(Latest letter, October 24, 2014)
My problem is not strictly one relating to the furry world but is a side effect of such. A little background about me. I am 19 years old, I am a Britfur, and I've always been very open about who I am.
Well, okay, that last statement is a lie.
I was a closeted fur for around 5 years before coming out recently. And may I say, it was the best decision I made. Having been to several meets and already booked for Confuzzled next year, the furry community is the most accepting I've ever encountered. So much so, that it was to a fur I first revealed to somebody I wasn't involved with about my pansexuality and feminine qualities. I am a HUGE femboy and whenever I am around my friends (and strangers) I feel confident enough to stride around in my girly outfits and flirt with everyone. Life is great. Except when I come home.
I live with my parents. They know I am a furry. But they don't know anything else. They have no idea about my sexuality or gender identity. All my girl clothes I keep in a box I have stashed under the floorboards. I do all the washing for them myself and I only ever do it when I'm home alone. I don't have the confidence to tell them about who I really am. I'm always afraid that they'll treat me differently and unlike the situation with general people where the attitude “if they don't like it; you don't need them” applies, this is my family. I can't just walk away from them. They've already done so much for me in ways I cannot explain publicly. But I digress, and the point is that I don't want to live this lie in front of them. I don't think I'll be living with them much longer but it's gnawing away at every brain cell I have.
Well, that was a lot of explaining and ranting. Now to the problem. I want to have the confidence to tell them. But I don't. I can tell everyone else but family. And I see things replied to stuff like this all the time to the effect of "just believe in yourself" or some other nonsense. That clearly isn't going to help because it's not like I haven't told anyone. I just... I don't know ... want them to know without me telling them. Are there any ways I can do this? Or are there any ways to help be build the confidence to tell them something like this? I just need them to understand.
V (age 19)
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Before I can formulate some solid advice about your question, could you tell me more about your parents? They sound like kind, supportive people, and you clearly love them. Do you know anything about their attitudes toward the LGBT community? Are they really religious and find homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality etc. morally offensive?
Do you feel that if you told them they would be the sort of people to toss you out on the street and abandon you? Or do you just fear that "things will never be the same" once you tell them?
Information like this would be helpful.
Thanks for writing. Hope to hear from you soon.
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Well, my mother is only concerned with getting more grandchildren since my older brother isn't having any more so she would be 50% okay with it. As for my father I don't know. We don't talk much. No, it's more accurate to say HE doesn't talk much. We have a biological bond but that's it. We never talk or socialise with each other and that's fine with me, it's the way he is but my mother I have a very strong relationship with.
I know for a fact that they wouldn't disown me or anything like that. The reasons for this I cannot share even anonymously but I do worry that there would be a breakdown of family bonds. Especially with my mother. I always feel like there would be, as they say, an elephant in the room. Even if nothing was ever said, I can read her like a book.
My father isn't religious. My mother is but not in the zealot kind of way. She's always taken a laid back approach and while she is firm in her beliefs they are accepting in general. She doesn't oppose alternative sexualities or anything. We actually talked about this stuff a few weeks ago and she's all for the gay marriage laws and the like but things are different when they're at your front door. I was raised as a Catholic, like my entire family, and I rejected it and my whole family knows that I have. I got into enough trouble with my religious studies teacher to prove it. But I feel I am digressing from the main issue here. The point is that while I don't feel that anything definitely negative would happen, I don't want to damage the bond I have with my family. With moving recently, I don't have any friends in the area. The closest I have are my friends at furmeets.
Another kettle of fish is my brother. I consider my brother one of my closest friends. Growing up he was always my idol. He is 8 years older than I and he's very in the dark about things such as alternative sexualities/genders. And he's a very stereotypical “man.” And while he is super understanding and caring and I love him, I have the same issue I do with my mother. I don't want to lose him. Especially with him having his own family now, he wouldn't need me. It all feels silly reading it back to myself but the thought of 'coming out' as it were frightens the hell out of me. But keeping secrets is both physically and emotionally tiring.
So, that's a little more I suppose. Thank you for responding so soon.
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All right, thanks for this information. If I have this correct, you have told your family about your being furry but not about your sexual orientation. Telling them you’re furry hasn’t changed anything, but you feel that being a femboi would. From what you’re telling me about them, I don’t think you’re giving them enough credit; your brother also seems to be pretty cool.
