Bear Flag History

frb flag

Front Range Bears’ Bear Pride Flag

The Bear Pride Flag was designed by Steve Heyl and Jim Maxwell in early 1992 to represent the Bear culture.It was carried by marchers in the 1992 Gay Pride parades in Denver, Russian River, and San Francisco. It was also carried by John Griffin, Steve Heyl, and Lurch Sutton from the Bears of San Francisco at the March on Washington. Additionally, it was presented at Bear Expo and International Bear Rendezvous (IBR) in San Francisco. It was recently displayed at the 20th Anniversary Octobearfest in October, 2010.

Steve Heyl explains “the colors in the flag were designed to show the range of bears, represented by the various colors (White, Golden, Grey, Brown & Black), and the fact that bears tend to do things a bit differently, represented by the stripes at an angle.

Even though the flag has been trademarked, the creators and the Front Range Bears have released it for Public Domain. Technical design details of the flag, including exact colors are on a CD in the Club’s Archives.


International Bear Brotherhood Flag

Early in 1996, Craig Byrnes, known to many Washington, DC area bears as Mr. Baltimore Bear Cub ’93 and Mr. TBLC of Virginia ’94, began presenting area clubs and organizations with a new flag, the “INTERNATIONAL BEAR BROTHERHOOD FLAG.” The flag didn’t appear out of nowhere. In fact, this new symbol of bear brotherhood had an earlier, interesting development.

Craig’s work towards earning an undergraduate degree in psychology involved designing a senior project that would explore and discuss the bear culture that has exploded since the early 1980s. As a member of the Chesapeake Bay Bears (CBB), he had become involved with first-hand experience of the growing bear movement. During the time of of his senior project development, Craig thought it might be fitting to design a flag that would best represent the bear community (since there is no “official” bear flag) and include it with the results of his research. Craig was encouraged by his ex-husbear Bob Nicholson, an Alumni Member of the District of Columbia Bear Club (DCBC).

Bob bought a deluxe box of crayons for Craig’s birthday, and Craig began his search of suitable colors for his flag. Craig constructed the original flag drawing from the colors he selected. After scanning the drawing, Craig enlisted DCBC member Paul Witzkoske to create four computer-generated templates from the original artwork made in crayon from which the four variations were sewing machine constructed of lining material. Bob spent several hours on a sewing machine making the first set of 3′ x 5′ flags out of simple lining material. Craig won approval to display the four prototype flags at the CBB “Bears of Summer” events in July of 1995. Bears were asked to put a quarter in the appropriate box to indicate which flag they thought would best represent the bear community and the proceeds were donated to CBB to add to its AIDS fundraising collections.

It’s a field of simple horizontal stripes with a paw print in the upper left corner—a layout familiar to anyone who has seen the Leather Pride Flag. The colors represent the fur colors and nationalities of bears throughout the world and was designed with inclusivity in mind.

Bob Nicholson stitched four copies of the winning design out of standard flag nylon. One was sent to a flag manufacturer for the possibility of mass production and distribution to the bear community. Another original was sent to Lurch in San Francisco as a memento of his visit to Washington, DC and his participation as Master of Ceremonies for the“Bears of Summer” contest. Paul was presented an original hand-sewn flag for assisting Craig in making his design into a computer generated graphic, and Craig and Bob kept the last flag as a reminder of the process.