By BeefPieBear - Oct 16 2014
If you study the dynamics of Gay Subculture, one could argue that the Bear Community was "Late To The Party" in pop-culture-speak. All through the Free-Love 70's and Go-Go 80's, Queer Culture had already defined the major players of the Gay scene. There were the young, skinny and pretty-boy Twinks - and the aging Sliver-Fox Sugar-Daddies that adored them. There were our raucous, entertaining Drag 'N' Queen Soul-Sisters, and the Fraternal Order of Leathermen were a clearly visible bloc too. Even the Urban Cowboy's got their own gig, at least on weekends after Disco died and kicking up spurred-heels took it's place. And then there was... The Rest Of Us.
Ah, the rest of us... some of whom were Bears but didn't know or have a culturally deigned word for it. We were on the sidelines; furry, geeky wall-flowers indeed, wondering when WE were going to get our acknowledgment and chance in the societal sun: Hoping to maybe hitch-up with a 'Big Fella', get some whisker-rubs, and try to get laid -- something the other popular and known, codified, and iconized Gay factions had already excelled at for years. Truly Out Gay culture was exploding - but the Bearish were just catching rare bits of shrapnel from the distance.
Maybe that was a good thing. AIDS in the 80's had left a wasteland of loss. It didn't even seem to be our 'modern' understanding of HIV then - it was just AIDS - and if ya got it, ya wasted away, died, and were gone: QUICK. In the Gay-stream mainstream, the handsomest, buffest, prettiest, HUNG-est were the first to go it seems: Victims of their own popularity... Perhaps our decade and thensome of UN-fashionability had inadvertently given many of us Bear-folk a delayed survivability edge.
The 'Bear Community' didn't really coalesce until the early 1990's when Bear Clubs finally started getting traction and forming en-masse around the country, then around the globe. It seemed the Bears had no choice but to finally huddle together. Many of us were just survivors left stumbling alone in a trashed-out, Refugee Camp wasteland. Our UN-popularity had perhaps oddly worked to our survival advantage. We banded together in Bear Clubs desperate to rebuild a community out of the ashes -- and on our own terms. We finally got our gig: Better late than never, Bear!
Fast-Forward through that decade and beyond: Bears Are HOT! - Bears Are IN! - Bears Are NOW! ...And suddenly your waist-size, beard or hairy-back was no longer a date-killing, "Eeeew shave that off!" show-stopper. We were having Dances and Circuit Parties, Big-Tummy BBQ's, Camp-Outs and SpeedoBear Pool Parties -- AND WE WERE GETTING LAID! Properly, Thoroughly, Frequently - although a lot more cautiously - at least for some. True Whore Bears at last!
I'd dare say: A '2nd-Wave' of HIV infection came out of the 90's. Some despaired and gave-up even trying to survive the 80's AIDS wreckage and joined the HIV+ ranks passively, intentionally, or accidentally trying to have a sex-life of some sort in the new era: Everyone, Bears included. And even within our own community: Some of the Furriest, Beefiest, Perfect-Beardedest and HUNG-est objects of desire who played the field raw became the next victims of their own Pop-U-Bear-Ity Popularity... And history did another round of Rinse - Lather - Repeat attempt at elimination. Others, (like me) have kept dodging that fukking bullet for over 30-FUKKING-YEARS in some twisted sort of Russian Roulette: Peek down the barrel. Squeeze the trigger. Wait. Go get tested. Gawd, are we tired of that game yet? Could we at least all agree to play with fewer bullets?!?
If you've read this far you're probably wondering: OK, where does does HIV prevention using PrEP aka Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, Truvada Whores, and Gay Bear men who still like to play together fit in to the Big Picture of the Bear community? Many of us just aren't quite sure yet. But we owe it to ourselves and our Community to open up our minds, learn more about daily Truvada PrEP prophylaxis - and commit to doing whatever in the hell we have to do to respect our very lives and continue to protect each other.
But what does that mean? Many Gay guys have NEVER been tested! Many POZ guys don't get on or religiously stick to their Anti-Retroviral medication regimens. Many NEG guys repeatedly throw caution to the wind. Few can elevate condom use into a verbal celebration of "I can't wait to slip on a scum-bag and rubberfukk your dirty whore ass!" kind of excitement. What makes us think flawless PrEP adherence is going to be assured out there in the day-to-day real world?
PrEP is no panacea. It involves a deep examination of the medical, ethical, social, financial and behavioral analysis of your life, your sense of self, and your survival instincts in ways you might not be used to - or even want to RE-visit. The Advocate magazine online is doing an interesting article series: "31 Days Of PrEP" that educates and informs in easily digestible segments that makes it all more palatable.
Try to see a Big Picture: Where HIV can someday be overcome and be relegated to a minor footnote of the past in infectious disease history. For the current decade, maybe imagining some kind of grand conspiracy by Gilead Sciences Corporation to get ALL Gay men 'on the dole' is the best near-term solution that we've got to collectively accept: Atripla for HIV+ Bears, Truvada for HIV- Bears -- All of us. Every day. Every goddamn day until an even BETTER solution comes along, until HIV transmission drops to negligible and is driven into a corner. I personally haven't decided for myself yet. But I'm thinking we need to TRY -- Before we're too old to get it up, before we're too weary and broken to even care anymore.
