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bearsIt’s come to my attention that the bears, and cubs, and otters, and wolves, and whatever other Patronuses we gays are using, are forming themselves into “packs.” What’s a pack, at least to gay men, and not animal behaviorists? Beyond it being a group of friends who go places and hang out, I’m honestly not sure, though I have a feeling that after this article is shared on the internet, we will all know a little bit more.

When you’re going out to a bar, or setting up your gourmet picnic in the park, or taking a week-long trip to Bear Week, having a group of friends seems a really good idea. Most of us have gone to places by ourselves and experienced that first day of a new school feel. Especially since so many of us base that on really dumb things like what the person is wearing and how low their body fat percentage is. Sure, you say, that we don’t WANT to be friends with those people, but it’s still frustrating and dehumanizing, even if you don’t feel like jumping that hurdle. Packs allow us to not have to worry about if we’re going to be accepted, because we already are. And if no one in the bar likes that group of loud drunk bears caterwauling Britney Spears lyrics as loudly and as off key as they can, then who cares, cause WE’RE having fun, and obviously you’re not.

This brings us to the downside of packs. In general, I don’t mind going places by myself, and I love meeting new people. However, as I go out, it seems like more and more people have surrounded themselves with their friends, and it becomes an impenetrable bubble for anyone who isn’t a part of it. In some of the worst cases, it seems to exacerbate the “You can’t sit with us” feeling from the shallow queens, though that’s not everyone. It does seem to create a huge sense of cliques, even if unintentionally. Think about it. If you’re out with your friends, and in some cases if all of your friends look similar, and you guys are having a good time, then what impetus do you have to meet and allow other people into your group?

On the flip side, that can be an incredibly good thing. As a gay community, we’re still dealing with some incredibly predatory individuals who, among other things, seem to can’t take no for an answer. Someone by themselves is going to have a much more difficult time in losing said asshole, whereas if a pack sees one of their members being accosted, they can, hopefully, come to the aid of their friend. Especially if said friend is drunk or high and lacks the ability to say no. Or get home (we’ve all been there, so no judgements here).

At the end of the day, packs seem like nothing new, though, being the person I am, I worry about us getting more and more insular. Having a group of close friends is an incredibly powerful thing, but I also hope that we are allowing ourselves the chance to explore and meet new people.