I’ve been doing more art and art trades lately but been having a hard time getting trades as well as getting ripped off from doing art trades a part of me feels I've wasted time doing some of them with nothing in return despite the fact I been putting as much effort into them as I can. Like one guy I traded with recently I posted my end of the trade and he won't even acknowledge it.
But what should I do to get a successful art trade if I keep getting burned all the time?
* * *
One thing that is great about the furry fandom is how relaxed and informal it is. That’s super when it comes to things like socializing, going to furmeets and so on. But when it comes to the business world it just doesn’t work. Gone are the days when a promise and a hand shake sealed the deal, and that applies not only in the furry world. But, as my mate has discovered the hard way in his business, there is really no honor in American business today. There are no gentlemen on Wall Street. In the furry world, I must admit, getting treated poorly while doing an art trade is also not uncommon.
If you wish to get a square deal on a trade or purchase, you must treat your work as an artist as you would a business. In other words, be professional about it. If you wish to be paid for your art, get the money up front. If you wish to do a trade (especially if you don’t know the other person), draw up a simple contract and either get a real signature or a digital signature. Such contracts don’t have to be elaborate.
A legal contract can be as simple as writing down something like this: “I, Alpha Wolf (real name, Sally Rogers), agree to create an 8” x 10” colored and shaded drawing of a saber-toothed anthro cat in a spacesuit holding a laser gun with a galaxy background in exchange for Omega Otter (real name, John Smith) drawing me an 8” x 10” colored and shaded drawing of my Wolf Fursona wearing a Robin Hood outfit. Both pieces of art will be completed by no later than June 10, 2014, and delivered to the commissioner via electronic email and in jpeg format at 300 dpi resolution. Should either or both artists fail to deliver the above-mentioned art on time, in the proper format, and in an acceptable quality of workmanship, this contract will be considered null and void.”
That's just off the cuff, but you get the idea. To make things easier should you do a lot of trades, create a template with all the information included except the artist's name and the type of drawing. Then fill in the blanks as needed.
Should they ask why they should sign, tell them you’ve been screwed over in the past and you are just taking steps to not let it happen again. Should the other artist refuse to sign, then you don’t want to be dealing with him or her. If they do sign, then you’re covered, and if there’s any question in the future about who did what for whom, you can show people the contract.
Is this stupid? You bet it is, but we live in a society with so many stupid, dishonest, and just plain mean people that we are forced to do stupid things like write lame contracts to cover our fuzzy butts so we don’t keep getting taken advantage of. It’s the same reason why we have labels on hair dryers saying “Don’t operate hair dryer in the shower” because, even though the majority of people will do the right thing, there are enough idiots out there to make us all look like imbeciles.
There are a lot of furry artists who do not need reciprocation of any kind. They simply enjoy drawing and give their art out freely, not caring how much it is shared and reposted and, indeed, find this flattering when people do so. But for those of you who want to feel more validated or wish to actually make an income (or supplemental income) from your art, then you need to take the endeavor seriously and learn proper business practices.
Good luck with your future artistic endeavors!
I was recently browsing your forum after stumbling over a posted link on FA and really enjoyed your thoughtful and intelligent responses to the letters sent. I figured maybe you could give me some advice even though it isn't particularly furry related (though both myself and my mate are furs so that totally counts, right?) This is going to be a long one (plenty of backstory) so I'll apologize in advance.
I've been dating a guy for 2 years now. We met at school and took a little bit of time getting to know each other before we went official. We dated for a year and then he proposed. All well and good, I said yes and we've gone another year while trying to figure out wedding details. He's a perfect compliment to me so there's no rough waters there, luckily. The issue comes to my parents.
My parents are very strict, conservative Christian types, and my fiancé and I are more relaxed with our religious and political values. They have been gracious enough to let us both stay at their house while we go to school or work to save up for the next round of schooling. (My fiancé was kicked out of his house at the beginning of the fall semester of 2013 due to his mother stringing him along on his school finances. She said she would pay and he even chose a low cost in state school at $3,000 a semester, which I found extremely decent. But when the time came to move out and start classes whoops, turns out SOMEbody forgot to pay. It turned out to be a manipulative ploy that came out to be "Break up with your fiancé and I'll pay for school, or move out." He chose to move out and my parents took him in to their guest room in the basement.) He immediately got a full time job, is looking for a second job part time, and tutors students in math and biology between 8-12 hours a week. He's a hard worker, responsible and respectful to my parents. I finished the most recent batch of schooling and I am waiting on an acceptance letter to an exclusive medical program that will begin in July of 2014. I'm working part time at the local grocery store while trying to find a better job in my Phlebotomy field (without luck since October if you're curious).
The thing is, my parents have refused any sort of support if we move to the city where the school is located. If I move there alone and live there as a single woman, they'll cover all living expenses, my healthcare insurance, car insurance, cosign for school loans, my fiancé can live at the house rent free, etc. You get the idea. If I move up there married, they feel that by helping us at all (except for giving me the contents of my hope chest that I've been saving since I was 5), they'll be doing my husband's biblical husbandish duties and committing a sin. And if I move up unmarried, God have mercy on our souls because we'll be committing the worst sin by moving in together before marriage and we'll be ostracized from any and all support, even advice in times of crisis. I understand their point of view, but I don't want to live in a big city alone, working at a competitive and stressful school program while my fiancé stays with my parents. My brother lives hundreds of miles away, I don't have lot of free time to hang with any local friends, and my parents are not particularly supportive. My fiancé helps keep me grounded and focused, and our teamwork is relaxing and natural. My parents don't see it from my perspective; they think we just want to move in together for the jollies or to woo-hoo like wild animals or love-struck preteens.
