The 2024 Virginia Bear titleholders have been named and we are proud to present exclusive interviews with the newly elected Virginia Bear, Mama Bear, Cub and Bear Hunter over the coming weeks!
The contest, held by the Virginia Bears, took place on November 18th at 37th and Zen in Norfolk to a crowd of over 150 members of the community. The annual competition, now in its fifteenth year, was benefitting The LGBT Life Center which helps people living with HIV/ AIDS by providing them with housing, medical/ prescription services, counseling, financial aid, food, and clothing. The judging panel was made up of North American Bear 2023 titleholders and Virginia Bear Alumni.
For our first interview with the 2024 Virginia Bear Titleholder family, we present to you Tango Foxtrot (they/them), the winner of the 2024 Virginia Bear title who as a nonbinary bear of color has a unique perspective on the world and the community that needs to be shared.
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Tango Foxtrot: For sure! My name is Tango. I’m 24 years old, born and raised in Norfolk, VA. I’ve lived all over the 7 cities at different points in my life, including my time now in Virginia Beach. I grew up in a big family, 7 kids myself included. I took a shine to music from an early age as a way to vent my frustrations and confusion. It helped me survive being closeted, constructing melodies as a way to give my queerness a voice. I started releasing music in college under the name “Cory the Cloud”, talking about love and toxic relationships. I earned some success, getting covered here a few times for releases and performing at shows out of state. The pandemic, dropping out, coming out to my family, and all the instability that followed has made for a slow start, but I’m excited to make more. I started focusing on social media and spicy content, using the skills I learned while self-promoting my music, to build a platform of body positivity and inclusion. I started a kinky podcast with my friend Jeff (Pup Cylon) called “Them Pups ‘Thots and Bears.’” Everyday makes me more and more thankful that there are more kinky folks out there like me. I’m blessed to see the growth I’ve had celebrating the kinky side of me, and I try my best to be authentic; true to all parts of myself, not just the PG version.
BWM: What drew you to the bear community?
Tango: Honestly, the men. When I played football in high school and college, most of the guys on the offensive line were these beefy, hairy, sexy messes of sweat and grunts. I often would fantasize about them, although never acting on it because of the blatant homophobia, toxic masculinity, and bigotry that’s rampant in men’s sports. When I finally started dating, I mostly stuck to guys who fit the bear archetype. I realized early that not every bear is hyper masculine despite what the adult film industry and social media will lead you to believe. There’s depth and variety to be found, as well as good cuddles.
BWM: What made you want to compete for this title?
Tango: Two years ago, my title grandpa, Marcus Warren-Martin III became the first black Virginia Bear title holder. I am the second. In a lot of queer spaces, especially in the south, black and other people of color feel unwelcome, undesired, and unsafe. I wanted to compete to spread visibility and be a positive representation of black queerness in the Bear community.
BWM: And we LOVE to hear it! Thank you for that. How was your experience competing? What did you have to do to win?
Tango: I was frazzled the entire night. Not only was this my first time performing on stage in a while, I ended up going directly after last year’s Virginia Cub winner. We both chose to do our own takes on Yogi Bear which must have been a bit awkward for the audience. None of us knew the lineup or what anyone else was doing for their performance until the day of. I just had to stick to my plan, focus on myself, and do my very best.
BWM: Tell us about your platform. Was there an issue you campaigned on or addressed during the Competition?
Tango: I want to strip down the gates that keep “bear”hood inaccessible to black and brown queer folks. I want to show the world that Virginia Bears can be welcoming, loving, fat, fem, and queer as fuck. Using my platform, I hope to uplift more queer poc voices and give them a chance to receive the love they desire.
BWM: Yes! Yes! Yes! I notice that you use they/them pronouns. Can you please tell us what your experience has been as a nonbinary bear of color in the community?
Tango: Growing up as a person of color in this country is its own brand of trauma. It can take a lifetime to unpack the internalized racism you learn from your parents who just want you to survive. We’re taught to watch ourselves, be weary of our proximity to whiteness, and be careful not to act without clear thought. Queerness is seldom celebrated and often attacked or repressed. When I heard the term ‘nonbinary’ for the first time in 2019, I felt like I finally had a description of the person I was becoming. I spent my whole life uncomfortable being a ‘man’ and doing what ‘men’ do. I think I’ve always known I would never quite achieve manhood and all of its requirements. Coming into my own has been a beautiful struggle, filled with moments of clarity after a life of confusion. That isn’t to say it’s been easy. Even today, I am misgendered and dead named, even by the people closest to me. I’ve faced racism in small interactions and from society as a whole. It hurts but I show grace. I show grace because that is the only way to live in this intersection. I have that much more love to give since learning to love these parts of myself. As my self-love grew, so did the love I’ve come to receive from the community.
BWM: What are your goals for your title year? Will you be making any appearances as Virginia Bear 2024?
Tango: I hope to establish a Virginia Pet title contest this year so that we can have representation for our pets on the NAB and World Bear stage. As title holder, I hope to get a chance to go to IBC, NAB, TBRU and World Bear Weekend. I can’t promise I’ll make it to all of them, but one can dream!
BWM: What issues do you feel need to be addressed in the bear community?
Tango: The bear community has a clear racism problem. We have allowed queer poc bears to go unloved and unseen for far too long. I see hope for us, but it will take all of us working in tandem to make change and true inclusion happen.
Make sure to keep up with all the latest on Tango Foxtrot, Virginia Bear 2024 by following them on all their social media platforms.