While I have made it a policy to ignore criticisms I receive from fellow furries so as not to encourage trolling, I feel I need to say something about recent reactions to the 2021 Good Furry Award. The GFA has, for the most part, been warmly received. But there are still furries out there who have called it everything from a waste of time to nothing but a popularity contest. One critic called it a slam to all the other furries who did not receive the award, saying it is "toxic really because it devalues all of the people that have worked to promote the fandom for many years only to say 'look at this award we have given to some newcomer.'" Another said the "award money should be used to help those who actually need the help to get back on their feet especially after losing their job as a result of covid."
I feel these comments deserve a reply from me.
Regarding the comment that the GFA "devalues" everyone who didn't get an award. I can get your thinking on that one. Years ago, when I was working at a publishing house in Detroit, the management began an "Employee Who Makes a Difference Award." I pointed out to HR that the title implies that all the other employees don't make a difference. They quickly changed the name. It was a poor choice of words. But one should remember that one person's success does not lead to the conclusion that another person is a failure for not getting an award. There is an episode in The Big Bang Theory in which the brilliant physicist Sheldon Cooper is upset because a colleague, Bert, won a prestigious award and he has not yet received a Nobel Prize. His girlfriend, Amy, points out that Bert's achievement was well deserved and that it is no reflection on the accomplishments Sheldon has himself made (he later wins the Nobel).
ALL the nominees for this year's award (and in previous years) are wonderful furries who deserve recognition. I would give them all prizes if I could, but I can only afford one a year. The good news is that they can keep getting nominated, year after year, until they win. So, I am not snubbing those who didn't win. They are all Good Furries and deserve recognition. In fact, the point of the GFA has never been to give someone a trophy and $500. The point has always been, and will always be, to give some time and space to acknowledge all the good people in the fandom. That is why I publish all the text people wrote when nominating candidates for the prize. It has always been my hope that people will read what these furries have done.
If you are doing something just to win a prize, then I question your motivations for doing those things. None of the nominees do what they do to get a GFA. All of them were surprised and happy when I told them they were nominated.
Now, concerning the $500, which "should be used to help those who actually need help." The first winner of the prize was Tony "Dogbomb" Barrett, who died as a result of contracting ALS before he could receive his prize. So, I gave the prize money to the ALS Association, which, I hope you will agree, could use the donation. Last year, Ash Coyote won, and she posted this video, noting that she was struggling financially with unexpected bills and that the money helped her a lot. This year's winner, Cassidy Civet, is not exactly rolling in dead presidents either. I'm not sure how the critic defines who is worthy of this small amount of cash and who is not, but I have a feeling they are ignorant of the above facts.
This year's winner, Cassidy Civet, can also be held up as an example that we are not talking about popufurs here. After I told them they had won, they reminded me that they had written a letter to this column in 2015 in which they were concerned about a slew of personal attacks that they had been experiencing in the fandom. I, personally, find it very satisfying that a furry who was being smeared and called names by bad furries six years ago is now the winner of the Good Furry Award.
I have been a furry all my life (before there was a fandom), and have been active in it for many years, but I am still amazed by how the fandom is its own worst enemy. It is not the media or other non-furs who do the most damage to our reputation; it is us.
My purpose for the Good Furry Award is to turn up the light on the many many good people in the furry fandom. Sadly, it is also true that the brighter the sun is, the darker the shadows appear.
Let's be happy for the winners and the nominees. They are all wonderful people, and I wish them the best. I am proud to run this award and to give some joy to those who have struggled to make the fandom a better place. And I will continue to run this award as long as this bear is alive and kicking.
So, I'm an aspiring furry and I want to make a head for my fursuit! But, my mom thinks that the furry fandom is sexual and keeps telling me to stop being one because its "GROSS!" and "bad." I keep trying to explain to her that the fandom isn't sexual and that we are actually donating to charities and stuff but she won't listen. What should I do?
Grazer (age 11)
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Both you and your mother are correct. The fandom can be a lot of good, clean fun, and yes, a lot of charity work has been done by furries. But your mother is also correct in that there is a lot of adult art in the fandom, and you need to be careful you don't associate with the wrong crowd. There are a lot of good furries, but there are also some very bad ones. You, being 11, can be an easy target for bad furries. Your mother is trying to protect you, which is not only her right but also her duty as a parent.
