Is Weight the Reason Why the Bear Community is So Split Up?

The advancements the bear community has made over the years in terms of visibility, both in the gay and straight world, are profound given how we had been treated like outcasts up until recently. Mainstream media has now moved to cover us in many different facets on television, music, and the movies and the terminology and lingo we have developed are now used across previous boundaries. Another advancement has been that our themed events seem to grow larger in size with each passing year, allowing for more to experience it all in a grander capacity. 

The increasing number of bears in the community has also developed a sort of "line in the sand" when it comes to the dare I say issue of weight in our community.  This line and subsequent division are aspects that are very visible in the bear communities of many cities, an issue that is hard to turn a blind eye to.

Although a topic that has been muffled over the years, the division has become more pronounced as I navigate social gatherings, outlets, and more in New York City and beyond.  A certain incident comes to mind that occurred a couple of years ago.  Two different major bear events were happening on the same night, one in midtown New York City and the other all the way in the Financial District.  I chose to attend the one downtown, which catered more towards a mixed group of stereotypical "bear" types, including husky, otter, muscle, and more.  The following week, when I looked at pics of the other event and its attendees, it seemed to have been very muscle heavy as I had a hard time finding anyone who didn't have a six pack or an Adonis-like figure.

There's nothing wrong with either side.  We should embrace our bodies regardless of who we are no matter what, but it's very noticeable how weight plays into causing a separation in the bear community, just as race and many other factors.  Do we tend to gravitate toward men who look just like us, or does fear drive one's ability to chat with someone who doesn't look like them?

A little while ago me and a former FWB (friend with benefits) talked about weight and bears and stigmas. He was in pretty good shape yet had a thing for huskier type of dudes (me).  He mentioned that admitting something like this, being attracted to bigger men, was "coming out of the closet for a second time," as it comes with predictable judgment from men who look like him, the fit guys.  Is the fear of the unknown from the people you surround yourself with the reason why seclusion and self-doubt happens in the first place?

When I attend events that showcase all different types of bears, I embrace it.  Hopefully events like these happen all over the country, however in Manhattan and other major cities that I have visited it is somewhat minimal.  I asked my friends what their thoughts are on this, and the answers were quite colorful, both in agreement and disagreement.

"It's been this way. And they do mingle. Some people have their cliques. Other have no hang-ups. Just depends who you’re with but it's everywhere."

"It's interesting you say that. I tend to like bears, but if I go to some kind of bear event I go in expecting that the bears will tend to gravitate towards each other and gloss over me. Not a judgment or complaint or anything, I just always chalked it up to everyone having a type that they like. But it didn't occur to me that they were subcategorizing among themselves."

"I mean, is it THAT strange that a subculture built on body type would then break off into other subcategories? Though I sometimes bemoan the lack of a large gay population here, it forces us to befriend and accept gays of all body types."

"Pretty much it's just comes down to sexual attraction. Guys go to bars to hook up, or at least window shop, as well as to hang out with their friends, many of whom they have previously hooked up with, let's be honest... The "clone" attraction (like attracted to like) is nothing new in the gay community."

"I have a very diverse group of friends with different body types. At events we hang out, I like people based on their personality and are they fun, do I enjoy their company? Never once was it "oh they have muscles", or "oh that belly is huge." I think that when you let down those walls or barriers, that's when you can appreciate people for who they are, and yer quality of life will be enriched for it, that's when you will feel sense of community."

So, what does this break down to exactly when it comes to weight?  Is it a "clique" thing?  Is it really based on sexual attraction?  Or is it something else that divides us when we really should be united in all fronts?  What are your thoughts?

This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

Rapper Big Dipper Showcases Sexy Big Dudes in 'Thiccness'

As someone who reps for the big guys (I'm a proud card-carrying one) it makes me happy to know that rapper Big Dipper does the same. 

HIs latest video that was just released last week called "Thiccness" celebrates all those deliciously husky dudes out there, many of which he features in the smoking hot 4-minute-clip.

It also helps that the emcee himself is part of the "thicker" community, which he firmly embraces outside this music video and into many other parts of his career.



Full time Fag. Hat by @lockwood51la . THICCNESS video out now #linkinbio

A post shared by Big Dipper (@bigdipperjelly) on

Take for instance his podcast unBEARable with hilarious drag personality Meatball. Their latest episodes have welcomed some pretty big named guests including RuPaul's Drag Race legends Alaska and Ginger Minj.

