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Credit to: Deviant Art

Off the bat, there is going to be a variety of opinions regarding this matter yet I feel like this is a very taboo subject to talk about.  It is an issue that just like some of the more mainstream issues that we face in America will never really have one agreement on it.  The fact of the matter is for many people that I know of and a general consensus that I have seen, racism is a huge part of the bear community.  For me, this racism comes in many different forms, some of which I have experienced and some others have as well.  This can be broken down into several different ways people can view racism in this community, so feel free to share your opinion on what you think.

Bottom line, the bear community is designed for white dudes. Yes I have heard this expression before, and yes it is something that is still stated in 2013.  There is a good amount of bears in this community that believe it is meant to be just for white guys. This I don’t understand personally as I have stated in a previous article that the bear community from my understanding is where any man of a certain size no matter what his color is was allowed into this because they were shunned from the norm.  There is even a particular website that has denied several different people entrance if they aren’t a certain look and this goes beyond race.  They don’t want chasers, twinks, Asians and so on and so forth.  I have heard this from several people and years later this remains true (probably why this site is getting crushed by its competitors who welcome all shapes and colors with open arms).  I find this act of racism to be a bit appalling, because I have friends of color who have gotten to a place in their lives where they feel completely jaded, and don’t even bother with trying to approach a group of bears who are white because of this fact.  Will it change? I hope so, because this community can get pretty messed up with it’s thinking process from time to time.

The online lingo that pretty much reads as RACIST.  I came across a profile on one of these sites that simply read the following- “Masc/Musc only.  18-25 a must.  No fems, fatties, chocolate or rice.” WTF! Seriously.  WHAT. THE FUCK.  I think that has got to be one of the more offensive ones out there and this is saying a lot coming from someone who got asked to rub their wallet on their own ass so the other guy could smell it (I didn’t do it just an FYI, I am classy).  That being said,  outside of the realm of fems/fatties, which I could write an Lord of the Rings size book on, saying words like “chocolate” and “rice” just screams racism and is bottom line not nice.  It will always come across that way when you are that blatant.  I had a situation recently where a good friend of mine found my other friend attractive.  After my friend went to go get a drink, I asked the other if he was interested.  He simply replied “I don’t like black guys”.  OK, I can understand that to a certain degree because if that’s not your preference then fine, but whatever happened to going outside what is your boundary lines and getting to know the person not the race? I have my own preferences for sure, we all do, but two guys that I have dated for a consistent period of time were ones that I normally wouldn’t scope out online or at the nearest bar.  People really need to get that metaphoric stick out of their asses and open their eyes to what is out there.

I’ve heard lines like “I am only into black guys for one reason”, “I love me some rice queens”.  Good god.  This is where the word “fetish” comes in in that a lot of my friends who are of a certain ethnicity can feel that a guy is only into them based on that.  Now this can equate to anything.  Guys can be only into me because I am a cub and like that I have a belly.  Sure.  It can be completely offensive though if you are only hanging out with a black guy because you listen to the stereotypes that society creates into thinking that the BBC is on all of them (I am not spelling out those initials).  I have a friend of mine who I dated briefly in 2012 and we realized we were better off as friends.  He came to me about a couple of weeks ago in what seemed like a state of panic and asked me “Were you only into me because I was black?” I instantly was thrown and to be honest a bit turned off by what he asked and simply replied “Um, no.  I liked you for you and we have similar interests especially in music”.  He then went through somewhat of a breakdown where he had thought a lot of the guys he had dated were because they saw him as a fetish and not for the guy he was.  Surely, I don’t know any of these other guys to make that assumption, but I assured him from my POV that there are guys that see you for you.  I would find this very frustrating if I was in his shoes because you are consistently left with the worriment of what is the guy into you for.

Now granted, this can be translatable to any different community outside of the bear one.  I am in this one predominately and this is really what I have compiled over the years.  As I have stated before, it’s really about opening your own mind and seeing what is out there.  To the ones that really believe that the bear community should be plain white, shame on you.  Seriously, there are some of you out there.  Would love to hear what people think about this, sound off!

74 COMMENTS

  1. There are more than enough times I’ve have guys contact me with the statement their into black guys. Or were deep into foreplay/about to have sex an they realize that. Which is very off putting and make the sex uninteresting and now worth much. It make it even harder to find someone to date for much the same reason. The same can be said for going to bear events, or just the general summer pool parties. I can count the number of bears or admires of color on one hand most times. I can sit and chat with mean of them, or be ignored by them too. It can leave me wondering if I’ll every find someone worth having a relationship with in this group. Racism is present, and it make a lot of us questioning our trust, jaded, and lonely in the gay men, bears or not, around us.

