I've been a pretty active furry for the past few years, and it's brought me a lot of joy. I love the acceptance and overwhelming positivity. Now, when I bring up my issue, I'm gonna avoid names(I'll use OC names), and not get too personal, but I'll try to make it understandable. I recently went through an argument with a lot of my friends. I broke up with my friends, Cinder, TK, and Peck. Right now the people sticking by me are my friends Velvet, Muffy, and Zip. Now, as you may be familiar, teen friend break ups can be quite emotional and dramatic. I've been pretty down in the dumps lately, especially since Peck tried to convince me everyone hated me, and once TK tried to convince my buddy Ash not to be friends with me anymore. One of the things that really pulls me through how awful drama is, is furry. I wear a pair of ears attached to a headband, and a tail attached to my belt every day, and they always make me feel more unique, especially when people say I look cute or say the tail is so soft and adorable.
But, with the positive people, also comes the negatives. I was working on a project in class while this kid kept pestering me asking "how do you make a furry?" He was really asking how to make my tail, as he didn't understand any fursuiting terms. Though I explained, it became clear quick that he was just setting up a punchline at my expense. Then, when I was getting ready to play my instrument at a pep rally, a trumpet player standing being me pulls my tail. I reflexively looked back, and typically as they always do, he blamed it on someone else. I rolled my eyes and ignored him. Then another kid grabbed my tail with both hands and yanked it enough to pull my pants waistband a solid centimeter away from my body. I turned around and got in his face, then politely asked him to refrain. He just repeatedly yelled. "Guys help! I'm being beat up by a furry." I gave up. After two more tail pulls, one almost knocking me to the ground, they gave up because I stopped reacting. I'm tired of this. I just wish I could cope using the one thing that makes me happy without getting constantly bullied for it. I'm considering not wearing them anymore, but I don't want to have to change who I am when it shouldn't be an issue and the first place. I'm so confused. How can I express the things that make me happy if I'm just going to get bullied for it?
Thank you so much for reading, sorry if this is unorganized.
Osh (age 13)
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You are learning a sad truth about human society: humans want conformity, not individuality. Oh, sure, in America we say that we are for freedom of expression and we are for people being individuals, but in practice, it isn't true. You might notice that although most schools do not have uniforms, there is still a code of how you should dress, as well as act, at school in order to be accepted by your peers.
Osh, there is a time and place for everything. If you don't want to be molested at school, you are going to have to wear the ears and tail elsewhere, because no matter what you do, you are going to get bullied. That is just a fact of life. And it doesn't matter if you complain to the principal's office because they will likely do nothing much about it (unless you are actually hurt physically). They might even tell you to put away the ears and tail, as I am now doing.
Does it suck? Yeah, it sure does. I once had a young girl write to me and tell me about a day at school when her teacher said you can dress up as whatever you would like to be. Encouraged, she put on her furry gear and showed up at class. You know what they did? They took her to the school psychiatrist's office.
And that's how mundanes are. Conformists. Hypocrites. And, often, bullies.
And that is why those in the furry community have furmeets and furcons. Those are the places we go where we can be ourselves.
I would suggest you try and find some like-minded furries your age at school and host a little gathering at your home (with parental approval, of course).
Sorry for the bad news, but it is a lesson you will have to learn in life.
Last year because of Donald Trump many people from Islamic countries have been deported back to their home countries. They were forced to board planes leaving from New York, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California after being arrested and detained by Immigration Control Enforcemen—or ICE—agents. What can I do to prevent further deportations of people from Islamic countries from happening?
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Excellent question. I think, in truth, this is the first time Papabear has ever received such a politically hot query (conservative "Ask Papabear" readers might be offended by what I am about to say, but oh, well). Even though the outright ban on immigrants from several countries ordered by Trump has been stayed by a federal judge, border security prejudice against Muslims and deportations have increased significantly. A witch hunt like this has not been seen in our country since the anti-Communist McCarthy era of the 1950s. The election of Donald Trump has brought back a flood of racist feelings in this country. Hateful people feel empowered by his being elected and are coming out like cockroaches when the light of justice (forgive me for sounding like Po here) has been turned off.
