R is a part of the Bear community. Before I met him, I would have thought the Bear Community would have involved either grizzlies, teddies or koalas but R introduced all of us to his fellow Bears through stories and photographs. What became clear in his presentation was how significant his beard was to him. We came to understand that his beard was his identity and marked him as a Bear. He did such an extraordinary job imparting the significance of his beard and his community that when it became clear that he was about to shave his beard off in front of us, we all gasped.
If you’d asked us half an hour before how we’d feel if R shaved his beard, most of us would likely have shrugged, beard, no beard, what’s the big deal?
But now we understood what the big deal was and R handed out false beards to all of us which we solemnly wore (despite how ridiculous we all looked) as we watched him take a razor to his entire identity.