The advancements the bear community has made over the years in terms of visibility both in the gay and straight world really is profound given how we were treated like outcasts about as recent as ten years ago. Mainstream media has covered us in many different facets on television, music and the movies, and the terminology we have developed is now said all across the world. Our themed events grow larger in size each year, which also allows for a bigger population to experience all of this in some sort of capacity. The increasing amount of bears who inhabit the culture has also developed some sort of drawn line in the sand when it comes to weight in our community. This is something that is very visible in cities like Manhattan, and it is something that is hard to turn a blind eye to.
Although this has been a topic that has been mum over the years, the division has become more clear as I navigate the social gatherings, outlets and more in my city and beyond. A couple of weeks back, there were two different major bear events happening in one night. One was happening in Midtown, and the other all the way in the financial district. I attended the one downtown, which catered more towards a mixed group of “bear” types, including husky, otter, muscle and more. The other event, however, seemed to be very muscle heavy as I combed through the photos and had a hard time finding anyone who didn’t have a six pack or an Adonis-like figure that attended.
Nothing wrong with either side here. We should embrace our bodies regardless of who we are no matter what, but it is very noticeable how weight plays a big part of the separation in this community, just as race does and many other factors. Do we tend to gravitate towards men who look just like us, or does fear drive one’s ability to chat with someone who doesn’t look like them?
Outside of the major bear events, even a night at the local bar can really showcase how we all factor in. The muscle bears hang out downstairs at Gymbar whereas the huskier dudes tend to populate Rockbar, yet I rarely see either side come together for friendship, relationships, or more. What really drives this?
Outside of these events, there was a conversation I had recently that sort of sparked all of this. I recently hung out with a friends with benefits. This guy was in pretty good shape, yet had a thing for huskier type of dudes. He mentioned that admitting something like this was “coming out of the closet for a second time”, as it comes with predictable judgment from men who look like him. Is the fear of the unknown from the people you surround yourself with the reason why this happens in the first place?
When I attend events that showcase all different types of bears populating, I embrace it. This hopefully happens all over the country, however it is somewhat minimal in Manhattan and other major cities that I have visited. I asked my friends what their thoughts are on this, and the answers were quite colorful in either agreement or disagreement.
“It’s been this way. And they do mingle. Some people have their cliques. Other have no hang-ups. Just depends who your with but it’s everywhere.”
“It’s interesting you say that. I tend to like bears, but if I go to some kind of bear event I go in expecting that the bears will tend to gravitate towards each other and gloss over me. Not a judgement or complaint or anything, I just always chalked it up to everyone having a type that they like. But it didn’t occur to me that they were subcategorizing among themselves.”
“I mean, is it THAT strange that a subculture built on body type would then break off into other subcategories? Though I sometimes bemoan the lack of a large gay population here, it forces us to befriend and accept gays of all body types.”
“Pretty much it’s just comes down to sexual attraction. Guys go to bars to hook up, or at least window shop, as well as to hang out with their friends, many of whom they have previously hooked up with, let’s be honest… The “clone” attraction (like attracted to like) is nothing new in the gay community.”
“I have a very diverse group of friends with different body types. At events we hang out, I like people based on their personality and are they fun, do I enjoy their company? Never once was it “oh they have muscles”, or “oh that belly is huge.” I think that when you let down those walls or barriers, that’s when you can appreciate people for who they are, and yer quality of life will be enriched for it, that’s when you will feel sense of community.”
So what does this break down to exactly when it comes to weight? Is it a “clique” thing? Is it really based on sexual attraction? Or is it something else that divides us when we really should be united in all fronts? What are your thoughts?