So, I showed my grandma a fursuit that I liked online, and said that it was cute, and I'd like to make one someday if I had the money to, because I love to build fursuits. She looked at me really concerned, and said, "Other than being a furry, what do you like to do? Are there any careers you'd like in the future?" I know it sounds harmless, but her tone and concern showed that she didn't like me being a furry at all. She's VERY religious and isn't very open-minded on most subjects. I love her, but I need some help. Do you have any advice?
Checkmate (age 11)
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Yes. Be happy that your nana isn't being crass about your furriness, but respect that she is not entirely comfortable with it. You are more than just a furry, so talk to her about all the other stuff in your life. She is concerned about your future, so talk to her about what you would like to do in your future and what you see yourself doing. Furry isn't everything. You can still share a lot with her about you and your family. Also, ask her about and talk about HER life. Show interest in her. She has been around a lot, so take advantage of her experiences and wisdom. Also, if you can, do things together and make new memories. Your gramma won't be around forever. Enjoy her presence in your life now.
I've recently come out as transgender (Female to Genderqueer, I use they/them pronouns).
I've been having problems getting anyone to use my pronouns because of my feminine name (which I chose), and even my own husband won't use my pronouns. It's frustrating.
Should I just get used to not being addressed properly, or should I change my name and work towards a top surgery to come across as more masculine? Is there another option?
Thank you for your time.
* * *
Thank you for your excellent (and very relevant) question! I've been waiting for someone to ask me this :-3 Okay, so, here we go . . .
First of all, I would like to stress that you should never ever ever get surgery in order to please other people. Surgery is extremely serious and should never be performed unless it is either to correct or to fix a life-threatening or other serious medical issue or because you yourself have a deep personal commitment to the procedure (and I mean deep). I would say the same thing about any hormone therapy you might consider. If you don't want to do something like that, then you certainly shouldn't do it just so people can get a grip on their perception of you. No, what is important is how you see yourself and what you want for yourself. It is your body and your life.
As for pronouns, I can understand, I think, what you are feeling. While I am not transgender myself, I am a gay bear who is attracted to masculine men and I feel masculine myself. For this reason, I feel it is very cringy when people call me "sister" or "girlfriend" or use the feminine pronoun on me, as some of my gay friends are inclined to do. No, I'm not a girl and I am not your sister. If a gay friend of mine likes to be called those things and wants me to use "she/her" when referring to them, I'm fine with that. But don't do it to me, please.
When my late husband, Jim, called me "girlfriend" and "sister" a couple of times, what I did was quickly correct him. "No, Jim, I'm not a girl. Please don't call me by any feminine pronouns or other descriptions." It took a couple of times, but he eventually got out of the habit and we were fine.
Pronouns are an interesting thing. Some people think using "they/them" to refer to one person is wrong, but in English we do it all the time. Example: "My friend Bob left their keys in the car." No one has a problem with that, and, in fact, important dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster's have been saying that using they/them in the singular is perfectly fine, grammatically speaking. For years, as a book editor, I struggled with the awkwardness of editing text to say he/she and his/her in some of the manuscripts I corrected. I was told, when I was a young assistant editor working in Detroit, that I should do this. It made for very clumsy prose, in my opinion. More recently, after some research and consulting with authorities in the language, I am now happy to use they/their in the singular.
There have been proposals by some in the gay and also straight community that we should just dispose of feminine and masculine pronouns entirely and use they/them all the time. The counterargument is that this denies the majority of people of all genders and sexes the right to be called by a masculine or feminine pronoun if that is how they self-identify.
Sooooo (deep breath), the bottom line, in my opinion, is for English speakers to adapt to the idea that they/them has evolved somewhat and can now be applied to use for general discussions of the singular but also for trans people or anyone else who has that preference. English is a living language, and words change their meanings and usage all the time (e.g., "gay" used to mean "happy" and that was all it meant; "ugly" was often used as a synonym for "mean"; and so on).
Sorry for the long walk-through, but now to your specific question: How does one get family, friends, and coworkers to start referring to you with they/them pronouns? Look at it in the same way a teacher might. When you are teaching someone, and they (they!) get an answer to a question wrong, you calmly and clearly correct them. Each time they get the answer wrong, you correct them. You keep doing this over and over until they get it right. Repetition is how people learn. So, repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually, they will either get the concept, or they will be so exhausted by your endlessly correcting them that they will finally relent and use the proper words. Depending on the person, it will take more or less time. But do not give up. Don't get angry or sad or upset. Just smile and correct them. It's like someone mispronouncing your name. What would you do? Why, you would correct them, of course. Same goes for this situation.
Hope this helps.
Big Bear Hugs,
Dear Papa Bear,
Normally, I would not write in to a column about a issue I'm having. However, since this is something I've had a lot of people talk to me about and I don't know the answer, I figured taking it to a higher source makes more sense. So, I am a late 30-something furry, and I've been in the fandom nearly a decade. As I've aged, I've noticed furry has become, for lack of a better term, "tainted" by social politics, gender wars, and identity politics. Unfortunately, much of the issue is coming from a result of the young taking over leadership roles in our community. My question is, what can we "the elder generation" of furries do to maybe help curb the tide of this problem and what do you think of furry becoming so hyperpolitical?
