I, Otter

March 13, 2009

It was just shy of three months from when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay from when I moved to New York City.  So not only was I coming to the city to start my big time career ambitions, but also my big new gay life.  Knowing little about what to expect, I came to just accept that, based on the scene I fell into, I wouldn’t feel cute enough, wouldn’t have the right clothes, and could only hope that I would get an invite to visit a Fire Island Pines house as I surely couldn’t afford it.  (Which never happened.) But after unsuccessfully fitting in with mainstream gay culture, I met the love of my life and stopped caring what other boys thought of me.

About two years into our being together I suggested we go to Provincetown, Massachusetts for the weekend.  I had spent summers on the Cape during school but never stayed overnight in the “gay town” at the end of the earth.  We went, and by coincidence it turned out it was the end of something called “Bear Week”.  At the time, we thought a bear was simply an animal that well… shit in the woods.  Let’s just say that despite living in New York, I hadn’t yet realized that not everything from our culture had in fact ended up in an episode of Queer as Folk.  Bear culture… what’s that?

So in this weekend of firsts I met not just bears, but cubs, muscle bears, and daddy bears.  I found out that there was a bear flag, a bear themed magazine, and that you can sexualize chest hair.  (Woof!)  And on day two one particularly friendly “bear tracker” (a skinny hairless guy that none-the-less had a penchant for pelt) said to me quite seriously:

“You know what you are?”

“Ah… what’s that?” I replied warily.

“You’re an Otter.”

“I’m sorry?”

“A skinny hairy guy with a swimmers build.” He explained.

Honestly, at first I thought it was ridiculous… an otter?  Can my boyfriend be a mink?  I made a lot of jokes about the whole situation when I returned to New York because you know… sexualizing big hairy guys certainly wasn’t, and still is not, homo-mainstream.  And specifically I mentioned being called an “otter” and my big sarcastic joke was; “Oh!  Thank goodness!  I finally have an identity in gay culture!” But what I was missing was that being an otter wasn’t just silly gay counter-culture jargon, it was in fact a celebration of what I was… not what I wasn’t.

And then, being an Otter suddenly made sense; it gave me a place and identity in a culture that never seemed to have room for me.  I had spent so much energy focusing on all the things I didn’t have and all the ways I didn’t fit into gay culture… but as an otter, I was free to be just me… skinny and hairy and beautiful!

As the years have rolled on I’ve felt a true connection to Bear culture and really have grown as a man.  This is directly tied to shedding the insecurities I let others put on me and joining a community that sexualizes me just as I am.  And while my instinct was to get down on myself for not being beefier or more hairy once I was hangin’ with the bears, I didn’t because… well, I was an Otter.  I truly believe there is no homo left behind within this culture because it’s all about celebrating the things you are; be it chubby, hairy, into older guys, or stinking of manscent.  And this here Otter is happy to have it!

Tags: Hunter's View, Daddies
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Post written by Cyrus (View Author Profile)
About this author: Writer, DJ, driven, and clueless... I'm still just trying to work it all out, and hope I never do.
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Comments

Well, its a good thing to learn the diversity of "our" community....its also something that I've learnt as well, apparently I'm a Daddy, and I didn't plan it that way but it happened, and at 48 yrs and being out for half of that time its been nice to evolve into my "new" category, yes funnily enough we all fit in, thanks for your words Cyrus, look forward to your next DHBlog

Hey Cyrus! Awesome blog, and strange because in the last couple of days I have been searching for otter chat rooms, and web sites. I happen to now be in the daddy category, and have come to realize that while I always enjoyed the company of men younger than myself, twinks just don't get my attention anymore. I fully appreciate younger men with fuzz, and a swimmers build or anything close to that floats my boat. I am glad that a young man like you has discovered the unique "niche" that has existed in the "bear" world for quite some time, that niche of course being the otter nation! I am from the Pittsburgh area and while there are plenty of twinks, and plenty of bears there are precious few otters to go around. (perhaps you could come here for a few months and spawn a few dozen??) (LOL)
Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself with the DH community!

