Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer: Bear and Leather Subcultures

Document Type


Publication Date



The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community often has been reduced to a homogenous group. However, multiple LGBTQ subcultures have developed across time. The leathermen and bears are two subcultures that arose out of a critique of the mainstream gay men's masculinity. The leathermen movement of the 1960s developed an aesthetic based upon the masculinity portrayed in media representations of bikers of that period, with a focus upon leather attire along with dominant and submissive sexual scripts. In contrast, the bears of the 1980s formed a masculinity that idealized naturalism, with a heavy set and hirsute appearance along with nurturing sexual practices. Both groups began by hosting invitation-only parties but became visible parts of the LGBTQ community through grassroots organization and using the community organization techniques of the civil rights movement.


Entry in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition) (Elsevier ), Editor-in-Chief: James D. Wright. Visit: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/referenceworks/9780080970875.


International Encyclepdia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier