A Very Beary Good Time

Words by Josue Ramirez

Edited by Abigail Vela

In queer culture, the term bear is associated with gay burly, heavy-set men with plenty of body hair. Abraham Hinojosa-Villarreal, a board member of the RGV Bears, considers it more of a mindset than a physical appearance. RGV Bears came together in 2021 when friends saw an opportunity to create a community where they felt represented accurately for their body positivity and as their authentic selves. 


For Hinojosa-Villarreal, it is a space to feel comfortable, “We’re not all one conventional body type, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be celebrated or that we all can’t be a part of this brotherhood of body positivity.”


The group grew from small get-togethers like brunch and group movie outings to their first pool party called Caldo de Oso. To Hinojosa-Villarreal, the need for spaces like the one RGV Bears create at their social gatherings was a long time coming. Although it was not without the stigma that is often wrongfully associated with the group. 


In 2022, an article on Valley Central drew criticism from the local queer community when they incorrectly attributed a potential outbreak of Monkeypox to the Wet Oso Weekend event held by RGV Bears. Part of the reason the group exists is to deconstruct these harmful mainstream narratives around queer culture. 


“Bears, we are very judgment-free; we’re all about giving people a space to celebrate their own sexiness in a safe space,” states Hinojosa Villarreal, “To feel your own skin, feel your own body in a place of like-minded people that won’t make you feel any shame.” 

In that spirit, this coming weekend, on February 10 and 11th, RGV Bears will be hosting their First Annual RGV Leather Weekend. They are partnering with the Valley Aids Council to help destigmatize sexual expression and to create an environment for people to have that freedom. 


“While it is not a sexually driven event, we do want to acknowledge that there is more than what is conventional out there,” the RGV Bears member explains.


Friday will be their Kink Ball, so expect to see latex, leather, masks, and chains. Saturday, the Valley Aids Council will host the Love, Leather, and Lace Market, where vendors will have gear, fetishwear, and adult toys. Demonstrations on safe play and how to enjoy some of the things that have been marked taboo or stigmatized by mainstream culture are also scheduled. 

A significant component of their efforts is sexual health literacy. “This is the event to say that it is normal to have these kinds of interests, and if you want to try these things out, these demonstrations will teach you how to do so safely.” In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to get access to PREP, HIV testing, and to learn safe sex practices like using condoms and dental dams.

Saturday night, the Mr. Leather RGV Pageant will crown a winner who will represent the region in the International Mr. Leather 2023 competition. The event will end with a Leather Ball with music by DJ Soze and Live Gogo Entertainment hosted by Mistress Lady B. 

Contrary to what people think, you don’t have to be a bear to be a member of RGV Bears or attend these events. “We are a very body-positive, inclusive group regardless of sexual orientation or gender,” says Hinojosa, “We are all about creating that safe space where we can come together, socialize, create that sense of community, and have fun.”


Buy tickets here.

Be sure to follow RGV Bears on Facebook and Instagram.

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