It’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. [Read more…] about Are Gay Packs Really Just Cliques?
Ahh, summertime. The weather is warm, the Mister Softee trucks are everywhere, and the bears no doubt spend one fabulous weekend flocking to Provincetown, Massachusetts for its 15h Annual Bear Week which just occurred between July 11th through the 18th. Seeing as last year was my first year experiencing Bear Week in all of its glory (see more of that write up here), I decided to give it another shot with the full understanding of what I was going into. Last year was a lot to take in, and I’m not just talking about the variety of men at the PTown Inn Pool nor the Dick Dock (or as I lovingly refer to it- the gay Dunkin Donuts). I was aware of what the week had in store for me, yet this year seemed to be quite different from last year in many different ways.
This time around, I decided to relax a lot more and not stress the need to be at every single event and be out from 8am to 2am every single day. That concept can catch up to you pretty quickly and your batteries will burn out by day three most likely. The other thing I promised myself was to cook a lot more and eat at home as the restaurants (although fantastic) can get pricy and run up quite the bill for yourself by the end of the week. I kept both promises and had a much more laid back, not so expensive week that actually turned out to be quite the positive for me.
This year’s Bear Week was chock full of fun times, great parties and a wonderfully organized event that really made its 15th Anniversary one of its best years to date. The amount of men that came up this year seemed to have doubled from last year, and the general consensus that I got from this year like I did the last is that everyone for the most part has such a friendly disposition and really enjoys the level of getting to know each other at such a great capacity that it is nearly impossible for you to not enjoy yourself. Some of the fun events that I really had fun at was the Boston Ironsides Charity event, Comedian Peter Bisuito’s hysterical comedy show, Bear Week’s very own Furball, The Fireman’s Ball and of course the daily Tea Dances happening at the world famous Boat Slip Resort right on Commercial Street. Oh and anytime spent with my favorite guy George Unda (Detective Marcus Martinez on “Where The Bears Are”).
Before and during my time at Bear Week I was a member of the “Bear Week In PTown” Facebook page which sort of lost track of what the page was supposed to be about. Eventually it turned into a catty posting session of men being angry at each other for throwing shade about a “Did I Bring Too Many Clothing Options” post to the ferocious taking down of selfies that people would post on the page (myself included. Peter Griffin voice- GUILTYYYYYYYY.) The reason why I bring this matter up is I feel content like that would make someone not want to go based on a complete strangers reaction to a simple post that in the long run really shouldn’t mean too much. Is Bear Week overwhelming? To some, yes. Can you go the entire time without feeling that way? Absolutely. As I said in last year’s post, it really is what you make of it. I will say that if you do go alone it is is a little harder to penetrate (giggity) the field that is Bear Week, however as I ant to go nsaid previously there are so many amicable people there that it is hard to really justify any negativity at the actual event. Just go, find what is right for you, and enjoy the heck out of the entire thing. It is exhausting, exciting, liberating, sexual, boozy, hilarious and so many other adjectives all wrapped in eight days or less. It is up to you though to determine which adjectives you leave with.
Want to go next year? Check out the Bear Week page for official registration dates and more.
Funny can come in all different shapes and sizes, but not often do we find someone of a particular physique and stature do it so well as my buddy Peter Bisuito, AKA “My Big Funny Peter” does. Peter, who resides in upstate New York, has developed quite the following for himself in recent years as his stand up gigs become bigger and bigger. I met this brooding & tall drink of muscle water over the summer at Provincetown’s epic Bear Week, in which he was one of the highlighted performances. As someone who has a bit of an intimidation factor when it comes to muscle bears, Peter couldn’t have been any more of the opposite. He was kind, sweet and funny all at the same time besides being quite the eye catcher if I may say so myself. After meeting him at Bear Week I wanted to get to know him more and most importantly how he decided to make people laugh more than just a hobby.
Peter sits down and discusses with me how he got into the industry, what makes him laugh the most, how his Bear Week experience was and what the future holds for him and My Big Funny Peter. Take a look.
