BearScotFest 2023 took place in Edinburgh from October 5th through 8th. Gorgeous bears from the United Kingdom and beyond descended on the Scottish capital for a weekend of fun, frolic and fraternizing. The theme of this year’s festivities was “Cabaret”, a throughline seen at the various parties, bar gatherings and events that weekend which included the election of the new Mr. BearScots, Sean Beasley. We sat down with Sean for a chat to learn about his experience at the event and in the competition.
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Sean Beasley (SB): I was born in Canada, grew up in Campbeltown on the west coast of Scotland and then went to Edinburgh at 18 for university and moved to Glasgow about 6 years ago when Edinburgh just got too expensive. I love gaming, computers, cars, cooking, music and a bunch of other things; usually working on a hundred unfinished projects. I currently work in banking, but I’ve done a bit of everything including retail, cleaning and even bus driving.
BWM: What drew you to the bear community?
SB: For almost as long as I knew I liked men, I knew I liked bears. Since I had such unrestricted internet access growing up, I was able to do an awful lot of err… research.. I still remember watching BearCity in my childhood bedroom and thinking ‘that is exactly what I want’. It was a surprisingly accurate take on bear world from my experience.
BWM: What made you want to compete for the title?
SB: I’ve been going to BearScotFest for a decade now. I was 18 and incredibly shy at my first one and I’ve gone from that to being a confident social butterfly. I’ve made some lifelong friends at the events over the years, some I consider family. I go to every local bear night and thought I would do a great job representing the organization and help welcome and introduce new guys to our incredibly welcoming community.
BWM: How was your experience competing? What was the process like?
SB: It was a lot of fun. The other contestants and I were very close throughout the process and had a lot of fun encouraging each other to get the most out of it. I enjoyed really going all out for the Cabaret theme this year, something far outside my comfort zone, but I reckon I looked surprisingly good in fishnet stockings. The on-stage segment also went better than expected and I was able to sincerely convey just how much winning it would mean to me.
BWM: What does winning this title mean to you, specifically?
SB: It’s certainly a validating experience! As someone with mental health issues I regularly wonder what people truly think of me so to win what is essentially a popularity contest was such a confidence boost. I can almost take a congratulations without blushing now! I am truly humbled that I can wear the sash and represent BearScots for the year.
BWM: What are the responsibilities associated with your title?
SB: My main responsibilities are to be a visible welcoming face within the Scottish bear scene, attend BearScots events in my wonderful new sash, and basically keep doing all of the things I’ve already been doing for years.
BWM: What are your goals for your title year? Where will you be appearing?
SB: If nothing else I will definitely be at all the local events that I can attend, and hoping to go to Great British Bear Bash in Manchester next year. There are other events that it would be great to attend but the cost of living in the UK is absolutely insane right now so my access to international events is pretty restricted financially.
BWM: What are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed in the bear community?
SB: Something I feel is a very common thing in the community but rarely gets addressed in such a public manner is mental health. I was diagnosed with Depression 8 years ago and have since suffered from Anxiety too. I’m also currently going through an assessment for ADHD. This is definitely one of the things I want to discuss publicly as Mr Bearscots so people dealing with similar issues can see there are others out there they can relate to.
BWM: Where can we find you?
BWM: Anything else you’d like to mention?
SB: As the new titleholder I want to elect BearScots’ charity of choice, LGBT Youth Scotland as my charity of choice as well. We were able to raise £5,680 for them this year!
BWM: Excellent work! Thanks, Sean, for taking the time out to chat with us and good luck during your title year!