Kyle Meets… Ms. World Bear 2019, Nikki Wireman, Mama Bear to LGBTQ+ community

For many years, the term “Bear” has been used most as a term to describe the larger and furrier members of the gay community. The community has been a safe haven for men of size to exist without the judgmental gaze of mainstream queer community.

But there is one group we must not forget: our Mama Bears. Without our Mama Bears, many of us would not have these spaces. Without the help, compassion and bravery of many of them, we would not be around today to tell our stories or live our truth.

I was thrilled to have the chance to speak with Ms. World Bear 2019, Nikki Wireman, to discuss her identity as a Leather Mama Bear, and her commitment to supporting the marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community.

KJ: Hello Nikki!

Nikki: Hello, Kyle!

KJ: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

NW: My goodness, thank you for this opportunity! I’m Nikki Wireman – proudly Ms. World Bear 2019, and former Ms. New Jersey Leather 2014. I’m a butch Leather Dyke LezBear.

I’m now retired from the City of Philadelphia Fire Department as a Brigade III Firefighter and Paramedic. I’m an artist who enjoys pointillism. I love anything lemon. I’m the proud mother of a very handsome 21-year-old. I happily adore my Beloved Lisa.

KJ: When did you begin identifying as a Bear? Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a female identifying Bear and your experiences in the community? 

NW: I have always been a Bear. What are Mama Bears? We are caring, compassionate, and fierce when necessary. We are the safe haven and the first to step up when help is needed. I have been active in the Leather Community since 2003. 

To be honest, I wasn’t received well at first because I am a woman, let alone a LezBear. However, the proof is in the pudding, right? My work speaks for itself. There’s work to be done; supporting our aging community and our youth, who are also our future.

Overall, my Leather and Bear siblings see many of us now. It is getting better, thanks to all of us working together. Love is really key.

KJ: What made you enter the Ms. World Bear competition? 

NW: For years, I have been advocating for the Ms. Bear title with many producers. It is our responsibility to show up when the opportunity is there.

This is a working title. It is exactly aligned with my heart and path. I was deeply compelled to honor the indomitable spirits of my chosen family, now gone due to AIDS crisis in the 1990’s.

KJ: How has winning the Ms. World Bear title changed your life/social life? 

NW: Let’s be honest – it can be overwhelming and hectic. BUT, it is also fun. You can use this platform to bring to light what needs to be done. That means listening, being humble, and rolling up your sleeves and getting to it. You have one year.

I absolutely love meeting new folks and hearing their stories. This is how you stay in touch with your community.

KJ: What is your platform? 

NW: My platform is to help the marginalized members of our community, specifically our trans people of color. I’m not making a place at the table. I’m removing the privilege that gave me that chair.

I live with PTSD, and so many of us have endured non-military trauma. I’m here to help others, share support systems, and truly be there as a friend – their LezBear.

KJ: In what ways do you think you can help to promote growth or change in the Leather and Bear/Cub communities? 

NW: By showing up, talking to folks, and being sincere! Just getting back to the basics. There are so many traditions and “blah blah”, but, for me, it is important to get back to where and why we are all here. 

We come in many body shapes, sexual preferences, and kinks. I wish to open the hearts and minds of others to see the hard work my Sister Bears and Cubs have been doing for decades. We have always been here. This isn’t a damn trend. NO, I am not a Goldilocks. Rawr and Grr! 

KJ: What is the most important thing about the Bear/Cub community for you? 

NW: Having a SAFE HAVEN that is consistent. We are a part of the community that was told we are too big and not attractive in many ways, which is based on some hype of what is considered attractive in the mainstream LGBTQ+ community. I cannot stress this enough: YOU BELONG THE MOMENT YOU CHOOSE TO SHOW UP.

KJ: What are your plans for your title year? 

NW: The World Bear Family of 2019 is working on plans to visit Amsterdam and many other events that include Bears, Bikers and Mayhem and North American Bear 2020.

I’m working locally as well to bring attention to our amazing resources that support our community in Columbus, Ohio. I am looking at Leather events as well, since I am a Leather LezBear after all.   

KJ: Finally, where will the bear community be able to see, meet and connect with you? 

NW: I can be found on Facebook as my given name Nikki Wireman. Also I can be found at Yellow Brick Pizza in Columbus, Ohio, because their chicken wings are the BOMB!

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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.