The holidays are a time for family and friends. And whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Hannukah, Kwanza, Ashura, or any other holiday, we send you the biggest bear hugs and warmest greetings for the season. We acknowledge that the holidays can be difficult for many who struggle with familial relationships but that’s the great part about being a bear. We are able to draw close with our chosen family during this time. As a wise drag queen once said: “We as gay people get to choose our family.” We here at Bear World Magazine thank you for being part of our family and remind you to love yourselves and each other during the holidays and throughout the year.
So, in honor of the season, we reached out to some beloved members of the Bear World family and asked them to share their plans for this year, special holiday memories and what their traditions mean to them. This is what we got:
“I feel like the holidays are the best time to be with those we love and to welcome in new people into our lives to love. My connection with the holiday season began with my mother’s love of Christmas. She loved to decorate and bake cookies and sip hot cocoa. She always had Christmas music on the record player nonstop after Thanksgiving. Now, I have a Christmas playlist on Spotify and Apple Music that features my favorite holiday songs, many of which I grew up listening to as a child. The morning after Thanksgiving I put that playlist into heavy rotation. And yes, it features my own holiday song, “Remember This Christmas”. I gotta slip em in for the algorithm every chance I get!”
“Growing up both in the south Bronx and Puerto Rico, we would gather round the tree, my dad and my aunt with their guitars, my uncle on the congas or bongos, and the rest of us singing Puerto Rican “aguinaldos”(which is basically Puerto Rican Christmas carols) while playing either maracas or tambourines. I grew up with musicians and performers in the family.”
Willy, Mr. Ours France
“Each and every year, during Christmas Eve, I ALWAYS watch the same movies since I was a kid! I start with The Muppets Christmas Carol (I am a huge fan of Dickens) and then I watch Love Actually (of course! HAHA). I also cook Gingerbread cookies for my friends and colleagues, and we buy a Christmas tree and decorate it.
On NYE, for the last couple of years now, I bring fortune cookies for everyone at the party! I think it is a cool and fun way to start the year.”
Editor’s Note: On December 10th Willy will be hosting Bear Christmas : A Tango Called Desire on behalf of Les Ours de Paris at Le Tango in the gayborhood of Le Marais. Rumor has it he will be dressed as a sexxxy Santa for the occasion. WOOF! And be sure to follow Willy on Instagram!
Brian Hettler, Mr. Bear LA
“It’s all about cooking for me. I grew up in a house where food and cultural heritage was super important. It’s why I started my career as a chef and caterer before I went into marketing. Of course I love the classics for Thanksgiving, but the real epic meal is when my dad cooks trays and trays of enchiladas and we have an epic Mexican feast. My dad’s pineapple amaretto ham is also legendary on Christmas. It is my all-time favorite food.”
TK, Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear
” The holidays are a chance for me to take a break from work! haha. But really, it’s a chance to hang out with some hometown friends, and see my little nieces and nephews. It will also be a chance for me to explore new places. I am heading to San Francisco at the end of December and I’ll get to explore the town.”
Manny Santos, Mr. San Francisco Bear
“One of my favorite memories was from a couple of years ago, I participated in a toy drive and had the chance to give the collected toys to kids. Even now my eyes swell with tears just from the memory. There is no feeling like when a kid gets a toy that they wanted or never thought that they would get. And then to glance at the parents with silent tears rolling down their cheeks as they mouth the words “thank you”. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming all rolled into one.”
“Last year I stayed home in LA, by myself, working on music, and intentions for the new year. I plan on doing the same this year! I’ve started to use the holiday time as an opportunity to check in with my spirit and what it needs moving forward.
Christmas was always one of my favorite times of the year. I grew up in a big Italian-American family and Christmas was the pinnacle of that familial experience. So much seafood, so much family, so much noise, so much life, all jammed in a small house in Chicago. I miss that more than I can say in words. There is a song called “Christmas, Chicago Time” from 2010 which details my memories around this vibrant experience.”
Editor’s Note: You can also listen to Tom’s EP Big Fat Gay Ass Christmas HERE and pick up his 2024 calendar on his website tomgossmusic.com. Be sure to also follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Les K Wright
“To mark the holidays as a queer man I publicly celebrate being a long-term (43 years in 2023) HIV/AIDS survivor on World AIDS Day (December 1). I sing with the Syracuse Gay and Lesbian Chorus. I still send out Christmas cards with photos and a thoughtful letter reviewing my fortunes and misfortunes of the year now ending. This is a time when I hold my entire gay, or chosen, family in my heart.
For many years Christmas was a time of sadness and panic, and sometimes loneliness, for me. As a gay man, Christmas seemed to be the epitome of “family holiday”—something straight people did. I always kept a good 2,000 miles distance between me and my biological family. Sometimes I spent the holiday at an “orphan” dinner with other single gay men. Sometimes I went to a potluck hosted by a fellow member of San Francisco gay AA. One Christmas I spent going to the Castro Theater by myself and seeing You Can’t Take It With You, the wonderful Frank Capra film. I’ve spent other Christmases alone. Nowadays I enjoy sharing in the spirit of “good cheer” leading up to the Big Day and I count my blessings every day. The facts that I am healthy, sane, sober, and pursuing my passions are a whole lot of miracles I am grateful for today.”
Help Les K Wright in his quest to document bear history by joining the Bear History Project International where you and a group of like-minded individuals can exchange ideas and help to preserve bear history and culture.
John Hernandez, Editor in Chief, Bear World Magazine
“Christmastime, for me, marks the passage of time. Come December, I am reflecting on the year that’s just passed and thinking about my life as a whole. This year had its ups and downs, as they all do, but overall, it’s been a fantastic first year as editor of Bear World. I am blessed to be surrounded by my husband and family who love me unconditionally and by my chosen family who I adore. For me there’s nothing better than having a nice glass of wine while streaming the Yule Log and looking at the Christmas lights on the tree, snuggled on the sofa with my hubbie dreaming of the year ahead.”
So, with all sincerity, from our family to yours, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year!!