Meet Mr. Bear Boston 2024, Henry Paquin

The Mass Bears and Cubs held their competition to select their 2024 Mr. Boston Bear back in October. The winner, Henry Paquin, joins us to discuss his goals for the remainder of his reign and tells us about some new and exciting events he is helping usher into Bostonian nightlife.

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

Henry Paquin (HP): My name is Henry, and I’m a proud native of Boston. Having lived in various parts of the city, I’ve developed a deep love for it and have no plans to leave. I cherish everything Boston has to offer, from its rich history to its vibrant culture. Professionally, I work in Human Resources within the Higher Education sector, where I am committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for academic staff and students alike.

BWM: What drew you to the bear community?

HP: What drew me to the bear community was the incredible sense of camaraderie and acceptance it offers. It’s a place where individuals can celebrate their identity without judgement, and where diversity in body types and personalities is embraced. I was also attracted to the community’s strong emphasis on body positivity and mutual support, which is not only empowering but deeply enriching on a personal level. The bear community feels like a large, welcoming family where everyone can feel safe and valued for who they are.

Henry Paquin, Mr. Boston Bear 2024

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

HP: I was inspired to compete for Boston Bear 2024 for several meaningful reasons. Firstly, the competition provides a fantastic platform to raise funds for The Boston Living Center, a charity close to my heart that supports individuals living with HIV. Being part of this effort allows me to contribute positively and make a real difference in the community. Additionally, I am keen to promote and spread the message of body positivity not only within the LGBT community but particularly in the bear community. It’s important to me that everyone feels celebrated and accepted, regardless of body shape or size. I also wanted to represent and hopefully win as someone with my body type—a big, chubby bear—because representation matters. By competing, I hope to show that beauty and charisma come in all forms, and that everyone deserves to feel confident and proud of who they are.

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

HP: I have competed for this title several times before, and each attempt brought its own unique and fulfilling experiences. However, the 2024 competition felt distinctly different—it just felt right, and that inspired me to throw my hat in the ring once again. One of the best parts of competing is the opportunity to step out of the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary. The camaraderie that comes with competing is truly remarkable. Engaging with fellow contestants and supporters, all while participating in something larger than myself, has been incredibly rewarding. This sense of community and shared purpose is what makes each competition not just a challenge, but a celebration.

BWM: Tell us about your platform. Was there an issue you campaigned on or addressed during the competition?

HP: My platform for the competition was centered on three key objectives. First, I aimed to further the mission of promoting body positivity. This involves advocating for self-acceptance and love across all body types, reinforcing that every individual deserves respect and appreciation. Secondly, I embraced the role of being a mascot for the Mass Bears and Cubs Group. In this role, my goal was to embody the spirit and values of our community, promoting inclusivity and support among our community. Lastly, a significant part of my platform was dedicated to raising funds for our community, specifically through supporting initiatives that enhance the well-being and health of our community. Each aspect of my platform was designed not just to win a title, but to make a meaningful impact on our community.

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

HP: As Boston Bear 2024, I have set ambitious goals to make the most of my title year. One of my primary objectives is to raise $5,000 for the Boston Living Center.

I am also focusing on developing events that celebrate and highlight diverse body types within our community.

One such event is “Bears Bare It All,” a strip show that aims to empower participants and attendees by showcasing bodies of all shapes and sizes. This event is scheduled for May 31, 2024, at the Alley Bar, promising an evening of confidence, positivity, and entertainment.

Additionally, I am proud to be producing “BELLY,” a new monthly Chub and Chaser party that will debut on June 6 at Jacques Cabaret. BELLY is designed to be a vibrant, inclusive celebration that further enhances our community’s diversity and solidarity.

Through these events and my ongoing advocacy, I hope to not only meet my fundraising goal but also strengthen the sense of community and acceptance within our diverse group.

BWM: What are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed in the bear community?

HP: One of the most pressing issues facing the bear today is the need for generational inclusivity, often referred to as the “changing of the guard.” It’s crucial that we encourage and facilitate our younger members to step up and take on leadership roles. This transition is not about pushing out those who have been invaluable to our community for years, but rather ensuring that we remain vibrant and relevant by embracing new ideas and perspectives.

We must focus on creating platforms where all voices are heard, particularly those bringing fresh insights that can adapt to changing times and technologies. By fostering an environment that values both tradition and innovation, we can continue to grow and strengthen our community. Ensuring that leadership reflects a broad spectrum of experiences and viewpoints will help us address a wider array of community needs and challenges.

Photo Credit: jrMac Studios

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