Sunday, October 11, 2009

Do Bears Predominate?

Is bear culture taking over the whole gay community? Why do gay men feel they have to butch it up all the time? Anon.

Uh, many gay guys just happen to be "butch" (very masculine -- or at least not effeminate); some are not. Most -- like straight men -- are somewhere in between.

No gay man who isn't butch should feel a need to "butch it up" if he doesn't want to. Everyone should feel free to be themselves. It's all about accepting yourself for who or what you are. You don't have to be butch or ultra-masculine to be happy.

Some men feel a need to come on strong, macho, when they enter a bar that has a decidedly masculine atmosphere. Some guys overdo it. They may already be butch enough, so they think that being rude, stepping on people's feet, and acting like a jerk, makes them more macho. Straight guys do this, too. Gay or straight, a jerk is a jerk.

As for bear culture taking over, I think it's really that -- in some places, at least -- people are beginning to realize that there's more to the gay male community than the proverbial "limp-wristed hairdresser." [Hell, there's more to the hairdresser's community.] You might think that in this day and age everyone is more sophisticated about the diversity of our community, but you'd be surprised how many supposedly hip people (including some gays) still think in terms of stereotypes.

[Just the other night a man in a gay bar said to two other customers. "I'm not into sports. Gay men are not into sports." The two other men vigorously disagreed, as both were baseball fans.]

Gay men, like all men, are into whatever the hell they want to be. [I admit that it's a distinct possibility that gay men in general feel freer to explore options -- art and culture, for instance -- that some straight men may cut themselves off from out of their own fears and insecurities. But let me make it clear that there are many hetero men who are not ashamed to be seen at the ballet or opera -- good for them! -- and some gay men who wouldn't be caught dead in such venues. Too bad!]

The emergence of bear culture means that the definition of attractiveness has been expanded to include men that the more stereotypical gay males supposedly eschew: hairy guys, chubby guys, guys who don't dress in color-coordinated outfits or designer clothing. People are learning that there's more to the gay male community than willowy young queens [not to put those guys down].

Don't look at this as a bad thing. People need to learn that gay men come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. We are literally everywhere!

Bear culture will not supplant or destroy non-bear gay culture. It will compliment it.

Butch or femme, feel free to be yourself. And recognize that everyone has a special niche in the gay community.

And that we're all gay brothers.

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