Hi Papa Bear,
First of all, I truly want to thank you. Many years ago, when I was 12, I stumbled upon your site and writing to you and reading the archive of letters helped me so much, both in deciding to join the fandom and beginning to understand that I was bisexual and accepting that. In times where I'm at my lowest I still come here and your words always help me.
I'm writing you now to ask for help contextualizing my emotions. For context I am a Senior in High school, and of course like everyone else I've been stuck at home since March 15th.
At first, it seemed there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that I'd see my friends again on April 15th, then May 1st, then finally that light was put out as in person classes were officially cancelled until next school year--which means nothing to me as I'll be in college.
This has all taken a huge toll on my mental health. I already live far from my friends and my boyfriend, and just calling has been a fine substitute until last night.
Yesterday was supposed to be the day of my school's Prom, and originally me and my boyfriend had asked our friend group if we could do a call of some sort and maybe dress up and play some games and music. At first everyone seemed okay with this, but when the night came nobody responded as they all went off to do other things. In that moment, I just broke down. I couldn't stop crying and I felt so foolish because in the grand scheme of things, it's just superficial high school stuff right? But it's more than just Prom. Prom just represents everything that's been taken away from me. So many people I'll never see again, who are staying here or going to a different school, people who may not have been my dearest friends but still meant a lot to me as part of my adolescence. The fact that as President of my school's Drama Club I never got to take my final bows, that I have to choose officers when I didn't get to properly evaluate their skills and leadership ability. Decision Day, our senior trip, competitions, birthdays, the list goes on.
It feels like I'm going to be shipped off to college without any proper resolution of my childhood and I don't know how to deal with it. I'm scared that even when things do go back to normal, It'll all be taken away again. I just don't know what to do anymore.
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I actually do remember you :-) and am grateful that my words have helped you in the past. Let me see if I can help you a little with this problem today. (Being German, I am fond of lists):
Life is about phases. Each phase of your life involves saying goodbye to some things and greeting others. You can be of good cheer if you look at the new phases with optimism and hope. I'm reminded of my dear friend Motoko when she had to say farewell to her house and move into senior living apartments. Instead of grieving that she could no longer maintain her home, she looked forward to all the new friends she would make and all the things she would learn from them. You can do the same. Look ahead, not backwards.
Hope this helps you some. Congratulations on graduating, and I wish you luck, success, and happiness!
I know you probably get this a lot from other furries in/out of the closet, but as a male just learning I am gay, how do I handle the fact I like guys in todays society? How do I deal with the whole "homosexuality is an abomination of God etc?" About a year ago I was baptized as christian, however not sure of my sexuality then. In case you have forgotten, my parents split and I am currently living with dad. I told him I was gay, he was just fine with it, even at one point in an effort to help me with my depression, he suggested getting a boyfriend. (all this was months before codvid-19.)
Mom however is a different story.
Long story short she is very family centered, raised as a Christian. I am pretty sure her opinion on LGBT stuff is she does not think highly of them. One time years ago when I was still questioning, after finding the local LGBT (am I badmouthing my mom as I type this? or is that just my OCD talking? Please answer as a sidenote.) Once I borrowed a book from the local LGBT center and forgot about it in the car. Mom found it and questioned me about it, clearly in a disapproving way. About a week later she told me to read something with her, and it was the bible verse "thou man who laid with a man has committed an abomination." Then she told me if I wanted to be with a guy she will not tolerate it.
So as a Christian, raised with Christian teachings by mom but an accepting dad of my homosexuality, what do I do? How do I accept myself as for who I am, and be happy going forward? Am I obligated to tell my mom? How do I deal with the fear from religion about being gay and it being morally wrong?
0.O *realizes the pandamic going around*
Nicholas (age 23)
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As you know, you're writing to a gay bear, so my answer to your questions is likely slanted. First and foremost is this: the only person who needs to accept you is you. The minute you define your value in life by other people's opinions of you, the minute you seek their approval, you will doom yourself to a life of misery and self-doubt. Whether those people are Christians, family, friends, your parents, coworkers, peers, whatever. It doesn't matter one whit what they think. Most of them are wrong, anyway, being misguided by a judgmental society.
As for Christianity.... In my experience, there are good Christians and bad ones. Good Christians accept and love you for who you are. They recognize that no one, including themselves, is perfect, and only God has the right to judge you. Bad Christians are the ones who use the Bible to defend their hate and prejudice. Stay away from them. The God in whom I personally believe is a loving God, not a God seeking to punish me or hurt me. I do not believe in Hell and eternal damnation. I do not believe that God just wants us to constantly grovel and worship Them. I think of it this way: If I were God and was all-powerful, omnipresent, omniscient.... why would I need to be worshipped by tiny little ant beings? I would not have such a pathetic ego that I would need to be constantly validated for something I already know I am. I would not get my jollies off of hurting people. I would want to be kind to them and try to help them. So if I, a tiny little human being, can feel this way, then God, who is infinitely superior to me in every way, must have all these loving, caring qualities to the infinity power.
