How long have you been volunteering for HCB, and what prompted you to start helping out?
I moved to Sydney in 2012 and becoming a HCB member was one of the first things I did, and I loved it. I think I first started volunteering around 2014 or 2015, and I did it for two distinct reasons.
The first was that after 2 years I had a good circle of friends, but there were still heaps of members that I didn't know at all. I thought that volunteering would give me the opportunity to interact with a much larger portion of the membership. It's definitely done that. Nowadays when I walk into bears there are always friendly faces, and I really like that.
The second reason is a bit sappier. When I moved to Sydney and joined HCB, I finally found a bunch of homos just like me. For the first time in my life I was part of a community that had a shared life experience in a way that I hadn't felt before. For me it was the first time that I actually felt like part of a community. That meant a lot to me, and volunteering my time and effort was a way I could tangibly give something back.
What kinds of things have you done as a volunteer? What are you favourite shifts?
Done a bit of everything I think. Regular vollie shifts at the weekly gatherings, special events during bear pride and mardi gras, sausage sizzles and cake stalls, and also sitting on the committee for a couple of years as the volunteer coordinator myself.
Without a doubt my absolute favourite volunteer activity is being on door at Friday bears. Seeing people filter in feeling good that the weekend is starting and that they have some downtime, hollering at friends as they approach across Taylor Square, laughing and hugging more in a couple of hours than you did in the rest of the week combined.
Volunteering at the special events is also great. It's wonderful helping to get the final things squared away and feel everyone getting excited, and greeting everyone as they start filtering in. Even the onslaught and bedlam of working in the cloakroom is enjoyable.
What's the most ridiculous thing that has every happened to you while volunteering?
Hahahaha - this would probably be when we had the UnderBear at the Sex on Premises venue in... 2018 I think? After a great night of dancing and screwing we were doing cleanup once all the punters had left. During the party itself we had an official hold put on the fire alarms so that we could have the smoke machines pumping.
Unfortunately when they came back online about a half hour after everything was done there was still a good bit of haze left hanging, and they went off. We had a bunch of firies lob up and they are obligated to check out the venue when an alarm goes off. So there I was, decked out in rubber gear with my ass hanging out wearing gloves, making small talk with firemen walking through a room that was kitted out with a sling and multiple mattresses while I'm there picking up lube packs and condoms. Fucking hilarious.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering for HCB?
Simple as that.
Ask whoever is on the door next to put you in touch with the volunteer coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell them that you'd like to do a door shift, or to add you to the contact list for the special events.
It will normally either be with other people as a big group, or with one of the comittee members alongside you, so there's no reason to be nervous. You're almost guaranteed to have a great time and meet a whole lot more people.