Friday, December 9, 2011

Open Forum Friday: Da Bears

I’ve gotten to the point whenever I start working on one of my open forum pieces that I start off by saying that I don’t like massive generalizations . . . and then I apologize for making one. I’m not even going to go through that pretense this time. I’ll just come out and say what’s on my mind. I like the bears. The bears, however, don’t seem to like me.

We all know what I’m talking about when I talk about bears, right? In the gay world, it refers to men of a certain size (large) and hirsuteness (furry, especially on the face). I’m not ashamed to say that as a broad type, I like me some bear. I like big guys. I like the feeling of all that weight on top of me. I like them round and cuddly. I like them furry and bearded. I know there are a lot of prissy queens out there who see a bear with a size forty waist who will roll their eyes and shudder dramatically. Screw them. I look at men like that and my mind very well may wander in the direction of what I’d have to do to get their pants down around their ankles.

(As a point of clarification, my mind’s usually heading off in that direction sooner or later, anyway.)

Now, before some of my readers pout in pique, I’d like to point out that bears aren’t the only men I like. Far from it. I like the skinny twinks, too, and the little Latin boys who call me ‘pa,’ and the sexy older gentlemen who call me ‘son.’ I like the average guys, and the preppies, and every other type you can think of, chances are. But I’ve always had a special fondness for bears—and it’s long been unrequited.

My understanding, from every bear site and every bear I’ve ever known, is that the bears like to think of themselves as open-minded individuals who have rejected the typical standards of gay beauty. That is, they see the most typical object of gay desire as a smooth, shaved, gym-sculpted twenty-three-year-old with perfect hair, like some figure of fantasy from an early nineteen-nineties Falcon video. Therefore the bears tend to shun shaving and the gym (unless they’re striving to be classified in the sub-category of muscle bears), or diets, or clothes fancier than the regular old shirts and 501s hanging from a nail in their closets.

They’re just being who they are, they say. They’re bucking the conformist gay stereotype. Except—and this is admittedly where I get into trouble with most of the bears I know—that they’re all so determined to have the same close-cropped haircuts or shaved heads, the same beards, the same bellies, the same wardrobe of flannel, and the same externally gruff appearance, that they look even more clone-like than the gay archetype they’ve rejected. And in my experience, woe betide the interested guy who doesn’t look exactly like them.

I’m not a bear. I’m too long and way too lean. I’ve had a beard for years now, but it’s cropped short and my hair’s long. If there were a gay subgroup called 'Homeless Chic' or ‘Vagrants Nouveau’ or ‘Scooby’s buddy Shaggy Lookalikes,’ I’d totally be on the A-list of those, but when it comes to the bears, I’m practically invisible. At the bars, where groups of chubby guys with beards congregate in groups and talk to each other while they stab at their smartphones with their thumbs with machine-gun rapidity, I’ll introduce myself and try to engage in some light conversation with the bears and find myself gradually shut out of their circle quite literally as they close ranks and flannel-shirted shoulders and leave me standing on the outside. I’ve been to bear events where despite my best efforts to be friendly, I’ll find myself sitting alone and ignored, because I don’t fit the standard body and hair specification.

It’s not as if I walk into a group of bears with the attitude of Here I am, furry men! The skinniest among you, your manna from heaven! Fight for the scraps, boys! Not in the least. Nor am I the kind of guy who sits and waits on the sidelines, not approaching anyone, then getting miffy about how stuck-up everyone is after an evening of being unapproachable. I get in there and meet people. But you know, you’d think that if I can make friends in a public situation with everyone from muscle-boy porn stars, young students, and funny old men who just want someone to listen to them, that it wouldn’t be that difficult to have a conversation with the bears. Despite all their talk about their heightened tolerance for men outside the gay stereotype, though, my experience is often that if you aren’t of a certain rotundity and don’t have a minimum amount of fur on your face, you might as well be invisible.

Even online I run into difficulties. The biggest bear social website rejected my profile a few years back because I wasn't 'bear enough.' I was on another, but more or less dropped it because people kept asking me, Why are you here?

Here’s the part where I apologize: not all bears are exclusionist, of course. I’ve had sex and relationships with many bear-type men who have been happy to bounce around on top of me, and who appreciate the attention I pay them. I’ve had bear friends who’ve included me in their circles and never mentioned a word about how different I looked physically from the rest of them.

