However, as LGBT culture and modern slang has taken on a wider appeal in modern society, it is possible to call a hairy and burly straight man a bear, although they would not be strictly part of the gay bear community.
Examples include Bearapalooza, a traveling bear music festival; Bear Bones Books, an imprint of LGBTQ publisher Lethe Press, which markets fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles written by and for bears; Bear Radio.net, which streams bear and LGBT music and bear-themed podcast shows.
The larger organized bear runs often host a "bear market" area where artisans, musicians, and others offer items for sale.
At the onset of the bear movement, some bears separated from the gay community at large, forming "bear clubs" to create social and sexual opportunities for their own.
Many clubs are loosely organized social groups; others are modeled on leather biker-patch clubs, with a strict set of bylaws, membership requirements, and charities.
As more gay men have identified themselves as bears, more bars, especially leather or western bars, have become bear-friendly. Over the years, bear culture has subdivided itself.
Many claim discrimination has increased within the bear community, as some men who self-identify as "bears" or "musclebears" do not welcome higher-bodyfat men (see chub) at their events.
There is some contention surrounding whether Bulger originated the term and the subculture's conventions.
George Mazzei wrote an article for The Advocate in 1979 called "Who's Who in the Zoo?
Most gay oriented campgrounds now include some type of bear-related event during their operating season.
The bear community constitutes a specialty niche in the commercial market.
A common criticism of the bear community is that some self-described bears tend to exclude men who do not fit their standards of a "real bear".