Gay Bear Community – Field Guide

Are you new in the gay bear community, or <gasp> not even part of the gay bear community?

If so, then you’ve probably had a bit of trouble understanding some of the gay bear lingo that being used. Don’t worry, that’s why I’m here.

Recently I dedicated an entire post to the term WOOF! and all its derivatives.


In short, “woof” is a term gay bears use to show appreciation for other bears.

It is also a multifaceted word, like “f*ck” for instance, where you can use it in all sorts of contexts and get away with it.

As it turns out, the world of gay bears to some people is like learning another language.

I guess I’ve just gotten used to it, so to use slang like “otter”, “wolf”, and “grizzly” are no big deal to me, I use those terms and think nothing of it.

But to those outside the gay bear community, it can get a bit confusing.  Understandable.

In this post I’d like to discuss several other terms you are likely to come across in this wonderful community of hairy gay men.

Oh, by the way, it’s important to realize that the following terms are just for fun, mainly.

I’d say, once you learn all these terms, you may as well just forget them, just because some people aren’t into being labelled this way, and some people are going to defy your expectations every time.

muscle bears

Bear AKA Gay Bear

Let us just start with the foundational term “bear”.

Originated by Bear Magazine founder Richard Bulger back in the 1980’s with his self-published bear-themed ‘zine, the term “bear” then, as now, generally refers to gay or bisexual men who are hairy and masculine.

It’s easy to see the connection between these types of guys and the word “bear”.

Here is a nice picture to give you some reference for the word “bear”.

As you can see, this guy is quite masculine, being very muscular, burly, with a nice thick err.. beard with dark hair.

Dark hair does not a gay bear make, although it often lends itself to having more body hair (at least visibly).

So take a good look at this picture and you can think “ah, here we have a nice example of a typical bear”.

One thing to note about being a gay bear is that being a bear can, at times, shatter the stereotype of the typical gay man that has been presented to us through popular culture in the past.


As opposed to being into things many consider “girly”, such as broadway show tunes, dressing up in glamorous clothes, and other such stereotypical “gay” stuff, bears are known for their ruggedness, their love of things like cars, sports, and hitting the gym.

Yeah, we’re talking man’s men here. Here is a great book that goes into this topic, written by Jacob Z. Flores – When Love Gets Hairy.

As Jacob mentions in his book, bears are generally a congenial lot, being very friendly and easy-going, traveling in packs and being loyal to their bear community.

Even though they’re typically nice guys, f you piss off a bear or group of bears, you will regret it as they are relatively no-nonsense people.

Another thing about being a bear you should know is that you don’t need to be gay to be a bear.

Some bears are included in the community, including certain celebrities, with an honorary status for being a bear.

Here’s an article we wrote on some bear icons, some of whom are not even gay.


Grizzly Bear

These are the tallest, heaviest and most dominant of all gay hairy men.

It is therefore no surprise that members of others gay sub-cultures and even some in the gay bear community tend to be afraid of grizzlies.

You don’t need to be told that a certain individual is a grizzly, when you see them you’ll know it.

Think of it this way, with your average grizzly bear you’re getting an extra serving of everything, such as just being bigger, hairier, more masculine, more rugged.

Itis just being a bear to the Nth degree in some ways, with their dominant trait being their ability to dominate in multiple ways.

Speaking of grizzlies, there was once a great publication called American Grizzly which focuses on the larger bears of this type.

pocket bear

Pocket Bear

If you are a short hairy gay man then you fall under this category.

It’s nothing to get offended about; actually, other members of the community find pocket bears quite cute, and the term is used affectionately by the bear community.

The main thing with pocket bears is that they’re shorter in stature.

As such, they are fun to play with, in that other bears can actually hoist them up and toss them around at say a pool party.

Because of their size, some of them enjoy being dominated, while other pocket bears do not and simply take the term with a grain of salt.

It’s like being called “shorty”. Some people don’t like it, but hey, what can you do, you’re short!

gay bear pocket bear

Pocket Protector

Not to be confused with the sheath often worn by nerds to protect writing instruments, a pocket protector in gay bear lingo means a bear who is often seen with their shorter counterpart, seemingly “protecting” them.

What it really means is This is just the opposite of a pocket bear i.e. a gay hairy man who’s tall.

Pocket protectors should however not be confused with a grizzlies since they tend are not overly dominant.

