After arriving in Melbourne at the start of Southern Hibearnation, with a heap of other things going on in our lives on top of the move itself, Darren and I had sworn off doing any of the events. And we did keep our heads down and concentrate while some of the bigger events like FÜR and UnderBear happened. Equally though, we ended up going to a Den night, Bingo and Bearaoke. And finally a good friend convinced us to go to Mr Australasia Bear.
(If you’re not sure what a Bear is yet – check out Wikipedia. That mainly focuses on bears though; the whole bear community though is much richer and diverse than that. There’s heaps of terms, including wolves, cubs, otters, pups, etc. But the single overriding and unifying aspects of the bear community seem to be inclusiveness, and the acknowledgement and celebration of masculinity.)
There were nine entrants to the competition, and throughout Southern Hibearnation the contestants had a variety of activities to do, and pretty much attended almost all of the events. I didn’t really see many of them or even know of many of them though until last night. Being an inclusive sort of community, there were bears, cubs, rangas, etc., in the competition, and the actual event last night consisted of three “sections” after an introduction, with the sections being casual wear, minimum wear, and fantasy.
As you can imagine, being hosted in an all-mens bar, the legends go that sometimes that fantasy section has been known to get very racy. There were elements last night, but by all accounts compared to last year it was almost tame enough that you could have held the event at a rotarian bowling club.
If the rotarians weren’t looking.
I believe the proud owner of the Mr Australasia Bear 2011 sash, Matt Cutler, all round nice and handsome guy that he is, actually won the event on the strength of his fantasy. Which makes me very happy for him, but very frustrated with Australian Politics.
What was his fantasy? It didn’t involve some simulated sexual act or anything raunchy at all. Instead it was pure love. Matt brought his partner Tony of 4+ years onto the stage, and in front of 300+ amazed and supportive fellas, proposed to him. The words were sweet, loving and simple, but struck a deep and powerful chord with the crowd. The applause was undoubtedly the biggest at that point – I’d say by an order of magnitude.
Lots of people do indeed have fantasies about how they might propose or be proposed to – there’s a classic Smack the Pony sketch (unfortunately not locatable on YouTube) that covers just that; the guy proposes to the girl, the girl unwinds and starts getting more unrealistic in her fantasies about how the proposal should happen.
But the actual act of proposing is – or rather – should not be a fantasy. It should undoubtedly be a special thing for the people directly involved in it, and it should be something to be celebrated, but it also should be something mundane.
Instead, because we’re second class citizens in this fucked up country, and can’t actually get married if we’re of the same gender, it’s a fantasy.
So it was a great and moving moment, but it was also tinged with that inevitable sadness that comes from such proposals in same sex communities – the knowledge that until our government actually reverses their stance and acknowledges everyone as being equal, it’s part fantasy. We know its real – we in the community, and our friends and families in our minds override political stupidity with common sense, and talk about our husbears or huscubs or huswolves or whatever term suits.
But it shouldn’t have to be a fantasy. It should be a reality. It’s 2011, not 1911.
Everything about politics and equal rights aside though, congratulations to Matt – ranga power!