Meet Moudish Joseph, Monsieur Ours 2024

Fierté Ours Paris (Bear Pride Paris) took place this past May 8 -12 and featured a variety of events that gathered together the global bear community in the beloved City of Light. From nights at the Bears’den to the infamous Bear Cruise, over 2000 burly bears gathered to celebrate. The highlight of the event, of course was the election of Monsieur Ours 2024, and after an exciting and titillating competition, Moudish Joseph took home the title. Get to know him below.

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

Moudish Joseph (MJ): Hi everyone, my name is Moudish Joseph, I am 44 years old, and I am proud to be Monsieur Ours (Mister Bear France) for 2024. I live in Paris. I am French with Indian background. My parents are both from Pondicherry. I was born and raised in France.

Moudish Joseph, Monsieur Ours 2024

BWM: What drew you to the bear community?

MJ: For a very long time, coming from a poor family, and being the eldest sibling, I had the pressure to achieve something socially and financially. When I finally reached my goals, I knew that something was missing in my life. That thing was the love of a man.

That’s when I started to download apps, for which I wasn’t ready. While I was looking for Prince Charming, the only interest I got from guys on those apps was for sex. Moreover, I instantly noticed that because of my age, my race, my weight, and my hairiness that I didn’t have the “qualifications” to be part of the gay community. I was made to feel that I didn’t belong to this community.

This is when I decided to go to bars and live real life and meet people in person. I was told one day that I should go to the Bears’den, the first bear bar in France. I really wasn’t ready for this all by myself, but I decided to go there where a lovely bartender called Jean made me feel comfortable in his place.

Ever since then, I’ve been going to this place even though I am more familiar with the Paris gay scene and other bear bars.

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

MJ: Ten years ago, when I entered the Bears’den for the first time, when I was hiding from everyone in a little corner of the bar, sipping my soft drink, someone asked me if I was competing for Monsieur Ours. I was astonished and proud at the same time – astonished because I didn’t know about the competition and proud that someone could find me attractive enough to take part in this. That day, I acknowledged that I wasn’t as ugly as I thought I was and maybe there could be something charming in me.

From that day, every year, for ten years, I was asked to compete. Every time, I refused until last year when Willy, Monsieur Ours 2023, won. When I was congratulating him for his title, he said to me: “Thanks, Monsieur Ours 2024”. From that moment on, throughout last year, I thought it was a sign, and thought now was the time to thank the bear community for the love and support I received. I wanted to win in order to embrace all the issues I had to face and help others who could be in the very same situation.

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

MJ: Oh God, I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to take part in this adventure. I met incredible people with les Ours de Paris and with the other finalists.

Everything started with completing a form on internet: we had to answer some questions and to give some photos.

Then, 39 contestants were presented as potential finalists from all over France. The public had to choose from those 39 contestants in order to shortlist them to 8 finalists. They chose by voting on the Internet. Luckily, I was one of the eight.

From then on, we (the finalists) knew that we would be spending more time together, and naturally we created strong bonds with each other. We were like a family and as the eldest one, they started calling me “daddy”. We had a photoshoot with an extraordinary artist called Monsieur Gac, interviews with les Ours de Paris, and interviews on Strobo Mag.

At the same time, the Fierté Ours 2024 debuted with different events including La croisière des Ours (The Bear Cruise). It’s a very popular event which attracted bears from all over the globe, and as the pinnacle of all these amazing events was the election of Monsieur Ours 2024.

The election had three phases – the first two phases involved putting on a show with dance moves choreographed by les Ours de Paris and then additional dance moves from our own imagination. The last phase led to the announcement of the 2nd runner-up, the 1st runner-up, and at the end Monsieur Ours.

BWM: Tell us about your platform. What was the issue you campaigned on or addressed during the competition?

MJ: During the campaign, I talked a lot about all kinds of discrimination, not only because of my personal life but also from listening to other people’s stories. As I mentioned, I spent most of my life secluded, thinking that I was ugly and that nobody would want me. I didn’t have any social interactions. Ten years ago, when I started going out and meeting people, I learned so much about the pain of some of my fellow bears. I knew that I wasn’t alone and that there were people who were suffering more than me.

That’s why I want to fight against homophobia, transphobia, serophobia, seclusion, fatphobia, body-shaming, racism, discrimination against the handicapped … The list is very long, and I hope to address all those issues.

BWM: What are the responsibilities associated with your title?

MJ: I don’t feel like I have any more responsibilities now than I did before. Being myself and working hard for the bear community is probably what everyone is looking for, but this is what I have always done. I was elected for who I am, I will continue doing so, however, I hope that with this title I will be heard farther and wider.

BWM: What are your goals for your title year? Where will you be appearing?

MJ: For my title year, I want my co-runners and all the finalists to stand up with me and fight  against all kinds of discrimination. I want to show that solidarity is not a fake word in the Bear community. I will try to attend as many Bear or LGBTQIA+ events that I can. We have to fight, but we also have to celebrate past accomplishments and the new ones.

BWM: What are some things you love about the bear community and what are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed by it?

MJ: We all agree that the Bear community appeared because we didn’t fit in with the mainstream gay community. Now, with the work of so many people, we can stand up and be proud of what we are and what we have accomplished. Contrary to other communities, the Bear community accepts all kinds of people as long as they are Bears, or they like Bears. But with our constant fight against all kinds of discrimination, our community is also accepting of people who feel discriminated against and the ones who need help because we understand them.

That said, alongside the issues I mentioned, we should try to talk about being body positive. For some, our curves are our treasure, we should know how to appreciate them.

Moreover, as an ethnic bear, fighting against racism is an issue that will also pave the way for me.

Keep up with Moudish Joseph, Monsieur Ours 2024, on Instagram @lilbearmj

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BWM Staff

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