  2. I got told by a guy a couple weeks ago that I was racist because I didn’t find him attractive. After he pushed and pushed asking me why I didn’t want to go out with him (he was a SLOB) I finally told him I have a pretty set look that I liked. Him: What do you find attractive? Me: Generally, Asian and Latin men, but depends on the guy. Him: That’s so racist! Me: How? Him: because you’re excluding a lot of guys based on their appearance. Me: So I have to go out with any guy who asks me out, even if I am not attracted to them, just to risk not offending them? Now this guy was white, and I am generally only attracted to a narrow look in both white and black guys, but I also don’t find every Asian or Latin guy attractive. So am I a racist? I would never put ‘no chocolate or vanilla’ in a profile, because you never know who you are going to be attracted to. But I am more inclined to check out a profile on growlr or another website if they’re Latino or Asian. And a ‘chaser’ although that term has COMPLETELY lost the original meaning.

    • Racist? Maybe not. Prejudice? Most likely. You cant State “I do not date (insert race here) and then claim you are prejudice free. If it was a black guy that you were not into simply BECAUSE he is black.. yes that is prejudice. The act of PREFERENCE has NOTHING to do with ELIMINATING a choice. Preference means you are presenting with an assortment of choice, but there is one there that you PREFER over the others. NOT that one of the choice under no circumstance will you go to. They are two different statements. When your dating IS defined by the race of the person then yes… that is the text book definition of prejudice. People just try to sugar coat it and hide behind the word preference when that isnt even what it means. If that confuses you. Google “The difference between preference and prejudice”.

      • I know plenty of people who are not open to dating someone of a particular race because they’ve never found themselves attracted to anyone of that race. Given that, it makes sense not to be receptive to people of that race.

        The argument against this starts to sound like the people who try to tell me, “You’re only gay because you haven’t met the right woman yet!”, suggesting that even though I’ve never been attracted to women, there is at least ONE out there that will turn the tides for me.

        Anecdotally: I don’t like mushrooms. I never have. I think they’re really gross. If someone offers me a dish made with mushrooms, I’m not going to eat it, because I’ve literally never encountered a mushroom I like the taste or texture of. Why, therefore, should I seek out or be receptive to mushroom dishes?

        Race is no different for some.

        • Even if one “doesn’t know what it is like” that is literally even more so the very definition of prejudice lol.

          • You’re shifting the goalposts with your anecdote, there. My point is that if everyone you meet of a certain race is not attractive to you, why would you then seek out people of that race? Or even be open to it? It’s logically sound to be skeptical.

            If that’s how you want to define prejudice, then you have to concede that it that umbrella form of prejudice is not inherently wrong or unethical.

          • As if I made up that meaning of what prejudice is…. lol Prejudice is prejudice…. it stops there… whether YOU want to decide if it is Good or Evil is up to you…

          • You know full well that the word “prejudice” is loaded with negative connotation. Don’t be disingenuous.

          • It is not my problem that some people are uncomfortable with a word and its meaning. lol
            EVERYONE has some kind of prejudices… anyone that says otehrwise I’ll most likely call a liar.

          • It is your problem, when you are basically insulting people. You know what the word means and you know its social connotations, regardless of technical definition. Don’t be obtuse. You are not absolved of responsibility here.

          • It is NOT my responsibility to spare someones feelings who is being prejudiced, but trying to convince everyone around them that they are not in fact prejudice, when they blatantly are. If MOST of all our society thinks being prejudice is a bad thing (points back to my statement of good or bad is up to you) that does not absolve you of being prejudice when you CLEARLY ARE BEING PREJUDICED. My god.

          • No, but speaking in all caps and attacking people for being prejudiced fixes nothing, especially when some of that prejudice isn’t inherently bad to begin with.

          • Oh I’m sorry…. saying “you’re being prejudice” (when you are) is now attacking, silly me… applying english words in their proper context. From now on I will tell everyone everything they wish to hear, so they can feel better about themselves. Just for you….. And OH NO THESE CAPS MAKE YOU RIGHT! /sarcasm

          • Because you clearly have no point to make, but yet it’s like you’re being compelled to argue or reply just to see your own text, even when you are flat out wrong. It’s like you can’t help yourself

  3. I have a pretty international look myself. I’ve gotten many pick up lines in languages I had no idea existed. I’ve been judged into being so many different ethnicities along with the typical stereotypes. It’s such a hard mold to break, I’ve just given up and went with the flow because it would be just too hard to change someone’s thinking. That’s only if they like me.