Americans have a long history of that here, including prejudice and mistreatment of African Americans, Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, Irish immigrants, Japanese Americans, Communists, LGBT people, and now Muslims (especially if they are from the Middle East; many Americans are too dumb to realize many Muslims are not from Arabic countries, even sometimes confusing Sikhs for Muslims if they are wearing turbans). In short, our country thrives by hating other people, it seems. Politically, inciting a people to hate a certain nationality, ethnicity, or religion as an "outside threat" is used to unite people behind a government striving to stay in power. Americans talk a good game about being lovers of freedom (I remember in grade school how they tried to convince us we were a "Melting Pot"--lies), but we are just as prejudiced as any other country. Controlling people in this manner is better achieved, too, when the people are uneducated, which is why our public school system has been deliberately dumbed down by politicians and religious extremists.
But there is some hope.
Slowly, over the centuries, America has experienced some encouraging waves of liberalism and open-mindedness. Since the 1970s, especially, we have been making some significant progress in gay, women, and minority rights. What sometimes happens (as we are seeing now) is that "conservative" whites, when they see this kind of evolution in civil rights taking place, become defensive and fearful that "their way of life" is being threatened (meaning white Christian "American" values). When this happens, there is a backlash of conservative paranoia, resulting in sympathy towards Christian televangelists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and more subtle groups that pretend not to hold those values but really do.
What can you do about it? The above problem arises when liberal and progressive thinkers become lazy and complacent (this is why Hillary Clinton lost the election--she assumed she would win and this resulted in her making many serious mistakes, such as assuming she would win Wisconsin and Michigan, therefore, not campaigning enough there). So, what you need to do is:
I hope that helps. Fight the good fight, my furiend.
P.S. Below is a helpful book I edited about Islam that should clear things up for many people.
Hi there! My friend told me you were knowledgeable about things and I think some outside opinions would help.
The situation is not dire I'm just simply questioning. I've always been a little bi-curious but usually been pretty good at ignoring it until it went away. That was, until I attended my first furry con and I saw the happy couples and I felt that I wanted that.
I guess my question is what should I do about this possible budding bisexuality. Might it be legit or am I simply starved for affection and looking to open new avenues for romance, how would I know what it is? Should explore it how could I start?
Thanks in advance :)
Lyle (age 21)
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There is no such thing as 100% straight or 100% gay. We all lie somewhere in the middle, although we usually lean one way or another. Those who call themselves bisexual feel they are about halfway between the two extremes.
When it comes to relationships, disregard race, nationality, religion, money, and sex. Look at the person. It is a person you truly fall in love with, not their outer shell (those who do fall for the shell are always disappointed in the end). If you fall in love with someone who is male or female and you get along in all the important ways (and the sex is good), then you will have a happy relationship.
Whether you are bi or "starved for affection" or simply really horny, I cannot tell from such a brief missive as you have sent. But I can tell you that you shouldn't grasp onto a relationship because you want sex or even because you want affection. Genuine relationships aren't about you satisfying your needs. In other words, do not go into a relationship for selfish reasons. Do so because you are in love and bringing the other person happiness is just as important as the happiness they bring you.
I don't know who else to turn to. I'm to ashamed to talk to my family about this or anyone else.
I recently had a concussion and had to go to the hospital. Everything was progressing just fine until another box hit me in the head. Not as hard but it hit me. I didn't notice anything different until much more recently.
I've started having panic attacks which I've never had before. Never ever.
Today even while I'm writing this letter. I am at a family gathering and we were going to go tubing, well I get down there and... I don't want to do it anymore. I run upstairs and I locked myself in the bathroom. I started crying and hyperventilating. I'm physically fine. But I don't know why I ran or came to the bathroom. I don't know who else to ask or how to search up what's wrong with me. I know this may be asking to much. But if there's anything you can do or say? Please please tell me.
Anonymous (age 21)
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When you went to the hospital, what was the diagnosis? Were you treated for a concussion?
