Bear Coffee: A Monthly Event in the Crossroads

What do you do when you encounter a bear? Wave your arms? Play dead? Well, if you’re at a café on the Boulevard in Kansas City, pull up a chair and order a sandwich and smoothie, because you’ve probably stumbled into Bear Coffee.
Bear Coffee is a fairly new group that meets the second Friday of each month at Crossroads Coffeehouse, 310 Southwest Blvd. Mike Sullivan came up with the idea for the monthly meet-up. He asked owner Jalene Berger whether she would mind having the ursine gathering at her shop. She was game. So Sullivan used his friend Mark Berkhouse’s special Facebook friends group as a starting point for invitations to the event.
During the July 8 installment of Bear Coffee, the crowd grew steadily as men arrived from work or from traveling across town. Table after table was added end-to-end until the row could accommodate the roughly 40 attendees.
The guys sat, mingled and chatted. Some of the conversation topics: What is the least stereotypically gay thing about you? How hairy or smooth are you? Have you met a transgender person? Guess my ethnicity. Where is your hometown? Have you been to West Virginia? If so, did you go willingly? What sports do you watch or play? You and your partner have how many kids?
One couldn’t imagine a friendlier bunch of guys. The turnout for the event was so good that Tyler the barista called in café owners Jalene and Doug Berger for sandwich-prep backup.
What’s a bear? It’s one of those self-identifying terms -- it’s different for each person. But presuming that the basis for the term is the animal, a bear is a bisexual or gay man who is hairy and big. The amount of fur varies (facial and body), as does the content of the bigness (cuddly or muscular). Cubs, otters, wolves and many other variations round out the bear spectrum.
Usually, a bear will project a traditional masculine image, but demeanor varies. Bears are generally happy with themselves physically and welcoming to others. The community tends to shy away from a highly specific self-definition because its most redeeming attribute is its sense of inclusion. Be yourself around bears of the human variety.
Some readers might be familiar with bear-themed clubs, media and events, such as Bear Week, which took place in July in Provincetown, Mass.
Look for the August Bear Coffee event -- 4-8 p.m. Aug. 12 -- on Facebook.
Crossroads Coffeehouse
310 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, Mo.
On the menu: bratwurst
As for what to do when confronted by a real, wild bear, go here:
Still a mystery: Why bears go “Woof!”

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