Ali and I came up with the intriguing concept of interviewing bears of color about their experiences in the beer community. We wanted to find different people with different perspectives to give them a platform to tell their stories, good or bad. In this interview, Ali wanted to start the ball rolling by answering some of the questions himself.
“Bear is a gay term. It describes a hairy or bearded individual, (sometimes muscular) or man. A bear typically projects an image of rugged. Some bears present a very masculine, over-the-top image of a ruggedly masculine man.”( But we have our FemBears and we welcome them), is the definition on Wikipedia, This definition has been expanded over the years but in many ways it has excluded Bear of Color and Hispanics, If you look at the Wiki page you will see that Black Bears are not included in the type of bears, Even when we have been present in the community since its inception at least in the United States when the bear community started in San Francisco…
Otters, Ursulas,(Lesbians identifying themselves as female bears) and Asian Bears are, My definitions include Bears of Color using the graft of Bears in Nature…
Since Black (Ursus Americanus) and Brown Bears come in a myriad of colors and nationalities, this best describe Bears of Color.. for Hispanic Bears we can use Spectacle Bear, Tremarctos ornatus ( Also Known as the Andean Bear from South America), So if we are fashioning this community after the bears found in nature, here is a list….https://bearwithus.org/8-bears-of-the-world/
My first encounter with the bear community was not a good encounter but it shaped the way I moved forward in it from that moment on, My mentors and good friends told me that a new bear club was been formed in the Maryland , Washington and Virginia area called the Chesapeake Bay Bear, I met up with my friends at the bar in DC, I was the only person of color there, I did mingle some but I had just came out to myself about a year before and was not comfortable with my place in the gay community, lest in these “Bear new world”, Then, the then president of the CBB pulled me aside and told me…”I am sorry but I don’t think you are going to fit in with us, there is not such a thing as a Black Bear…”
I didn’t know what to say, I had face discrimination in and out of the gay community before but I expected different, My mentors and friends accepted me for me, nothing else, “Come as you are!”, but been a Bear of Color is an issue?, You seen Nature?, all that went through my head and more, but I didn’t want to cause a scene, I was still in the Army reserves and I didn’t want to call any attention…
I said goodbye to my friends, (Who knew something wasn’t right…) but I said I had to get ready for work the next day…
On my way home I cried in anger inside my truck, then it hit me, “ The moment you back down, he wins, You don’t come back and others will go through the same shit!, It’s stops here, it stops now!!”
So, at the next meeting, I paid my fee and became a member, but not only that, I became the most visible member I could be, Every cookout I was there, Every benefit, I was welcoming and selling raffles, making sure that if there was any bears of color attending, that they felt welcome, I also entered Bear Contest, not to win but to represent, because during all this time, even in the bear publications, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me in any of them…
Anger get shit done but education make permanent and lasting change!, We belong and Representation Matters!!!
I didn’t know at first, I was always attracted to thick built guys of all races, Growing up in Puerto Rico, I was afraid of the feelings inside me, I was attracted to wrestlers on TV like Carlitos Colon, Black Georgie, Barrabas and the other “American” Wrestlers of that era would get me hard as a rock but I didn’t understand why…
When I first came out I was still in the Army Reserves as a EOD Tech, I was paranoid of been found out and it took me two years after leaving the Army to finally go to a bar, I did it in Halloween 1990, as a Zombie, Got second place, LOL, I slowly made some “friends” since I was really good dancer but none of my friends like my taste in thick guys, I decided to go out one night that the “crew” was out of town, while dancing, this cute thick bearded, hirsute, with hair sticking out of his t-shirt, barrel-chested redhead was watching me, we struck a conversation, he introduce himself as David from West Virginia and taught him a few dance moves, next thing you know we are sucking face on the side of the dance floor and then he says “WOOOOF, you are a hell of a Bear ain’t you??, “I am a What??”, I said,” A Bear, Oh my God, You never heard that before??”, “No…”, He then asked me to go outside with him and he gave me a copy of Bear#6, I was spellbound by the men on the pages but more by the hunk on front of me, He took me home that night and it was my first time with a man, I was 26, I fuck a bear and I like it!!
Things where improving at one point, more events have been more welcoming, we see more bears of color in some places but not all, Many events cater to mostly white audiences, you still see photographers that cover the events only catering to what their perception of beauty is skip the “Brother Bears Section”, not seeing Bears of Color as appealing for their magazines and publications, We are also missing in action in covers or event banners, Even in art work we are excluded by many…
We must remember that community is comprised of the community at large and as we all know the racial embers are been fanned more than ever in this polarizing climate and many are letting their true colors fly… We, Bears of color have to step up to the challenge, we need to show up and show out, No one puts baby on the corner, not anymore!!!
Be visible, Educate when you can, learn to leave it alone when you can’t but work on a solution in the mean time!, get your allies involved, we can’t go at it alone, Respect that others might not have your same experiences, (The black experience is not the same for everyone!), Support each other…and if there is a problem, try to come up with a solution….
Mr. International Leather Bear 2019 Competition
Ali Lopez Competed In The International Mr. Leather Bear 2019 & Won Bcoming The New Represenitive
I was lucky that my first interactions in the Bear and Leather community where positive, My first friends in both communities help me through a transition from coming out as gay ignorance of self, a repressive childhood and military training to hide in plain sight, Both taught me the meaning of brotherhood and what chosen family is, My mentors both became our Best Men in our wedding and in turn I did theirs, I have also met amazing individuals with incredible talent and I look forward to the future and expansion of limitations …
The lack of growth, I find that the bear community is in a time warp where everything takes longer to advance, The mainstream media has evolve to include people of Color, Latinos, Asians and so on, mix couples and even transgender individuals in adds, We still discussing why there is no representation of them in magazines, publications, shows and even porn, The Gay mainstream is breaking out of the mold but the bear community still in its infancy about it…We all know the need is there but no one is willing to invest into trying to change the “Norm” .
I have nooooo Idea….I am too busy trying to work on what I need to help my community to care what anyone else thinks outside of it!
You support us, Great, Oh, you don’t??, Fuck you and your unicorn fantasies!!
We have some mentions and a few shows that have bridge that gap but with a limited view of what this community is, No all the issues of this community are revolving about porn, or food, we are a bunch of talented motherfuckers and we need a medium to be able to showcase that, People like Tony Banks been saying this for years and he is doing what many are trying to do but is lacking the support of his own community, Everyone wants something, many just want it for free but you have to invest in those people for them to support our efforts in this community!!!
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