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Yes. I was treated for the concussion. It was a small pinpoint bleed in my brain. The doctor said there was nothing seriously wrong and said it would be best to just take it easy and take acetaminophin and I did. But now I've started having panic attacks whenever I'm in uncomfortable situations so now. I don't know what's going on. I don't know if it's because of the concussion or because of my new promotion or both.
* * *
Okay, a "pinpoint bleed in my brain" is key here. It would be very important to know where, exactly, the brain injury occurred. Depending on what part of the brain was injured, different symptoms can arise. If you suffered injury to the amygdala, for example, that could definitely lead to panic attacks. The amygdala controls the body's limbic system, which controls many of the functions associated with symptoms of panic.
The brain is a very complicated organ, and damage elsewhere in or on the brain could also cause behavioral changes. Brain trauma is also often associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, PTSD is diagnosed when the following are true: "First, one must have been exposed to or witness an event that is threatening to safety, and one must respond to this event with fear, horror, or helplessness. Second, one must report a re-experiencing symptom, which may include intrusive memories, nightmares, a sense of reliving the trauma, or psychological or physiological distress when reminded of the trauma. Third, there need to be at least three avoidance symptoms, which can include active avoidance of thoughts, feelings, or reminders of the trauma, inability to recall some aspect of the trauma, withdrawal from others, or emotional numbing. Fourth, one must suffer marked arousal, which can include insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilence, or heightened startle response. These symptoms must cause marked impairment to one's functioning, and can only be diagnosed when they are present at least 1 month after the trauma."
I would consult with a doctor and tell them everything you are experiencing since your head injury. You don't have to go to the same doctor who originally treated you. In fact, I wouldn't because a second opinion very much seems in order here.
Please see a doctor, and good luck!
[Note: I want to thank all those who have offered comments at the end of this article. The information I wrote about some of these cons was brought to me by various furries and online articles. I was not at RMFC or the early ConFurence I mention here, or, indeed, any of these cons. In the end, however, it it not important who, exactly, did what to whom. There are two undeniable facts: 1) several furcons have been cancelled over the last couple years; 2) the fact that they were cancelled is NOT because the mundane community banned furries; it IS because, in one way or another, furries behaved badly. It might be that three conventions being cancelled in three years is just a coincidence, but it seems to me that this is an escalating symptom of a phenomenon I am seeing, and that is that the fandom has grown so large that it is getting out of control. What the solution is, I'm not sure, but I think we need to start addressing this in a serious manner.]
I need to pause here and take a breath. There have been some sad developments in the furry world over the last two years or so, and I am going to state my opinion about it so my readers know where I stand.
As any furry who pays attention knows, three furcons have now shut down due to bad behavior: Rainfurrest, Oklacon, and, very recently, Rocky Mountain Fur Con. In the first case, the con got out of hand when a bunch of furries trashed hotel rooms, costing the hotel a lot of money, and also indulged in bad (sometimes gross) behavior in the lobby and public areas. In the case of the Colorado con, it seems to be a combination of the actions of a group calling itself the "Furry Raiders" (I've also heard the name #AltFurry), an apparently new group that supports right-wing principles and is opposed to what is, really, a rather liberal social group, as well as furcon admins who didn't pay federal taxes. One admin has also been involved in sex with a minor and (not sure if it's the same person) is connected to the Furry Raiders, allowing them to reserve a block of rooms that ended up excluding other furries and that, in turn, resulted in threats of violence.
Here's a good article about what happened at RMFC.
Also, in 2014, Oklacon was menaced by drunk furries who engaged in public sex acts that forced the con to shut its doors the next year.
And then there is the incident at Midwest Furfest during which someone released chlorine gas in a stairwell. You will notice, though, that MFF is still running. Why? Because it is a great example of a well-run furry convention (kudos to the staff). Something happened that was beyond their control, but they quickly managed the situation and the result was that this convention is still around for good furries to enjoy.
