As we all are acutely aware of, events around the world are being cancelled all over the calendar throughout spring and summer. One such event sadly is Brighton Bear Weekend in the UK. However, all is not completely lost as they are delivering the Mr Brighton Bear competition digitally still!
I spoke to Graham Munday, Chair of Brighton Bear Weekend, all about it.
Hi Graham, so we hear that Brighton Bear Weekend has been cancelled for this year due to the Coronavirus, but the Mr Brighton Bear competition is going digital! What was the inspiration behind taking the competition digital?
It is a massive blow to all of us that we had to cancel this year’s Brighton Bear Weekend. We prepare all year for it, and this year we would have been celebrating our 10th anniversary, but we saw early on with what was happening around the rest of the world, and we had had no choice but to cancel it.
Unlike other Bear events across the world, we are not commercial, in that we are run entirely by volunteers, and all the talent works for free. This means that we can raise more money for our leading charity, The Brighton Rainbow fund. They give grants to local LGBT+ organisations and HIV/AIDS charities for front line services. We are the biggest supporter after Brighton Pride, and, we believe, the most significant charity fundraiser of all the bear events in the UK and Ireland, and maybe even Europe.
That said, we are primarily about giving guys a good time and throwing the best parties, something hard to do at the moment. With that in mind, we looked at the success of digital conferencing and how people are quickly becoming more familiar with it. We thought we could hold Mr Brighton Bear online and have more people join in. We feel that people can do with some fun in their life at the moment whether it is taking part or just looking at good looking men!
What are the steps involved now for competitors?
It is similar to last year. We ask guys to complete an online form and then send in photos covering three different categories – beachwear, night-out-on-the-town and bare-what-you-dare! These can be fairly loosely interpreted!
This year we have added an optional short video section. People need to send in a 1 to 2 minute clip of them ‘being talented’ – this can be anything they interpret it to be – singing, dancing, baking a quick soufflé or crocheting a willy warmer – anything that will bring a smile to our faces!
What’s the prize for this year’s competition?
First prize this year is £100 in cash and a portrait by Fraser Dickson from LittleBigMen and second prize of £50. All the top five finalists will win Brighton Bear Weekend T-shirts. These are a special one off design by Bobo Bear to celebrate our 10th year.
Who is judging this, and how do people vote?
How can people enter?
It is straightforward – complete the form that you can find on our website and Facebook page.
Is there going to be a sash giving ceremony at some point when it’s safe?
We have a sash and the winner each year gets to keep it to wear proudly across the world. We hope that later in the year we can throw a big party for our winner and everyone can get to meet them!
What else are BBW up to digitally?
We had our first Sunday afternoon Tea Dance live on Facebook and Zoom. 3 DJ’s – Josh Sharp, Rob C & Bozzy Bear, plus two talented singers, JonBee and Jack Lynn. It went down well, and we are hoping to do another in May.