That said, your mother needs to not go the easy route of just saying, "No, you can't be a furry." This is what I call "lazy parenting." Also, it is ineffective. When a parent tells a kid, "You can't do that because I said so," the kid just wants to do the forbidden activity all the more and thinks the parent is not listening to them or sympathizing with them. This can create resentment, secretive behavior, and misbehavior on the part of the child.
What Mom needs to do is become more involved in your life. The two of you should explore furry together. First, understand that the furry fandom was created for adults, not children. The entire establishment of the furry fandom was meant to create anthro characters in adult situations (not just sex, but everything from scenes about violence to other mature situations and themes). But since it began, the fandom has evolved, too. It used to be mostly for people in their teens and twenties (and still largely is), but now more and more you see furries who are a lot older (I'm 55, for example) as well as kids as young as 10. The fandom needs to accommodate this changing membership, and in a lot of ways it does. For example, if you go to a furry convention, there will often be an art gallery. Most of the art is clean, but there is some mature art, which is kept in a separate section and only adults are allowed in. Also, minors such as yourself must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at any furcon, and panels and workshops that address adult topics are restricted to mature members.
You should not argue with Mom. Instead, explain why you are interested in furries. Have a discussion with her. Also, tell her you understand her concerns and tell her that she is right to be worried, and also you should thank her for caring! Then, invite her to explore furry with you. Tell her that she can freely monitor what you view on the computer and on your phone to make sure you don't see anything bad. Ask her for her help in navigating the online world. Ask her to watch the movies and TV shows you enjoy with you. Maybe, with enough communication, you can even ask her to take you to a furcon someday.
In short, don't argue with Mom. Communicate with her. Listen to her concerns and ask her to listen to your feelings as well.
How do I make friends in the fandom?
Hey there Papa Bear! My name is Papaya, I don't consider myself a furry, but an anthro enthusiast (that's a story for a different day). I'm more of a right leaning person and I've found it difficult lately to find similar people like me. I don't mind if my friends are furries or if they're anthro enthusiast like me, however I'm wondering what is the best way to go about making some furry friends. It's been hard lately with such a divide, I'm scared of sharing my views with someone who will blast me on Twitter just for having an opposing view.
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I'm not too sure what the difference is between an "anthro enthusiast" and a furry. My first thought was that you meant you didn't participate in furry activities like going to cons and meets, but then you want to make furry friends, so ... I dunno. Anyway, my thoughts about politics and religion are that it is best to keep such topics out of the conversation unless you know somebody very well and feel confident you can discuss such things without causing hurt. As you are aware, these days, especially in America, the right and left have become super-polarized without much room for compromise or moderation. In my Greymuzzles group, I set up rules that religion and politics be kept out of the posts, and that has been pretty successful at keeping the peace in the group. That's rule 1. To make new friends in the fandom, simply join any furry social media group and look for people who share your interests. Then, strike up a conversation with them. It's really not complicated. Then, once you get to know them well, you might open up the conversation to a wider range of topics. Not all furries are left-leaning. There are many conservative and even hard-right furries out there. For example, if you are a gun enthusiast, you can find furries who enjoy hunting and target shooting. Furries are a diverse group of people and you can find people who share your views and hobbies if you look hard enough.
Good Luck, Anthro Enthusiast ;)
How does a senior furry stay relevant in the furry fandom?
Dineegla (age 67)
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[Note: I personally know Dineegla, as some of my comments below may demonstrate.]
Great question :) My first gut reaction is that you don't need to stay "relevant." The furry fandom should be something fun and rewarding in itself without worrying about whether others see you as relevant or not. Mirriam-Webster defines relevant as "having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand." So, what you are asking is, basically, how do I keep up with the younger furs and stay in their line of vision.
If you wish to make an impact on the modern fandom, there are two main paths you could take: one is to get super involved in the administration of a furcon or furmeet. People who have been leaders in the world of cons and meets make huge contributions to keeping the fandom alive and vital; the other is to increase your presence in the media. More and more, furries who are getting noticed are those who run podcasts or have YouTube programs. I know you and your husband tried that virtual gym once (not sure if you still have that), but that is to a very specific taste. You need to do something with broader appeal if you wish to get a bigger audience.
There other ways to be relevant, though, if you are very creative. One is to be a popular fursuiter and/or musician like Telegram or Foxes and Peppers, but I have a feeling that is not up your alley. Same with such things as inventing and creating new video or board games, cartoons, feature films, graphic novels, or comic strips. But if you are so inclined toward any of those, that would certainly hold possibilities in making you a name in the fandom.