Hey Peter! So how did you get started in the comedy world in the first place?
I’ve been a performer since I was a teen-ager but its been all theater. I started as a dancer in musical theater 25 years and 90 pounds ago. Comedy is something I’ve wanted to try all my life but never had the courage to do so. But in January 2011 I hosted an awards banquet for a local theater company and asked them if I could try a bit of stand up before the ceremony. They said yes. So I wrote a 20-minute set and killed it! The audience loved me and I decided from that point on I was going to pursue comedy.
Who would you say are some of your influences that helped you along the way?
Definitely my husband, Mark. He was so impressed with my comedy he actually encouraged me to quit my job and give up my income to purse comedy full-time.
Is your comedy based strictly on LGBT material or does it go outside the grain of that?
Oh God no. LGBT is only a fraction of what I do. Many of my audiences are predominately straight. I only perform in front of all gay audiences whenever I’m hired to host or headline an all-gay event. My comedy appeals to everybody. Gay, straight, young, old etc.
What makes you laugh the most on a consistent basis? Do you ever use what makes you laugh and put that into your act?
So many things make me laugh. I truly laugh all throughout the day. Whether it’s something cute and funny my dog did, or something I heard on TV. Or even something stupid that I did like trip over the end table or drop something in the toilet. I was on the couch one day watching TV and I farted so loud it scared the cat. She jumped off the couch and ran into the basement. That right there made me laugh for a good 17 days straight! And yes of course I use all of this in my act because I figure, if it made me laugh, it will certainly make an entire audience laugh!!
You obviously have a fantastic physique. Do you think aesthetic plays a huge part of being successful in the gay world?
Truthfully when I started comedy, everybody and their mother told me I would sell-out every show because of my muscular body. I have come to realize over the past few years that the way I look actually works against me. People are not used to seeing a big beefy bodybuilding comedian. People fear the unknown so when they see me they say to themselves, “Wait a minute. A big muscular comedian?? There’s no way this guy can be funny.” Especially in the gay community. If I had a dollar for every time a gay man said to me, “Are you going to perform naked?” I have a very difficult time convincing people that I’m a legitimate funny comedian. Just because I’m in shape doesn’t make my life easy. I continue to claw and scratch for every ticket I sell.
I met you over the summer at the infamous Bear Week in Provincetown. Was that your first or have you gone before? What was your show like?
Bear Week 2014 was my 3rd time performing there. All my shows have been well received with lots of laughter and love from the audience. However, all 3 years I was about 5 or 6 tickets short of a sell-out. I’ll be back for 2015 so hopefully this will be my very first year that I will see that SOLD OUT sign across my poster!!
Seeing as you are part of the bear community where do you think we can improve on overall to make us more unified?
Actually I think the Bear community has done an amazing job at being unified. There is a whole Bear movement going on right now. We are the shit baby! There are Bear events going on all over the world!! And the nice thing about the Bear events is that we are all accepting. We truly welcome anybody whether they are Bears or not. That’s why most Bear events promote themselves not only to Bears, but to “Bear Admirers.” Can you believe it?? We are ADMIRED!! I think people love the Bears because we are always so happy and down-to-earth. And I think the reason for that is because Bears aren’t hungry! No need to be bitchy when you’re well fed!
Do you think there is enough representation of gay comedians in the mainstream media?
Hmm, I don’t really really have an opinion on this. I’ll have to think about it and give you my answer during my next interview!! J
You are based in upstate NY however if the opportunity strikes would you ever consider relocating?
Oh come on! Who wouldn’t want to live in BUFFALO for the rest of their lives?? Ha. Actually the only reason why I live in Buffalo is because my husband has a good steady job here. He’s been working there for 26 years. If he found a job elsewhere we’d move immediately. Buffalo is a great city but sometimes I feel life is passing us by. However I will say my husband always tells me that if opportunity knocks, he would want me to go. Mark and I have been together for 12 wonderful years. We love each other more now than we did when we first met. Our love continues to grow with each passing year. He wouldn’t want me to miss any opportunity no matter what. So just because I live in the big flashy and exciting city of Buffalo, doesn’t mean I would pass any opportunity that came my way.
