Like movie director Kevin Smith, I have been told by several of my gay friends that if I ever decided to “switch teams” my dance card would be full because I am, evidently, a “bear,” which is apparently in demand among a certain subset of the gay male community. Now there’s actually a romantic comedy about the subject, which Smith stars in. Here’s the trailer:
Andrew Sullivan may be a bit biased in his review of the movie, since he is not only a bear himself but his husband is in the movie, but he calls it Sex in the City “with back hair and bellies.”
If you want an intro to bear culture, you cannot really beat it. But what struck me about the movie – more than its predecessor – is its mainstream romantic comedy structure. It’s not gay-funny; it’s just funny. And oddly moving. It has characters you actually come to care about a bit; and it’s one of the first movies to explore what marriage equality is doing to gay culture. The cast has some classic comedy actors in it – Kevin Smith, Kathy Najimy, Richard Riehle – and some great dramatic actors in it (marital modesty forbids my gushing any further). At Bear Week here in Provincetown, it was a huge hit. Its Facebook page is here.
Speaking of Bear Week, it’s now arguably the biggest week in Ptown’s summer. When I first wrote about bears in Salon in 2003, it was a nascent sub-sub-culture. It’s now fully matured, its waistline thickening, its chest hair poking aggressively above the collar. And one reason is simply demographic. We are really experiencing the first gay generation to hit their forties and fifties since the AIDS epidemic and the revolution in gay life that has followed. Bears are simply a recognition of this demographic fact – that gay men in middle age really don’t want to stay in Magic Mike shape. It’s exhausting. And unnecessary – because there are all sorts for all kinds of guy.
Which sounds a lot like straight people too, doesn’t it?