If you wish to become more relevant, in summary, the answer is to increase your involvement in fandom activities.
How do I explain to my children that I'm a furry? Got two of them and want to stop them from getting bullied for having a dad who dresses like a kangaroo.
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Apparently, your children already know you dress as a kangaroo, so how does explaining you're a furry change that? Since your kids' schoolmates already know, too, then adding that you are a furry will not stop the bullying. Indeed, it could make it more severe.
First of all, if your kids are being bullied, make sure the school administrators know. I hope it is not violent bullying that causes physical harm, but even psychological bullying is cruel and damaging. Either way, bullying should not be tolerated in any way.
The schoolyard functions much like a wolf pack. There are alpha wolves and there are omega wolves. The wolves at the bottom get picked on by the top wolves to maintain a social hierarchy. Such hierarchies exist in both the animal kingdom and human society. If your children were not being picked on for having a dad who dresses as a kangaroo, odds are they would get picked on for something else because I'm guessing they aren't jocks or on the top of the social cliques.
You are, therefore, asking the wrong question. The solution is not so much about telling them you're a furry (although it is related; see below); the solution is to teach your children how to stick up for themselves. Schools are not just places to learn math and English; they are places where children learn to navigate difficult social and relationship situations.
You need to teach your children assertiveness, and step one is to be a model of assertiveness to them. Actually, your not telling them you are a furry is a bad lesson to them, so you are correct that you should tell them. By telling them you are a furry and what it means to you, you are demonstrating that you are not ashamed to be yourself. Next, you should explain that they should not be ashamed of who they are. Furthermore, tell them that it is not their job to defend their father. Next time a bully gets in their faces about their kangaroo dad, tell them they should invite those bullies to your house, dress up as a kangaroo, and entertain them for a while. Ask your guests if they have ever pretended to be someone or something they are not, and encourage them to join in on a game of imaginative play. During the imaginative play, you can act out scenarios in which you or one of your kids bullies the bully, but use it as a lesson, such as, "When Mary calls you a fat ass, how do you feel about that? How do you think it made her feel when you called her that?"
There are many strategies in dealing with bullies. The three main ones are to be assertive and confident (not defensive), don't be afraid (most bullies are cowards), and ignore/show no reaction to their bullying. Bullies, like online trolls, thrive on knowing they have somehow hurt you. If you show them their words don't affect you in the least, the bully withers and slinks away.
This page offers more instructions and strategies to help you and your kids: https://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/safety/helping-bullied-child.
Hope this helps!
I have had trouble figuring out my identity as a person. I feel being demipansexual is my true sexual identity but I always have been comfortable with posing as female in various MMORPSs games. At first it was a curiosity of socialization in gender groups but then it felt right identifying as a woman and there are times I feel being male feels right too. I have been confused with several things over the years attraction to male friends and suddenly questioning why I felt that. Then I felt comfortable being a woman in MMORPGs but yet I like being male. It's a very confusing thing to me. I did some research on sexuality and found demipansexual to be me but gender is still a question time from time. I feel like that is why I have two main sonas one that is male and one that is female. That helped a little bit but I am just always questioning this. Do you know?
* * *
Yes, I do :) You are not confused. You actually know what you like and what you feel. That is not the problem. The problem is you are trying to find a pre-approved label for what you are and get validated by an outside source.
You don't need no stinkin' label, señor. You can call yourself demipansexual or hemi-demi-multi-crossgender-watchamacallit-sexual. Or, perhaps, you are gender fluid, as I explain in this letter. Who cares? The point is, you aren't questioning. That implies you are not sure what you like. But you know what you like is to take on a female character in MMORPGs while other times you take the masculine role.
Your letter mostly focuses on online gaming, and there's not much about your real-life social interactions, so how do you feel about those? Furthermore, it is my belief that online role-playing is a safe way to explore one's sexuality and work things out. I encourage you to continue to do so and take what you learn from the online world and make use of it in the real world.
Demipansexual has more to do with sexual attraction and indicates that you can be attracted to either gender and to many people as long as you have a strong emotional connection. To me, a simple bear, that would just make you bisexual and there would not be a need to define it further, but you can search for a new label all you like; it doesn't change who you are by calling it one thing or another.
As for gender roles, these are all imposed standards set by society. Society calls one behavior "masculine" and another form of behavior "feminine," and it does the same thing with outward appearances, yet these are all cultural tags. Is wearing a kilt feminine? After all, it's a skirt! How about high heels? High heels used to be fashionable among rich men in the 18th century. As was makeup. Is pink "feminine"? It used to be considered masculine in early 20th century America. Is crying "feminine"? More and more people are agreeing that a real man is not afraid to show emotion.
