There has been a bunch of articles (by lazy journalists) that has been circling the internet as of late, that has this particular guy pissed in many different ways. The control c, control v articles that are all over social media is about a report that states bears have lower self-esteem, and therefore are more like to engage in riskier sex. Regardless if this is a simple “study”, it doesn’t reflect the bear community at all for several different reasons and as someone who tends to be a bit more blunt than others when it comes to people being wrongfully judged for their owns reasons, I will say this as a preface to this article- fuck what anyone else thinks. And most importantly, when it comes to your dating and sex life, understand that no one, I mean NO ONE, is out of your league. [Read more…] about News Flash Bear Community- No one is Out of Your League
As someone who has grass roots when it comes to building a business like Manhattan Digest, I am always ecstatic and happy to feature other gay men who are doing the same with their own business. It is an even bigger thrill when the business itself doesn’t shame in any body type or image in the entirety of its community, something that certain businesses pride themselves on when it comes to excluding people based on a variety of things that sometimes they can’t help. A great example of this type of positivity and inclusiveness is the fantastic Instagram account of BearsCubsnBeards, which is run by the equally delightful Stephen Blyth. [Read more…] about BearsCubsNBeards- The Red Hot IG Account You Should Follow
As we are still living in a world where body acceptance of all sizes is a constant struggle and battle to become a norm in society, there are several brands that are making fantastic products in order to make that struggle a thing of the past and have all of us be accepted for who they are. One of those fantastic companies is Bear Skn, a great brand that markets quality and colorful underwear to men of size that fit well and accentuate what makes husky dudes awesome. The brand has grown exponentially since its birth about two years ago, and they recently celebrated that with an amazing photo shoot for their Bear Skn Neon Brights Collection. [Read more…] about Bear Skn’s Neon Collection’s Woofy Rooftop Party
When you are growing up in the years that will somewhat shape the kind of person you will be, something that will form no matter how you look at it is the type of person you are attracted to. Straight, gay, or in between, a lot of what we see that influences us into determining who we like happens to be on the big screen or the television at home. So many of us have an attraction to bears and bear types, yet there had to be a starting off point that got us to where we are today, whether it is from a dating or sexual viewpoint. I recently polled a ton of my bear & bear loving friends with the simple question- “Who was the first bear-type of guy that did it for you on television and/or the movies?” The colorful responses I got were quite in depth and interesting, as the tastes varies depending on body hair, age, charisma, race, and so much more. [Read more…] about Who Was Our First Celebrity “Bear” Crush Growing Up?
Sometimes the best way we can connect between each other isn’t exactly with chatting, it can simply be through our body language that can make the connection that much greater. Than can truthfully be said in the short film that the incredibly sexy and talented Sam Hendi created two months back, called “MASS: C19H2802”, which examines that with close to a dozen bearish type models in a fourteen minute film where the absence of voice is right and center and all you are left with is a visual masterpiece of the human body.
[Read more…] about Sam Hendi’s MASS: C19H2802 is Visually Stunning & Sexy to Boot
When you are a man of a certain size (like me), shopping for good fitting underwear can be just as much of an issue as finding a shirt of pants that showcase the goods all in a great way. I ran into that particular issue last weekend when I was picked to be a Gogo Bear at Furball NYC, which happened during Pride Weekend at Space Ibiza last Friday night. I had some options readily available for myself however I didn’t like the way it fit me and the colors of them didn’t gravitate the eye the way they wanted to. Luckily, one of the sponsors for Furball NYC was this great clothing line called Bear Skn who also provided underwear for all the GoGo Bears for the evening. I tried mine on, which had a great green color to it, and was ecstatic with how it looked, felt and got me through the evening (If you are dying to see how it looks just go to my IG- @musiccub. #selfpromotion.)
With so many mainstream and gay underwear lines focusing on the muscled and chiseled dude, it can be difficult to navigate the world of boxers and briefs for the huskier and thick dudes who want to feel just as hot and sexy as the fit ones do. Bear Skn does exactly that. Their attention to detail when it comes to size, color and body type really shows and with a line of underwear that goes up to 6XL you can guarantee that you’ll be able to find something that fits you to perfection when you try it on.
I recently sat down with their fabulous owner Jody Koenig who explained to me about the history of Bear Skn, its hopeful future and honest thoughts about their competitors in the market right now. Take a look.
How did the concept of Bear Skn begin?
