Daily Read: Andrew Sullivan on Lumbersexuals

Daily Read: Andrew Sullivan on Lumbersexuals

In a post titled, Lumbersexuals: The Triumph of the Bears, the popular writer Andrew Sullivan, a bear advocate, recalls a piece he wrote on bear culture for Salon some 11 years ago, in which he praised his fellow travellers for not knowing what cologne was, and avoiding deodorant. It was, he wrote at the time, the fastest-growing new gay subculture in America.

Sullivan argues that this trend, spawned among gay men in San Francisco in the '90s, has reached the wider male populace - an observation that could have been made by anyone who has visited Bushwick or Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, at any time in the last five years. A 2010 documentary, Bear Nation, even included an interview with straight filmmaker Kevin Smith, whose face fuzz makes him something of an idol among bears. No matter: the observation still stands. Men have been returning to full-bodied hirsuteness for some time, and bears are now wholly mainstream, as apps like Scruff remind us. Movember is, of course, their gift to the world.

Sullivan suspects the rise of the lumbersexual is a reaction to the relative decline of male power in American life - "testosterone's last permissible stand against the forces of relentless sameness." Or maybe we just got lazy. Or shaving got too pricey. Or both.

We're not sure the "ghastly metrosexual moment" (his words) is over, or even that we want it to be - for some of us, deo was a great leap forward - but there is at least room for different types of masculinity. As Sullivan points out, both the metrosexual and the lumbersexual emerged out of gay culture, so straight men have a lot to thank - or blame us - for.

Then again, they gave us Mumford & Sons in return.

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