Standards and labels established by society are confusing you. You yourself are not confused.
Be you. Labels be damned.
It's my first time writing this letter to your website after I saw your ad on FurAffinity a couple of months ago while I was working at home for a company I don't want to name here.
The thing is I have two dilemmas which I'm dealing this moment. The first one is with the family in which my old brother (mid-30s) finally moved out to a new apartment and live there after we had to put up with so much toxicity for everything, even when I had that job the first 3 months of this year. It was so frustrating to live together when he judges from the food that my mom serves (who was a lawyer) to the dirt of this apartment. He pretends to be a rich, entitled dude but he goes to the fancy places (so he works as a sound engineer for live events for some artists) wanting to be part of that society. Also he's kinda narcissistic, specially with his previous ex-girlfriends. I tried to understand him about his past when he decided to go and live with his dad (a lawyer, too) after my mom divorced him; and then realize that the wasn't the ideal home to live, amid of the problems are having with the other family, including their finances. It was an everyday conversation with my mom when she mentions that part and that's why my brother has an inferiority complex due to these problems. But it was a relief to leave the nest and face the reality to live alone and not depending from my mother and I all the time. Leaving that aside, I doubt I could talk with him after he treated and scolded me so badly for being a shy guy and being dependent for my mom. But that's not the way to treat a person like that, even when I'm jobless/unemployed.
What should I do in this case? Should I ignore it or try to forgive him?
The second issue is more personal. As I'm introvert guy and a degree holder with a little experience in Film and Television, I always wanted to be a full-time content creator and live from it, even though I already tried to write posts on my blog and uploaded videos on my YouTube channel; besides of monetizing and earned a few cents. The problem with this one is I feel remorse of getting late to the party and the constant perfectionism of each content I'm creating. Besides that, I have a lot of insecurities and a lot of episodes of anxiety and depression ending to postpone the main project. I told my mom about how these creators earn money from it and I'm aware that it's not easy to get enough followers in order to monetize the content. And almost always get demotivated (mentally and creative) for this reason, until I wrote a script for a podcast I'm going to make this week. Being a loner has both advantages and disadvantages, so I tried to talk with other furs about the project and some of them was amazed and left some thumbs up, but they never asked me for a feedback or some moral support to keep going and staying afloat. And even I talked with some psychologists and some friends as well.
And I also want to learn to draw again and offer some commissions. So, I decided to undertake this path without leaving aside other projects that I have in mind, staring with the screenplays I'm writing. Do you know if there's a way to be more confident with the people I surrond it and myself? I want to overcome this weakness.
I'm sorry that this letter is so extensive or long, but I hope this will be helpful for me, Papabear.
Gabbo The Fox (Colombia, age 28)
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Your letter is a little difficult to decipher, I fear, probably because English is your second language, but I think I get your meaning. So, the questions seem to be, in summary: 1) How do I deal with my brother? and 2) How do I gain confidence to become a better podcaster and online personality?
Your brother is trying to be a big shot as a way to compensate for his own lack of self-confidence, which probably arose from growing up in a dysfunctional family. In my opinion, he's getting involved with a very shallow, money-grubbing crowd and will likely regret it, eventually. I would not recommend following his lead, and you don't have to accept his criticism of you or your life choices. Whenever he criticizes you, just smile and say, "Thank you for your advice. I will take it under consideration." Then, ignore him and do your own thing. He is a damaged person, and you would be wise not to worry about his opinions.
Your second question is slightly related to your first because one of the best things you can do to boost your self-confidence is avoid toxic people like your brother and surround yourself with supportive, loving people. This is not to say you only want to have "yes men" around you (people who just agree with everything you say to make you feel better), but you do want people who care about you and try to support what you are doing in life and career.
Another thing you should do, you are already doing: pursue your dream. In this case, you are seeking to develop audio and video content online using what you have learned from your film degree (and congrats to you for completing your degree!). Don't worry if you are struggling at first. Everyone struggles at first! You are finding out that doing stuff for a college class is very different from real-world experience. You are going to have some failures, but the thing is to learn from your failures, grow, and improve. You won't have an instantly huge audience. Audiences take time to build. Be patient and keep at it! If you can do what you love for a living, you will be truly blessed throughout your entire life!