    I’ve attempted to be apart of different bear groups and activities, personally I’ve given up on that community. People many times assume the worse of whatever stereotype they have in their head for whom ever race they don’t like. I’m confronted with being pigeon holed into bad stereotypes a lot.

    Being a minority is difficult enough, being a double minority is even harder. In all honesty, I sometimes think I wouldn’t even know what fair was if I saw it.

    • I can only see a tiny little version of your pic and can’t even tell what race you are, but who cares? Damn, you are a handsome bear and you should know it.

  4. Its horrible but true. I have Asians friends who feel they are invisible within the Bear Community. And heard the same from a Black aquaintance. I joined a couple of online bear groups by the urging of a friend as I like the chasers and admirers over other bears and yes Im guilty of prefering an Asian or Latin man first but I try to keep an open mind and find out who a person is. In producing a gay pride event it is one area that still baffles me- the continued divisiveness within our own community and how treat each other.

  5. the problem I have with statements ” I’m not into Black guys, Asians, etc it’s just my preference”, is that the person making the statement is summarily dismissing an entire group of people based on their race. How is that not racist, or at the very least prejudiced? The other statement that gets to me is, ” I don’t see color”. Really?? In my book, if you didn’t “see” it, you’d have never brought up color in the first place. As humans, are brains are hard wired to see color, it is part of our make up. we have learned to judge color and that is where the problem lies.

  6. Sadly, prejudice is mainly a learned behavior and, more often than not, it is not recognizable when it is being learned due to the subtlety of so much of it. I’m not saying that there are not people who are taught by Archie Bunker-types, which is the kind of father I had. Fortunately I had a very open and accepting mother to counterbalance that and teach me correctly.

    Anyway, I do see how this kind of prejudice is quite prevalent in the Bear Community. The truly sad thing about it is how often I hear that the Bear Community is ‘all accepting’ of anyone. But, in reality, there are still a lot of discriminatory behaviors that occur.

    I feel that the only way to promote change in our community or any other for that matter, is to point out the discriminatory behavior when it happens. I had to do just that a few days ago when a friend started out by saying, “I’m not prejudice but…”. I stopped him and pointed out that, but saying just those words, he’s proving that he is and, perhaps, needs to rethink what he’s about to say.

  7. I personally have a very wide variety of guys I like – short/tall/tiny/big and all ethnicities. That being said, this piece is going to either preach to the choir or offend people – it’s guilting people for not being sexually attracted to someone because of their ethnicity (or chastising them for the reverse). Replace any of these terms with gender identifications instead of ethnicities and you’d be sour over being asked why you aren’t interested in dating a woman.

    Your friend would probably have been well okay in that situation if you asked him to join you and your other friend for a dinner or drinks as friends. But you approached it as “would you be interested in seeing this guy?” And you don’t have the right to tell him what he should find attractive any more than the Pope has the right to impose heterosexuality on you.

    The fetishizing thing is weird when phrased that way. But technically, we all fetishize our sexual partners to some degree.

  8. Because of the nature of sexual preference, and the gay community’s propensity for fostering friendships based on sexual attraction, it’s terrifically difficult to separate true racism out from benign preference. Color can be as much a part of someone’s attraction as body type, and both of those are frustrating to the rejected party. This makes it difficult to address racism in the community, because the product of both preference and racism appear to be the same–someone just doesn’t tend to have friends of a certain color.

    That said, practices like perpetuating stereotypes (black guys are hung, Asian guys aren’t) or engendering derisive language (rice queens) are truly racist and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    • Just because someone chooses one color and rejects another color, doesn’t suddenly make it “not” prejudice. What is debatable is the “racist” charge…. that I agree on. But one canNOT eliminate an entire GROUP of people because they all share one undesired trait, and then claim to be NOT prejudice… You can’t hide behind teh word preference when the act of complete elimination has nothing to do with the word. A better statement would be “A persons choice”. And that is not even just about race…. it could you don’t want fat people, you don’t want short people, you don’t want old people…. anything..

      But the act of elimination because of one shared trait IS prejudice no matter how many people don’t like it. You can be prejudice against objects/things too… you can be prejudice against the color orange for gods sake. Prejudice isn’t always the same thing as racism either.

      • “Choice” and “preference” are pretty exchangeable there.

        It makes it prejudice, technically, but that doesn’t make the prejudice itself bad.

