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The Bear
A muscled bear and a musclebear.

"Did you know that in the gay community a hairy man is called a Bear?"
Stan Smith, American Dad!

In gay slang, a "bear" is a hairy Manly Gay man with a delightful Carpet of Virility — and not always just on their chests. Very often bears are also voluptuously heavy set and at least middle-aged, but these are not definitive requirements. Exceptionally thin hairy guys in the bear community are often called "otters", younger hairy guys are often called "cubs" or "pups", and especially muscular bears are often called "muscle bears" or "bulls". A "husbear" is a term some men use for their bearish boyfriends or husbands.

Bears don't appear as often in entertainment for mainstream audiences, where gay stereotypes more familiar to the audience predominate. But bears are common in the gay community and in LGBT-made works, and ubiquitous in modern gay porn and Bara Genre. Where bears do appear, they announce themselves by their body type appearance, as the Bear is as much about Rule of Sexy as it is about subculture.

Usually a subtrope of Manly Gay, and the polar opposite of The Twink (though "cubs" tend to have a similar disposition). Frequently overlaps with Badass, Big Beautiful Man, Cool Old Guy, Leather Man or Petting Zoo People. In fact this trope overlaps with Big Beautiful Man so often that some people would consider them the same trope — except that technically this trope is about body hair and the other trope is about body fat.

Though this trope always involves gay men, the targets of bearish interest need not always be gay. This trope can apply to straight men who gay men acknowledge as attractive for their bearish looks. For this to be objectively applied, it has to be deliberate in a story. For Real Life examples, the straight men have to have acknowledged their bear fanbase. All examples solely acknowledged by gay fans should go in LGBT Fanbase.

For actual bears, see Bears Are Bad News, Beary Funny, Beary Friendly and Pandaing To The Audience.

Not to be confused with The Bear

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • There's an entire genre for this. It's called Bara Genre.

     Comic Books 
  • In Circles, Arthur is a gay bear in his 40s who is also...a bear.
  • Wolverine, though he's not gay. His psychopath of a son, on the other hand, has slept with both genders.
    • Howlett, an alternate reality version of Wolverine appearing in X-Treme X-Men is also a bear, as is his canon lover Hercules. Get use to it.

     Film 
  • In Clerks II, Kinky Kelly's assistant (later revealed to be his partner) fits this trope to a T, though he's never explicitly mentioned as being gay.
  • The Spanish film Cachorro (Bear Cub in English) is about a gay bear who has to take care of his 9-year old nephew as a favor for his sister.
  • Pretty much the whole point to the film Bear City.
  • Another Spanish film Chuecatown (Boystown in English) features two bears as protagonists. Arguably, they overlap with Big Beautiful Men.
  • In True Stories, Louis Fyne (John Goodman) states numerous times he has a very consistent "panda bear" shape.

     Live-Action Television 
  • In an episode of Ashes to Ashes, Alex deduces the gangster they're investigating is into bears, and Ray (a noted homophobe implied to have latent homosexual tendencies) has to flirt with him in order to further the case.
  • Game of Thrones: Lord Renly Baratheon's nickname on this entertainment website aimed at gay men is the Otter King. The character has a hairy chest, but the audience never sees it because his lover Ser Loras Tyrell finds him more attractive with a smooth torso.
  • On Glee, this trope is lampshaded and discussed by Kurt and David Karofsky, who we find out in season three has taken to hanging out at a local gay bar and been dubbed a bear cub because of his youth and rather burly stature. Kurt, apparently not knowing anything about the term, jokingly asks if he's a cub because he "looks like Yogi."
  • Max on Happy Endings, although, in his words, he's "more of a cub". A Season 3 episode fully Averts this by showing he doesn't fully fit into any one gay subculture, having traits from several of them.
  • One of the sketches in Kids in the Hall involves a man encountering a Bear, but following the advice on what to do when encountering an actual bear (don't make eye contact, play dead, etc.).
  • One episode of Modern Family has Mitchell and Cam look for a gay club to go on New Years Eve. As they are comparing their situation to that of Goldilocks, as they hadn't yet found one that was "just right", three bears walk out of one of the bars and the guys share an amused look.
  • Recurring character Thor from Nurse Jackie is a gay bear.
  • In one episode of 30Rock, Jack decides to seduce his wife's gay interior designer so he can get his way on their home's wallpaper. He explains to Liz:
    "Do you know what a prize I am in the gay community? There's a term for it. I'm a bear. And I'm a daddy. I'm a daddy bear."
    • His actual status as a bear is debatable (beards are usually mandatory, though naked Alec Baldwin has quite the Carpet of Virility), but we'll forgive him because the seduction scene is hilarious.
  • The gay couple in the neighboring cabin in the 2 Broke Girls episode "And the Bear Problem."
    • Big Mary from Max's pastry school combines bear looks with a very campy way of speaking.
  • Referenced in Warehouse 13 Artie (hairy, rotund, and middle aged) was about to admit that he loved someone (a girl) when he figured out which artifact was causing this week's trouble. He uses the Jewish name, which sounds like a man's name. The (older) man with him responds. "I didn't know you were homosexual. Are you what they call a Bear?"
  • In the eighth season of Will and Grace, Karen's boyfriend Malcolm (also played by Alec Baldwin) says of the charity carnival Will's organizing, "I can't go to the carnival without a woman. The gays would be all over a bear like me."