I've attempted compromise and brought up marriage before moving out, but my idea of a small intimate wedding is according to them, horribly exclusionary and insulting to not only my parents but the hoards of family members that will want to come. I don't even speak to my extended family so I don't understand this logic. They want it to be a big gala affair "because I deserve it". I find it to be overzealous and extreme. Weddings are expensive! However, They want to pay for all the wedding expenses, but it has to be on their date (after I graduate) and their terms (they choose the guest list of at the least 60 people, they choose the food , and it has to be traditional- no male bridesmaids, white dress etc.). They completely ignore what I want in my wedding. I could go on but I hope you have an idea.
I guess my question is complicated. I don't know what to do. I love my parents, but they are almost destructively controlling. Even looking at the binder filled with wedding plans or apartment searching by the school can send me into a panic attack (and I'm NOT prone to those at all). My fiancé is willing to work hard to support both of us and has even said if the wedding stuff becomes too much he's fine with never getting married as long as we're committed to each other (and there is no doubt that we are). He wants me to get through this school program and after I graduate, he's going to go back to school for either teaching, engineering or healthcare.
I want to do what is best logically for both of us for us to succeed in the future but I also want to listen to what my heart is saying. I don't want to ostracize my family or just seem like I'm acting like a rebellious teenager. But it's hard when There is no compromise, no thought to how I feel on the issue or what I want to do. It's either the way they want it, justified by their strict religious rules, or borderline disowned. I love my parents, and I respect their opinion, even if I don't completely agree with it or them, but this is more than just disagreeing. I feel like I'm being forced or manipulated to choose the path they set, regardless of whether it's what I want for my life. But if I say anything I'm being blind, a sinner, ungrateful, short sighted, foolish etc. I get a "good luck fending for yourself in the real world without us, let the door hit you n the behind" if I try to explain my point of view.
I guess I'm trying to ask what you think, and maybe if there's a solid compromise solution that my many brainstorming sessions missed that perhaps you can see from your more objective perspective.
Thank you for taking the time to go through this detailed and complicated letter. I'm interested in your advice. Maybe it will help me to stop feeling like I'm banging my head against the wall or just continuously running in circles. I could use some perspective!
* * *
Hi, Frustrated Feline,
I've read through your letter and have a question--or, really, just want to see if I have this correct.
If you move to a place near your school and your mate goes with you, but you aren't married, you will lose your parents’ support.
If you move to the school but are married, you will get what's in the dowry chest, but nothing else from your parents.
But if you move there by yourself (while your mate is allowed to live at their place), you get their full financial support, making school affordable but making you miserable because your mate is not with you.
Are they trying to get you both to stay near them? And so you will be punished if you move away? Or are they trying to split the two of you up? And, if that is true, why do they allow your mate to live in their home?
And why are you making a "compromise" to marry before you leave, when it sounds like you will still not get their support if you do that?
I do apologize for all the questions. I just want to make sure I have this all correct.
* * *
Thanks for writing back! Sorry my original letter wasn't clear; it is a lot to explain. I'm glad you're asking for clarification, rather than running with unknowns.
You have the list correct. The support varies on my status as a single/married/cohabitating adult.
I don't believe it's trying to split us up so much as it is they are just terrified to live alone. They have been married for 28 years, but it's a very unhappy marriage. They hate spending time together, all they do is complain and yell at each other even out in public, but yet they can't stand being by themselves. They want all the family to stay close or in the area to offset that I think. My younger brother is a sophomore in Miami Florida and he gets a lot of guilt about choosing a college so far away. I stayed home and commuted to local colleges so I never had to deal with that aspect. I don't know what they could do to "punish" me besides threatening to pull my financial support if I do take that option. It's been brought up multiple times already in their stipulations regarding my stay at the apartment.
And I want to compromise so that they feel included, and not ostracized. I do care about them and I'd really love to see them at my wedding, even if I lose support over it. I suppose it's a version of me putting their needs before my own.
My mate and I have budgeted for moving out and it would be tight, extremely tight, like peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles tight, he feels confident that we could make it without any help from either of our parents. And while technically the numbers agree with him, I'll be in a full-time accelerated school program with almost zero free time to put toward working a job and everything would rely completely on him. I'm glad he's not a shirker when it comes to responsibilities, but he's supposed to find time to go back to school himself and I'm afraid that he'll never get that chance if he's working two jobs to help put me through school. I want to find an option that can work at least decently well for all parties. Unfortunately it seems that you can never make everybody happy
Thanks for responding
* * *
Let me pose this question: would it be possible for you to go to school full time, have your mate work and live with you, and make ends meet without your parents' financial support? Do you have any grants, scholarships, tuition assistance to help make school work for you?
* * *
Unfortunately the school program is exempt from federal aid and similar. It's about $20,000 due by the halfway mark of 6 months (it's 13.5 months long). I have to get loans to cover it, though the school does promote Sallie Mae on their site. My parents are considered making too much money for me to get a lot in aid unfortunately. It would be possible, but I'm afraid things would be so tight that if something happened (car accident, health problems etc.) we'd be in a lot of trouble to stay afloat.
* * *
A difficult situation, indeed. First of all, my compliments to you and your mate for being such hard workers! You both sound like highly motivated and loving people. That’s terrific!
On the other side of it is the parents, both yours and your mate’s. Both his mom and your parents are, based on your story (admittedly, I don’t have their side of it) incredibly selfish and manipulative. His mom puts the demand that her son break up with you or else she won’t help pay for school (he chose you over mom, very admirable), and your parents, while they at first seem very generous in allowing your fiancé to live with them, apparently only do so because without other people around the silence in the house makes them go after each other’s throats. Appalling. Shameful. And not very Christian, if I do say so myself.
Given all of this, right now I would not recommend that you marry. Not because your mate isn’t right for you, but purely for financial reasons. You see, as soon as the two of you marry, his income becomes yours, making it much more difficult to get any financial assistance. It’s better that the two of you do not marry until your school and financial situations are resolved.