        • Not really…. Preference isn’t about “elimination” but Choice CAN be about elimination. Like i said Below…. Whether you think prejudice is bad or good is your own choice… but just because one doesn’t think it’s bad or thinks it’s good doesn’t make it NOT prejudice. I’ll have to read through my own comments to see if I talked about good vs bad/wrong… but my whole point has been to state what prejudice is, and what preference is not… every feeling beyond that is your own choice. But one cannot be angry when called a word that fits them.

          • But prejudice carries with it a very marked negative connotation in our society, so you can’t reasonably expect someone being told that he is being prejudicial not to take offense to it.

            There are people out there who don’t date black people, Asians, what have you, because they are racist. That is not the same as not dating them because you are not attracted to their features. Unfortunately, there’s little way to tell the difference.

          • But that’s entirely Moot man…. whether it carries negatives doesn’t suddenly change what it is…. what is this “Call it something else to spare feelings?” Maybe if more people were honest with themselves they wouldn’t be so offended? *shrugs*

            I never said they “all” were racist…. that’s a different subject.

          • I’m afraid I don’t understand the distinction your trying to make here… how is basing your attraction on people ethnically distinct features not racist. It’s not about the content of their character but the “color” of their skin. I just don’t get this, I understand where it comes from and no one wants to think of themselves as or be thought of as racist or prejudiced, but think of how the victims of your preferential treatment feel.

          • Do you choose who to be attracted to? Most people don’t, and so it’s difficult to call someone a racist simply for not being attracted to people of a certain color. This is like not being attracted to redheads, or women, or people over the age of 50.

          • So you’re saying that we have to date people we’re not attracted to in order to prove we’re not racist? That doesn’t make sense.

  9. OK I’m gonna throw in my 2 cents here because this subject irks me somewhat, particularly the way the author approaches it.

    Here, let me lay it out on the line for you here: I AM NOT ATTRACTED TO NON-WHITE GUYS AND THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME RACIST(*). And I really don’t care what you or anyone else thinks about the subject, but I am sick and tired of being called a racist simply because I won’t let a non-white dude stick his dick in me.

    Friends? Sure, the more the merrier! We can be friends all day long and as long as you’re cool with it never going beyond a friendship then we can get along just fine.

    So why did I put that asterisk there? Because there needs to be a footnote that says, “This statement is true 99.99999999999999999999999% of the time”, because I will admit that occasionally I find someone who is not Caucasian that I find to be somewhat attractive (take note that I said “somewhat”, I have never seen a non-white guy that just rocked my world). The thing is that I find out that they are usually half Caucasian, and I then realize that it’s the Caucasian physical features/traits that I’m attracted to.

    I live in Texas with a high hispanic population, and for some reason I seem to attract a lot of “attention” from hispanic men; I’d say 3/4 of all the attention I get is from hispanic men. And while I’m flattered, I’m simply not interested in anything beyond friendship. Nothing is going to happen, because there is ZERO sexual attraction coming from my side of the equation. Problem is that pisses them off and they call me a racist simply because I’m not sexually attracted to them. These meetings often turn into conflicts when I don’t reciprocate the feelings. It’s become so annoying that I have actually stopped going out unless I’m in a large group of friends. I have hispanic friends, quite a few actually, those mature enough to have a simple friendship.

    There are fewer black guys and asians than hispanics here. The asians I do meet are usually cool & kinda sheepish so if they are into me they at least maintain civility and are aware of the fact that I’m not reciprocating their feelings and don’t get aggressive about it so we usually stay friends if there are common interests. However the black guys I do meet seem to be hyper-aggressive; far more than the hispanic guys. And when I reject their advances (I’m always polite about it) they respond as if they can’t believe I just rejected them. Like that scenario never entered their mind as a possible outcome to this encounter. They refuse to take “no” as an answer and keep pouring on the moves, until they get frustrated enough to move on to another target. These encounters are usually the most annoying because when they reach that level of frustration that they’ve decided to say ‘fuck it’ they usually yell out some sort of insult and call me racist loud enough that anyone in the vicinity can hear it.

    I am sick & tired of being called a racist simply because I am not sexually attracted to non-white guys. I am open to the possibility that there might be a person out there who is non-white that I would find attractive, but it’s just easier to set that rule down and be upfront when I’m online in order to avoid all the annoying conversations that begin with, “WHY NOT! What’s wrong with me?”. Because when you consider that there is only a 00.000000000000000000000001% chance that this particular non-white guy is going to be the ‘unicorn’ out of the bunch it just makes sense to be upfront about the whole thing.

    I’m not going to suck your dick just because you call me a racist.

