Saturday, December 23, 2006

Grin and BEAR it

We found this shop along the two-block stretch of downtown Palm Springs that serves as the epicenter of the town's gay life.

For those who aren't students of gay male subcultures, bears are a subset of men - often with stocky builds and less-than-perfectly manicured looks - who defy traditional gay male stereotypes. The ungay gay guys.

But what was once a movement of naturally masculine men countering the worst clichés of gay life now has become a cliché of its own.

If bear socks don't convince you, then how about these . . .

It's too bad that gay guys who, for example, go fishing, wear muddy boots, watch football, gather for keggers and smoke cigars saw their nifty attempt at self-affirmation eventually co-opted by marketers, the bar crowd and Mr. Bear This 'n That pageants. But, then again, that's America, in a nutshell.


John H. said...

Just self-affirmation? I don't know, Keith. It seems to me that, from the beginning, the bears were trying to grab the spotlight by creating a caricature. And the gimmick, the attention-grabber, was that their caricature was counter to most gay caricatures.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I am a hairy heavy gay man who likes heavy hairy gay men, but doesn't care much for cultural identification. It is nice sometimes to see that I am not alone .