On the other hand, I’ve also had bear friends who have rubbed me on the stomach and told me I’d be a lot cuter if I gained fifty pounds (which is oddly reminiscent, and just as condescending, as the men who used to tell me when I was heavier that I’d be almost cute if I lost some weight). And I’ve been in group situations in which guys made plans to go to bear events with each other to which the only person not invited was me.

I’ve always suspected—and a couple of guys have told me—that sometimes some bears will stick together in packs and not look outside them because they’re so used to rejection from the non-bears. I can understand that. Makes total sense. Except when, that is, the chasers (I dislike the word, but it’s a means to an end) are being ignored and even a little bit ostracized from the bear groups.

When that happens, I also suspect that the same kind of peer pressure comes into play that a lot of men experience when they start to date or fuck outside their own demographic. Young guys who are into older men frequently tell me that upon confessing their attractions, or showing them in public, their peers will make icky-poo-poo faces, or chastise them for not having so-called standards. I can believe that in bear packs, the same kind of pressure keeps some of the men from showing any preference for, or attraction to, the non-bears.

I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.

I’m opening up the comments today to get some feedback from other readers with their experiences not only with bears, but with all kinds of sub-groups of gay men. I’d kind of prefer that we keep our comments away from simplistic I like bears too! or Bears, yuck!, since I don’t want to have to moderate a bunch of comments bashing a group with which I personally enjoy hanging.

However, I would like you guys to discuss this issue: do other subgroups of gay men—whether bears, or young hipsters, or leather men, or whatever packs in which you roam or have observed in the wild—close ranks against outsiders? What do you think causes the divisions? And where, if anyplace, have you seen those artificial distinctions between physical types break down and become irrelevant?

Will we ever move to a ‘post-bear’ kind of world, where the big and the skinny mingle? Or are the groups originally formed to expand stereotypes and expectations now as hidebound as the groups they rejected?
Have at it, friends. I’m interested in your responses. And bears, remember: I love you guys! (Call me!)


  1. If there is a group of Shaggy look-alikes, throw me in. I knew a guy in school who called me Shaggy to the point where I had to inform his parents what my real name was.

    As far as groups, I suppose I have always been "cross-genre." I don't have a type, but I do love bears as much as I love nerds (if there is a nerdy bear, stand back). I have, however, experienced similar rejection (I wonder if we were rejected by the same website). I have been fortunate that my natural body type can be classified as an "otter" so I get the bears who are more open, but some really don't go for me at all. It sucks, because when I was younger I was convinced my body hair made me ugly. Now that I am hairy, I'm too skinny. Or too tall. Or the hair on my head is too long.

    I guess, really, there will always be something someone doesn't like about you, and that is easily forgotten. It is when an entire social group doesn't like it that it feels unfair. Still, I have to say, the bears in the Boston area are pretty open to "chasers," but the ones I used to know were not. So it is clearly a subcultural issue, one that varies from area to area. There is probably peer pressure involved, and the ex-sociology major in me has perked up his ears over it. I look forward to reading other comments today.


  2. Ace,

    None of us are ever perfect enough for everybody. That's why it's important to keep around the people for whom we are, like in the Goldilocks tale, just right.

  3. as being a "Bear" i have seen what you speak of. It is not just you who experiences this (or your physical type) I was/am a "bear/chub/wtfe" and i would be shunned purely because I wasnt the "model of beardom" they dont just exclude people who dont look like them they exclude within also. I never bought into the whole flannel hair bullshit, if i looked good in a piece of clothing i bought it and wore it, im far from high school to play those games.

  4. Chase73,

    I know that even within the bear community there are gradations of beardom. I had two friends in Los Angeles who were definitely 'A-List Bears', and it was often kind of astonishing to watch how differently they'd be treated from a lot of garden-variety bears, in bars and other public places.

  5. I would say the in-community exclusion goes for any community. Being in the outer circle of multiple communities has taught me that the inner elite will always use themselves as the mold to which others are matched. Chase73 is right in calling it "high school" because that is when we learn these social habits.

    And Rob, you're right to say that you need to surround yourself with people who like you for who you are. I try to do that myself, and it has given me a pretty eclectic group of friends, which is just how I like it.


