We couldn’t let Women’s History Month go by without giving a special growl out to some of our favorite Mama Bears here at Bear World Magazine!
Mama Bears have always been a very integral part of the bear community, providing love, guidance, support and to all of their beloved Bears and Cubs. Where there’s a healthy, strong Bear, there’s also a courageous, tough Mama Bear there to lead the way!
Sunny Haynes, Virginia Mama Bear 2020
After embracing the term “Mama Bear” a couple of years ago, Sunny Haynes now wears the name with a badge of honor and love. A mother of seven biological children, Sunny undoubtedly knows exactly how to be a mama, but after her children grew up and moved out, she wanted to live life as a child-free adult.
However, the Bear community began to embrace her and made her one of their mamas. She has embraced the term back with pride and love. “To me, it means that I am a loving, protective, nurturing and caring person to all those around me in my community,” says Mama Sunny.
Mama Sunny’s platform this year has been equality rights for us all. With Virginia on the verge of becoming the first southern state to pass protections for all LGBTQ+ folks in housing, employment and public spaces, she has been working with her local chapter of Equality Virginia and getting her clubs to participate as well.
I would like to see more inclusivity in the LGBTQ+ community. As a bi woman married to a bi man, we are not welcomed in all spaces. We are not gay enough for some spaces, and not straight enough for others. We have a trans child who is not welcome in spaces either. We’ve been fighting for equal rights, but still make those in our own community feel uncomfortable. I want to see that end.Sunny Haynes, Virginia Mama Bear 2020
Oshun ONYX, Ms. World Bear 2018 & Southwest Leather Mama Bear 2018
Oshun ONYX was not just the very first Ms World Bear, but she was also the first woman of color to win both the Ms. World Bear 2018 title and the Southwest Leather Mama Bear 2018 title. “I am making history in three different ways, and I’m extremely proud to be one of the very first three contestants to compete in for this monumental inaugural Ms. World Bear title’” says Mama Oshun.
Mama Oshun believes that, as more female identified bears come out and express their identities, it will give other female-identified bears space to express themselves.
I entered because it was the first of its kind, but most importantly because I wanted to be part of the female bear revolution! There are still lots of people out there who do not believe in the female bear and when I run across someone who asks, ‘You’re a female bear?’, my answer to them is, ‘Yes, what would a cub and a male bear be without the female bear in the den?!’Oshun ONYX, Ms. World Bear 2018 & Southwest Leather Mama Bear 2018
Oshun’s two platforms in her title year were to promote body positivity and to bring awareness to child sex trafficking. “People think that sex trafficking only happens in third world countries, but it’s also happening right here in our backyard,” says Oshun. “I myself am a survivor of child sex trafficking. At the age of 14, I was sold into child sex trafficking. Also, child sex trafficking is not only limited to girls, it happens to boys and men as well.”
Read more of Mama Bear Oshun’s interview here.
Nikki Wireman, Ms. World Bear 2019
A retired Brigade III Firefighter and Paramedic with the City of Philadelphia Fire Department, and a visual artist who enjoys pointillism, Mama Nikki has been advocating for female bear titles for many years.
“It is our responsibility to show up when the opportunity is there. This [Ms. World Bear] is a working title. It is exactly aligned with my heart and path. I was deeply compelled to honor the indomitable spirits of my chosen family, now gone due to the AIDS crisis in the 1990’s, “ says Mama Nikki.
As the former Ms. New Jersey Leather 2014, Mama Nikki has been involved with the lather community since 2003, and she has always identified as a bear. “I have always been a Bear”, says Nikki.
What are Mama Bears? We are caring, compassionate, and fierce when necessary. We are the safe haven and the first to step up when help is needed. To be honest, I wasn’t well received at first because I am a woman, let alone a LezBear. However, the proof is in the pudding, right? My work speaks for itself. There’s work to be done; supporting our aging community and our youth, who are also our future. Overall, my Leather and Bear siblings see many of us now. It is getting better, thanks to all of us working together. Love is really key.Nikki Wireman, Ms. World Bear 2019
Mama Nikki’s platform during her title year has been to help the marginalized members of our community, specifically our trans people of color. “I’m not making a place at the table. I’m removing the privilege that gave me that chair”, she says.
Read more of Mama Bear Nikki’s interview here.
Lisa Smith, North American Mama Bear 2019
To Mama Bear Lisa — the very first North American Mama Bear titleholder — the bear community is all about protection, unconditional love and inclusiveness. She is very much a supporter of being yourself and being comfortable in your own skin. “The competition made me feel like Miss America. That’s why I entered”, she says.
The community is growing, and embracing many more of our community members are understanding the importance of welcoming our Mama Bears with open arms — fighting for their right to exist in a male-dominated community. “As a Mama Bear, I feel like we are the protectors and guardians”, she says.
As a mother, you show unconditional love. As a Mama Bear, I plan to do the same. My title is very unique because it was one in which the Bears had to show just how inclusive they really were. To bring women into a men’s world and let us shine right beside them was hard for some, but the bears fought for us. They stood their ground and made a difference.Lisa Smith, North American Mama Bear 2019
Mama Lisa has been bringing awareness to many issues throughout her title year — issues that she feels very passionate about. “My platforms are Breast cancer awareness, and letting men know it’s not just us ladies that have to get checked. Also, domestic violence, since my mother was killed in a domestic dispute. And lastly, drug abuse, since I am a recovering addict who has been clean for 6 years now”, she says. “There many things I hold near and dear to my heart and I hope to be part of as much as I can.”
Read more of Mama Bear Lisa’s interview here.
Let’s all continue to show love to all of the wonderful Mama Bears around us. They absolutely deserve it! Grrrr!!