What is a “Bear” in Gay Culture?

It seems like the “dude” side of gay culture always gets the most attention; women are excluded from all the fun. On the male side of the gay community, various physical types are categorized, each with its own distinct name. A twink, for example, is a younger guy with boyish good looks. One step below a bear is an otter. These are slightly hairy guys who might not be quite as big as their counterparts. What exactly is a “bear” in gay culture?

Bears are usually on the bigger side. They aren’t necessarily obese or overweight, but they bring some bulk to the table. They might not be muscular, but when you imagine a bear you imagine the picture of masculinity. They might not portray the same rugged disposition in person as they do when in a picture frame, and so a photograph of a bear might not do them justice. Before the term was popularized, it was used for any hairy gay man. The term has continued to evolve.

Bear Magazine brought the term into the mainstream, and gay culture has used it ever since. Even today, however, there is a lot of debate surrounding exactly what a bear is. The fact that so many other names (twink and otter included) have developed over the decades has led to confusion even within the gay community, as not everyone knows them all.

Within gay culture, there is a much more elaborate bear community. Because there are now so many different types of bears, some feel discriminated against. During some events, chubbier guys are excluded so that more muscular bears may participate. This causes a lot of criticism from both inside and outside of the gay community, as discrimination of those who don’t fit one person’s standards has become a lot more pervasive. Considering the common struggles of the gay community as a whole, it doesn’t seem to make sense that there is so much in-fighting and rampant discrimination within the community itself.

More controversy has developed because of the focus on physical features, but that same criticism surrounds the entire gay community and its subdivisions, as most all of them focus on the same type of similarities or differences.

Other subdivisions of the bear in gay culture include the cub, or a younger bear. The chub is more likely to be overweight or obese. A panda is an Asian bear. A polar bear is an older man who has experienced hair color loss. An ursula refers to a female bear. Although criticism of these divisions is common, popular culture continues to take note of this tiny detail of gay culture.

Transgendered Military History

During the summer of 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump sent out a tweet announcing his plan to reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed for transgender people to serve in the armed forces. The policy, which now would officially ban such people from serving, has not been handed down as an official guide of yet, but it does lead to some questions. First of all, before Obama’s order, there was not an explicit prohibition of transgenders, but they were not expressly allowed either.

But the idea of transgender in the military is actually not that old.

It wasn’t called “transgenderism” back then, but there is a history of women dressing as men in order to fight for their side. In fact, perhaps the most famous “transgender” was Joan of Arc in the 15th century, who was ultimately burned at the stake for heresies – one of which was dressing as a man to be in combat.

Some researchers at the National Archives reviewed military records and found evidence of women who had dressed as men and served in the military during the Civil War. There is evidence that about 250 women fought on either side of the conflict, with their reasons varying from ideology to a need for work.

It is believed that most of those who survived the war went back to daily life as women, while some remained playing the role of men for the rest of their lives. Two of the more prominent cross-dressing “transgender” women were Albert Cashier and Lyon Wakeman.

Cashier was born as Irish immigrant Jennie Hodgers, enlisting in the Army at age 18 and fighting in the Illinois Army Regiment. After serving in 40 combat actions during the Civil War, “he” continued to live as a man, not being exposed until being examined by doctors following a car wreck 45 years after the War ended. “He” even forfeited an Army pension by refusing to undergo a physical exam.

However, when “he” died, several men who served alongside spoke up and pressed the military to give this newly-discovered woman full military honors at death, and the request was granted.

Lyon Wakeman started life as Sarah Wakeman, and went to work as a “man” to get out of poverty before signing up with the Union Army in New York, a teenage girl passing as a 21-year-old man. She served until she was killed in the Red River Campaign, her body buried under a monument with the name Lyon Wakeman.

Currently, there are estimated to be more than 130,000 American military veterans who are transgender in some form, with about 15,000 serving in the military currently, according to a Dallas personal injury attorney.

As cross-dressers or transgenders have served with honor and distinction for most of the history of America, the debate will roll on whether “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” applies to transgender soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen and whether serving alongside them (such as Chelsea Manning, for example) will impact military readiness or morale.  Currently, the president does not seem inclined to let it play out. But is this a slap in the face for those who have heroically served previously?

Brazil Tries To “Cure” Homosexuality With Conversion Therapy

Everything we know about the mind and body confirms one simple fact: falling in love with the same sex does not constitute an illness or disease. Yet there are many cultures around the world that still choose to define it as such, in spite of everything the greatest minds have already proven to be true. One judge in Brazil has taken a step into very extreme and very dangerous territory, approving “conversion therapy” after ruling that homosexuality is a disease. How this is still up to a judicial branch and not medical practitioners is beyond reason, but there it is.