Still, they want to protect what’s theirs and if they are hanging out with their pocket bear, you don’t want to get in between a pocket bear and his pocket protector.

At this point, your generally friendly pocket protector may get a bit miffed, and you don’t want that.

All in all, being a pocket protector just means being a taller bear who hangs out with a shorter counterpart.

silverdaddy bear


Ah, my favorite kind of bear right here! A silverdaddy, AKA a daddy bear, is a gay bear who’s a bit on the older side in terms of their chronological age.

Some daddy bears prefer forming father-son relationships with younger bears than getting romantically involved.

Those who do want to get romantically involved with a younger bear are typically on the prowl for a cub, which we will get to shortly.

Silverdaddies often have the characteristic of looking very young and hot while still being an older bear.

This doesn’t go for all silverdaddies, some of whom are older and actually look quite mature, where as some just have striking silver hair, but are a bit younger (say in their 40’s).

Sometimes if a bear is greying prematurely he will be referred to as a “silver cub”.

gay bear cub


Cubs, or gay bear cubs, seem to have two definitions that kind of overlap.

The first definition we think is the most obvious, which is that a cub is a younger bear.

As we said before, bear cubs are often found in relationships with silverdaddies, as they often seek each other out for reasons that benefit each of them mutually.

Whether they are seeking each other for a paternal connection, or because a cub finds an older bear sexy, it all depends from bear to bear.

The other connotation that goes along with being a bear cub is that a cub is known as the sub in the relationship, with their partner playing the dominant role.

In this way you can have two bears that are closer in age and the one that’s the cub is the one who is more passive in the relationship, versus being more of the aggressor.

gay bear fluffy 2


This refers to hairy gay bear men who tend to exhibit more sissy traits, or who act in a way which many would say is unbecoming of a bear in general.

It’s not really the bear in this case, it’s the behaviour we’re talking about.

Fluffy’s existence stems from the fact that bears are generally masculine, so if you are to act, or are being generally fluffy, you’re generally doing something is maybe girly, or just not cool in some way.

It is regularly used in a derogatory manner, like “Dude, did you seriously just call your silverdaddy snookums? That’s so fluffy!”

Or perhaps you might say “Dave is being fluffy again, he’s watching a Sex In The City marathon and won’t leave the house.”

In any case, being fluffy isn’t the end of the world, and its not a type of bear either, but it is part of the bear vernacular and so it is worth noting.

It is also worth noting that this handsome bear on our right is not being fluffy at all, and its just good to have a picture to look.

By the way, this bear could quite easily be a cub.

gay bear sissy


A chaser, or often known as a “bear chaser” is gay man from a different sub-culture who has a particular liking for bears.

Who can blame them, they’ve got good taste. In fact, they don’t even have to be gay, they might just be curious about bears and what makes them tick (but let’s admit it those guys are probably gay).

This is why the term chaser is also used in the wider gay community to refer to admirers who don’t belong to a certain sub-culture, they’re just out there doing some recreational admiring of bears.

Often you hear the term “chubby chaser”, which can easily be adapted to the bear community as many bears are of course larger men.

Therefore it is quite common to find chasers in the bear community, chasing after their favorite bear men.

Overall, chasers are not bears at all, but they do have a keen interest in them, don’t they?

otter gaybear


Your classic gay otter is a man who is hairy, but not heavy set, and so the word “bear” doesn’t really suit them very well.

This is why someone came up with the term otter, because although they are known to be hairy, they are also quite svelte, making them particularly appealing to those who appreciate those characteristics.

With otters, there is also an association with water here so you might notice them sitting or standing poolside, with a sheen of water on their skin having just taken a dip.

Beaches are another popular spot for otters, and they often have the typical “beach body” to show off.

Also with otters, there may be a fair amount of grooming happening, so their hairiness may be toned down somewhat for the sake of grooming.



This is a woman who likes to hang around congregations of heavier set manly types of men who happen to be gay.

Namely, this is the kind of woman who loves nothing better than to be in the general vicinity of some gay bears. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Simply put, goldilocks are women who are are usually straight but for some reason they just love hairy gay men.

Aaaand.. that’s all for now!  Hopefully that brings you up to speed and gives you a different slant on the world.

If you think I’ve got it all wrong and that someone should sit on me (maybe a bear), let me know in the comments belowww!

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