As for "Thiccness", it simply showcases daddies, bears, cubs and more in all their glory. This type of representation needs to be out there more and more (in my honest opinion), so props to Big Dipper for doing this for us. 


Why I'm Officially Done Writing About The Bear Community

I have been a card-carrying member of the bear community for almost fifteen years, and even though I am still considerably young (32 years of age), I’ve had enough experience within it to get a true understanding of what the f**k is really going on.

Part of the reason why I journeyed into writing online many moons ago was to have a platform where I could openly discuss the myriad of issues that are going on in this community. It wasn’t for me to vent per se, but to chat about the hot button topics that are discussed online, in bars, and on a friend to friend basis. A lot of mainstream gay publications don’t really discuss bears, as they skew towards the muscular/jock/bro types, so there was this part of me that so wanted to be a voice for the thousands of us that feel like we aren’t heard.

That voice today is officially closed after I finish the last words of this article. The way I began writing this piece may come off to some as egotistical and narcissistic, but its more of just an introduction of what’s to come as I have reached my end when it comes to the jaded, cruel, and evil mindsets that have taken over this community.

Let’s begin on a high note. For starters, there are endless amounts of men who are fantastic examples of being a standup kind of person. I know many of them and many I have yet to meet and probably never will. They run the gamut when it comes to who they are, whether it’s their chronological age, background, geographical location and more. Bottom line: they are the good ones. And we have at least one of them in our lives (hopefully) who are there to cheer us up when we need it and better the world around us.

What’s started to become a festering, nasty problem in our community since the millennium are the individuals who do nothing but spew venom, hatred, unnecessary shade and so much more for whatever their reasons may be. I have been apart of this myself, but that’s not the focus. The amount of people I know who have told me their own personal horror stories that go on in the bear community and how some of us treat each other makes me really wonder why we even use the word "community" in the first place.

Just this year alone I have seen the following: blatant racism happening in person and online (telling an African-American man that you like “the way they smell” for example). Staying on that topic, which is still very much a pink elephant in our community: having older white men try to explain to men of different ethnicities why brown and black don’t belong on the rainbow flag and not listening to their answers which are completely justifiable. Let’s also discuss how the percentages of men who are not Caucasian are still painfully small at all the major bear runs across the world, and how they feel like the outsiders in a community that was built on having everyone fit in. And when they are there, they feel like they are being fetishized for one reason or another and not wholeheartedly wanted for their mind and spirit.

There’s also been a ton of men who have cried for help on social media as the ones that they are in relationships with are mentally, emotionally and physically torturing them. This isn’t bear specific but has been brought up by men in our community several times. The line between fantasy and reality when it comes to the kind of relationship you want to engage in gets blurred sometimes, and this is still an issue that gets thrown to the side quite a lot and not dealt with seriously. Using the angry or sad button on Facebook when someone is clearly asking for help isn’t helping them at all. In other words: we need to be there for each other if we are really going to keep calling ourselves a community, but there’s more to come on that.

Then there’s body shaming, which at this point I’ve written about ad nauseum. The term “bear” isn’t just one body type, it’s many and I think that’s a wonderful thing as from an outsider’s perspective, it would mean that we are a lot more accepting. Except, LOL, we aren’t. When there are countless men complaining about how they were body shamed at an event that is supposed to do the complete opposite, then there’s a problem there. Do I think 100 percent of those situations happened in real life? No, we all have our insecurities and these sorts of things can play mind tricks on you, but they do happen, and I’ve been witness to it hundreds of times over several years. As I’ve said before: body shaming makes you a d**k.

I never wanted our growing culture to ever feel like we need to be in a “kumbaya” state 24/7/365, but there should be some happy medium where we can accept and appreciate each other for who we are. A lot of men in this community have turned into bullies, which seems like they have just become the person who did this sort of behavior to them growing up. LGBTQ people have a history of being tortured endlessly during our middle and high school years, and some do a complete 180 and act this way towards others in our community once they find a clique that could be deemed popular (and ultimately above others) for several reasons. And before anyone says “oh that’s crap” … it’s not. It exists. The scene on the Real Housewives of New York City when Kelly Bensimon tells Bethenny Frankel “I’m up here, you’re down here” happens all the time. It’s juvenile and pathetic, in my honest opinion.

