Unlike bear competitions in the US, many European titles name a Vice Mr. Bear to help the overall winner in their title duties. That is the case in Germany. We previously introduced you to Andy RX, the current winner of Mr. Bear Germany but now we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to Nils Hünemeier, the current Vice Mr. Bear Germany. Nils is breaking the mold in Germany showing bears that flamboyance, queerness and femininity have a place in the bear scene too. Get to know them below.
BWM: Please tell us a bit about your background.
Nils Hünemeier (NH): I grew up in a small town called Bielefeld, where I got my Bachelor’s degree last year, before moving to Cologne to study Gender and Queer Studies for a master degree. When I´m not studying and reading feminist books, I´m working with underaged refugees which is a really rewarding and fun job. Additionally, I was a barkeeper at the 3Bs – The Bearded Bear Bar – here in Cologne, where I met some awesome people. As someone who moved here, my friends became my family and working in the local bear bar really helped me get in touch with all these warmhearted people I now consider my friends. I fell in love with Cologne through the friends I met here and that’s something I will always be grateful for.
BWM: How was Bear Pride Cologne?
NH: The Cologne Bear Pride was a blast! The Bartmänner Cologne, the group who organised the whole weekend, really did an awesome job and they took care of everybody. Meeting all the other sash holders and all the awesome bears in attendance was awesome! And all the support and love I got before and after receiving my title was incredible. It’s an experience I will never forget.
BWM: Why did you join the competition for Mr. Bear Germany?
NH: I really met some great people within the bear scene and when I moved to Cologne. They were very welcoming, so I wanted to be an active participant in the community, but I also wanted the bear community to be more connected with other queer, trans and fetish communities which is why I competed. United we´re so much stronger and I want to amplify our voices to be heard even more, especially in times like this, where we´re under attack every day, in spite of how far we´ve already come.
BWM: What are your responsibilities as Vice Mr Bear Germany?
NH: Well as an ambassador for the German bear community, like Andy, I will attend a lot of bear events around Europe. I want to be present and show people that being a bear also can mean being a flamboyant queer bear with a colorful manicure. There is no script what being a bear means and that´s what I really want to represent.
BWM: Will you compete for more titles?
NH: It´s not planned at the moment to be honest, it was a really fun experience, meeting all these really engaged and awesome people, but it was also very stressful. Honestly I would love to see a big bear or a plus size person become Mr. Gay Germany, so who knows what the future holds for me. And honestly if Germany ever has a Mrs. Bear election, like they have in Belgium, I´m the first one who´s signing up. I love the whole concept and there are some talented drag artists who compete for the title every year. I would love that for the German queer community.
BWM: Tell us a bit about the German bear scene- where does everyone get together? What are some of your favorite bars and clubs?
NH: The German bear scene has a lot to offer with tons of parties in every big city like Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart and many more. The local groups who organise these events really do a fantastic job and I had a lot of fun at every bear event I’ve went to. But as a local I really like the bear scene in Cologne. We have the 3Bs – The Bearded Bear Bar – the local bear bar and my favorite bar here in Cologne where I used to work. It really feels like a second home to me, you can always go there and find some familiar and friendly faces to have a great evening.
The best thing about the bear scene here in Cologne though is the Bearpride every November. Bears from everywhere around the world come to our city to enjoy the company of other bears and have a great time I really love the atmosphere when you can connect with all these bears, especially when you know a lot of them online and are finally be able to meet them in person.
BWM: What has your experience been in the bear community as a bigger bodied, more flamboyant bear? Have you faced any prejudice?
NH: Being a bigger bodied person is the reason why I got in touch with the bear community in the first place. I never felt accepted by the gay community but when I got in touch with other bears, mainly through Instagram due to the pandemic I really felt encouraged. When I attended my first Bearpride in 2022, only knowing a handful of people from online, I still felt welcomed and that’s something I never experienced in the gay places I knew from the small town I grew up in. Being celebrated for being a big bear was an awesome experience which made me feel a sense of community I never felt before.
In general, I am getting encouraged to be flamboyant, but I would be lying if I said I never got comments or weird looks. However, most of them are just curious and never met a 1,90m (6’2) tall bear with a ginger full beard and long manicured glitter nails. I always feel respected even though I irritate some people.
BWM: How do you want to encourage change in the bear community?
NH: I think just being unapologetically myself is already changing the perspective of what a bear and especially a Mr. Bear can look like, and I love that. Being visibly queer and challenging gender stereotypes in the bear community, which is known for being so manly, is starting a dialogue I´m willing to have. I want everybody to feel welcomed in the bear community and this includes having discussions and dialogues within my own community, why we should stand side by side instead of focusing on differences.
Be sure to keep up with the latest on Nils Hünemeier, Vice Mr. Bear Germany by following them on Instagram.