Bear is a gay slang term. It describes a hairy, 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. These men may disdain or even shun hanging out with men who exhibit any trace of effeminacy womanliness. Clubs are formed for bears to hang out with their own kind.
Bear (gay culture)
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Gay men who define themselves as bears reject the mainstream gay physical ideal and tend to be less interested in trendy fashion and obsessive body consciousness. This rejection of the physical ideal results in more body hair, more balding, rounder bellies, and less manicuring overall. But within the bear culture, the subset of chubs and super-chubs has been growing. The characteristics that previously defined bear culture are becoming eclipsed by a propensity for size. I have experienced this from both sides of the equation: I dated an otter who doubled as a chaser who wanted me to get fatter. And the fact that men of considerable size and their admirers are becoming a larger part of the bear scene is also great, on some levels.
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I am a cisgender gay woman and therefore an outsider to gay male culture, specifically in US metropolitan areas. I have chosen to write this piece because I have known and loved many queer men throughout my life. Researching and writing this piece led to some candid, revealing conversations with my queer male friends; I also realized that this topic affects many queer men and needs to be addressed. Read on. Sure, marriage equality is now becoming a reality in a majority of the United States; however, same-sex marriage legislation is not the only issue queer people face.
Those who think they know what the stereotypical gay man looks like should pay attention to street life in San Francisco this weekend. Instead of clean-shaven, perfectly manicured men, a rapidly growing subculture of hairy, often chubby guys -- known in the gay community as "bears" -- will be enjoying a South of Market street fair Sunday, along with other events throughout the city. At least 5, bears are expected to attend the aptly named Hairrison Street Fair , which is in its third year. Traffic from the Bay Bridge construction project is being diverted near the fair, giving Bay Area motorists an opportunity to see bears in their natural environment.