Reclaiming Gay Male Bodies: Fat Positivity, Sex, and Masculinity in the Bear Community
AbstractThis paper examines the role that the Bear community’s fat positive mantra plays in reconstructing the stereotypical gay male body. It is argued that Bears reject oppressive body norms legitimized within the mainstream gay community by renegotiating experiences of masculinity and sexuality by eroticizing stockier gay men. In order to expand on the limited scholarly analysis of the Bear subculture as a sexual and social microcosm, this paper defines the Bear community and their body politics outside the glorification of slenderness in the larger gaycommunity. The fat inclusive environment fostered among this social group is then explored, which allows Bear bodies to exist within a sexual culture not fixated on penetrative intercourse and within an “intermediary” form of masculinity that rejects heteronormative and essentialist gender binaries. These distinct aspects of the Bear subculture ultimately encourage the redefinition of maleness and homosexuality and the radical reclaiming of gay male bodies outside the boundaries of a heteropatriarchal system.