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?
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!
What Qualifies A Bear in the Bear Community? If you haven’t heard the terms “bear” and “cub,” then you probably haven’t been involved much with the gay community, and certainly haven’t been reading this website. [Read more…] about The De-bearing of the Bear Community
It has been brought to my attention by friends of mine (amongst other people) that a lot of my articles tend to focus on the negative aspects of the bear and gay communities and never the ones that are positive. My original goal when I started this website was to distance myself from my music blogging (which I did for four years) and start writing about the gay community and the ever present issues that seem to surround it. In doing so, I found myself in a tug of war of not choosing sides yet wanting to get my honest opinion out there. I was also defending myself to a point where people I knew started to think that I only listened to my own opinions and never anyone else’s. Throughout a year of writing about the gay community and the tons of comments that I have gotten from my write ups, albeit good or bad, there is a conclusion that I have come to in all of this-
I am insecure in how I view myself in this community, my writing, and ultimately myself. It has just taken a very long time for me to finally realize it until the repetitive comments that people were telling me finally smacked me in the face. A lot of what I write is based off of my own experience in this community over the past ten years or so and a lot of my insecurities tend to show up in my writing. I think what the ultimate issue that I am trying to figure out is how to turn it around, how to not let a lot of what I think people are saying or thinking about me affect me to the point where I am putting it into writing and not necessarily hearing an opposing viewpoint because I am so hell bent on being right? That’s when another a-ha moment came into play- a lot of those insecurities are just that. Nothing more, and nothing less.
I think when someone comes into the gay community, they come in with a shit ton of expectations about things. Generally, they are let down because they set the bar so high in how they view them that often times they can come away from any experience disappointed or feeling like there is lacking. Therefore, they turn that disappointment onto themselves and wonder, “Why am I not fitting in?”, “Why don’t I feel good looking enough?”, “Am I too fat for that guy?” It really becomes a vicious cycle that we do to ourselves as adults, and it can lead to bad traits that the gay community has come to experience such as mean cliques, bullying, self hatred of course and not feeling like a community is well, a community.
I have found myself hard to be around groups of gay men even at my own age, because I fear judgement. I fear it in the worst way possible because I go into every situation wanting everyone in the room to like me. It is sort of like the adult version of high school. When you go to that particular party or gay bar, and you are solo in doing so, a lot of these thoughts tend to go into your mind. As social as I can be sometimes I tend to go overboard just to reassure myself that the person or persons that I am talking to go away with thinking that I am a funny, nice or cool guy. There has even been situations where being overly social can be viewed as slutty, which is a wrong interpretation on things. A lot of guys draw a very fine line between being Most Talkative and Mr. Wallflower very well. Same goes with dating. I find myself putting so much effort into the other guy, when I have been told by several different friends and family members that it’s best to just be yourself and let them come to you. But at the same time, when you hit the age of 25 and every freaking time you go on Facebook and at the top of your news feed is someone announcing that they are getting married, engaged, having a kid or buying a freaking house that “clock” that is so widely known kicks in and you want to pull out all the stops to be like them. The “Jones’ to a certain degree. When you also see a ton of your friends getting into relationships, there is a part of you that is of course happy for them but envies them as you want the same thing. I know I can’t be the only one that thinks this way.
Maybe it’s from being in a big city that I feel this way. I found that when I was in smaller communities guys tended to be friendlier and more wanting to get to know you. At the same time, being in New York City has been really amazing in terms of meeting people that right now are my best friends and would do anything for me and vice versa. There really are some amazing guys that are out there that are genuine and good, you just sometimes have to weed through the bad ones in order to get to the good ones. A lot of guys I know stopped trying because they got tired of the scene and didn’t really feel like putting in the effort anymore, but for me I like a good challenge and due to that have the friendships that I do. Am I still insecure throughout it all? Sure. But at the same time I can live with these insecurities and try to better myself in this process we call life and still find a way to make the gay community great in finding your own niche in things. Things always don’t have to be so negative or bad, and that is something that I am learning throughout this whole process.
I can honestly say that weight, just like aging and the ever presence of The Kartrashians (spelled correctly folks) is an ever present issue in someone’s life. When it comes to dealing with weight in the bear community, it takes on a whole new world of self-criticizing, self-loathing, comparisons to other guys and so on and so forth. Yes of course this can be translatable to any community, any age, any arena. For me as a gay man, it has been a constant struggle to keep up with.