Federal Brazilian Judge Waldemar de Carvalho made the decision, and there was a near-immediate uproar by gay rights activists worldwide. Carvalho chose to listen to an evangelical psychologist–Rozangela Justino–who believes conversion therapy is a tried and true way to get rid of the gay.

What is conversion therapy, exactly?

Well it’s sort of a catch-all phrase for government-backed bullying, if nothing else. The therapy ranges from lobotomizing the “patient” with an ice pick to chemical castration to electrically shocking the genitals. Others prefer a more crude means of treatment, as sometimes simple beatings will suffice. Many times conversion therapy results in permanent physical damage or death, and of course the psychological damage can be just as bad.

Then again, that seems to be the point. Those who believe the therapy works know that it’s possible to condition an animal (humans included) to enact a certain behavior through means of psychological reinforcement. If you want to condition a dog not to defecate indoors, for example, then you might raise your voice when catching it in the act, and then lead it outdoors to finish its business there. You might reward proper behavior with a treat. Do this enough times, and sooner or later the behavior you want to reinforce will be a matter of habit.

The problem is, being gay isn’t a behavior. Who you fall in love with may govern certain other behaviors that generally play out behind closed doors, but feelings are just that–feelings. They aren’t behaviors, and so they can’t be conditioned into whatever you want them to be through brutality or any other kind of barbaric psychological reinforcement. Conversion therapy does not work, and we already know that. You might push someone into a couple years of pretending (or suicide), but that’s it.

Why do people still advocate for the administration of this therapy in government and certain social circles? That’s a lot more simple: because conservative members of some religions believe that homosexuality is a sin. Openly gay members of government, real psychologists (not the ones who dabble in pseudoscience), actors and pop stars have all banded together to say that this advocation of conversion therapy is a major blow to equal rights, and without a doubt a step backwards.

You can’t “cure” homosexuality, no matter how much you might hate it. It’s time for our societies to grow up a little and stop squandering precious resources on the things that matter the least.

Who is TV Producer Jamie Babbit?

Jamie Babbit is a role model to many aspiring actors, directors and producers in the film industry where she has worked for over two decades. She is known for the films she has directed, included The Quiet and Itty Bitty Titty Committee, and also the TV shows Gilmore Girls, United States of Tara, Malcolm in the Middle, and more. She is openly gay and has two children with a former partner. She lives with her wife, and is still involved in the film industry.

Many of the productions she has worked on focus on relatable family issues with a fair bit of dark comedy thrown in for good measure.

She started acting at the young age of seven, enjoying humble beginnings at the Cleveland Play House before she transitioning to more technical aspects of production such as lighting and stage management. She always yearned to stay in the field, but she remained pragmatic while in college, first studying West African history before she graduated at Barnard College in 1993. She went on to study film at NYU–but only during summer vacation.

Like many of the biggest names in Hollywood, Babbit started at the bottom of the totem pole and quickly climbed upwards. She was first the assistant of an assistant to Martin Scorsese, then an intern for The Secret of Roan Inish. She finally made a jump to script supervisor when The Journey of August King was being filmed. She only got the job by lying through her teeth, and according to her she was grossly unqualified for the position. She learned fast, and continued onto similar jobs in the greater New York area.

Her goal was direction, and she made it happen in 1996 when she co-directed Frog Crossing with Ari Gold. Her next job was Sleeping Beauties in 1999. That was the same year that she directed the feature film But I’m a Cheerleader, making the gap between finishing education and her first feature a respectably short six years.

During her time in the film industry, Babbit hasn’t shied away from complex issues. In addition to the aforementioned shows, she also worked on Dirty Sexy Money, Drop Dead Diva, Looking, and the L Word.

Although she hopes to continue to make respectable feature-length films, she enjoys television and will continue to work in that field in the future. In doing so, she can spend more time with actors and enjoy a break from the added responsibility and pressures of directing feature films even as she conceives new ideas for the latter. She currently lives in Los Angeles at the age of 46.

Who is TV Actress Michelle Bonilla?

Michelle Bonilla is a gay latina actress who paved her own way through Hollywood over the years, but as difficult as that road has been she believes that it’s a lot worse for the men who are more often discriminated against for their race or sexual orientation. Even so, she felt her fair share of pushback due to a completely open portrayal of her own sexual orientation, and she believes that it is important to make sure fewer people experience that in the future. She avoids roles of the traditionally stereotyped latina, and she advises those trying to make it in the industry to go your own way and fight for what you want regardless of who tells you it’s impossible or that you don’t have what it takes.

When Bonilla made a short film with a deeply personal meaning for her peers (and herself), it was widely accepted by everyone in the industry–except her own newly hired agent. It was her own short from the get-go, and it was subsequently reviewed favorably by the critics after making it into several film festivals. It even won awards. Yet she still got criticized for the “type” of gay character she portrayed. The film about a gay relationship was autobiographical. To her, the criticism might have stung, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter because it was real. She found its creation fulfilling, and that’s the only thing that should matter to those who seek to create good art and make sure that the people who want to experience it are able to do so.

