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Get to Know the Bear ‘It Couple’ StanChris and Bret LaBelle

BWM hangs out with bear ‘It couple’ StanChris and Bret LaBelle and finds out how they met, what makes them jealous, and their ratings for bear and twink celebs out of 10!

At this point I’d say many of us bears have at least a passing familiarity with social media sensation and avid bear lover StanChris and his boyfriend, Survivor and Amazing Race alum  Bret LaBelle; but in case you don’t here is a quick recap of their careers.

StanChris, whose real name is Chris Stanley, has been creating content for over five years on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Discord. At just 23 years of age, he has amassed over a million followers across platforms and is famous for his vacation vlogs and man on the street interviews where he quizzes people about gay culture, fashion and celebrities, often to hilarious results.

Bret LaBelle, currently a Lieutenant in the Boston Police Department, charmed his way into the hearts of Survivor fans on Season 33 of the reality series. Not publicly out at the time, Bret made bear history by coming out on the show to fellow gay contestant (and bear) Zeke. He would follow this up by competing in the 31st season of The Amazing Race, partnered with his Survivor castmate Chris Hammons.

Chris and Bret, who will celebrate their second anniversary this year, inadvertently set tongues wagging when Chris announced their relationship on his social media platforms. With a 27-year age difference between them, assumptions were made about the validity of their relationship and a lot of nasty things were said about them. To their credit though, both men rose above the toxicity and instead turned the hate into content, making two very successful couple Q&A videos on the StanChris YouTube channel.

Haters have since calmed down thankfully. However, as for us at BWM, we’ve been longtime fans of these two which is why we were in no uncertain terms *gagged* when we ran into them during Provincetown Bear Week. I participated in one of Chris’ iconic street interviews and now I’m returning the favor with this couple’s interview I recently conducted with the guys. Check out our conversation below and keep an eye out for upcoming solo features with Chris Stanley and Bret LaBelle!

John: Hi boys! Good to see you again, although I wish we were still on the streets of Provincetown! I know you’ve covered this on YouTube but can you please tell the readers how you met?

Chris: I was binging Survivor during quarantine. I’d always watched it growing up, on and off a little bit. And I watched Bret’s season and noticed that he was from Boston. I was in New Hampshire, so it wasn’t that far away. And the whole time I was like, oh, he’s so hot, he’s so handsome, he’s so everything. And then he came out and I was like, Oh my God,!! He’s gay?! I actually could have a shot! So I just shot my shot with him on Instagram. And it’s kind of weird because he had actually messaged me on Instagram before…

Bret: I got this message from him, and he already had a lot of followers at the time. Instagram has the three message boxes, the primary, general and the crazies. Usually if you don’t follow someone, they’re in the crazies. All of a sudden, he’s in my primary. I go, how is he in my primary?! So, I started going through the pictures and I get to the end, and I realized about six or seven months earlier, he popped up on my feed because a very good friend of mine who used to be my roommate, followed him. They lived near each other, and I was like, oh, he’s totally my friend’s type and I just assumed they had dated. So, in my drunken stupor, I sent him a message. I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember. The next morning, I wake up and I go, Oh my God, who am I sending this message to? And I erased it.

But because I had previously sent him a message, now any message he sends goes right into my primary inbox. We think this is a really cool story. It means that we both sought each other out at different times.  

Chris: We both found each other without the other one knowing. And then I was like, “you should take me on a date.” And we went on a date and then started hanging out,.

Bret: But we took it slow. It was during COVID. It was kind of weird. We had to find a place that was open that didn’t put up a barrier between us. We went out for a couple of dates and just kind of strung it along for a little bit to see where it went. And here we are.

John: That’s freaking adorable. Was there instant chemistry? What was the vibe?

Bret: After the first date we agreed we wanted to go out again. So we went out again, but Chris doesn’t talk a lot and I talk a lot. He talks in his videos, he’s unbelievable in his videos but he’s more quiet on the day to day so I wasn’t sure where I stood but he kept meeting up with me, so I kept asking him out. I really enjoyed his company. We were having a few laughs, he’s got a great sense of humor.

Chris: …But then Brett was scared about our age difference.

Bret: Well, we both were concerned about it.

Chris: Yeah, but I would say you were more than me. (smiles)

Bret: It just seemed like the age difference was too much of a gap. But as we got to know each other and as the relationship formed, it got to the point where I still was worried about it, he was becoming less worried about it. But then, I said, well, who cares? This is working. I’ve dated enough people to know when something’s not working. When things are really going good, you’re like, fu*k it. You know? You only live once.

