Decoding the bear – if you see “Bear” in someone’s dating or Grindr profile, here is what it means.
Bears are guys who are generally thicker and hairier – a bit like a bear. There’s a whole community and they even have their own flag, which you may see during pride season.
Bears are generally a subset of the gay community and tend to be older guys, younger bears to be are called cubs.
The bear community is widely thought to have begun in 1970’s San Francisco, USA. The term bear was popularised by Richard Bulger. Bulger and his partner of the time, Chris Nelson created what was thought to be the first-ever magazine catering to Bears and their admires called Bear Magazine.
What is the bear flag?
The flag, which is made of seven stripes ranging from Brown, orange to Black and Grey was designed by Craig Byrnes who created this flag in 1995.
There is a debate as to how a bear and the community is defined as a whole, while some suggest that bears are the epitome of masculinity and ruggedness and the rejection of effeminacy, there are many who feel that bear culture is very inclusive and rejects the stereotypical views of mainstream gay culture, which historically always vaulted for a more “twinky” or muscly aesthetic.
Whats the difference between a bear and an otter?
Otters, who are also a subset of the gay/bi community tend to be slimmer but still hairy.
Unlike bears, otters do not have a name for younger guys.
Dating Apps for bears
As with most communities under the LGBT+ umbrella there are quite a few dating and hook up apps for bears, cubs and their admirers.
Growlr and Scruff are probably the most famous. THEGAYUK also has a bear chat group, which is free to check out.