Now that 2015 is here, what are the next steps career wise for you?
I’d really like to get an agent and/or business manager. I have the talent but I just don’t have the contacts. I think an agent would really help but unfortunately I don’t even know where to start looking for one. I’m also very excited about this awesome project I’m working on. I’m developing my own YouTube web series called Exposing Peter. It’s a show based on my comedy. There will be reality moments, scripted moments, sit-com moments. There will also be funny cooking, travel and workout segments. I already have 2 episodes complete. I’m working on a few more and I hope to make my series premiere in February or March 2015 with a new episode every month. I’m so excited at the DOZENS of viewers I’ll be getting!! So STAY TUNED!!
Anything else you want to add?
Well, I guess this is where I get a bit sentimental on your asses. I grew up extremely closeted. I thought the entire world hated me because I was gay. It caused horrible self-esteem issues. So I would make people laugh to gain their acceptance. It’s become a way of life for me. However, I got a very late start. I always wanted to make my living as a performer but my life just didn’t go in that direction. It was only 2 years ago when I decided to give up my life and my income in order to purse comedy and entertaining full-time. I put myself on food-stamps and Medicade and now I feel like I’m trying to catch up for 25 lost years! I spend every minute of my life thinking of ways to make people laugh. I want to be as successful as I can but I don’t want to wait until I’m 65. In other words, I don’t want to be Estelle Getty! So all I ask is that people share my videos, tell all your friends and follow me on social media.
Want to know more about Peter? Log on to his official site.
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?
Sometimes in the most unconventional of settings you will meet some really great people and the further you get to know them and their passion makes you understand just how awesome they truly are. This can be said of jazz musician Mike Flanagan, who goes under the stage name MRF. I conveniently met him through some mutual friends at this year’s Bear Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts. On top of being a brutally handsome, charismatic and an all around great guy, I got to know him a little deeper and found out what a successful artist he has become in the jazz world.
In a short couple of years, MRF has accomplished things that many artists wouldn’t even dream about doing. He has independently released two albums, the most recent called “Mob Music”, which both have had a considerable amount of success since each of their inceptions. In a short twenty hour time frame, “Mob Music” became the highest-selling jazz album in the country on iTunes, sharing in the same company as jazz legends Miles Davis and Harry Connick Jr. Some of the singles off of that album, including “Trying” have remained in massive rotations on stations in and outside the US from Germany to Spain to name a few. On top of all of this, MRF has been able to work throughout the world with Grammy winners and nominees Esperanza Spaulding, Issa Pointer of The Pointer Sisters and Surefire Music Group. The Berklee College Of Music Graduate has also received rave reviews for his LGBT anthem “Be Strong (LGBT Youth)” as it was selected for the Flag Raising Anthem for Boston Pride last year. Quite a lot of accomplishments for a guy in such a short period of time.
The day before his big performance at Bear Week, I sat down with MRF to discuss his meteoric rise in the music industry, what and who inspires him, and what his music has meant to his fans and in particular the LGBT youth. Take a look.
So tell me how you got started in the music industry.
I graduated from the Berklee College of Music, and I wasn’t really sure which direction musically I wanted to go in. I had been playing a lot of jazz in and out of school, but I came out in my last year and it changed gears with what I was doing. I started writing my own stuff and collaborated with a singer who lives in New York, which is ultimately how my first album “Elevator Music” came to be. Once I started recording that, I ended up developing my own sound and own approach and knew exactly the direction I wanted to go in.
Jazz is such a unique part of the industry right now, so who would you say are your biggest inspirations?
I would say my number ones are D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill. That is the kind of stuff that I grew up on and it’s in me. Also, Meshell Ndegeocello is a good example. There are a whole bunch of jazz musicians and even country artists that I draw inspiration from in terms of their approach as well.
Many of my readers are unfamiliar with your work, so how would you describe your sound to them?
