Contrary to popular belief (and to the advertising departments of today’s popular gay lifestyle magazines), gay men are not all six feet tall with chiseled features, six-packs, and underwear modeling careers. In fact, most gay men do not look like this and come in many shapes, colors, and sizes. Men who identify as “bears” are one of the many colors in the gay-leidoscope.
The “bear” is so-named for his bear-like appearance. He is usually burly or heavy-set, with a hairy body and some form of facial hair. They may also give the impression of being blue-collar or working-class. The concept of being a “bear” has gone through many permutations in recent decades, with debate about what it means, exactly, to be a bear. They are usually gay or bisexual men, but transgender men have also been known to identify with bear communities.
Since the late-eighties and early-nineties, there has been a lot of growth in the bear community. Bears are closely related to the leather and S&M scenes in many communities, and there are many bears who consider themselves “leather-bears.”
[Origin: San Francisco during the 1980s; as an outgrowth of the gay biker and leather communities. Created by men who felt excluded from mainstream gay culture and the “twink” ideal that it purported. Richard Bulger and Chris Nelson founded Bear Magazine in San Francisco in 1987. Their company, Brush Creek Media, trademarked the name “Bear” for a men’s magazine in 1991.]
Today, the bear culture has permeated through the post-modern, cultural watershed with this fantastic blog.