I never saw myself as being obese. I was lucky enough to grow up in an area that accepted me for the most part for being gay. I think because I had such a big personality growing up that people were drawn to me and didn’t see me as the “gay” kid or the “fat” kid they really just saw me as Ryan. At the same time, I knew subconsciously that I was fat. I quit football after my freshman year due to my insecurity in being gay and on such a masculine and homophobic (to a certain degree) sport. That was when the weight problems came on due to not being apart of any sports team and due to my struggle with being a homosexual.
To make matters worse for myself, I was in an area with little to no gay men or women so my references were little except if I would watch Will & Grace or something gay themed on a cable channel. So I struggled with finding my identity which led to overeating. When I was 18 and went away to school in Providence, Rhode Island was where I truly was able to begin the process of finding myself as a gay man seeing as there were multiple outlets around me for that self discovery. At the same time, I really didn’t focus on my weight and mainly focused on determining factors like who am I in this community, what kind of guys am I into, etc etc. Down the line though is where I started to realize that I fit into the bear community due to the “stereotypical” aspects of being a bear like more weight and body hair.
By the time I was 21 or 22 I was tipping the scale at 270. Yes, 270. And I had no fucking idea that it was getting that bad. Even my first real relationship with a guy I later on came to find that he wanted me to be a “gainer”. Look it up, it’s odd but there is no judgement there. There were so many types of guys that I would try to talk to online and many of them rejected me or didn’t message me back. The only types of guys that seemed to be into me were other heavyset dudes and “Chasers” which are defined as smaller guys who happen to like a big dude. Problem for me was these two types are ones that I wasn’t into. I was into the Scott Caan’s and the Chris Pratt’s but at the same time I could go for Chris Meloni’s and LL Cool J’s. I really just wanted the type of guy who took care of himself but at the same time could eat and not bitch about the calories. You know, huskular.
By the time I was 24 was when I finally figured it out and started the process or “journey” of losing weight. I lost roughly 55 pounds in a matter of a year and people really started to notice. What was even better was the guys that would usually not talk to me online were actually reaching out to me not vice versa. It really made me excited and happy because I felt some ubiquity in that I could finally attract a different aesthetic which is what I have been wanting ever since I was fourteen or fifteen. In the past three years I have yo-yo’d back and forth gaining and losing 15 pounds but never really dealing with an extreme on either end.
Now I am at a place where I want to take it to the next step and get down to roughly 170-180, which would put me at a smaller frame. The problem for me is that i don’t want to feel that I am rejected again by a certain portion of the community because I am not technically a “bear’ anymore and even though it might sound self absorbed but I enjoy that I attract a decent portion of it. If I get a six pack or get skinny, what happens? Where do I go from there? I find it very frustrating to deal with because health should really be a top priority but when it comes to finding a date, mate or sex even, you want it to be a mutual attraction and not a fetish, which seems to populate a lot of this community as well. Ultimately I just want to figure out a way where I can blur the lines so that I am not labeled and can adapt to any sub-community that is out there.
I put this on my Facebook and got a great amount of responses, many of them saying for me to focus on myself and not on what other people think. One friend said- “Honestly, I don’t think that should figure into what you decide to do. If they view you differently, so be it, but don’t make that your problem. Besides, your friends should treat you the same way no matter what.”. Similarly I got a response like “You gotta do you. at the end of the day, other people are not responsible for your health, paying your bills, or paying your damn rent. Be yourself and people will like you for who you are, the people that leave are what you leave in the toilet; basically just floaters.”
On the contrary I had a couple of friends say its not that easy, where friends have said this situation rings true for them as well. One summed it up the best though for this (Mainly because they use a “Drag Race” reference and that always gets me going)- “I don’t know what, if anything, the bear community feels as a whole, but why should that matter? If you want to lose weight, for whatever reason, you should do it, regardless of what a demographic has to say about it. Whoever doesn’t like it can bite the wienie. As they say on RuPaul’s Drag Race, you just do YOU. Whatever makes you happy, man.”
What is your take on this?
