Our LGBTI alphabet continues with B bringing us Break-ups, Boy George, Bisexuality, Barebacking, Bingay and of course our hirsute buddies…
Around the world and certainly here in Australia, the bears are a vibrant subculture of gay men, traditionally involving larger and/or muscular men with furry chests.
But as it is a friendly, non-judgmental, inclusive community, bears don’t mind if you don’t quite fit the bulky customary image. Younger guys are welcome as cubs, older bears are grizzlies, slimmer guys are known as otters and even red-haired guys are very welcome… lions can take pride!
Bears may shun efforts by other gay men to wax or shave their chests, and might spend less time working towards that ‘body beautiful’ look, but in bigger cities, bear groups commonly hold their own pageants, where a masculine look, community-minded spirit and open-minded fetish experimentation is encouraged and rewarded.
A fun ‘field guide’ to finding your own inner bear is provided below. And to meet more bears, most Aussie cities have vibrant bear scenes – there’s Sydney’s Harbour City Bears, Brisbane’s BrisBears, Bear Men of Adelaide, Bears Canberra, Bears Perth, and last but certainly not least, VicBears in Melbourne, organisers of the amazing annual Southern HiBearnation events each year.
Developing or embracing a sexual identity is a challenge for those who do not fit neatly into the established categories of ‘heterosexual’ or ‘homosexual.’ As such, gay and lesbian scholar David M. Halperin argues, “bisexuality is a matter of definition and also a lived experience.”
Bisexuals are variously defined as people who are attracted to males and females, who are not prevented from or averse to being attracted to anyone because that person is male or female. They are perhaps sexually attracted to their own gender but have a sexual history that includes sex with persons of the opposite gender, or are sexually attracted to the opposite gender but have a sexual history that includes sex with persons of their own gender.
In recent years, words like ‘pansexual’ and ‘polysexual’ have joined ‘bisexual’ as terms that indicate a man or woman’s attraction to more than one gender. Bisexuality can also be seen as the claiming of an identity by those individuals who were ‘left out’ as gendered social roles produced gendered sexual attractions and gender-exclusive sexual identities predicated on being either ‘heterosexual’ or ‘homosexual.’
As Jennifer Baumgardner writes in Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics: “The term ‘bisexual’ has often ended up as the ugly stepchild of sexuality, in both name and meaning. Its fate is symptomatic of the bisexual’s own lot in life: to be as common as can be, but unacknowledged. We are looking at bisexuality the wrong way, making the word entirely dependent on someone other than the bisexual person him or herself. If I’m dating a man, I’m ‘straight.’ If I’m dating a woman, I’m ‘lesbian.’ But bisexuality is not who you sleep with, it’s who you are. Consciousness is everything.”
Eyes down, quiet please! Drag queen hosted gay bingo has been a Sydney mainstay for 13 years now. It started way back long ago with Mitzi Macintosh, and now Tora Hyman joins barrel-girl Naomi Palmer to spin up some winners each Tuesday night at the Imperial Hotel.
Bingay’s weird rules, singalongs, penalties and hilarious stories keep the crowds coming back week after week. Prizes range from the silly and camp to great theatre tickets or restaurant vouchers. And it’s all to raise money for ACON’s work in our communities.
Barebacking is having sex without condoms.
This is sometimes a taboo subject, but while surveys show the majority of gay men still use condoms most of the time, there is a large number of men who are choose not use them. Why? Some of the reasons some people choose to bareback include a perceived heightened sense of intimacy, or a more pleasurable experience, after both men assure themselves that they have a matching HIV status.
Although these are choices that each individual must make for themselves, keep in mind that condoms REMAIN the safest way of protection from HIV and STIs.
Sex should always be celebrated, but if you do so decide to choose to bareback there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Knowing your own HIV status is a great place to start. Often men negotiate to not use condoms based on HIV status, so if you are unsure, GET TESTED!
It is also important to be aware that other STIs can be transmitted where a condom has not been used, so it is important to have a full sexual health check regularly too.
Break-ups suck! Whether you’re instigating the breaking up, or getting dumped yourself, or maybe both realizing there’s no future for you two… it’s all pretty heart-wrenching.
Dealing with the fallout can be tough, but we’ve put together a few quick tips to guide you through. Read them here.
Defining what ‘butch’ means is complex, given that many possible interpretations exist and it is difficult to find a consensus; as historians Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline Davis comment in Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community “nearly all language for talking about the diversity among butches is inadequate. Though the term is sometimes used to refer to very masculine gay males, it is traditionally associated with lesbians.”
A simple definition, according to established male/female gender paradigms, is that butch lesbians adopt roles, traits and masculine identities that have traditionally or historically been associated with men.
As lesbian historian Lillian Faderman writes: “A butch lesbian might wear men’s clothing and be sexually aggressive.” The limitations of such a definition must be recognised, however, since it fails to take into account the many changes in butch roles that have occurred in the last century.
Despite these changes, however, butch roles have had a prominent place in the lesbian community for over 50 years. Their popularity has risen and fallen in different historical periods.
For instance, during the 1940s and 1950s, butch and femme roles were accepted by a large number of lesbians as the dominant model for lesbian unions. By the 1970s, such dynamics were widely perceived by lesbian feminists as oppressive.
Rather than attempting to replicate traditional masculinity and heterosexuality, butches present a challenge to both in their rejection of how the dominant culture has decided a woman should look and act.
‘Butchness’ is related not only to sexual orientation, but also to gender expression. As such, butches may cross-dress and crop their hair not because they want to be men, but because they are expressing a different way of being a woman, or simply of being unconventionally gendered.
But, as Carol Queen puts it in the groundbreaking anthology Dagger: On Butch Women, “male” traits in lesbian culture constitute often “something our gender-impoverished language doesn’t offer us words to describe.”
When someone says they’re a bottom, it means they’re usually the receptive partner during sex.
Although… what people say and what they end up doing can be very different things, and many gay guys don’t like to restrict themselves sexually by using these kinds of labels.
Terms like ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ may work for people who know what they specifically want on their quest to fulfill their sexual needs, but for many others it kills the fantasy and adventure that discovering a new body and getting to know what a new person is all about,” writes our columnist on the topic of tops and bottoms – read his thoughts here.
Common abbreviations beginning with ‘B’
B&S – Bait and Switch. Luring someone in with a picture which doesn’t match what you actually look like.
BBS – Be Back Soon
BDSM – Bondage, Discipline/Domination, Sadism/Submission, and Masochism or Sadomasochism
BAF, BWM – Bisexual Asian Female, Bisexual White Male
BBW – Big & Beautiful Woman
BF – Boyfriend, Booking Fee for an event
BJ – Blow Job (Oral sex)
…and not forgetting… Boy George!
Singer, DJ, fashionista, ex-felon and fancy hat-wearer Boy George has certainly lived life to the full. A new Romantic in the ‘80s, a solo singer in the ‘90s, and a DJ in the ‘00s culminating in four months in jail after ‘imprisoning’ a male escort, it’s never a dull moment for the portly Londoner.
Here’s the massive hit he’s still best-known for (sorry Boy-o). From 1984, it’s Karma Chameleon. As the great Georgie himself explains: “The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. It’s about trying to suck up to everybody. Basically, if you aren’t true, if you don’t act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice, that’s nature’s way of paying you back.”
This page was co-written by Heidi Meier, the team at ACON and Matt Akersten.