Next, don't compare yourself to others. Everyone has different experiences in their career and life paths. Some will be more successful than you, but you are not competing with them. Work on being unique unto yourself, providing people with something that has your own spin, your own personality, your own content. Be an individual and focus on what you are doing now, in the present. If you work hard now and develop your skills, eventually there will be a payoff.
Learn what you are best at, where your strengths are, and develop those. Meanwhile, keep an eye open for opportunities. You never know when something might develop that will open doors for you and your career. Also, keep learning new things. The industry you are in is constantly changing and developing. If you can keep up with all these changes, you will be doing better than a lot of your peers.
The more you learn, the more skills you develop, and the better you get at your job, the more confidence you will get. One day, you will realize, "Damn! I really know what I'm talking about, and I'm good at it, too!" At that point, you will have arrived.
When I found your ad and checked your website I felt this strange comforting feeling just imagining a kind old bear (no offense if you aren't actually old) giving out advice to those who ask. That's why I'm writing this letter despite not knowing what to ask about. Well, it's more like I have so many things I could ask about that I don't know which! I guess I could ask about how to deal with failure or the lack of success. Sometimes I'll try new things or put all my effort into trying to achieve something and I just can't. I've heard plenty of people say that if you never quit and work hard you can achieve anything. It's hard to believe when the fruits of your labor show little to no results. So how do I keep myself from being disheartened?
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Depending on your definition of "old," I'm 55, so I guess that if I'm not already there, I am getting close. I am currently working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. in Grumpy Old Bear. Soon, I will have to defend my paper in front of a committee of old codgers to get their approval to join their ranks. Wish me luck.
As for your goals and achievements, you are still young and growing as a person. Now is the time for you to explore your options and interests. Failures and dead-ends will be the norm, not the exception. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to succeed right out of the gate. You should do what you're doing right now: try a lot of different things and see what clicks with you.
Meanwhile, remember that everything you "fail" at, or, at least, don't get "measurable success" at is a learning experience. After you have an experience where you fail to achieve something or a project goes awry, take a step back and evaluate what happened, what you did wrong (and also anything you did right but just didn't pay off), and how you might fix it in the future.
The important thing is to find something you love to do, and then, whether or not you "succeed" at it is a matter of your point of view. Say your big dream is to be an artist, but you never end up making much money at it, so you find "regular" work and paint or draw on the side. If you love your art, and you love doing it, then you are still a success. Would you call Van Gogh a failure as an artist? He never sold a single painting when he was alive, but he loved painting. He was a success. If you are an artist but people say your art is bad even though you have tried and tried, but you love doing it, then you are a success because you have found something that makes you happy.
Heck, take this column. I don't make any money at it. It doesn't win any prizes. But I love doing it, so it is a success to me. Another even more profound example for me is my late husband, Jim. Toward the end of his career, he was laid off as a news director and spent his last years with me trying to succeed as an entertainment podcaster. You know what happened? He never made a dime, but he adored what he was doing. He loved recording interviews and editing soundtracks until the day he died. And he was loved. Oh, how he was loved! Now, THAT was a successful life.
Living life is not about achievement or money or recognition or fame. It's about being alive and experiencing life. Hey, that reminds me, that's kind of the message of Disney's recent movie Soul, which is about a piano teacher who wants to make it big but dies before doing so. He learns the very lesson I'm telling you right now: LIVE. This life is for you. Take time to enjoy the sensations, the friendships, the fun of it all, and stop worrying about being a success. If things happen for you and you become rich and famous, then great; if they don't but you had a nice ride, that's just as great.
Step back and ask yourself this: "What am I trying to achieve?" If it is fame or fortune, then reevaluate what you are doing. It isn't about "success" as defined by our capitalistic society. It's about loving life and finding something you love to do.
I hope that helps.
Big Bear Hugs,
I wrote this in the hopes of getting your advice regarding a person I know.
This person is called Kevin, and he is autistic. I've known him since late middle school, but I wouldn't call him a friend. You see, Kevin didn't really have friends, and because my mom knew his mom, he essentially latched onto me and would follow me around in and outside of school.
Other people didn't particularly like him, and because he always followed me around, my highschool friend group was small. Kevin had a tendency to talk a lot about things he really liked, and would often interrupt me in conversation (and the things he liked were video games and cartoon TV shows, which he very regularly derailed conversations to).