While all this saddens Papabear, I'm not really surprised this has happened. The fandom has grown so large and is sans any kind of controls or rules or regulation that unsavory elements have inevitably infiltrated our ranks. Such a lackadaisical approach is the result of a permissive culture that abhors societal restriction (much like the hippie generation). I get that, but there comes a point when being too laid back is a problem.
Like a parent who allows her children to do whatever they want, the result is a bunch of spoiled, self-entitled brats who think they can do whatever they like, even if it is harmful to others.
It is more important than ever for those who run conventions to be vigilant. It is not impossible to run a large con efficiently and well. Anthrocon had 7,310 attendees in 2016 and you saw nothing like what happened at Rainfurrest or Oklacon. This result is directly attributable to those who run the con.
The danger of having badly run furcons is not just that they will close but that they will give all conventions and the fandom a bad name.
[Note: Dogpatch Press published a good article about how false rumors can also spread about cons, however.]
The preventative is vigilance. The Rainfurrest organizers were overly indulgent with attendees (public drunkenness was rampant); the RMFC staff permitted bad behavior on the part of the Furry Raiders and also either didn't do a background check or didn't care that someone in their ranks had a criminal record.
Frankly, these conventions deserved to close. If you can't do it right, then you shouldn't do it.
Convention founders and administrators need to have enough gumption to ban furries or groups of furries from joining in on the fun if they have proven themselves to be a problem. (For example, if a group espouses hate, violence, or prejudice towards others, that should be a clue they are not good furries and should not be permitted into a convention). RMFC had the opportunity to do this with the Furry Raiders group, but they backed off and suffered the consequences. (To be fair here, after talking to more people who were there, bad behavior was also demonstrated by anti-Furry Raiders people, one of whom tried to throw a punch).
No apologies should be necessary when it comes to who you allow into your organized, private function. Furry conventions have a right to ban anyone they wish for the good of the attendees who simply want to have a good time.
We need to seek an answer to this problem now before it escalates any further. My (admittedly, unasked for) advice? I would propose that an organization be created that includes all those who run or wish to run a furry convention (it would be great if this could include furries from all over the world). The purpose of this organization would be to:
The days are past when furcons could operate just fine in isolation from one another.
[NOTE: In light of the comment added by Smash in the comments below, the above is obviously a good idea that is already in existence (never said I was original LOL). Funny that I have not heard about the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable before, even though it was founded back in 2010! I'm sure the members of that group have been talking about recent events. Would be interesting if they could maybe be a little more public about it. Good for them for organizing the FCLR! Kudos all around, and I wish them success in the future.]
When I talk to furries and ask them what they like about the fandom, one of the frequent answers is that they enjoy the camaraderie and the fact that furries accept everyone. Indeed, that should be the spirit of furry. You might think that I am against the Furry Raiders' conservative values and that's why I'm ripping on them here. Not at all. If you want to be a conservative furry and vote for Donald Trump, go for it. But don't espouse hatred. Don't threaten violence against other furries. Don't reserve a block of rooms for the purpose of keeping furries you don't like from attending. Such behavior is obviously unacceptable and should be rejected by all good furries everywhere.
The furry fandom is supposed to be a world where people can escape from the nonsense of hatred and prejudice that plagues the rest of society. Yes, of course, furries are humans and subject to human flaws, but that doesn't mean we can't strive to be better than that. It takes work, and the more furries there are in the world the more work it will take.
I think it's worth the effort.
[Thanks for all the comments below. I've gotten a few things incorrect, apparently, but was simply reporting what I had heard from people who said they were there. I'm getting some different stories from other people who also said they were there. Details. Well, let's forego all the details. The point is, that furcons have been and are being taken down by furries who can't behave themselves. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed by the community. A good start would be the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable.]
First and foremost I would sincerely like to apologise if my skill of the English language is not up to par, since I’m not a native speaker. That being said I would like to ask advice on a problem I’m currently struggling with as of lately, and I hope you can be of any help with my problem.