  6. As a full-size bear, I appreciate your enjoyment of bears. It's extremely hard for bears to look outside our circle because we not only get turned down, we get put down as well. I can't tell you how many times I see the words "fatties not wanted" or some other derogatory term. After awhile, (and I hate to say this), you just stop looking. Right now, I am focusing all my energy on losing weight. I don't expect to get any play in until at least June. It's a sad state of affairs, but it is what it is.


  7. ErieBear,

    I understand where you're coming from, one hundred percent. I find the 'no fats, no fems' statements coming from guys so obnoxious that I won't have anything to do with anyone producing them.

    I suppose my point of curiosity would be, though, about those situations in which someone who is a non-bear who is showing obvious interest in the group—whether by attempting to join them at a bar or a bear run, or by signing up on a bear website‚ who's still kept at arm's length.

    It should be obvious that the non-bear is not going to be turning anyone down because of his weight, girth, or size alone; he's not going to infiltrate a bear group and then announce, "I don't want to hang out with you fatties." Is the general way he's kept at bay a form of larger payback, or is it still a suspicion that at some point he'll turn? Or is it a general discomfort with men outside the standard bear imprint?

    Either way, it's not really a greater tolerance for alternative body types. It's just a greater tolerance for other men who have the exact same body type as oneself. Or am I getting it wrong?

  8. Hey, Rob.
    Interesting question. As a short, skinny guy who spends most but not all my time in the leather community I deal with a lot of different in-community exclusion. I'm 5'6", 145 lbs and a top. I constantly get told "you'd be the best little boy in the world". Uh,thanks? Except that's not what gets my dick hard.... I, too, like all sorts of men, but the ones who approach me 90% of the time are these big daddy types who believe they are the ones to make me flip. I also get teased by my friends who, although they've known me for years think nothing of introducing me to other men with "oh, she's a "top" while rolling their eyes and smiling. I finally just learned to deal with the fact that I'm on my own path, that nobody gets to define that for me, and those who get it, get it. I believe that the perfect dick is the one that's hard because it's owner is with ME, not becuase I fit some stereotype.
    Additionally, I LOVE men with long, LONG hair (Hi there, Ace!). When I point out some guy with beautiful hair, my leather buddies all, without exception groan and say something along the lines of "get him a to a barber, and we can talk". Or "He looks like a girl". REALLY? I keep my hair short because I look like Willie Ames if it gets too long, but I get SO irritated by guys trying to enforce some arbitrary "norm". Oh, and god forbid he's not stone-butch. I like guys who are slim, muscular, heavy, hairy, smooth, butch, fem, tall, short, black, white, brown yellow and red. I like men for all different sorts of reasons. If you think the guy is hot then, by all means go get him. If not, then leave him be.

  9. Hey Rob,
    Before I was married I used to hang with a pretty bearish crowd and was termed an "otter" I have seen some of this behavior too, but as you also mentioned, I have seen the bears be kind, generous and welcoming. I live on Cape Cod now and almost any time I visit Provincetown I always hear how the "bears" are always the best group of guys to visit. All the locals seem to enjoy them.
    I used to go to a gay campground in Penn with my buddies named Hillside for their bearweeks. It was always hit or miss with me, sometimes I got attention, other times I got none at all. It was sort of funny and discouraging at the same time. Here I am not big enough to be a bear so I am ignored, yet not skinny enough to be a I am ignored.
    I guess it all comes down to the individual
    oh, I ended up meeting my husband at one of those bear weekends, he is more a cub than a full fledged bear

  10. Rob -- you've made several comments and posts regarding your feelings for bears and even chubby guys. For that I thank you and it's one, of several, reasons why I like you so much and am so attracted to you. Thank you for the post. Will have to copy and save this. Screw those bears that reject you -- there are a lot more who are more then willing to enter your den or have you enter ours. sammy bear

  11. As an addendum - just recently here in Spartanburg, SC I posted and ad on CL. From that I have met several hot guys more tolerant than most. I'm moving back to Chicago and my only regret are the ones I have to leave behind (hee, hee) With one guy I was able to spend hours upon hours rimming to our mutual enjoyment. bear huga, sammy bear

  12. In regards to men saying "no femmes or fatties" in their profiles, I really get offended when I read it, and even more so when it is clear I am included in that. I also get offended when it is made clear to me I'm too thin, too tall, too young, too whatever. I have dealt with enough body image problems from myself. I don't enjoy being stuck with other guys' body image issues projected on me.


