Lazy Bear Week, which takes place each year on the banks of the Russian River in Guerneville, California, is one of the best-known gay bear gatherings in the world. Unsurprisingly, its 2021 event, which concluded last Sunday, was quite different from usual.
For a start, it was only accommodating a fewer number of guests, and everyone had to show proof of vaccination. Events that normally took place indoors were all moved outdoors. Thankfully, it still proved a big success, with attendees new and old saying it seemed all the more special.
One of those returning was Danny (@dray_sf), who told GayCities: “It was great to be back. Things were a little different this year, being an all-outdoor event with strict capacity restrictions, but the magic was still there. The organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job keeping everyone safe and the newly added sunset tea dance was a big hit!”
An event spokesperson said around 1,500 took part in this year’s event across the week. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the non-profit grassroots fundraising organization.
“This year was a different kind of celebration, designed for safety and protection from Covid-19. All attendees had to show proof of vaccination and all of the events were outdoors,” the spokesperson said.
“One highlight of the week was the new Super Soft Tea Dance located in a special area of Johnson’s Beach allowing for a spectacular view of the Russian River, trees, and sunset.
“The money raised will be put to work quickly to further our mission: to build strong and healthy LGBTQIA+ communities and to support any kind of medical research.”
Rico Zamora (@ricowillcutyou) was attending the event for the first time. He told Gay Cities, “I have to admit that I’ve never felt more at ease around gay men as I have felt during the past few days at Lazy Bear. My husband feels the same way. There is absolutely no judgment here; everyone is so welcoming.
“As someone who is stepping out into the realm of feeling more secure about my own body image and my place within the gay community, I have nothing but the warmest and most enthusiastic thoughts about this event and the bears who converged on this adorable little town—not to mention all the wonderful staff, volunteers and vendors involved. And, of course, the pool parties!
“My husband and I will definitely be returning to Guerneville for this awesome event next year!”