It all started when Co-Founder Bjorn R-G was a member of an underwear of the month club and wasn’t really getting anything to suit his needs. When there was a style he liked typically it wasn’t offered it in his size. We started asking our friends about their underwear and it became clear that there was a need for comfortable and stylish underwear for bigger guys.
Conceptually and design wise what was your original image for the brand?
At Bear Skn, we think of ourselves as craftsmen. While the tools of our trade may be a bit finer than a hatchet, we wanted an iconic logo that conveyed a sense of craftsmanship and masculinity. A hatchet is not merely a blunt tool. It can be also be used to shape something new. We think that Bear Skn has shaped something new that you will truly appreciate.
We started with our standard issue in basic colors black, red, green, blue, and a purple. Then for our premium Backwoods Button down that features the classic buffalo check print. The backwoods really shows the masculine image that we want for the brand.
The name too, how did you come up with that, in particular the spelling of SKN?
We went through a number of different names actually. We tried using our initials but that sounded more like a law firm than a men’s clothing brand. The name “Bjorn” actually means “Bear.” It worked out that it was a fun name that had a great image, and still had personal elements to it. We continued to play around with the name but the SKN spelling came down to what was available as a URL.
What are the options of apparel you can get?
Currently Bear Skn is focused on underwear. We have a brief, trunk and soon to be released boxer brief style. We listened to feedback on our first line and made the adjustments that our customers we asking for. Bear Skn also has plans for socks, loungewear, shorts, swimwear to mention a few.
Do you find bears are still underrepresented when it comes to clothing options in the community?
For a larger man, finding a good fit can be difficult. There are options out there, but you really have to dig and try things that maybe your not use to. There are not many brands that focus on providing new and stylish looks for this size range. You are limited to one outdated look.
What’s your opinion on well known gay clothing labels such as Andrew Christian and Nasty Pig? Do you think they miss the mark when it comes to men of a certain size?
I think they are serving their market very well. As a business you have to find your ideal customer and market directly to them, they have found their group and going after it. That’s where Bear Skn comes in to focus the men of size!
What is next for the Bear Skn brand?
The main focus for us is on growing the breath of our product line and getting into more retail locations. We see more fun colors and introducing more interesting new style.
For more information on Jody’s fantastic line, check out their official website. Right in time for the upcoming Bear Week in Provincetown as well! Happy Shopping everyone!
I am someone who can honestly say, and it is hard to believe this, am proud that I have been an out gay man for 15 years now. Coming out so young in life (freshman year of high school), I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a conservative area yet never once being bullied or made to feel less than due to my sexuality. I had the same experience when I went to college in Providence for five years, and even though my experience with the gay world was small it was never on the negative side and I developed some pretty great friends during my time there. Then I came home to Long Island and New York City and ventured into the gay world here, where things became drastically different for me.
I never saw my size as a hindrance growing up. What was a hindrance was being gay, not because anyone picked on me for it but because I truly was the only out and proud person in my school and I felt somewhat that i was in this heterosexual bubble that I couldn’t see my way out of. I needed to be around like minded people which is why I chose a city like Providence as it has a large gay community for such a small city and ultimately state. Problem for me then became my size, which shortly developed when I came into New York City and realized that your overall look became something to be judged heavily. This include factors outside of size such as race, cultural background, income and an array of others facets that for someone as young as I was at the time became a bit much for me to handle. I would walk through Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, workout at the local gyms and consistently be surrounded by men I saw as inferior to me and would constantly judge myself compared to them and wonder where I could improve. The funny thing is, I never did this growing up. I felt like all of this was making up for lost time as both men and women tend to do these things to an extreme when they are in middle school & high school as this is when insecurities breed on such a higher level as you are stuck with hundreds of other kids on a daily basis. This time around it was happening in adulthood and I feared that it would send me into a depression if I didn’t get some sort of validation from this community on the point that even if I had a great personality, charming and/or funny, that really it came down to if I was good looking or not. Sad but true, a good part of the gay world relies on vanity in order to determine friendships, fuck buddies, relationships, and so much more. Deny it as much as you want, but it is factual.
My weight has spiraled up and down over the years, my lightest I was at 215, heaviest I was at 270. Now I am somewhere in the middle and can honestly say that I am content with where I am at today. So what caused this shift in perception seven years after my initial fears were brought to the forefront? It is simple- you start to realize that all of that chaos that you create in your head is just that. You hopefully develop a maturity as you go throughout life and realize what is truly important to you and the high school bullshit you thought was vital to your everyday life becomes non-existent. I am happy that I have never really conformed in this community when it comes to being in an exclusive group, sticking to a particular body size and only dating one body type as that is what turns me on more than anything else. I hang with people from all sorts of groups, eat more when I want to and date whomever I want to because I hate staying inside the lines.