Lotus Wolf (37)
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Dear Lotus Wolf,
Good question, and one I certainly relate to, being a greymuzzle myself. Yes, the fandom is changing, and it is radically different from when it started in the late 1970s/early 1980s. This is the result of a couple of things: 1) the internet, and 2) how it has grown to include hundreds of thousands of people. As the fandom becomes more visible to the general public, it has attracted a lot of people who don't really "get" furry. They are in it more to get attention than to be a part of the fun. Part of getting attention has been to do political things such as becoming a Nazi or Antifa furry. In this bear's humble opinion, furry is not a place for politics (this includes any sexual or gender or identity politics). It's supposed to be a place to avoid mundane things like politics and economics and social pressures. I disagree with you that furry has become "hyperpolitical." Yes, politics have encroached upon it, but not in an all-consuming way--just enough to be annoying.
What to do about it? Number one is to avoid validating people who want to make politics a thing in the fandom (doesn't matter if they are on the right, left, or moderate). They are basically trolls and should be ignored and blocked. Second is to reemphasize the fantasy aspect of the fandom by encouraging and participating in the writing, art, and games of the fandom. Third is to do what we can to educate the younger generations about furry history and who we are. Such things as Ash Coyote's documentary The Fandom can be helpful, or reading books such as Joe Striker's Furry Nation.
Change is inevitable and will continue in any living fandom. There will be good things about the fandom and bad things, but that's okay as long as we don't lose sight of who we are. Communication and education are the best approaches. We should also recognize that some things simply are not acceptable. I, for one, do not appreciate seeing anyone wearing a swastika armband at a furcon (or the Furry Raiders' armband, which is obviously similar, and don't tell me it's not), and I'm not a fan of how Antifa furs have behaved in the past, nor do I care to see furcon room parties for Soviet Furs.
Young people in America, especially, have lost an appreciation for democracy and freedom, sadly. They have been coddled and spoiled and no longer understand how lucky they are. A Cambridge University study showed that 55% of Millennials don't think democracy is important. The failing here is not with the Millenials, however; it is with the older generation and our current politicians who have made a mockery of democracy. What the Millennials are abhorring, really, is the distorted and corrupt "democracy" we now have. The internet, as we have seen so painfully recently, is also to blame for spreading lies and misinformation about our political institutions and a number of politicians.
The furry fandom is a victim of the times. Don't blame furries themselves. I hate when people say things such as "The fandom is just a bunch of furverts and drama queens and haters." No, it's not. Almost everyfur I meet--young and old--is a wonderful person. But it only takes a drop of arsenic to poison the entire cup of tea. More and more, admins in places such as Facebook groups (including me) have been prohibiting politics and hate in their groups. If those who run social websites, furmeets, and furcons remain vigilant, they can do a lot to eliminate or, at least, minimize the problem.
There need to be adults in the room, in other words. And I call on the greymuzzles and other, younger, adults who have taken it upon themselves to assume leadership roles in the fandom to set standards for their groups and organizations. We have seen what happens when supervision is lacking (e.g., the closing of Rainfurest and some other cons). Be an example to the younger furries and you will go a long way toward keeping the furry fandom a fun and enjoyable social phenomenon.
This is an important topic, and I've only brushed the surface of it. I welcome my readers' comments and input below.
I've had my fursona for quite a long, long time. Ever since I joined the fandom! I've often said that she is a fursona I will keep forever, and never change from. She's very bubbly and energetic, being a small and enthusiastic bunny, and goes by the name crypsalis/cryp (which is my online username most of the time).
Recently, I've felt like I've been stuck between a rock and a hard place in regards to deciding what path to take on life, since I've recently turned 18. With this indecisiveness, I also question my fursona. She is so wholesome and pure, and sometimes I cannot relate to her because the pain I experience just feels so distant from her. This kind of distance has made it feel like I'm not really looking at myself whenever a friend draws art of my fursona with their own.
I've been playing around with some alternate designs for a fursona. One is a female rabbit who looks more anthro/human than my original, and is a bit more calm and like me with my anxiety and whatnot. I see myself in her, but I struggle to draw her as bubbly as Cryp. She is like a reality check through the skull when it comes to how intense my anxiety is, and I'm not sure I want to represent myself in the furry fandom so closely to my insecurities. Another is a male rabbit, who does not resemble me at all, but I love drawing him and even just looking at art of him lifts my spirits. Heck, he doesn't even pertain the same sexuality as me! Though, what he lacks in his physical relatability to me, I feel like I can really see myself as him, or see myself in him. I don't think I have dysphoria, as I've been comfortable being a female my whole life. Though, it's so strange to me that I relate so much with this male character I've come up with that I share no physical resemblance to whatsoever.
Is it healthy to change my fursona to match the struggles I am experiencing in person or to change them so far from any identifiability from myself? Should I be aiming to be more like the bubbly fursona I've had for so long?
Thank you for reading, and much love to you! I hope you are doing well.
* * *
Thanks for your good wishes, and I wish you happiness and love right back. Perhaps unfortunately for you, you have caught ol' Papabear in a chatty mood, so here we go . . . .
I could write a book about fursonas (oh, wait, I AM writing one!). The fursona sounds like a simple concept, but it really is not. The word is a portmanteau of "furry" and "persona." Now, "persona" comes from the Latin word referring to the masks that used to be worn by actors on stage. Miriam Webster's dictionary defines it thus: "an individual's social facade or front that especially in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects the role in life the individual is playing."