Your parents are committing financial and emotional extortion against you. Unfortunately, when it comes to calculating eligibility for loans on your FAFSA, the federal government doesn’t care if your parents refuse to pay. Until you are age 24, the government will consider your parents’ income toward applying for financial assistance. And, since you are 21, that’s a long time to hold off your education.
At this point, I would recommend that you go see your college financial advisor and explain your situation to them. I am not a financial counselor, but I think there might be ways to still apply for a Stafford loan.
Your parents’ behavior, and your fiancé’s mother’s behavior both border on abuse, in my opinion. They should be made to understand that what they are doing to you and him is seriously jeopardizing your relationship with your parents, as well as your education and your future. Their selfishness is inexcusable. Talk to them and explain that, while you love them, they are hurting you. If they cannot see this, I would go so far as to suggest all of you go into family counseling.
If they refuse counseling, if they are completely unshakable in their resolve to stand in the way of getting the education you want and to be with the man you love, then, if I were you, I would explain to them that I was going off to college, taking my supportive boyfriend with me, and they can sit alone in their house and fight each other.
Will it be hard? Certainly. You might have to go to school only part time while working a job, while your fiancé also works.
Pretty much every other option is going to make you miserable. If you call them on their threats and move out anyway, taking your wonderful mate with you, there is a chance they will change their minds and still support you financially. After all, even though your brother moved to a college far away, they help him, right?
There are a lot of things you can do to get by financially. Again, talk about this long and in great detail with a financial counselor at your school. Talk about it with your boyfriend. And, still, try hard to talk to your parents. Bring your pastor into the discussion, if that will help persuade your parents, or see if you can get them into family counseling. What they are doing is very harmful and they need to realize this.
If nothing can be done, then, well, you are 21 years old, you have a supportive man in your life, and you are behaving much more maturely than all three parents. I know it’s scary, but if you give in you will remain an emotional hostage to your parents for the rest of your life, and, I promise you, this will make for a very unhappy future.
It is time for you to put your foot down, then stand on your own two feet. My bet is you are smart enough and hard-working enough to succeed.
I Wish You the Best of Luck!
I'm a 19 year old college student and have recently accepted that I'm a straight furry. But, coming from a religious and slightly strict family, it is hard for me to want to fully commit to the entire "furryness" I want to. Even though I have plans to get some furry body art, what I am trying to understand is, and this may be a problem that some flurries have or not I don't know. But in my personality I have a problem with getting too attached to things. For maybe an extreme example, and embarrassing, is that I have even formed a fake life that I keep updated on my personal device for my own enjoyment and I keep it very detailed. But what I want to know is how does someone as a furry run or live a normal life without letting the urges or wants of the furry life getting in the way of a successful life. Not that I wouldn't want to be commuted but the major I'm in and also the area I live in is very constricting on this sort of thing. I'm new and I just want some advice. This is my first letter so does seem like I rambled on. Thanks.
* * *
It’s starting to be a mission of mine to explain to furries—especially those new to the fandom—that being a furry doesn’t mean you are living a life of shame like some crack addict committing armed robbery for drug money. Lots of furries lead very successful, productive lives, and being a furry doesn’t interfere with that in the least. Look at me, for instance. I am a successful freelance editor and writer. Look at Uncle Kage, a pharmacist with a doctorate. Look at my friend Tycho Brahe (aka Tycho Aussie), who is an aerospace engineer and happily married father of three.
Whatever your college major is, whatever your career goal is, being furry will not be a deterrent to your success. Furry can be a simple exercise in imagination, and some people get into it more than others. Your interest in creating an alter ego with lots of detail in his life is a creative way of expressing yourself and nothing to be ashamed of. Why are you ashamed of it? It’s no more silly than novelists creating completely fictional worlds, such as Tolkien creating Middle Earth (talk about detailed! Complete with functioning languages and highly detailed history and mythology!) So, don’t look at it as a “fake” life, look at it as an exercise in imagination. It is imagination, after all, that leads to creation and innovation.
Too often we feel pressured by society to conform, to be “normal” so we can be “accepted” and “successful.” Pardon all the quotation marks. A lot of what you’re feeling is probably caused by your conservative upbringing. Conservative, by definition, means lack of innovation, lack of thinking outside the box, lack of imagination, lack of trying anything new.
But now you have discovered your furryness and your creativity. Please do not suppress it, and please don’t think that it will prevent you from achieving great things in your life. Quite the contrary: it can inspire you to achieve new levels that dullard conservatives fear to rise to.
Good luck! Welcome to the fandom!
This evening, I took the opportunity to come out about me being a furry to my dad. As one would expect, he was a bit confused about it at first, but then the dreaded light bulb turned on. Luckily, he took it quite well initially. I was surprised at either how well he took it or how wrong I was about him. I honestly haven't decided which one.
But now we've got a problem. Remember that light bulb? That light bulb is a jerk, nobody likes when it turns on. As I feared, he knows about the sexual side of furries. I assured him that, though that does exist, it's not who I am, it's not what I'm into, it's against what I believe, and, frankly, it disgusts me. I'm pretty sure he believes that's not who I am, but he had another issue, based on my age.
To him, it's not acceptable for me to be a furry at age 15. You can guess why. I tried to remind him that, though the community is a big part of my furryness, the art is what I'm really into. Unfortunately, that didn't work very well, and he used his age old assumption that every furry is "a 20 year old male sitting in his mother's basement, naked, with his bunny suit hanging on the wall." How touching.
I tried to bring up some of the best examples of good furs I know of (at the time, the one that came to mind was Bucktown Tiger. Might not have been the absolute best example, but he's definitely on the list). But he still wasn't convinced.
And I'm not saying that he's not being very reasonable. The sexual stuff is there. I've seen it (though I wouldn't dare tell him that detail), but it's still not me.
I think his perception of furries is quite clouded, because he asked whether my friends know about it, as if it's something horrible. On top of that, he watches Comedy Central, Fox News, Howard Stern and all of those places that classify the fandom as a "fetish".