Its kind of a hybrid of R&B and Jazz. It also has a pop aesthetic to it as well because of the lyrics and forms of the songs. The music leaves a lot of room for my vocalists to interpret it in their own way, and for myself to stretch out on my instruments (saxophone, piano, etc) as well. The objective of my sophomore album, Mob Music, was to capture and document the magic of what we do on stage.
You are here enjoying Provincetown’s Bear Week, just as I am. Is this your first Bear Week?
This is my seventh actually!
Oh wow! This is my first time experiencing Bear Week in all of its glory, what would you say to convince people who are consistently on the fence about going to actually get them to go?
I really think it’s most important to figure out what Provincetown means to you, because it has so much to offer. It’s actually a great music town, and you can meet incredible people here. You can definitely go outside of the routine bear events that are going on and find something unique and different. So I would definitely recommend coming to “Bear Week” as there is plenty to love about the experience.
You have a song called “Be Strong (LGBT Youth)” which is a very empowering LGBT anthem. There isn’t a lot out there now that are like that, so tell me about the processing in recording this amazing song.
In 2010, when Asher Brown took his own life, and the epidemic of LGBT youth suicides made the media around that time, it made me insane. I started thinking about the work I was doing in my classroom by myself and how there are far too many kids without someone to turn to. Far too many kids that do not have an adult telling them that they are normal, and beautiful, and that they should love who they are. I felt I had to create something through music that could hopefully and potentially reach far beyond the classroom of students I was helping in my small corner of Boston. Originally, I wanted to name the song ‘Asher Brown’ but I was unsuccessful in getting in touch with his family to assure that was okay. So, “Be Strong”it was. That’s where the inspiration of the song came about.
Being an out musician yourself, do you find it to be a hindrance or a blessing to be so in the music industry?
I think everyone needs to come out. I hope everyone does. Sam Smith for example, love him. He is an incredible artist. He is in a position now where he can make a change, not saying he has to or wants to. He got rave reviews recently for his rendition of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” but one thing that stood out to me was that he changed the pronoun“he”to “you”and instead of “there’s a boy I know”he says, “oh it’s you I know”to make the song entirely gender-neutral. I think most people didn’t think about that, however when I was doing my first album, I made a lot of my music gender-neutral in fear that there would backlash. It felt like I was regressing after working so hard to be who I am. I realized how important it was that I not do that on Mob Music. So, thought it may seem small, it’s a big step that fosters much needed change.
I love Joan Osbourne’s “What If God Was One Of Us”, so why did you choose to remake that on your latest album, “Mob Music”?
I started working with Lisa, Justin and Sheree in Boston, shortly after my first album was released. The first was singer Lisa Bello. Our styles have so much chemistry and when we come together, it really makes some incredible magic. We were raised similarly, share influences, and the way we approach music is similar as well. We started performing weekly in Boston at a place called “Club Cafe”every Thursday night. They were like, “What do you want to call the night?” and I was like, “Well, we are both Italian, so let’s call it Mob Music”. We loved it, and Mob Music just grew and grew. After our first month, singer Justin Waithe started coming on Thursdays and harmonized with Lisa. Then Sheree Dunwell filled in for Lisa while she was in LA and we she got back, the whole package of “Mob Music” was truly formed.
We would do popular songs and treat them like jazz standards, elevating them to the point where we took the audience on a journey every week! One of the songs we did was “One Of Us”and I knew that had to be the one cover on the ‘Mob Music’album.
On the “Mob Music” album, my favorite track is one called “This Love”. What is your favorite on this album?
I love that song, but I would say that my favorite is “Trying”. “Trying” is the smooth jazz radio single on the record, and it is the most personal for me. I wrote that about a guy I was with, and that relationship ended right before I went into the studio to finish this record. We had two singles done at that point, and were heading in to track the rest of it. “Trying” was written right as that relationship was ending, and to this day remains my favorite.
OK, let’s do some fun questions so that my readers can see a different side of you. If you had a dream concert, with two artists (dead or alive) that would never be on the same bill for ONE night only, who would it be?