Fursonas first developed in the furry community online and in gaming. People would adopt personalities and characters to use in games with other players, and these became fursonas. At this stage in furry history, a fursona was just a character, and people had few compunctions about having multiple characters of all types. As the years went by and the fandom evolved, a fursona became a furry's alter ego, so it became something much more personal to many people and not just a mask worn in a game (this, please note, is not universally true; for some furries their fursona is still just a meaningless facade.)
As far as I've seen, one's fursona can represent a couple of different things:
Many furries get anxious about picking and designing their fursona because they are the #1 type listed above and they want to get it right. Sounds like that is where you are currently in some aspects. Not to worry. If you are a Type 1 fursona, your fursona can change as you do as you grow older. A furry who is 12 will be different from a furry who is 18 or 27 or 55. I, for example, was not a bear until I discovered the gay bear community and found that is where I felt I belonged. Before that I was a dragon and before that a wolf.
What about being different sexes or genders? That happens, too. I've spoken with a couple of furries whose fursona is a different sex from their own. It doesn't necessarily mean they are gay, either. Sometimes, they just want to try to understand better what it means to be feminine or masculine in a world that imposes arbitrary gender standards on people. You can be a feminine male and still be hetero, for example. Or, you can be a girl who likes racing cars and boxing but still marries a man. All these ideas about what is masculine and what is feminine have no basis in biology but are merely societal.
To get back to your specific case, I suggest this: be all three fursonas. Be Cryp when you're feeling bubbly and fun, be the other doe when you are feeling more mellow and in control, and be the buck when you are in the mood to explore your male side. That's the wonderful thing about being a furry. You can be one fursona or three; you can be your own sex or try another, or try on a different gender; you can have a personality close to your own or completely the opposite.
Melting into your fursona can be something that is just fun and playful, or it can be often be a type of therapy and a tool for personal growth. This is one big reason why I so love the furry fandom as opposed to other fandoms. So, don't worry so much. Be anything you want to be. Try anything you want to try. It's all good.
I've always had this bitter feeling between me and my parents. It's not hate or spite. It's just a unpleasant. I feel like it has to do with differences in political views. I hate this feeling. I feel unwanted in this world in I'm around my parents or any authority figure. The only people that make me feel whole and wanted are my friends. I love my friends, they make me feel wanted, like I deserve love. However, there's this fear in my head. I'm afraid of that bitter feeling and I'm afraid of that bitter feeling spreading. I mean, I've had friends with different political views but I never had any feeling of bitterness with those select friends. All of my friends, and I mean; ALL OF MY FRIENDS make me feel whole and wanted. What I'm afraid of is that the bitterness would spread in some friendships. I absolutely don't want that. I don't think I can bare such an oppressive feeling. I have a good feeling that it will NEVER happen. But I still fear it. So what do you think is the deal? Why is it that my parents and authority give me that bitter feeling? It confuses the hell out of me.
Maxi (age 18)
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It is quite natural for teenagers to resent, disagree with, and even sometimes hate their parents. I would, however, be hesitant to believe that you "always" felt that way. I'm sure that when you were a baby and little kid, you loved and looked up to your parents. As you got older and started to form your own opinions and worldview that didn't mesh with your parents' views--and, also, found them to be authority figures who restricted what you wanted to do (i.e., your "freedom")--you began to dislike their company. This pretty much always happens. My theory is that Mother Nature plans it this way because fledglings eventually have to leave the nest, and it is easier for parents to kick their kids out of the house (or to see them go on their own) during a stage in their lives when they become obnoxious, disrespectful, and petulant.
You see, Maxi, growing up comes in three phases: 1) infancy and childhood, when you depend on your parents as your sole source of nurturing and comfort and you believe they know everything and they are your world and you crave their attention and love; 2) puberty and the teen years, when you suddenly know everything, you're always right, and your parents become utter morons who should be put in an institution for the sake of public safety; 3) adulthood, when you realize that both you and your parents have good and bad points, know some things and not other things, and you are all basically good but flawed human beings. You are currently in Stage 2.
Stage 2 is also characterized by the forming of close bonds with your peers, who you feel more closely reflect who you are, what you think, and how you feel. All of you are in the phase when you resent your parents as authority figures, and this is often expanded to all authority figures (teachers, bosses, police officers, politicians, etc. etc.)
As your friendships progress, you will lose some friends along the way (they will move or you will stop sharing interests or you will find out they are jerks), but you will also form new friendships. Do not become distressed by this because this is also perfectly normal. Do not be upset if you become "bitter" about some of these lost friendships. That is also normal.
Do you see a theme here? The theme is: You are normal. Everyone goes through this to a greater or lesser degree. You are not suffering from any weird psychological or emotional disorder. You're fine.
Eventually, as you mature, in all likelihood you will realize you are not as smart and cool as you think you are and your parents aren't as despotic and mean as you think they are. I feel quite confident that you are not unwanted and that your parents actually love you quite a lot. Over time, you will also get better at forming true, lasting friendships and recognizing which people are just fair-weather friends or, perhaps, even users. You will form better friendships and your relationship with your family will get better (this, again, is a typical pattern but there are always exceptions, but I see nothing in your letter at this time to indicate it will progress otherwise).
I hope this makes you feel better, Maxi. You are just at the beginning of exploring deep, meaningful relationships because you yourself are becoming a more mature, complex, and interesting person. Roll with it.
