I am often asked what makes a Bear a Bear. To be honest it’s just too hard to define. The following information, as gathered from the Internet, should give you a general definition.
In male bisexual and gay culture, a Bear is usually defined as a large, hairy man who projects an image of rugged masculinity, celebrating characteristics of the male: facial hair, body hair, proportional size, baldness, etc.
The Bear concept can function as an identity, an affiliation, and there is ongoing debate in Bear communities about what constitutes a Bear. However a consensus exists that inclusion is an important part of the Bear community. In particular, many Bear community organizations define inclusiveness as a central value of the movement, such that anyone who supports values such as "having a good attitude to life, friends and helping the local community", is welcome in the Bear community regardless of appearance, although the view that physical characteristics are central to the Bear identity is still seen in many other definitions.
What is certain however is that the Bear culture generally tends to place little or no value on social stature or conforming to the latest magazine looks and styles, contrary to the main stream gay culture.
The Bear community has spread all over the world, with Bear clubs in many countries. Bear clubs often serve as social networks for their members, who can contribute to their local gay communities through fund-raising and other functions. Bear events have become very common, to include smaller sized cities and many rural areas.
SuBEARstitions: 6 Misconceptions about Bear Culture
I discovered there are many misconceptions around that topic so I want to take this blog post to clarity a few things that you probably did not know about the Bear community. So here we go:
Misconception #1: The only thing Bear guys have in common is their physical appearance.
This statement is simply inaccurate. In fact, Bear culture, believe it or not, is beyond the physical appearance.
And I know that this might sound cheesy but there is a certain philosophy behind this community. It is a philosophy of acceptance, respect, and a celebration of diversity. You don’t have to wear
pink to sit with us and you don’t have to maintain a certain BMI to be part of our group. Moreover, Bears enjoy their masculinity and they do not try to suppress it. We are comfortable in our
skin. We’re fine with our body hair, our body fat and our casual outfits. We are not trying to conform to the pretty-boy standards. That’s what all Bears have in common and that’s what sets them
apart from the rest of the community.
Misconception #2: All men in the Bear community are fat.
You, my friend, certainly never met an otter. So let me introduce you to this sub-category in the Bear community. An Otter is actually a man who is hairy, muscular but not so heavy. It is true however that the men of the other sub-categories are stocky and plump but it doesn't really matter. Your body can range from slim (in the case of Otters) to obese (Chubs, I am looking at you) and you’re still considered as a Bear as long as you have enough body hair.
Misconception #3: All men in the Bear community are old.
You must be kidding me, right? Why is it that, whenever you mention the Bear community, most people start imagining silver daddies, polar Bears and men covered with white or grey body hair? They’re just a sub-category. Truth is, age has the least to do with being a Bear and I should know because I am only 19 years old. I am a Bear cub, which practically means a Bear that is relatively younger in age. Generally, cubs fulfil the passive role in the sexual relationship but that’s certainly not always the case. The point is, no, not all men in the Bear community are old.
Misconception #4: All Bears are white.
Are you accusing the Bear community of being racist? Well, I am accusing you of being an ignorant. The Bear community is certainly not racist and it embraces everyone regardless of their ethnicity. Here are some sub-categories that you probably didn’t know about.
Black Bear is a Bear of African descent.
Brown Bear is a Bear of Latin descent.
Koala Bear is a Bear of Australian descent.
Panda Bear is a Bear of Asian descent.
Misconception #5: The Bear community is an all-male community.
Surprisingly, the Bear community is not an all-male community and that is something I discovered recently. A small number of lesbians and particularly the butch dykes participate in Bear culture. They refer to themselves with the distinct label of Ursula, which is most probably inspired from this Disney character.
Also, fag hags do not seem to spare Bear guys but they have a different label in the Bear community. We call them Goldilocks for obvious reasons…
Misconception #6: Bears are mean to non-Bears and especially Twinks.
I strongly disagree with this statement. Of course, some Bears are more brutal than others and here it is necessary to mention two sub-categories: Grizzly Bears, extremely dominant, tall and heavy men and Wolves, the rugged and outdoorsy kind of men that you would typically see riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
But in general, Bears are almost universally considered sweet, friendly, likable and just edible. However, Bear guys are human beings in the first place. They are not robots and not everyone is the same. Bears and Twinks have different interests and philosophies and this is why it is not so common for a Bear to date a Twink. But if we don’t date you, it does not mean that we hate you.
In fact, I know a good number of Bear guys that actually prefer Twinks over any other kind of men. It is a matter of taste after all. I, myself, have dated Twinks and many of my best friends are Twinks. The only difference between a Bear guy and a Twink is that… Bear guys eat. But other than that, and even though we look differently we are all the same in essence: we all love cock.
To wrap it up, Bears and those that admire them and love being with them or around them, come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and interests. Even though Bear consider themselves as the epitome of masculinity in the gay community, you might still bump into a Bear guy fan-girling in a Madonna concert. We are not that different from the rest of the community. We are just regular masculine guys who happen to really, really like other guys, If you want to learn more about the Bear lifestyle you can simply befriend one of us. Unlike the common belief, we do not bite people…but if we really like you, we might growl in your face.
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