International Bear Bash 2016 welcomed hundreds of men from across the US and from several international territories. That said, 2016 was no normal year for the Orlando, Florida LGBTQ+ community.
2016 AND THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING
2016 proved to be a difficult and emotional year for the Orlando community and International Bear Bash. In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, our host city of Orlando, FL, was home of The Pulse Nightclub Shooting; a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 49 innocent victims in our community. The months following this tragedy were very difficult times for Orlando and the LGBTQ community worldwide.
International Bear Bash, scheduled to take place just three months after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, decided to slow the promotion of our 2016 event in light of this execrable tragedy. Although this is usually the busiest time for our pass sales, we wanted to honor and respect both the victims and families. Simply put, we made a decision not to eclipse the mourning of the community, and the victims of the shooting, with a bunch of event promotional parties.
Building Community through Collaboration
Building Community through collaboration has always been a hallmark of Bear Bash Events. Our steadfast commitment to building community through collaboration is a feature in each newsletter we publish. In spite of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, 2016 did not dissuade us from getting out there and helping our community. Many of our organizers donated time, money, and in-kind contributions to help heal our local community.
In August 2016, we began to hear of the economic impact of The Pulse Nightclub Shooting on the Central Florida LGBTQ business community. Since many of the local businesses and events have been supporters of both our event and the broader community, we decided to help them in improving the local economic impact of the tragedy. In an effort to help with this, Bear Bash Events gave away hundreds of free passes to International Bear Bash 2016 throughout Central Florida during August and September 2016 in an effort to draw people to local businesses and events.
Moreover, in August 2016, thematic with our commitment to charitable work, we made a cash donation of $700 to The Center Orlando to assist them in their leadership efforts during this difficult time in our community. In early 2016 we also gave a cash donation of $1,000 to the Hope and Help Center in Orlando.
In September 2016, just days before International Bear Bash, our senior organizers met with Homeland Security’s, Protective Security Adviser, Marty Smith. Mr. Smith provided information and training materials for us to use to ensure the safety of our guests and we worked collaboratively with them to ensure our guests all safely returned home after our event.
International Bear Bash 2016 welcomed nearly 700 guests from around the world.
FUTURE PLANS FOR INTERNATIONAL BEAR BASH
Much like our other International Bear Bash Events (IBB), 2022 will include several parties throughout four days of main events. As always, since the event draws an international crowd that frequently travel a significant distance for the event, the event also includes early arrival/pre-comer events and late stay events such as Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.