Bruno, 40 years old, was elected the first Mr Otter in Lyon, France with Grrrizzlyon Bear association at the Lyon LGBTI Centre. He works in a Hospital and he is also a swimmer! He won 3 medals at the international multisport LGBTI Tigaly VB tournament in April 2019.
I had a chat with Bruno to find out more about him and what it means to be the first ever holder of a title!
Robin: What made you enter the contest?
Clearly, I owe it all to the inquiring eye of Richard, the Secretary of Grrizzlyon, our association for Bears and Bearlovers. Last summer, as I was new in town and chilling with a drink at a local bar, Richard came up to me with that very persuasive smile of his and a funny project of a Mr Otter contest to be held in January. I had no idea who he was, and before I knew it, there I was, registered and all for the thing. It sounded like a lot of fun, and it actually is!
What was your favorite moment of taking part?
Putting on the event with the other contestants sure beats it all. Total strangers who turn out as friends in this very peculiar atmosphere was a real heart-warming outcome. Rehearsing for the show together was a blast, and I could easily tell that whatever came out of this would be positive and a source of fond memories.
How does it feel being the first ever Mr Otter?
Er… Unexpected I’d say! Being the first example of something is both exhilarating and worrisome, for the possibilities it offers along with the responsibility – all of them limited of course!
I especially enjoy being at large to invent my way through with this title, to have the liberty to give it a meaning. I am clearly aware I am not going to upturn the community issues just because of it, but somehow, the lingering influential power of a sash shouldn’t be overlooked, even one as obscure as Mr Otter’s.
What is your platform?
What I really feel involved in is inclusion, above all else. May it be regarding social classes, ethnicity, gender affiliations, sexual orientations or practices, physical appearances or disability and serological status. That’s a lot of tags, but only just a sample of the variety of issues the community has to deal with when it comes to being inclusive, and I intend to be a significant part in it, whenever and wherever I can. The otter is a rather friendly creature in fact.
What is the most important part about the bear community?
The way I see it, the Bear community is the very embodiment of this idea of inclusion, beginning with physical acceptance.
The title of Mr Otter has locally faced some criticism for being yet another platform for slender guys within a group that had been struggling long and hard to put an end to body shaming at its worst and give visibility to those who were plump, hairy and miles away from the regular male model in the media. Their cause is a just one and my heart goes along my fellow bear mates, because we are merely pounds away in the end, and I strongly believe this community to be large enough (by all means!) for all of us.
Bears are beautiful, and I will use my voice to say it loud.
Will you enter another competition?
Sadly, no plans so far. Being the first Mr Otter also implies there are no other national or international otter contests anywhere else for now. Ideas, anyone?
What are your plans for the title year?
Many events are coming up this year: Paris Bear week early June, the Europride in Vienna in June, Lyon Pride Festival June 15th, Berlin Pride late July, Amsterdam Pride early August, and Brussels Bear week in October.
I believe most meaningful projects stand on a shared personal experience and Mr Otter will be out there looking for these connections.
What’s your advice for anyone entering next year?
A title really is what you make of it. Be happy, be free, be yourself.