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Old 29th June 2012   #1
gfxtwin
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Default the bear movement

Do you think this movement of gay men embracing masculinity is harmful to the gay community overall? Does it harm the cause of more effeminate gay men who likely have to deal with more prejudice in their lives?

Is this subculture of a subculture sending the wrong messages to the straight majority by saying "gay guys should be like straight guys"?

I don't know if these are the best questions to ask, but basically just use this thread to debate if the bear culture is harmful to the progress of the gay community or if it is just as valid a part of that community as any other sub culture within it.
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Old 29th June 2012   #2
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no, I don't.

We are not supposed to send any message to the straight people

Do metro guys harm the straight community? Women who dislike to wear women's dress? The more diverse the world will be, the better. Hopefully people start to accept that there is no majority, there are just people with the views that sometimes match and sometimes don't.
 
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Old 29th June 2012   #3
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Each person has to live their own life in the way they feel most comfortable irregardless of how others feel about it. If they feel feminine then they should be that way, if they feel masculine they should pursue that.

I feel it's more harmful to try to expect others to conform to an artificial set of behaviors.

I have very few feminine traits and the ones I do have are usually masked by either my inherent nerdiness, my silliness, or the fact that I enjoy some masculine pursuits that aren't stereotypical of gay men. I will admit I tend to blend in.

Having said that I wouldn't want someone to tell me I can't be gay because I didn't measure up to that persons expectations of what a gay man should be. And anyone from outside the community who would judge all gay men by the behaviors of a few of us doesn't seem like they would really be much of a friend to us anyway.

Of course I still tend to identify as Bi because I still have some attraction to woman, in that comes a different set of expectations of what I should be like and how much my opinions factor into the LGBT debate.

But I still think I'm awesome just the way I am.

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Old 29th June 2012   #4
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Bear culture is complicated, after all it was originally a movement built out of working class, rural American gay men who felt excluded from the urban gay scene.

To affirm masculinity as an aesthetic is not to discount the contribution or existence of femininity in the gay community. Nor does a hypermasucline aesthetic imply wanting to be like straight men.

I think of the pornographic art of Tom of Findland, who was partly responsible for popularizing certain of the cliche images of bear/leather/SM gay culture. The point there wasn't to represent gay men as like straight men, but as hypermasculine, extra manly, precisely because of their masculinity. This took on other political meaning during the late 80s and early 90s when the AIDS epidemic created an image of the gay community as diseased and sickly.

At the same time certain sections of the bear community have also forwarded the inclusion of different body types, namely the hairy and the fat, who are excluded by other sections of the gay community.

I see nothing wrong with bear subculture, and I doubt it project any sort of image to the straight community that is almost entirely oblivious to its existence. Of course, some do discriminate against effeminate gay men, but then some in other parts of the community discriminate against big hairy men too.

That being said, I see plenty wrong with the increasing commercialism of all elements of gay culture. We could all do with a little more inclusion and true community building these days.
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Old 29th June 2012   #5
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I see no harm in the subculture done to anyone in the gay community. I don't doubt there are bears who are jerks to others who are not bears but every group has their bad apples and any damage such individuals do can't really be blamed on the subculture as a whole. And so far the only people I've heard bears giving a hard time to is other bears that don't live up to certain standards (which I generally think of as ridiculous as it's not their place to speak for the bear community as a whole).

I'm a fan of one bear on YT and he doesn't seem to shy away from his feminine side as well (though one bear posted a very negative comment to him claiming he was a disgrace to the bear community).

And lesbian femmes are ok in my book, too.
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Old 29th June 2012   #6
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I don't think there is any problem with the Bear Subculture...any more than there is with any subculture. In terms of how straight people view gay people...we are all individuals regardless of any subculture we may belong to and I am gonna go out on a limb hereand give the straight community at large credit enough to understand we are all individuals.

Homophobes and bigots of course might not think of us as individuals and are going to see things the way they are going to see things but that has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with bears or anyone else in the gay community.

As for bears and more effeminate guys...society at large suffers from a severe case of gender/role bias though that is slowly changing.
 
Old 29th June 2012   #7
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Okay.

Well personally, I feel like everyone should be able to express themselves any way they want, as long as it's not hurting anyone.

