lgbt culture

Bear Nation (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on November 26, 2011

88. Bear Nation (Available to rent digitally on Amazon)

Here is the trailer for Bear Nation.

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Bear Nation is the most recent documentary by Malcolm Ingram, who I previously praised about his fabulous documentary Small Town Gay Bar.  It teaches the audience about the bear community within gay culture.  The bears are bigger, hairier, more traditionally “manly” men – but the community also includes the chasers who love them.  I’m married to a bear myself, so I certainly understand the attraction.

The bears have entered my consciousness as a flag-waving fag hag in the past 5 or so years.  I knew it was a big deal when the innkeeper at a B&B in Provincetown told me how popular Bear Week was, and theme weeks in Provincetown are a BIG DEAL.  Bear Nation gives us a little more in-depth look at the subgroups within the larger group of “bears,” including muscle bears and leather bears, as well as focuses on a few chasers that aren’t bears but love them all the same.

My favorite part of Bear Nation is the joy I feel when seeing people who have found their people, found their place in the world.  A lot of the subjects of this film talk about being absolutely confused about being not only gay, but not interested in being or being with the twinky standard that many people think of when they think of a gay man.  Thanks to the internet, groups of bears started forming, gatherings started happening, and now the bears all have somewhere to go.

Malcolm Ingram, himself a bear, gives a wonderful look into a lesser-known portion of the gay community that have taken matters into their own hands and have an amazing time doing it.  I definitely recommend checking this documentary out. Go Bears!

Bear Nation is not currently available on DVD, but can be rented for $3.99 from Amazon to watch online, and for $2.99 from Walmart (totally surprising) to watch online.

Also, Malcolm Ingram’s next film will be a documentary about the infamous Continental Baths in NYC, where a young Bette Midler started her career!

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Small Town Gay Bar (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on September 6, 2011

60. Small Town Gay Bar (Available to stream via Netflix and Amazon)

Unfortunately, a trailer for Small Town Gay Bar doesn’t seem to be available online.  But, there’s an intro video featuring director Malcolm Ingram and executive producer Kevin Smith.  The video is NSFW and might be totally offensive, depending on your sensibilities.

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Small Town Gay Bar is a documentary talking about the past and present history of 2 bars in Mississippi that cater to a more open-minded set—gay bars.  Directed by Malcolm Ingram, the movie opens discussing Rumors, a small bar in Lee County, Mississippi.  The bar owner explains that the bar is open to anyone who wants to come in and have a good time.  We meet Alicia/Jim, receptionist by day and drag queen by night, and get to hear from many of the patrons of Rumors, and how it’s a place for them to have an outlet where they won’t be persecuted for being who they are.

The second bar featured in the film is called Different Seasons, and is opening after an unfortunate closing of its previous iteration, Crossroads.  We see the owners talking about it, and then get to watch as the bar opens to great success, and the obvious joy from people who don’t have another outlet in their area.

I really love this movie a lot, I have seen it a few times on television and watched it again for this project via Netflix.  I proudly wear the label of “fag hag,” and frequent gay bars with my friends regularly.  The bars I go to are the most chill places, where everyone is into what they’re into and no one is there to judge. (Plus, the music is always excellent.) I live in an area where there isn’t a lack of gay bars, so Small Town Gay Bar has that much more impact – because most of the people heading out to the bar on Friday night have been quietly hiding themselves all week at their jobs or wherever.  In addition to the lack of outlets, more interviews with folks over at the straight bar nearby Rumors shows an incredible level of judgment and intolerance, and paints an incredibly negative picture of the support for inequality that is alive and well in some areas of the South.

If you have Netflix, you have no reason not to watch this movie.  It’s fantastic.

Small Town Gay Bar is available on DVD from Amazon for $13.49.

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