    • It makes you prejudice that’s for sure… we don’t know you… so to call you racist we don’t have enough info…You can try and justify it, or explain it till you’re blue in the face. It is what it is. And I doubt anyone expects you to suck anything just because they call you prejudice. But don’t get your panties in a bunch for being called what you are.

    • Meow Mix can soft peddle if he/she likes but you and all the people who liked your little “stop calling me racist just because I don’t like being called a racist just bc I prefer whites to all those yuckie darkies” are racists. You can defend it any way you wish but your rejection of these people is based their race, something about their essential selves makes them inherently inadequate.

      You are the most terrible kind of racist, Klansman and skinheads declare their rejection and so we know to avoid them but you… You pretend to be our friends, to care about us, and respect us as equals but are on some basic level are as disgusted by us as those other more honest racist.

      “When your definition of racism is so narrow that only genocidal motives qualify, it’s awfully easy to say you’re not a racist” “Racism runs the gamut from full-fledged slavery to getting pulled over for “driving while black.”

    • If the sole reason you reject someone is based on their race, you are racist (btw Mexican and Mexican Americans are white – look up your Texas history).

      Preference / fetishism are not biologically determined. You weren’t shat out your mother’s ass not liking nonwhites: you learned that somewhere. You can’t see that because your racism blinds you to it.

      Just fucking embrace it. Admit that you are a racist, continue to live your racist life, fuck anyone you want to. Being honest (means taking a long, hard look at your bullshit) will, at least, provide you have some integrity.

  10. Well, i really preffer white guys, and i dont like muscle bears, im only onto big bears, chubs, musclechubs and superchubs! But well, what happensa if a guy like black muscle bear? NOTHING! Fuck them all xD fuck racism!

  11. This type of prejudice is universal among gay men, regardless of scene. Guys who put ignorant, racist statements in their profiles are only hurting themselves. It basically serves as an “asshole” stamp, making it easy to identify guys who aren’t worth interacting with. I suggest logging off of Growlr, and Bear411 and cultivating relationships organically. Don’t let these insipid mouth breathers bring you down, boys.

  12. I think the author needs to be more careful in making some statements as if they were true just because of his personal opinion. Tagging the entire bear community as “more racist than ever”, without making a reasonable, fact-based discussion about it only comes through as troll bait.

    What I do believe is true is that the bear archetype of a bear as a big, hairy white dude wearing jeans and a flannel shirt has been sold to us since the beginnings of the bear movement, and perpetuated by porn, bear magazines and even the flyers for most bear events. But because the entire bear community, like many other comments read below, is build around a SEXUAL PREFERENCE, it’s difficult to call that racist. Is like saying Furries are racist because they only are attracted to people wearing animal costumes.

    One more thing you’re right on the money my friend: Bear411 is, in my opinion, a shamelessly racist site (I know you didn’t mention the name probably out of fear to get banned in there). The site is more powered by greed than the desire of building a healthy bear community. I’ve heard many stories over the years from friends of mine from Mexico telling me how their requests to be added to the site are ignored or banned. But we still use it and allow it to exist. Dick moves mountains my friends.

    I am a latin bear who doesn’t fit the bear description to the letter. Do I feel that I might have a better chance to get laid if I was white? hell no. In these times of diversity if you get rejected a lot it’s more likely because you are a douche than because you are non-white. Now Bear parties have a heavy sexual aspect to them, and be honest, THAT’S WHY WE GO THERE. I think if you want to be in a community that will always accept you no matter what your looks are you need to go to a church.

    • And those stories about Bear411 are just that — stories. Look at the personals on there — from around the world — and look at the diversity. If that mix is “racist,” then I must not know the meaning of the term. There are plenty of black, Asian, Latino and other minority posts on there, and no one has ever offered up a shred of credible evidence to back up any of the allegations made against the site. I’m not affiliated in the site in any way other than having a profile on there, but I get so sick and tired of hearing this unsubstantiated bashing against this site. If it’s indeed going on, please cough up the proof to demonstrate it. In the meantime, please, people, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

      • Due to the way the website works, if you apply for a profile and don’t get accepted, you get absolutely no response explaining the reasons for what you were declined. You simply never get your profile added, so it’s hard to provide proof of that. So basically if Greg doesn’t like you, you don’t get added. And you never get to hear why.

        The owner has absolutely all the right in the world to manage his website as he prefers, and if you’re using it for free, you can’t ask for much more. However, these days there’s a standard practice in free web services to have some sort of customer service, even if only automated, to provide information about events such as getting service denied.