(Bears Ready To Party - Image Source: Unknown)
By BeefPieBear - Oct 13 2014
I'm proud to say I'm a Gay ObamaCare Bear. Thank gawd for the safety and security that guaranteed health insurance coverage finally brings to our Gay community. Last year I wrote about the appalling health disparities of the LGBTQ community, particularly the minorities within our minority community. The ACA is working to end the inequalities of being uninsurable, underinsured, underserved, and outright uninsured. Having some form of health insurance is now the law - and it's working for you and our at-risk community.
November 15th is the start of the second annual ACA enrollment period. It's a great opportunity to get low-cost healthcare insurance if you haven't got any, or a chance to revise your insurance plan option for the upcoming year. You can visit www.healthcare.gov, select your state of residency and get a preview of the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum level plans with possible insurance subsidies to find health insurance you can't afford to be without.
Think Preventative Care, Bear!
Your FREE annual preventative care visit might be all you need if you're in good general health. To maximize it, make sure you schedule the appointment early in the year - or take advantage of it before the policy year runs out. Be EXPLICIT with your doctor that you're there for an Annual Wellness Visit and to explicitly discuss using PREVENTATIVE BILLING CODES for the exam and routine tests! Stay focused on a general checkup and not get into specific chronic health issues: This will help insure you don't end up with unexpected out of pocket expenses. Do note that if your ACA plan has a deductible, these free screenings will NOT apply to it since you don't incur any actual wallet costs. You can print out a copy of the Affordable Care Act's mandated benefits here.
Get Poked! Don't Be A Hairy Typhoid Beary!
I was able to get a comprehensive physical exam any aging adult male should have. Tests included a CBC blood panel, a Fasting Glucose test for diabetes, and Cholesterol screening. But as importantly, I also got Hepatitis C testing, and caught up on ALL my age and risk-appropriate immunizations with absolutely no out of pocket costs. Those free vaccinations included a 3-shot series for Hepatitis A/B, as well as Meningitis, Pneumococcal, Influenza and TDAP - Tetanus/Diphtheria/Whooping Cough. Getting vaccinated isn't just about you: You owe it to your Bear buddies and the broader LGBTQ community to make sure you're defending ALL our well-being. You can find the newest CDC immunization guideline PDF here.
Bears With Boners : Be Honest!
It's critical that that you frankly discuss your sexual history and risk behaviors with your primary physician. If you don't have a Gay or Gay-friendly physician, get a referral to one who is, cuz your well-being may depend on it. Bi and Gay Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men (MSM) face unique health issues. And we actually qualify for more extensive HIV / STD testing and vaccination protocols at no extra cost because we are implicitly in a High-Risk group. There may also be Age-appropriate preventative services such as checks for colon cancer (if you're over 50) or a free vaccination for Herpes Zoster/Shingles (if you're over 60).
Even Fit Muscle Bears Need Healthcare Too!
Even if you've got good general health, work out daily and eat a clean healthy diet - being a fitness freak and big and beefy gym rat has it's own set of risks. Weight training and sports injuries happen, and without comprehensive insurance, a torn muscle or ligament could wreak havoc on your finances if you're uninsured. Buff Bears need ObamaCare too!
By BeefPieBear - Oct 07 2013
The numbers for the percentages of Gay women and men without health insurance in America is downright ugly. While nationwide about 1 in 6 (15%) of the general population go without health coverage, within the LGBT community the ratio of the uninsured rises to 1 in 4 (25%) overall. The percentage of uninsured is even bleaker for low-income Gay Transgendered, Hispanics, Blacks and other LGBT racial minorities where 1 in 3 (33%) go without.
ObamaCare is the biggest life-preserver our Gay community has ever been offered. So here's just a big Fuck-You to Gay Log Cabin Republicans who are complicit in supporting the GOP, the Conservative Right, and any one and any thing that seeks to undermine the ability of our LGBT community to finally get the guaranteed access to very affordable health care that we desperately need. There are many explicit non-discrimination provisions within the Affordable Care Act that address equality in access and services for our community that's long overdue - especially for those with partners and who are now legally married.
For Gay Bear men - especially the Chubba-Bubba Bears - Our propensity towards being overweight, prone to diabetes and vascular disease as well as our risk profile for HIV/AIDS and transmissible infections makes us a unique demographic that needs more than the average Straight Joe. We owe it to ourselves and our community to take advantage of the opportunities and benefits the ACA - Affordable Care Act - 'ObamaCare' is poised to offer us on January 1st 2014.
Even for Gay Muscle Bears and those with a Commit-To-Fit lifestyle, without basic comprehensive health insurance, all one's efforts at the gym may be for naught if a sports injury, an accident, or serious illness strikes. One's health, financial security and well-being can change in a single event, a single health crisis, or begin to degrade steadily with time.
Of note, the No-Cost PREVENTATIVE health services mandated to be included in all of the Affordable Care Act Exchange plans are something you ought to review and be aware of. The ACA prohibits out-of-pocket costs for prevention services. Particularly for MSM : Men having Sex with Men -- Free immunizations that the CDC Guidelines recommend for our community are something you should review with your doctor and take advantage of.
If you thought you couldn't afford health insurance, if you'd been denied because of pre-existing conditions, you might be surprised at how comprehensive and cheap ACA insurance through either your state or the national ACA exchanges can be. Policies range across a 4-Tier Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum framework. Even the lowest-cost but high-deductible Bronze plans include lower negotiated Physician or Urgent Care billing prices and prescriptions, with no out-of-pocket costs for those preventative services. Find out more about LGBT healthcare options at out2enroll.org -- and at apply at healthcare.gov or your local state exchange.