Bear is a gay slang term. It describes a hairier and/or heavy-set gay or bisexual man. A bear typically projects an image of rugged masculinity. Some bears present a very masculine, over-the-top image of a ruggedly masculine man. Bears also exhibit masculine behavior comparable to romanticized brotherhood, often engaging in masculine hobbies such as outdoor activity, sports, and gaming with others from their community in a romanticized fashion. There are many different labels for different kinds of bears, based upon amount of fat, muscle, hair, masculinity, and age, though higher amounts of each of these qualifications are what more commonly define the bear community (Also called the International Bear Brotherhood).
Feminine traits and typical traits of more common gay men aren't often seen as attractive to bears, as they are less definitive of the group, which has lead to discrimination in the past. Bears often form clubs modeled on biker clubs. Clubs are formed for bears to hang out with their own kind. These clubs may have bylaws, membership requirements, and charities the clubs support. They may host bear-related events such as "Mr. Bear" male beauty contests.
Some of the more common labels for bears are Cubs, Otters, Chasers, Muscle-Bears, and Chubs. A younger (or younger looking) version of a bear is called a cub. Cubs are often younger or less mature or masculine-looking. The term is sometimes used to imply the passive partner in a relationship. An "otter" is a slimmer or less hairy bear regardless of age, and a Chaser is a member of the bear community who is attracted to any kind of bear without being one themselves.
Bears have scrapped within their communities from time to time. Discrimination has been had between the types of bears more commonly at earlier dates. Some bears and "muscle bears" have not welcomed Chubs, bears who favor and exhibit mostly fat as a bear, at their events. Because of what bears and members of the bear community are most often attracted too, exclusion of those kinds of people has often occurred. Fat (or lack of it) has become an issue. Many men in the Bear Community regard their overweight condition as a form of self-acceptance and sign of coming of age, overlapping with the Gay Gainer community in this regard. The majority of bears are white because of prior Gaelic views of the bear animal and masculinity, and because of genetics. Hairiness is regarded as a standard of physical attractiveness that genetically favors white men aesthetically, socially, and sexually.
Although typically excluded from the mainstream gay media, there are several publications that exist for the bear community. Although most are more beefcake and porn-focused, there are some, such as Bear World Magazine, which focus on the bear lifestyle, covering a range of topics and celebrating the bear community as a whole. There is also a genre of manga called Bara or Gei Komi which focuses on the gay romance of bigger and more masculine men, though Bara has never been translated into anime.
References[change | change source]
- Ron Jackson Suresha. (2002). Bears on Bears: Interviews and Discussions. "Bear Ages and Stages", pages 54–58, 149, 179, 236, 260–262, 294. Los Angeles: Alyson Publications. ISBN 1-55583-578-3.
- Kampf, Ray (2000). The Bear Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Those who are Husky, Hairy, and Homosexual, and Those who Love'em. Haworth Press. pp. "The Bear Cub: Ursus younges". ISBN 9781560239963. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- Les K. Wright (2001). The Bear Book II: Further Readings in the History and Evolution of a Gay Male Subculture. Routledge. p. 77. ISBN 9780789006363.
- "Bear World Magazine -". Bear World Magazine. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
Other websites[change | change source]
- Camille Paglia's commentary on Bears for Salon Archived 2011-09-06 at the Wayback Machine
- "I am Bear, hear me roar," Andrew Sullivan's article for Salon Archived 2010-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
- "Gay Cliques Census from Noodles and Beef captures characteristics of self-identified bears" Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine
- Bear World Magazine