Utah Bears are on the hunt

by Peter Reynolds

The Utah Bears Inc. is coming out of hibernation, with many activities and a welcoming space for gay adult men. 

The Bears emphasize the body-positive of all gay men and are using the Spring as a membership drive, according to Bobby Moody, president of the nonprofit group. They currently have about 160 active members. Their main purpose is to enjoy being bears through social and service events in the community and in some members-only gatherings. 

To join, there is a $10 registration which will cover the remainder of the fiscal year through May, and $20 for a 2022–2023 annual registration.

The big annual event is Jam-BEAR-ee, scheduled for July 21–24 this year. Moody invites all gay men to summer camp and anticipates about 140 to join. The venue is on the scenic Portneuf River in southeast Idaho and includes an old-fashioned swimming hole and plenty of meadow for tents and RV campers. It is a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City and features daily catered breakfast and dinner along with popular theme night campfires, including Beareoke and drag bingo with the Matrons of Mayhem on Saturday. The campout is open to all, with members paying a discount price.

The group hosts many regular activities, including:  

Bear Coffee and Dinner on Wednesdays: Coffee at a local coffeeshop starts at 6 p.m. and dinner follows at 7 p.m. at a rotating popular restaurant each week, open to members and nonmembers.

The popular Bear Night at Club Try-Angles is the first Friday of the month. All are welcome and you can see any of the six board members to get introduced and join the group. 

Sunday Brunch is monthly on the fourth Sunday at varying restaurants in town. March 27 is at Fiddler’s Elbow for those over 21.  

Bowling with the Bears happens several times a year.

Bear-ly Private Parties are for members only and are announced throughout the year. The first is scheduled for April 9. Others include the annual Bones Halloween and Bear-ly Holiday parties.

A Bears @Bear Lake campout for members will be hosted May 29–June 1.

Beers, Burgers, & Bears Oh My will be the Utah Bears contribution to Bearvasion 2 in May.

There are also monthly hikes and day trips currently in planning for members this summer.

Events are promoted on the group’s Facebook page and in weekly Bearmail to members. Bear merchandise is sold at many activities

The group also plans to be part of the Utah Pride Festival, June 3–4.

The group also engages in service activities. In the past, these have included charitable support to organizations like stuffed bears for hospitalized children, animal adoption, community volunteer support, and Maud’s Café, a coffeeshop and cafe run by and for the Volunteers of America youth shelter.  Other plans are underway.

How best for you to get involved?  All bears and friends of bears over the age of 21 are welcome and most events are open to the public. Check the organization’s Facebook page at fb.me/utahbears or website, utahbears.com for updates. 

The Utah Bears have a long history as an inclusive gay social organization. The group was originally formed in Salt Lake City in the 1980s when the club scene for gay men did not always welcome men of varying body types and ages. In 2011, the organization was reorganized to offer a broader and more diverse range of member services. It has grown into a multi-state group of over 160 active members. 

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