      • There is ALWAYS someone out there trying to deny what happens to a lot of people… just because it’s not “your” experience doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

  13. Have a look at “Bear City 2” the movie. There are no African Americans in the whole movie, and it’s set in the USA! My short time in Australia a few years ago proved exactly the same point: the “Mr Bear Sydney” competition should have been called Mr Anglo Bear! Small examples, but it’s time this issue was addressed.

    • HA! Look at Bear City 1….. the most racially diverse bear bar in the whole country, in NYC… and in the movie it was completely white washed.

    • I can actually speak to that knowing people involved in making the movies and they are well aware that people look at them like that. But honestly they TRIED to get diversity in the film, they did open casting calls, etc but rarely did any person of color show up. They cannot put people of color into the movie if no one shows up to be in it.

      • I find it hard to believe they went to the Dug out and did an open casting call in NYC and no bears of color showed up. It’s the most racially diverse bear bar I have ever been to, ever in the country. Where on earth did they do the casting call? When they were filming Bear City 2 in P town a few years back the people involved would PERSONALLY ask people to be in the movie as extras off the street. Yet none of my black bear friends were asked… not one… The only thing my black bear friends were ever approached about was having to do with porn..

  14. I don’t get what you mean when you say they “aren’t allowed into this” – It’s not that much of an organized club. I always saw it as you self identified as a bear and you just are.. you just ARE a bear. You don’t need a membership card or anyone else’s approval to be a bear. it’s in your heart, haha.

    Maybe it’s different in Manhattan, maybe dudes are more conceited or something, but in most places I’ve been – black and asian bears have always been around and always appeared to be having a good time.

    Now when it gets to twinks of any race, I can see where they’d have issues getting socially involved in bear situations. Bears are there to meet bears.

  15. This has certainly sparked some healthy debate which, in my opinion, is a good thing. We all need to display a little more kindness and understanding within our own community before we start asking others to do so.

  16. I fortunately haven’t seen much racism at all in the bear community.
    Most people who say they don’t like a particular race don’t even know what they’re saying. They don’t know how to express properly that they don’t like a certain culture. Culture is not intrinsic to race. I’m fine in admitting I’m not attracted to guys from a stereotypical “hood” culture. But I’ve found many black guys attractive inside and out who are in a culture more similar to mine.
    It is may be a bit too on the nose how deeply categorical we sometimes are, creating the labels “black bear” and “panda bear”.

  17. I couldn’t disagree more. While racism has not vanished from the Bear community (or anywhere else in the gay community or society at large, for that matter), I can honesty say that there is A LOT more integration in the Bear community than there once was. As someone who has been involved in it for 20 years, I’ve seen the change — for the BETTER. Just look at the crowds at Bear weekends and at the pages on Bear web sites, and you’ll find much more diversity than there once was. And, as someone who is in an interracial Bear relationship, I can tell you they’re getting a lot more common out there than they used to be. At a time when things are on track for getting better, this post seems to be creating an issue where there isn’t one.

  18. I really sympathize with the writer and sigh with mixed confusion and understanding of which he speaks. The ‘bear community’ is hardly a community, but rather an upwardly mobile, white, upper middle class, condo-renting, hipster-envying species that think it’s completely sensible to plop down three grand or more for a few days in PTown in July in order to feel that they ‘belong’ somewhere. A German friend who came to watch such festivities walked away early assured that it was a ‘cult’ (fascinating word choice.) The last of its goals is to encourage multiculturalism. There is prejudice, exclusion, and racism everywhere within it. I don’t care what someone’s physical preference for a ‘type’ is, making anyone feel excluded from any group is hurtful, particularly when many of us suffered the stings of such things by being gay in the first place. There are ways that we can encourage diversity within any sub-group without having to raise the specter of what we each find attractive or not attractive. C’mon. This is ridiculous. Making each other feel included and wanted is key. But the bear community just doesn’t do it. Unfortunately, this is why I do not get involved with it anymore. It’s turned its back on diversity and on a class-less structure, and instead insulates itself in its own socioeconomic bubble. I’m sure some well meaning white liberal guys out there will protest and say otherwise, but look in the mirror. This is what you’ve made yourselves into. Congratulations.

  19. This is not particular to the bear community, this is not just a gay issue, this is more global than that. Between politics, religion and advertising we are engrained from birth what is beautiful, accepted and desired. I say racism in general is more prevalent across the world because we shine a spotlight on it. I find it disheartening that within our community we our prejudice against ourselves as we our small enough as it is and with all the shit going down we need to love and support each other more than ever.

