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Saturday 11 April 2015

Meet: 2014 Mr Bear Canterbury Simon Henderson

Posted in: Hall of Fame
By Jacqui Stanford - 17th November 2014

The new Mr Bear Canterbury is Simon Henderson, a 42-year-old budding interior designer who has a performance art coming out story to remember! He answers our ‘get to know you’ questions.

Simon Henderson, right, is the new Mr Bear Canterbury. Picture thanks to Aaron Roper.

What does it mean to you to win the title?
I feel flattered and surprised to win, it was a difficult thing to do, I felt rather vulnerable up there! But it feels very good to have the support and positive vibes from the people I have met over the last two years in Christchurch. It means a lot to win and I hope to do the community proud.

How much fun was the night?
It was tremendous fun. I think the gay community in Christchurch has had so much upheavals in the last few years that it is a rare but precious opportunity to break out and have a gay old time. We were at the new Pavilion that has just opened at the Hagley Oval. The Oval is host to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, so it feels nice that we have christened the venue with our fairy dust before hundreds of millions of people see it on screen across the globe next year.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Avonhead, Christchurch. I have been away from the city since I was 15, but came home from living in the UK a couple of years ago.

When did you come out and how did it go?
I came out to my school at about 15 during an art class. We were supposed to do a piece of performance art. I painted a canvas sign with all the derogatory terms for being gay that people used to shout at me out of car windows. I got a classmate to hold up the sign at one end of the classroom. I stood on a desk at the other end and shouted out the words at the top of my voice. A very cathartic experience, but I think it was a little more than the art teacher bargained for! It certainly gained me instant notoriety across the school but I’m pleased to say it was a very positive experience and no-one attacked me for it. I think they were either bemused or proud for me, or a little of both.

Picture thanks to Aaron Roper
What’s the best thing about being gay?
The best thing about being gay is having an understanding and tolerance of minority and difference. It allows me to think beyond convention and imagine alternative universes. It makes me confident, colourful and fearless. I’m extremely happy to be gay.

What do you think are the most pressing issues currently facing the NZ's LGBT community?
I feel that there are some who are losing touch with real human interaction. An always online, always on the phone, always on the dating apps existence has led to rooms full of zombies looking at phones, even texting people who are in the same room. We need to rediscover the joys of pressing the flesh, opening up in more meaningful ways that are genuine and personal.

What do you do for a job?
I work for a kitchen design studio and I am studying to be an Interior Designer.

What's your relationship status, and what are you attracted to in guys?
I’m single. I am attracted to a sense of humour first and foremost. I do like the bears but to me that doesn't mean trying to be ultra-masculine. I’m just as happy with a guy who is camp as Christmas! PS: I have a crush on Cam from Modern Family. (Played by Eric Stonestreet) Clown suit and all!

What's your worst habit?
I bite my nails.

What's your biggest fear?
I’m afraid of dying. I think that’s why I watch the bloodiest things I can on TV, CSI or The Walking Dead.. I know it happens to us all, but not just yet please! :-)

Your favourite music right now?
I just downloaded Goapele’s latest album, 'Break of Dawn' the other day, an utterly beautiful R&B singer/songwriter from Oakland, California. The single “Milk and Honey’ is a laid back dream of paradise.

Favourite books?
A bit of Terry Pratchett is always a good easy read. I re-read A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin the other day. Trust me, the book is FAR better than the movie!

Every Christmas without fail I watch Love Actually. Gets me gushing tears every time. Yes an old romantic me!

TV programmes?
Well, there’s my love affair with Modern Family, I’ve got back into The Walking Dead with the new series which has recaptured my appreciation. I also LOVE the new Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi is superb! An old favourite is CSI, and for a bit of political intrigue, the remake of House of Cards is deliciously evil.

If you could have one wish granted what would it be?
An end to war.

If you could have ANYONE over for dinner, who would it be, and what would you cook?
Ah, well.. I would be pretty nervous but I would have to say Stephen Fry. I might be too tongue-tied to speak to him so I would plan a big meal that would keep me in the kitchen for a long time. I do a mean roast venison, spiced, seared and rare, served with oven vegetables. I might have to wait till winter to serve it to him then - but he would like that, he’s not a summer person.

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Jacqui Stanford - 17th November 2014