2022 Connecticut Bear, Star Heart Bear, chats being a Bear his way

This past December, the Northeast Ursamen presented the 2022 Connecticut Bear Contest in Hartford, Connecticut. This year they crowned Michael Morgan, AKA Star Heart Bear, as their 2022 Connecticut Bear!

We grabbed a chat with Michael to discuss his goals for the title year, being both a Drag Queen and a Bear and his thoughts on dropping the Bear title honorifics.

Kyle Jackson: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Michael Morgan: Hello there! I’m Michael Morgan, aka Star Heart Bear. I’m 61 and grew up in Connecticut. I’ve lived here most of my life, except for College, where I went to a small college  in Michigan called Siena Heights University. 

I’m one from a family of eight children – all boys, and three of us are gay. I have a degree in Theatre and  Speech Communication and work for an Insurance Company

KJ: How did you find the Bear community? 

MM: I stumbled into a Bear event in the early 1990s. It was a bar night, and it had several rooms. The Northeast Ursamen were in the front room. Being a curious person, I inquired about what was going on to the person manning the door. He indicated that it was the Ursamen and a Bear get-together. I had to ask what a bear was!

KJ: You said earlier that you have a degree in Theatre. Are you a performer (queer performance art, drag, etc.)? How do you combine this with being a Bear? 

MM: I love to perform! I’ve participated in Community Theater for over 30 years. I also have a drag persona. Morgana de Luxe is my stage name. She’s a legend in Connecticut. Well… in her mind, anyways. 

I am also Captain and Co-Founder of The Hartford Harlettes, a unique Pom Pom Squad. They are like the Rockettes, only older, fatter and hairier. 

They started out as four friends going to a bar Halloween contest. I used to coach High School Cheerleading, so I borrowed skirts and poms. We made up a logo and I came up with the name. Thirty years later, they are still shaking their pom poms!

So, the Harlettes were all Bears, by definition. We have performed for tons of fundraising events, and were the entertainment for their Super Bowl party for years.

As I stated in the contest, I check a lot of boxes in the LGBTQIA community, but don’t fit in any. I am being a Bear my way. As a Drag artist, I tend not to shave my body hair, and indicate when asked, that I am Drag Queen and a Bear!

KJ: When/why did you decide to enter the CT Bear contest?

MM: Last year around this time, the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut was preparing for their Coronation, and I was chatting with Mark Hicks-Richards, Mr. Connecticut Bear 2017, and he indicated that they were dropping the “Mr.” part of the title to be more inclusive. I was excited about this and joked that I have always toyed with running for the title.  

I have hosted, performed and judged the Connecticut contest over the years. So, along with Mark, his husband George Hicks-Richards, and my spouse, Trevor Reynolds, we talked about it and I came to the conclusion that I would enter the contest. 

KJ: What was the best part about participating in the contest?

MM:  As I mentioned, when I decided to enter, I was going to do it my way. I am not a typical Bear, so I had so much fun deciding on the looks for the different categories. Having a chance to give my point of view during the interview and the onstage question was a big highlight for me.

KJ: What are your goals for your title year?  

MM:  I’d like the year to be remembered for inclusivity and awareness for every member of the community, from the young to the old. I’ve chosen Q Plus to raise funds for. They work with the youth to empower and create a safe space for them and to help create change in the  Connecticut communities. Being a ‘Gentleman of a Certain Age’, I would like to help break down some of the age barriers that are out there.

KJ: As you mentioned earlier, many contests seem to be removing “Mr.” in order to combat very binary ideas about gender in the Bear community? You said you loved the idea, and so do we! Can you talk a little bit more about your thoughts on this? 

MM: I absolutely LOVE that the Mr. has been removed! And I also get to say I am the first Connecticut Bear, without the “Mr.”!  

We need to make sure that we all feel welcome and included, and this opens up the title to anyone, regardless of gender, who feels they have an inner Bear. This is a huge step in the direction of breaking down ideas and mindsets about gender. 

KJ: What are some other important issues you think need to be addressed in the Bear and Leather communities?

MM: In Connecticut, we are extremely fortunate that the communities, i.e. Drag, Bear, Leather, all play well with others. Some of the issues I would like to address are inclusivity for all, within the specific groups to make them open to all participating, regardless of age, identification, and preferences. 

For more information about the Connecticut Bear Contest, visit and follow them on Facebook!

Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.