A specific sub culture of the gay community with emphasis on body and facial hair, also considered older.
Slang reference to a specific group of gay men. It can be used to reference a particular style or activity. Bears can also reference Gay Men who prefer specific sexual activities, or conduct their relations along a specific code, unique to those in this 'Niche'.
Bears generally portray themselves as 'blue collar' type persons, who like to party hard or prefer a more rougher type of sexual activity, though not in all 'bear circles'. In some they have their own 'code of conduct' and even their own 'code' between each other.
Most 'bear culture' revolves around the presence of facial and body hair. Men who have no facial hair, no body hair (or fur, as it is referred to) are not considered to be Bears. In addition, it generally refers to a type of persona, such as a more masculine attitude, even though some can be considered 'effeminate'.
Was originated in the 1980's in San Francisco by those gay men who felt they were being left out of the typical concept of gay men. In short the adoration of the young 'Twink' style that was more popular.
The association with the animal 'Bear' was due to how the animal is covered in fur, may not be considered lean or emaciated like a Twink, and is a powerful creature, which fit in with their personal concept.
The movement grew out of the Biker - Leather type culture of the time.
There is some controversy over the formation of this culture within a culture. Some, aligned themselves with the concept of being just 'ordinary men' and that the 'biker or leather' style didn't accept or take that into consideration.
Strict purists of this sub culture, or niche take into account a variety of factors. There are 'leather bears' or 'muscle bears' that are more rigid in their classifications of who is, and who isn't a Bear. There are others who consider the presence of 'fur' not only essential but how much, how it is maintained, and style are determining factors as to 'how much' of a bear one is.
Some who tend to be overweight feel discriminated against in some portion of the 'Bear Community' while in some, it is attitude that plays a more significant factor.
Practice (Associated Acts): Bear sex runs the gamut, from basic sexual needs, to the more extreme, generally found in the BDSM Culture.
Daddy - Older and more authoritive member
Cub - Younger male who isn't yet a full grown bear, a developing Bear, not a TWINK., just not fully developed, in regards to facial hair, body hair, etc.
Bears are considered to be more into 'random sex' more than not, though some in the community disagree. It was thought to be due to the affinity to relate with the more 'isolated male' like lumberjacks, or woodsmen. There is NO proof of this, but has been an issue raised within the community.
Bears consider themselves to be more active, socially and have their own Contests, Clubs, and now even Bars, as well as Magazines. The early magazines grew popular due to their appeal to the more 'independent' spirit, that many Bears associate with.
Noteworthy: Originally 'Bears' were considered to be more closely aligned with the 'blue collar' type of male, that encompassed no specific physical attributes other than being hairy, and more masculine in appearance, such as the wearing of Levi's rather than trendy slacks.
In the beginning, the 'Bear Culture' was an off-shoot of Gay Society, not readily accepted, and not always just by their more 'mainstream' gays. Bears tended to isolate themselves from the rest of the GLBT community, but the advent of the Internet brought it more into acceptance, and alignment with the general Gay Community.
There are some detractors who claim 'Bears' are more racially segregated as well, that it is a predominately 'white' grouping of gay males than the other 'classifications'.
The AIDS devastation in its early stages, took many of the 'founders of the Bear Culture' and remaining 'older Bears' have come into conflict with the 'newer Bears' claiming they no longer follow the original concepts that created the entire 'Bear Community'.