The Front Range Bears began as an unnamed group of computer users in 1990 when there was no internet as we know it, when e-mail was an insider’s perk, AOL had just been created, and online society was dominated by bulletin board systems (BBS’s) that either specialized in a single interest or offered dedicated chat rooms for any number of special interest groups.
One such BBS was “Max Manlove”, whose system operator, Van Lynn Floyd, hosted Denver metro’s local bear chat room along with connections to a national bear forum. As primitive as all this sounds, it was an eye-popping and wonderful access to the bear world beyond our own private boundaries. All we had before this was Bear Magazine, which at that time had barely graduated from a xerox-copied local flyer in San Francisco to a small-format periodic digest, long before the late, slick monthly magazine most of us know.
Van, who is now a Member Ebearitus of FRB, was instrumental (intentionally or otherwise) in co-mingling friends and strangers from his online pub, and the inevitable result was its evolution into a living organism.
In the autumn of 1990, someone left a posting on Max that any bears interested in gathering for conversation meet at John Galt’s Coffehouse on South Broadway, for drinks and desserts. For many of us, it was our first in-person encounter with some of the real people that had become online buddies.
This happened a few times, at Galt’s, at Dad’s (Denver’s only nonalcoholic gay bar) and at private homes. Cross-pollinating into the mix was Van and his partner Ron’s “Bear Trek” socials held at their high-rise home on Capitol Hill.