First of all I'd like to thank you for being such a positive influence for so many people and the fandom. Many charge a ton of money to do less than half of what you do and whatever your reasons are, I feel you're being honest and sincere in your answers. You've been thanked by many, I know, but the fact that you do what you do, makes me feel grateful that you're here, and having something to be grateful alone makes me feel a little better.
Well, I'll try to get to the point. I was born in a very white trash, poor, religiously fanatic and very abusive family in a 3rd world country. So I guess it goes without saying that I have issues. Several traumas, depression, anxiety, ptsd, add, the list goes on.
I won't get further into that because that is another whole can of anaconda sized worms on it's own so I'll focus on what's bothering me right now.
Recently I've come to the realization that my self-hatred is enormous, way bigger than I thought it was and it probably has a bigger impact on me than any other factor. I've been trying to lessen it's effects with some simple practices and try to understand to what point it affects me.
Now, seemingly unrelated to that I've became very interested or maybe obsessed with My Little Pony FIM as of late. Specifically fanfiction. I was always a fan of the show but my interest in it had died so long ago I even stopped watching the show. I don't know why I started reading the fanfictions exactly, I think I frantically read all fancomics that I found and still wanted to consume more of that universe so I looked at fanfiction.
Here's where it gets weird. I absolutely hate reading. It's one of the things I hate the most in life and even to read a fiction book like Eragon took me a loooot of effort and will. Only book I think I wholeheartedly read without any struggle was The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy, which remains in my concept one the best works of fiction/entertainment of all time.
I digress. I started reading these fanfictions and having an amazing time, the first one I've read captivated me just like Hitchhiker's. I didn't focus on anything specific such as romance or sci-fi. They were just a few surprisingly well written stories in that universe by an author. The second author I found had good stories too but they were very focused on romance, comedy and a specific kind of drama I really spent hours thinking about. By that I mean that many time when I'm reading one of these stories, I stop reading them and begin to "spin off" from it and think on different things the characters in the story could have done and many times I stay hours in that state so much so the story in my head is now another one completely.
I told myself I was going to stop after that one story because It was consuming too much of time. I didn't, I kept getting back and finding more and more fanfictions to read. And usually feel bad all the time but recently I started to feel worst so I thought: "Either I read this fics to escape or they're what causing me to feel worst."
At first I thought it probably wasn't the latter, and I still don't think it is but something strange happened. I found some fics where I related to a character, usually a character who suffers from depression, has a lot of self hatred (not low self-esteem) and all that brings.
I've been to many lowest of lows and suicide is far from an alien thought to me to say the least. (Not only for emotional distress but physical pain as well, I've dealt with some hard stuff.)
But I've never contemplated self in reality of fantasy and I've never glamourized suicide outside of very very common "self sacrifice" fantasies.
So, at one time I read a comic when a character is feeling unworthy/guilty for depression reasons and the character doesn't do anything except think. But I go on one of my "spin offs" and put myself in his place and I start fantasizing about him/me piercing his/my shoulder and making a slice from it to my collar bone. It felt weird because I really, really, really wanted to feel the pain of doing that. I'm not a fan of pain, I'm averted by any sadist or masochistic thing or thought so this was really a first to me.
Then it happened one where I (the character), flew very very high up and just let go. And again, I really wanted to experience that, which is funny since I'm somewhat afraid of heights and it's not on my top 10 ways to suicide. (Don't have a list, just wanted to stress the feeling.)
And this keeps happening, I knew I hated myself but I never knew to what degree until this started to happen. I can't find why my subconscious want's to be punished so hard, why does it feel so guilty. I don't feel like I was or am a burden to anyone, I only sometimes feel a slight hint of guilt over decisions I've made in the past over something small and it goes away pretty fast. Do I consciously feel unworthy of love, affection, attention, existing? Very much, yes. But can that translate to fantasies of self harm when in reality I don't have the slightest wish to do so?
I know the source it's trauma but this is new to me and it feels like it's a big part of the whole picture. Am I not seeing something that's clearly there? If I'm just living "hidden" emotions through these characters, why are these emotions more hidden than the others? Should I stop reading fanfiction or at least avoid the ones with this theming?
These are a lot of questions, I don't expect you to answer all, if any of them. I hope I've at least expressed myself well enough to give you an idea of what I feel because my real question is:
What's your take on this?
Also I'd like to let you know that I'm planning or hurting or putting myself in danger in any way so please don't worry. I've been trying to be introspective with my feelings to see where they come from, the why and how and It's obviously not easy but with every realization I feel a little better, if not I feel like I've gained a key to unlock some other mystery in the future.
But every time I think I cannot be surprised anymore, well... So I don't know what to make of this, all I know is that I can't feel good fantasizing about hurting myself. If anything that is proof of my decaying state of mind and I'm looking for improvement not decay. Sorry for any confusing parts, I hope I've explained it at least well enough to not give you any headaches.
Thank you so much, Papabear. Hope you have an awesome holyday season and new year!
P.s. I still hate to read but I think I love to write. XD
Anonymous (age 27)
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Thank you for your letter. You raise a very interesting topic: the healing power of fiction and literature in general. It sounds as if you have had quite a difficult childhood, so I extend to you my sympathies. Almost without fail, people who suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety are this way because of external forces. That is, traumas you have experienced or feelings of being negatively judged originate from those whou surround you and do not spontaneously generate from within. The only reason you feel badly about yourself is that you have been the subject of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse or a combination of these.
