The History of the Bear Flag, Craig Byrnes & What It Represents

The Bear Pride Flag

Within the LGBTQ+ community, a bear is a man who is hairy and/or has facial hair, as well as a ‘cuddly’ body – like twinks, the bear has its own subculture and the pride flag can be seen at Pride events. 

The flag was designed with inclusion in mind: the tone is meant to represent the color of bears throughout the world, but not necessarily human skin tones – the colors of the flag are Dark brown, orange/rust, golden yellow, tan, white, gray, and black. Bear culture also celebrates secondary sex characteristics (e.g. the ability to grow body hair and facial hair) – this is typically seen as a “bear” characteristic. 

Craig Byrnes designed the flag in 1995 – his undergraduate degree in psychology involved designing a senior project about the culture about gay bears, which had become extremely popular during the early 1980s, of which he had first hand experience with. Byrnes’ thought it would be appropriate to make a flag that would best represent the bear community, and include it with the results of his research – he did this by receiving help from another member of the bear community. 

4 different variations of the flag were sewing machine-made, and Byrnes was allowed to display the four  3’×5’ flags at various Chesapeake Bay Bears “Bears of Summer” events in July 1995 – the winning flag was designed by Paul Witzkoske. This version is a simple horizontal stripes with a paw print in the upper left corner – this design is similar to the  Leather Pride flag. The colors represent the nationalities that are seen on bears. 







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