I’m a 21 year old male who currently has been in the fandom for, I would say, like 3 years now. I have visited some cons and have been enjoying it thus far. I have made some friends there and I’m planning to go to a con this year as well. However, as you might be aware, a lot of people in the fandom are in the LGTB community. And this is where the problem arises. I have always considered myself a hetero-sexual male, but being in the fandom has had a certain influence on my life and I cannot be sure if this previous statement I made is true any longer. Now discovering new sexual interests shouldn’t be a problem, but yet it is.
Even though LGTB communities and official websites state it is something perfectly normal, it doesn’t feel normal for myself. I have of course met many gay furries myself, and some of them I sincerely could consider serious friends. One of them is even engaged and I was very happy for him. But if I notice I have thoughts about having a relationship with someone of the same gender it feels wrong to me, leaving me very frustrated and confused. Even the mere thought of having a crush on someone on the same gender feels wrong. I don’t know why I have these thoughts, and I have no valid reasons why I have them. One of the possible reasons why these thoughts occur in my mind could be because some of my family members are not very fond of Homosexuals, or “weird things” in general. (Though I must emphasize here the words “some of them”, and luckily this does not apply to everyone.) But then again, I would be the only person to blame for having such weird thoughts and being anxious about other people’s believes.
That being said, I really hope this story makes sense in any way. If questions remain, feel free to ask and I shall try to give a more precise answer. And I would like to thank you in advance for helping me out.
Arovos (the Netherlands)
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Being homo- or bi-sexual (or other varieties of sexuality) is actually quite natural (that is, it occurs in nature). It is only considered "weird" because human society does not approve of anything other than heterosexuality (as some of your family believe). You feel "weird" about it and consider it "wrong" because you have been programmed since you were a child that heterosexuality is the only "correct" and "normal" form of sexuality.
I, like you, once considered myself to be completely heterosexual. The reason was that I was raised in quite a sheltered way and I never was exposed to other lifestyles with the exception of television and other media. TV shows always portrayed gay men as very effeminate people who enjoyed dressing as women. Since this was of no interest to me, I thought I was straight. Indeed, I was married for over 20 years and had conventional sex. Then I discovered the bear community and was instantly turned on. Now, as you might sympathize with, this confused me for quite a while, but then I realized I was really gay and I pursued that life happily. You might wonder about my early straight life and sex with a woman. Well, most people, you see, do not fall within 100% straight or 100% gay--there are a thousand (not just 50) shades of grey in between those two extremes.
You are now discovering that you have a homosexual side, as well. This is a result of your becoming friends with LGBT people in the furry community, though it could have happened in a number of other ways, too. This makes you nervous because you fear family disapproval. Very understandable.
So now you come to a decision-making point: do you pursue your attraction for people of the same sex, or do you bow to societal and family pressures and let them determine who you are as a person?
Hint: it is the happy person who lives as himself.
I have a transformation fetish. You see, I loved transformations long before they started being a turn-on for me, but now I feel like I should stop looking at transformations online, even if I'm not looking just to turn my self on, because I feel like its a bad thing to indulge my fetish. What do I do?
Deathcat Gottlieb (age 12)
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My goodness, 12 is awfully young to be having sex issues. What happened to just being a kid? My advice: stay away from online porn (even G-rated transformation, if that is your trigger) and try to find something to do that is fun, creative, imaginative, and, even better, involves physical activity and social interaction. You're too darn young to be having sex fetish issues. Get your paws away from your groin and go live a more productive life.
Long time reader of your column and I've benefited from a lot of the insights found in your work. So, thank you for all that you do for people around the world!
To start off with, I am a college student. I take full-time classes, work an on-campus job, run an exec position of a club, and participate in two other clubs. After that, I have all of my friends and personal projects. You can already see that I keep myself very busy and run on very little sleep.
But my sleeping pattern isn't what I chose to write to you about. I give so much of myself to everything I do, I've never been known to do anything half-way. The reason is that I love everything that I do, and I have yet to find anything that I haven't found interest in or excelled at naturally.
Want an actor, artist, digital designer, costumer, film editor, special effect artist? I'm you're guy. Need a handyman, carpenter, cement layer, minor electrician? I'm also that guy.
