The Harbour City Bears is an inclusive organisaton, so much so it even has female members.

Virginia C Brenner is one of the organisation’s female members — and not only is she a woman, she just happens to be straight as well.

The 43-year-old from Frankston, Victoria said she wanted to make a firm commitment to a community that plays such an important role in her life.

“Most of my dear friends were already members so it was an obvious choice. My dear friend Chelse [Phil] was very encouraging,” Brenner said.

“The benefit for me has been reflected in the positive response from HCB valuing my input as a straight female member of this group and also to push people to be open towards acceptance of each other, our life choices and wonderful diversities.

“Clearly, discounted entry to saunas etc, was not a priority but I have been afforded the benefit of being welcome to attend one of the most excellent parties of the festive season: Underbear. I must say that I always look forward to this as in my opinion, Bears know how to party.”

Brenner said she considered the Bear community to be groundbreakers, although her membership has not been without its hiccups.

“In every social situation people can be misread and obviously as a female within this group there will be one or two people who do not get me, but it has never really been an issue for concern,” she said.

“In my opinion HCB is a groundbreaker in this area as from previous experience other similar groups have perhaps not been quite as welcoming. My time spent at HCB functions and with the Bear group in general has been friendly, welcoming and very positive. I always feel very comfortable.”

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