Really what we’re dealing with here is your anxiety over changing the family paradigm. You know your family won’t reject you or put you out on the street, but you somehow feel they will love you less. Hon, if your parents love you, really love you, nothing you do is going to change that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they already strongly suspect—or even know—what is going on with you, unless they are completely unobservant people. You’ve gone to some pretty far extremes to keep your true identity hidden, but parents—especially moms—are a lot more observant than you think. This is the woman who has been with you since before you were born, who potty trained you, fed you, helped you to walk.... She knows who you are perhaps even more than you know yourself.
This is a matter of courage, then. What is courage? It’s not about being unafraid, actually. You ask any soldier who has been in the line of fire, and he will tell you s/he was afraid, very afraid, but they did what needed to be done anyway. Only insane people are unafraid of such conditions. While what we are talking about here is not anywhere close to being shot at, we’re still dealing with fear. It’s okay to be afraid. Courage is about doing what needs doing despite your fears.
Now, if you wish, you could wait until after you have moved out and gained some independence before telling them so you don’t have to face the awkward situation of living with them after talking to them, but I don’t think that’s really necessary in your case. You intimate the notion of somehow having them just find out. Well, you can do that. You could leave your girly clothes around for them to find instead of hiding them, and that would certainly initiate a “discussion.” But it would be far better if, instead of giving them a little shock of surprise and showing you don’t trust them, to instead talk to them.
Here is a website that talks about the process of coming out to your parents. Some of this we have already discussed, but it also goes into what you might expect after talking to your family: http://www.glbtss.colostate.edu/coming-out-to-your-parents.
Good luck! Feel free to write again if you have more questions!
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Your advice and suggestions are kind and warm. And I appreciate it. What you say seems to make sense and I firmly believe in what you say. The fear is ever more apparent to me now than it ever was however, I still have the problem of how to tackle it. Not only this, I question on how to bring it up. I don't feel it's something I could just sit down and announce to them. It's not how I am. I had a period in school, many years ago, exploring my sexuality where I thought I was homosexual and I lived in fear of anyone I knew telling them. It was almost phobia level fear and, in some of my phobia cases, beyond it.
I read through the article you linked me and this has raised my confidence somewhat but I am a shy and meek person when it comes to expressing my personal emotions. From many things they have already found out about me, such as being furry et cetera, my mother sometimes just says whenever we are in the car together, "you're really weird, aren't you". I don't believe she says this with any malice. She simply says it in regards to the things she knows I am into and personality quirks/flaws that are too painfully obvious to ignore.
I sometimes close my eyes at night and when I wake up I hope they just know and nothing has changed but of course, tue idea is absurd. I even sometimes debate whether I should or not. I've managed to go undetected thus far, whether it is worth it.
Regarding the "may already know/suspect" thing, there was another time, back during school, when she found girls underwear in my drawer which I had forgotten to hide properly and I told her the truth which really upset her. She "didn't know where it would lead". Maybe this is a source of my fear? That this would repeat again. I told her I had gotten rid of all the things I had and I believed myself it was a phase, which as it turned out all my "school phases" were more than such.
I just want to take this time now however, to thank you for all your advice so far. It has already helped my confidence but I still fear rejection. Or maybe not rejection, but awkwardness and the feeling of distrust.
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Reading your email it made me think of Divine. Are you familiar with him? He was the bizarre gay cross-dresser who starred in John Waters films like "Pink Flamingos." He became estranged from his mother (largely because of his using her credit cards, but also it was hard for her to understand him). Anyway, she wrote a book called My Son, Divine. I think it would be a good read for you. Divine loved his mother, and in the end, the two reconciled before his death of a heart attack. The story is from her perspective. Give it a look. It's a little pricey; see if you can get a used copy or borrow a copy from a library.
This might sound like odd advice, but I think you'll benefit from the read. If you agree, I think it could be an ice breaker. "Accidentally" leave the book out where your mom can see it. If she asks about it, suggest she read it.
Feel free to write any time.
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I am not familiar with this but I will definitely try to find the nearest library and borrow a copy. Thank you for all your advice.
I don't feel ready to come out to them just yet but I think I've conquered the first stage of getting there.
I've already recommended your page on my personal FA page and advised others to do the same.
I hope I wont need your advice again but if I ever do I'll contact you as soon as I can.
Thank you so much. <3
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Okay, V. I would not want you to come out before you are comfortable with it. Only you can judge that. Hopefully, I've given you some tools toward getting there.
Illustrations on "Ask Papabear" are by Dan the Bear. Check out this talented illustrator on FurAffinity or send him an email.