Get to Know Dorothy Awards Honoree the Northeast UrsamenPublished Feb 11, 2011
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As part of our series of articles on the Dorothy Awards, we are reviving our interviews with our honorees so you can get to know them a bit better. Co-President Thomas Donato spoke with Northeast Ursamen president Dave Bielski about the organization, their events and where they're headed.
For those who don’t know, describe the Northeast Ursamen.
The Northeast Ursamen is a social club for gay men who identify as Bears and for those who like them.
What is the mission of the Northeast Ursamen?
Our mission is to provide opportunties for bears and their admirers to meet in a variety of fun and safe social environments.
How long has the organization existed?
Our club came together in October of 1992. The initial group was around two dozen men. The club grew quickly, at times exceeding 200 members across southern New England and beyond. Our numbers remain in that general quanity and many are very active.
What type of events do the Northeast Ursamen sponsor?
Our events range in size and location. We run a major Halloween event in Provincetown called Spookybear Weekend which draws thousands of bears from around the world. We do a mid-sized event called Bear Migration which is our annual camping trek to Hillside Campgrounds in eastern Pennsylvania. In our core territory, we run local bar events, many of which are fundraisers. We do several other lower-key events such as pot luck dinners at members' houses, river tubing, and trips to amusement parks. We like to think we offer something for everyone.
Can you highlight or name some of the organizations for which you have done fundraising work for?
Usually we will pick a charity or organization that is local to the area in which we hold an event. Some of the organizations we have done work for include the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective; AIDS Project New Haven, AIDS Project Worcester; The Hope Lodge, which is run by the American Cancer Society in Boston; the Soup Kitchen In Provincetown; and the Helping Hand Fund, which is a charity based at Hillside Campgrounds in Pennsylvania. Last November, we did a hugely successful food drive and benefit at Frank's Place in New London for the Gemma Moran Labor Food Center, which even got the attention of Senator Andrew Maynard, who was in attendance.
How many members does the organization have?
We presently have about 200 members
What is one of the group’s favorite events that you have sponsored?
Spookybear Weekend and Bear Migration are our two favorite events. We also like Out Of Hibernation, a collaboration we do in March with other bear-related groups in Provincetown.
Why have the Northeast Ursamen been so successful where other organizations have struggled?
I think the reason for our success is because of our good name, and the fact that so many people have cared enough about our club to keep it going. The group really has been a family for a lot of our guys and we think of each other as brothers, so our group has a lot of heart. Over the years, the idea of the Northeast Ursamen has become larger than the sum of it's parts. When people think of bears, they think of the Northeast Ursamen.
Who or what inspires the members of the Northeast Ursamen?
Every member will find a different answer to this question, but in general, the camraderie found in our group inspires us to be who we are, even if our outward appearance does not match the mainstream image of stereotypical gay men.
What can we expect from the Northeast Ursamen in 2011?
You can expect to see us out and about in cities like Hartford, New Haven, Worcester and Boston, and with any luck, maybe Danbury and Providence. You will definitely see us at Hartford Pride this year, and we will do it up big in Provicentown for Spookybear Weekend again. We will also be laying the groundwork for next year as our club turns 20 years old in 2012.
Where does the organization hope to be in five years?
In five years, the club will be 24 years old, so at that time, we hope to be looking forward to our next 24 plus years.
1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
I am very proud that the Northeast Ursaman has been given this honor! Since its start in 1992, the club has remained a social orginization bringing together a segment of the gay community that might be considered on the frige of the gay culture.
I had the honor of serving the club as President in 2007 and Vice President in 2005-06. While the NEUmen is a social orginization, its continued committement to the community and fundraising is nothing short of impressige.
Congratulations to all the receipants!
John-Albert Moseley Northeast Ursamen, President 2007