Golden Bear Gazette
July 21, 2021
SACRAMENTO—A huge werebear created by JRR Tolkien after WWII has become the improbable emblem of the LGBTQI+ movement.
“He’s just perfect,” says Bruce Byrnes, local gay community activist. “He’s a bear, but he’s a man.”
Beorn is a fictional character who helps the dwarves in their quest that forms the plot of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. He was a man who transitioned into a bear at night.
“The symbolism is all there,” says Byrnes. “He transitions into a bear at night to kill goblins. The parallel to gay men living straight lives during the day and then trolling the bathhouses at night to find love is pretty obvious.”
Byrnes says Beorn also lived in a superstructure that forced him to anthropomorphize, just like gay men are forced to act straight. “Beorn was a bear, but the power structures of Middle Earth made him appear as a man during the day. He had to hide his bearness under the cover of night.”
“The gay community’s embrace of Beorn is instructive,” says Quinlan Feanor, a philosophy professor at Chico State University. “The father of deconstructionism, Jacque Derrida, promoted undecidables: things that can’t fit into one category, like zombies (the living dead). Beorn is an undecidable, like so many who live on the spectrum of sexuality.”
Byrne enthusiastically agrees. “Beorn is completely undecided! That’s what makes him so erotically luscious.”
“Bear” is also a long-standing subculture within the LGBTQ community that celebrates big, hairy gay men.
“The Beorn movement has really resonated with our Bears,” says Byrnes.