Many people find comfort by escaping into fantasy worlds, or through other forms of art ranging from film to music to the visual arts. Fiction literature appears to be the remedy you have found for yourself. That is perfectly normal. In fact, there are studies that show that reading novels and stories can ease people's emotional and psychological issues. Indeed, it has also been shown that reading fiction can help us learn to improve social interactions and empathy with others. In the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic you have anthropomorphic unicorns, ponies, dragons etc., many of which have cheerful and spunky personalities, making friends and solving various problems and quests by working together. It's a very upbeat and optimistic cartoon, which is why it is so popular. Obviously, MLP represents a world that you find desirable, and reading MLP fan fiction and imagining yourself in that world is part of your self-therapy. You see, lacking a therapist in the real world, you have discovered your own treatment through this television show and its fanfic.
Okay, so why the dreams or fantasies about dying in one way or another in various MLP scenarios you imagine for yourself? Obviously, you start off daydreaming about the MLP world and then your feelings of depression and anxiety intrude upon it. This is similar to when children have a dream that starts off happily but ends up with a monster suddenly appearing and attacking them. The monster could represent things such as fear about a bully at school, a homework assignment or test, or perhaps an upcoming visit to the doctor or tension in the family. So, here you are, in your case, having an escapist fantasy and then the black clouds in the back of your mind intrude upon it.
You also mention you are experiencing fears and guilt about hiding your emotions and feelings. It sounds like you are keeping something out of the letter, such as feeling ashamed of who you are, something you are keeping secret from your family? I can only speculate, but this could obviously be the monster intruding into your daydreams as well in the form of self-destruction. Furthermore, the fantasy of dying in an act of self-sacrifice is a call to get attention that you are a worthwhile person. Let me ask you this: in your daydreams of self-sacrifice, do you go out in a blaze of glory? An explosion or fireball? These are symbolic of trying to send a flare up into the sky to get attention when you feel stranded on a desert island of loneliness. (You can feel lonely in a room full of people, you know.) Complementary to this is the daydream of piercing or cutting yourself. This is a subconscious desire to feel something, to verify that you DO exist because you feel ignored. "Hello? Am I here? No one is acknowledging me! Do I even exist? If I cause myself pain, I will confirm that I do."
The solution to all this is to get your family to acknowledge that you are a worthwhile and valued member of the clan, but if they won't do that, then you need to find a family and friends that do. Family, in my opinion, is not necessarily your blood relatives (see Lilo and Stitch). Family are the people who love and support you for being you. In My Little Pony, the characters are not related but they are still family. For now, these fictional characters have become your surrogate family, but you would do well to find some people in real life who fulfill your needs as well as talking ponies and unicorns do.
In the meantime, you say that you don't like reading but you love writing. Writing is extremely therapeutic, too. I encourage you to write your own stories, working out your feelings as you do so.
Make sense? Write again and let me know.
Heya Papa Bear,
I saw this page when I was browsing Furaffinity, so I thought I'd give it a shot. So for some background, I've met a girl on a video game who really liked my personality and she asked to be my girlfriend. I didn't want to be rude or defiant, so I quickly said yes. But later she tells me that she lives in a different state (Ohio), and that she is two years behind me, which is not the legal consent age in her state. So my question is should I carry on and meet someone else that is of age, or should I go the extra mile and wait two years for it to work out? I Hope this message finds you well in these trying times, and have a Merry Christmas!
Jackthefennec (North Carolina, age 18)
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You jumped the gun a bit here, my fennec furiend. Saying "Yes, I'll be your boyfriend" because you "don't want to be rude or defiant" is a terrible reason to say yes to a serious relationship invitation. Now, if she meant simply "let's be friends," that's fine, but gf/bf territory is what was implied, apparently. Jumping into a serious relationship is something I see writers to my column doing all the time. There's an old expression: "Look before you leap." It applies here. It's nice that you have pleasant chats online and may have some things in common. Those are good qualifications for an online friendship. But not for an emotional relationship and certainly not for a sexual one.
As for her being 16 to your 18, I doubt it matters. You live in completely different states, and I seriously doubt the two of you will meet in person in the next couple of years--do you? But let's say that COVID settles down and the two of you decide to meet at a furcon. That would be a great way to get to know each other, but again, I recommend you take it slowly and don't jump into bed. That said, the age of consent in Ohio is 16, so you don't have to worry about the legalities. DO worry about the consequences of sex in a world of STIs, high living expenses, and the costs of raising children.
You are making a pachyderm out of a mouse. Chill, relax, work on building your relationship with this girl. Get to know her. You have plenty of time. I'm gonna sound like an Old Papabear here, but you cubs rush into things too much. Not everything is a must-decide-now-this-very-instant deal. Don't force things. Allow them to evolve organically. And don't freak out if the relationship ends at some point. In fact, it would be unusual for an early teen crush to succeed. This is a time for you to learn about relationships--and don't forget to simply enjoy life in the moment.
Hope that helps.
Hello Papabear, I have a question for you.
So when I grow up, I want to be an artist. I really love making art, it helps me express myself in ways I cannot to otherwise. It also helps me make others happy, which is one of the things I very much love doing.
Now I’m sure you’re aware of the major differences between drawing on paper and drawing digitally. I want to try and transition more into digital art on my computer so I can not worry about eraser marks messing me up and being able to color better and what not. Plus, it’ll help with my future job as an artist.
