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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

More Gay Drama 



For a while now, I'd been hearing mutterings of discontent amongst the on-line bear and gay communities about dissastisfaction with Bear411, a hook-up site for gay men who identify as bears and bear admirers. I hadn't really paid too much attention to it because, to be perfectly honest, I'm pretty much over the whole bear thing.

See, when I was first coming out, I was very welcomed by the bear community. It was nice to be in the company of gay men who didn't buy into the gym bunny/twink imagery that dominated the gay press and porn industries at the time. It was nice to be in the company of "regular guys" who just happened to be gay. But over time, and as the prominence of the bear community grew, it started to feel just as insular and cliqueish to me as every other gay sub-group. I found myself being snubbed at bear events because I wasn't hairy enough, or fat enough. In fact, it was starting to look to me like "bear" increasingly meant "twink who stopped going to the gym and grew a beard." And as more and more bear clubs and events started appearing, it became even clearer to me that the "bear" identity, rather than being the reaction to the limited images of gay men that proliferated in the wider media and the gay media that it had started as, was now just another convenient brand-identity for parting gay men from their money.

Eventually I did a little more reading into what exactly the issues with Bear411 were, and it mostly boiled down to people being denied accounts with the service, apparently for failing to meet some sort of "correct" bear standard. Which, on the face of it, is patently ridiculous. If you're going to put up a site, focused on getting large hairy men laid, you have to someday realize that not everyone into large hairy men is large and hairy themselves. There's always going to be chasers, and frankly some of us prefer the chasers to the chased. What truly bothered me though, was the appearance of asian men (links via) in particular being turned away from the site. I'm not surprised by that, sadly, as looks-ism, as applied to race, is rampant in the gay community. But I'm annoyed that such a blatant display of bigotry is happily excused by a group that has its roots in reacting against judgements of worth based on appearance.

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© 2007 Dorian Wright. Some images are © their respective copyright holders. They appear here for the purposes of review or satire only.