When a gay man reaches a certain age — say thirty-something — he may begin to wonder what category he falls into. It’s all about categories in this gay world. What you look like: twink, chicken, bear, cub, otter, wolf. What you do: gym bunny, muscle daddy, leather daddy. Who you do: top, bottom, chubby chaser, chicken hawk, rice queen.
We revel in these labels. We build identities and bars and communities and Web sites and publishing companies around them.
Some of us revel in not fitting into one of these categories.
Until we do.
I have never felt like I fit a label. Never was a twink. Not headed toward anything in particular, so I thought. Maybe I could be a cub if I could grow a beard worth a damn. But today I was startled to learn that there are at least two people I work with who think I am a bear. Or at least bearish.
It was further revealed that one of them (I don’t know who; I didn’t ask) said so as a compliment, i.e., my apparent bearishness is an attractive quality. And this did lessen the shock. I’ll take anything label if it means someone thinks I’m cute.
A quick flip through any bear magazine should disabuse anyone of these notions of bearhood. I am as pink and hairless as a newborn kangaroo. But, taken with another word someone else at work applied to me — cuddly — I have little choice but to conclude that I just need to lose weight. No euphemism for “fat” — even if it means someone thinks I’m cute — can leave me feeling very good about myself.