On top of that, he believes that at some point in my life, I will get the desire to dress up as a furry and do some things with another furry that I, again, am not into and don't believe are right.
Speaking of, both he and myself are Christians, but that hardly seemed to play a role in anything.
And on that note, I'm sure he now questions whether or not I'm gay. I'm not, but I wouldn't blame him for thinking that I am, since I defend homosexuals often, which is because I'm a furry and I have so many friends here who are gay.
I think he trusts me not to be actively searching out that stuff, but he still doesn't want me associating with furries because that stuff exists.
Onto my question: How can I show him that not every furry is a 20 year old perv with a bunny suit, and that the furry fandom is nothing to be ashamed of, or even hide?
Thanks for all your help thus far,
(also, if you have time, what would you consider the "right" age to be a furry?)
* * *
It’s great that your dad is fairly understanding, and I certainly do sympathize with his being nervous about his son being associated with any potentially dangerous people. You are both right that there are a lot of furries out there who are mostly into the sexual aspect of the fandom, and there is a LOT of porn out there. There are also a lot of furries like yourself who do not like the kink side at all. There is so much that is fun and cool about the furry fandom that has nothing at all to do with sex. Nothing.
I would put it to your father this way, as an example: “Dad, it’s true that there is a lot of X-rated art out there concerning furries, but there is also a lot that has nothing to do with that. It’s important for you to understand that there are many, many furries who want nothing to do with furry porn, and I am one of them. Think of it this way: there are millions of Muslims in the world, but would you say they are all terrorists? Of course not! Only a small portion of them are, and they give the rest of the Muslim community a very bad name and make other people suspicious of anyone who is a practicing Muslim. Just as terrorists get a lot of media and other attention, giving Muslims a bad name, furry pornography gets a lot of attention from non-furries because it is so sensationalistic. Please don’t condemn all furries as furverts because that is far from the truth. I’m not a furvert.”
To ease his mind further, invite him to go to a furcon or furmeet with you. Allow him to be involved in your furry life, if he wishes. Don’t be secretive about it (just reinforcing here, as you seem like you are not the secretive type), and you will gain his trust. You already have a very good start, and he seems like a pretty cool guy who is just a bit concerned about furry, which means that he loves and cares about you, which is a good thing! Much better than a father who is completely indifferent to his son’s activities.
By taking him to some furry events, he will see (as my mate, Yogi, has seen when I took him to furcons) that they are really very tame. Just a bunch of people with the same interests having fun sharing their hobby together.
As for the question what is the right age for a furry—there is no right or wrong age. You don’t need a furry license, you are not ingesting drugs, you are not enlisting in the army. It is simply an avocational interest many people have. You wouldn’t ask someone, “What is the right age to be a Star Trek fan” would you? Of course not. Same for furries. From 1 to 101, any age is the right age.
I've been feeling rather down lately and I'm not quite sure what to do...
Back in very late September, I broke up with my long distance boyfriend of almost 5 years. I thought thins were going to be okay. He was bitter and angry for a while and depressed but we were still talking and seemed to be staying as friends. Now though I'm just getting weird feelings from him when we chat.
We don't talk about the past really anymore or even role play or anything sexual which I expected for the most part. I like being able to talk about subjects we're both interested in. But the more I talk to him the more I realize it.... It just isn't who he used to be. He just seems more indifferent to the world and just a tad angry. He isn't like he used to be and that makes me sad.
I've been trying to be open with myself now that I'm out of the relationship and I do consider myself moved on, but lately, and only lately, I've been catching myself thinking about him more and more and with his new attitude, it scares me a little. I don't know what to do.
Since the breakup I've been more open sexually and exploring that side of me. I've also been paying more attention to my desires and what I see in potential mates. I have been looking for a new boyfriend or girlfriend (I'm bi) with little success. I mean I had a few crushes on some people, but they usually are already in a relationship with someone or far away. I told myself I wouldn't take another long distance relationship and I think that's good for me at least. And the potentials that are in a relationship or otherwise highly unlikely for me to get with I just kind of write off as unattainable and get over the crush. There's no point if I have no chance, right?
But.... There is one that I really like, and I know he really likes me as well. The only couple issues are that my ex introduced us a few years back and he's a mutual friend. Also, he lives several states away as well, so my morals come back into play. He tried asking me to be his boyfriend a while ago and I would have said yes immediately if it weren't for those reasons. Now he's gone and become boyfriends with some guy he's known for a couple months that is constantly trying to get him to move in with him (I should mention I'm kind of protective of this guy and I really do not approve of that pressure. Actually I've noticed the boyfriend has been pressuring him quite a bit, but I won't say anything unless it gets out of hand, not my place, y'know?). So I feel now as if I missed an opportunity I should have taken. Then my ex just creeps back into my mind and I end up going in circles.
I don't know what to do or what to feel really anymore. I don't even know what to say. It's possible I'm over thinking everything and I should just ignore it and forget about everything, I know finding a mate takes time. I know relationships are hard. Especially long distance ones. What I don't know is what to do, what to say. I wish I had more confidence or that I could help my ex become the man he used to again, or reverse time and grab that potential mate before he chose someone else (we're still really really good friends and special to each other, it's.... I'm not quite sure how to describe the relationship since we are closer than friends).
What should I do? What would you do?
Thanks in advance
* * *
There’s quite a bit in this one letter, and no one really clear question to answer, but I will try. Allow me to respond to the quandaries here and then see if they can be unraveled into one problem to solve.
To begin with: the boyfriend you broke up with. I’ve got to wonder why you are surprised that your ex is irritable and angry with you and not the same guy. You broke up with him. How would you feel? Your relationship will never be the same because you dumped him and he is understandably miffed at you. Now, I’m not saying that a break-up wasn’t the right decision for you, but don’t expect your ex to be overjoyed. Even in the absolute best case scenarios, there are going to be hurt feelings. It’s lovely that the two of you can still talk and, hopefully, remain friends, but it is not right for you to expect him to be happy about it.
