“Peace, love, and fur” highlights BearWatch, the 1960s, hippie-themed convergence of manly men and their admirers May 15–17 in Galveston. “We take over the Inn at the Waterpark,” said Ray Priest, chairman of BearWatch 14, the 14th annual Baywatch-inspired beach weekend hosted by the Houston Bears.
This year’s events adds bar socials, including a “bear bust” at the Pink Dolphin with a $5 buy-in from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, May 17, followed by party from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., with an underwear auction at 10 p.m. at Stars Beach Club.
“Proceeds will benefit our charities,” said Priest, who is also director of charities for the one-hundred-member Houston Bears. “There’ll be drink specials, silent auction items, and raffles. Come, have a brew and see the hot guys.”
This year’s charities are HATCH, Bering Omega, and GCAM, the gay archives,” said Priest, explaining that the three beneficiaries serve a trio of life experiences for members of the LGBT community. “HATCH is about coming into the world in a healthy, safe way. Bering Omega concerns our last days, going out. And GCAM is about documenting our lives.”
Priest urged guests to sign up early because BearWatch has sold out the past few years, with walk-ups turned away. “We have a cap of 250,” said Priest. “This way, people get to know each other. After a day or two, you get to recognize faces, and it gives everyone a chance to mingle more.”
The annual event is held in Galveston, said Priest, “because we don’t have a beach in Houston.”
The event began with a few friends driving to Galveston, but it’s turned into an annual romp with games of tug of war, greased pig wrestling, and an “infamous” pool and foam party.
“There’ll be a canopy-decorating contest at the beach again this year,” said Priest. “We’ll dig out all our best sixties and seventies kitsch and decorate canopies, tents, umbrellas, chairs, towels, or whatever we plan to hang out in.”
In addition, he said, “New this year is an optional trip to the Pleasure Pier on Friday. For $27 additional, you can spend Friday night at the Pleasure Pier. This includes admission and unlimited rides, but if that isn’t your thing, we’ll have a shuttle bus running a circuit between the hotel, the Pleasure Pier, and the local bars.”
Priest, a South Carolina transplant whose first BearWatch was in its seventh year, said the Houston Bears welcome bear chasers and potential members to their monthly get-togethers 3 to 7 p.m. on the first of every month at Tony’s Corner Pocket. On June 2, the bears don drag for a turnabout show at the bar, said Priest.
BearWatch14: May 15–17 in Galveston, Texas • Info: bearwatch.net.