I also love playing video games. I have a few consoles, namely Nintendo ones like the Switch, and I play some games on my computer too. Usually my parents let me play however long I want as long as I have schoolwork done and don’t have any chores. I also cannot be on electronics after 9:30 PM.
Recently my school has gone to full virtual, meaning me and my little sister are going to be stuck at home. I was hesitant about drawing for a while because I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I would just do some sketches in my sketch book once a month. I’ve gotten the confidence now to start drawing again and I want to go back to digital drawing to improve my skills, which I need my computer for. But my parents said that since me and my sister are going to be home all the time, we are only allowed 4 hours on our computers a day and no time extensions.
This puts a limit on how much I can practice my drawing. I want to be able to draw on the computer, but also do my games too in a single day without feeling like I have to do one or the other because of the time limit. And what confuses me the most is my parents still let me use the Switch and my other consoles as much as I want as long as I have schoolwork done and no chores.
So basically I want to have more time on the computer to draw, but I’m afraid they’ll get mad at me and think I want it just for my games. What do you think I should do?
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I think what your parents are trying to limit is you and your sister doing unproductive things online (or what they see as unproductive) such as playing games or chatting on social media. This is different from your working on your skills as an artist. My advice would be to talk to your parents to better define computer time. For example, doing school work on the computer is not something they would try to limit, I would think. Similarly, if you explain to them that art is something you are serious about and might even make a career of, and that learning to use a computer to create digital art is essential for a career in, say, graphic arts, then they should look to this time as being career-oriented.
So, when you talk to them about your art, don't describe it as being for fun and laughs but, rather, as a serious educational pursuit to develop a marketable skill set. Then, while agreeing to the time limit for games and social time on the computer, tell them you need a separate standard for computer time when it involves your education, whether that is for school or for developing your knowledge and ability to create art digitally. Oh, and it would help a lot if at least some of the art you are creating is not furry related. Work on stuff that could have commercial value, such as creating logos, drawing buildings, or portraits of people. These are all things that can help your furry art, so it's not wasted time by any means.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
How to know you are in your true sexuality, or in-denial, or obsessed about sexuality?
Good day, Papabear!
I apologize if this might seemed to be too ranty or seem immature. I ask for your patience if there are grammatical errors. English is only my second language. I hope expressing my secrets on this site will help me to connect. I've been keeping this secret for so long.
When I was a child, other kids labelled me as gay or bisexual because they said I was too nerdy, lanky, soft, and effeminate. They even said I act more delicate and sensitive than most of the other girls. Due to that, I felt like it became a "licensed" for other boys to dominate me. There was a time, someone humped; other times, they showed their dick print; and usually they are caressing me like I was a dainty little girl. I know this because they emulate a certain show where a girl is surrounded by boys, and they treat me like I was that girl. Also, when I was much younger, my brother, who is two years older than me, engaged me in gay sex. It so happened that he experienced the same thing with his male classmates and our much older cousin. My thoughts during that time are empty. I don't know what we are doing during that act. Did I like it? Am I in denial? Am I truly straight? I hate that experience.
I don't want to become someone's bitch. I don't want to be submissive. I hate they abused their power against me. If only I am not a weak, passive, and introverted, and trying to maintain the image of "be a good boy who hurts no one," I'll fight them off. The thought of someone who is much stronger, bigger, virile, and loud, dominating a weaker person feels so unpleasant. Yet, here I am in a rabbit hole of NSFW furry art, searching for furry porn that usually has themes of solo, muscled males, and then eventually to big dom/small sub.
My liking for anthros or kemono characters, beastmen & human girl pairings, obsessions about having a well-built muscle (and, embarrassingly, being well endowed), playing video games, and idling around the internet served as a gateway for NSFW stuff which started around 2014. It started at first in searching beastman and human girl pairings, until I went to gay content. (They are usually much well-drawn, and are much well-endowed and muscley.) At first, I was repulsed, yet I've observed why do I feel something in my groin? It seems I automatically to "self insert" my consciousness on them. It was like "how would I feel if I was them?" I strongly felt unpleasant whenever I view NSFW arts that have tags of rape, M/M or M/F sexual humiliation, gore. I keep searching them. I should separate the feelings from fantasy and reality. But, I can't stop that bad feeling and mental image to go away.
My thoughts told me that "you felt erection especially on M/M, so you must be gay. You felt your heart beat faster, and sudden heavy force in your stomach. That must be your arousal. You need to accept it by exposing yourself or else you are homophobic, and you are living a lie. You see that? the submissive male is you. It became my compulsion to masturbate on that stuff, yet I am so confused if I actually enjoy it or not. This became my midnight ritual: search for furry porn, then masturbate--almost everyday even now. I felt nervous if I don't flush the toilet three times and If I don't pour water around its rim, or else they might found out how disgusting I am. Since I am always sleeping past midnight, it affected my school performance noticeably from 3rd year high school, and it even affects my performance in college which is BSME (I know this course needs a lot of attention, yet I am distracted so I don't have stellar performance). What once have been a brilliant mind (as esteemed by my close friends, family, and self) to a severely crippled, distracted, weird mind (I don't opened this to any of them except for a very few because I know this is weird, in a negative way, cringy, and pathetic from outside view).
