to follow the gay hairline of the past 50 years. In the
'50s lean, hairless muscle boys posed for
"health" magazines. The '60s gave us
the Cockettes, who with their long hair, beards, and fuzzy
bodies underneath pounds of drag epitomized the gay
hippie look. The Village People ushered in the end of
the '70s as a group of gay icons with the
perfect amount of hair in the perfect places--hair as
'80s and early '90s gay men in the initial
years of the AIDS pandemic defied society's
perceptions of their health by working out, tanning,
and shaving their bodies with equal enthusiasm--thank
you, Calvin Klein, for bringing Olympic pole-vaulter
Tom Hintnaus, in your underwear, to the masses via
that legendary Times Square billboard. Hard, smooth,
and golden-brown became the ideal. But soon there would be
the Hair Revolution led by the gay Cossacks, the
Now over a decade
old, the bear movement is largely responsible for
putting hair back in, and on, the faces of gay men.
"Bear Magazine made it OK for gay men to
be sexy while still looking like regular working-class
guys--unaffected, unfussy, less groomed and
polished," says Scott McGillivray, 43, former editor
of Bear and current editor-copublisher of 100% Beef
and BQ magazines.
But bears aside,
we're still far from a Hairy Gay Planet. Alyn Topper,
one of the featured stylists on Bravo's Blow
Out, is hopeful. "In West Hollywood, I wish that
would come true. It took me months to get my boyfriend
to grow his leg hair out." Hair fan that he is,
Topper nonetheless preaches regular maintenance. "You
need to take the Twirly Test. Take your pinkie and go
to any patch of hair on your body. If you can wrap
your fuzzy patch at least halfway around your little
phalange, then you've tested positive for the Twirly
Test, and you need to do some manscaping."
nonmanscapers, what is it about hair in particular that is
so appealing? "It's all about
texture," theorizes Ray Kampf, 41, professor of
graphic design and author of The Bear Handbook.
"Smooth is nice for Tupperware, but the feeling of
running your fingers through a pelt of chest hair is
so much more aesthetically pleasing."
McGillivray agrees. "Hairy men are sexier in general.
It's that 'beast' thing. We all
love it, even if some of us try to pretend that we
Skyler, 33, an
auditor and queer FTM in Seattle who is "90%"
attracted to fuzzy guys, couldn't wait to be
hairy. "For the first couple years [of the
transition] I excitedly woke up every morning wondering if
new hair had sprouted on my face, chest, and belly. I
always wanted fur...but not back fur, damn
it!" As far as transitioning into a hairless man, he
adds, "the thought of staying smooth never even
crossed my mind. That would've sucked!"
So what about
hair lovers who are Ken-doll smooth? Are they marginalized
by those they adore? "Yes and no, as I've made
many friends who would definitely not leave me out of
things because I'm not hairy," says Asian
bear fan Wayne Chiu, 33, a shipping specialist for FedEx
Kinko's. "But I do feel a bit
'outside' when the central focus of bear
iconography is based on hairiness--although I
did get my last boyfriend at BearQuake [an annual bear
event in Los Angeles], so I guess I'm doing quite
As with any
movement, a pecking order exists. Kampf is wary: "I
would hope that there's enough room for all of
us. The problem is when one group thinks they are
superior because of what they are
physically--hairless guys who look down on hairy guys,
hairy muscle guys who look down on hairy chubby guys,
guys with chest hair who look down on guys with back
hair. It's silly."
For fur fans of
all flavors, all this carpet laying is an encouraging
sign. But we're still short of Gorillas in the Mist.
"The objectification of hairy men is growing,
but it's still clearly in the minority," says
McGillivray. "As folks become more and more
comfortable in their own skin, there will be less of a
stigma attached to people who present themselves
differently. There will always be those
'Ewww...why didn't he wax?'
types of guys out there, but their numbers will