Give please. You should not live one way in private, another in public.
I am from Iran and also now'm speaking English, give true I wrote the following sentence: "It is due that using for bankruptcy. Regulators excited by many homes in liberal equities are just contained to as little factors. "

With respect :-D, Jasmine.

Great work Cyrus!

Im an otter too and used to avoid bear events thinking I was not their type. Much to my delight I have found that many bears are attracted to slimmer men.

Nice post, Cyrus. And you ARE skinny, hairy and beautiful.

It's great to see the otters coming out to play...

I took the step about two years into being out of realising that the animal that represented who I am was the otter.

I was not happy with bear (not big enough/furry enough/etc) nor cub (persona did not suit me), dawg (definitely not me), or other that was banded around.

There was, though, a couple of guys with ottter... and I thought, hmmm... so why not look at what otters are like in real life...

Guess what, they are family oriented in some cases, protective, playful, intelligent, lithe, love water, energetic, yet also willing to relax and rest and enjoy the world going by... it was me all over! I was an otter... so I suffer from some otter baldness in places (a real condition in our lutrine friends) , but I was and still aman otter.

I have for many years seen myself as a fresh water otter from the UK, but with a bit of age and a bit of belly some would say I am taking on sea otter features - Laughs!

For me it was not a label, but the fact I could identify as a part of this sub culture but on my own terms.

As for the idea of an otter site, then it had gone through my mind a few times, but decided that it was not worth it, I'd rather see the bear and non bear sites recognise us as ourselves, and see what happens.

BIG HUGS
Ady aka Kiltoter (formerly KalgOtter before I purchased my first Kilt)

Thanks for the great article, Cyrus. It is always good to be reminded there is a place for all of us within the larger gay culture. Celebrate who you are...I try to do it every day.

Enjoyed your blog immensely... it was informative,entertaining and thought provoking .

I am a fan of the Bear section of Gay society, they are a fun loving warm and fuzzy bunch of men. Oh yes man fur can be a delightfully sexual and erotic thing. I am also GREATLY pleased to see you covered the broad spectrum of the Bear Society. Far too many guys are so narrowly focused mentally they only see the overly large proportioned men as Bears, (I refer to them as Pooh Bears, big over stuffed, soft, cuddly which is cool not my thing though) then come the Bears large hairy/fur bearing men, Cubs, Muscle Bears (my uber ursine favourite), Otters, Wolves and others.

Don't forget that bears also come in many colours, brown bears, black bears, polar bears, ginger bears, panda bears. Our Bearish group are usually, very friendly, tactile, fond of food, quite social, playful in or out of bed.

I will look forward to what else you may have to report on your ursine experiences in the DH Blog Otter....

BBH

Bearon

BBH = 2 definitions A) Big Bear Hug B) Bare Bear Hug

Great post, fun, witty, I'm a fan already. I'll look forward to more posts from you. And might I add, you are quite handsome Cyrus! ;)

nice article and great info. enjoyed it a lot. Being somewhat also new to this bear thing myself, I guess I am a single bear type that is also attracted to the otter type but never knew much about, or the label or the type. learn something new every day. Great beard you have as well. Guess there are more bears out there that like the smaller otter type and hope they realize that not all bear guys prefer only bear guys. Thanks.
regards, Kent/boston

Fuck. I have discovered pretty much the same thing and its revolution-al. Im an otter too, and I don't think I realized it till I read you post! Born skinny, hairy in all the right places and I work out hard to keep myself fit and active, plus otters look good when their tight. I want to explore this bear culture. Maybe my guy is there?

