What is a "Bear"?

In gay culture the term “bear” originally referred to larger or obese hairier men who project a sense of masculinity and ruggedness about them. The term bear eventually progressed to refer to any hairy man regardless of shape and size.  The term broadened even more in the 1970s in San Francisco, California: otters (slim hairy guys), cubs (young bears), wolves (medium build guys), and manatees (a bear without hair). All these terms are welcome additions to the bear community.

Even though the bear community consists primarily of gay or bisexual men, the LGBTQ+ culture and modern slang has taken on a wider appeal in modern society. It is very possible to call a hairy and beefy straight man a bear. If these men are affirming of their gay friends and family, they are moreover informally given "honorary" bear status. More and more transgender men and those who reject labels for gender and sexuality are also included within bear communities. There are even a few lesbians, particularly those portrayed as butch, who partake in bear culture (typically referred to as an Ursula).

NEA Bear Contest

No matter what kind of bear you are, we are going to celebrate ALL the bears of Northeast Arkansas with our first NEA Bear Contest!  If you would like to compete in the NEA Bear Contest hosted by the marvelous Ms. Makenna Michaels please read the rules and conditions listed below.  Then click the Apply Now button.

Rules & Conditions

The NEA Bear Contest will be held at the Parsonage in Jonesboro, Arkansas at 10:00 pm on Saturday, October 12, 2019.

The contest is open to any gay/bisexual/transgender/straight PERSON over 18 years of age.  All contestants will be required to complete the following in order to be eligible to compete in the contest:


Complete the online application and be prepared to strut your stuff.


  • Have two outfits ready for the night of the contest.
    • Impress the audience!! Wear your favorite outfit and then go strut your stuff! Make it fun or sexy or silly; dress as your favorite TV, cartoon, or pop culture character bear.
    • Underbear wear! Break out your best underwear (NO butt cracks or junk in the front exposed).
  • Answer a pageant-style question.

Check in! 

Participants MUST check-in by 9:30 pm on Saturday, October 12, 2019. You will be required to read and sign the rules in person.

Applicant and Winner Rules and Regulations

Contestants must adhere to all rules & regulations associated with the NEA Bear Contest. If you are the winner of the 2019 NEA Bear contest, you agree to represent NEA Bear on the NEA Pride float at the 2019 Christmas Parade, which is held on December 5, 2019 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Finally, the winner will attempt to return to the NEA Bear Contest to assist in the next year's contest.

Application Deadline

The deadline to enter in the NEA Bear contest is 9:30 pm on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Space is limited, so please apply soon! Applications must be submitted online via the application page or in person the night of the event.


We will have a panel of three judges. Contestants will be judged on entertainment, intelligence, wardrobe: favorite attire & Underbear, and answers to questions during a live interview as part of the contest.

If you agree to the Rules and Conditions click here to apply!

Thank you and good luck!

NEA Pride

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