As for the next guy, you decided you didn’t want a deeper relationship, so you are not partnered in any way, correct? I’m also assuming he is old enough to make his own decisions, including deciding who he wants as a mate. Therefore, it’s not your place to interfere. The boyfriend who wants to move in with him who is “pressuring” him? Not your concern. Not for you to judge what is going on between them (good for you for saying it is not your place!) Now, if this guy asks for your opinion or advice, as a friend you can surely offer that, but then leave the decision to him. He is not your responsibility to “protect,” which, actually, comes off as your being a bit jealous and possessive when you actually have no claim on him.
Judging by these two examples, I would guess that your problem is you are suffering from indecision—you don’t really know what you want. Your indecision makes you go back and forth about your feelings and wants from these other people, which is not only confusing for you but also for them.
You ask what Papabear would do in your case. I would take some time to inventory my feelings about these two guys and figure out what I liked and didn’t like about the relationships, and also what you learned from them. For example, the long-distance problem. I agree with you that it is far, far better to have a relationship with someone whom you can easily see in person. Both these guys were long-distance; therefore, you would be wise to scratch them off your list of potential mates. Continue coming up with positives and negatives about each relationship and you will get closer to figuring out what you really want.
Be careful, however. Too many people create this ideal image of a mate, one that can almost never be achieved, and then are disappointed when such people don’t exist in real life. Therefore, be realistic, and be flexible; don’t expect perfection, but don’t put up with something you feel is intolerable and incommensurate with your life goals.
And, yes, I do know what you mean about people who are not mates but are also more than just friends. I have a couple of people like that in my life who are very very dear to me but who are not on the same level as my mate, Yogi. It’s wonderful to have such people in your life; they are like family—no, the are family, even if they are not blood. They are to be treasured.
In summary, your confusion comes from your not really knowing what you want in a relationship. Figuring that out will go a long way toward your finding someone with whom to share your life.
Wishing You Love and Happiness,
I know many of your readers write concerning sexuality, but my situation is a bit different. After a long period of determining my sexual identity, I've come to the conclusion that I am asexual. Not celibate, mind you, but that I'm just not interested in sex. Period.
The problem is that ever since my childhood, I have had no interest in girls (I'm male), and because of this, many in my school came to the conclusion that I was gay. This led to some of the most horrific taunting I've ever experienced. To this day, I've overheard my (Conservative Christian) relations whispering about me, wondering if I was gay, and you can imagine the awkwardness I've been through when someone makes a romantic advance in my direction, and I have to politely say words to the effect of "It isn't you, it's just me".
So, while there are those who struggle with "coming out of the closet", I'm struggling with people misunderstanding my lack of sexual desire. I'm not "broken" nor impotent, I'm not on a vow of celibacy, I'm just not interested in sex. Now, how do I make this known to my friends and family without any further confusion?
Unbroken (age 52)
* * *
Last May I wrote on the topic of asexuality, too. As you say, there is nothing wrong with you; it’s just that you happen to be asexual. As I did with the previous letter, I recommend you check out Asexual Visibility and Education Network at http://www.asexuality.org/ which will provide you all sorts of useful information on being asexual. There are forums there, and you can get some community support from other people like yourself.
The other thing here is that you are 52 years old. That’s certainly old enough to put your foot down and state, frankly, to your relatives and friends, “I’m not gay, I’m asexual. That’s just the way I am.” And then explain to them, in clear, simple-to-understand terms, what that means. The line, “It isn’t you, it’s just me” sounds evasive and naturally makes suspicious people jump to the wrong conclusion. So, in your case, I recommend your being frank. You have nothing to be ashamed of or to apologize for, especially at your age.
Stand up for who you are without fear.
I have really enjoyed your advice columns they have let me think about other people' problems and how I would respond to them, and they have also helped me in some of my question area's. (Notably, the creative writer's one!) They really let me think and help me with some of my fandom-ish problems*.
Now I'd like to leave my cards on the table.
I live in a small town, middle of nowhere, so I can't be drawn into a city-type environment, so maybe that affects me more than I think, but I feel at a loose disconnect with the fandom. I've done many thinks a beginner furry might do: I've built my own tail (best thing I've made out of art class, hehe), and I've written stories (sadly, not one of them are truly completed, drifted off them.) My cousin is also a furry, and I enjoy doing little fursona for my friends. I just have the problem of not really be able to connect to my thoughts (my cousin live a nice time away). I love to read a books, once I'm in it I just can't it it down. I consider myself a teacher pet (Ha Pun), but no one really thinks like I do, well, fandom related, I guess.
Sorry for trailing off a bit.
Failaria Talerum FT (age 15)
*Being accepted by the ones around me because I'm a furry.
* * *
It sounds like you’re asking how to better connect to furries. Unfortunately, you don’t provide your location, so I can’t research your area to see if there are furry groups close to you or not. Yours is a pretty common problem that I have seen before: furries living in rural or other remote areas who have a hard time getting to furcons or furmeets. Also, since you are only 15, you can’t drive anywhere yourself—although if you could hook up with some nearby furries you might carpool somewhere.
While it is always preferred in social interactions to have real-life contact, in those situations where that is not possible we are fortunate enough to live in a technological age where we can connect online. I would recommend you search on Facebook for furries with your interests and see if you can make some friends there. Also, Furry4Life is great because they have interest groups all set up for you. For example, I belong to Greymuzzle, Bear, and Fursuiting groups on F4L. You say you made a tail and, I suppose, you might be interested in doing more than that? Join a fursuiting and fursuit makers groups, which would be a super way for you to get tips about making fursuits and accessories and making new friends.