Otters are some of my favorite animals.... I had already met the author of this blog here, and knew he was a man of intelligence, and he has hit the nail on the head, there is a place for everyone, and those who choose not to accept that miss a lot.
I do differ in one way. I dont think there should even BE a "gay" culture. We are and have always been a part of the great diversity of all of human culture. Separation from the whole is a reaction to opression, mirrored in the subcultures of blacks, hispanics, and yes, even dumb ass religious fanatics, whoose subculture has nearly destroyed MY country, and the rest of the world.
That said, the gay subculture, that probably reached its Zenith just before the AIDS epedemic struck in NYC, post Stonewall and pre holocaust, was a magnificent thing to behold. My partner lived there then, as a young and desireable man who WAS invited to Fire Island, and PTown, and spent weekend nights dancing at The Saint, and manhunting at the Lure and some of the other more "manly" venues. He says that till you saw a thousand hot sweaty built men dancing under the planetarium dome you really didnt realize how wonderful life could be.
He quickly reallized that the gay community of NYC was a society growing in power, money, and influence. Hell, back then even Calvin had a house full of those built men on the island, and they were FUCKING. Gay men were networking...attorneys, businessmen, artists, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs were on a roll, serving each other in their endeavors, and the broader community too. They hired their own, and Drew believes that there was genuine fear in the str8 community, as well as plain old jealousy, of that brilliant society. Is HIV the reaction of the nutcases at the FBI, or the military, to destroy that culture. He has been telling me that for years.
Until I watched the last twenty years of American history, and suffered through the last eight, I would have never belived my country might do such a thing. Now I know it could have. Torture, Gitmo, Abou Gharib, putting women in charge of men to whom personal modesty is a religious obligation, and allowing those women to STRIP and abuse them, can any of us baby boomers who learned that America did NOT do such things, even when faced with the Baatan death march of the Japs in WW2, and the extermination of the Jews by Germany, hold our heads high today? We cannot. The same evil that animated our govenment in recent years, shipping jobs overseas, and manufacturing war to enrich their cronies, may well have sought to destroy gay men and women all those years ago.
I think the religious fanatics are capable of anything, and most dangerously of all, are unable to understand the consequences of their actions. They have their daughters sign contracts to remain virgins, and the girls are taking it up the ass in overwhelming numbers to stay technical virgins, and contracting HIV in record numbers, which is so much more easily transmitted in that orfice. When one of the two political parties of this nation nominate Sarah Palin to be Vice President, as a running mate to an older man who spent years under physical abuse, and might die at any time, is there any question that the religious right and the morons that support them are capable of any idiocy?
And what are "gay" leaders doing? Ranting about marriage rights, which of course I agree with, and afraid to go on the attack in CA or anywhere else, maintaining a supposed respect due to religion. Respect the Mormons? South Park got it right. REALLY REALLY REALLY dumb.
It is time to ACT UP. The Rev. Phelps and his hate mongers need to have the treatment WE were subjected to as gay men. Beat the fucking hell out of the bastards, as an Otter, a Bear, but most importantly as a HUMAN BEING. We have had twenty years of abuse. Clinton is as guilty as any, "dont ask dont tell" bullshit. Daddy Bush and his hateful comments. And junior as the mouthpiece for both the Christians and the abuses of Israel. Its time for a war crimes trial. If you want to send me a nasty, or not nasty, note, send it to wvstudbull@aol.com

There is a dating site for younger, smaller bears called Muscle Bear Cub. Lots of cubs, otters, foxes, hyenas, wolverines, wart hogs, and weasels.

http://www.MuscleBearCub.com

Are there any for Marmosets? I am a Marmoset.

I am a Thompson's Gazelle.

I am a budgerigar.

I am an electric eel.