John: 100% but I’m sure you guys got a lot of bulls#!t from people, not that we want to dwell on that.

Bret: When my leg was messed up, those people weren’t here taking care of me. Chris was. Only we know how we feel about each other so fu*k those people, that’s how I look at it.

John: Absolutely. People will always find something to say. As hard as it is we gotta ignore it and keep it pushing. So, can you describe what your favorite kind of date night is and where your favorite vacation places are?

Chris: Instantly Ptown for vacations. We love Ptown! As for date night…hmmm..let’s see..

Bret:  I’ll tell you, and this is bad. And, we need to fix this. When we’re in PTown, that’s kind of when we go on our nice dinner dates, because there’s so many great restaurants and we know a lot of the restaurant owners. Around here, the Boston area, a date night could be getting takeout and watching TV, but sometimes we’ll go out here too. There’s something  magical about going out to eat in Ptown though. When we’re away we go out more too.

John: I get that. Me and my husband, we’re in New York City, but we’re not in Manhattan. We’re in Queens. It’s a 40-minute train ride for us to get into Manhattan or to anything ‘cool’ in New York. I don’t know if you guys are like us, but we’d rather just stay in and watch a movie and order in and it’s fine. But when we’re in PTown or on vacation, we’re at the hotel and everything is 5 seconds away. It’s so much easier to roll out of bed and be out on the town.

Bret: We’re the same way. (Laughs) We’re only about 20 minutes from downtown Boston. We should go in more. We just don’t.

John: Home is so comfy, right? (Laughs)

So, I found it interesting Bret that your season of Survivor was Millennials vs Gen. X. So here you guys are – Gen. X and Gen. Z. Do you guys clash on ideology at all?

Chris: Sometimes a little. (Laughs)

Bret: But not as much as you’d think.

Chris: Really, we agree on a lot.

Bret: Or we just don’t go there. There are gonna be things that I just see a little differently than he does. We used to maybe butt heads a little bit but not anymore. Now we give each other space and we don’t really dwell on it. There’s not a lot of arguments.

John: Fair enough. It’s good to see because it always seems like it’s Gen. Z versus the world. Now I was wondering, since you are both public figures there has to be some amount of DM’s getting slid into. Does that ever bring up any jealousy?

Chris: Um, honestly, I think people are always sliding in my DMs, but I just don’t always see it. And also, I don’t know if they’re really serious. They might just be like giving me a little compliment or something. And if they slide into Bret’s I don’t get jealous.

Bret: I mean it’s gonna happen. Guys are gonna slide into his DMs, guys slide into my DMs. I was overwhelmed by it after Survivor. I had a large following after that, and it was exciting and fun but that’s kind of over. I enjoy watching him do stuff, but I don’t have time for social media. I’ll post every now and then, but I’m not really into it as much as I used to be.

Do I get jealous? I mean, what can you do? I mean, they’re gonna slide into his DMs. There’s nothing I can do. I’m confident that he’s coming home to me.

Chris: Do you get jealous of kiss or slap? (one of Chris’ most famous interview questions on the street where men are given the opportunity to kiss him on the cheek or slap him in the face) (All Laugh)

Bret: It’s not that I get jealous. A lot of people know who I am now when I’m sitting there holding the camera. It just feels a little weird. So I’m just saying, maybe if I’m the cameraman that day, don’t do that one. That’s all. (All Laugh)

Chris: It’s not that deep though. You kiss all your gay friends.

Bret: That’s not the same thing! See – this is the difference between Gen X and Gen Z (All Laugh)

You’re right, I always kiss Jerry when I see him. So, you’re right, it’s no big deal! In fact, all I wanna do, all I wanna film all day long is kiss and slap! (All Laugh)

John: Are you often the cameraman now?

Brett: You’ll know if I’m the cameraman because the picture is shaking. (Laughs) Chris tries not to use me, but every now and then he gets in a jam, and he has to use me as a cameraman

John: I know in general, Brett, you don’t really like to be a part of the videos right?

Brett: But that’s changing, John.

John: It’s true, I see you’re appearing in more and more of them but what typically held you back before?

Bret: I work in the public sector, so I just try to be really conscious of what I do. But I’ll tell you, he was really excited to do a vlog, a Christmas vlog and I was so impressed with how he edited it and it and it was so popular that I agreed to let him vlog our vacation which was a month later. We took a three-week vacation out to California and then to Florida. It was a great time and I was very impressed with how those came out. He also lets me look at it before it gets aired so if I’m uncomfortable with anything he will take it out just to be safe. He does such a great job. And I really enjoy watching.