Comments sections on social media alone also breed toxicity. I’ve done my best to not read them, but they can be downright cruel. If one person stands up for another, you then have 5-7 other men telling them they are wrong and to pretty much stop typing. There are also ones who say disgusting and tacky things about men they despise on their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts, which is hardly if ever justifiable. When did we become the teenage girls who overtly judge everyone and are mean? What does it help, as grown men, to annihilate someone’s character who you’ve never met before and don’t know?

Am I an innocent Pollyanna who has never done any of these things before? Hell no. But I can look back on things and realize when I hurt someone or said something terrible about them that shouldn’t have left my mouth in the first place. I was immensely jaded for many years in this community (primarily to how tough the NYC scene can be here), but you get older and find those lovely “gems” that become your true friends and you realize that all the drama, bulls**t, and other things that encompass the bear and gay world are simply not worth it.

As stated before, there are some fantastic guys in our world and I’m happy to know plenty of them. But this is a community that needs a lot of help, and I believe we are at a point of no return if that doesn’t shift quickly. If I can close with anything it would be this: be kind. This world is rough enough as is for the LGBTQ community, that infighting, hurtful words and so much more are only exacerbating that. My hope moving forward is for that sort of mindset to stop and for us to just truly enjoy each other for being our unique selves. I mean, isn’t that what makes us different and awesome in the first place?

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

Why You Should Date a Dude with a Belly

As the gay community continues to become bigger and bigger, so does some of our waistlines. Many of us (myself included) enjoy having a belly for several different reasons that go beyond us shading the f**k out of guys with six packs (this has nothing to do with you, so go back to slurping down your "brotein" shake during your fifth hour at the gym, muscle studs). 

Something that has really taken shape (no pun intended) since the millennium is how the bear community has sort of become the normal body type that is not only liked... but desired. Bear comes in many different forms, however this one deals strictly for guys with size. The ones who have that extra spare tire when you need it. The guys who actually want to go to dinner and not complain about having to work out afterwards.

I'm sure there are many of you out there who have thought about dating a husky dude: why not, we are awesome! So in case any of you are teeter-tottering on enjoying a fistful of tater tots with a sexy, thick guy and need a couple of reasons to push you over that judgmental edge... fear not, because we got five of them!

Check out the five reasons why you should date a dude with size:

  1. We keep you warm all year round. Why cuddle up to a skeleton singing "Kitty Girl" when you can snuggle up next to a big, beefy bear whose body temperature will insulate your body in the coldest of months? Yas, please.
  2. Dinner is always a fun experience. It's going to be an appetizer-entree-dessert kind of situation no matter what kind of bone you shake at us (tee hee).
  3. We can be your bodyguard in case s**t goes down at a gay bar. Trying to cut in line for that half-priced martini, missy? I think not!
  4. Many of us put that extra effort in the bedroom. Eating isn't always for the dinner table, if you get my gist.
  5. We are freaking adorable, cute, sexy and amazing. Just look at us!

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject. Also, don't be offended by anything in this article. It's for fun. I'm enjoying my burrito as I'm typing this, you should be experiencing the same joy as well. Fin. 

Also- totally me in both photos. Anyone interested please inquire within. 

Nyle DiMarco Hugs The Wrong Kind of Bear But It's OK

Dear Mr. Nyle DiMarco

Greetings! My name is Ryan Shea and I have been a fan of yours ever since you first appeared on the CW reality competition series America's Next Top Model.

Just like ANTM's host Tyra Banks, I also thought you were "fine as hell" and really rooted for you from beginning to end and was elated that you won. I was just as thrilled when you decided to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, where you won that too. So awesome.

You've also been a fantastic advocate for the deaf community and have championed a lot of causes for not only you but millions of hearing impaired people around the world which makes you that much more incredible. 

But Nyle, there's a bit of a problem. I was perusing your Twitter account the other day (for fun) and noticed that you were hugging an absolutely adorable stuffed bear for a shoot you are doing with Buzzfeed (big fan of that website of course). You even gave the bear a huge kiss which made the 4 second video that much cuter.

As sweet as that was, I have to say that you are in the right area when it comes to hugging bears, but it would be better if you actually found a real one to hug... and I don't mean the actual animal.