When you fill out your FREE registration form at Muscle Bear Cub, you can choose which animal best describes you:
Bear Weasel Mule
Bear Cub Ferret Panther
Muscle Bear Sloth Boa Constrictor
Muscle Bear Cub Rat Anaconda
Chubby Bear Gerbil Python
Chubby Cub Whale Bunny Rabbit
Grizzly Bear Manatee Rooster
Polar Bear Walrus Peacock
Black Bear Dolphin Poodle
Brown Bear Sea Lion Cocker Spaniel
Panda Bear Seal Bulldog
Koala Bear Eel Pit Bull
Otter Pig Shih Tzu
Wolf Piglet Gorilla
Dingo Hog Orangutan
Fox Wart Hog Chimpanzee
Cougar Wild Boar Neanderthal
Webelo Stallion

I am Sparticus.

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
I was the smudge of ashen fluff -and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.

I LOVE IT!! Otters are people too!! (as it were) Well stated!

Go Cy... I remember it all. OTTERS rule. Well maybe not as much as us bears. Love Ya....

Your note that "big hairy guys certainly wasn’t [sic], and still is not, homo-mainstream" is simply not true; just look around in any gay ghetto. BEAR culture is now part of the mainstream gay culture, and the demographic realities would support this. Even my straight friends can spot the gays out about town now-- and they tend to be bears. It's hard NOT to see big hairy guys in the gay capitals like P-town, Palm Springs, Russian River, et al. I don't know why bears and leathermen continue to think that they're somehow outside of the gay mainstream; they define the new mainstream. In fact, bears in leather join the ranks of muscle guys as the new gay clones dominate the scene. They're obvious and they're everywhere.

Are there actually any homo's left in gay society who are going to fetishize NON-bearish/muscular/circuitboy/leathermen/cowboy-drag? Who's going to rhapsodize about the sexiness of guys who have average physiques and who are simply too hard at work in their professions and too busy supporting their families to worry whether they need new fetish gear/drag to look the proper gay part, or whether they need to make reservations for an upcoming Palm Springs weekend? What about the working stiffs in oxfords and loafers who simply HATE disco music, but actually prefer classic rock, punk rock or improv-jazz in a bar? What about those who don't use 'woof' as a form of greeting? These guys are the new freaks, right?

In a nutshell, they're are still many out there who not only rightfully THINK that they're outside of the gay mainstream, but they're ACTUALLY outside of it as well.

I don't think Bear Culture is mainstream just yet... the prevailing culture, at least here in America, that is most recognized is the queeny, bitchy, archetype that we've seen from Will and Jack to Marc St. James on Ugly Betty. Sure we had a Bear on Top Chef this season (along with some surprise Bear themed jokes) but it's still not MAINSTREAM. Which I believe is what Cyrus was getting at. While it's been building over the past couple years, it's just not there yet.

But I also think you're missing the point of the piece. It's about finding yourself suddenly in a group that is positive vs. one that is negative, and feeling a sense of peace. But coming to that YOURSELF. Sure, you can go on and on about how "different" you are and how you don't fit in because you like rock music vs. disco... but if you actually pay attention you're not alone. There are guys like that in and out of the culture. It just seems like you want to be different... and unhappy.

I'm considered a bear, but with my weight loss (down to 235 from 275) I'm not sure if I'm still a Bear, or just a Daddy now. I love me some Otter, the other white meat. I've always liked smaller guys and being 6'3" yall are not hard to find! The difficult part is finding the smaller guys into us bigger guys. Nothing sweeter than snuggling with a guy on my chest for the night. But alas I haven't had that pleasure in quite some time.

Do you know what the collective noun for a group of otters is? A romp of otters! What's not to like?

http://daddyhunt.com/OtterRomp :-{p}

Hey Cy, Great article!! It was so well written, funny and cute. Can't wait to read more from you in the future :) Keep up the good otter work.