Fast forward to the end of high school, and I now saw Kevin less. I came into my own more as a person and my friend group grew larger, which was great. Kevin was still around of course, having not made friends in high school. His mother seemed to sense a distance growing between us, and would often invite Kevin to events or excursions I was planning without my permission. For example, Kevin was dropped off by his mom at a hike myself and some friends were about to start. As it wasn't TV or video games, Kevin complained during the whole hike (admittedly, he wasn't hugely active either, having zero interest in sport or exercise). This reached boiling point when one of my pals said to his face "shut up r****d". I was so embarrassed.
This brings us to now. I am currently attending college in Ireland. I love it over here (despite the constant rain) and my roommates (who are all Irish) are probably the friendliest people I've ever met.
Recently though, I started getting messages from Kevin's mom. They started harmless enough, asking me what it's like in Ireland, what my accommodation is like, etc. However, Kevin's mom started asking questions I didn't like. "Do they offer games coding courses in the college?" "I heard there's a spare room in your apartment, is that right?" "They have a games club on campus don't they?"
Kevin's mom wants to send her son all the way to Europe just to bunk in with me and my roommates. I did not leave the Midwest just to end having to deal with Kevin again.
I haven't responded to these messages, but even my own mom agrees that this idea is beyond ridiculous.
How do I respond? What do I do? I'm not Kevin's babysitter and he's not my friend. I want nothing to do with him anymore, and he needs to find his own friends, and not follow me around the world.
All the best,
* * *
You are clearly a kind person, being so tolerant of Kevin all this time and being so sympathetic to his situation. As you know, autism is not a mental handicap but, really, an emotional one in which the autistic person has a hard time dealing with social situations. They also don't like unfamiliar places and they don't like change. You represented familiarity because your mothers were friends, and so that felt comfortable to him. I am, frankly, amazed you allowed this to go on for years even though the two of you have nothing in common. His mother foists Kevin on you because she wants her son to have a friend, even an unwilling one.
You are under no obligation to be Kevin's friend. Kevin's mother is extremely rude and presumptuous to try and keep pushing Kevin on you. The proposal that he should follow you all the way to Ireland is worse than absurd. It's completely outrageous. You should, frankly, get a medal for putting up with this for so long, but at this point, they are using you so hard that it is almost criminal. You have a right to your own life and your own friends (and kudos to you for finally getting that in Ireland).
I had something similar to this happen to me in high school when this dorky kid with whom I had nothing in common followed me around, making me quite uncomfortable. What I did was, basically, ignore him and refuse to acknowledge him until he eventually got a clue. I didn't do this very gracefully (being young and inexperienced), but it worked.
I don't know if you have ever said "No" to Kevin or his mother, but it is time you start. You don't have to say anything so inept as, "I don't like Kevin. Bugger off." But what you can do is simply say things like, "There is no room for him here." Do not offer any contact information or, Lord knows, addresses. Tell your mother not to give out such information. If that doesn't work, it is time to start ignoring him and his mom. Don't answer phone calls or texts. Give them deafening silence. If you don't put your foot down now, you will be living with Kevin for the rest of your life. He is not your responsibility. And you are 100% right that he needs to start making his own friends back in America.
Don't let them push your sympathy button. Don't allow them to make you feel guilty. Kevin's happiness is not up to you. You deserve your own life, friends, career.
If your mother tries to guilt you, tell her what I said. Tell her to not give Kevin and his mom any of your contact information. If that causes a rift in the friendship between moms, then so be it. That is not your problem either. Kevin's mom is a user, and users are to be avoided at all costs because they can seriously destroy your life and happiness and make you feel guilty while they do it. It is the worst kind of passive-aggressive behavior.
I think you already know this. I hope it helps you that you have a bear here who agrees with you and is telling you that you are not a jerk for finally being free of Kevin.
The Furry Fandom: Nirvana of Love and Acceptance or Cesspool of Perverts, Trolls, and Losers? (Editorial)
I have been a furry since I was a little kid growing up in the 1970s (yes, I have moles on my back older than most of you reading this), and I first became aware of the fandom around 1990 (these are separate things, as I will later explain). Yesterday, I stumbled upon this YouTube video by Beta Eta Delota with the title The Furry Fandom Is Toxic. Just reading the title made me cringe (provocative title meant to draw clicks, no doubt), but I did my duty, which is my continuing effort to learn about all things furry and to keep taking the fandom's temperature every month or two to see if it is feeling well, and watched the video. (It's not long, so you can take a few minutes and watch it yourself.) Basically, he makes two points: 1) that furries too often excuse bad people in the fandom (and by bad, he means things like pedophiles, zoophiles, and Nazi furs) either because they have cute fursuits and/or have been nice to the person who is excusing them and who feels their bad behavior doesn't affect them, or 2) because furries use the fandom as an unhealthy escape from reality.
