(Latest letter, December 15, 2014)
Hello, Papa Bear!
I wanna start by saying thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply, even though this'll be a short one.
I've been a furry for just over a year now. I have some trouble with friends. I used to go to a Catholic School before I began homeschooling, so most of my friends are religious and/or homophobic. I'd love so start coming out to my friends slowly that I'm a furry, and that I'm bisexual.
I don't have many close friends, but I have one who probably wouldn't mind much. I just don't know how to get to him, or to get it to him in that matter, as he lives on the other side of Canada.
Anyway, the question is, how would I slowly but surely tell friends who don't like furries all that much that I'm furry?
Philly (age 13; Canada)
* * *
As you might imagine, Papabear has answered questions about coming out furry many times on this site, yet I still get letters like yours that add a little spin to the issue and make it worth readdressing the topic.
I’d like to congratulate you, first, on figuring out at such a young age that you are bisexual (and furry). That gives you a lot of time to adjust and grow into yourself, so to speak. You would be surprised how many are in denial about who they are or don’t realize it until much later in life.
That said, I will caution you about the obvious: coming out gay or bi in a conservative, religious, homophobic community is like walking into a small room where there has been a gas leak while carrying a lit candle. You are asking for trouble.
I appreciate the desire to be allowed to be oneself in public, as well as in private. In an ideal world, those who deviate from “acceptable behavior” wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable around friends, peers, and family. But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we, Philly? Being a furry might or might not be more or less incendiary than announcing one is bisexual, but in either case, you’re looking for trouble.
You recognized this, though, and came up with the solution of “coming out slowly” as a furry. Human society doesn’t function like that, however. Rumors, gossip, and juicy facts about people have a way of spreading like wildfire. Say you come out to this friend you trust pretty well. (He’s on the other side of the country, so how well do you really know him?) Even if he is pretty trustworthy, he could unintentionally let this news slip past his lips, and before you can shout “Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!” a bunch of your friends will know what you confessed. (This is especially true now in the electronic communication age.)
The solution is not to come out to your current, homophobic friends, but, rather, to surround yourself with new friends who can accept you for who you are. You say you’re homeschooled now and no longer attend the Catholic school. That’s fine. That makes it easier, actually, not to tell them about either your furriness or your bisexuality.
Next, find a new community of people who are either like you or who are accepting of you. You can then easily tell them your real identity and it will be no sweat.
If friends hate you for what you are, you can do one of the following: convince them they are wrong about their views, or find new friends, or hide who you really are and pretend to be someone your current friends can accept. It is, quite frankly, extremely difficult to convince a lot of people they are wrong about their beliefs; even if you can “convert” a couple, most will still not accept you, and the result is you will be shunned. And hiding who you really are will just make you miserable. The best solution is to change your environment. Take me, for instance. I lived in Homophobe Central (Michigan), so I moved to Palm Springs, where half the population is literally gay. Much happier.
You don’t say where you are in Canada, but there are definitely furries out there (for example, Ontario Furries http://www.ontariofurries.ca/ and the Canadian Furries group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cafurry). There are cons in Canada, too, such as What the Fur! in Quebec and Fur-Eh! in Edmonton. Check some of these out and start making furiends! You might have been having trouble making friends before because you couldn’t fully relate to your religious schoolmates. I suggest that you will run into a lot of interesting people with much more open minds among the furries.
I don’t want to be a bummer, but I have decades more experience than you in these matters. Trust Papabear and listen to me when I say that there is no slow and gradual way to come out to conservative and closed-minded people. If you do, you will end up getting hurt.
Also, think of the other side of the coin: if you tell someone about being furry and/or being bi but then insist that they not tell anyone, you are imposing a burden of secrecy upon them that they might not want or appreciate.
Instead, take the next few years to learn more about furries, about your sexuality, and about being an adult in a world that can be, sadly, very harsh and judgmental. There are many good, kind people out there, but there are just as many who will attack you for being different and will do anything they can to make your life miserable. And, at 13, you are not really of an age to be able to defend yourself very well.
That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but I hope you will listen.
Take Care, My Furry Friend,
Illustrations on "Ask Papabear" are by Dan the Bear. Check out this talented illustrator on FurAffinity or send him an email.