  13. Rob - we've talked about this online a bit. As a bear myself I've observed the behavior you're complaining about, and while it definitely happens, it's far from universal. In my opinion bears fall into one of several categories:

    1 - Those who are genuinely attracted to other bear types, more or less exclusively.

    2 - Those who have experienced so much rejection from mainstream gay men that they stick with bear types only.

    3 - Bearish guys who have bought into the whole bear culture thing and would be embarassed to admit an attraction to anyone who doesn't fit the bear mold.

    4 - And finally, bearish guys who are attracted to non-bears, either preferentially or as just one of several target types.

    It probably won't surprise you to hear that I'm a definite category 4 myself.

    It's probably unwise to attempt to quantify the relative numbers of folks who fall into these categories, but I'll acknowledge that category 4 is very likely in the minority. What I can say with certainty is that it varies geographically and circumstantially; at some bear bars and bear runs you'll be welcomed, in others you'll probably feel invisible.

    This sort of thing is by no means exclusive to bears, of course. Provincetown Bear Week is held every summer the week after the July 4th holiday; the week prior is "circuit boy" week, populated more or less exclusively by buffed partiers. There's an overlap of a day or two between the two events, and it's sometimes entertaining to see the resulting interactions. Most circuit boys shun the bears and vice versa, but there are always a substantial number of exceptions. I've sent more than one party boy home with a very large smile on his face (among other things).

    What all this means is that the next time I get back to the east coast, Rob, you WILL hear from me... and if you find yourself in or near SF I want to hear about it. Oh, and Ace? I'm at least as much a nerd as I am a bear. Just sayin'.

  14. I think certain type groups stick together as they know they will be accepted by the others in the group since they are all the same. If an outsider comes in who may be attracted to that group, they may feel it's only to put them down or act better then they are.

    Fat people will like other fat people since they won't be judged as being fat. Change the world fat to any other word like bear/twink/S&M/WS/etc and it would be the same thing.

    That doesn't hold true for everyone or every group, but it's still out there in some form or another.

    Your story reminded me in away of years ago three of us were at a gay bar and one kept trying to chat up this guy who didn't see interested in him. A few days later I saw that guy in the same bar and knew why he was not interested in my friend. Both he and my friend were white and this guy was now standing in the center of a small group of tall well build black guys and he was all smiley, happy, and the center of attention. So my goodlooking white friend never had a chance he seems since he wasn't black.

    So that was just another genre group where at least one member wasn't interested in his own race.

  15. Barry,

    It's interesting that you feel excluded from the leather community, but you spend most of your time there. It doesn't really sound as if you're excluded, in the sense that you're not invited to events or shunned from the online websites; it sounds as if you're just not being granted the respect you want.

    It's a shame that we often want others to be something they don't intend to be. It certainly sounds as if you encounter it often enough.

  16. Zeppp,

    Hey, it sounds like you got attention from the one bear that counted!

  17. Sammy,

    It's not really an issue of my pique with the bears who reject me, here. You know my philosophy is that there are plenty of fish in the sea, and I've got the bait to reel 'em in.

    I'm just curious as to how a group that was formed on principles of inclusivity has become one of the most exclusive subgroups around.

  18. UrBear,

    I agree with your different categories of bears. But here's my thing: hanging out isn't, and shouldn't be, about being around only men you're inclined to sleep with. I don't hang out only with potential sexual partners. I've got friends who come in all shapes and ages and genders and forms with whom I'm perfectly happy to spend time without ever considering the possibility of fucking.

    So it really shouldn't be that difficult for bears—or circuit boys, or leathermen, or Broadway queens or what have you—in a social situation like a bar or an online community, to say to themselves, "Hey, here's someone who doesn't look like us and maybe I'm not attracted to him, but what harm could it do to let him join us for a bit and contribute to the conversation and the laughs?"

    I don't see that happening all too often in the gay population, though.

