The advancements the bear community has made over the years in terms of visibility, both in the gay and straight world, are profound given how we had been treated like outcasts up until recently. Mainstream media has now moved to cover us in many different facets on television, music, and the movies and the terminology and lingo we have developed are now used across previous boundaries. Another advancement has been that our themed events seem to grow larger in size with each passing year, allowing for more to experience it all in a grander capacity.
The increasing number of bears in the community has also developed a sort of "line in the sand" when it comes to the dare I say issue of weight in our community. This line and subsequent division are aspects that are very visible in the bear communities of many cities, an issue that is hard to turn a blind eye to.
Although a topic that has been muffled over the years, the division has become more pronounced as I navigate social gatherings, outlets, and more in New York City and beyond. A certain incident comes to mind that occurred a couple of years ago. Two different major bear events were happening on the same night, one in midtown New York City and the other all the way in the Financial District. I chose to attend the one downtown, which catered more towards a mixed group of stereotypical "bear" types, including husky, otter, muscle, and more. The following week, when I looked at pics of the other event and its attendees, it seemed to have been very muscle heavy as I had a hard time finding anyone who didn't have a six pack or an Adonis-like figure.
There's nothing wrong with either side. We should embrace our bodies regardless of who we are no matter what, but it's very noticeable how weight plays into causing a separation in the bear community, just as race and many other factors. Do we tend to gravitate toward men who look just like us, or does fear drive one's ability to chat with someone who doesn't look like them?
A little while ago me and a former FWB (friend with benefits) talked about weight and bears and stigmas. He was in pretty good shape yet had a thing for huskier type of dudes (me). He mentioned that admitting something like this, being attracted to bigger men, was "coming out of the closet for a second time," as it comes with predictable judgment from men who look like him, the fit guys. Is the fear of the unknown from the people you surround yourself with the reason why seclusion and self-doubt happens in the first place?
When I attend events that showcase all different types of bears, I embrace it. Hopefully events like these happen all over the country, however in Manhattan and other major cities that I have visited it is somewhat minimal. I asked my friends what their thoughts are on this, and the answers were quite colorful, both in agreement and disagreement.
"It's been this way. And they do mingle. Some people have their cliques. Other have no hang-ups. Just depends who you’re with but it's everywhere."
"It's interesting you say that. I tend to like bears, but if I go to some kind of bear event I go in expecting that the bears will tend to gravitate towards each other and gloss over me. Not a judgment or complaint or anything, I just always chalked it up to everyone having a type that they like. But it didn't occur to me that they were subcategorizing among themselves."
"I mean, is it THAT strange that a subculture built on body type would then break off into other subcategories? Though I sometimes bemoan the lack of a large gay population here, it forces us to befriend and accept gays of all body types."
"Pretty much it's just comes down to sexual attraction. Guys go to bars to hook up, or at least window shop, as well as to hang out with their friends, many of whom they have previously hooked up with, let's be honest… The "clone" attraction (like attracted to like) is nothing new in the gay community."
"I have a very diverse group of friends with different body types. At events we hang out, I like people based on their personality and are they fun, do I enjoy their company? Never once was it "oh they have muscles", or "oh that belly is huge." I think that when you let down those walls or barriers, that's when you can appreciate people for who they are, and yer quality of life will be enriched for it, that's when you will feel sense of community."
So, what does this break down to exactly when it comes to weight? Is it a "clique" thing? Is it really based on sexual attraction? Or is it something else that divides us when we really should be united in all fronts? What are your thoughts?
This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.