Alan Charlesworth

Alan Charlesworth was born in 1981 outside of Philadelphia, PA. He currently holds an Associate degree in Graphic Design from Champlain College, a Bachelors degree in Photographic Illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and a Masters degree in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). During his stay at RIT, Alan began photographing his friends in the hirsute homosexual subculture known as Bears and later continued this work through graduate school at RISD. In 2010 he won a Photography Fellowship through the New York Foundation for the Arts with his project “Brotherhood of Bears.” Alan’s photographic work has been exhibited internationally and has been showcased in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and FeatureShoot. Alan is currently an Adjunct Professor of Photography and Graphic Design in Upstate New York. He continues to explore various facets of the gay community, subcultures, and sexuality. Today we look into his series, Brotherhood of Bears.

Randy and Gates - in Kitchen with Drinks (Orlando, FL), 2010

Randy and Gates – in Kitchen with Drinks (Orlando, FL), 2010

Boatslip Pool - Bear Week (Provincetown, MA), 2010

Boatslip Pool – Bear Week (Provincetown, MA), 2010

Sean and James - Hillside Campgrounds (Gibson, PA), 2012

Sean and James – Hillside Campgrounds (Gibson, PA), 2012

Rich - Sleeping in Tent (Mansfield Center, CT), 2011

Rich – Sleeping in Tent (Mansfield Center, CT), 2011

Dick’s Bed (Burlington, VT), 2010

Dick’s Bed (Burlington, VT), 2010

Brotherhood of Bears

As a teenager I never felt as though I belonged anywhere in the gay community— that is, until I discovered the Bear subculture, whose members represent a mature and masculine homosexual embodiment. This work investigates and represents this intimate and often unseen subculture and confirms my inclusion within this group of men. The Bear brotherhood is a strong bond of gay men who cast aside traditional gender conventions, challenge heteronormative society, and question hegemonic masculinity.

For over a decade I have been an insider within the Bear subculture, yet I simultaneously view myself as an outsider because I am not the physical embodiment of a Bear man. My role as photographer embodies this ambivalent stance, as my interest in documenting Bears necessitates both access and detachment from this community. “Brotherhood of Bears” is an affirmation of my inclusion in the Bear subculture substantiated by my interpreting, analyzing, and understanding these men and their sexual identities, which are much like my own.

Jon - Playing Guitar (Montreal, QC), 2015

Jon – Playing Guitar (Montreal, QC), 2015

Frank and Danny - Cuddle (Fire Island, NY), 2011

Frank and Danny – Cuddle (Fire Island, NY), 2011

John and Mike - Watching TV (Rensselaer, NY), 2014

John and Mike – Watching TV (Rensselaer, NY), 2014

Gunner and Charles - Dunes’ Edge Campgrounds (Provincetown, MA), 2013

Gunner and Charles – Dunes’ Edge Campgrounds (Provincetown, MA), 2013

 Raffi - Standing in Backyard (Provincetown, MA), 2015

Raffi – Standing in Backyard (Provincetown, MA), 2015

Frank - Sitting on Bed (Chicago, IL), 2013

Frank – Sitting on Bed (Chicago, IL), 2013

Bear Pride Merchandise - Cub Couture Store (Pawtucket, RI), 2012

Bear Pride Merchandise – Cub Couture Store (Pawtucket, RI), 2012

 Tom’s Back (Dallas, TX), 2011

Tom’s Back (Dallas, TX), 2011

Peter, James, and John - Memorial Day Pool Party (Albany, NY), 2009

Peter, James, and John – Memorial Day Pool Party (Albany, NY), 2009

Rusty - Lone Star Saloon Mascot (San Francisco, CA), 2012

Rusty – Lone Star Saloon Mascot (San Francisco, CA), 2012

To see more of Alan’s photographs, please visit his website.



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