  20. First, when people of color are talking about racism (or women about sexism, GLBT people about homophobia), people in the dominant group ought to start by listening, rather than trying to own the dialog, justify, deny, and silence the speaker. You (we) may not MEAN it that way, but when you have a chance to learn about your impact, you’re wise to take it. Second, IMHO, being only attracted to certain people is a limitation: A pretty deep one, and one which most of us live with, not giving it much thought, but if you’re only attracted to certain races, isn’t it by definition deeply embedded racism that causes us to value one race over another, erotically? Finally, if you want to advertise your preferences, it’s incumbent on you to do so in a way that’s not patently offensive, even if you think it’s cute to use terms like “rice,” “bean,” or “chocolate” — or worse. Taking in individuals and getting to know them may be too much to ask in this fast food culture, but I hope a little sensitivity isn’t.

    • P.S. Someone pointing out our racism shouldn’t be a mortal wounding offense, but an opportunity to look at ourselves critically. It’s damn hard to moved past something if you can’t own it, and our friends and the community are excellent mirrors in which we can see a different version of ourselves than the hype we’ve told ourselves about how great (or not so great) we are.

      • Your comment’s here are amazing, this said everything I’ve try to explain about what I found so offensive about John Mayer’s comments from a few years back. It is so encouraging when someone gets what you’re talking about and can articulate it so clearly. Thanks!!!

      • Yes Alex…awesome response to the sometimes touchy subject of talking racism. All of us could do a little more listening 🙂

    • With the assumption that “being only attracted to certain people is a limitation” — it’s not easy to distinguish between that statement as applied to race or height or hair color and the assertion by my bisexual friends that “being only attracted to one gender is a limitation that is culturally programmed”…

  21. I have to agree and disagree somewhat. Being a mixed race couple, I am very aware that my non-bear non-white partner is pretty much ignored and even looked down upon by a large portion of the bears in our local community. But on the other had there are several bears in our community that are not white that are leaders and participate in activities and do just fine. I think the root issue is the racism that still exists in the gay community as a whole, not just in the bear scene. I have non Bear friends that find it completely frustrating to go out and be looked past, ignored at bar stations, and cannot find even someone to return a nod hello yet their white friends with them get all the attention. It has gotten better over the years, I am in my 50’s now and have seen a lot, but racism is still a large part of our community as are people that discriminate by weight, looks, etc. The gay community can stand together when it needs to, but other times can be the biggest pile of bullshit in the way we treat our own.

  22. “GWM seeking GWM” was prevalent in the ’70’s & ’80’s.
    Being a man of mixed heritage I was always left out of the in-crowd. I learned to live with it and just kept away from those that choose to label themselves and their possible mates. Personally I love MEN of all Shapes, Races and Size. I DO ADORE BEARS, but since I am bare chested man I have never been accepted into that clique. However, I have met and made “true friends” with a few guys from Bear411. Not all men are the same and racism within the LGBTQ community has been and will always be our major downfall.
    btw: It is “OK” to have a ‘sexual preference’, but does your sexual preference overrule your ‘people preference’ or is it the same. I have found that most of the LA/NYC gay guys only have ‘friends’ that they are sexually attracted to, and quite frankly “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

  23. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to what you like, but being a mixed race Italian/Latino I know first hand experience of being sexually objectified.

    I was friends with a guy that exclusively loved and was partnered with a Latino (Mexican American) and his views were often racist and ignorant stereotypes. When I looked back, he was attracted to my appearance and made assumptions about me without really learning anything about my background or heritage initially. As time went on between us as friends, his narcissism shown through in the fact that it was never about getting to know me, rather it was about gratifying himself.

    My friendship towards this individual eventually ended for many reasons partly fueled by his narcissism, selfish self-serving attitude, and also because I realized he was using me and he did this before to other people.

  24. NO ONE has the right to question who I am, and am not, attracted to. Period. End of discussion.

  25. That is so true! But actually the gay community make me sick sometimes. That’s why im not really into bars and gay village! Everything is so ghetto over there. The skinny with the skinny, the fems with the fems, the bear with the bear! wth is that? we’re all gay,we’re all humanbeing!!! I guess we are masochist, we are not rejected enough by people, so we’re gonna reject even our own community! we are pathetic!

  26. So, extending the logic of this nonsense, if I do not want to have sex with a woman because I am gay, does this make me sexist? Of course not!

  27. I don’t have time to read all the rants everyone has posted, I agree with the author, I have seen this in action many times working in Nightclubs and Bars. What I don’t think most Americans will admit about their culture, is that racism means excluding anyone based solely on the color of their skin. If you won’t sleep/date/speak to anyone outside of your own race; you are a racists plain and simple. No other explanation fits the definition of Racism, and you are kidding yourself if you believe your so called preference doesn’t make you a racists. Just an FYI……

  28. The whole bear community is a joke. What started off as a subculture of mainstream rejects is now the biggest bunch of prissiest queens with body hair and flannel obsessions.