John: Well, I’m glad to see more of you, I’m sure people like your dynamic. Are there plans to create more content together and different kinds of it?

Brett: We’re seeing how it goes. I enjoy how it’s going now. This is his thing. He really likes doing it. I’m in the background. I wanna be the guy in the back. I’ll come forward and help out and I like to be in the vlogs and that kind of stuff. I think when I retire in a few years, I would be more open to doing whatever he wants to do, which is coming fast. You might see more of me in the future, but for now, he is the star and he’s doing a great job.

John: Awww and how did the Bears receive you in general? Do you have a sense of what the bear community thinks of you guys?

Bret: I know the Bears love me! (Laughs)

Chris: I think they like us.

Bret: They definitely do because during Bear week, it was so funny, because a lot of guys were stopping Chris on the street and he would say hi. He’s always very nice. He was talking to someone and the guy goes, oh and he is so hot! And I thought he was hitting on Chris, but the whole time he was into me! It’s so funny because even though he wasn’t into Chris, he was really intense with his questions and vocal about how much he liked Chris’s content. So I think he is being accepted by the bears more and more every day.

John: What’s next for you guys?

Bret: He’s traveling all over the world, so there’s that. We have a lot coming out – new vlogs.

Chris: A vlog, more Q&A ‘s. I have a few video ideas for us.

Bret: We’re also planning another big trip coming up this fall, which I’m really excited for, I believe it’s going to start with Spooky Bear and go from there.

John: That all sounds amazing, and I wish you all the best, BUT, before I let you go….can you rate these following celebrities out of 10? (This is another famous kind of question from Chris’ street interviews.)  I want you each to rate them, please. My first one is Mr. Pedro Pascal.

Chris: Oooh!! Pretty daddy, I would give him a 7.

Bret: He’s on Narcos, right? First of all, as an actor, he’s one of my faves. I will say that. But if I’m rating him, I have to say, 5.

John: Lil’ Nas X

Chris: He’s really handsome, not exactly my type because he has abs, but I would still give him, hmmmm, a 6. (Everyone ooohs in shock and laughs.) I can’t really put him above Pedro.

Brett: Ohh, he’s getting more than six. He’s got a beautiful body. I’ll give him a 9. Chris, of course, is 1000, so I’m going from that.

John: You’re too cute. Now, the luscious David Harbour.

Chris: Oh, yes. I would give him a 10! Slightly more my type than Pedro. Pedro is more daddy than he is Bear.

John:  It’s true. It’s very true.

Chris: There were some scenes in Stranger Things where I was like, wow!! But actually, better than him, I like Bob Newby. What’s the actor’s name?..Sean Astin!  That’s who it is.

Bret: Uh, it’s not your interview! (All laugh)

John: And how about you Bret, your rating of David Harbour?

Bret: I give him a 3 (Gay Gasps fill the air) I tell you, he does have a handsome face though.

John: Oh my God. Troye Sivan?

Chris: Not really my type either.

John: I figured as much.

Bret: He’s up there too. I mean, that’s a handsome face. I would still say Lil Nas is more my type.

Chris: It’s hard to rate people when I think they’re hot, but, they’re not my type. I’m just gonna say 6.

Bret: I’m gonna say 7 1/2.

John: And how would you rate Murray Bartlett, the man that brought us all together?

Chris: I give him a 9.

Bret: Now see, this is where I do find some older guys very handsome. So, I have to give him at least a six and a half because I think he is a really handsome guy.
I got it right!!! (Easiest $20 I ever made!)

John: Alright, let me tell you, all the daddies for me, those three are stone cold 10s in my book. You guys are rough! (Laughs) How about, Tom Daley?

Chris: Oh, actually, he’s a twink that I think is really cute, even though he’s like a dad now.

I would give Tom a 9.

John:  I love this. OK, we’re switching it up here. Good! (Laughs)

Bret: So I was a I was a Tom fan early on when he was just starting to get followers. And I would say he would be a 10, but that bitch never followed me back. So he’s a six! Just kidding, he’s a really handsome guy and I love how he knits. I’ll give him an 8.

John: And I guess we’ll leave it there. Thank you both so much for taking the time to chat with me. This was a lot of fun!

Keep up with Chris and Bret on their joint Instagram @chrisandbret and be sure to follow their solo accounts  @stanchris and  @bretlabelle.

Be sure to also check out Chris’ official website with links to all of his platforms so you don’t miss a video.

John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.