I still deal with the shade that comes with this community, the gossip and some of the negative connotations associated with. We all do, however I try not to let it get to me anymore as all that is is simply just chatter. I’m aware of who I am and my worth and that has taken years and years of confidence building and a great support system to understand that. Even if your situation seems bleak, understand that there is at least one person around you who greatly cares for you regardless. See the positive, see the glass half. Like spending time with your adorable nephew (pic above). That is unconditional love and what is really important in life.
Self Identifying yourself, endless race issues- WHY?
Last month I experienced my first ever Bear Week, held in the historic Provincetown, Massachusetts. I had the time of my life, and it was the first article that I have ever written about the bear community that was 100 percent positive minus a couple of restaurant snafu’s. The main purpose behind that article is to really make that week, and any event in life, what YOU want to make of it. Just rely on yourself to have a good time and not outside voices that could influence your everyday decisions. So when I went to go post about it on my personal Facebook page, and thank the many people who made the week amazing, I wasn’t expecting a debate to occur about the exclusion of particular races as an end result. This was the comment that set everything off-
Ryan Shea, thank you for your work. I applaud your auto ethnographic script, however, there is an opposition to the experiences, in which you describe. To refocus one premise, one can make Bear Week what they want is a fallacy due to a multitude of factors. Although we attempt to hide it, the error of racial and economical differentiation it highly visible and widely practiced; often times these actions are unconscious efforts, while other times the conscious efforts are design to exclude. Case in point, racially, Bear Week has a number of ethnicities attending its function; instead of generating social activities that are diverse, one is left to select only from Eurocentric activities that are constructed and produced for the ease and comfort of those who subscribe to Eurocentric norms. Here, I do want to impress upon the notion that I’m not in favor of a dualistic event, however for an event of this magnitude, a conscious level of pluralism is expected. Secondly, to error of dividing participants along economic lines is highly documented by the accepted practices of location, location, location. Mind you, I know this is a widely accepted practice in US society and the reflection at Bear Week evidence this practice; still it promotes an air of eliteness and “A” bear list status. These two examples are minor grains of sand to a major beach of social inequalities of Bear Week, yet participants wallow in the joy of second citizenry of this event. Now, personally I’m a decent person, who has been described as easy on the eyes, in addition, I like to believe I’m socially well adjusted and very capable of engaging others. Even with these very desired qualities, many times I found myself marginalized, left out, and over looked. Initially, I didn’t have a response, however after much internal analysis of the external factors, I hypothesized that ethnicity and economics are major contributors to the pervasive inequalities presented by Bear Week facilitators and it’s participants. We can not excuse injustice, regardless of how it comes about. With that being said, these particular injustices regardless of how they are packaged must be underscored and addressed – so to look at what doesn’t happen as a lens for action, it becomes evident that it is not solely incumbent on the individual to make Bear Week what they want it to be, instead an examination into the institutionalized practices of Bear Week to motets might reveal a better way to organize the event so to truly offer an experience where one can own it, thus having access to the same levels of enjoyment as other participants. Truly, I am sympathetic to the participants, and as a participant I can see the joy in the surface of the event. But once there’s time for reflection, one can not escape the idea that if I wanted make Bear Week what I want, am I getting what I paid for…and Bear Week as advertised was certainly not it.
That was a lot to take in for one, but the gist of what this particular person is saying is that Bear Week, and many bear events, are not really what you make of it, it is what they present that you have to deal with. So if you aren’t of a certain ethnicity, financial or “popular” status where you are considered a bearlebrity of sorts, then this event really isn’t designed for you. I find this very troublesome for so many different reasons. For one- the outside voices that I neglected to listen to while I was there that pretty much said this entire event was Muscle Bear 101 wasn’t completely true. Were there Muscle Bears? Sure, but for the most part they were incredibly friendly and didn’t go by the Manhattan type attitude which is if you don’t look like us than you can fuck with or us. That is just one part of this.
