Well there's no way around it, so me way as well just step in it with both feet (to coin a phrase).

What is a Bear?

OK. I'm going to be sticking my neck out here. The topic of what precisely is and isn't a bear is a little touchy. I have seen people be challenged far enough into a corner regarding who can and cannot call themselves a bear that they ultimately give up and accede to a definition that could be interpreted to say that Kate Moss is a bear. Let's just agree that my definition of a bear is non-restrictive; it simply says who is a bear, and leaves the question of who isn't to those who have decided that they have enough friends for one lifetime.

By the way, did I mention that the following is merely my take on matters and has no bearing on what my family, my friends, my sidekick, anyone I've ever met, or anyone who has ever even inhaled a molecule of oxygen that I have ever been within a parsec of thinks, feels, believes, groks, or otherwise holds to be less than false. (I think that covers everything.)

Anyway, a bear is a man, usually somewhat stouter than the average man, who is possessed of particularly more body hair than most men.

That's it.



You see, bears come in many shapes and sizes. Now, admittedly, the word bear indicates big and furry, but that's really not what we're trying to get at here.

It is probably worth saying that bearishness (or is it "beardom") is oriented more toward a non-traditional image of gay man than any simple physical definition. Let's take a quick look at what the stereotypical gay man is "like".

The stereotypical gay man:

Well, you get the idea.

Now let's take a look a what a bear might be "like".

A bear:

Now REMEMBER! The lists above are non-restrictive (not to mention rather tongue-in-cheek). There are Bear florists and there are Bears that say "Fabulous!" (my own sidekick, for example). The entire point of that little exercise is to illustrate that Bears can be almost anything.

A short list of what makes a bear a Bear!

And just to make sure I've gotten my point across:

A short list of men who I (or others) have classified as being bearish.

Normally, I would assume that this went without saying, but this is the Internet after all:


Inclusion in the above list is by no means intended to imply anything about the sexual orientation/preference of the persons listed.

At all.

Much as some of us would like to dream...

If you don't trust me to illustrate the point sufficiently, I have a couple of other descriptions which I think are pretty damn good. The funny thing is that they both appeared on the Bears Mailing List on the same day (7 July 1997).

Jim Mason wrote "I am a Bear" and (in a somewhat sillier vein) BuckcuB gave E. B. Browning a bit of a twist with "How do I love Bears?"

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