The Bear community exists as a subculture in reaction to the larger gay community. It rejects the normative idealized male beauty revered by mainstream gay men. Our studies indicated that Bears were more likely to be hairier, heavier, and shorter than mainstream gay men.
They reported wanting partners who were hairier and heavier. They were less likely to reject sexual partners and the partners they did reject were more likely to be young or weigh too little i. Bears were more likely than mainstream gay men to enact diverse sexual behaviors e. Bears had lower self-esteem but were no less or more hypermasculine than non-Bears. We concluded that Bears are intensely sexual. We speculate that Bears Sexual orientation change naturally slim viewed as less attractive than what is traditionally considered to be attractive.
The partners they can attract may be limited and, in response to this limitation, they may be particularly attuned to seek out partners who will not reject them. The gay community is ultimately a heterogeneous one with many subgroups and subcultures—one of the commonalities among them being the desire Sexual orientation change naturally slim have same-sex encounters.
One such subculture is comprised of gay and bisexual men who identify as Bears. They favor instead a body-model that may be predetermined by genetics, age, or heteronormative masculine beliefs i. There are many different subdivisions within the Bear community.
Men are categorized primarily by their hairiness, but also by their weight, age, and ethnicity. Divisions within the community may consist of: Grizzly Bears White, hairy, heavier menCubs younger hairy menPolar Bears older men with greying or white hairBig Teddy Bears men who are hairy, yet heavier than Grizzly BearsOtters men who are hairy but thinand other classifications encompassing ethnic variations such as Black Bears hairy men of color or Panda Bears hairy Asian or Pacific Islander men Monaghan, Despite physical differences within the Bear community, most of the men subscribe to a shared identity: Because there is a dearth of general research regarding this community, and no studies to date that use quantitative methods, we decided to explore this community quantitatively—using an Internet-convenience sample, followed by a purposive sample.
Bear culture is complex and inextricably tied to heteronormative and hegemonic masculine ideologies. Though ostensible similarities and overlapping traits exist between Bears and other gay male subcultures e. For example, where Leathermen revere hypermasculinity as a trait that encompasses embracing danger, fearlessness, power, and sexual callousness. Sexual partners matter and are egalitarian. In response and in contrast with Leathermen, Bears maintain their masculine identity without adopting negative hypermasculine tendencies to accommodate all partners, despite their size or body hairiness.
There is some theoretical support for why the Bear identity splintered from the gay male mainstream culture. Social identity theory suggests that groups adopt social creativity strategies. It even has been noted that, as a result of the extreme importance placed on body image, physiological e.
The Bear culture also exists to facilitate same-sex sexual encounters. Ethnographic research indicates that Bears may be more accepting and caring of partners with traits that mirror their own Monaghan, That is, partners who are heavier, hairier, and eschew normative instances of idealized male beauty may be preferred. Alternatively, partner selectivity may simply be more relaxed. A similar, and arguably traditionally masculine, proclivity may be present for Bears where, as long Sexual orientation change naturally slim a male partner meets minimum trait criteria, sex can ensue.
Finally, men who possess a Bear identity may be more likely to enact desired sexual behaviors than do men who are not part of that culture.
Accordingly, men identifying as Bears may be intrinsically more interested in enacting diverse sexual behaviors, some of which are equated with masculinity, and push the limits of may be considered socially acceptable or normative sexual behaviors e. Health disparities may exist for some of these subcultures.
Additionally, subcultural differences may unknowingly confound future studies on sexuality and health.
Researchers may be ignorant of such differences, fail to account for them, and find results that are mere artifacts of the flawed or underdeveloped initial social identity measures. It is with this concern and considering the dearth of extant Bear research that we explored the following hypotheses.
Data for our two distinct studies were derived from two separate samples a total of 2, men.
Our two-study structure emerged from the preliminary analyses of the first, encouraging us to ask a second independent sample psychological questions. Specifically, our first study was more exploratory and focused on the physical traits, partner selection, and rejection criteria of gay men within which we collected enough Bears for analyses. The second was more purposive, where we actively recruited Bears to test the psychological variables never asked by the first study that might be associated with the identity.
Sexual orientation change naturally slim were gender and sexual behavioral inclusion criteria associated with both studies. Specifically, men who have or have had sex with other men were solicited to participate. Bear identification was not an inclusion requirement, but rather a grouping variable to distinguish individuals. In the Craigslist study, This subsample of could be further dissected by location i.
At IML, of the were recruited leaving 96 to be recruited Sexual orientation change naturally slim Pridefest. In terms of a percent of subsample: This was an international sample recruited from all of the Craigslist.