Meet Jeremy Rand, hula hoop Bear extraordinaire!

Everyone knows that there are some very talented Bears in the Bear community. But recently, I came across one of the most unique, fun and delightful Bears I’ve seen in a long time on social media. 

Jeremy Rand (AKA “Flaccid Broccoli” on most social media platforms) has gone viral on social media with his very colorful and entertaining hula hoop tricks, and the Florida-based Bear has even been featured on an Australian morning show. It’s not every day that you see a Bear that can swing hoops the way this Bear does, so we just had to chat with him! 

Kyle Jackson: Can you give us a bit about your background?  

Jeremy Rand: I grew up in Harrisburg Pennsylvania with my parents, and older brother. I’ve always been the weirdo of the family, a badge I wear with honor. Luckily, I have the kind of family who supports me, and really allowed me to explore my identity and individuality. 

KJ: How did you begin hooping, or what made you decide to start hooping? 

JR: In high school, I found myself compelled to join the color guard. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s a mix of dance, and spinning and tossing large props: A flag, a wooden rifle, and a stainless steel saber. You may have seen it at high school football games performing with the marching band, but we also competed. 

In the fall months, we did marching band competitions, and in the winter there would be indoor color guard competitions that would take place in high school gyms. I was the first boy to compete in our entire school’s history, and by senior year I became captain, and we took home our school’s first ever gold medal championship. 

My sophomore year, a friend of mine showed me some tricks she learned with a hula hoop, and told me I should get into it, because it’s totally the kind of thing I would love. She taught me a trick, and it was over at that moment. I became obsessed!

So, after I graduated from high school, and color guard became a fond memory of an otherwise miserable time in my life. I kept the hoop motivation. For me, I like to compare it to video games. 

People love video games for the challenge and the growth. I feel the same way about learning new hoop tricks. It gets really frustrating, and takes a long time and a lot of willpower, but when you nail a trick after trying for so long, it’s like beating that boss level. 

KJ: Do you feel that what you do can help inspire people in the Bear and plus size communities? 

JR: Absolutely! That’s one of the biggest things I want to share with people. We live in a body/appearance obsessed society. And being heavy, and a man, in a thin women’s dominated community, I’ve experienced a ton of disrespect, body shaming, double standards, and truly made to work harder for acceptance. 

Let’s be honest, a “beautiful” woman will generate more appreciation than a portly man. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to work hard to learn the tricks, the tricks are hard no matter who you are, but they will often receive far more positive attention, where I may be more likely to receive insults and shade. 

The point I really want to get across though, isn’t “Oh, poor me! I had to work so hard… yadda yadda.” No. It is what it is. I want to demonstrate to people that we are capable. We can make things happen. I like to joke and say I am more stubborn than physics. That’s the only reason I was able to learn some of these tricks. I decided I could do it, before I could. 

Being a plus size hooper is not easy; It’s tiring, it’s a lot of practice, and sometimes it feels pointless. But, I continue because I love it. And I want to be an example that I didn’t have when I started — A fat guy who can keep up with the amazing circus style hoop artists. I’d love to inspire more guys, who may have been interested but decided they couldn’t before ever trying. Because, I’m here to tell you, you absolutely can, and I am here rooting for you. 

KJ: You’ve gained quite a bit of notoriety lately. Can you talk about that, and how it feels to be in the spotlight? 

JR: It has been so much fun! I am a believer in manifesting my own reality. So I have never been shy or quiet about my goals to go as far as I can. I think speaking your goals and sharing them, as scary as it can be, and as vulnerable as it can make you feel, is important if you really want to go for something. You have to put that energy out there, and there is no such thing as failing, until you give up. 

I’ve been posting content for over a decade. I’ve grown so much in technique and style, but only very recently did I finally get that moment of “I actually feel seen”. And that was the feeling I had been chasing. Watching all of my “pretty” peers pretty much immediately blast into success while I stay uninteresting or invalid to people for years and years, was difficult. I took it hella personally. 

And I had to work hard to pull myself out of that mentality. Because it’s true — views and comments and being on tv is not everything. And it shouldn’t be. But I will never say it’s nothing either, it’s motivating, it’s rewarding, and it’s opening up opportunities I never thought I’d have, and one of the most important to me, is the opportunity and privilege to represent plus size talent, and inspire others. 

KJ: What has been the best thing about hooping for you? 

JR: Oh, man! It’s been such a journey. And this isn’t even my ultimate form. I’ve met and connected with a lot of talented people. I’ve performed at concerts, festivals, and parties. I’ve gotten the opportunity to teach workshops. And now I can add to the list my appearance on the today show, and of course, being featured in Bear World Mag! 

I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of. There are things I do now, that I was fully convinced were impossible a few years ago. That’s a really good feeling, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me and what I’ll learn in the future. I can’t say there’s one thing that’s been the best. It’s all been wild. 

KJ: Can you speak a little bit about your love for cats?

JR: (laughs) Yes! I moved to Florida in 2017. I moved far away from home, and was pretty much on my own. The amount of anxiety and loneliness I felt was pretty intense. And I really needed someone to share my space, and time with. 

I’d never had a cat before; my dad is allergic and my mom is biased. But, I always wanted one. I took myself to the shelter, “just to look” I told myself. And I met this little black kitten, with a bunny tail. He reached his little paw out and my heart melted. A volunteer asked if I wanted to hold him, as if she even needed to ask, “Of course I want to hold him”. It was over right then and there. I named him Bunny. 

Not long after, I was at the pet store getting food, when I noticed they had cats from a local shelter looking for their forever homes. “I’ll just take a look” a little tiny orange cat ran up to the cage door, and meowed the tiniest little meow I’d ever heard, and… it was over. I filled out the application and took him home the next day, and named him Spaghetti. We’ve all been a family ever since. 

Spaghetti is something of a superstar (he’s the real star of the family). A few years  ago I put together a compilation video of him rolling over every time I say his name, and that went viral. So, he basically became my talent coach. 

KJ: Do you have any other talents, and what’s up next for you? 

JR: Other than hooping, and being cat furniture — I am a licensed hairstylist, tie dye artist, and sometimes, if I’m in the mood, I cook.

Follow Jeremy (Flaccid Broccoli) on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook to catch more amazing hoop tricks and adorable cat photos!

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.

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