As a proud Fem[Although I prefer the term Human ], I couldn't care less if people excluded me from their little groups. That's happened to me my whole life, so whatevers .

But, I do have an issue with people, especially of the same community, discriminating against one another.

Not just Masculine gays on Feminine gays, but with ethnicities/cultures too.

Everyone has their opinions and can stick to them till the cows come home, but I don't think the world will go anywhere fast, with people, especially of the same community, discriminating against and ostrasizing people because they don't fit in.

People, especially the "manly man" gays, forget that the one's who have a harder time socially, are the ones who do not or cannot fit in; The "girly guys".

And to have a community, within the very same community, discriminate and make it even harder for those who already have it hard, is something that really makes no sense to me.

All gay guys have sex with guys... so what's the big deal? So a guy may be queeny sometimes, so what? He's still anatomically a guy... "Manly men" act like somehow, if you're feminine, you spontaneously grow a vagina and breasts...

It just doesn't make logical sense.

In the end, they can have their little boys club, and even say; "We only accept xyz" , but the minute they start saying "Fem guys are not real men, so they're not allowed" or something similar, then that's where I draw a line.

It's like saying to a white guy, he can't come to a dancehall session, because of the stereotype that all white people have no rythym...

It's logistically flawed on every systemic level .
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Old 29th June 2012   #8
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the gay Bear Culture represents more the average Joe.

gay or straight; lots of guys lie to them selves they are more masculine than things really are. An internal homophobic fear that drives them is my recent thinking. It does them little good in the dating department if the prospective partner is looking for an emotional connection.
so
its accepted that a lady can lie to herself that she is more feminine. Thus for gay men this is a better way to go?
 
Old 30th June 2012   #9
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Just to be clear I don't see bears as being exclusive or hating (or even shunning) people who aren't bears. I know some can be (what group doesn't have its snobs?), and some can be jerks about it, but I don't automatically assume that all bears are that way.

There was a time I was called a "boi" but I didn't restrict myself to other bois and actually hung around the femmes more often than not (but I did mix with bois as well as we sometimes had a lot of common interests) though I didn't turn a masculine stud away either.
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Old 7th July 2012   #10
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That's kinda like saying "effeminate guys are stalling the progress of gay rights because they 'stand out'".

It doesn't matter if someone considers themselves "bear" or a "twink". How can we expect everyone to accept us for who we are if we can't accept each other? There seems to be a lot of prejudice between all of us and that, in my opinion, hinders us the most!
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Old 7th July 2012   #11
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I think you guys have covered all the angles...

My partner and I are the bearish types, but not especially masculine apart from physically; no six packs or smooth abs here. That's not out of choice, it's more just the way we're built. I've gotta admit I did feel a bit isolated by the mainstream gay scene, if anything for the elitism and sheer lack of variety; sometimes, at least on Newcastle's bar scene, it seemed like if you were gay you had to like cheesy pop music, develop a nasty attitude, and slave away at getting a chiselled body. All I knew was I just liked guys. I was chubby and liked weird music, and thought my boyfriend was big and awesome just the way he was. Apparently that makes us bears, and I don't embrace any ideas of hyper-masculinity because really it would be an oxymoron.

We've never encountered any prejudice for it, although you will get the occasional shallow club guys who look at you like "oh my goooood" and turn their noses up, which I think, if anything, harms the scene more. It sure puts me off knowing I'm getting critiqued every time I walk in somewhere where I should be able to relax and feel welcome.

Bear culture was something that found me and felt right for me, average guys who like cock and beer and bad food, maybe some videogames and sports. There's nothing wrong or right about either to me.
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Old 13th July 2012   #12
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I don't think the bear movement is sending any sort of message.

I think its quite wonderful actually to showcase that there are as many different types of gay men as there are straight ones. Some of us are more feminine than others, some more masculine and some of us stand right in the middle. Its a great way to break down stereotypes as far as I'm concerned.

But lets play Devil's Advocate and say they do represent some sort of movement to place masculinity at the forefront of gay matters.....who cares in the end? If it doesn't affect you personally, why concern yourself over it? They are still fighting for acceptance for all of us so again, who cares if they like to drink beer and watch sports while scratching themselves or whatever it is masculine men do? We all want the same thing, to live our lives as we see fit yes?
 