The second part is race, which is something that has had more of an open discussion in recent years. A big debate I saw happen on some particular Facebook pages was the scandal surrounding last year’s Bear Week cover photo, which was all white men. Several people of color and Caucasian men scowled at this and were quite offended, claiming that this further proved a general mindset that the bear community is white designed and doesn’t particularly advertise any men of color as being apart of it. After a lot of back and forth about this, it seemed to have some sort of an influence as the 2015 cover photo now features men of many ethnicities. Now the new problem is that several people are saying that there are no hairy men in this photo, and the bear community is known for obviously being hairy. OY VEY.
My general response is the following to all of this- Why care? Why do we let a simple photo dictate what we do with our lives? I am a shorter blond cub with a bit of weight on him. Did I see that in a photo with only 7 MEN? No. Do I let it affect if I show up to something or not? No. Do I see both sides on this when it comes to the race issue- yes I absolutely do. My personal thoughts is that the photographer should go to the Boat Slip during Tea Dance and take a massive photo from the top of the deck where you can see every type of guy down below. That way if there is someone who doesn’t feel like they fit into this crowd due to size, color or whatnot, they can find something in that particular picture. Sort of like a Where’s Waldo of sorts, although from my POV it really shouldn’t have to happen that way.
I think the issue in today’s society when it comes to self identifying yourself not only in the gay, bear or any type of community is resorting back to your middle school years where you feel like you want to belong. In other words, conform to where you feel comfortable in that particular position that you are in. This goes way beyond Bear Week, it can be so deep as to how someone operates in life. At what point do we stop dealing with this whole mob mentality in life and really just go into something without fear of rejection due to how one looks? Are we really that shallow of a society where someone’s skin color or financial status determines what land they can actually freaking walk on? I think if that answer is true than we have a lot to work on as a community.
What do you think about this?
As someone who has been in the bear and gay community for a little over ten years now (I am wondering when I am getting my sash or pin for all the hard work I have done. Emphasis on hard hehe), I have come to find a bevy of terms that gay men have come up to describe their physical appearance. Albeit a twink, cub, muscle bear, otter, wolf, and a new one that I heard recently, ram (big horns and like to charge. Giggity.) there is always going to be some terminology involved in describing yourself or to your friends about the guy you hung out with last night/cruised/hated for whatever reason possible.
Recently, I have discovered a brand new term that really doesn’t have much to do with physical appearance at all- Bearlebrity. This is a term that unlike words like “Chocolate” or “Buy One Get One Free Burrito at Chipotle” has a very negative connotation attached to it, yet for some reason no one really seems to pinpoint what it actually means. I recently made this a status update for my friends to reply and divulge what their true meaning of the word was, and the responses were plentiful and vastly different. Take a look at what people (who will be kept anonymous) thinks about what a Bearlebrity really is-
- “To me, a Bearlebrity is a guy who takes a zillion selfies each day just to get the satisfaction of the 300 likes they will get, many are from men that they have never met before. On top of the likes follows with 30 or 40 comments ranging from the same old shit such as “Grrr!” “Woof” or the tragic “I wish I was that cupcake (said bear is eating cupcake in photo)” and the added likes onto each comment made. They are narcissistic, rude and what is the worst about this community.”
- “It’s a myth, that term. It’s a label of status that a person generally uses only when they are talking about themselves. It’s a self-absorbed type of thing and a word that is rarely tossed around in social settings.”
- “A big hairy gay celeb. :)”
- “A “Bearlebrity” is a self-imposed title for someone who considers themselves popular and influential within the bear community. Another question that needs to be asked, is why the Bear community insists on putting “Bear” as a pre-fix in front of everything. What once was charming and humorous now comes across like Smurf Speak.”
- “An individual lacking in self esteem.”
- “Yet again, people who are stared at by other people have negative stories made up about them in order to make the starers feel better about themselves after they have made themselves feel bad.”
- “I think of bear performers. People like Kendall Kelly that make a living touring and performing at bear runs and such.”
- “I use this term all the time. Not derogatorily. In my opinion, it’s someone in the bear community who has high public visibility. They may own bear brands, organize events, DJ bear dances, act in bear films, model bear brands, have bear themed Facebook pages…etc.”
- “The most common bear term I have heard being used BY the people calling themselves it, is A-List Bears. Yes, I have heard people call themselves this. I mostly bear see Bearlebrity used by “others” to describe someone who is super popular in bear world. I think i may have heard once or twice someone call themselves that.”
