Mama bears are a small but ever-growing subsect of our wonderful community. The 2024 Virginia Bear Contest acknowledges the value and importance of their presence in our community by having a Mama Bear titleholder category. We sit down with the newly named Virginia Mama Bear, Lynn, to get to know about her and the issues she is passionate about.
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background? Including name, where you are from and current city of residency?
Lynn: My name is Lynn (she/her), I am originally from Steilacoom, WA, but currently residing in Chesapeake, VA. I have been in the lifestyle for a little over ten years, being more active in the local community since 2018. I am currently an active member of the Knight Hawks of Virginia and a co-leader of Edge House, a local kink lifestyle group.
BWM: What drew you to the bear community?
Lynn: The people drew me to the bear community. From the moment I first set foot into the local bear bar night, I felt instantly welcomed by everyone. The bear community has such kind and inclusive people and that really drew me in. Also, they give the best bear hugs.
BWM: What made you want to compete for this title?
Lynn: Traditionally, the Virginia MaMa Bear title was an honorary title given to a female identifying person in the bear community that showed exemplary community service. This year was the first year that the title was actually up for a contest. When I found out that there weren’t any applicants I wanted to make sure that this title could continue on. It’s always the first that is hard. The Mama Bear title is really important and I hope more people will run for it in the future.
BWM: How was your experience competing?
Lynn: Competing was nerve wrecking. I have extreme stage fright and I was extremely nervous about being on stage with the spotlights on me. So having to overcome that fear to win was hard. Luckily, I had my leather family and club to back me up. When I felt unsure, they were there to cheer me on. A few of my leather family members are titleholders themselves, so they gave me advice to be myself and to show myself on stage. I also took private burlesque lessons from a local burlesque performer for my theme portion because I wanted to do the contest justice. There was a lot of time and effort spent to making sure that my theme performance was the best it could be.
BWM: Tell us about your platform. Was there an issue you campaigned on or addressed during the competition?
Lynn: There wasn’t an issue I campaigned for or addressed during the competition. However, there is a platform that I am passionate about, and that is domestic violence/dating violence advocacy in the LGBTQ2+ community. I think this is something that often gets swept under the rug in this community. It is also difficult for those in LGBTQ communities to seek help since the majority of domestic violence shelters and help centers cater to heteronormative relationships; even though statistically bisexual people are more likely to be victims of domestic violence/dating violence. I would like to use my platform to bring more awareness, resources, and advocacy to domestic violence and dating violence in our Community.
BWM: Can you tell us about your experience as a female bear in the community?
Lynn: I have only had positive experiences in the bear community, however, I could be biased as some of my leather family members are bears. I know, I had some hesitance when I first started going around the bear community. I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was invading a male space. But, I was welcomed with open arms. As I became more familiar with bear history and culture, I really learned that being bear is a mindset of inclusivity and body positivity. And I have had so much support from my bear community in that fact.
BWM: What does being a mama bear mean for you?
Lynn: I am not entirely sure what being mama bear means to me just yet. I am still in shock, and I am extremely humbled that I won the title. I am nervous about the title year, and I just want to do the title justice. I know that I want to be the type of mama bear that my bear community and really anyone in our community can come to for help. And I will be working hard this year with my bear crew to not only advocate my platform but to help my Bear crew to reach their title goals.
BWM: What issues do you feel need to be addressed in the bear community?
Lynn: I don’t think there are any particular issues that need to be addressed in the bear community per se. From what I see, the bear community is progressing. But change takes time, patience, courage, and grace from all parties involved. If there is an issue, it is probably already being addressed.
Be sure to follow Lynn, Virginia MaMa Bear 2024 on Instagram @VAMaMaBear24