Bonilla briefly studied at California State University in Northridge, where aspiring actors train the same way. She received Stanislavsky training, and it wasn’t her cup of tea. Eventually, she found an alternative style in the Meisner technique, and it worked wonders for her creative spirit.

Because of the way latina individuals are often typecast to fit the mold of a particular stereotype, she has often turned down roles that don’t fit with her perception of her own community. After all, if those roles are the only ones people ever see, then that’s the way the rest of the world will see the latina community.

Bonilla is best known for her time on ER, where she sporadically played an ambulance worker in 58 episodes over the course of a decade, starting in 1999. She caught the acting bug early on at age ten before studying music, dance, and theater. Interestingly, she finds that better roles are coming her way now that she’s getting older. She continues to learn every day.

Have You Heard About the HIV Epidemic of the 1990’s?

For folks who were born in the late 1980’s and afterwards, it might be difficult to conceive of a world without AIDS, safe sex and condoms being a regular part of the conversation. However, the HIV epidemic of the 1990’s is a big reason for that conversational freedom everyone in the country can experience today.

The epidemic started in big cities and spread to communities across the nation, including rural areas. Spread by intravenous drug users and folks engaged in unprotected sexual activities, it ran rampant before people even realized they were infected. At that point, condoms were used primarily for pregnancy protection, something the LGBT community did not need to worry about.

During the decade, countless men and women were assaulted and lost their lives to the disease, as case after case showed up during routine physicals and emergency room visits. The fun and partying of the previous years had been replaced by a more somber attitude as people lost their friends and loved ones to the outbreak. At that point in time, little was known about the virus and even less was known about how to treat and prevent it.

Safe sex became a topic of concern that extended well beyond whether or not your teenager got pregnant or got someone else pregnant. Parents, single folks and teens alike all understood that the situation had become far more serious. While getting other types of sexually transmitted diseases could create harm, most were easily treatable and concerns were overlooked in the heat of the moment.

However, the HIV epidemic showed that one night of fun could turn into a death sentence. The suffering that many of these patients went through extended to their families and the community at large. Outreach centers popped up to help victims, who were often ostracized by folks afraid of contracting the disease from them. It took years for researchers to set the public mind at ease that HIV could not be transmitted through hugs and sitting near someone.

Although the epidemic settled down somewhat, the problem of HIV and AIDS still exists today. The epidemic of the 1990’s is something that is sure to go down in history as one of the tragic medical events of the century. Many lives were lost in a short period of time, with homosexual men comprising a large group of the people who were gone before their time.

History of Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner is a transgendered television personality and former Olympic gold medalist. Born William Bruce Jenner in the year of 1949, Caitlyn’s journey has been highly publicized throughout the years.

In 1972, Caitlyn, then known as Bruce, began competing in the men’s decathlon events of the Olympics. Around this time, Bruce entered into the first marriage to girlfriend Chrystie Crownover. Chrystie provided the majority of the family’s income by working as a flight attendant, while Bruce trained during the day and sold insurance by night.

Training ended in Olympic success for Jenner. In the years that followed, Bruce won many events and was inducted into many different halls of fame. During this time, however, Olympic athletes were not paid as they are now. They were not allowed to seek or receive payment as sports celebrities. So instead, Bruce sought to earn from his celebrity in a different way. This was accomplished by being a spokesperson for a variety of different products and even appearing on the cover of magazines like Sports Illustrated.

Bruce eventually moved on to starting a television, motorsports, and business career. Prior to her public gender transition, Bruce was married to three different women which produced a total of six children. Her most famous marriage was to Kris Kardashian, mother of Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe Kardashian, as well as son Robert. Together they had Kendall and Kylie.

Bruce and Jenner divorced in 2015, the same year that Bruce formerly came out as Caitlyn. She discussed how she had dealt with gender dysphoria since her youth and would often dress up as a female. She even engaged in hormone replacement therapy until her relationship with Kris Jenner became more serious and they decided to marry.

Caitlyn has undergone cosmetic surgery, and in January of 2017, she received sex reassignment surgery. While Caitlyn has transitioned, she states that she has never experienced an attraction to men. Rather, she always found herself to be sexually attracted to females. As she does not believe gender identity and sexual orientation need to go hand-in-hand, she has decided to identify as asexual for the time being.

In conclusion, Caitlyn Jenner has lived a very rich and fulfilling life. She has also bravely let her transition be publically documented, opening up the way for others to feel free to transition themselves.

