Bears are a big part of the gay culture with their own bars, clubs, media and sub-divisions. They also come with more stereotypes, misconceptions and complexities than you can shake a stick at.
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1. Take care of your skin
Men identifying as Bears may enact a more diverse set of sexual behaviors and tolerate a broader range of physical traits than mainstream gay men. Despite this, their ostensibly higher self-esteem exhibited by interview and ethnographic research may be a front to remain cognitively consonant with their minority subcultural identity.
This may explain why, unlike Leathermen, they do not revere hypermasculinity or negative behaviors (e.g., urination, fisting, exhibitionism). This is in part due to their egalitarian approach to male body traits and the acceptance of a broad range of sexual partners.
2. Take care of your hair
While most sex researchers focus on biology, there is an increasing need to understand the psychologies of gay subcultures. These myriad subcultures (such as the Bear community) operate according to their own rules and enact unique behaviors.
For example, in contrast to Leathermen, Bears may eschew hypermasculinity and instead embrace “authentic masculinity” in the form of accepting sexual partners regardless of body traits. Despite this, interviews suggest that Bears’ higher ostensible self-esteem does not eliminate internalized negative body perceptions. These perceptions may motivate men to adopt a Bear identity as a way of coping with immutable physical traits.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
In gay culture, a “bear” is a larger and often hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. In 1984, Fritscher founded the pioneering Palm Drive Video featuring homomasculine entertainment, including documentary footage of the first bear contest—a sort of masculine beauty pageant awarding titles and sashes to winners.
Manhattan Digest is proud to feature Jeff as one of our “Bears You Should Know.” More than just a handsome face, Jeff is an activist who has helped create events for the LGBT community that have become a national sensation.
4. Get some exercise
The gay bear community is well-known for embracing larger and more hairy body types. They often participate in events such as Bear contests, a type of masculine beauty pageant where men compete for titles and sashes. The community also produces their own pornographic films.
While some research suggests that Bears may be similar to Leathermen in their appreciation of hypermasculinity, the broader sense of male power and assertiveness that typifies Bears might lead them to tolerate sexual behaviors other than those associated with heterosexual masculinity (Hennen, 2005).
This tolerance may explain why many men who identify as Bears appear more interested in enacting diverse sexual behaviors than men who do not belong to this culture.
5. Get a good meal
Men identifying as Bears in the Craigslist and IML/PrideFest studies were more likely to engage in sexual behaviors equated with masculinity and to push the limits of what may be considered socially acceptable or normative. Moreover, they eschew the notion of normative idealized male beauty in favor of what is perceived as more “natural” masculine physical traits.
However, despite higher ostensible self-esteem, interview and ethnographic research indicates that Bears still experience lower self-liking than mainstream gay men. This may be due to their reliance on hypermasculine tendencies and psychologies.
6. Get a good night’s sleep
In the gay community, a bear is a man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. They are often larger and hairier than other men, and may wear a variety of fetish clothing. In 1984, Fritscher co-founded Palm Drive Video, a pioneering company featuring homomasculine entertainment. Fritscher also wrote, cast and directed more than 150 video features, including documentary footage of the first bear contest at Pilsner Inn in February 1987.
This list isn’t based on vanity or looks – these guys have accomplished so much for the bear and big boy community and they continue to work hard and advocate change.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
While similar to other gay male subcultures such as Leathermen, men who identify as Bears exhibit a more heteronormative masculine ethos and tolerance of certain sexual behaviors. As such, they may be more interested in enacting diverse sexual behaviors that are equated with masculinity, and push the boundaries of what is typically considered socially acceptable.
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9. Get a good night’s sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy body. It can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. It can also improve your memory and concentration. In addition, it can help you feel more sexy and confident.
Jeff is a multi-faceted man who has dedicated his life to the community. He hosts a bear pride event called Beefcake that has grown to be the largest non-club bear and big boy event in the city. He also runs a successful hair salon in the West Village and is an advocate for diversity.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
The hunky Jeff is not only a model but also an amazing hairstylist here in Manhattan. He’s a big advocate for diversity and even hosted a Manhattan Digest event last year to raise funds for GMHC.
He is also a filmmaker who created the popular film BearCity. His work has been featured in several TV shows and web series including BULK and Cachorro. In addition, he’s been featured in several gay porn films. He’s also a very active member of the Bear community. He’s a leader in promoting events such as the Bear Pride Cruise.