Old 13th July 2012   #13
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I must agree.

I don't believe bears hurt the movement. They fight for acceptance as much as everyone else. As a matter of fact, they may be able to bridge the gap between diversities even faster.

The homophobic straight guy who idealizes the way a man should look or act may see bears as closely related to themselves and finding out their orientation would be the caveat to them thinking it's ok. Not sure if that makes sense.

Anywho, The end goal is the same and therefore it can not hinder.

It seems we might be judging and not want to be judged, eh?
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Old 13th July 2012   #14
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Nope. I think when more subcultures are known to exsist it shows people that are all not the same in the gay community so they take their stereotypes and shove 'em. :K I mean...yeah.
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Old 14th July 2012   #15
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Bear sub culture in its self so so diverse and different from person to person.
If your saying that the Bear Subculture is sending out the wrong messages, have you ever thought that we may think Circut Queens are sending out the wrong message?

I'd suggest to a few people to watch BearCity it's an awesome movie and will sort of outline a few things for those who don't know about the Bear Subculture.
I've seen some of the most muscled up bears and to hear the voice and the way they talk is just hilarious, really feminine and so on.

Without diversity in any cultures/sub cultures it would just get so fucking boring all the time, would it not?

Now this next section is not my own writing but I do agree with it completely this has been copied from another forum.
Hopully it outlines a lot of things for you guys/gals.

Little bit of history
Originating in the 80's, the bear community began with guys who felt that mainstream gay culture was unwelcoming to men who did not fit a particular bodily norm (thin, hairless, gym toned and young). These guys began by forming small groups. The first bear bar (Lone Star Saloon) opened in 1989 in the leather district San Francisco. Unlike other bars in the area the patrons of this bar weren’t into fashion leather, just biker leathers and was the unofficial home of the Rainbow Motorcycle Club. At this stage, size had nothing to do with being a bear – the guys weren’t gym junkies nor were they overweight. They were just regular guys with the common denominator being facial hair and a friendly masculine attitude. In the early 90’s the members of “Girth & Mirth (a n organization for large gay men) began to merge into the bear community as did groups of very muscular men. As it stands today, the bear community is made up of and welcomes men of all shapes and sizes – thin, fat, muscular, and your average Joe.

Now to address some of the myths circulating these boards about the bear community

All bears are fat, hairy men with beards who just want to have sex with other fat hairy men with beards
Wrong. As stated earlier the bear community is made up of and welcomes folks not only all shapes and sizes, but also all different ages, sexualities and physical/sexual/romantic attractions. These include
Bears - Hairy men with a stocky or heavyset build, usually with facial hair.
Chubs - Heavy set gay men who don’t necessarily self- identify as bears. Can be hairy or hairless, and with or without facial hair
Otters - Men who are hairy, but not large or stocky. Typically thinner, swimmer's build, or with lean muscle. Can be with or without facial hair
Muscle bears - Muscular versions of bears. Can be hairy or hairless, and with or without facial hair
Wolves - Lean, masculine gay men attracted to bears and involved in the bear scene. Can be hairy or hairless , and with or without facial hair.
Trappers - Men of smaller stature attracted to bears. Can be hairy or hairless , age and with or without facial hair.
Cubs - Younger (or younger looking) versions of a bear,
Polar bears – Older bears with silver or white hair.
Admirers – Men who are sexually or romantically attracted to bears
Chasers - Men who are attracted to overweight men.
Daddy bears - Older bears, looking for a daddy/son relationship with younger men.
Grizzly Adams - Men who are hairy and attracted to bears; but do not self-identify as a bear.
Gummy Bears - Bears who date or are exclusively attracted to other bears. As in, ‘They stick together like gummy bears.’
Leatherbears - Bears with a leather fetish.
Goldilocks - Females, often heterosexual, who are often in the company of bears (a bear's fag hag).
Gobi Bear - Heterosexual males who are bear friendly.

This diversity is highlighted in a quote from SF Brawny Bear of The Complete Bear website who states

“Very often we are asked, “What is a bear?” The danger here is whatever we define, somehow excludes those that don’t match that description – which never was the intent. The strongest attribute of the bear community is inclusion - freedom to be who you are, to look how you look, and acceptance from your bear brothers.”