I have been a fan of the Modern Bear guys for quite sometime, when I stumbled upon their website through a photo my friend shared not of a hot bear, but of a particular “modern” design photo that I had a similar interest to. My thought process here was, “Finally! A bear page not 100 percent devoted to shirtless men. There is thought behind this!” And that is what the Modern Bear message is truly about. They equate it to the following- Modern Design + Bears + Retro + Beefcake= THE MODERN BEAR! Travis Smith and Chris Bale, who are based out of Palm Springs, California, visited the Urban Bear festival a couple of weeks back and I got the opportunity to talk with them about a variety of things they have going on currently. Something I definitely wanted to mention was their fantastic new book called “Guide For The Modern Bear”, where they visited a variety of cities and found where is the best places to eat, shop and bar hop for the everyday MB (Modern Bear). Take a look.
So Travis, how did this whole “Modern Bear” thing start for you guys?
It’s a combination of starting it three years ago, so that was a really good time to be starting a good commercial Facebook page anyway. It was an experiment for us, a petri dish if you will, to see if anybody was interested in a “Modern Bear” concept and our formula of modern design plus bears plus retro plus beefcake. Those are the things we like. It was a free way to put it out there, and see if there was any interest in that concept and then determine if we should go further with it and produce a book and all the other things we ended up producing. There wasn’t an immediate response to it, but I would say in the last six months we added 5,000 people. It took us the past three years to get to 25,000 fans overall.
What is that increase in fans attributed to?
I think the bear thing is going mainstream, we are kind of last to become part of this trend thing. I think you will be seeing a lot more bears popping up in movies and television. Like Anne Hathaway’s best friend role in her next movie will go to a bear. It’s starting to happen. That’s one of our goals is to get a TV deal, but doing the book first is the perfect baby step for us because by processing and writing the book it also helped formulate what Modern Bear was going to be as a commercial entity.
Tell me about the book you just released.
What we love about the book and how it turned out is how accessible it is. A lot of straight people buy our book. Wives and girlfriends approach us and say “What is my boyfriend? Is he an otter? A wolf? WHAT IS HE!” It’s hysterical. It’s really funny when the book is at shelves, children gravitate toward it because it’s really cute looking of course. The shop owner usually has to explain to parents what it really is about, and sometimes they even buy it.
Chris, tell me more.
Well, the book is a hybrid. It’s a guide to all the different characters in the bear world. You got your straight up bears, you got your muscle bears, cubs, wolf like me. We are going to do this book every year and update it like so. Each of these characters right now lives in a different city and talk about the bear bars, a few places to eat both fancy and low brow, you know for the bears who want their diner food. The Modern part is mid-century modern furnishing and the stores in each place. So you got Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Barcelona and London to name a few. In the future we are going to have Vancouver and Phoenix which is actually where this whole thing started.
As an avid New Yorker would you say it is the best place to eat from your research?
Well, we did ELMO which is the best Mac N Cheese in town. Let me refer to the book actually! The Breslin is really good. That is this amazing restaurant in the ACE hotel. The Shake Shack is amazing, and Westville is my favorite place for Breakfast. We had a super cute experience at Kitchen last night. We had comfort food like Fondue which was yummy.
What are you ultimately hopeful for?
Well, we’ve always joked about being Beartha Stewart. We are two bears, a bear and a wolf, that are into design and into hot men and bringing those two worlds together in any which way we can.
On top of being incredibly friendly and sexy guys, they are also very down to earth and have a great message to share not only to the bear community but straight women and beyond. For more information on The Modern Bear guys and their story, check out their Facebook, Twitter and to shop for the book and anything else log on to their main site here.
I have discussed in past articles why Scruff on a man is really essential in the first place. Yet there is an app for all smart phones and iPad’s that exist as well and has the same name. For a couple of years now, Scruff has become the go to app for gay men to meet each other, be it for friendship, dating or the casual hook up and it’s popularity rivals and sometimes beats the original gay icon app, Grindr.
Grindr isn’t bad per se. To me personally, it is a very minimized version of what you can get out of a gay app. It is a simple photo (that is being put loosely as some of the photos are trees or odd body hair) and a basic description of what the guy is looking for. Mainly, it is a hook up app. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Also, from what it seems the aesthetic seems to be one note as well, but that is just from my viewpoint.
