What The Hell Is A Bear?

So I was reading “What’s Happening Magazine” and I found a really informative article that explains what the hell a “Bear” is.  I mean, yea I know what it is but I don’t REALLY know what it is.

Bears tend to have hairy bodies and facial hair; some are heavy set or muscular; some project an image of rugged masculinity in their grooming and appearance.  Some place importance on presenting an uber masculine image.  Leather, cigars, baseball caps and flannel are often the garb and some bears may even avoid guys who are not like them.  Being a bear is about identity and even though there is ongoing dialogue about what constitutes a bear, we can all agree that inclusion is an important part of our community.

The term bear is openly accredited to Richard Bulger, the founder of Bear Magazine when he coined the term in 1987, but the ideal predates this with the existence of famed adult film star, Al Parker.  He epitomized the gay “clone” style of the 70’s with his butch appearance that included a trimmed mustache and beard, an overt emotional disconnect from sexual partners in his films and a body that was relatable to the average male.  Al became the ideal that all gay men strived to be like and have.  It was a look that could be emulated easily by a slew of gay men that at the time were making the gay social and sexual scene theirs.

Al started off as a butler in the Playboy Mansion and was discovered by Rip Colt, who gave him his name and made him a star with the legendary Colt Studios.  His film career was vast, making him an icon.  He even started his own production studio where he continued producing his own films.  After the onset of AIDS, Al’s studios promoted safe sex practices in their videos, and by example inspired other studios to provide condoms for their stars.  Al was a trendsetter on many levels.

Sadly, Al Parker died from complications of AIDS at the age fo 40.  But his influence, look and demeanor inspired generations after him to seek a furrier way of life.  His clone look was the forefather of the modern bear, inspiring millions of us worldwide to grow beards, be as natural as possible and most importantly to be be manly men.

And yes, guys, I’m totally aware my image is off Al Boreland from Home Improvement.  I thought it was funny because he is SO a bear!

2 thoughts on “What The Hell Is A Bear?

  1. There is an inherent problem with the labeling of a sub class: What is the true definition? Saying someone that is hairy is a “bear” constitutes the same thing as saying everyone that dresses in women’s clothing is a “drag queen” and we know that isn’t true. “Drag” and “Bear” are part of our cultural vernacular and we can attribute certain characteristics to those groups.

    “Bear” most often refers to a hairy chest with some sort of facial hair and an air of rugged masculinity. But what goes beyond that? Do you sub classify? Daddy bear, polar bear, bear cub, muscle bear? If you are looking for a bear to hook up with will you accept someone that is over a certain weight or are your tastes in bears more the bodybuilder type? Does one make you a bear and another doesn’t? Are you still a bear if you have excessive body hair or are you now in a different class that I call “Yeti”?

    You can be gay but not be a “fag”. You can dress in drag but not be a queen. You can be all levels of hairy but not be a “bear”. Can you be a “bear” and not have chest hair just by emulating a hyper masculine image? Are you a “bear” if you can pull off the moustached cigar smoking lumberjack/hot cop look like a Tom of Finland picture? Everyone has their own definition of this term and that’s why it is so hard to nail down. “Bear” just seems to be a catch all category that people like to throw around (much like “twink”) and it would be nice if we, as a culture, could come to some parameters.

    Let’s not forget the other animals, Wolf and Otter, which are also part of this community. It just gets all kinds of confusing.

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