Identification with Gay Subcultures

I received an interesting email message from a guy who runs a “bear” website in Brazil. He asked me why I didn’t show the “bear flag” on my website because, to him, I am a bear.

I initially replied saying that I did not really identify with any particular gay subculture. I am a guy who happens to identify with loving my one and only man, and that I find men, in general, much more interesting than women (when it comes to sexuality). I also identify with being a community activist and leader, with serving people with skills and knowledge that I have learned, with helping other people by doing odd-jobs and simple things like grocery shopping for elderly folks, with motorcycling, with geeks in website building, and so on. I have many thing with which I identify. Must I identify with one more than another? Nope.

I looked up information about “bears” and found a Wikipedia article from which I quote:

Bears tend to have hairy bodies and facial hair; some are heavy-set; and some project an image of working-class masculinity in their grooming and appearance. Some bears place importance on presenting a hyper-masculine image; some may shun interaction with men who display effeminate style and mannerisms. There is, anecdotally, more acceptance of tattoos and body piercing in the bear community, although this acceptance varies from member to member.

Well, I share some of those characteristics, but not all. I am not thin and hairless. I don’t shave what body hair I have, but because of my Native American blood, I could not grow a beard if I tried. I am a masculine man, but don’t consider myself “hyper-masculine.” For example, if guys are talking about a football game, I usually zone out because I don’t care for sports. I do not shun interaction with anyone, though I find gay men who act “queeny” to be difficult to be around because of their demand for attention, and dramatic attitudes and behaviors that are often displayed (and usually cause straight people to develop and affirm inappropriate stereotypes about gay people). Finally, I hate needles and thus never will have any tattoos. I find body piercings to be repulsive, as well. It just hurts to see someone with a ring through his…(insert name of body part here).

Similarly, I share some, but not all, characteristics of what is deemed to be a “leatherman.” Many men who enjoy leather also engage in BDSM. I blogged about this before. Suffice it to say, not only do I not engage in BDSM, I find it repulsive because of its reminders of human torture which I have, in a past job, attempted to rescue people from. (This is my own personal opinion and not reflective on any individual anywhere.)

I also share some characteristics of “cowboy,” but haven’t ridden a horse in a long time and probably won’t again. I like the masculinity of a cowboy, his down-to-earth style, practical attitudes, and work ethic. I have and wear a lot of cowboy boots, but that doesn’t make me a cowboy. I have the boots, though, because I can wear them to work with dress clothes, and they look and feel good on my feet. I work hard, but not out on the range. My limit to physical labor is work to keep our house in shape, and remodeling homes for the rental to important working folks like cops, firefighters, and teachers.

So what gay subculture “am” I? None, really. I am just a guy who likes boots, wears leather, rides a motorcycle, has a moustache and chest hair, and likes other guys. That’s it. Nothin’ more, nothin’ less. Don’t try to put me into a box; I am just an “outta the box” kinda guy.