I fell into the bear movement a few years ago. It was a gateway to fun parties and meeting people, some of whom have become good friends. I’ve enjoyed the calendar of events to look forward to and enjoying the aesthetics of furry and hairy men.
I found the older I got, my hook up ratio reduced. When it did, I grew my beard into a bushier fuller style and cropped and shaved my head hair. Over the last few years a wider girth became popular, so I enjoyed eating out more and developed a round belly. With it, I’ve never gone without attention at events and the fun has continued.
Last week, I was having a chest pain so saw my Doctor. He ran a series of checks. He said my cholesterol is through the roof, blood pressure is too high and I’m clinically obese. I saw my reflection in a full length mirror and am shocked at what I’ve become. A fat bald man with an massive gut and an oversized homeless man’s beard.
Needless to say I need to make changes. I’ve started with a trip to the barber and had a shorter beard style. I’ve stopped shaving my head and started on a medically approved diet. I’m determined to get down to a sensible weight. I’m fully aware my hook up ratio will reduce, but I need to do change to continue to live.
How many other guys out there have fallen into this trap of looking this way? Why are larger men admired and fetishised? When I think back, I knew then being bigger wasn’t healthy but when so many guys said I looked great I just carried on regardless. Why?
We all do a lot of things to be accepted, to be part of a group and fit in.
The bear scene was originally an evolution started in the 1980s. Original studies suggested that men who identified as bears consciously adopted a masculine aesthetic that signified values of self-acceptance and maturity. The acceptance of diverse body shapes and ages within the bear community lead to positive self-esteem and body image. Over the years, it’s evolved, and although it can still be accepting, many push themselves to become a caricature of an ideal with dark dyed beards, overly muscular bodies or the other extreme of curvy overweight physiques. The movement in some areas has become a cartoon of itself, and rather than acceptance, it has pushed some into feeling they need to adopt a look to be accepted. That’s the unhealthy segment of the community you may need to distance yourself from.
But community is important for a healthy mental state and social life, so don’t turn your back on all of your friendship group. Just do things on your own terms, in ways that are healthy and affirming for you. Good luck with the weight loss, and I hope you can bring your medical issues back into a healthy range.
Q Dear Gay Uncle,
I’ve a past I’m not proud off. I went off the rails, took drugs, was a drunk and slept around. I woke up five years ago and decided to change. I straightened myself out and rebooted my life.
I work in hospitality and have thrown myself into becoming a proficient cook. Work has kept me going and has occupied most of my new life. For the last six months I’ve been having a flirty friendship with a fellow worker. At first I thought he was just being friendly, and it was a bit of kitchen banter. He’s divorced, but used to be married to a woman and has three kids. Last month we had a couple of beers after work and he said he fancied me. He’d never been with a man before and had only slept with one woman, he married his high school sweetheart. I’ve told him that I went through a rough few years with drink and drugs but held back on details. But he didn’t pry any further.
I have to admit I have developed feelings for him but I’m concerned my past may scare him off. He the first person in years where my stomach flutters, we went to bed together a few weeks ago and it was the most amazing, sensitive and all encompassing experience. I don’t want to ruin things or scare him off. Should I just let things develop and if he asks, tell him, or should I sit him down and put all my cards on the table?
You say you’ve told him you’ve gone through a drink and drugs period. So you’ve not hidden anything from him. Let the romance develop, and enjoy the new journey you are on.