A bear within gay male culture embodies raw masculinity. Bears are one of many LGBT subcultures that have developed their own events, codes and culture-specific identity. Generally, men who identify as bears have hairy bodies and facial hair and exhibit rugged aesthetics in their grooming. Men who are chubby or very muscular may also be considered bears, though these attributes are not essential to the group. The community has become global in scope, with clubs in several nations. These clubs often function as social and sexual networks for their members and support local homosexual communities through fund-raising and other activities.
Our store offers men’s gay bear pride merchandise including tees, hats, rings, and bear paw necklaces. The International Bear Brotherhood Flag was designed by Craig Byrnes in 1995 to celebrate the bear subculture of gay and bisexual men. Its colors are meant to represent fur coats of various species worldwide (dark brown, rust, golden yellow, tan, white, grey and black) and is accented with a bear paw print in the upper left corner.
When the bear culture first emerged in San Francisco during the 1970s, any hairy man was referred to as a “bear.” As the trend grew popular, smaller clubs began to form around the country and abroad. These clubs were often modeled after biker clubs and had exclusive membership rules. Eventually, the word bear was taken over by larger men, so other terms like otter and wolf were invented to describe hairy other-shaped gay men. Currently, gay “leather-bears” compete in leather contests and non-leather bears with lighter body hair are called cubs. Recently, lesbians with body hair who fit the bear aesthetic have been accepted as Ursulas.