The Bear Community is exclusive.
It can be, but not as much as is being made out here. The whole bear thing was originally based around the physical power of the grizzly bear and the homoerotic masculine image of the Canadian lumberjack. This appreciation of power and masculinity still runs through the veins of the Bear Community and because of this, effeminate, flamboyant men may not be made welcome within the bear community or at bear events. Apart from that Mama knows no reason why you would be not welcomed by the Bears if you had a legitimate reason for wanting to be there.

Bears are a drain on our health system
This is by far the most ignorant argument against bears raised so far as it is based on the very incorrect assumption that all bears are overweight - which for the umpteenth time I will state is untrue. Not all bears are overweight so how are bears as a group a drain on our health system. Yes there is a proportion of the bear community who are overweight and they may use our health system more that others but that is because they are overweight – not because they are bears.

On a side note here, Mama despises this idea of overweight folks being a drain on our health system as it brings up the vile notion of the deserving and undeserving ill. For those of you who advocate denying healthcare or penalizing folks whose illness is through lifestyle choices, you may want to consider the consequences of what you’re asking for. If you want a system where you can say to people that “Your diabetes was caused by your own actions so why should I have to pay for it”, then the next step will be folks saying “I know your Cystic fibrosis wasn’t caused by your own doing but it certainly wasn’t caused by my doing either so why should I pay for it”

The Bear Community is unwelcoming and Unfriendly
Mama is not going to waste time disputing other posters anecdotes of being made unwelcome by bears – that’s their reality and they are entitled to it. She will however relate to you a story where she saw firsthand how welcoming the bears can be.
When all this bear bashing began a few weeks ago Mama decided to try a little experiment and went o the “Den Night” of Vicbears Melb. Now Den Night is the monthly meeting of the VicBears social group and as you would expect was full of some of the major players within Melbs bear scene. Mama was incognito on the night in boy drag with a full beard and no girdle so she blended in fine. The two people who accompanied her however stood out like dogs balls. Joe (Mamas hubby) 6ft tall, 27 but looks 20, face that couldn’t grow a beard if he wanted to and weighing around 65 kg dripping wet. Steven, well dressed, no beard, thick styled hair, one of Melbs premier show girls most nights average height and weight. Well within minutes of sitting down one of the Vicbears came over, welcomed us saying it was nice to see some new faces in the place, and began chatting. Later on, another guy came giving away raffle tickets and the way he decided how many you got was to measure your inner leg – both Joe and Steven were included in this bit of fun. To cut this tale short - .the night was fun and at no time were any of us made to feel unwelcome.

Mama is not going to say that all bears are friendly and welcoming souls because just like in any other group there are going to be dickheads. The thing is they are not dickheads because they are bears, they were just dickheads to begin with. Every group has its bad seeds and to judge an entire group on the actions of a few members is ridiculous.

Bears think that any gay male who fits the stereotypical description of a bear, should also identify as a bear.
This is not true. Firstly, bears for the most part only socialize at bear bars/events with other guys who identify as bears. They don’t go out to mainstream gay venues and therefore don’t have the opportunity force the bear ideology on anyone even if they wanted too. Secondly, if a guy who happens to look like a bear visits a bear bar, then isn’t it understandable that the bears inside may think he identifies as a bear? Lastly, you put a guy with a facial hair or a belly in a mainstream gay club and Mama would put money on a lot of folks thinking they were bears. Its just what gayers do. Just the same as thy label any guy that chooses to go out in female clothing as a drag queen.

Finally
Bears are not to be feared or hated. It might not be your scene and that is fine but don’t hate them just because of that. They do a lot of work for charities and have a sense of community that the mainstream gay community lost years ago. There's enough hate and negativity towards our gay community from outsiders without us turning on each other for no real reason

For the record Mama does have the stereotypical physical appearance of a bear but, does not now nor has she ever identified as a bear. She does however enjoy their company on occasion and has many friends who are fully amerced within the bear community

She will leave you now with the trailer to Bear City, which shows gives a pretty good indication of all the shapes and sizes that frequent the bear world - and yes there is big overweight men featured so just get over it. No ones asking you too bed them - just accept them
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