24 May 2016
Over in the USA a recent study has found that American men bear folk generally have lower self esteem and engage in riskier sex than other gay men.
The University of Miami study was published in the Clinical Journal of Nursing and aimed to highlight issues facing the Bear subculture within the gay community.
The study found that bears have a higher body mass index (BMI) compared to other gay men - and although it does come with some health risks, a heavier build is often a desirable physical trait for many bears, who stand out from the traditional gay stereotypes, said the researchers.
“It helps them to recognise one another, strengthen communal bonds, and promote a gay identity that is masculine, sexual, and mature…”
The study found that lower self esteem usually emanated from earlier life experiences.
The researchers recommended that bears get tested more often for HIV and STIs because many tend to engage in riskier sexual practises.
Despite the negative challenges the Bear community face, the study also highlighted positive elements of being a Bear.
“Bear communities are pivotal for some members, offering a sanctuary for these men as a buffer against discrimination and a sense of belonging that was perceived as lacking in the mainstream gay community. Primary healthcare providers should assess the sexual habits of all patients and offer safer-sex education depending on the needs of each client.”