The Green Country Bears Bring You “Tulsa Growl” This Spring!
This spring, the woofy men of The Green Country Bears are coming out of hibernation… in a BIG way! As the largest Bear group in The Sooner State, this hirsute fraternity is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma but has members from Dallas to Wichita and all the surrounding areas. Their social itinerary includes fun stuff all year long– but their most highly anticipated event will be the Second Annual Tulsa Growl, from May 3-5: a weekend which promises to be a fun and furry time for Bears and Cubs and those who love them. Conrad Sierra, President of The Green Country Bears, spoke with ALL BEAR’s Jed Ryan about the origins of the club, the big weekend in May, and what’s “Hot in Tulsa”…
JR:Hi Conrad. So, The Green Country Bears have become Oklahoma’s largest Bear group. Congratulations! How was the group founded?
CS: Hi Jed! Well, we are very proud to be the largest bear group in Oklahoma (…and a couple of surrounding states!). The group was formed back in May of 2010, but we had talked about this group over a year before it became a reality. I was fairly new to Tulsa, coming from a small town in Texas, and the circle of friends that I found myself always spending time with were all Bears. I remember going to the Tulsa Eagle and people calling us the “bear group”. A good friend of mine Brian, my now-husband Jimmy, and myself were sitting in the patio of the Tulsa Eagle and I made a joke about how we should start a real Bear group. Brian had the idea of calling ourselves the Green Country Bears and we talked about it for a bit. After abandoning the idea for almost a year, we started to really talk about it. As fate would have it, we were introduced to Dennis “Poppa Bear”, and he knew a group of guys that were talking of a Tulsa Bear group. It took us a few months to get it going, but we very soon had Tulsa’s new Bear group: The Green Country Bears. I still remember people telling us that “There are not enough Bears in Tulsa to have a real group!”. I guess they were wrong (Laughs). On our first anniversary, we had a big cookout at a park here in town and had over 60 people there. Funny how four guys with an idea got something started like this! We are very proud of it. We can now boast over 50 members with men from four different states being a part of us!
JR:Very cool! So, what are some of the events that you have going on throughout the year?
CS: As for events that we attend and host, we manage to stay pretty busy. Summer always brings around the cookouts and pool parties! Those are always fun. We have a lot of birthday celebrations, movie days, going bowling, and going out to eat as a group– which sometimes can be difficult to seat so many REAL men together! (Laughs)… as well as getting together for all of what Tulsa has to offer! We have our occasional fundraisers at the Tulsa Eagle or the Maverick Club, which sadly just closed. We have cookouts, chili cookoffs, “Bear Prison”, and silent auctions to help raise money. One of the biggest parts of our group is charity work. We spent the first year of our group just helping out all of our brother and sister organizations in Tulsa. I guess we were trying to get our “paw” in the social door of Tulsa. We soon developed very strong and special relationships with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian And Gays), the ICAO (Imperial Court of All Oklahoma), the TULSA group (Tulsa Uniform and Leather Seekers Association), Tulsa Pride, HOPE testing, OYP (Open-Arms Youth Project), the SSRA (Sooner State Rodeo Association)— WOOF!– and the NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom)… just to name a few. All have proven very positive and very fun parts of our history as well as our future. And lastly but certainly not least, we have formed a real brotherhood with two of our brother Bear groups: The Wichita Bears and The Dallas Bears. We are always in anticipation for Wichita’s “Bears in The Heat” Bear Run and Dallas’ TBRU (Texas Bear Round Up)!… But I think it’s safe to say that the biggest event that we attend is the one we host…Tulsa Growl! With this May 4-6 marking our second annual Bear Run, we are so excited to invite so many people that we truly consider family, and have them in OUR backyard, and show them a weekend of fun, fur, and maybe a little friskiness. (Laughs)
JR:Just a little?! (Laughs) So, what makes the Green Country Bears unique?
CS: What makes us unique? This one makes me think a minute. It is hard to put into words the thing that makes us different, special, and unique. But when I think of the group that has truly become by best friends, I see what makes us different is the members themselves. The Green Country Bears is composed of men from all over the US, from all age ranges, and from so many different backgrounds. We all have our own ideas, our own past experiences, and personalities! We may not always agree and we have to compromise from time to time, but that’s what keeps us fresh! How boring would it be to all be the same? Well I can say, that’s not us. We do always manage to come to a compromise and come to decision about what is on the table– and we always have the same common goal: To make some friends, to look out for each other, and to have some fun!
JR:Now, I gotta ask: Someone living in a city like New York, Los Angeles, or London may have preconceived notions about what it’s like living in a city like Tulsa and a state like Oklahoma. What is the GLBT, particularly the Bear community, like in your neck of the woods?
CS: Tulsa has become quite the melting pot as we have a large influx of residents from both coasts. I talked to our Webmaster, Poppa Bear, who moved here from the Los Angeles area. Tulsa has major appeal with its affordable housing and low cost of living. As I said, I moved here from a small farm town in Texas, and he from L.A., but I shared his concern at first about moving into the “bible belt”, that gays are not accepted, and there would be not chance at a social life. There is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude here– and the religious right and gays, for the most part, live cohesively in our conservative State. Most people are surprised with the fact that that we have eight gay/lesbian bars, along with one of the nicest and most active gay centers, the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Socially, the Bear community is VERY active– and weekly, there is some type of event that you can join the Bears for. Just search most of the internet social sites (Bear411, Growlr, Bearwww, Grinder, and Facebook) and you will likely see a large contingent from Tulsa!
JR:I look forward to visiting! So, while we’re on the subject: What are some of the essential places to go or things to see when someone visits Tulsa?
CS: Well, Tulsa does have a variety of fun things to offer. Of course, we have a few casinos to choose from and there is always a big concert or comedy show in town. With our new BOK Center bringing in HUGE names in music and entertainment, there is never a loss of something to see or do. Summer bring with it some big, weekend-long music festivals and monthly events But we also have some very nice museums and site-seeing activities. For a fun night out, we offer a huge choice of restaurants and eateries (or maybe the Bears are having a cookout!), followed by a drink at one our eight gay bars, which you will find the people friendly, open, and easy to talk to. And in February you can attend the Green Country Bears’ Great Chili Cook Off, our Spring Fling in April, and Tulsa Growl in May, which promises to be a great time! Regardless of what you decide to do, sometimes it all about the company you’re with, so be sure to drop the GCB’s a line and we would be glad to show you around!
JR:Will do! Lastly, without giving too much away: What are some of the surprises that you have in store for us at Tulsa Growl?
CS: (Laughs) Well if I told, it wouldn’t be a surprise! But what I CAN tell you is that we are currently working very hard to make Tulsa Growl a very fun weekend full of laughter and memories (along with an occasional pool party and a drink or two if you like)! I invite any of your readers to check us our at www.GreenCountryBears.com and www.TulsaGrowl.com. ; I give you my word, that if any of you join us for Tulsa Growl, that you will have a good time and make some new friends. What more can you ask for? (Laughs) Or if you are visiting Tulsa, give the Green Country Bears a heads up! You will be greeted with a friendly smile and maybe a great big ole BEAR HUG!
JR: There’s nothing better than a big ole Bear hug! Thanks, Conrad!
Tulsa Growlis from May 3-5. Visit www.GreenCountryBears.com and www.TulsaGrowl.com for more info!