Meet Willy, Mr. Ours France 2023

Last month we brought you coverage of Fierté Ours Paris (Bear Pride Paris) thanks to our good friends at  Les Ours de Paris (The Paris Bears) who were generous enough to share their experiences and photos from the annual event. The cornerstone event of Fierté Ours is the Monsieur Ours competition, of course, and today we are pleased to introduce you to this year’s winner, Willy.

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

Willy: My name is Willy. I did my studies in Le Mans, a small city located in the west of France, which has approximately 150K inhabitants. I did a specialization in English Literature and Mandarin Chinese when I was in High School, and then I studied foreign languages and international trades when I was at university. When I was done with Uni, I did not really know what to do for a living, so I bartended at a lot of British Pubs, gay bars and clubs since I enjoy meeting new people.

After that, I started to work within the Insurance industry, and as one thing led to another, I ended up in the Reinsurance Industry (this is the Insurance of Insurances), which really launched my career.

Today I am happily living in Paris, working in Tech and enjoying everything this incredible city had to offer! I am also an amateur pastry chef. On a more personal note, I am in a relationship with my partner Christian, for a bit more than six years now. 

BWM: Beautiful and what drew you to the bear community?

Willy: I was drawn into the bear community when I arrived in Paris. The city is so big, but you can find places and people to be with more easily than in other places in France. Being new in any city, and not knowing anyone (or barely anyone) can be difficult at first, but the Bear community is really well known for being welcoming and inclusive. Being chubby, hairy or even the total opposite of it is just a minor detail, everyone’s welcome, bears and admirers alike!

Since I’m physically hairy, bearded and chubby, it seemed natural for me to go and discover people that looked just like me! I do not regret joining the bear community at all, as its allowed me to meet such incredible people from all over the world! 

BWM: What made you want to compete for the title of Mr. Ours 2023?

Willy: I knew the Monsieur Ours contest (Mister Bear Contest) existed for years, but I never had considered applying for it, as I can be tough on myself physically. Some of my friends and my boyfriend wanted me to apply for it, and 2023 was the year to do it! I told myself “Why not? Let’s have a try, this must be fun!” 

BWM:  How was your experience competing? What was your favorite part?

Willy: My experience competing was surprisingly amazing! It gave me the chance to meet incredible people, such as Les Ours De Paris’ members (the non-profit association handling the contest) who are all so unique and so kind.

Spending time with the other contestants (Stéphane, Mikael, Sébastien, Farid, Miguel and Patrick) was also great. We definitely all have different personalities, and it was interesting to discover everyone’s story. Looking back, I can tell this contest created a special bond between us, and some unforgettable memories! 

BWM:  What does winning this title mean to you, specifically?

Willy: Winning this title means a lot to me! I was not expecting to be the next Mister Bear France 2023 at all! I remember, when Jeremy was elected (Mister Bear France 2022), I had so much admiration for him, and I thought “Woah! I wish this could be me someday. This guy is such a great representative for our community!”

Now, it is my turn to be the community’s representative, and I’ll try my best to be what people are expecting me to be! Thanks to this title, I can say I gained some self-confidence, and I tend to be more indulgent with myself! I feel really honored to have this title.

BWM:  What are the responsibilities associated with your title?

Willy: To me, there are official and unofficial responsibilities that go with this title. Indeed, as the new Mister Bear France 2023, I have the obligation to be present during Paris’ Gay Pride, and the Paris Bear’s Christmas Party that will happen in December. For all of the other events, I can decide to participate or not, but I’m trying my best to attend as many as I can!

Regarding the unofficial responsibilities, I’ve been contacted by some people on my social media because they needed someone to talk to about different topics like body acceptance, their self-confidence, etc.. Apparently, it’s easier for them to talk about these topics to a community representative rather than to their personal friends, so I try to be a good listener and to provide them with as much advice as I can. 

Of course, responsibility number one is to always be benevolent and accepting of people, no matter what! 

BWM: Willy, I love that you are there for your community like that. So many bears struggle with body and self-esteem issues, and it genuinely warms my heart to know that you are there for our community like that, so thank you.

Since your election what events have you attended and where will you be appearing?

Willy: Since the election I’ve already participated in the Bears’ Brunch at La Folie Paris, the Artishow Cabaret, Paris Gay Pride 2023, gay artist Frands Gabriel’s exhibition opening at The Bronx Bar, and spent a week at Heliopolis, on a small French Island in the south of France.

My next scheduled appearance will be in Luxembourg, during Mister Bear Luxembourg’s election night in October 2023! 

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

Willy: In my opinion, I think some people should be more open minded about what a bear really is. Of course, being a bear means being bearded, chubby/fat and hairy, but according to some, you should be a certain age, or be at a minimum weight before being considered a bear. I personally disagree, and we should stop ticking boxes to be part of this community. Being a bear is much more than just a physical way of looking! 

BWM: Here here! Absolutely right! Are there any special charities you’d like to mention?

Willy: I love the work of Le Refuge ( ) It is a non-profit that is housing LGBTQ+ youth that have been rejected by their family because of their sexual orientation or queerness.

BWM: Lovely, that is very important work indeed. Anything else you’d like to mention that we have not covered?

Willy: I would like to give a special thanks to Les Ours De Paris for everything they’ve done for us through years, to Valentin Folliet, the amazing and talented photographer that shot the picture of me that was published in Têtu Magazine, and to my friends and boyfriend that have always been supportive during this adventure!

(Photo by: Valentin Folliet / @kodavsky)

Stay up to date with Willy, Monsieur Ours France 2023, by following him on Instagram.  

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John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.