What is a Bear?

By Drew Dietz

What is a bear? I have a few ideas…

  • Is a bear a 45 yr old muscly power-lifter with fur and a shaved head?
  • Yes.
  • Is a bear a 36 yr old. 340 lb. 5”10″ Latin man, with solid arms and legs?
  • Yes.
  • Is a bear a 55 yr.old 280 lb. Inuit (Eskimo for those that don’t know) man?
  • Yes.
  • Is a bear a 30-ish blonde, buffed and polished goateed gym devotee?
  • Yes.
  • Is a bear a 6′ 5″ 500 lb. man in a cowboy hat with a mustache?
  • Yes.
  • Is a bear a young, slender, 20 something college student?
  • Yes.

All these, and more, are true–Provided they love, respect, and recognize their brethren who also identify with, or seek the company of the bear community. The nature of their physicality is the least of which that makes a bear. A bear, far more tellingly, is manifest as a creature of the spirit. To my mind, regardless of whatever other trappings with which he may surround himself (leather-bear, muscle-bear, daddy-bear, cub…etc), in his core:

  • A bear nurtures.
  • A bear protects.
  • A bear is supportive.
  • A bear is strong but does not seek to injure.
  • A bear desires to unify, not divide.
  • A bear does not deny another’s identity.
  • A bear accepts and welcomes.

The man who tells another who in his heart, identifies as a bear or with the bear community that he is not a bear, in that moment is none of these things–and is sadly, missing the point entirely.