Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Bears refers to a subculture of the gay men's community that celebrates being large and hairy, though many of its members suggest that bearness is more a state of mind characterized by friendliness, a down-to-earth attitude, and sex positivity. The idea of a bear as a certain type of gay man was influenced by “chubs” and “chaser” groups, such as Girth and Mirth, and homo-masculine working-class gay icons, such as leather-men, bikers, and cowboys, but also the radical “faerie” subculture that advocated gender ambiguity and a resistance to commodified notions of sex and masculinity. What began to congeal from these eclectic influences was that a bear man was all or some of the following: bulky, bearded, hirsute, and usually middle-aged. Thus, the more of those qualities any one man had, the more likely it would be that he would be called a bear, but the relationship to masculinity has always ...