  19. A gentle hint to UrBear and Barry and others: Ace has his own blog. It's possible to chase after him there instead of in my comments section. Thanks.

  20. I love your blog and you've gotten me hard on plenty of occasions. As far as sub groups go, I'm a mixed ethnic person whose found it easier to be me and not concentrate on fitting. In the military and being kind of brought that out of me. I think your the tops and would bottom for youif push came to shove. Have a good one!!!!

  21. Gerr1,

    I think you've got the right strategy, because in the end, we can only be ourselves, right?

    I wouldn't push or shove you. I just nudge a little.

  22. Rob,

    Oh, I fully agree with you; it's not a good idea to surround yourself only with guys you'd sleep with. I make an effort to be friendly with just about everyone who I interact with, though I have to admit that I tend to pay more attention (at least initially) to men who appeal to me physically.

    Here's the thing, though... there's a danger in being inclusive. More than once I've been angrily accused of being a cocktease because I befriended someone who I had no intention of sleeping with. Sometimes you just can't win.

    And yes, I know about Ace's blog, and read it frequently... but it's fun to flirt publicly a bit, don't you think?

  23. Cyberi4a,

    Like I said to UrBear, people don't have to be friends on a social level with only other people to whom they're sexually attracted, and they certainly don't have to surround themselves with clones of their own selves. That kind of thinking is pretty adolescent, and I see it in the gay population more than is really appropriate or necessary.

  24. UrBear,

    I think that if you're accused of being a cocktease because you're friendly, it's time to educate that person that social interaction does not equal a promise of sex.

    And again, Ace has his own blog. Again, I invite everyone to feel free to flirt with him there.

  25. You really got my attention when you said you liked feeling the weight on you and thats saying something because i've been a fan of you and your blog for a long time. I'm a chub....there i said it.....I'm very reluctant to say that because its usually a bad thing to be in most gay men's eyes. I would love to talk to you about having weigh on you if thats something you'd be interested in talking about.

  26. Chris,

    I think the thing to remember is that even if it's not with me, there are a lot of guys out there who enjoy the same thing. Meeting them involves putting yourself out there enough to find them.

  27. I am out there on some chaser/chub sites. The thought of doing something with you is a huge thing to me. I didnt think i had a chance until i read your blog today....LOL

  28. Rob-Did you ever go to any of the Bear Naked Chicago gatherings while you lived in the Midwest? I think you would have found a very inclusive group.

  29. Rob this is the reason I never miss your blog and why I respect yours more than anyone else's. I look forward to what you write. I'm 50 years old and have been active in the gay community since my mid teens. I've never encountered a more pretentious and judgemental group as gay men. I've been on both ends with rejection and rejecting and it's not something I'm proud of. But in the end we end up gravitating to those who accept us. I've gained girth and weight as I've aged but yet I'm not hairy enough to qualify as a real bear so I too am in limbo until I lose some weight. I've read all the comments and would only be reiterating someone else's comments

  30. That said... You can come hang in my den anytime.

  31. Wow...a lot of great comments, and I'll kinda echo some other things stated here when I post my own two cents, but here goes...
    I'm a chubby cub living in the deep and dirty South, and lacking a large and openly visible gay community...exclusivity is a pretty big issue here...within the Bear community and within any other sub-branch of the Gay world...I feel your pain, Rob in that "the Bears" do tend to tout themselves as the inclusive and accepting branch of Gaydom, and they oh so rarely live up to it...but I extend my own frustration to the Gay community at large...after all, many of us have experienced vicious rejection from people in our lives because of our sexual orientation (be that Gay, Bi or whatever) and it would seem that this would incline us to not visit that same pain on others, but hey, we're humans and mostly fucked up ones at that, and so we
    I have to say, based on my own experience, that a great defeat to this exclusivity bias, is in large part the 'Net...where, at least for those who are wanting to step outside of their own sub-group and see how the other gays live, as it were, the opportunity is there...and as for those who refuse to have anything to do with anyone who is different, well, I for one call it as I see it and that is Prejudice...plain and simple...
    I also hope that one day, my weight won't count me against me if I step into a typical gay bar, or where Rob's won't count against him in a bear until that day, at least we do have the 'Net...and the promise of a few spaces (very few sadly), where people who want to explore those UNLIKE them can meet and mingle...