Exploring the Biggest Gay Rights Milestones in History

Since time has been recorded, there has been mention of gay and lesbian people. While there has been an ebb and flow in various societies, with acceptance falling in and out of acceptance, the history of the United States consists mostly of rejection of these members of society. However, that has changed, starting in the last century and really taking off today. Now, you can look back and see tremendous milestones that have been achieved in the LGBT acceptance movement.

Just a few decades ago, it was scandalous to be lesbian or gay. Movie and television stars went to great lengths to hide their orientation, as did everyday folks who couldn’t afford the privacy afforded to these members of society who often hid in the shadows with their partners. When news did break, it often meant the end of careers. However, that is no longer the case.

In fact, when celebrities come out today, it makes for a quick news story before the tabloids move on to something juicier. It is incredible to consider that less than two decades have passed since Ellen DeGeneres lost her half hour comedy show when the network found out she was a lesbian. Today, she is one of the most celebrated members of the LGBT community and Hollywood circles alike.

There have been many achievements in these years, including legal changes that have made hate crimes illegal in many parts of the nation. While these were once categorized as equivalent to a barroom brawl, that is no longer the case. Today, someone convicted of a hate crime will serve serious felony time for their actions.

For couples who longed to be wed but could not due to the laws in this country, gender is no longer an issue. While it began with several states legalizing same sex marriage, today the federal government has recognized the rights of these couples, including being able to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner and sharing insurance plans just as opposite sex married couples can do.

Gay pride parades are in most major cities across the nation, helping participants to celebrate in who they are with others who want to embrace the freedom the event affords. With increasing awareness and acceptance, LGBT people in sports, society is undergoing a change for the better in terms of accepting people for who they are, including the LGBT community.

And then there was Oprah:

Finding the Best Gender Studies Colleges for Your Educational Needs

Over the past few decades, there has been an increased awareness and conversation about the differences between genders, including how genetics and society influence the LGBT community. In fact, there has been so much research into this aspect of humanity that you can now get a degree in the subject. Whether you want to do this or take a few meaningful courses to enhance your understanding of e world, finding the best colleges with this type of subject matter will make the most of your efforts.

The first thing that you will need to consider when choosing a college is location. Are you planning to stay in state or is relocation possible for you? Are there any restrictions regarding where you would be willing to move, such as wanting to stay in the same region of the country or avoiding certain extreme weather patterns? Once you have a general idea of where you can live and go to school, you can begin to research what colleges and universities are in that region.

You might discover that there are smaller educational institutions that you were not aware of that will provide an excellent addition to your education. While you might be aware of the main state universities and the colleges in your part of the state, a private school on the other side of the state could have the curriculum that you desire while keeping you with in state tuition fees. This can be very beneficial.

You will want to find reviews from graduates about their experiences. The internet has some websites available where you can read about the professors and courses at various institutions. Because these are left by former students, you will need to realize that feedback will likely be incomplete and may be skewed based on the reviewers experience. For instance, someone with poor study habits might berate an instructor for grading assignments with low marks. However, this is the fault of the student, not the teacher. On the other hand, if you see multiple students complain about harsh grading, it could be an issue.

Focus on gender studies students and graduates so that you will know what to expect. If possible, talk to people at the school, and visit if you can. This way, you will be able to choose the one that has the right courses and vibe for you!

Tips for Finding the Best Online LGBT Resources

While there are some cities, like New York City, with active LGBT communities who boast about their activities on every street corner, most folks do not enjoy such luxuries in their city. Fortunately, the internet has expanded the world for many folks who were previously more isolated, including the LGBT community. Today, there are amazing resources, including dating sites exclusively for the community to take advantage of available on the web.

The specific types of things you will want to look for depending on various factors, including your age and your interests. As an example, a 20-something trans female moving to a new place on the other side of the country will be seeking different resources than a gay couple with three kids. However, there are many resources that are useful for virtually everyone, including family and friends who want to show their support.

When seeking online resources, it is important that you verify the legitimacy of a site before you put too much stock in the information it contains. You want to avoid sites with hate content or that are otherwise not LGBT-friendly once you actually read the content. Fortunately, you can find directories and other ways to connect to legitimate sites from trusted businesses and companies. However, you should realize that ads and other off-site links will take you to content beyond the control of the site you are leaving.

In order to make a worthwhile search query, you will need to determine if the return should be geo-specific. For instance, if you are looking for a pride parade near you on your next vacation, you will need to narrow the parameters to that part of the country as well as the appropriate time frame. Alternatively, if you are looking for resources you will use exclusively via the web, you will not have those geo-restrictions.

You should also investigate other restrictions and suggestions to use the sites that you find. For instance, you might find support groups for LGBT folks who have been homeless or experienced other circumstances.

Talk to people that you know and join groups to learn more resources and support systems that you can use. Make sure to balance good sensibilities with sharing your own history when communicating in any online forum, whether for the LGBT community or not. Along with other smart use, the internet can be an invaluable resource for connecting with others and finding information.