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May 13, 2004

Slang of the Week: bear (noun)
A large, hairy and/or bearded gay or bisexual man

Fred met his husbear at the Bear Club picnic last summer.

Celebrity quote:
'The evolution of bear culture goes hand in hand with the evolution of gay chat rooms. The bear rooms have been right there from the start. Before, the joke was that every hairdresser you knew was gay. Now, it's every computer guy is a bear.”
-Ray Kampf, author of The Bear Handbook

Bear bars and clubs started in the 1970s as a reaction against the unrealistic ideals of male beauty in the media. (If you’re not sure what those ideals are, check out this ad for, an online matchmaking service). In fact, though the traditional bear is heavyset and hairy, many define a bear as any gay/bisexual man who rejects that perfect “Ken doll” stereotype.

There are subsets of this culture. A younger and/or smaller bear, not surprisingly, is called a cub. A thin man who fits the other requirements of being a bear is called an otter. A long term bear partner is a husbear. But not all who reject the male model stereotype look like bears. Chubs are chubby or overweight gay/bisexual men (not necessarily hairy) and chubby chasers (sometimes just called chasers) are those who find them attractive.

Social organizations for bears and chubs, including Girth and Mirth Clubs and Bear Clubs, can be found in most major cities in the US. A note of caution: it might seem likely that Polar Bear Clubs would be for gray haired bears. However, these are actually clubs for people (of any sexual orientation) who like to swim outside during the winter.

What’s new at Slang City?
'Sup, ladies? My name's Slim Shady, I'm the lead singer in D12, baby. My Band, by D12 translated to Standard English (Warning: bad words!)