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Gay “Bears” Continue Their Jamboree

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One of the best things about being gay is that if you find yourself getting all fat and hairy, you can just call yourself a “bear” and become part of a highly desirable subculture of the subculture. It’s actually a step up from being just an average gay!

And if you haven’t gotten fat but still want to be a bear, that’s OK too. The term “bear” doesn’t necessarily connote someone with extra poundage, as long as the pounds you’ve got aren’t shaved, and as long as you carry whatever figure you have with the requisite “masculine” demeanor—or at least the appearance of such as you swagger, slug down a beer, chomp on a cigar, and defy anyone to call you names (except “bear”).

That’s where I fail at beardom. I’m pudgy in quite a few unexpected places and at this point hair is even growing out of my eyeballs, but I just can’t do that macho thing that would make me totally accepted as polar (as opposed to bi-polar). I can’t possibly qualify as a pig bear or a raunchy bear and certainly not a muscle bear. So I’ll just watch from the sidelines as they keep growing as a niche market, emboldened by the sense that the hairless twink look is better off on chihuahuas and suddenly it’s not only considered OK to let yourself go, it’s absolutely delightful.

Bears are so on fire these days that even a straight guy, the famously plus-sized Kevin Smith, is part of the bear-wagon, having executive-produced and appeared in a documentary called BEAR NATION, which just premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. The doc is described as “a thoroughly thoughtful, stylistic, and entertaining examination of a rapidly growing diversion of the gay community: the sexualization of fat and hair.”

Meanwhile, bear-backers are rejoicing about another project on the boards–a feature film called BEARCITY, which is a love story about a group of gay bears using New York as a romantic playground. It’s basically Sex and the City minus the edamame salads and Brazilian waxes.

Truth be told, I shot a cameo for that film on the roof of the long running leather bar the Eagle, though I wasn’t sure if they picked me for that role because they think I’m a bear or because I’m simply bear-positive. I admit I’m hoping it was for the latter reason, but either way, I’m thrilled to fight oppression of all kinds by supporting the right to be fat and hairy and sometimes a little puffy around the eyes! Bear with me!