By Tom Webb aka A Bear on Books
Hi, everyone. My name is Tom W and I am a bear. *Hi Tom!*
I guess the first thing I should do is tell you, I have always been a big hairy guy. Even in high school, I was tall and stocky and hairy. And gay. Didn’t have a clue what being gay was all about – this was in the 70’s, and hairy was in. Think Burt Reynolds, Sam Elliott in Lifeguard. Yeah.
So I grew up with some masculine role models, but being gay in the South wasn’t easy. I kept it hidden mostly, and after high school it was suddenly college and a chance for freedom. It was 1979 and I thought, finally, I can go off and meet some other men like me and then it will all be good
Then the 80’s happened and suddenly slim shaved young men came into vogue as the gay ideal. All the porn changed from hairy chested guys with moustaches to blonde boys with shaved…everythings. And suddenly it was like being back in the closet again.
The little unspoken secret of the gay world, even back then, was the double standard that exists. See, all us gay guys (I’m not gonna try to talk about gay women – I’m not one and anything I can say would be wrong anyway) want to be looked at and treated as equals with our straight counterparts.
So, I stuck around and dated a little and then, wonder of wonders, in the 90’s, found something. A group here in the big city that was nothing but men like me. Big old hairy guys who like to be comfortable and don’t shave our chests. *cue music* Bears!
I seriously thought it was a joke when I saw the ad for Atlanta Bears (later Southern Bears). They met at The Eagle, and there was also another group called Girth and Mirth, which catered to big guys and those who like em (Chubs and Chasers).
And the gates of Heaven opened and the Angels sang. No, for real. I went to a few Saturday night gatherings and suddenly, “we” were the majority. We all looked at each other with pride and attraction and nobody shaved (well, except for faces, and not all of us that) and it was relaxed and we all could wear jeans and tees and be…normal. And other guys liked what they saw.
And I was all three.
Now here I am at 50, and the chest hair is turning a little silver and the goatee is almost all white. I shave my head and damn it, I like myself. And guess what – so do a lot of other people. Sure, they like to look at twinks, but I get messages all the time from men AND women saying, “I’d love to cuddle up to you”.
So now I’m part of the norm, of the mainstream. How do I feel about that? Well, I’m still me. Nothing there has changed. But what has changed is society’s view of what is sexy and attractive, for men at least.
I’m not Brad Pitt, but I don’t wanna be. I wanna be Tom Webb, Bear.
Now come crawl into my cave and hibernate a little with me, okay? Grrr.
Visit me at my blog for reviews of M/M related books: www.tom-webb.blogspot.com
Tom is giving away a set of the Amy Lane "Promise Rock" series to one lucky commenter. So make sure you leave your email address to be contacted! Contests runs through the end of the tour.
We’ve got a full week planned, with contest giveaways at every stop. Please visit the other authors on our tour, check out the full schedule Bear Talk Blog Hop.