For that, I am offering up my huggable bear services to you given that I am, according to society and that ex twink that I dated who said I ate too much... a bear. Here are three great reasons why hugging bears (real ones once again, not animals), are great:

  • We provide a lot of warmth due to our fur and husky type figures.
  • This is great for the colder months when a basic jacket just won't do.
  • We are primarily adorable and that's why men flock to us.
  • Those reasons are good enough.

So Nyle, if you are ever in need of a real bear to hug, hit me up. Maybe I can even buy you a piece of pizza afterwards and we can discuss how awesome Britney Spears is (I hope you are a fan). I look forward to your reply.



This was created by one of our contributing writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other contributing writers when it comes to this subject. Also... this is meant to be simply humor. I do not expect Nyle to ever get back to me on this... for real. It's meant to be a silly joke, and I hope you all got a good laugh at it! Happy Pride. 

Urban Bear Weekend Gets Hairy in New York City

Urban Bear Weekend is an annual gathering that takes place smack dab in the middle of Manhattan and showcases a ton of fantastic events with the bear and bear friendly community in mind.  Whether it is dancing the night away, checking out some great vendors in the Meatpacking district (no pun intended), or seeing what makes this city so great, this super fun weekend has something for everybody.

The annual event celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with hundreds of smoking hot bears lining the streets of Manhattan for a weekend of food, fun, debauchery and more. 

Urban Bear Weekend is essentially Manhattan's answer to the uber popular Bear Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Some of the festivities throughout the three days included the infamous Underbear Party taken place at the legendary Rockbar on Christopher Street and the Urban Bear Street Fair. The latter is the culmination of the entire weekend, where hundreds gather to do a little shopping at the bear-friendly vendors, eat a ton of meat and dance the day away.

Events like these are a reminder of how strong our community is, as Manhattan has become a place where gay bars are continually being shut down in favor of luxury condos and restaurants that stay open for a month before closing down. The comradery of this community is seen in full force when it comes to occasions like Urban Bear, and its a reminder that we aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

For more information on Urban Bear Weekend, check out their official site.







2018’s Bears You Should Know: Who Made the Inspiring List?

Sometimes the bear community gets so wrapped up in its own issues that we forget just how wonderful this group really is.  Last year, Manhattan Digest featured several different men who have done some inspirational and heartfelt things in and out of the bear community, and this year is no different.

The 2018 list for Bears You Should Know spans the globe from New York City to all the way down under in Australia.  These are men who are going above and beyond the call in many facets of life including some of the amazing charity work that they do which helps thousands upon thousands of other people in the process.  Outside of that, they are all superbly kind, generous and sweet men that you should definitely get to know in 2018 and beyond.

Here is the outstanding list of the men who made 2018’s Bears You Should Know.  Take a look.

Leland Coffey: Cleveland, Ohio

He’s a former military man, father of two, and all around good guy who may have an intimidating look to him but that could not be further from the case.  The current Cleveland resident, who used to reside in South Carolina, has developed a major following on social media as he has become one of the biggest bear models in the world. Leland has also been able to pose for legendary photographers like Mack Sturgis and Michael Alago and has also become one of the go to go-go dancers in New York City and beyond.  He also happens to be one of the nicest people you will ever meet, as he has a compassion and kindness about him that everyone in the world should have. 

Michael Wright- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Michael, who is originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina but now calls Philadelphia home, has also become a major force in the bear modeling world as his social media pages rank in the thousands with the variety of photos he takes that features a ton of apparel from gay-owned businesses. On top of that, Michael is a business owner in himself, as he runs an adult day care center, something that his own mother started to do almost thirty years ago.  He is also developing his own line of T-shirts called Beardedikon as well as a nutrition program which is in the works.  Consider him a bear “Jack of all trades” kind of dude.

Keoki Smith: Sydney, Australia

Try not to drool here when it comes to how incredibly handsome Keoki is.  The Atlanta native, who currently resides in Sydney, Australia, has an incredibly charitable heart both in and out of the bear community.  He has worked in the past with programs that deliver meals to those in the community who can’t afford proper nutrition or are too sick to prepare their own meals.  It’s something he says is his favorite to do as you get to meet people from all walks of life who have such incredible stories to share.  He’s also taken part in several AIDS walks in Atlanta and has helped children in need during the holiday season.  All of this just makes you want to give him a big bear hug for what he does in terms of giving back.