The two on the same bill. Hmmm. I’m going to say D’Angelo and The Dixie Chicks. I’m a huge Dixie Chicks fan. I saw both live within a year’s time, and both were incredible. D’Angelo’s show had such an energy to. Knowing his entire catalog, I was dancing my ass off the entire time. When I saw The Dixie Chicks, my friends and I were lucky enough to stand right under Natalie Maines, and she was winking and smiling at us the whole time. Just great experiences for both.
Got it! So you are stuck on an island with a CD player but it only has one song in it. What do you want that song to be?
“Who Knew” by P!nk. It is my favorite song of all time. Everything about it, from her voice to the lyrics to the melody. The song is somewhat ambiguous, and even though it is a song about her losing a friend to an overdose I believe, it’s able to be interpreted in a lot of different ways. After my first relationship ended, I would come down here to Ptown and it was playing everywhere. So the song itself, my love for her, and the connection to PTown and gay life sort of culminates in why this truly is my favorite song.
You go to a 90’s dance party. Which phase do you hope they play?
I’ll pick the Aaliyah, Brandy, Monica phase. I want them, I want Ginuwine, Jagged Edge, Toni Braxton, etc. Love 90’s R&B.
What do you have going on for the future?
So, I already have a third album planned. I want to continue to make music with the group I have right now. I’m hoping to go back into the studio in September in Orleans here in Mass. It will be similar to the second album however this one will be more saxophone driven. A challenge for me is the human voice. It’s something I love on others but hate my own. I’ve heard Me’Shell and Lenny Kravitz are like that too. I am tempted to get over that fear I guess and use it and see if I can come up with something that I am okay with releasing. I don’t know if it will be on this album, but sometime in the future it is something I definitely want to accomplish.
In my ten plus years of experience in and out of the bear community, I have unfortunately developed a somewhat negative vibe towards some of the activity around me due to a multitude of things. Whereas some I have dealt with first hand, I for one used to throw a ton of shade at people who would go to large scale bear events such as TBRU in Texas and Lazy Bear in California. Why? To me it just seemed like a poor excuse for the bear community and that it was a drug infested orgy scene that I could see at any local leather bar here in New York City. I really had no first hand experience at any of those events, so throwing around that animosity was unjust and really stupid when you get down to it. So cue to a couple of months ago when a friend from Toronto had an extra room available for the biggest bear event here in the United States, Bear Week, and asked if I wanted it. After some initial hesitation (mainly because financially it made sense but I was still apprehensive) I said yes and for the first time in years got genuinely excited for something bear related.
In the months since I booked the room, I have heard opinions from a variety of friends who have experienced Bear Week before. From the restaurants to go to and to avoid, the events that you want to be there for the entire time and the debauchery that y0u want to get yourself into, it can really jog a person’s head as to what you should do and what you want to do. As helpful as my friends were in this, this was the first experience since heading off to college ten years ago that I really wanted to be authentic in every way shape and form. I wanted to go in with a clear head and conscience and not rely on my past negativity to influence each day that I was there and the future days to come. It’s like anything else in life, like going to a movie but relying on outside critics to influence the true outcome of what your own brain thought of it. In this sense, I focused on myself and what I truly got out of it.
In the eight days there (which at some points felt like a month, but in a good way), I narrowed down my experience in Provincetown to a bunch of points that I think anyone can look at and reflect in how they felt going the first time and each time since then. Take a gander.
Bear Week and Provincetown is ultimately what YOU make of it.
After leaving PTown early Saturday morning, that is truly I think the best tip I could give anyone who is weary of going to Bear Week. This is a week that is truly special in so many ways when it comes to our community. If you go into it with a positive attitude, positive things can happen to you. The same goes for the opposite effect. If you are Debbie Downer the entire time, and are mad because a flock of men aren’t on your dick or the food you were eating didn’t pique your interest, then you are going to be swimming in your negativity and leave on a sour note. Who wants that, seriously? The thing about Bear Week is that it is planned so eloquently with so many different events, it really is up to yourself to plan accordingly and navigate this tiny island to whatever you feel is best. First time there and want to go to the meet and greet and Joe’s Coffee House? Enjoy. Want to bear (or bare) all at the Singlet Tea Party with thousands of other bear minded people? Do that. It really is all about pacing yourself, as this week can be truly overwhelming, and going with whatever flow you feel necessary. I think that is also a good mantra in life, is to go with what you feel is best, and not what other people feel.
