OK, everyone… new category. When I do or say something really gay, Pete is always there to observe, “Well look at you, Gayee McGayerson!” It’s quite endearing, and from a straight guy way nicer than “Fag!”
Anyway, David is still down in the Gay Area, I mean Bay Area, at a trade show. I went down with him for the weekend and we had a lot of fun hitting the bars (except for the Eagle having been taken over by what I could only describe as polyamorous Linux geek club kids fresh from a thrifting binge) and shopping in the Castro. (What did we shop for, you might ask? I’ll never tell, but it was fun walking into the Leather Emporium in my floral-embroidered Hawaiian shirt carrying a bag of skin care products from Nancy Boy.) Overall, nothing that made us want to relocate– but fun.
The trip did reinforce my appreciation of one of the many joys of being in a secure and non-neurotic male couple: the lack of drama when something big and hunky crosses your field of vision. You both see it, you both look, and unless one of you stops listening and does an obvious double-take, no harm/no foul. You might even engage in a little rating or mutual spotting (“Ooh, look left, hottie at 3 o’clock”). But after all that, you both leave knowing that you’re leaving with the sexiest, most wonderful man in the place.
The key phrase in that paragraph was “big and hunky,” as neither David nor I have much interest in the under-fed and over-scupted gym bunny look. Neither of us fit that mold either. I’ve been working out regularly for months and for a lot of reasons probably more comfortable with my body that I’ve ever been, so I’m more than a little unhappy to hear David bemoan the really cute and sexy little belly he has. I mean after all, where some guys have six-packs, I’ve got a pony keg– so he better think bellies are sexy.
Well guess what? It’s official– bellies are the new Hot Gay Fashion Accessory. Don’t leave home without one! When the UK’s Guardian (which David loves) posts a story asking Is the potbelly the new gay ideal?, you know something is up.
This week in Salon (which of course you can’t really read anymore without paying or watching doofy interstitial ads), Andrew Sullivan has a great piece on bellies and bears, and their (our?) relation to the whole “post-gay” concept. While I gladly sign on as post-gay (I’m here, I’m queer, I’m used to it), I’ve been a little leery of taking on the “bear” label.
I took my tall, pretty, reedy, and nearly hairless friend Topher to a “bear party” a couple of years ago on the heels of a breakup with another tall, reedy guy. I was ready to claim my Bear Identity… until I got there. Wow. I will never have facial hair like that, I thought, or wear flannel shirts with the arms cut off. And did you smell that guy??? Topher was nonplussed, and kept suggesting we go eat. “But where do bears eat?” he mused, bemused. “What do bears eat? Honey?” By the look of things, bears ate a lot without much discrimination.
I did get flirted with a lot that night, but generally by the non-bear guys. I decided I was the “demi-bear,” kind of the gateway drug for skinny boys who just weren’t really ready to call someone “Daddy” (or, more to the point, “Smokey.”)
But it would seem that Bear-as-fetish is devolving into Bear-by-default, and that is something I can get with. I am always going to be hairy (and more so as the years go on). Even when I’m in prime rugby shape, I’m never going to be svelte. Getting “cut” or “ripped” just doesn’t happen, even when I bulk up precipitously. The Bear-by-default model is just a more natural and less artificial mode for most guys, and I’m happy to see myself as part of a trend that lets gay men enjoy good food, good beer, and the attentions of our peers who appreciate unfussy masculinity. And rugby proves that you can be a big boy and in great physical shape. The belly/bear trend may make the Quake the sexiest bunch of butch bitches in Seattle by year’s end (if we aren’t already).
That said, I still use two styling products in my hair. I still use deodorant. And until we hit the retro-Grunge era, no lumberjack flannel will grace my form. But I couldn’t agree more with Andrew Sullivan’s premise. Given the challenges of getting to anything good on Salon, I’ve copied his article below. Eager as I am to see “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” I’m glad this “Ursa Rising” aesthetic is there to counter the “cult of style.” It’s fun, but deeply stereotypical. And just not as hot as a guy with a hairy chest and a nice, comfortable belly.
Continue reading “Of bears and bellies”