Thats a really good question. Let’s look at the data first:
People of Color are underrepresented in the bear community because bears are mostly into other bears and the most self-identified bears are white. (Source: gay cliques census, 2/3s of bears and cubs are into their own type; >80% of self-identified bears are white).
Most bears are white. Most bears are into other bears, who happen to be mostly white guys. So it makes sense that the bear community would cater to its majority audience…except that the bear community was originally designed to be inclusive.
How bad is it?
Bearracuda proudly states that they’re the largest attended bear dance party and most prolific gay dance event in the US. Despite this, they don’t use people of colour in their promotions.
The top dating apps for bears, scruff and growlr, don’t use people of colour in any of their app screenshots, ads, or promotions. Some bear dating sites, like Bear411, won’t even allow people of colour (particularly asians) to join their site.
The biggest bear runs in the world, Lazy Bear,
TBRU, and Ptown Bear Week don’t use people of colour in their ads, promotional flyers, or websites.
Correction 5/27: TBRU has used people of colour in previous years’ flyers. Thank you, J Larry for pointing this out! I’m sorry for not digging deeper.
Without some representation in bear-centric media, the bear community sends a strong message that people of colour are not welcome.
But, its not all bad. There are some very prominent people in the bear community who do not practice discrimination against skin colour and even include us in their work.
Where the Bears Are has always had a varied cast of bears representing different ethnicities (like me), Beach Bear Weekend is a new bear run that uses people of colour in their promotions, Bear Invasion has a balanced representation of ethnic minorities (like me).
People of colour are underrepresented by the bear community, but we can change that by supporting bear parties, events, and media that is inclusive.