But the king of furtual reality is Second Life. Yes, there are other virtual communities (InWorldz at http://inworldz.com/ is very similar, I understand), but I think SL is probably the best known and most popular virtual reality hang out for furries. Here, you can buy and customize furry avatars, go to furry clubs, even buy real estate and set up a business using the Linden Dollars currency. I used to hang out in SL a lot, but haven’t in years because my RL became so busy, but if you are desperately seeking some social connection with furries and have the time and a computer with a decent Internet connection, then Second Life might be just the thing for you.
Dear Papa Bear,
I am a teenager living in Texas and over the past few years, I've developed an interest in the furry fandom. No one in real life knows about this and I'd like to keep it that way.
To put it simply, I have rather odd fetishes, which often involve furries. Very few people I know even have a vague idea of what a furry is, and the handful that do believe it to simply be a collection of depraved freaks with a taste for bestiality.
My question is: Should I tell my family and friends that I'm interested in furries, and if so, how?
Sean the Charizard (age 14)
* * *
As you might imagine, Papabear gets this question a lot. These days, I usually refer writers to this page http://www.askpapabear.com/1/category/coming%20out%20furry/1.html to see my earlier answer and/or write to them personally without posting the letter because many of my readers have seen this issue before.
However, mail has been very slow of late, and, too, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally readdress the problem of coming out furry now and again, especially for my newer readers who may not have read some of my earlier posts. Also, since you are a minor, there are some things that need addressing here.
First of all, it should be recognized that the words we choose to describe something are very powerful. When you say that no one “in real life” knows you are furry that implies that your furiends online are not real. What you mean to say is no one in your daily life (family and friends you interact with offline) knows about it. That might seem like a dumb thing for me to say, but you need to acknowledge that the people online are real people, too, not fantasies. I know that’s not what you meant, but just indulge me on this point.
The other phrase you use is “odd fetishes.” What you mean is “socially unacceptable sexual interests.” It’s important to note this because when you say “odd fetishes” you are immediately putting yourself down, which is not healthy. It might surprise you, being 14, that pretty much all sexually mature people have fetishes of one kind or another. Most of these go unspoken in “polite company,” especially in conservative circles, but they remain nonetheless. The reason many people become neurotic, even psychotic, is that they suppress their sexual feelings for fear of being rejected by those they care about. This is understandable because the biggest driving emotion of almost everyone is the desire to be loved and accepted.
It’s healthy to recognize that human sexuality is a complex thing. My feeling on sexual “kinks,” shall we say, is that everything is okay as long as the sex is between consenting adults and you are not hurting anyone physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially. Pedophilia is out because you are emotionally taking advantage of a sexually immature person who doesn’t understand what sex is, really; rape, of course, is waaaay out; using sex as a negotiating tool in a relationship is also wrong; and so on and so on....
But you should not feel ashamed of yourself for having some sexual preferences that other people might not have. That’s what I wish to emphasize here.
As for telling your parents, that all depends on the parents. Some parents are very open-minded and supportive, others can be, well, less kind. If you have a good, positive, life-affirming relationship with your parents, then you should feel free to express yourself to them. If you have parents who would lock you in your room and throw away the key if you did anything they did not approve of, then, for your own sake, it is best not to tell them you are a furry with sexual kinks until after you are old enough to leave the house and support yourself.
As for how to tell them, the best way to do this is to approach the subject casually. Don’t make a big deal out of it. When you make a big deal out of something (“Oh, God! I’m a furry! Can you forgive me? I’m so messed up!”) then, naturally, your parents will freak out and tell you that you can’t be a furry. Realizing that you are a furry and that it is okay and doesn’t make you a bad person is the first step. Then, you can explain furry in more sane terms, such as, “You know how some people are really into Star Trek or Lord of the Rings? Well, I’m into anthropomorphic characters. You know, like Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck [characters they might know and relate to].” Keep it tame. Mundanes too often get an initial bad impression of the fandom, which is easy to do because sexual deviance is titillating and sensational.
The other thing to note here is that you are still a minor. You really should not be looking at anything pornographic on the Internet. Responsible websites do their best to block minors from looking at adult material, although this is often easily circumvented by anyone who simply clicks “Yes” when asked if they are 18 or older; other sites require a credit card for verification purposes. Really, such sites have warnings mostly to protect themselves, not minors. I am sad to say that many furry art sites do nothing to discourage minors from viewing explicit content.
Laws in the United States and elsewhere in the world are still up in the air on this topic. Such things as the 2000 Child Internet Protection Act simply require that libraries apply filters to their computers to prevent people from viewing X content unless a librarian gives them a password. The earlier Child Online Protection Act that put the burden on site providers to keep minors out was found unconstitutional in 2007. Not that you’ll go to prison for viewing such material—the burden of possible legal problems is on the websites, not the young web surfer.
What could easily happen if your parents find out you are looking at furporn (or any porn) is that they could apply a filter to the computer or simply tell you that you can’t surf the Web, at least not privately. Frankly—and I don’t mean to be a buzzkill about this—if it were me who was your parent I would have you only use the computer in the family room, living room, or kitchen. At the same time, I would encourage you to ask questions about what’s on the Web without judging you. At your age, you really should not be preoccupied with sex. There are so many other things in life that are fun and exciting and interesting.
While having sexual thoughts is a normal thing for any teenager, it becomes unhealthy when such things preoccupy your mind most of the time—when they, in essence, become an obsession. I hope that is not what is happening with you and you have other things in your life that you enjoy.
I suppose I have rambled a bit. My apologies. To sum up: 1) be careful not to disparage yourself for having sexual fantasies that are not considered “the norm”; there really is no such thing as “normal,” only things that people are not embarrassed to talk about vs. those things they are too shy to admit; 2) when discussing your being a furry with anyone—should you choose to do so—do it in benign terms; furry is not all about sex, but about much much more, so emphasize the tame aspects of it, which are the majority of what furry is about, and don’t act like being a furry is a big deal; 3) your fetish issue, whether furry related or not, is a different subject from furry and something you would be wise to keep to yourself until you become financially independent, unless you have amazingly sympathetic and understanding parents (not likely, but possible); and 4) don’t allow yourself to become too preoccupied about sex; sex is just one small aspect of life in a world filled with a gajillion other amazing things to do and see.