     Video Games 
  • Jin's Bara Genre Dating Sims usually have a lot of bears in the cast.
  • Jūichi in Morenatsu is simultaneously The Bear, the bear, a Bara Genre role, and a high school student. He looks more like a 30something than someone who's supposed to be 16 or 17.
  • Zangief from Street Fighter is possibly one of the oldest examples of this in video games. He has been hinted to be gay enough that audiences gay and straight have taken notice, and his gay bearish appeal has long since been secured.
    • Three letters: S P D. An attack where he grabs you into a standing 69 position.
  • Considering the all-male nature of the Galka and the strong implications that they are predominantly gay (or at least were during their time alone without females for centuries), the fact that every Galka has at least a chinstrap beard immediately makes the whole race very bearish, with shades of Big Beautiful Man as well.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Sabin refers to himself as a bear during the cut scene on Mount Kolts — this is Hilarious in Hindsight, even if intentional. Depending on the artist, Sabin certainly has more of the body type for it, with Amano tending towards the hairier with Badass Beard and CG art tending towards the smoother and beardless. None of this necessarily means Sabin is actually gay (it's still entirely possible he's not), but that he's a "bear" with a fittingly bearish body type. This, along with the fact that he's one of the only adult male main cast (along with Stragos) who is never shown expressing any kind of interest in women, has brought him more LGBT Fanbase by far than any other male character in the game.
  • Referenced in Mass Effect 3, where Cortez and Vega are arguing about which ground vehicle is the best, and Vega expresses his fondness for a tank called the Grizzly. Cortez snarks that he would be one to like something called that. Vega doesn't get it.
  • A cosmetic item in Team Fortress 2 called the "Triad Trinket" (an open-collared shirt with two gold necklaces hanging on the chest) has two styles— one is called "Bear", and it gives Sniper, Spy, Engineer, and Heavy all chest hair. Heavy's shirt is too small, and even exposes some of his bare belly.

     Web Comics 
  • Josh from Hijinks Ensue is a self-identified bear, of the bald+pudgy variety.
  • CaptainGerBear's Grant comic has two bearish main characters. And as the artist's moniker hints at, he draws a lot of bearish men.
  • A frequently used trope in Blur the Lines due to the author's preference in men.
  • Discussed in Gqutie, which proposes "Mongoose" as a genderqueer varient.

     Web Original 
  • Too many examples to comprehensively list here. There is a huge presence of the bear community online, and there are a lot of artists who draw bear art, everything from tame to erotic to porn.
  • Where The Bears Are is about 3 bears (and the whole bear community by extension).

     Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, who has the body size, body hair, and beard to pull it off, has publicly self-identified as a bear since a Salon article in 2003, and occasionally posts articles regarding the Bear community on his blog, The Dish. He also regularly comments on beards (a major element of Bear culture, but he seems to like it when any man grows a beard, whether he is gay or straight, large or small—he sees beard-growing as more natural).
  • Director Kevin Smith, acknowledges his bear fan base and has interviewed with bear media.
  • Chef and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio has acknowleged his bear fan base on air, has done interviews with bear media and was briefly scheduled to ride on the bear float in the 2010 LA Pride Parade (he cancelled due to scheduling conflicts).


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alternative title(s): Bear
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