Now, he has some points here, and he is the first to stress that not all furries are this way. But, like everyone who criticizes the fandom, he makes two mistakes: 1) saying the fandom "can be better" without offering any suggestions or solutions as to HOW it could improve other than vaguely saying that furries shouldn't tolerate haters and pedos (well, no shit); and 2) somehow believing that a fandom consisting of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people should somehow be different than humanity in general. Everything he points out that is wrong about the fandom (tolerating bad people, escaping too much into fantasy) is also true of humanity in general. The fandom isn't bad because it is a furry fandom; there are bad people in the fandom and there are people who tolerate that because that's what human beings do. Furries are no different than anyone else.
Beta's vlog is just one of quite a lot of such videos blorping around on YouTube and social media. There are long diatribes from people droning on about "why I left the fandom" and whining how toxic it is all over the place. Most of them are either criticizing the furporn element or the, sigh, drama.
So, if the fandom is so toxic and shameful, you might wonder why there are droves of furries padding about in it with an "oWo" here and an "uWu" there. Well, the other side of the coin are the furries extolling the virtues of the fandom, arguing what a happy-pappy place it is full of people who will love you unconditionally and accept you for who you are and that it is all about fun and creativity.
While this is, in part, quite true, it is also--like the myth of the American Dream--in many ways a heaping barrel of horse manure. If the fandom were Nirvana, I wouldn't see many letters in my "Ask Papabear" inbox and everyone in the world would be scratching at the fandom's doggy door to get in. There is considerable drama, and yours truly has been on the defensive end of troll attacks and jerkwads on several occasions. But! There are many many wonderful furries, too! Just look at the over three dozen nominees for this year's Good Furry Award and you will learn about just a few of them.
So why is this an issue at all, and why do furries get their tails in a knot about it? Well, for one thing, the fandom has become a place to which many people escape because they are looking for the acceptance they did not receive in mundane society. While certainly not true for all furries, many furries come here because they are LGBTQ or because they have emotional or mental issues such as autism spectrum disorder (I've lost count of the number of furries who have written to me saying they have Asperger syndrome or OCD or some other anxiety disorder or depression). They are seeking a place of acceptance and have been told that the fandom is it. But what often (sometimes inevitably) happens is that when they come across some bad characters among their new social group, they find themselves rejected, say, by their local furmeet, and they feel utterly betrayed. So, they lash out at the fandom as a whole because of this, blaming everyone for their experience.
Another phenomena is Usurper Syndrome (my name for it). This happens when someone who may have felt like an outcast in mundane society suddenly finds too much acceptance in the fandom and rises (or misappropriates) a leadership role in a local furry group. Now finding themselves on the top rung of the ladder, they proceed to use their footpaws to kick people out to make a point: "I'm going to do to you what others did to me as a salve for my bruised ego." Doing this maneuver usually involves devious shenanigans to remove a group's previous leader and assume the throne for themselves. When this happens, the dethroned furry either announces that furries are all trash or says that they are "leaving the fandom."
Next, there are Furry Posers. These are people who join the fandom for all the wrong reasons (e.g. they think it is a cool way to be rebellious or to shock people) and end up causing trouble in the community because they aren't genuine. These are the people who steal art or fursuits (because they have no skills), are hungry for attention and want to be popufurs, OR, even worse, they see the fandom as a gateway to release their sexual deviancies and prey on people. These are not true furries, and I agree with Beta that they should not be tolerated within the fandom.
Finally, there is the Prude Patrol. Some of you who know furry history will recall the Burned Furs, who, from about 1998 to 2001, went on a rampage to tell all furries they couldn't have adult art (rather like the American Puritans). Of course, this worked about as well as Prohibition in the 1920s. But there are many furries out there still who get their undies in a bunch because there is furporn. My reply: if you don't like it, don't look at it. Prudes are upset because they feel furporn will be a reflection on them, so they demand it be extirpated completely from the fandom. Such people also are overly sensitive to criticism and satire from nonfurries (a famous example is the Furry Force cartoons from CollegeHumor that are just hysterical). If you can't laugh at yourself, you either need to work on your self-esteem or not take yourself so seriously.
