Meet Mitch Medcalf, Mr. Bear Queensland 2023

Join us for a discussion with Mitch Medcalf, Mr. Bear Queensland 2023 from Brisbane, Australia. As a blind bear, prolific DJ (performing under the name GALLEON) and active member of the Brisbears, he is bringing his unique experiences and passion to his work as a titleholder in order to make positive change in our community.

BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Mitch Medcalf (MM):
I’m 31 years old and grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I’ve lived here all my life. My background is all over the place. Chinese-Malaysian, English, Irish and First Nations Australian. Alf says I’m a flamin’ mongrel! (if you know you know!)

BWM: What drew you to the bear community?

After I came out in 2017 at the age of 25, I was looking for a tribe to fit in with. I knew I liked older (usually exotic) men who had more of a masculine vibe about them, but I didn’t really know what that was called or where to look for it. I was talking to a friend one night and he said, I think you might want to hang out with the bears. A lot of what you’re after you’re likely to find there. So, I walked into a bear’s night at the end of 2017 without telling anybody I was going. The doorman who’s a good friend of mine was of course on the door so he couldn’t show me around. It was a little daunting. I ended up hanging out with some committee members who were very welcoming and told me a bit about the community. Within three months I was DJing for them and have attended regularly ever since.

Mitch Medcalf, Mr. Bear Queensland 2023

BWM: What made you want to compete for the title?

The same friend (while at a Mr. Bear competition years ago) said to me I should compete sometime. So, in 2021 I put my name down and had my first go. I didn’t win but it gave me a thirst to do more and get more involved with the bear community, so I joined the committee.

I wanted to give it a better go last year for the 30th anniversary of Brisbears in Brisbane. I wanted to do it for a big confidence booster and to give back to my community since I am somebody that stands up for minorities in our community, being one myself.

BWM: How was your experience competing? What was the process like?

The experience was so much fun. We had a previous Mr. Bear, Alan, along with Pup Luca, another prominent member of the community, helping us out and guiding us on the night. I also had two great friends assisting. There was Wayne Dyer who helps a lot with my outfits, attending events and getting from A to B in the community and Archie Arsenic who also does this but is a performer and was incredible with working through competition prep with me and clarifying with me what my performance should be and how to really make it pop.

The first round was an interview, and we didn’t know exactly what questions we would be asked, but we had a rough guide. I wore formal military attire (I do love being the captain sometimes!) and I felt my interview went very well and I connected with the judges and got my points across.
The second round was called Bear Minimum. This is where you go out on stage wearing your (bare) minimum and answer a few questions about your title year, the charity you have chosen to represent and a few other things. I walked out with nothing on but a little teddy bear who
I called Frank, a pouch covering downstairs, and a shibari rope with tassels at the back holding it together. It was just sitting there. Boy that was a tense few minutes hoping it didn’t all fall apart! I wouldn’t have done that a few years ago!

The third round was the performance round. I am a DJ, so I wanted to include that. I am also a great lover of kink and wanted to show that too. I did a very fast 6 song DJ megamix live using instrumentals and acapellas all in key, without headphones. I had my hands in restraints, then clipped together without even a chain to separate them, so I couldn’t move much and had my hands over one deck at a time, tied together. I was blindfolded (I am blind anyway, so it was just to be funny), had a vest on and a Roman kilt with Doc Martin boots. As I was doing the routine I strip-teased, taking off the restraints and vest slowly. This revealed Shibari rope tied up in the bear flag colours, courtesy of Brendan Josey (Mr. QLD Leather 2023). I then cut the Shibari off with secateurs, still blindfolded, to the beat of the music. I finished the routine removing the kilt to reveal a rather naughty jockstrap courtesy of Soft Butch.

BWM: No wonder you won! Tell us about your platform?

MM: I think accessibility and promotion of minorities is pretty important. I’ve always been a minority having a disability, but then came out and found myself as a minority within a minority (bears). So, I’m all about championing people within our community and want to try
and make a concerted effort to highlight those who might have a disability or be a person of colour, to give those people a little extra exposure.

