The Northeast Ursamen held Connecticut Bear Weekend from December 1st to 3rd at the Hartford Sheraton South. Throughout the weekend the local bears gathered for camaraderie, gaming, dancing, a roundtable discussion about the Bear Image in the bear community and of course the 2024 Connecticut Bear contest.
After a fun filled and sexy contest, Chris Coyne emerged as the winner. Get to know him below!
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Chris Coyne (CC): Sure. So, I’m 38 years old, and a CT Native. I’m a dog dad to two sweet deaf Pitties along with my husband. I’m currently working as an ER nurse.
BWM: How did you find the bear community and when?
CC: As a baby gay I knew a little bit about the bear community, but I was full exposed to it during Bear Week 2009. There I felt at home and comfortable in a gay space for once, I knew I had found my people.
BWM: What made you want to compete for the title?
CC: Peer Pressure!! HAHA! No, a very good friend and previous title holder convinced me to take the chance. Knowing the good he had done during his reign inspired me to run. I wanted to use the win as a chance to improve our community.
A younger me could never have even dreamt of running, much less winning. I really have been empowered by the bear community; learning how to embrace and celebrate my hairiness and body without feeling ashamed.”
BWM: How was your experience competing? What was the process like?
CC: Nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time! Luckily the nerves dissipated as I got in the groove of it all. I was lucky to be competing with my friend Dave, he was both an anchor and a great competitor. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him through it all.
We had a meet and greet event the night before the contest so we could meet the judges and the other contestants. Then we has interviews in the morning – which I thought was going to be the worst part of it all, but I actually really enjoyed showing the judges who I was.
At the contest we got to meet the crowd. In the words of Tina Belcher “It was time for the charm bomb to explode”. After that we got on stage to show our looks and answer some pop-up questions. Being on stage was never my forte, but I surprisingly enjoyed myself.
BWM: Tell us about your platform. What was the issue you campaigned on or addressed during the competition?
CC: Because I live and breathe healthcare, I chose that as my platform. My goal is for LGBTQIA+ people in my area to know about and get the care they deserve, whether it be STI treatment, mental health, and/or gender affirming care. I talked about my platform during my speech at the end of the contest before the winner was announced and it seemed to resonate well with the crowd.
BWM: What are the responsibilities associated with your title?
CC: As titleholder, I am expected to host at least four fundraising events and attend at least three pride events.
BWM: What are your goals for your title year? Where will you be appearing?
CC: Well, my main goal is fundraising events and raising awareness for my charity. I would like to host some events outside my home bar, hopefully cross pollinate the community and get them all to intermingle a little bit more.
As far as plans for the year? So far, I have Mid Atlantic Leather coming up in DC. Definitely doing both Out of Hibernation and Spooky Bear up in PTown. Outside of that things are up in the air but honestly, I’m willing to do a whole lot of everything. I really wanna make it in my year.
BWM: What is one thing you love about our community and one thing you think we can improve upon?
CC: I love the diversity in our community, whether it be size shape or color, but I don’t feel that we properly express that. I’d like to see advertisements/posters showing more of a variety than the standard muscle bear.
Be sure to follow Chris Coyne, Connecticut Bear 2024 on Instagram @barnaclegoose555