As my friends can tell you (and from what you’ve probably noticed in my writing), I’m rather straightforward about everything. In my first coming out story, which I wrote about last year during coming out week, I talked mainly about my initial coming out as gay, and as an atheist. I never crossed the so-called “bi bridge” that so many young lesbians and gays do, and after I had my sexuality out in the open I never again made an effort to hide it. What I did hide, however, was the fact that I’m into bears.
For those who don’t know, or who are otherwise uninitiated, the bear community is a subset of the overall gay community that embraces love of one’s body as it is naturally. That goes to say, bears are big and hairy.
For a long time I found that I was ashamed of my interests, and lied to my friends, family, and even other gay people about the kind of guy that I found attractive. My shame at this wasn’t unprovoked, either.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a big guy. There was a time when I wanted to change that, but as I got older I grew comfortable with my size. The only people who weren’t comfortable with it were my parents. I had been told from a very young age that being heavy is unhealthy, and the concept of liking people who are heavy was positively unthinkable. After I came out as gay to my parents my dad would try to convince me to diet and work out by insinuating that I would never find a man who would find me attractive if I didn’t lose weight and gain muscle. My confidence never faltered because I knew something my father never discovered growing up; some people like bigger men.
I have never felt out of place in my own skin. I have never felt ugly, or unattractive, or unappealing. I have, in fact, always had a fairly positive view of my body because I am (and this may come off as mildly conceited) my own type. If I were thin I would probably have far more body image issues than I do now.
For years, however, I lied about my attractions. I would say that I was into guys like Justin Timberlake, Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt, and other “hotties” because it made my parents happy to think that I was attracted to fit, healthy-looking men. In reality, I was more interested in James Corden, Duff Goldman, and Tyler Labine. I remember that my first celebrity crush was with Samwise Gamgee, portrayed by Sean Astin in Lord of the Rings. I should specify that my thirteen year old mind didn’t have a crush on the actor, no. I had a crush on the hobbit.
I even tried to be interested in thinner men, but I simply never found them to be sexually appealing. Frankly, I find thin guys about as attractive as I find women. I can see some artistic beauty, and I’d love to draw them some time, but there is no physical attraction aside from my artistic appreciation of all bodies.
For most of my friends, they realized gradually that I liked chubby/bearish men and didn’t really care. With my parents, it happened somewhat more radically.
I was sitting in the living room with my parents watching King of Queens (a really awful show, as it were) and Kevin James came on screen. I remember my father saying something along the lines of, “God, he’s gotten fat. He needs to lose some fucking weight. Geeze!”
My response was overly defensive, “He looks fine, shut the fuck up!”
Being that my reaction was somewhat out of the blue, my parents started asking questions until I stated that I, personally, found him to be attractive. The general question was, “How could you find such an unhealthy person attractive?” He didn’t look unhealthy to me, he just looked big.
It seemed to me that my parents had a harder time accepting that I like fat guys than accepting that I like guys in general.
To this day, I’m still uncomfortable about discussing my “type” because so many gay men are grossed about by the concept. Little twinks who like other little twinks don’t understand it and often don’t want to. Mention the word “bear” at an LGBT event and mock-gagging will resound. Even though I’m no longer ashamed of it, it’s sometimes difficult to explain and often requires too much explanation to even bother. When gay boys show me pictures of thin, muscular, dangerously well endowed men, and I’m asked if they’re hot the easiest thing to do is just shrug.
It comes down to our society’s view of heavy people as being lazy, unhealthy, and socially awkward. As of late, I’ve been making a conscious effort to not be ashamed of who I like because it’s not exactly something I can change. Some day, when I bring a sexy bearish guy home I want to present him proudly to my family without any shame, discomfort, or regret. I refuse to be ashamed of my type because it doesn’t fit conveniently into the gay stereotype that so many people have of thin, tiny gay men in speedos. I am comfortable with myself, my body, and my attraction. It is no concern of mine if others feel the need to “yuck my yum”.