Steve Rees: Manchester, United Kingdom

Steve is a fellow writer and journalist who runs a gay bears publication with Grahame Robertson called Bears United Magazine, which is a digital magazine aimed at the bear, cub and admirer community in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  It’s a publication that is written and designed entirely by volunteers, as they aim to offer a unique, fresh and funny approach on being a bear, cub or admirer.  Outside of the wonderful world of journalism that Steve inhabits, he also works with a group called Manbears-Manchester that organizes to big events across the pond including The Great British bear Bash in May and Pre-Hibeearnation coming up in November.  Consider him an all-encompassing bear when it comes to highlighting the positives in what our community can really be.

Travis Smith & Chris Bale: Palm Springs, California

Modern Bear creators Travis Smith and Chris Bale have already had a busy year. It started in February with their hugely successful annual PopulArt Party held during IBC. Thinking outside the "bear box," the duo curated an art exhibit of local Palm Springs artists, threw in a DJ and Go-Go Bears, and suddenly, it wasn't your average art show!  They just filmed a comedic appearance in an episode of "Where The Bears Are," and are working with Bear World TV to create new programming, something they are very excited about. Travis elaborates; "Chris and I have written several pilot scripts for different concepts, and it feels good that BWT is excited as we are in producing one of them. It would be so awesome to get a bear-related show a production deal!"

But they are most proud to be "Guardian Angel" sponsors of Sanctuary, which provides a physical and emotional environment of health, education and kindness for LGBT teens in Foster Care in the Palm Springs area. Sanctuary enables LGBT teens who have been disowned by their families, a temporary home where they can re-group and have a safe place to live while they re-build their lives. "When we heard about Sanctuary, we immediately wanted to help, so we threw a Modern Bear Tea Dance and donated all the proceeds. The dance was such a hit, we will continue to do more of them throughout the year, to continue raising funding for Sanctuary," explains Chris.

Both Travis and Chris live busy lives in the gay Mecca Palm Springs, Chris as a Realtor specializing in Mid Century Modern properties popular in the area, and Travis is an interior designer for H3K Design, which specializes in restoring Mid Century period homes. Hmmm, sounds like a great TV show!

Mike Flanagan: Brooklyn, New York

Mike is a multi-award-winning songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has released two albums under his artist-name MRF; Elevator Music and the chart-topping Mob Music. Most recently, he won the Lennon Award in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Hip-Hop category for “Mob Music". Mike took home Humanitarian Songwriter of the Year Award in the 9th annual OUTmusic Awards, where he held 5 nominations (the highest for that year) and won for his ode to LGBT Youth, “Be Strong”. The Billboard-charting artist currently live in Brooklyn, NY and works with frequent collaborator Lisa Bello, preparing for the release of her new album Tommy Boy, out May 11th.  Mike performs a weekly residency at ReBar Chelsea on Sundays from 4-7PM and teaches songwriting part time at NYU. He will also be performing at the 2018 Urban Bear Street Fair on May 20th.  Be on the lookout for him as his musically-inclined star power continues to rise.

Peter Pablo Meunier: West Roxbury, Massachusetts

Peter is undergoing quite the mission right now, as he is training for a Tough Ruck marathon which is hosted by the Boston Marathon Association.  It’s something that supports military families, first responders and veterans along with anyone who lost their life in battle.  It’s something that he decided to join as a civilian as his roommate, who happens to be his best friend, has served and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s something that he did not only to support him, but also to support the LGBTQ community that is representing our country right now.  With all the controversy surrounding the transgender community and the military, it’s something that he is more than proud to step up to and show that we are all human and we are capable of doing anything regardless of your background.  This self-proclaimed “chubby gay man” will “ruck” 26.2 miles to support his military but most importantly his fellow LGBTQ family.  He claims that when he’s done, he’ll tweet his photo and medal to Donald Trump.  “Not everything is a choice, but for to support my beliefs was,” he said.

