Bears In Space: Geographies of a global community of big and hairy gay/bi/queer men

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Abstract

Bears are a large global community of big and hairy gay, bisexual and queer (GBQ) men. Little sustained empirical scholarship has investigated Bears’ lives and communities, and none from within geography. Three geographic lenses are used to demonstrate the significance of a geographic approach to Bears. First, rural and urban imaginaries are entwined with Bear masculinities and ideals of ‘real men’. However a geographically-specific North American working class rural imaginary is particularly important. Second, the global trajectory of Bear begins in 1980s San Francisco and has since spread worldwide. The idea that Bear is fundamentally an American phenomenon is challenged by evidence of global variation in Bear identities, communities, and spaces. Third, the material and aesthetic production of Bear spaces relates to Bear masculinities and bodies, particularly fat bodies. Regarding more ephemeral Bear events, the ‘Bearing’ of space (including queer space) may provide a means of understanding these. The paper argues first that geography is crucial for understanding Bears and second that geographers of masculinities, sexualities, and fatness/bodies could productively engage with Bear identities, communities, and spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere312553
JournalGeography Compass
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Bears
  • men
  • masculinities
  • gay
  • GBQ
  • sexualities
  • fatness

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