Western, gay male anime and manga fans then appropriated the word to contrast with yaoi. Both are homoerotic anime-style art; the difference is while yaoi is gay-male art produced by women for the consumption of women, bara is created by men, for men. Consequently, bara-style art tends toward more exaggerated, overtly masculine physiques and stereotypically masculine behavior.
Bara in this context has nothing to do with "rose", which is what the word means in Japanese.
Bara caters to those whose musculature preferences are at the much more brawny end of the spectrum, typically beyond a simple "toned" type.
The men in Bara, are what one would might likely refer to as a "bear" - but no hair necessary. Bara art/manga might also include men that are simply obese.
Storylines in bara manga often start out completely innocent, not hinting at overtly sexual themes or even sexual overtones, but following this they gradually escalate into more sexual situations.
Most fans and artists of Bara seem to be young gay men.
One board that exclusively hosts bara sharing activity is the /bara/ board at the Anonib website, which is currently relatively low in activity. It was formerly quite active, but when the site became closed for a fairly long period of time, baralovers found their homes elsewhere.
Dude's friend: Cool.