I love the critical thinking of mathematics, the mystery of chemistry, the factoids and reasoning behind historical events, and the endless storytelling possibilities of writing. That was long-winded, but I truly do so much and I'm always hearing from family:
"Oh! But you have so much potential." "You're too smart to be in theatre." "You have such a mind for math." And the endless, "You should do" this and "you should do" that.
Currently I'm studying to become a theatre costume tech major, and a dance and Japanese double minor. I made my mind up about that a long time ago. But hearing my family criticize that, or even all the sour looks when I mention going into theatre, really makes me feel hollow about my one solid decision.
I take it well. I explain all that I know: that the job field for a technician has a lot less competition than acting. That "one can always find a job as a technician," as I have heard many times from my friends and coworkers.
I guess my real issue isn't in coping with my family, or how to communicate with them about MY decision. The issue is how to cope with potential. If life is full of possibilities, and everyone is to find their niche in life, what happens to the people that could fit anywhere? I could do anything and be anything and be happy. But I would be missing out on everything else to dedicate my life to just a few of the things I care about.
This must sound like a weird problem to have. I'm sorry if this is confusing. I have always lived my life without restricting myself by saying "I can't do something." Instead, I always found something I liked about what I was doing and found drive in that.
My family means well, but all of the constant what-ifs that come from looking into other paths just bring me down. How should I go about reconciling with my family? And settling this gnawing feeling in my gut about everything I might miss out on in life?
I know I'm still young. But I thought I would ask your opinion on the matter.
Rillee Satranack (North Carolina, age 20)
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The first thing to get out of the way is your concern about your family's opinion. I don't have to tell you that this is your life and your career, so the choice that matters is yours, not theirs. If they are a good family (and I'm sure they are) they aren't going to hate you because you choose some job they don't agree with. Agreed? So put that out of your head right now.
With that aside, you're left with the issue of what to do when you have a dozen interests and enjoy them all? Looking at your list of avocations, I can't help but think that, yeah, all of them pertain to the movie industry. I mean, seriously: storytelling is obvious, and so are costumer, film editor, acting, special effects....
But the other stuff all can pertain to moviemaking, as well. Carpentry, cement laying, electrician work are all relevant to set design. Chemistry is relevant to special effects (mathematics, as well). History is relevant to good storytelling.
I'm not sure what a "theatre costume tech major" is, but I would suggest you study moviemaking. You don't say what university you go to, but according to this article, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts ranks fourteenth among the best U.S. schools to major in film studies.
I'd suggest changing majors to film studies and go for it. You sound like a natural, and you could combine all your interests into one!
My dad and I want to go to a convention this summer. and I think its awesome that he likes furries and wants to go fursuiting. but he has back problems. and I am afraid that he will be hurt from some one "run hug"ing him. I am not sure if I should ask him to maybe not wear a suit or how I could help him avoid all of it. I would like some advice.
Lola (age 16)
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I think that's wonderful! :-) Okay, we don't want to keep Dad from having fun, do we? The best solution is to make sure your dad, when he is in fursuit, has a handler. A handler is someone who accompanies a fursuiter and doesn't wear a fursuit themselves. They assist fursuiters by being extra eyes and ears. This is especially important when the fursuiter is inexperienced (or has physical problems), and because when you wear a fursuit your vision and hearing can be restricted. Handlers have several jobs to do, including:
1. Making sure the fursuiter doesn't trip on anything
2. Keeping away people who might pounce on the fursuiter or cause damage to the fursuit or wearer.
3. Helping the fursuiter drink liquids (often with a drink that has a long straw) or getting them safely to the "headless lounge," which is a place for fursuiters to temporarily take off some of the costume and cool off.
4. Noting when people might want to take a photo with the fursuiter and helping to arrange the shot.
5. Generally helping the fursuiter get around, get on elevators, return to the hotel room, etc.
So, get your dad a handler, or, if you can't find someone, take turns fursuiting and then you can watch over him and vice versa.
You're lucky to have such a great dad! Have fun!
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.