Greg Kerr: Portland, Oregon

Greg, 53, is a lifelong west coast Bear, as he was born and raised in Los Angeles, then moved to the Bay Area in 2009, and has called Portland his home for almost a decade now.  The work that he does professionally is truly inspirational, as he is part of a non-profit company whose mission is to help college students succeed.  Inside the bear community, Greg has found himself as an inspiration to other men who tell him he doesn’t fit a “particular mold” when it comes to finding yourself in this world.  “I really do give less f**ks about conforming and style and such, and hope that others uncomplicate their emotional attachments as a community and refocus that emotion towards each other, as individuals,” he exclaimed.  It’s that sort of mentality that has allowed several men to reach out to him either on social media and in real life, who seek him out for advice, wisdom, and guidance, which is something he feels honored to do.  “At the end of the day, I want guys to feel happy and accepting toward each other - regardless of race, gender identity, age, etc.  My message is to balance your time on social media, especially the apps, with face to face time because really, that's what it's important.  Be there of one another because we live in a scary world now.”

Stanley Hughes: New York, New York

Stanley has been helping the bear community by promoting large scale events like Beefcake, which is ultimately designed for bears, chubs, muscle bears, cubs and basically anyone that wants to have fun.  One that he also helps put together is the upcoming 6th Annual Beefcake Pride Cruise, which happens to be the biggest bear event during gay pride in New York City each year.  Outside of that, he is also a known photographer who loves to take photos of bears and promoting that you can be sexy no matter what your size is.  Within that, he loves taking photos of big men of colors who have had a hard time finding a place, bar or club to fit in.  It’s something that he enjoys doing as it promotes an environment where all types of men can feel comfortable, have fun, and be desired all at the same time.

Pearse Egan: Dublin, Ireland

This half-Irish, half-Brazilian dude has developed quite a big resume for himself that spans the career choices of both sports and acting.  For one, he is a huge force in the field of rugby, so much so that he was featured in the 2015 documentary called Scrum, which is about the journey of three players on the Sydney Convicts team as they prepare physically and mentally for the 2014 Bingham Cup.  He’s also a budding actor, where outside of Scrum he was recently featured in the 2017 short Calling Home. It’s a career that he’s always loved, as he’s expressed himself as a natural storyteller but also enjoys immersing himself in another character which makes the experience so much more enticing for him.

What’s truly wonderful beyond that about Pearse is that he has taken his experience of being bullied as a kid and has fueled that into promoting self-love and compassion towards others, which is incredibly vital in our community today.

Dean Malka: Toronto, Canada

Dean is an owner of the wildly successful clothing company called Swish Embassy, which has a motto of “Wear a conversation piece.” A local to Toronto, Dean wanted to create a brand for gay men of all ages, shapes and sizes that would break through the app-focused social skills of today.  Swish Embassy is meant to deliver fun, social clothes that are especially relevant or topical in the gay community. It’s something that he did in part to create conversation pieces between gay men when they are out and about as it cuts the pressure of speaking to a stranger and telling that person “OMG! I love your shirt!”  At the same time, the aura is fun and approachable, and you can get away with wearing most of the designs as much at a gay bar as at a suburban big box store.  It’s something that gives Dean a big thrill, as he grins ear to ear whenever he sees a guy getting approached at a bar with someone commenting on his Swish Embassy shirt.

Matthew Principe: Astoria, New York

After years of performing onstage and subsequently working for classical music arts organizations like The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera, Matthew has also worked on independent projects focusing on several aspects of queer expression or sexuality.  He produced the GLAAD Media Award-winning stage play, Candy and Dorothy, as well as the award-winning short films Monsura is Waiting, Stag, ribbons, and Epiphany V.  As a member of the Diversity Committee in the Producers Guild of America East, he continues the conversation on LGBT inclusiveness in hiring practices as well as representation (and further, depiction) of LGBT subjects in media and content creation. Matthew is also a tireless advocate for queer voices in every instance of arts and culture, knowing freedom of expression is paramount to progress.

Tony Lima: Miami Shores, Florida

Tony, 44, is the Executive Director of SAVE, Florida’s longest serving organization dedicated to protecting people who are LGBTQ against discrimination.  Under his leadership, SAVE has had the biggest wins towards LGBTQ equality in the organizations’ 25-year history. In 2015, SAVE successfully sued the state of Florida to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2014, SAVE passed comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals at the Miami-Dade County Commission and the organization has also helped elect a record number of its endorsed candidates to win their elections.  Outside of his wonderful work, Tony is a lover of theater and dance who is happily partnered and loves spending time with his family, in particular his four nephews and niece.