Those weren’t even all the comments, but if you get the gist of the above it seems to be that this still has a negative viewpoint to it but there are some that think differently and use the term in a positive angle. It is also further proof in my writings that in the bear and gay community we consistently judge and label each other for whatever reason that may be. I don’t understand how even in the grown up world that we live in that many men resort back to our middle school and high school days where we become Regina George and label everyone based off of whatever qualities we deem to be not up to par with our likings in the world. Granted I am completely guilty of this as is many men, but this question does remain- how can we take a word like Bearlebrity and change it into something that is described in a positive way and not so negative way?
What is your definition of this? Do you feel we use labels all the time as a way to describe and ultimately judge other people? Hit me back with your viewpoints on this.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along (Muscle Included)?
Many of the articles that I write really come from a variety of experiences. Most of the times they are a combination of my own experiences mixed with others to culminate in what I take out of it all and put it in the best way possible so that it sparks a healthy debate between everyone else. Funny thing is with this one, it never really crossed my mind until a recent Facebook post. A good (and very smart) friend of mine put this post up regarding how the bear community views the muscle portion of it and ultimately how it really ultimately reflects on how you yourself are as a person-
“What’s so tragic is watching guys who should have loads of self-respect lost in this self-defeating exercise of defining these “muscle bears” as physically superior and themselves as losers in the same scene, and then blaming these guys they really don’t even know for their mental and spiritual discomfort. There’s a betrayal of something that has always been an awesome option for self-defining as bear, which is to know you’re as hot as you feel you are and not to give a fuck what anyone else might think. It’s the people standing in groups, bitterly dishing the guys they are attracted to who they assume aren’t into them who ruin the atmosphere at bear events, not the guys they point and sneer at.”
This wound up sparking a very long threaded debate on how men, not only in the bear community but in the gay community as a whole, view muscle guys. It really boils down to this- haters are really just haters. Let’s break this situation down, because I have done this somewhat and I know I am not the only one who has been in this corner of somewhat “hate-dom”. This is a random scenario here-
I am at a popular gay bar with a couple of my friends. All of a sudden, a group of muscle bears (or guys, whatever) walk in in an upbeat and happy mode, order drinks and stand around with the impression that they are having a great time. This will then trigger something in my head to think that even if they are having a great time and are laughing and dancing and whatnot, they are still a bunch of royal douchebags. Why? Because in a lot of guys minds, they are insanely insecure when they are around men like that. This is for so many different reasons.
1. They compare body types and feel as if they need to look like them in order to get that attention.
2. Snarl all they want, these guys want the muscle dudes to be attracted to them and if they go in with a defeated or cunty attitude about it, it just worsens the whole process.
3. This will then lead to them having minor chit chat with their other friends about said douchebags, who most of the time are just trying to enjoy themselves and not get into a weird process of guys glaring at them for no reason.
4. Bottom line, its freaking insecurity.
This can also cause a chain reaction of sorts in which I have written about so many freaking times before- separation. Division. Something that the gay community seems to fight against and want so badly to have some sort of unification yet these types of issues are working against that thought. Why do we do this to ourselves? Many times I have been at these bars and have found a swarm of guys who come from all backgrounds of life, be it size, race, finance and so forth all standing around and talking to each other and having a good time. Then again, I have also seen situations where its the Asians in one corner, the black guys playing pool, the white bears all huddled up like they are playing a game of football and the muscle guys who stick with each other for whatever reason need be. In these types of situations, everyone stands shoulder to shoulder but no one engages and keeps to themselves.
But there has to be a reason for this happening, and in my opinion it really can stem from growing up and choosing who you want to hang with on the playground, only this time around there is a lot more body hair and drinks that don’t come in a sippy cup. We might think the other group is weird or we aren’t attracted to them or the new expression of “Aint nobody got time for that”. Time for what? Unless someone provokes you or gives you a reason to not like them, why the hatred? What the hating? Why glare at someone who seems to be having a great night just because you are the one that’s angry? Then again, why be angry? Because in this situation you bring the misery on yourself as a form of self-deprication. I am guilty of it, and many others are. It stops us from really opening our eyes and enjoying what is really great about this community, especially ones who want to go to the big “bear” events and enjoy themselves wholeheartedly and not get mad if a particular group seems to be having a great time and not focusing on you. Really at the end of the day you gotta love yourself before you love anyone else. Am I quoting RuPaul here? Sure. But that line makes fucking perfect sense.
So let’s have this be a lesson to everyone- go out, enjoy YOURSELF, enjoy YOUR TIME, and not focus on the muscle guy in the corner and what they are doing. Better yet? Go up and introduce yourself. You never know what can happen and the positive effect it can have on your life. Cheers, y’all.