It is a plus if you go alone or with a group of friends.
Even though I drove up with two very good friends from New York City and stayed with new friends from Toronto, ultimately I did come up alone in this as I didn’t plan ahead enough in time to come up with a group of friends. That can be met as challenging sometimes, as you don’t have 3-5 people around you to decide what to do on a daily basis. But, if you are an extrovert like me, it can lead to wonderful types of things. For one, I was able to make friends very easily as I had already known a good amount of people who were going. It made the social situation for me that much easier as I was invited to so many private BBQ’s, parties and events that I never felt as if I was left out. However, if you are an introvert and find it hard to make friends in social situations, you really won’t find that problem here. I don’t know if it is something in the water or the air in Provincetown but at Bear Week specifically everyone is super friendly and nice and want to get to know you regardless of your size, skin color or what you identify as in the bear/gay world. If you are ever at the epic and daily Tea Dance at Boatslip or soaking in the sun at the Provincetown Inn Pool, you will find that many people will simply just come up to y0u and say hey. I think that is such an amazing thing as in other areas of the country (ahem NYC. Sorry/Not Sorry) you truly deal with shady shadesters who stand in their cliques at all the bars and don’t let anyone in. So making friends when you come alone should never be an issue during Bear Week.
At the same time, coming in a group has its great benefits. I knew several people who did that, and they always had their friends around to go with to each social outing. The only minor problem I would see in this is that it can be hard to go off on your own and hang with other people, but that might just be an internal thing. The fact is, no matter what you will have a good time regardless of the situation you bring yourself into upon arrival in Provincetown.
“Bear Week is such an endless orgy.” No it’s not.
I would say that HANDS DOWN the most common misconception of Bear Week is that it is a non stop fuckfest everywhere, full of nudity and NSFW material that you wouldn’t want your relatives and non-Bear Week friends to see floating on the latest bear related Tumblr page. It really isn’t, from what I saw. Scantily clad men? Of course. Most of these events were by water or had themes to them that designed this, does it make it scandalous in that sense? Fuck no. This sort of rings true to what I said above about making it your own. If you wanna go into this and have an hourly revolving door of men coming into you and your room then you do that. What I truthfully believe this week is all about is the following- making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and enjoying the surrounding environment. Nothing more, nothing less. So for these Negative Nancy’s to go around and say that this is all Bear Week is (one person I heard even referred to this as an HIV Fest. Disgusting in so many ways), then think differently. It really is such an amazing social event that I would recommend anyone to go to.
Cook today. Cook often.
I’m a foodie. I’m a bear. I grew up with a mother who was a top of the line chef and always had yummy food available at my disposal growing up. What I’m trying to say is that a bitch likes to eat. So naturally I was excited about the foray of food that the restaurants at Bear Week had to offer. Coming from New York City I was hoping that a lot of what I ate was up to par with that my city had to offer, and I hate to say this but I was let down by most. Many were overpriced to a certain degree, but I can understand why they do this as this is one of their most profitable weeks of the year. I just found that even if you are going to overprice that it should have quality included in that as well, and not just a fast turnaround reminiscent of a TGI Fridays or Applebee’s. Some of the best food that I had when I was out was off the beaten path, meaning not directly on Commercial Street. Saki was a good example, as even though it was on Commercial Street it was hidden behind a not so great pizza joint and a Ben & Jerry’s. I experienced it the last night that I was there and the sushi was tasty and delicious. Another great foodie find was in the dessert arena at Provincetown Portuguese Bakery, which had yummy homemade treats from Chocolate Cake to Peanut Butter Pie to name a few. Definitely delicious.
