Bears International has over 4 million members around the world, with half of our members in the UK.
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In male gay culture. Hairy Gay males have 3 nicknames:
A Bear is a larger, hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity
A Medium built hairy gay male is called a Wolf
A Slim built hairy gay male is called an otter.
At the onset of the bear movement, some bears separated from the gay community at large, forming "bear clubs" to create social and sexual opportunities for their own. Many clubs are loosely organized social groups; others are modeled on leather biker-patch clubs, with a strict set of bylaws, membership requirements, and charities. Bear clubs often sponsor large yearly events — "bear runs" or "bear gatherings" like the annual events such as Southern HiBearNation in Melbourne, Bear Pride and Bear Essentials in Sydney, Bearstock in Adelaide, HiBearNation in St. Louis, Missouri, SF Bear Weekend, CBL's Bear Hunt, Bear Pride in Chicago, Texas Bear Round Up (TBRU) in Dallas, Orlando Bear Bash, and Summer Bear Week in Provincetown, drawing regional, national and international visitors. Many LGBT events attract a significant bear following, such as Southern Decadence in New Orleans. A feature at many bear events is a "bear contest," a sort of masculine beauty pageant awarding titles and sashes (often made of leather) to winners.The bear community has spread all over the world, with bear clubs in many countries. Bear clubs often serve as social and sexual networks for their members, who can contribute to their local gay communities through fund-raising and other functions. Bear events have become very common, to include smaller sized cites and many rural areas. Most gay oriented campgrounds now include some type of bear-related event during their operating season.
The bear community constitutes a specialty niche in the commercial market. It offers T-shirts and other accessories as well as calendars and porn movies and magazines featuring bear icons, e.g., Jack Radcliffe. Catalina Video has a bear-themed line, the "Furry Features Series." Other adult studios who feature bear-type men are Bear Magazine, 100% BEEF Magazine, BearFilms, Bear, Butch Bear, Raging Stallion, and Titan Media. There are also social media websites and smartphone apps that market to men of the bear community.
As the bear community has matured, so has its music and literature, as well as other (non-pornographic) arts, media, and culture. Examples include Bearapalooza, a traveling bear music festival; Bear Bones Books, an imprint of GLBTQ publisher Lethe Press, which markets fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles written by and for bears; BearRadio.net, which streams bear and LGBT music and bear-themed podcast shows. The larger organized bear runs often host a "bear market" area where artisans, musicians, and others offer items for sale.
As more gay men have identified themselves as bears, more bars, especially leather or western bars, have become bear-friendly. Some bars cater specifically to bear patrons.