What’s in a Name?

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What is a bear?

Do a quick Internet search and you’ll find a number of definitions. Which one is right? Ais there a definition? Should there even be one?

Wikipedia will tell you that a bear is a heavyset man with body hair who projects an image of rugged masculinity in his grooming. Is that it; is it as simple as a particular body type?

Richard Bulger coined the term ‘bear’ in the 80s with the advent of Bear magazine, a publication dedicated to the men who didn’t fit the previously ubiquitous bill of the gay man – thin, smooth, and young.

This must have been a great time for all those husky and furry men out there who didn’t want to subscribe to being outcast by the larger gay community.

But the bear community was – and is – about more than just a preference for beefy, hairy men. The original bear movement was a haven for men who felt different to their heterosexual counterparts only in sexual preference. Up until this point, there was no formalised way for ‘outcast’ to meet ‘outcast’. The bear of the past was tall, short, fat, stocky, muscular, hairy, thin and hairy – whatever. The unifying feature of a bear was that he felt different to other gay men – he was masculine, and grass-roots humble.

In a lot of ways, this is still true today. There is more disparity in the community – muscle bears versus chubs? – but by and large it is still a culture of acceptance and love. The love of fur and masculinity.

To me, a bear doesn’t have to be a particular shape, though I’m completely turned on by the thicker men, both muscular and otherwise. What means more to me is the masculinity – not forced and contrived, but genuine. A bear is kind and accepting, but rugged. He’s a real man, and he doesn’t need to prove how ‘manly’ he is.

What’s a bear to you?

Cub. Xo.

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Symptomatic

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Working in sexual health is challenging for anyone. Let’s face it, asking a stranger to come into a clinic and confess all of their sexual exploits is a difficult thing. Of course, it’s harder for the patient, but there can still be awkwardness on the part of the clinician as they leave no stone unturned with their probing questions. It definitely requires a flexible attitude and there is no place for judgement. you have to be able to deal with transgender issues, drug abuse, unsafe practices sexual abuse, prostitution and even reckless endangerment. Not to mention infidelity.

Despite this, there are many rewards, including earning trust in a situation where individuals allow themselves to be completely vulnerable.

One of the challenges for me is being a gay man in sexual health. If you are able to ignore it in the real world, there is no denying that homosexual men comprise a large proportion of the client base. There are a lot of mixed feelings for me when I see gay patients, particularly the large number of HIV+ men that come through the clinic.

A lot of the literature regarding HIV in the clinic is aimed towards gay men. There are sometimes pamphlets with a lot of sexy images in them, as well as language better suited to gay erotica. It seems as though a large percentage of the literature is written in lingo, and while this is obviously used to connect with the members of the gay community, it can sometimes leave me with a sour taste. Sometimes, it’s almost offensive. Still, the fact remains that homosexual men are the most prevalent group affected by HIV. It is a group within the population that struggles with recreational drug use and unsafe sexual practices, from unprotected sex, to multiple casual partners to sex-on-premises and even sexual assault.

My discomfort that sometimes arises around these cases does not stem from my desire to separate myself from the gay community, but because I am a part of this community, and I feel like – in general – we’re just not getting the message.

Discussions in the clinical meetings about people’s understanding of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and when and how to utilise it are just depressing. PEP is essentially the morning after pill for people who believe or know they have been exposed to HIV. It is a one-month course of combined HIV meds, and must be started within the first 72 hours from contact. I have seen people present a week after exposure seeking PEP, only to be turned down because it’s too late. These guys have to wait weeks and weeks until they get tested, while knowing there’s nothing they can do in the mean-time.

There are the patients who think their risk is low because they were not the bottom. They think their risk is low because they didn’t cum in their partner. They get high on weed or poppers and just don’t bother with a condom, and their anxiety over their practices when they’ve come clean depresses them. The didn’t ask the guy they met in the park if he was positive; they just assumed he was, but the guy in the park assumed he was positive because he didn’t ask.

PEP costs approximately $1,200 for the 1 month course. A years’ worth of HIV medication costs about 10 times that. But none of that compares to the price you can pay.

Why are we so prone to HIV infection? I don’t believe it’s because we are somehow sluttier
than our heterosexual counterparts. If women were as sexually preoccupied as men, we’d have a much larger problem on our hands. Heterosexual women are the fastest growing group of people infected with HIV each year.

I believe that the past rejection and persecution of homosexuality forced the underground gay sex scene. The bath-houses, the cruising parks, the sex clubs. While all of that is unnecessary now, it has become part of the gay culture to some extent. There is still a large group of closeted men who leave their wives and seek the intimacy of other men in all the wrong places.

I believe that the prevalence of HIV in the gay community is symptomatic of the history of homosexuality, a product of the underground sex culture. We need to throw off the self-loathing of the past and embrace the normality and natural aspects of our sexuality. We need to stop the shame, stop hitting the self-destruct button, and learn to love who and what we are.

We’re gay. Bisexual. Lesbian. Transgendered. Queer. Intersex.

We’re beautiful.
Cub. XO.

The Camera Always Lies

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Have you ever flipped through a magazine and seen an advertisement for some sort of face cream, and the model is a nineteen year old beauty with flawless skin?  You probably ask yourself what the hell she’s doing on an ad for anti-ageing cream when she’s a good twenty-five years away from doing any actual ageing. 

