To say “We’re everywhere” is pretty passé by now in this region. The same is true for the Bear community here. For 15 years, the local Bear culture developed from a cult of attraction to a viable, flourishing community.
Along the way, our local Bear community has received a lot of notice from outside the Upper Midwest and beyond. It is seen as an innovator in creating spaces outside of the bars, and in setting standards in philanthropy for other Bear communities to aspire to accomplish.
As a result, the Twin Cities is a key place for those looking to relocate, and become part of a cohesive and diverse Bear culture. Compared to many places around the world, the Twin Cities offers a wide array of options for Bears to live well, and enjoy what this community has to offer.
North Country Bears, Lavender’s 2008 Fab 50 Local Social Organization, currently is the major Bear club in the region. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the group offers an array of activities, from bar nights to dances to weekly Bear coffees, as social opportunities for local men.
Recently, a new Bear organization began to complement North Country Bears. Minneapolis Movie Bears started out with a weekly movie night at a select cinema in the area. Activities have grown to include cosponsoring a monthly bar night at Innuendo, offering a biweekly game night at Vera’s, and other events, including offering group tickets for live theater and special movie showings.
The common thread between these two organizations has been philanthropy. Minneapolis Movie Bears came in second place among all groups in pledges for the 2008 Minnesota AIDS Walk, garnering a total of $12,820.35. North Country Bears held its annual Teddy Bear Round-Up at the October monthly bar night, with the toy bears going to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, which gives them to children in orphaned and distraught situations for comfort.
Certainly, plenty of crossover takes place between the two clubs. Yet, distinct crowds participate, depending on location, interest, and whether it’s in a bar setting. Annual events, such as the North Country Bears annual pool party in Northfield and annual Bear Ball maintain a diverse schedule for anyone in the bear community.
As if these two groups aren’t enough, Bears are involved in many other activities as a part of a larger community. The Twin Cities Goodtime Softball League now fields two Bear-based teams on its roster: The Grizzlies, established in 2003, and the Lumberjacks, organized two years later. Both are welcome parts of the league. The Lumberjacks accomplished a lot, finishing in the top 10 of all teams.
While the Lumberjacks play on a higher level than the Grizzlies, according to Lumberjacks Captain Mike McDonald, “The experience on both teams is playing with friends, and having fun out on the field, then afterward going out and socializing as one big group. Both teams show up at the other’s games to cheer one another on.”
If anyone is interested in participating in these teams, McDonald suggests that the best way to get involved is to “come out and cheer the team on during the summer on any given Sunday. Then, earlier [in] March, see if the team has an opening for a new player.”
More Bear-related pursuits exist beyond the two clubs and the two softball teams. The Twin Cities offers smaller groups, from Bears who love wine to those who have diabetes. On top of all this, four local Bears host one of the flagship podcasts for the Bear community, bTalk. For the average Bear, it is a full calendar to follow.
In all, the Twin Cities is a lucky community. With a wide range of activities for any bear, no one should be able to make any excuses for not participating fully. As prominent members of the community, we also are involved in the workforce, and volunteering for a plethora of causes to keep ourselves busy.
Our visibility remains strong—something that will continue for the years to come.