Scruff to me has such a variety of options and you can really put yourself out there in more ways than one. Several guys that I have met off of there have actually turned into really great friends and you can use the site for more ways than one. They have great features from promoting your own business (I used to do it with my Examiner profile), and a variety of men with mainly the background of why Scruff is called Scruff.
Unlike other sites, Scruff accepts everyone on there. You can really get to know a person based on the description of your profile, and even though some are vague, some really happen to be interesting and thought provoking. There are ones that make you see past what they look like and you can form a conversation based off of mutual interests being jobs, movies, music, etc. In comparisons to Grindr, I think that if you want a successful app you have to be detailed in how you organize your profile in order to engage the user in wanting more than just clicking on the picture.
So survey says? For me, Scruff it is. If you haven’t tried either of them, and are curious to see what they are about, try them out. See for
yourself what is better for you. As stated in previous articles, this is just my opinion. Happy Hunting everyone! Oh, and this is hands down the best message I have ever gotten anywhere, gay or not.
Beyond grateful to the “Modern Bear” folks who posted my first article and got quite a healthy discussion about the bear community out there. I am very happy with the responses that it got, both negative and positive, because to me this has been a forum that I have wanted to open for a long time and now it has. So thank you to everyone in your comments and critiques (except the one who called me a Kindergartener. 26 with two college degrees here and started my own site with no one else’s help. Yup.)
I don’t really think people understood what I was trying to convey in the first article so let me change up a couple of things that I wrote in the first place. One- I have a great appreciation for all types in the gay community. The “muscle bear” comment was mainly an observation of a great amount of guys I see in the New York City area. They aren’t all like that, but a good portion that I see are. I was told that I should try communities outside of the NYC playing field that aren’t on such a larger scale, and in that response I have. I lived in Providence for five years and that has taught me that communities in smaller towns tend to be less jaded and more outgoing and friendly. You can take what you want from what I just said there, but please note that this is just from my viewpoint. We all have different ones.
The other factor here is the origins of the bear community. I have done my researched and watched documentaries on them as well. That is how I gathered information to write the article that I did. I think the bottom line is people are so hell bent on figuring out what their label is that they forget who they are in the process. It is like that scene in “Mean Girls” where the lunch room table is mapped out as to who sits where. It is very similar in the gay community. We should all just be ourselves and get along with each other so these raging hypocrisies and stereotypes can settle down a little bit.
I am more than welcomed to one or two people writing a rebuttal on this. Once again thanks to everyone that let their voices be heard and spoke their minds on this.
I will start this one off by saying in the past couple of years I have met some incredible and wonderful people in the bear and gay community as a whole, some of who I call my best friends nowadays. So this isn’t a cry for help or woe is me article whatsoever. Just my problems with the bear community from my point of view.
To me, the word “bear” is so unbelievably skewed that I don’t think people even know what it really is meant for anymore. There are so many different definitions in this community that in a way I still don’t know what I am considered (nor do I care really, I am just Ryan). From my understanding, when the bear community started back in the 80’s it was meant to be a community of guys that were in a way shunned from the norm and had an outlet to be themselves in a very stereotypical gay world.
That still rings true to this day I believe. The context though is all screwed up. If you look at a lot of porn sites advertising “bears” the ones that usually show up are chiseled guys who just happen to not have shaven their body that week. That doesn’t make any sense. A bear to me is a naturally hairy guy who happens to be of a certain weight or size and not necessarily a 6 pack with purchase. The former is becoming the norm, which I take issue with because several of those ones that like that have a very fucked up elitist attitude and walk down the street like they are god’s gift to this earth. Just stop.
Being in New York City already has its challenges in the gay world as stated before, but to be labeled as something as a “bear” or “cub” or “muscle cub” and so on and so forth quite frankly just gets tiresome and annoying. Be yourself. I’ve said it before that individuality in this community is hard to come by as many a gay man tend to group themselves and become clique-ish and very high school in that matter. The ones that I am friends with I hang out with individually, as I like to get to know a person like that and not at some stupid bear event or circuit party where their focus is who the next guy they will sleep with as opposed to a nice conversation. People in this community try to figure out who they are immediately because they want to fit a certain type. Take your time, relax, and eventually it will come to you. In other words, don’t fake it til you make it.