Something I will learn for next year’s Bear Week is to ultimately cook more as homemade cooking tends to taste best. Some of the BBQ’s that I went to had phenomenally made home cooked meals that tasted far better than a lot of the establishments that I went to. No T No Shade to the restaurants, but ultimately I just felt a lack in taste and seasonings that the home cooked meals brought ten fold to bear week.
Just go and have the freaking time of your life.
Be happy. Get a drink. Meet some people. Have a Vacationship (a vacation based relationship. Cute). Eat your heart out. Make passionate love. Take a swim in the Bear Soup. Try some of the local vendors. Go to the bear mart for some awesome clothing, toys and more. Get some delicious Salt Water Taffy. Rent a bike or take a pedicab and enjoy the sights and sounds of PTown. Go to Stop & Shop the first day to check out what is to come for Bear Week. Just enjoy yourself, because this only comes once a year and when reality hits on Monday morning and you are back in your cubicle at work, you will regret yourself if you didn’t leave in a fully realized form. Trust me, as someone who used to think so negatively about this community I really have had an Oprah “aha” moment and have had a full change of heart. Bear Week is something truly unique and amazing experience that bear or not bear I would recommend anyone doing. Hopefully someone reading this will have a change of heart like I did and book reservations for it now.
Want to book for next year? Check out the official page for more information!
Bear Week 2014- Finally Popping That Cherry…
I’ll be the first one to admit it- I can be a bit judgey (is there even a correct spelling for that word?) when it comes to the bear community. I know I wasn’t really like that when I came into it roughly 6 years ago, but over that time my thought process on it has changed drastically and for the most part has left me with a negative viewpoint on it and not so much a positive one. Throughout all my blogging that I have done about living in the gay world for the past year, my friends have consistently said to me that even though my articles can be thought provoking and spark a conversation, they always seem to have a negative thought process and don’t point out the good things that happen in the gay world.
Something that I always shit on for the past couple of years has been bear events. Noticeably TBRU (Texas Bear Round Up), Bear Pride in Chicago and the creme de la creme of them all, Bear Week in Provincetown. As someone that has gone to smaller events in the past, they have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth for personal reasons. I went to several when I was in and out of college in Rhode Island and I think the reason why I felt a bit left out and not in the “in” crowd was that those parties were more designed for the chub/chaser community and I was in between. I guess my viewpoint after I left my last bear event roughly two years ago was that many were like that, but it also came down to my deep insecurity that I have felt over the years since entering in this community.
I have often written in my previous posts about the trials and tribulations that I have dealt with in this community, from the physical (too much weight, too little weight, body hair) to the mental (gossiping, cliques) and everything in between. It has hardened me for sure to a point where I have a hard time remembering the guy I used to be which was friendly, outgoing and generally happy for the most part. Luckily, over the past couple couple year or so I have come in contact with so many authentic & amazing gay friends who have championed me getting to be the guy that I used to be. They have done well in making me realize that not all gay men are bad and that if you need to talk to someone that they will be there for you. I have the utmost gratitude towards them for changing my attitude in all of this.
So when all this Bear Week talk came around again, I originally scoffed at the idea due to it being way outside my budget for the most part. Then a couple of weeks ago my friend was nice enough to get me a room at his place at an affordable rate and really went out of his way to make me feel comfortable with going. Obviously the reason why I’m going to Bear Week isn’t because of finance at all, it is more about starting over and coming into my own again. NOt letting a ton of shit that has brought me down in the past affect my future, and really enjoying this experience authentically and for myself to grow in the process. Also the friendships that I will make, and naturally the hot guys that I will meet (I mean this is a self improvement article but I gotta be honest about everything okayyyyyyy?) I am definitely excited to pop my Bear Week cherry and enjoy what will happen in the beautiful Provincetown in mid-July.
Who else is going to Bear Week for the first time? What should I expect?
Haven’t booked yet or want to learn more? Log on to the official site for more details!