  32. Hey [draws line back and forth between Rob and himself] You, me-and-my-furry-40-inch-waste, any time. Now I just have to get you to Saskatchewan, or me to Connecticut....

    I would never turn down a skinny guy, though I might be guilty of wondering why he's looking at me in the first place. If the gods smile, I'm going to be tying up a slender 24 year old "heteroflexible" (if I may quote his fetlife profile) in about 90 minutes and finding out how flexible he is. I'll report back later.

  33. Okay, based on this blog post, and based on a buddy at my work (who I think is flirting with me) who said gay guys would call me a Bear, I had to look up some definition....and I don't think 6'1" 175 and not hairy (can't grow a beard to save my life) qualified... So just how wide is this definition of BEAR?

    Anyhow, I don't understand why people insist on labeling other people. Or judging based on appearance alone.

    Compatibility of spirit and approach to life counts for alot with me in my friends.

  34. My heteroflexible sub backed out at the last minute. I'm holding onto a three day load for him, so I hope he gets his act together tonight.

  35. Though I am considered by most as a bear, I just dont like that term. And as a bear, it is often mistaken that I am into only bears. I have dated a couple, but I have dated more non bears . For me its not the belly, the hair or the beard, it's the eyes ,the smile and the personality that attract me.So, where are you again???? :-)

  36. We often hear about the legal aspects of bias and prejudice. Some may be surprised or offended to see me considering today's topic a form of those. I am only trying to get at a different aspect of a basic, but multi-dimensional truth. I mean to explain -- not to defend or offend. To solve a problem as much as possible, we need to define it as well as possible.

    Ingroups and outgroups are a sad fact of human life. So is territorial behavior. I wish I could refute the academics who consider humans hierarchical, territorial apes. How often do we truly avoid classing others as "us" or "them, "in" or "out“? Some only approve of and mix with the economically wealthy. Others do likewise with regard to religion, profession, ethnicity, political sympathy, measurable intelligence, ancestry, social status, or residence, to name only a handful of possibilities. In the scheme of things, appearance is just another criterion. This is neither to dismiss prejudice nor to excuse bias, again. Both are inhumane.

    It does seem to me that gays of one or another feather close ranks to outsiders. But how well can we measure this or any other form of prejudice? Besides, such rejection can also be temporary or situational. The same doctor, lawyer, landscaper or hairdresser who rejects us in a bar or bathhouse may not do likewise in a professional setting. Is it not impossible that we would get *better* treatment simply because we are more "us" than "them," if not ideally so.

    In my view, a post-bear world is not too likely. What I hope is a continuing trend towards legalization of gay marriage may, in time, help gays avoid more of the self-loathing that results from growing up in an oppositional society. That, in turn, might prevent what I also see as acting out such rejection during adulthood, in the form of devaluing and excluding those who vary from our shared ideals. But if a crisis as extreme as AIDS has yet to unify us, then I have to believe that only a sea change in human nature can hope to. The Catch-22: We have a duty to try, so as to minimize inevitable failure.

    I want to thank Rob for contributing to this effort by highlighting the senselessness of erotic bias.

  37. @cyberi4a, dude really, a white guy is the center of attention in a group of Black guys.
    Child please, that suff only happen in the movies. What you saw was a group of Black men being respectful of a fellow member’s friend. What more than likely happen was, your white friend saw a Black guy, that he knew, with a group of his friends and came over to group to stay hello. That act, change the dynamic of the group. It is no longer a group of friend hanging out. It is now a group of friends hanging out with a guess. A guess who is White, and everyone in the club would have made a mental note of this new mixed group. Meanwhile, all the other Brothers in the group started working on their plan “B” IF it came to that. A white guy the center of attention, get real.
    Mad about your Blog.

  38. "Where, if anyplace, have you seen those artificial distinctions between physical types break down and become irrelevant?"

    where least expected. iml weekend 2007. always easy to get to. never too interesting. join new buds for afternoon bash at palmer house? heard of it from friend 2 years before. decided to go once before losing looks. expected mass of stone faces & leather.

    was right about the numbers. wrong about the rest. all types there. even plushies. leather just a fraction. saw plenty of rubber. master whipping his slave doggy style. at entrance. street could see. slave/pup with buttplug tail. staying leashed on all fours. sniffing around & nuzzling master. saw men in military gear slapping/being slapped & smiling. saw plenty of guys in regular jeans. some shirtless. some not. only college kids & seniors absent agewise. saw women too.

