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
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.
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 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.