the West Side highway in New York City on a Sunday afternoon, and you'll find a den of cheerful, frisky, thick and hairy guys, all enjoying a few beers and their own gender. Or check out the club "XL"in London and find hundreds of big, fat, hairy blokes dancing to their hearts' content until the early hours of the morning, without the slightest sense of self-awareness or embarrassment. In London, even the "pot-belly"is becoming formally eroticized.

Bears also resist the squeaky clean and feminized version of manhood that appears in most gay magazines and even pornography. Take a look at the Advocate and Out and you will barely find a man over 30 with a gut or a hairy chest anywhere. But that's what most men - including gay men - end up like! Bears in this sense represent the maturation of gay male culture. For the first time, we have a critical mass of older generations of gay men who have always been out but who don't identify with the boyishness and effeminacy of the old-school gay subculture. And they're not looking to replicate or mimic the male-female relationship in any way. Yes. there are "daddies" and "boys" and "bears" and "cubs." But you are just as likely to find two mature, big guys who are simply into each other. As equals. As men.

Some of this aesthetic, of course, is rooted in class. Upper middle class and middle class bears tend to idealize the working class stiff; and working class bears, for the first time perhaps, find their natural state of physical being actually celebrated rather than ignored. I made a point of asking multiple bears during Bear Week what they did for a living. Yes, there were architects and designers and writers. But there were also computer technicians, delivery truck drivers, construction workers, salesmen, and so on. Again, what we're seeing, i think, is another manifestation of the growth and breadth of gay culture in the new millennium. As the gay world recovers from AIDS, and as the closet continues to collapse, the numbers of gay men keep growing and the diversity of what was once called the gay experience is exploding.

At some point, in fact, it might be asked if bears are a subset of gay culture or simply a culture to themselves. From Ptown, it's pretty clear to me that the "circuit" set, for example, has next to nothing in common with bears and vice versa. Even the leather bars recognize bears as a discrete subculture. The impression of gayness that you get from, say, the New York Times' "Sunday Styles" section, or the excrescent tripe in "Queer As Folk," is light years away from what the bear subculture represents. In this sense, bears might be "post-gay" inasmuch as their fundamental identity is far more complex than any simple expression of their same-sex attraction.

And, as with most developments in gay culture, they could well influence straight culture as well. Bears, after all, are the straight guys in gay culture. Their very ordinariness makes them both more at ease with regular straight guys; but their very ordinariness in some ways is also extremely culturally subversive. Drag queens, after all, are hardly the cutting edge any more. Straight people love their gay people flaming, or easily cordoned off from the straight experience. Bears reveal how increasingly difficult this is. Their masculinity is indistinguishable in many ways from straight male masculinity - which accounts, in some ways, for their broader invisibility in the culture. They are both more integrated; and yet, by their very equation of regular masculinity with gayness, one of the more radical and transformative gay phenomena out there right now.

But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. There's a lovely exchange in the invaluable book, "Bears on Bears," that captures some of the weirdness of trying to explain such a natural and cheerful development too abstractly. Rex Wockner, furry gay journalist, is talking to Wayne Hoffman, another Bear follower:
"REX WOCKNER: A few intellectual eastern bears may think it's about subverting the dominant paradigm. Here on the West Coast, it's about sex. WAYNE HOFFMAN: It's more about ignoring the dominant paradigm than rejecting it actively, in my humble opinion. REX WOCKNER: It's more about not using words like 'dominant paradigm.'"
I take Rex's point. In some ways, bears represent gay men's long delayed embrace of their own masculinity in its simplest and sexiest form. In other ways, they represent gay men's desire for normalcy, for a world in which their natural state of being men is neither constrained nor tortured nor contrived. In a strange and undemonstrative way, it's therefore a sign of the extraordinary fluidity of a gay male culture that is changing out of all recognition before, perhaps, with accelerating integration, it disappears for good.

August 2, 2003, Salon.
 
S

spectral hand

Guest
Re: I dunno if this was posted in jest or not, but here goes...

Ditto to (most of) what +++++++++ said.

I'm stocky, hairy, and always have facial hair of some kind. Unlike some gay (and straight) men, I would *never* trim or shave any of my body hair, and could never be attracted to someone who did.

