How To Not Win Friends
And Influence Bears
You may recall the huge brouhaha a few months ago when complaints arose that the bear-themed hookup site Bear411 was routinely refusing membership to men whom the site owner felt did not meet his personal ideal of "bearness", namely non-hirsute or smaller guys. Asian men in particular seemed to bear the brunt of the rejections, although some were allowed to join. The standards for membership seemed capricious at best, downright racist at worst. A boycott led by bears blogging on LiveJournal ensued.
But Bear411's nastiness has been outdone by a new bear hookup site called Bear Trapping, which launched their site by sending a blast email with a graphic attacking the masculinity of the owners of another popular bear site.
Among the outraged recipents of the email was Scott McGillivray, the editor and co-owner of 100% Beef Magazine, who fired off this reaction:
You guys are fighting a losing battle if you're trying to take on Bill and Andy of BigMuscle.com and BigMusclebears.com with this type of approach. Neither of them are "girlymen", and their websites are based on the celebration of masculine identities. In fact, they're two of the greatest guys in our community, and their work is loved, embraced and celebrated by hundreds of thousands of men, worldwide. Just because a gay man is comfortable enough in his masculinity to "camp it up" for a charitable cause (such as toenail painting at Lazy Bear Weekend, or wearing a pink fur vest at a San Francisco Pride Fundraiser) doesn't make him effeminate or "girly". You're going after the wrong guys with the wrong approach, and I'd reconsider your marketing approach, if I were you. Just a friendly piece of advice.Bear Trapping's owner responded:
You just cannot fathom how incorrect you are. For every one of you fluffy fags that defend those two child endangering losers, we get 200 to join our REAL Bear site. Why? Because outside of GayLoserTown USA, (aka San Francisco), the rest of the gay world regrets you flaming queens even exist. Your bring the curve down for the rest of the community, and are the root cause of why we don't have equal rights.
::joe's head explodes::
Yes, Mr. Bear Trapping, there are plenty of "fluffy fags" and "flaming queens" out there and some of them are bears. So FUCKING what? Part of the reason "we don't have equal rights" is because of divisive self-hating homos like yourself. Obviously you "str8-acting" haters are too busy practicing your "masculine" in the mirror and tearing down those that don't meet your "real man" standards to take part in the movement, otherwise you'd fucking know that the rights you DO have were largely built on the backs of those queens, those "girly men" I'd wager you fear being yourself. The ladybear doth protest too much.
Sigh. As I've said before, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. For what it's worth, part of the reason that I feel comfortable at bear bars and events is because of the bear community's famous welcoming inclusiveness, the fading of which is evidenced by sites like Bear411 and now Bear Trapping. Still, I'm not quite ready to say (like many unhappy with the direction things are going have) that I'm "post-bear". Even though I'm on the smaller side of the bear world's large men, I continue to feel very welcomed there. For now. Again, sigh.
UPDATE: A reader tipped us off that the owner of Bear Trapping owns a large flotilla of similar sites under an umbrella company called Ironclad Media, which has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints including credit card fraud. Check out the complaints thread on Ripoff Report for details, it's all rather unbelievable.