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Many people confuse gay bear with other terms used in the LGBTQ community. As one of the less common slang terms in the gay community, this misconception is understandable. Yet, it’s still important to know what it means to understand the bear subculture. A gay bear is a masculine homosexual man, typically large and hairy. One unique thing that makes a person a bear is that he is also sexually attracted to other hairy and prominent men.

gay bear

There are also different types of gay bears. These slang terms include clubs, otters, and wolves. While these terms aren’t always said in the larger gay community, knowing them can help you immensely. Understanding each slang term and its differences can also help you self-identify. Continue below to find out the most popular gay bear looks and types.

What Is a Gay Bear?

The term gay bear uses the defining characteristics of actual bears. As you know, bears are hairy and large( check the gay bear from TikTok). These two top bear characteristics also describe gay bears. They are heavier and hairier men who retain a masculine appearance instead of incorporating effeminacy. Gay bears also prefer other men who have a very masculine gender presentation. Many gay bears gravitate towards other heavyset and hairy men or other bears.

gay bear

Being a Bear Is a Label and Identity

Besides appearance and gender preferences, the term also serves as a self-identifying label for a person’s personality. A bear rejects the normative and idealized male beauty that mainstream gay men enjoy. It is why many gay bears dress ruggedly. Because they didn’t limit their partner preferences to traditional and idealized male beauty, bears are more likely to try diverse sexual behavior and activities. These activities may include fisting, voyeurism, and others.

Bear Pride also exists, and Bear Week often occurs the week after the 4th of July. Like Gay Pride events, Bear Pride is where bears, bisexual men, and allies gather in places like New Orleans and San Francisco to celebrate their gender expression. The bear flag accompanies Bear Pride. The bear flag features a real bear’s fur colors and a bear paw print. The bear paw is black and situated on the upper-left corner of the flag.

gay bear

Gay Bears Have a Community of Their Own

Did you know that bears are likelier to have lower self-esteem because they don’t have the beauty of the traditional gay man? This is where the gay bear community comes in. Despite not fitting into the mainstream gay culture, the bear community constitutes its jargon, values, style, bear events, and commodities.

People with a bear identity will learn about bear-oriented bars, clubs, music, movies, festivals, and bear runs. Even though it’s not in the mainstream, the world of gay bears is broad, welcoming, and fun. For example, Northeast Ursamen is a popular social group for bears and other allies. You may even find printed media on the gay bear identity. If you want more resources for further readings, consider checking out the following bear-focused media, creators, and publishers:

  • The Bear Handbook, published by Haworth Press
  • The Bear Book and The Bear Book II by Les Wright
  • A Bear’s Life Magazine
  • Jack Fritscher
  • Bear World Magazine
  • Bear Bones Books
  • Lethe Press
  • Jack Radcliffe (pornographic bear actor)
  • Titan Media (studio)
  • Raging Stallion (gay website)

gay bear

Popular TikTok Icons of Gay Muscle Bears




What Are the Other Types of Gay Bear?

Many men in the gay bear world have a bear identity that differentiates them from other gay bear types. Below are the different types of bears and their traits.

Muscle Bears

If you didn’t know about the bear culture, you might mistake muscle bears as heterosexual men who like going to the gym, looking rugged, and being hyper-masculine. A muscle bear is a hairy man who looks heavyset and muscular but not obese. Others will also call a highly masculine gay bear a butch bear.

gay bear

Hairless Bears

The hairless bear is a heavyset and muscular man with same-sex attractions. The difference is that they have less or no body hair. The amount of hairlessness will vary for every person. A hairless bear can sport a dashing full beard but have no chest, arm, leg, and pubic hair. He can also be entirely free of facial hair and other body hair.

gay bear

Polar Bears

A polar bear is used for gay bears with predominantly gray or white hair. Their sexual orientation remains homosexual, but they tend to be older. The closest example of how a polar bear looks in popular culture is a gay Santa Claus without his iconic red suit.

Polar Bears

Sugar Bears

Most bears are highly masculine, but some feel more comfortable being effeminate. In the bear community, sugar bears are still somewhat shunned. The good news is that more people in the bear movement are becoming open-minded about other gay men’s freedom of expression.

gay bear

Trans Bears

A trans bear is a transgender person who transitioned and adapted to being a bear. It defines gay trans men on the heavier side and has chosen to be a part of the bear community. They make up a small part of this broad gay male subculture.

gay bear

What Do Chubs, Cubs, Otters, and Wolves Refer to in the Gay Community?

If you read Bear World Magazine or have participated in Bear Week, you might hear of other animal-inspired terms used for other gay men. Here are other slang terms you need to know about this gay male subculture.


Chub is a slang term that identifies overweight gay men who belong to the chubby culture of the gay community. Many people confuse chubs with bears because they have some overlap. The difference is that bears are more likely to be masculine and hairier than chubs.


In the animal kingdom, a bear cub is a young bear. The same applies to the bear community. A bear cub is an identity used by young men who have yet to mature, look more masculine, or grow in size.

gay bear


Men who have a naturally thinner or smaller frame but are hairy are called otters. Others describe them as a man between a twink and a bear. Otters tend to have athletic but thin bodies.

gay bear


In the bear community, a wolf is just like an otter. He is hairy or semi-hairy and twink-like. The difference between wolves and otters is that the former is more muscular and sexually aggressive. For example, they also look lean and attractive to most people in the larger gay community, like drag queens.

Notable Trends Among Gay Bears

If you’re considering joining bear events, consider first adding the following items to your collection. They can help you blend with the bears in San Francisco, rural areas, or elsewhere. The following items are also good alternatives if medical conditions keep you from becoming a natural bear.

Upgraded Upper Body Muscle Suits with Arms

Do you want to transform into a muscle bear? Get our upgraded upper body muscle suit with arms for the best transformation. It’s a great option if you’re a newly transitioned trans man who has yet to bulk up. Like our other products, you can get our upper body muscle suit with added chest hair to become a full-on muscle bear.

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Upper Body Suits with a Big Beer Belly

You’ll enjoy this upper bodysuit whether you’re a chub or bear. It has an ample beer belly that can help you become the bear you’ve always dreamed of being. The stomach is breathable, has a realistic appearance and texture, and is easy to use and maintain. You can even customize the body hair to be as fuzzy as possible.

gay bear with fake belly

Upgraded Realistic Muscle Bodysuit

Another blooming trend in the bear community is our realistic muscle bodysuit. It’s the choice for otters and wolves who already have thin bodies. The suit adds more muscle definition while keeping you lean and attractive to the gay bear population that enjoys otters and wolves.


A bear is a man who lives by the three H’s of bears: husky, furry or hairy, and homosexual. They are typically larger and heavier but not necessarily taller than the average gay man. They embody the traditional masculinity of the male gender role while being attracted to the same sex. Their sexual behaviour is more varied than the average person belonging to the gay male culture.

The bear community covers Bear Pride, bear clubs, different body types, secondary sexual characteristics, sexual behaviors, and preferences. You can become a gay bear with a muscle suit even if you don’t have a naturally large, muscular, or hairy body.