I'm attracted to other hairy, bearded men because this is what men naturally look like, when not metrosexualised or otherwise emasculated. I like natural male secondary sexual characteristics. If I wanted someone smooth and beardless, I'd be straight and date women.

Like +++++++++, though, I'm not particularly enticed by the "bear scene", which is already big, and growing. (I think I read once that International Bear Rendezvous is the biggest gay event on the planet, and XXL is the biggest gay club in the UK.) I don't feel I have much in common with "bears" other than physical attraction and similar sexual desires. (I'm particularly perplexed when people lump the bear and leather scenes together, as leather does *nothing* for me.)

What I do like about "bear culture" is that you can pretty much be yourself. There can be an element of bear fascism (you have to be *this* hairy and muscled and wear *these* clothes) in some larger cities, but not where I live. People are generally attitude-free and it's all good fun. I don't want to be defined by the "bear" tag, though, or get caught up in some of its silliness ("Grrr, woof" etc.).

Impartial: as for the bear scene, I can only "explain its attraction" by saying that bears are the kind of men I'm attracted to, and I'm far from alone in this. It's a just a group of like-minded men who are similarly bemused and turned off by the mainstream gay culture of hairless twinky boys, designer underwear, silly haircuts, and fake tans. Nothing more, nothing less.
 
F

freeyourself®

Guest
You should take your act on tour

The way you set up your "joke" there, by going to the trouble of making the original post using a fake IP, in order to create a pseudo debate, and THEN throwing down your big finale, another doctored pic of me.
Yeah, I can see how sleight of hand of such a skillful kind would be a tremendous success at mental hospitals and homes for the terminally bewildered, across the country.
I find it fascinating that many of your posts induce a kind of visual nausea. Regardless of the IP or alias you use, they have the same pungent odour, an almost tangible acrid stench that somehow seeps through one's monitor and floods one's nostrils.
I'm surprised that you have no friends, live alone and are so desperately unhappy, a fun guy like you.
 
H

Helvissa

Guest
> otter - a man who is hairy, but is not large or stocky

Hahahahahah! (I found a small toy otter who reminded me of Morrissey - it was the long neck and curious expression - so I called it Motterssey... oh dear...)

I never knew about otters, although I'd heard of bears. Apparently Phil Jupitus is popular with bears and chaps-what-like-bears.

I don't quite see how you could be unduly worried about bears. Unless you look like one and are scared of accidentally saying 'woof' in their presence.
 
H

Helvissa

Guest
Re: ha, ha, is this thread for real????

Is this messageboard for real?!
 
A

Anonynonny

Guest
If you were clubbed to death, it would be best regarded as a mercy killing.
 
L

Let's Go Devils

Guest
New Jersey kills bears and England kills bunny rabbits.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060407/od_afp/afplifestylebritainfoodrabbitoffbeat;_ylt=AqaeCQt4FsD0IZZYOdPR0mGs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-

and not a peep(s!!) out of Morrissey about this.
 
L

LoafingOaf

Guest
Re: New Jersey kills bears and England kills bunny rabbits.

>
> http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060407/od_afp/afplifestylebritainfoodrabbitoffbeat;_ylt=AqaeCQt4FsD0IZZYOdPR0mGs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ
> -

> and not a peep(s!!) out of Morrissey about this.

LONDON (AFP) - In a tale reminiscent of the last Wallace and Gromit movie, furious villagers in northeast England have hired armed guards to protect their beloved communal vegetable gardens from a suspected monster rabbit.

HAHAHA!
 
L

Let's Go Devils

Guest
Re: New Jersey kills bears and England kills bunny rabbits.

> LONDON (AFP) - In a tale reminiscent of the last Wallace and Gromit movie,
> furious villagers in northeast England have hired armed guards to protect
> their beloved communal vegetable gardens from a suspected monster rabbit.

> HAHAHA!
That's effed up!!
did you see the post above about how it's FBI's fault Morrissey moved to Italy. If I had people vandalizing my car, ripping out my landscapping, stole my mail, and hanging outside my house it just comes to a point that you can't put up with it anymore. It has to always be something more sinister and somehow it's always George Bush' fault
 
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