Hope this helps. Bear hugs!
Haya Papa Bear
I have a bit of a problem with something that has happened.
I am a very loving person and I am getting married to my boyfriend and best friend. I am bisexual, leaning more towards girls. My bf doesn't mind this and lets me date girls on the side so I can experiment with my sexuality since I hid it for so long.
Kisses do not bother me and I can say “I love you” without feeling a thing. I also find it very easy to find someone to "love." Girls all over me most of the time.
So here is the problem.
At the last fur meet up advent I was bored and kept hugging a girl. Let’s call her "Alice." I kept walking around, talking to my friends, hugging them, and just being me. I was bored for a bit so snuggles Alice and then licked her cheek and ran off. She ran after me and I got distracted by a furry doing something silly, and she got me back,which ended in a licking match, couple furries around us laughing a little, looking confused, then she puckered her lips up. I had never kissed this girl before; we only met a couple times, but hell with it. I gave her a little kiss on her lips and I suddenly felt shy and blushy and my heart was going all over the place. We both ran off back to our tables. I sat at my table a bit ... dazed? My mate was away grabbing drinks. I was confused and felt weird. I kissed my ex and a couple other girls just to see if it was because I was sick, but It wasn't.
I got another kiss off her and had the same feeling....
A couple days later and I still cannot stop thinking about it!! It's like someone has put a spell on me. Miss Women’s Girl has been struck!!
No matter how much I kiss my mate or someone else, I cannot get her out of my f***ing head!!
This is bad for me. I never fall like this and I have no idea what to do. We are both mated and ... I am just so confused
* * *
The first question that comes to the bear’s mind is this: Do you feel that tingly kind of excitement when you kiss your betrothed? You do note that when you kiss your fiancé you are still thinking of Alice, but you don’t mention any thrill from your mate. My guess would be you aren’t getting that same buzz because then Alice would not be popping into your head. On the other paw, since you barely talked to Alice and don’t really know her, the attraction is likely purely sexual and hormonal—at least at this point.
You also say that although you are bi you lean toward girls. The combination of this and your feelings for Alice makes me wonder why you are planning to marry a man. Is it because your family wants you to? Is it because society finds that more acceptable and you have luckily found a guy who will also permit you to flirt with girls on the side, and perhaps more? Might this be a marriage of convenience more than of love?
With the nuptials drawing closer and closer, might you be getting nervous about the idea of marriage, and this heightened sense of anxiety, combined with the sensation of Alice’s lips on yours, has got you thinking of a way out of the arrangement?
I really cannot answer these questions, but they are all possibilities. What I can say is that maybe you need to take a step back and reexamine your motivations for getting married. The excitement about Alice is a flag on the field, indicating you need to stop play for a while, regroup, consult the coach and the team, and see where you are really headed with all this.
Often in life, we find ourselves heading down the path that is expected of us, or the one that opens up and seems the easiest to travel. That doesn’t mean it’s the right path. The right path could be overgrown with underbrush and vines, and you might have to hack through it to find it and make it down that road, but if it’s the right path for you it is worth the effort.
Don’t rush ahead blindly. Reexamine where you’ve been, where you are, and where you would like to go. Alice is a traffic light telling you to put your foot on the brake until the light turns green again.
Hugs from the Bear
* * *
Dear papa bear,
Thank you for replying.
I didn’t notice I left the bits about my mate out.
I love him more than anything in this world, and I do get the sparks from him. He isnt perfect, but I can see past that with him.
I can seen what you mean. I have thought about if I really love him but I know I do. I am also known in my family for being the one to do what is not expected of me and to go out of my way to break traditions and what is expected. The marrage is because all I want in life is to be with my mate forever and grow old together.
Me and Alice have nothing in comon. If we talk it's for about 5 minutes and I get bored talking to her, which is one of the reasons I am so confused. It seems more a sexual sense than anything else.
I am nervous about the wedding but because of me messing up.
The weird thing about my thinking about her isn’t that I think of her personality or anything. It is always just the kiss ... like it shocked my body or something.
* * *
Thanks for the more detailed information. Good that this is not about your questioning the marriage itself, nor are you questioning your desire to be married to this man.
We’re back to the very real possibility that this is just sexual energy and you’re simply very turned on by this girl. Have you asked her how she feels about you? If she is like you and just feels some sexual desire but no real need to have a serious relationship with you, then, since your fiancé is cool with your having fun with other women, clear it with him and go release your sexual tension with Alice. You might find that, once the deed is done, you will have experienced a catharsis that will release you from your obsession. (One reason this could happen is if you find the having not so pleasant as the wanting. There are few things more unpleasant than having sex with a person you don’t find interesting or appealing on a personal level).
However, if the complication arises that Alice would like to be something more than a romp in the hay, you should back off of that idea, because if you went through with it you would be using Alice, and that is, to say the least, not cool. People should never be treated as if they were a side of beef. I would then recommend you do your best to supplant the obsession with Alice by focusing on your fiancé (which is really a good idea in the first scenario, too), removing triggers in your life that start you thinking about Alice (including this letter), and avoiding Alice as much as possible until she no longer enters your thoughts.
Another possibility is that this obsession is a subliminal way for your mind to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are fearful that you will mess up, as you said, and so your mind creates a situation where you can fulfill that fear and prove yourself right, thus validating whatever caused this symptom of apparent low self-esteem.
If this is the case, recognizing it as such will help you dispel the desire to sabotage your wedding by having sex with Alice.
A third alternative is that your obsession with Alice is a symptom of OCD—Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You don’t mention having OCD or having experienced a scenario similar to the one with Alice you are now experiencing, but if that is another thing you have left out of your letter like you did in the original missive, then it might require some therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or exposure and response prevention. I won’t go into what that means here as I believe that is a long-shot explanation, but write me again if I hit the mark there.
