The University of Brighton has approved a major study on the gay bear culture I in the United Kingdom. Nick McGlynn will lead the study and is a “proud self-identified bear”, says he is going to “explore the experiences of big and fat men in Bear bars, pubs, clubs, and events, and to understand how these spaces might help tackle fat stigma for men.”
The study “Bearspace” is designed to develop a “complete database of every Bear bar, pub, club, event, and social group in the UK” that can then be used as a basis for “one of the world’s largest empirical studies of Bear communities,” he says.
McGlynn explained that “Bear bars and events are some of the only spaces I feel comfortable as a fat gay man,” “and writing by other Bears suggests that many others feel the same.” One issue he points out is that fat stigma is felt by many men in the community and that this feeling is heightened in gay bars and clubs. One factor is to give something positive and empowering and to learn from this study.
The University had described the project: This research attends to an unexplored intersection of geographies of sexualities, and fatness/obesity. In a nation grappling with an ‘obesity epidemic’, fat people in the UK are highly stigmatized as unhealthy and sexually repulsive, with resultant serious mental/physical health impacts. Fat stigma is intensified in gay/bisexual men’s spaces, yet the impacts of fat stigma on men’s health or sexuality have received little attention.
There will six case studies held at “UK Bear spaces, each comprising an on-site focus group, individual interviews, and the researcher’s own autoethnographic account as a self-identified Bear.” McGlynn stated. The study has been awarded £6,726 (about $9,000 U.S.).
YEAH FOR BEARS!