My year of being Mr Bear Queensland

Mr Bear Queensland 2022 Graeme Kerr holds flowers and a cheque for winning Mr Bear Australasia. He is surrounded by his fellow competitors.
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As his reign as Mr Bear Queensland comes to an end, Graeme Kerr reflects on his role as the Brisbears ambassador.

My year as the ambassador of our social club, Brisbears, has been one to cherish. I have had the good fortune of being able to attend our brethren bear clubs, support our fellow queer social clubs, fundraise for my chosen charity, and continue to share to good word about the bear community. 

Brisbears, a social club for often larger and hairier men and their admirers, has hosted the annual Mr Bear Queensland competition for quite some time. And yes, this competition is basically a beauty pageant for men! 

The competition is held during Brisbears’ annual event, Northern Exposure. Members of the community compete in talent, ‘bear minimum’ and Q&A rounds to become the next representative for the club. It takes quite a bit of courage to stand in front of your community and compete. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. 

The winner is expected to compete for our cross-Tasman comp, Mr Australasia Bear; fundraise for their chosen charity and continue to champion the bear values of brotherhood and community. I was lucky enough to beat out the competition last October and have hit the ground running ever since. 

Events and fundraising

My title year has been a whirlwind – I was able to attend BearFest hosted by VicBears in January to welcome the next Mr VicBear into the fold. I was invited to perform at the Big N Burly CaBEARet, a variety show organised by Harbour City Bears during World Pride. I’ve attended community events and forged relationships with other social clubs such as BootCo and Q-PAH all the while attending as many Brisbears events as possible. 

I had the honour of joining the sash bears to lead the Bears of Australasia float during the Mardi Gras parade. Walking down Oxford Street with my fellow bears to the absolute roar of the crowd was a moment of pure queer joy. Having thousands of people cheer for you as you march down that street is something I will cherish forever. 

Another highlight was my first charity fundraiser event – Tradie. This dance party was held at the Sportsman Hotel and the community was out in force. With the help of the Brisbears committee and our entertainers on the night, Gayleen Tuckwood, Shanny T-Bone and Les Smith, we raised over $2,800 for my chosen charity, minus18. 


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Becoming Mr Australasia Bear

The jewel in the crown of this year was Southern Hibearnation. The event is held in Melbourne each June with bears from all over Australia, New Zealand and beyond gathering to party as well as cheer on their sash bears as they compete for the coveted title, Mr Australasia Bear. 

The Mr Australasia Bear competition has been running since 1997. Only one Queenslander, Ray Simonsen, took out the title previously. That is until this bear came along! 

After nine days of events, I took to the stage with my sash brothers Dom, Jonny, Luke and Ben to compete. The competition was close and I became the second Queenslander to take out the title! To say I was thrilled is an understatement. Preparing for the competition took months of work, mock interviews, talent routine practice and a few pep talks from my sash daddies to take out the title. 

Since taking out the Australasia title, not only have I continued to support our community in Brisbane, but I have also had the good fortune of supporting our brethren clubs across Australasia. I was present when the Bear Men of Adelaide held their first Mr Bear SA comp in almost 10 years. Shortly, I head to Perth to support Bears Perth as they usher in their next Mr Bear Perth. 

Passing on the baton

Being a titleholder has opened so many doors for me. But it also gifted me the opportunity to showcase our community. It has been so reassuring to see the good work being done to promote body positivity, inclusivity, and positive masculinity across our communities. 

The throughline of this entire experience has been the amazing people I’ve met and forged bonds with along the way. Our communities are a rich tapestry when viewed in its entirety make a beautiful work of art. I’m so glad I found this community and will continue to spread the good word.

We now have a new Mr Bear Queensland. I’m so excited for Mitch as our new Mr Bear Queensland 2023. I know firsthand how much your life can change in one year as a titleholder in the bear community.

If you go out in the woods today…

Meet Marcus Zimmerman, Mr Bear Queensland 2014.

Meet This Year’s Winner Of Mr Bear Australasia.

Brisbears crown their new Mr Bear Qld for 2019.

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Graeme Kerr

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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