Hope that helps, Fluffball!
Short time, eh?
The reason I write back so fast is that I need to express something with words before I get a chance to do it with actions.
(This will be garbled, but I hope you can make sense of it. Because I can't.)
Since I was 4 years old, I have been bullied and abused by almost everyone, kids, even the staff at my daycare when I was of that age, and I feel it has left a significant psychological scar inside me. It quite literally drives me mad.
Sometimes, this can lead to feelings of a suicidal nature. You see, I suffer from serious mood swings, ones that last for hours and hours at a time and are triggered by the smallest of problems. I'm talking getting told off by someone for a minor thing, like forgetting something I was supposed to bring home from school. They are simple things, things I should be able to do, but when I cant and I make a mistake, it feels like I've failed as a human being. When my mother does have a go at me for these things, which she had a right to, I have a fear of defending my corner, I feel that no matter what is wrong, there is no excuse and I should never have made a mistake. I'm just a useless fucking human. I don't know if I became bi-polar or something as a result of my earlier abuse but I think it had a good deal to do with it. At the lowest, I become self-destructive, fantasizing about the destruction of myself and others. I feel like I am useless and worthless, like I won't even contribute to society or be worth of the time and money people put into my existence. These feelings can be brought on by myself. I have found a long time ago I could drive myself into a weird form of madness, which I ceased to do again, however I know it is possible.
I also think there is another reason that contributes to this. I lost my faith in religion at a very young age after being shouted at by the vicar's assistant for daring to shake her hand during one of the ceremonies my church did (British church services are ruthlessly strict). It is for this reason that I don't want to seek Religion for help, I have the power of life and death in my hands (at least that of myself), where is the Bible going to work in that?
I do have something though which I can call a "religion". It goes by the idea of three idols of mine, hero's to those who don't wish to use biblical terms. It has "White Fang" from the Jack London novel as the kind of main... god... person, who attempts to use a combination of karma and fate to help, but I know he cant help everything. The second one of these is "Wile E Coyote" who I idolize for his resilience, something I dearly need regularly in life. The last of these is "Tech E Coyote". He has a more... sexual role, which I will not go into as it makes little difference.
Your thinking "That's just stupid!"
That's because it is. My mind is dumb enough to believe it, so I simply re-cycle it in my head and it retains some sanity. So when it comes to death and the afterlife, I go by the idea that when you die, you are allowed to be in a realm with your mind, like being put inside your subconscious, isolated from the rest of the world, me inside my tortured mind. What this means is, death is at the worst, an inconvenience. I love being alone, I am practically a lone wolf in nature (I've never felt loneliness as an emotion) and being locked in my mind where I don't have to worry about abuse or the knowledge that no matter how hard I try, I won't be able to get to a point in life where I am at peace.
I find that I don't fit in with society at all. I'm attracted to the wrong gender, I don't like the right things, I dress stupidly, I don't conform with what is modern and fashionable... the list goes on. Where the fuck am I supposed to find a fellow furry metal head who is gay and doesn't mind being in love with a guy who's lost his mind? And as for friends, I only have about three and I have to lie blatantly to them every day I live. And I know they will just let me die when I tell them who I really am. I don't have "true" friends. The only ones I have are furries and they are all out of the country.
When I write this, I feel stupid, like I am writing some foolish fantasy. But I know that in the heat of the moment, I'll believe it. It feels stupid as I have a decent chance of getting a good job in a garage, a job that will pay me well. But garages do not suit homosexual's like me at all, they are one of the most homophobic trades around, unless being in the Westboro Baptist Church is a profession...
I know that I should tell my family. But I know one of two things will happen. Either they will think its just standard depression and it'll fade off, stop scaring them, or that they will go apeshit and ask why I didn't tell them about it before. The problem with this is, I fear that I won't be able to produce enough evidence to support such a thing that they will believe. Also, its not like they can do anything about it. I'm fighting human nature, an unstoppable force. And I am no immovable object
What should I do? Is there anything I can do? Or is this just an imminent road to death?
Fred E Coyote (age 16)
* * *
Hello again. You’ve written to me now on several occasions, including about your sexual obsession with Tech E. Coyote, your struggles with homosexual feelings, and your problems with bullying and feeling useless. I had thought I had helped you somewhat, based on your testimonials saying you were over your Tech E obsession and so on. I’m sorry that is apparently not true.
As you know, I am not a trained therapist. Given all that you are going through, I really would suggest you seek out some professional counseling, if it is at all possible.
All that aside, I will try to offer some words of comfort to you.
What is core to your problem is that you are basing what is “right” and “wrong” on the opinions of those external to you: the people at church, at school, your peers, and so on. Because those people’s worldviews do not match your own, you believe you are insane or simply not right in the head. This idea is deeply imbedded in you because you have had these opinions and views forced down your throat since you were a toddler. That is the time when your brain is still being wired, so to speak, so now they are deeply ingrained in you and hard to shake.
You need to unlearn what you have learned. You need to realize that your ideas and beliefs have validity and just because a lot—or even a majority—of people may not believe as you do does not make you wrong. Remember, it used to be commonly believed that the Sun orbited the Earth, that illnesses were caused by demonic possession, and tomatoes were poisonous to eat, just to name a few things. People are often wrong.
Most people would disagree with the things I believe in, too. But I don’t care. I have come to my own conclusions on life and they are mine and they are what I believe and they guide me in life.
I would like to recommend someone to you: Don Miguel Ruiz. He has compiled and explained the belief systems of ancient peoples in books like The Four Agreements. Visit his website at http://www.miguelruiz.com/ (and, no, I don’t get a commission on sales :-P)
You would benefit greatly from reading his books and/or listening to his tapes. They are all about unlearning all the shit that society has filled your head with so that you can connect to yourself and the real world.
Hope this helps you more than my previous letters.
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.