(Latest letter, October 18, 2014)
How have you been?
I came to ask you for help regarding the way I am feeling.
As you know, I have been a furry for many years now, but an unfortunate, personal event in my life, which was caused by the lack of understanding of other Portuguese furries when I was undergoing a phase of depression, drove me to leave the furry fandom for some time. However, I have always wanted return when I felt ready to do so, despite the fact that I decided never to socialize with other Portuguese furries again.
It’s been three years since I walked away. I desperately want to return. But the fear that I may somehow ruin it all again prevents me from taking bigger steps.
An example of that fear was my very first letter to you, when I asked you to help me choose my fursona because I was too afraid to do so.
Now I am afraid of creating an account on FurAffinity. I usually state that I do not wish to create an account there because I feel that my artworks are less secure there than they are on other websites such as deviantART, and although this is partially true, I have come to call it self-deception for the real reason for me doing so is that I do not want to come across my ex-furry friends again.
Moreover, the idea that living in Portugal, a country where the furry fandom is shunned and dismissed as a perversion by the large majority of people I have encountered, plus the fact that there are not many furries here (about 40 in the whole country) causes me to lose hope to ever obtain a respectable position in the furry fandom.
Somehow, I feel that if I had been born in another country, such as in North America or England, I would feel less an outcast. I feel somewhat blue when I think what other furries in other countries think about Portuguese furries. Do they even notice us at all?
I have always wanted to go to a furry convention, to meet other international furries, to have a fursuit, and to maybe even become a respectable and known entity such as yourself. But I seem to be too much of a coward to try and do so.
I do not know what to do. Will you please help me?
Armand DeCrow (age 21)
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If there truly are only 40 Portuguese furries in existence, you might understand that the international furry community might miss them. As far as this bear knows, no one in the U.S. has an opinion of Portuguese furries one way or the other, good or bad. If you wish to go to a furry convention, I would suggest you try the big one in Europe, http://www.eurofurence.org/, which you could get to by train a lot easier than coming to the U.S.
Going to another country will not solve your problems. If you think the furries in Portugal are drama queens, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet LOL. Such miscommunication and conflict happens whether or not you’re talking about furries. It’s human nature. Papabear gets letters all the time from furries who have suffered a misunderstanding or have been shunned by other furries. And the furry community is not commonly accepted in American society, either, although that has slowly been changing. I have been seeing reports on news channels that have been less critical of the fandom, such as this one about a recent Anthrocon: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/07/02/furries-bring-fun-costumes-and-lots-of-revenue-to-pittsburgh/.
I’m glad, though, that your past troubles haven’t destroyed your desire to be involved in the fandom. In moving ahead, there are two options you can consider when reopening accounts on FurAffinity or elsewhere.
In the meantime, you need to get over your fears. After all, what is the worst that could happen by being identified again or coming into contact with some of your compatriots again? Perhaps some jerks will block you; perhaps some people might post some bad things about you. But you’re not going to die or be banned from the fandom for any of that. Assert your rights to be part of the fandom and be a good person and you will be fine. Everyone gets trashed sometimes, including me. It is more a reflection on the trolls and haters out there than it is on you. Follow the Golden Rule and don’t worry about detractors. If you let them create fear in your heart, you are letting them win. The best way to defeat a troll is to show that you don’t care what they say or even acknowledge they exist. When you do that, they wither away.
Welcome back to the furry fandom, Armand!
Illustrations on "Ask Papabear" are by Dan the Bear. Check out this talented illustrator on FurAffinity or send him an email.