As we head into the homestretch of this frigid season, one thing that might heat things up a bit, (especially for the boys) is the introduction of Ottawa’s 2008 queer ambassadors, the winners of Mr Leather Ottawa, Mr Ottawa Bear and Miss Gay National Capital.
Expressing their sexuality in different ways — be it harnesses, bear chasing or being the belle of the ball — the three titleholders share a sincere interest in the queer community together with their ability to let loose and have fun.
The newest of the winners is Mr Ottawa Bear, Shawn Carroll. The Mr Ottawa Bear (MOB) contest took over Swizzles Jan 19, packing the bar with bear admirers and friends. Four bears were in the running, each participating in the so-called meat and greet, interviews and some serious strutting for the crowd.
With a large rowdy crowd, MOB was quite the party. After Carroll was announced as the winner, things got even wilder — concluding with the judges indulging in shooters from the belly buttons of the contestants.
While Carroll may have been surprised at his win, this isn’t his first title. The married bear is a make-up artist and has enjoyed competing in these contests for years. He’s also a former Mr Cellblock, Mr Leather Ottawa and Canadian Leather Man (2005).
“With each title, I have learned many things about myself and helped others view a big Bear. I have learned that one’s size does not define them. Their heart does.”
More teddybear than anything else, Carroll believes his genuine appreciation of the community is what won over the judges.
Richard Hubley shares that appreciation for the queer community. A long time Ottawa local, Hubley has helped run the Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO) contest for 10 years. But the weekend of Nov 2-4, 2007 at Barrymores Music Hall, Hubley competed for the first time and won.
MLO has five components to the contest: meet the meat; interviews; full leather and speech; minimal leather and pop question; and the fantasy scene. Hubley’s fantasy scene, involving a bathtub, harness and a shirtless stranger in camouflage, was particularly memorable.
As he reminisces, its clear that that Hubley’s still thrilled about his win.
“There were a many highlights over the weekend but the one that stands out the most, was receiving the title sash from Bo Ladashevska, International Mr Leather 2006, whom I have admired for many years.”
Hubley will head to Chicago to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Leather contest as the first Ottawa winner in a wheelchair.
“As far as I know I will also be the first wheelchair user to compete at International Mr Leather in Chicago. The experience so far has been was exhilarating, overwhelming and empowering.”
Those same feelings were echoed by the winner of Miss Gay National Capital, Dee Dee Deelite. Wearing a stunning turquoise gown, Dee Dee Deelite was awarded her crown, sash and title on Oct 20, 2007 at Dom Polski Hall.
She smiles at the memory.
“I was so surprised to win,” she says. “I’ve always been a runner-up. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”
Following the more traditional pageant style, Dee Dee Deelite wowed the judges with her rendition of And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going, from Dreamgirls, followed by the evening gown section where she rocked a sparkly black and grey floor length gown.
Deelite also prompted a few laughs, sharing her catchphrase “Get over it!” during the interview section.
“I was just referring to the people who have issues with the queer community. My point was, we’re not going anywhere. We’re here to stay — so get over it!”
While these Ottawa contests are a fun and steamy diversion, they’re very much more than a night out. The winners accept the responsibilities of an ambassador for their organization in the new year. Carroll, Hubley and Deelite will all attend committee meetings for the organization, help organize events and participate in Pride week.
Deelite is already gearing up to host her first show as Miss Gay National Capital. It’s a benefit for the food bank at Swizzles on Jan 26.
“I used to be shy, you know. But as DeeDee, this is different, I’m in disguise. So I’m not nervous, it’s going to be fun. Just another show for a good cause!”