Meet Nic Ali, Mr. Bear South Australia 2023

After ten long years the Mr. Bear South Australia contest returned this past October to much fanfare and excitement. Produced by the Bear Men of Adelaide (BMofA), our furry brethren from Down Under came together support the contest and corresponding festivities. When the dust settled Nicolas Ali emerged as the new Mr. Bear Australia. Check out our exclusive interview with him below.

Nic Ali, Mr. Bear South Australia 2023, at Bearfest.

BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background? Including name, where you are from and current city of residency?

Nic: Hiya I’m Nic Ali (Nicholas when I’m in trouble) hailing from the sunny shores of Adelaide, South Australia. I’m the product of a spicy blend of Fijian and Indian heritage, so I’m built for rugby and made for spicy food. I’m a repair tech by trade so I know how to use a tool and also just finished my degree in Medical Research. I love music, dancing, photography, computers, gaming and more!

And of course, most importantly, I’m the newly crowned Mr. Bear South Australia, the first in 10 years!

BWM: Here here! And what drew you to the bear community?

Nic: Funnily enough I only discovered what a bear was in my teens from an an episode of 2 Broke Girls that featured two chunky bears talking to the girls in a sauna. I thought to myself “that’s kinda hot” and proceeded to do some….. ugh.. research… discovering a world of men who looked and felt like me. Finding media like Where the Bears Are, and BearCity opened a whole new world for myself where I felt like I could truly fit in. 

Growing up I’ve always been a person that loved people, it wasn’t till I was in my late teens that I realised I had an attraction to bears. Coming out only a few months after I’d turned 18, I went to my first bear night the week after. The thing that drew me to the community most was the fact that bears are just unapologetically themselves, and the camaraderie of the community gave me a place that felt like home. Whether it’s a pub night, a dance party or a pride march anywhere around the world, there are bears that will welcome you and let you know you aren’t alone. 

BWM: Tell us a bit about the bear scene in Adelaide. The bear groups, bars, clubs, events?

Nic: Adelaide has a small but tightknit bear scene that meets every fortnight at our home base of The Duke of Brunswick pub in the city. We also host different events throughout the year like bears’ brunch, picnics, Sunday drives, & dance parties of course! 

Outside of the Bears, Adelaide has a diverse kink scene helmed by the gorgeous people of the Adelaide Leather and Fetish group (ALF). Adelaide also has some fantastic queercentric bars such as My Lover Cindy, Mary’s Poppin, a famous drag bar which puts on excellent shows throughout the year, and Diver-City, an amazing local queer shared space. We also have our yearly Feast Festival, Adelaide’s LGTBQIA+ cultural festival which coincides with our yearly Pride March, every November. 

BWM: What organization produced the Mr. Bear South Australia event and what was required of you? And just for our edification, what region is considered South Australia?

Nic: South Australia is our state with Adelaide being our capital city snuggly in the middle of Melbourne and Perth. 

This past October the Bear Men of Adelaide (BMofA) produced the Mr. Bear competition with help from our various sponsors and hosted it at Diver-city. Being our first Mr. Bear competition in almost 10 years, it drew in a massive crowd from all corners of the community. 

The title competition had 3 rounds. The Bear Wear round, where we introduce ourselves and spoke about our connection to the community, experiences in the LGBT, and why we want to represent the bears of South Australia. 

The second round was our Bear Max round where we strut our stuff in as much or as little as possible. I performed a strip show aptly named “from dags to bitches” with lots of theatrics and even pulled off a magic trick, pulling a magic wand out of nowhere! <wink>

The final round was our talent round, where I performed a song while dressed in as little as possible.  

BWM: That sounds AMAZING! We love magic! HAHA Tell us about your work and history in the community. Are there any particular issues or causes that are especially important to you?

Nic: Most of my work in the community has been through the bears, from my participation in pride events, including Feast Festival and the Adelaide Pride March as well as helping promote events online.

I’m also a Pride advocate at my day job and have hosted Pride meetings and events for our state.

Community engagement and inclusion are especially important to me in all aspects of our wider community. Being from a smaller city we need to work together to prosper and create a stronger environment for everyone to feel welcome. Together we can do anything. 

BWM: Right on! And what are the responsibilities associated with your title?

Nic: My main responsibilities are to be a positive icon and face for the Adelaide Bear scene, whether it be welcoming newcomers to our regular catchups, greeting guests at our various events or promoting exciting features of other groups in the greater community. I also act as an ambassador for BMofA, attending various events outside our bear group such as Adelaide’s leather and fetish week Gear’D, and our yearly Gay Picnic in the Park. 

I am actively bridging the gap between the various state bear groups across Australia by attending their amazing bear weeks, since my title win this past October. I want to re-establish Adelaide’s link to our kindred groups to foster a stronger united front by being visible and present. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of BrisBears, VicBears and the HarbourCity Bears bear weeks so far and most recently participated in the 2024 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. 

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

Nic: My biggest goal over the next year is to continue to build on the hard work of our bear group, deepening our connections to the outer communities both locally and nationally. 

Most importantly I want to be a representative that inspires more People Of Colour to see part of themselves in the community and hopefully encourage them to take part! 

And later this year at Southern Hibernation I’ll be competing for the coveted Mr. Bear Australasia 2024 Title! 

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

Nic: Mental health is a huge issue close to my heart as someone who is very open about my own personal journey. I believe these stories need more focus in the community as well as advocacy for services and resources to help support our people. 

Diversity in all forms is also an issue I believe all communities need to continue building upon, whether it’s body positivity, racial and ethnic inclusivity, or accessibility. We all deserve to thrive and feel supported in our safe spaces. 

Be sure to keep up to date with Nic Ali, Mr. Bear South Australia 2023 by following him on Facebook and Instagram.

BWM Staff

Our Staff Writing Team works hard to bring you great content and share news & events from the bear community and beyond.