  29. This is a great article! I often times will tell people, and I truly believe it to be so, that “preference” is learned. It is NOT an innate emotion or feeling.

    I further challenge those folks to tell why they are OR are not interested in folks outside their sphere. The one caveat being that any reason given CAN NOT be based on a stereotype. As I sit and wait (usually only a few seconds) there is this look of shock on their faces and from there we can have a honest dialogue about what it is they can’t seem to get over when it comes to leaving the comfort of what they know.

  30. Whether it’s bears or whatever, when it comes to the Internet sites, the profiles, ads, chat rooms, whatever, I observe far more restrictions (and badmouthing) based on age than on race or ethnicity. That is not to mitigate the observations on this page — only to suggest that ageism is even more rampant in the gay community and is practiced by folks of all races, ethnicities, ages, etc. If you’re over 55 or so, you’re regarded as a ‘dead man walking’ or a zombie shedding rotting flesh. I would love to see a scientific study on discrimination of all kinds on such sites.

  31. Christ… can’t guys just man-up and say what they want? Now we have to pussy-foot around so no one gets offended? God forbid anyone should ever be offended by anything. You know what, I’m offended that you’re offended–so you are no longer allowed to be offended. Problem solved. (You’re welcome.)

    The heart wants what the heart wants (the dick, too). If I’m into red-heads, I am I “allowed” to say that? Or will I offend a brunette guy? And isn’t saying “the bear community” excluding others who are not bears? Will no one think of the twinks*?!

    I’m a big guy–I often see ads that say “into fit only” or “no fats.” I don’t get offended. I don’t feel they need to accept/fuck me. They want what they want, it’s not me, so I can move on and not waste my time. It’s not always a fetish, it’s often just a preference.
    Just because I don’t want to sleep with a guy doesn’t mean I don’t want to be friends with them. I adore my friends. I love being around them and sharing drinks, dinners, and trips with them. But I don’t want to fuck them.

    Is it okay that I’m friends with women and don’t want to fuck them, or am I a sexist, too?

    *Apologies… I’m sure someone’s offended by that.

  32. I have lived with Prejudice from many different angles. One from the Stand point of Being Native American and the other, being an over weight bear/cub type. Where I live many guys are chasing the Twinks, but one thing is for certain YOU HAVE TO BE WHITE!! It is a staple in this community, yet sad part is?? They say “it’s not racism it’s a “preference” and we just prefer in this community to not give a sideways glance to ANYONE of color” Many will deny it now. But it’s still obvious. Not to mention if their friends don’t like someone of color then they avoid people of color to try to not disappoint their friends sort of “What will the neighbors think” syndrome. Now the Bears??? The Bears around here have a distaste of each other. Sad but true! Often times a bear will not date another bear from here, now if the bear is from another bear community in a far away city??? All systems a go!!! Not to mention most of the bear here are Bi. I have no problem with either. But they make no qualms about my race. I am a Native American Bear Guy, I have the dark skin and furry all over, yet I have to suffer the prejudice, the racism and the bigots. For a guy with a big heart of gold it’s frustrating to get ignored and get the racial slurs thrown at me from peeps in this very same community. All I want to be is happy (without all the hooplah) and in love. 😉

  33. I say let them have it..their labels, functions, and choice to isolate. Why are there so many in this country who feel that EVERYTHING must be for EVERYONE. This is an issue when tax dollars are being spent, not when private citizens self-segregate. Those chocolate or ricers that want to be subjected to that foolishness let them have it…

  34. In the past 20 years that I have been a welcome? participant in the whole bear trip,it really does seem that what started out as a genuinely friendly and reasonably inclusive pot luck supper has been deteriorating into an exclusive circle jerk festival for upper middle class bearded white princesses with beer bellies and bullshit attitudes fur quite some time now and to be quite honest,at the age of 48 and married to a great guy who loves me unconditionally,my brown skinned Italiano ass is becoming less and less concerned about whether or not I still fit in somewhere within the somewhat comical limitations of a subculture within a subculture of men who cannot seem to learn how to love themselves or each other enough to permanently eliminate the need for this particular topic of discussion to even be a relevant issue. In other words,all the bear hugs in the world don’t mean shit if all of y’all no longer have the love required in your hearts to back them up,folks… WOOOF!!!

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