On June 2020, I opened this to my classmate who also happened to identify himself as gay. After I revealed this secret, I asked him if I was truly gay or something . He said I might have unconventional interest, but others have much weirder than that yet lead decent lives. He doesn't sense any kind of "gay energy" within me. He said I might be too obsessed and a perfectionist. I felt a short term of respite, but they are not completely gone. If I don't want to belong to any label, am I queer? What if I was just a male who happens to act softly? What if I was lying myself this whole time?
I felt usually in low energy. My brain seems to be foggy and full of random and intrusive thoughts (aside from above, there are thoughts showing me licking the feces on the road or on toilet. There are thoughts showing randomly while I'm doing everyday tasks where a dominating virile monster is on my back and trying to sexually subdue me). I don't enjoy these thoughts, but why I'm having erection?
Does this signify that I'm gay or bisexual in-denial? Was it due to my obsessiveness? I don't know. I just want to cleanse my mind. I just want to be free from these feelings. I can't afford therapy, because we are poor (You do not need to be obligated to help in financial matters). What I've read from psychological self-help books like "The body keeps the score" and a few others is that trauma from childhood manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Also, sharing secrets to others anonymously especially in safe places will help alleviate the distress even for a short time, and worry about the fear of being found out in person. I don't have to worry about someone who I share my secrets with, seeing me.
I know that you have your own problems. I am sorry if I did add some burden. I felt like managing this kind of page is mentally exhausting, but I am still sending you this.
Who knows? My confession might be one of the catalysts for healing.
Thank you so much for your time and understanding. I am grateful for your efforts.
Have a good day!
Anonymous (age 21, The Philippines)
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Thank you for writing such a deeply personal and important letter to me. And, yes, writing your thoughts and feelings down can be helpful. In fact, if you don't already do so, consider keeping a journal and writing your feelings and thoughts down every day. It can be very therapeutic.
There are a few things to address here, so bear with me (pardon the pun). First of all, it is entirely possible for a man to have "effeminate, girly" qualities and still be straight (just as you can have very masculine men who are gay--leathermen and bears). What we consider to be effeminate or masculine is not biological; it's purely cultural. In some old cultures, for example, women did the hunting and men weaved baskets and took care of the children. A little more recently, back in the early 20th century in America, at least, pink was a color that boys wore, and blue was for girls. It was only much later that there was a switch. Today, men enjoying "girl" things is sometimes called "metrosexual." Of course, the opposite can be true for women. They can enjoy "guy things" (like racing cars, engineering, boxing) and still be heterosexual. Culture can be a trap. Being kind and sensitive like you are isn't weak or girly, either. It takes more strength to love than it does to hate. And, if you feel physically weak, well, there's nothing that says you can't go to the gym and work out and still enjoy being sweet and gentle.
Next topic: rape. If you are sexually molested (this doesn't have to involve penetration but can include things like inappropriate touching, shaming, groping, or even teasing you by displaying their own sex organs, etc.) by family members, classmates, or whoever and forced to have sex against your will, that's rape. Rape is often not a sexual act but, rather, an act of assault. "Butch" guys who are insecure in their masculinity will often go after someone who seems weak to them and assault them physically and sexually to "prove" they are strong (in reality, it does the opposite). To do so is meant to humiliate the victim, not to prove that he or she is gay. If you are a victim of such an assault, the thing to do is report it to the authorities. You don't say whether you did that or not, but I hope you did. I'm not sure by reading your letter whether or not the thing with your brother was consensual. It sounds like he initiated it and you just went along with it, probably because you felt pressured to. Again, because you are a sweet, sensitive person, others perceived you as being weak and took advantage of you. That in itself does not mean you are gay. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and other orientations are biological. However, being assaulted can certainly turn you away from the gender that abused you. This is a topic that has filled many books, so I don't have room for it in this column, but there are many aftereffects of rape, and one of these can be questioning your sexual orientation (as you wisely noted).
What do you do now? First, you need to try to recover from the sexual molestations you have suffered. This article summarizes the many things you can do, including everything from seeking professional counseling to simply treating yourself with kindness. In addition, you need to focus on accepting yourself for who you are without regard to society's definitions of who you should be as a young man. The cultural standards of human society are oppressive, limiting, and imprisoning. Liberate yourself by defining who you are and what your own moral compass tells you to do, and fuck society. Human society is a mess, so why would you wish to emulate it? That is one reason why we have furries--most of whom reject human society to celebrate their own individuality.
Bottom line is this: you shouldn't care if you are gay, bi, straight, or whatever else you might be. The sooner you stop obsessing about your sexual orientation the happier you will be. Look, I am a gay bear, but I don't go around wearing my orientation on my sleeve. I don't walk up to people at a party and say, "Hi! I'm Kevin and I'm gay!" Do you see people at parties saying, "Hi! I'm Bob and I'm a heterosexual"? Similarly, you should not define yourself by who attracts you physically. I bet you are a lot of other things besides what makes your penis hard. I, for one, would like to know what your hobbies and interests are, your likes and dislikes. THAT is what makes you an interesting person, not what type of porn you look at online.
Your obsession with this, as you note, is affecting your life at school and at home. Obsessions and addictions of any sort are unhealthy. It would not hurt you, I daresay, to get some therapy if you can (I know money is an issue), hopefully from a professional who is not a homophobe and is nonjudgmental. So, don't go to a church counselor. I've talked with some others in the Philippines and have heard it is a rather macho culture, so you might need to shop around a bit to find a good counselor who isn't trying to make you a cultural conformist so that you become "normal" by their standards.