    2 or 3 muscle dudes gave attitude. but most folks mingled free & easy. college profs talked to clerks. pretty joked with homely. even hotel maids clicked. didn't look like they were watching freaks. didn't look like they wore faces for tips.

    diffs ignored. Why?

  39. is that your photo at top of page?

  40. FelchingPisser,

    No, I never did that group. It's funny, though. I had a Facebook friend complaining about how stuck-up and pissy Chicago bears were (and since I think the Facebook friend is a stuck-up and unapproachable bear, the group he encountered must be really something).

  41. CeeGee,

    You're not in limbo.

    Maybe you are if you think that the only guys who'll accept you are those who look exactly like you, but if you've placed yourself into some sort of mental limbo, it indicates to me that you're really not putting yourself out there. And if you're not putting yourself out there, you're not going to find peers. Those friends and peers aren't going to be exactly your size or age, always. Take some chances and see what you come away with!

  42. Travis,

    I agree that on the net, no one knows your age or weight unless you put it out there. I'm sure I have all kinds of people reading me on a daily basis that I'd never meet in person. I think that's great.

  43. Chris,

    Unfortunately, for many gay guys with a standard BMI or better, 'bear' has come to mean anything that's non-twink and non-muscle. No matter how unhairy, or unbearded.

    No wonder the bears are upset, when everyone's against them.

  44. Bearballs,

    See, I've gotten to the point where I too assume that the bears are really into only other bears. There have been exceptions, but for the most part, that's what I seem to witness. Come find me buried in the 'burbs of New York. I need a bear injection.

  45. 8:11 ANonymous,

    Thanks for a thoughtful response. It's an essay unto itself, and I hope my other commenters read it.

  46. 4:03 Anonymous,

    I'm glad you had that experience. I've witnessed that in the IML vendor's area. In the main lobby after sunset, though, I haven't found the IML crowd anywhere near as diverse as you describe, nor anywhere near as welcoming to men who aren't in full leather gear.

  47. Sorry I'm really late to this party, but I just had to comment...

    This reminds me of an encounter I had in SF last year.

    First background, I'm a chub. That is, I'm a smooth bear. Average height, and such. But, still a chub. But, I have a wide range of likes, generally leaning towards the super-tall amongst us (shortest BF [I've only had two] was 6'6"), but appreciating many many different sizes from pocket twinks to muscle bunnies to average joes to bears to giants to to to...

    I went down to the Eagle, where it was deadish due to some torrential downpours that afternoon, and most were already hooked up amongst themselves. Sometimes pairs are more impenetrable than groups, I find. But, there was one cutie, who was a little shorter than me, and relatively average weight...probably a 32" waist-ish. And, he started hitting on me. Which I was totally into.

    But, then came the weird pathos. I think he took a lot of courage to come up to me because he kept apologizing for not being a bear, and saying "I like big guys; is that so wrong?" We were into each other, but it was a weird pathos, which made me really ponder in group body issues beyond what the general anti-bear-clique-backlash had been coming up with. It's like he hadn't heard of bear chasers or had negatively internalized it. I was mildly disturbed (but not enough to not hookup with the boy...he was cute!).

    This post really brought back that thought. Are skinny boys that afraid to come up to bears for fear of rejection? Admittedly, many many MANY people have rather rigid and set tastes that they don't stray from (bears like other bears, muscle bunnies like other muscle bunnies, twinks and twinks, etc). Its rough when you see even on bear apps like Scruff "HWP only, please."

    Mind you, I've been rejected from that bear site you don't mention as well (probably for being too gothy, clean shaven, and/or baby face back in the day depending on what pics I submitted [I can't really remember]), and many of my bear and non-bear friends have as well. It's run by image queens, but its a clientele. I also have a friend that was kicked off the site after he uploaded new pictures! It used to be a favorite past time to bitch about that website. :-D

    Anyways, this post kind of struck a nerve (obviously), and I have been reading on and off for a year (the stories are hot and well-written, though I think we could always use more photos of you in them ;-D).