A new exhibition at the GLBT History Museum will feature the work of cartoonist Fran Frisch as a starting point for exploring the history of the bear community, a subculture that developed in the 1980s to celebrate older, larger, hairier, ruggedly masculine gay men who had been largely excluded from standards of attractiveness in gay popular culture. “Beartoonist of San Francisco: Sketching an Emerging Subculture” opens Jan. 27.
“Fran Frisch’s bears are both cuddly and sexual, playful and laid back, yet radical and subversive; his cartoons epitomize what it means to be a Bear,” says curator Jeremy Prince. “Frisch was a pioneering artist who helped define the Bear community through his designs, and his drawings brought humor into the mix as one of the vital aspects of bear masculinity.”
- The Lone Star Saloon, widely considered the first bar dedicated to the bear community, opened in 1989.
- BEAR magazine, published in San Francisco from 1987 to 2002 (and revived in 2008).
- Bears of San Francisco, a charitable organization of bears and admirers, established in 1994.
- International Bear Rendezvous, an annual bear weekend that ran from 1995 to 2011.
- Lazy Bear Weekend, an annual weekend getaway for bears, produced by Harry Lit and Allan Eggman, starting in 1995 and continuing to this day.