Because of people like the above (and there are other cases, but these are some of the major ones), furries tend to be their own worst enemy. This results either in furries posting videos like Beta Eta Delota's to complain about themselves, OR! they do exactly the opposite and idealize the fandom as something it really isn't: a perfect, loving place where all are welcomed and one can indulge in a fantasy life free from real-world troubles like bigotry and social hierarchies.
Years ago, I got it into my head that the solution to all of this was to create a regulating organization that I called The American Furries Association. I even got so far as to get some volunteer staff members, hold some meetings, and commission a logo. The idea was that it would serve as a way to screen out bad furries (you would have to apply and you could be kicked out for bad behavior), prevent fursona stealing (by creating a fursona and fursuit database), and be an information resource and support group for both new and experienced furries. I had to shut the doors on it before it got off the ground because, even with some volunteers, I quickly found out it would be a full-time job to lead the AFA, and I simply didn't have the time to give it that it deserved. But a second reason was that furries simply don't want to be regulated. One of the features that makes the furry fandom unique is that it is not associated with a franchise or regulated by a nonprofit or corporate entity (unlike, say, the Trekkies or Star Wars fans). Furries tend to bristle at the suggestion they have to adhere to rules of conduct or apply for a membership (other furries have sometimes tried to create such groups and issue membership cards to little effect).
Hence, here we are: a HUGE fandom of millions of people without a cohesive, organizing body to oversee them. The furry fandom more closely resembles a Mad Max world than it does Earth under the United Federation of Planets. It's a Wild West of chaos and adventure where you find both Outlaws and Lawmen, Showgirls and Trollops, Gunmen and Healers, Christians and Native Spiritualists. You can't put a leash around it's neck and rein it in. And don't expect to produce a vlog commanding everyone to behave and expect furries to suddenly say, "Ohmahgerd! You're right! How could we have been so foolish! We will all behave now."
Beta ends his vlog by saying that the fandom could be better. Sure, everything could be better. It could also be a lot worse, just as this world could be a lot better or worse. But without any supervision--which will never ever happen--it's going to be what it is: a crapload of people goofing around in fursuits or making art, or playing games. A lot of these people are wonderful, creative, and compassionate furries, but some of them are, well, assholes. Hey! Whaddaya know! Just like the real world!
Beta IS correct that we should not excuse bad furries just because they "have a cute fursuit." And someone who is guilty of a crime such as pedophilia (someone with a criminal record for this) or other crimes such as animal abuse, domestic violence, rape, or theft, should be banned from furry events. (And, if you didn't know already, there is actually something called the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable consisting of furcon organizers who discuss issues such as this.) He's also correct that it is unhealthy to immerse yourself in the fandom completely as a way of escaping the responsibilities of reality.
But the furry fandom in and of itself is not toxic. The furry fandom is not a kumbaya community, either. The furry fandom is what you make of it. If you bring drama to it or create drama, if you insist on associating with the bad eggs, you're going to have a bad time. Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Don't admire a furry because you think their suit is awesome or they are a talented artist. Get to know them as people, and be discerning in your choice of friends. Don't expect the fandom to change to suit your needs. That's like kicking a brontosaurus in the toe and telling it to change course. it's too big. It's grown exponentially from a small group of friends meeting at a sci-fi convention to a worldwide phenomenon. And it is not only growing, but it is changing as well. And it will continue to change because it is a living, breathing social movement.
I'm a furry because I love anthro art in film, TV, comic books, graphic novels, and online. I was a furry since I was about 6 years old, pretending to be Chip from Disney's Chip and Dale, not having a clue why I did it. I just enjoyed it. When I discovered that there were others like me by stumbling upon the Furry Nation website back around 1990, I was thrilled. I love the fursuits. I love the art. I love going to furcons and donning my own fursuit and being Grubbs Grizzly. I adore it. And while I am very aware of the bad posers out there and do not tolerate them, I am not going to allow them to ruin my good time.
I am not part of a "toxic" community, and labeling an entire community in this way is irresponsible at best, an invitation to hate at worst. If I thought the fandom was toxic, I wouldn't be writing this column and I wouldn't be running the Good Furry Award.
I'm not a furry because I found the fandom; I participate in the fandom because I'm a furry. The community that is the fandom and the fact that I am a furry are two separate things. Like oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, they can taste good together, but unless you shake them up together occasionally, they will separate out and reveal themselves as quite different from one another.
So, don't worry about "fixing" the fandom. It's fine. If you want to improve something, just work on yourself. We all need improving, myself included.
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