One of the many long-standing gay subcultures, a bear is a large, hairy queer man who self-identifies with the 'bear' label. Being a bear combines gender expression, gender identity, and sexuality; a large, hairy straight man would not be a bear.[1] They are generally masculine-presenting men over the age of 30 whose build may include a big belly, legs, and/or butt. Bears almost always have a full beard or facial hair, and they are often associated with so-called "traditional masculinity"[2] or "rugged masculinity". However, there is a debate within the bear community regarding the acceptability of femininity;[1] they tend to be contrasted with identities such as twinks and femmes. Although bears are implicitly masculine people, being a bear is not about specific mannerisms or identities like "masc",[2] and bear identity does not indicate preferred partners or sexual roles.[1]

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Elaborate on the origins of the name.


Identities under the umbrella

The following are examples of more specific labels that are either considered subsets of bear, or otherwise related to the community.


Under-30s aspiring to become bears are sometimes called "cubs".[2][3][4] They are often described as being smaller in frame compared to bears.[5]


Bears who are more thin or athletic, but still have an abundance of facial and body hair, are referred to as "otters".[4][6][5][7] They are also sometimes described as being between bear and twink.[3]


Bears who are more muscular but still have plenty of hair are sometimes referred to as "wolves". They are usually also described as being more "sexually aggressive", or otherwise as the more dominant person in a relationship.[3][4][5][6][7]


Document the community's most important history, including facts such as key events, breakthroughs in improving the community's wellbeing and rights, or historical figures known to belong to the community.


The bear flag was created by psychology undergraduate student Craig Byrnes in 1995.[8] The colors of this flag are derived from the animals rather than the people; thus, the varying shades of brown, white, and black are reminiscent of colors found in bear fur.[9]


Optional section: If the topic has similarities to another gender/orientation, use this section to highlight the differences between them.


Optional section: If this topic has been the subject of any controversies, detail them in this section. For example, it could explain outdated or disputed terms, disagreements about how this identity is defined, identity-phobic discourse around popular flags, or other conflicts.

Perceptions and discrimination

This section focuses more on the specific kinds of discrimination and oppression that these people may face. Examples would be mentioning systematic transphobia and non-binary erasure on the page for agender, mentioning rates of mental health issues in this group, etc.


This section should be used to elaborate on the portrayal and representation of this identity in various forms of media, which can include a listing or links to various artists or movies, series, etc. Subheadings like Film, Television, Literature, and Music should be used where appropriate.


Here you can place useful resources relevant for the described topic.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Holleb, Morgan Lev Edward. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019. ISBN 9781784506636.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Polaris, Danny: "What is a bear? The gay tribe for big, hairy, hunky men" (2018-05-18). PinkNews.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Popular Gay Slang Inspired by the Animal Kingdom" (05-04-2016). Pride Publishing Inc.. (Archived on June 5, 2022).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Justin L. Maki: "[ Gay Subculture Identification: Training Counselors to Work With Gay Men]". ACA Knowledge Center. (Archived on March 16, 2022).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Terminology - LGBTQ Center". Montclair State University. (Archived on May 15, 2022).
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Dececco, Les Wright. The Bear Book II: Further Readings in the History and Evolution of a Gay Male Subculture. Routledge, 08-04-2016. ISBN 9781136383274.
  7. 7.0 7.1 John Hollywood: "Gay Men: Are You a Jock, Otter, Bear or Wolf?" (03-02-2022). (Archived on February 1, 2022).
  8. Reid-Smith, Tris: "Pride flags: The biggest guide to LGBT+ rainbow flags and what they all mean". Gay Star News.
  9. Glass, Jess: "Pride flags: All of the flags you might see at Pride and what they mean" (2020-06-01). PinkNews.