Thanks Cy ! I totally connected with you ! Apprecite you sharing it all !!!! It really hit home.
Cheers man! Rob

I have photos from the first ever (that I've heard of) Otter Contest in San Francisco last weekend. They are at http://www.lavenderlounge.com.
http://www.lavenderlounge.com/blog/2009/03/otter_pops_beauty_contest_for.html

At 48 years old, 128 lb's, blonde, & not a hair on my body, I lived thru the rise, fall, and rebirth of Gay "Culture"...and the last time my type was socially acceptable by the mainstream was in the late 70's. For the past 10 years I have been virtually surrounded by Bears and every lesser model. I have always loved manly men, loaded with fur, yet it is VERY rare that those in the Bear scene will even look in my direction. I have found that I am NOT on their food chain, and honestly, I get really frustrated at the cold, cliqueish behaviour. It must be nice to be included. I'm genuinely happy for those such as Cyrus. However, if in being kind, honest, and helpful, & still a fairly goodlooking "Boy"; only rates me as a "Bear stalker"...Then Christ! I give up! I always knew (from my time in Alaska) that Bears ate garbage, and scared small children...I just never thought that they would also make life so un-bearable; to anyone not blessed with body hair. May I add, this is not a isolated situation for me, any Sunday Beer-Bust will prove my point.Maybe it's just another phase with Gay Culture growing up. Half of these Bears wouldn't have had the balls to come out as Gay; if it wasn't for THIS hairless waif marching down the street for them in the mid 70's. So Hey Guys...just try to be a little more open about it. I was inclusive of you when you weren't Hot. Deal?

I know I'm late to the party, but here goes:

I would add to your frustration (in terms of body type) the issue of race. As much as race makes anyone and everyone uncomfortable, it still is the proverbial elephant in the room...even within the already marginalized community of bears. I, too, find it rather odd that those in the periphery make others feel excluded when some of us who admire/desire bears and the various related identities want to at least make community with and feel equally supported by them. I know this is a gross generalization, but this whole dialogue has been one, anyway. I speak from experience as an average-bodied, (lucky enough to be) satyr-like in hairness, Asian American. When I'm not being respected, I'm either exoticized or discarded or ignored. I will say I've befriended bears (bless them!), but not necessarily been embraced, much less accepted, by the community.

In the pursuit of wanting to belong to something bigger than ourselves, I call out to everyone for empathy and compassion!

Take care!

my sentiments exactly. the "bears" in San Francisco are one of the cliquiest groups of gay men. i never feel welcome at any of their events whether it's Bearacuda, the Harrison st fair or the Lonestar. beer bust at the Eagle is tolerable only because it's not just bears.
the twinks in the Castro bars are much more friendly toward small otterish guys like myself than the bears are. oh wait, i take that back. the bears are very friendly toward me if i'm with one of their own kind.

Hey, Cyrus, absolutely great article, thanks for setting down your thoughts on a topic that I too find to be one my most passionate... hairy men! Give me a man covered with furr, and I'm one happy camper, though I never really was taken in by the larger sizes of guys that fairly typically make up the bear community.... I knew there had to be something else out there, and in my newness to the gay scene too, I also recently discovered the community of otters, and instantly, I knew I had come home!! It was like yeah, this is where I belong, this is my brotherhood, this is my bretheren, and my new home! That feeling of coming home, was powerful and reassuring... and instantly, the doubts and anxieties of being a newly-emerging gay man were instantly removed, knowing that there is a place for me, and what i truly find to be my little niche in the vastness of the gay culture. It's the wonderful community of otters that make me so glad i'm a gay man!! Thank you, Cyrus for setting down your thoughts... i wanted to do likewise, in support of my bretheren!!

A group of Otters? A FAMILY!. How inclusive!

Ugh the whole BEAR thing is a total joke now compared to what it was in the 80s and 90s.

Nowadays you have ex twinks and queens who get fat calling themselves BEARS just because they can grow some facial hair.

Whatever happened to "masculinity without all the trappings"?

Also the whole BEAR thing is totally conformist and has a gay ghetto mentality but what else do you expect from gay men who feel the need to conform and have tons of narcissism?

Also guys who have to proclaim how they are BEARS constantly or how butch/masculine they are, are anything but masculine.

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