So, to answer your initial question, yes, you are definitely obsessed with your sexuality, and this is because of two things: 1) your rape experience, and 2) your struggle to be accepted for yourself. These are things that are not solved overnight but, rather, you need to work on over time. You also ask if you are in denial. No, I don't think you're in self-denial; I just think you haven't figured yourself out yet. You have been addressing the issue head-on, so that's a good thing. You should continue to actively explore your sexuality. At 21 years old, you're right in that time of life when many people are still working on their sexual orientation. Heck, I didn't really figure out mine until I was 40, so everyone is different. Don't compare yourself to other people's standards or timelines. Work at your own pace. Finally, how do you know "you are in your true sexuality?" as you put it. Well, not with porn. You will know for sure when you find someone you love and wish to be with and with whom you have a good sexual relationship, whether that person is gay, straight, trans, male, female, or whatever. Fall in love with the person, not their genitals. Sexuality is not, ironically, just about sex. It is about the kind of person you are attracted to, who they are on the inside. Sexuality is largely in the mind.
Human sexuality is extremely complicated. Most people, studies show, are not 100% gay or 100% straight but, rather, somewhere in between on the spectrum. Don't worry about it. And don't let society and those around you define who you are. Sexuality is just one small piece of the full human being that you are. Explore your life. Explore the world. It is an amazing place to learn about once you finish cleaning up in the bathroom. Things will eventually fall into place for you if you let things flow organically, naturally.
I hope that makes sense to you. Feel free to write again if you have more questions.
I guess I should start at the beginning. I had a friend, I’m not sure I should say his name. Let’s call him Ron. Ron and I were inseparable. I mean, we were only friends online, but we were closer than anyone. Almost like twins.
Ron and I talked all the time, but of course we both had our own lives, so it was normal that he and I didn’t talk for a few days. He had his own friends, and I had mine as well. But we were always there for each other. Best friends.
I noticed that after some time had passed, years I mean, that he started talking to me less and less. Even though I’d message or call him. He’d start to leave me on “read” or even just flat out send me to voice mail. Which didn’t bug me at first. He was probably just busy. Then I noticed it happening more and more. And I saw that even when he was online he still wouldn’t reach out to me. That started to get to me a bit. He started commissioning art that both of us had planned to get together with others. Ideas that I shared with him and we both promised to get.
Over time, I asked him what was going on. Did I say something? Did I do something? And he just flat out said “our friendship has run its course.” That hurt me so hard. Someone I had considered family to me, would just turn their back on me like that. And without a word.
Years later. I have a best friend now, we can call him Jude. Jude and I are the same way Ron and I were. Closer than anyone ever. Actually, we went to high school together. We have known each other for 11 years or so, but only have considered each other best friends for about 5-6 years probably. It feels like forever though. I love this guy to death, and I’d risk my life for him. And he feels the same way, I know it. Mostly because he told me so.
But . . . well again he has his own friends. And sometimes he will be with them instead of me. And...I really hate to say it, I feel paranoid. Almost like he will see a better friend in them instead of me, and leave me for them. Just like Ron did. He’s gotten so close with others. Even artwork with them and it scares me. Wow, typing this out, I feel disgusted with myself. And he’s noticed this. He does say it does bug him that I get like this. I tell him I’m fine but he says he doesn’t believe me when I say that.
Jude guarantees me that we are best friends until the literal end. And that he would never think about turning his back on me as Ron did. But I still get really scared.
No friendship should be like this. How can I even call this a friendship with how selfish I act like this? Am I just a terrible friend to him? I know it’s completely unfair.
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This is a good example of my belief that online relationships aren't the same as in-person friendships. Real friendships require a commitment and dedication beyond typing or video chat. They take some sacrifice along with the rewards. When there is no real-life contact with a friend, when you don't go through troubles and tribulations together as well as good times, then no strong connection will form. Oh, sure, you can have friendly chats and if you share hobbies and philosophies you can feel as if there is a strong bond there, but, just like the internet, it's only virtual. "Plans" to meet sound nice, but then reality gets in the way (money, work, school, pandemics) and that "someday we will meet" gets pushed farther and farther into the future until it never happens.
Your friendship with Ron was only virtual. Eventually, he got tired of it and turned his attention to friends he could actually see and do things with in person (my theory). So, he became bored and moved on, tired of waiting for you. Jude, on the other paw, is a friend with whom you have a shared past in high school. This is a totally different ball of wax. It is much more real. It is therefore not the same as your friendship with Ron. You should not compare apples and oranges, Tieg. And you should not allow one bad experience with one person poison your friendship with Jude. If you do, you will find yourself creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, you will become so paranoid that Jude will dump you that he will feel you don't trust him and he will dump you.
Get over Ron. Jude is not comparable. Commit to this relationship; trust Jude, and don't act like Jude is Ron. If you do, you will poison what you have.
You are not a terrible friend. You're allowing fear to control you. The absolute worst thing you can do to yourself is allow fear to rule your behavior. A common human foible. Forget about Ron. Live for today. Today is all you have. Ron is the past; Jude is the future. Enjoy your friendship with Jude and trust him to be there for you. And stop torturing yourself. What happened to you is totally understandable, but now is the time to learn and grow from the experience and don't obsess over it.
Have a good holiday and a blessed New Year.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.