BWM: What has your experience been as a blind person in the kink and
bear communities?

MM: It’s been great mostly. People are usually more than happy to help where I need it, some people don’t even realise I am blind. The kink community is filled with all kinds of people, many of them with disabilities. You are almost always instantly treated like a human regardless of who you are or what you “have”. I’ve tried a number of things in the kink scene. I have a particular liking for powerful uniforms, which I myself find interesting as I’ve never actually seen them. I like the confidence I get from putting them on and also the compliments and the power which they exude in addition to the textures and weight of them. I steer clear of nasty uniforms, but I do like a good military uniform! I’ve also found I’m into sensation play and bondage associated with that.

With respect to the queer community, I can’t do flirting by use of eye contact and naturally miss this when it is directed at me. I have had friends ask, how can we “meet your needs” so to speak when referring to hook up culture. It’s great that I’ve been asked this as I don’t
usually go for hookups and could find a scenario like this a bit daunting if placed upon me unexpectedly. But I do know the things I find attractive and I do know when I like someone. I often find exotic accents (particularly European / German) attractive to listen to, but for me it is usually warmth and a good drama-free personality which I find most beautiful. Also, whether or not he has a yacht, but I’ll just leave that!

BWM: What can we do to foster more allyship and inclusivity in the bear
community for blind folks?

Good question! I again think awareness and exposure is key as well as just to ask a question politely if you need to ask one. It’s important not to assume a person will just want you to do something or may not want you to do so. Asking questions respectfully and considering a
person’s wishes will go a long way. People love to ask questions like, so, have you always been blind, what happened, etc etc. People find this really interesting which I as a blind person have to understand and take on board, because that conversation is sure as hell boring after the 757th time! Also just include people in activities or ask if they would like to be included is a good way.

BWM: Great advice, thank you for sharing. What are your goals for your title year? Where will you be appearing?

I have numerous goals for this year. I’ll be doing some fundraising for a charity called Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (QC). They have a program called the Pantry Program which gives out monetary assistance to those urgently in need in our community. This fund is
almost empty so my fundraising will often focus on that.

I run a weekly feature on the Mr. Bear QLD Facebook page called Bear Bones, which shines the spotlight on a bear or an ally in our community and focuses on whatever cause that person may have.

I’ll be working on specific promotion of accessibility within our bear club to assure others with a disability that we’re here to help as has been the case with me.

I’ll be competing for Mr. Bear Australasia in Melbourne at Southern HiBearnation in June.

I also just got back from New Zealand where I checked out the Mr Bear NZ competition as well as DJ’d some wicked events for Urge Events in Auckland!

I get to DJ for as well as march with Harbour City Bears in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras in a few weeks which I’m beyond excited about! The atmosphere on Oxford Street is one of a kind.

And I’m open to attending more bear events around Australia this year if the opportunities present themselves.

BWM: Wow! Fantastic! What are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed in the bear/ kink communities?

The main one that seems to come up more and more is the community’s stance on diversity and what it will look like. Bears have had to create safe spaces over time due to the way they were othered in the greater queer community and those spaces should of course be fostered. What I’m noticing is that a lot of older bears become uneasy and naturally protect their male only spaces when conversations or questions of letting the broader queer community in arise. We’re starting to see other members of the community who may not necessarily male identify want to join bears in their events and celebrations which is also cool. I can see this from both sides. There seems to be no “answer” to this and many bear clubs have taken differing
approaches over time. We as a club have male only nights but also have a monthly daytime catchup where anyone is of course welcome. I think if a club is unable to deviate from a male only event this is a great way of comfortably letting in the greater community and may also be a
good opportunity to have a social catch up away from the loudness of a party environment. I’ve found that some bears do appreciate a casual Sunday catch up!

I also think we need to actively support and promote our minorities, people with disabilities, and people of colour, as much as possible. They are the minorities within our minority so let’s show them we are here for them!

Be sure to keep up with Mitch Medcalf, Mr. Bear Queensland 2023 on Facebook and check out his DJ skills on SoundCloud.

John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.