Some scout has scoured the streets and beaches looking for that fresh young colt.  A makeup artist has spent ages applying seven inches of crushed up minerals to her face in all the right places in order to make it look as though she has no makeup on.  A photographer has artfully placed lights to given the most flattering aspect of her face.  And some artist has loaded an image of her face into Photoshop and spent five hours clicking away whatever remaining traces of humanity there were until the result is so incredibly perfect, yet believable since you can still see individual pores and even the peach fuzz on her cheeks.

Well, don’t kill me, but I’m the guy armed with Photoshop.

We live in an age where the terms ‘body dysphoria’ and ‘body dysmorphia’ are common.  They roughly translate to ‘unhappy with body’ and ‘inappropriate perception of own body’.  Do I contribute to this?  I would have to be a master of delusion if I didn’t say yes.  But like so much these days, people are using that as a crutch.

Surely we’re smart enough to know that the Ab Swing is not really going to be ‘the last ab workout you’ll ever need’, and we certainly don’t believe that we’ll turn into that hot, buff young guy just because we use it.  We definitely shouldn’t be looking at magazines and believing what we see.  If a woman looks at a retouched model and think that’s reality, then she needs her reality checked. 

That old adage ‘the camera never lies’?  You can forget that.  The camera does lie, and so does everyone else.

You’re all beautiful, even without retouching.

Cub. Xo.

Gay Porn & Marriage

 

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How fucking hard is it to find a decent personal gay blog? I am pretty damn good at research, but I just can’t seem to find anything substantial. Almost everything out there falls into one of two categories. There are the blogs dedicated to large scale images of two bears riding bareback or anecdotes of sexual conquest, or they are running commentaries (sometimes cut-and-paste from other websites) on gay rights and causes. Is it really all gay porn and marriage?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of both at various times, but mostly I just want to find a blog by a gay man that hooks me in like a good book. It doesn’t need to go anywhere. The best blogs are usually about nothing in particular, they’re just honest and open.

Homosexuals – please start more personal blogs! If anyone knows of a great gay blog, let me know. Share the love.

To shift gears, it was my birthday on the weekend. Steadily heading toward 30, and actually I don’t really care. I have a feeling age will work for me. Here’s hoping, anyway! 30 is supposedly gay death, but I don’t buy it. I’m already married off and talking kids with Cubby anyway.

Get blogging!

Love you all. Cub. Xo.

Un-Bear-Able

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Most men have a physical type that attracts them sexually. I understand the same is true for women, but there is no denying that an emotional connection is what they really find sexy. There is also no denying that this is true for some men.

What I find interesting about the gay world is the interplay between how we perceive ourselves, how we want to be, and who we find attractive. For many gay men, their ideal man (physically) is someone they want to be, and it follows that he is also someone they want to be with.

Personally, I don’t really have a type. I love all men, from tall to short, pale and tan, sexy to sweet. Instead of a type, I do have preferences. For me, thin and hairless doesn’t grab my attention, nor does it inspire lust. Perfectly muscled with a chiseled jaw also does nothing for me. I believe the beauty of a man lies in his imperfections.

Over the years I have discovered that men with dark hair draw me in most effectively. Ditto a round face, straight and thick eyebrows, and at least some semblance of facial hair. I do like masculine, but not the faux hyper-masculinity the gay world seems obsessed with. I like my men gay, not ‘straight-acting’.

Boys with a solid build definitely catch my eye. Think muscular with a thin layer of fat on it to soften the edges and you’re getting warmer. Add some body hair, because to me it seems natural for a man to have some fur.

Aside from physicality, I like the strong and silent type, but to me that means confident, positive, and comfortable with silence.

Cubby has a lot of these qualities, but not all. The truth is, I don’t need a man who ticks all these boxes. There is a section of the criteria that isn’t definable, and whatever it is, Cubby has it.

Though I have body image issues, none of them are huge. On the whole, I feel blessed to have what I have. I would (and do) find it attractive in another man, but for myself I’d like to make some improvements.

What I find the most interesting is the gay man who identifies with a physical sub-culture that he doesn’t belong to. For example, consider an effeminate young man, slender with little body hair. I have nothin against these men personally, but there is a large proportion of the gay world that shuns them. Imagine if his ideal man was a bear. Transgendered men and women have worked hard to lessen the stigma attached to them through awareness, but can the same be said for the bear trapped in a twink’s body, or the twink trapped in a bear’s body?

Imagine that he himself feels like a bear on the inside. Imagine how hard that would be. How unbearable.

All of you are beautiful, and I love you.

Cub. Xo.

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Apple of Our Eyes

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A lot of great people have passed away during my life, and there are some that I will always remember.  When Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash, I was only a child, but I can remember where I was when I first heard of her passing.  As a kid, you seem to think that people of such noteriety will live forever. 

October 5, 2011 – Steve Jobs passes after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.  But what I will remember him for is not his illness, but how he literally revolutionised human interaction.

I feel as though I can’t overstate what Steve did for the world in bringing technology to the fingertips of millions of people – young, old, whatever background.  With the invention of the iPod, there was no longer a need to be tech savvy to enjoy something that was clearly a leap forward.

The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac.  These products might not be the very best in the industry for performance, but they are incredible to use, and nothing else inspires people the way an Apple product can. 

Thank you, Steve Jobs.  Thank you for your passion and dedication to creating what amounts to more than a line-up of beautiful products.

xo cub.