So, why do Christians, the Church, parents, etc. try to shame you for being who you are? Simply put, it's a power thing. It is the pathetic desire to control you and your life, and also to make themselves feel holier than thou. Oh, they will SAY they are just trying to help you, but don't believe it. The truth is, by being gay and--God forbid--actually enjoying yourself, you will challenge their worldview, and that makes them uncomfortable because it is easier to just accept what you are told to do rather than to think for yourself.
Religious people who abuse and torment LGBTQIA people for something as unimportant as sexual orientation are doing the opposite of what religion should do, which is to love and help human beings. I could go on for pages and pages as to why the Church disapproves of gay people (most of it has to do with keeping people in line and perpetuating generations of tithing loyalists), but I think you get the point.
You are not your sexuality. That is just one aspect of a well-rounded person. Most people define who they are by what they do for a living and their families. You don't hear straight people introducing themselves like this: "Hi, I'm Bill! I'm a heterosexual architect and married man!" No. So, why should we define ourselves for being gay or bi or whatever? We mostly do this because it is not "the norm." Screw the norm. Norm is boring. Being normal is what has caused so much misery, war, and injustice for millennia.
Do not seek out to be normal. Be you. Be different. Contribute something unique to this world. The world needs unique people like you.
And remember, no matter what: God loves you.
Be a good person. If you do that, you are golden.
Two very close friends of mine who have been part of this community fro a good while have recommended me to ask you regarding some pointers for starting out in the furry community, as for myself, I am rather new to the world of anthropomorphic animals and the cool, creative ideas that this will conjure up! As for what I decided to do with this field, my fursona is a friendly and wholesome Sun Bear who likes to fish for salmon in the woods and enjoys honey like most bears tend to do, details aside, my question is this: How do I best present myself appropriately in this community so that I may enjoy myself, let people enjoy me as a person and the character I portray, and to better avoid the more unfriendly and toxic side of this community (because as sad as it is, there are people in this world who tend to be unwelcoming and a bad influence to others.) Not to mention, it's very nice to hear some wisdom from a veteran who would know more about this then I would, who just so happens to be a bear as well!
Many thanks in advance,
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Dear Bro Bruin,
There is no one way to become an active part of the furry family. Back during its early years, when it was a few anthro fans meeting at sci-fi conventions and sharing APAs, it definitely WAS an isolated community that only a few people could participate in (e.g., you couldn't get a copy of an APA magazine unless you also contributed to it). Today, anyone can join and participate, whether that is in one of the numerous online outlets (Facebook, FurAffinity, Furry Aminos, Discord, Telegram, etc. etc. etc. etc.) or in person at a furmeet or furcon, there is no end to the many opportunities.
As you become more active, make sure your motivations for getting attention are healthy ones. Many times, furries write to me asking me how they can be popular and get attention in the fandom. In other words, they envy popufurs and want to be like them and to have their existence validated. This is incorrect motivation. Don't fall into that trap, for its jaws will consume you.
Addressing your question, "How do I best present myself appropriately in this community so that I may enjoy myself, let people enjoy me as a person and the character I portray, and to better avoid the more unfriendly and toxic side of this community...," the best way to present yourself is to simply be a good furry. Don't be a douchebag and you will inevitably make friends. Look for communities within the fandom that share your interests (e.g., being a bear, you might like to join my Bear Furries group on Facebook).
As for avoiding the "toxic side" of the family, that is all about the company you keep, and that means being a good judge of character, which is how you avoid toxic people in ANY community, not just the fandom. Obviously, stay away from people like the Nazi furs or others who try to make the fandom something political or exclusionary. Avoid people who try to define what furry is (in their favor) and who try to exclude others because "they aren't real furries." Also, avoid furries who only wish to have a hookup with you. These are the ones who will cause you grief.
Fortunately, most furries are kind, friendly, fun, and welcoming. This should be about fun and frolic, not about creating drama. Don't create drama, don't participate in drama (often manufactured by trolls desiring attention), and DO hang with people who simply like movies, TV shows, drawing, playing games, and having a good time. Do this and you, too, will have a good time.
Don't worry about your rep. Don't worry who likes you and who doesn't. Furry is all about being your true self. Be yourself and you will find others who want to be with you to share mutual loves and interests.
Welcome to the fandom!
I've become a fan the furry fandom since 2015. One of the things that gets me a little 'excited' are anthro males, specifically dragons and canines. I thought that meant that I liked guys. I experimented with some males and while fun, I didn't feel anything. Could it be that I like furry guys instead of real ones?
Anonymous (age 25)
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Could you clarify what you mean by "I didn't feel anything"? Do you mean you didn't get sexually excited or that you didn't fall romantically in love?
Thanks, this will help with my reply.
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The first one
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I see. Well, a number of things could be going on: 1) you just weren't with the right guys; 2) you really aren't gay (or bi) but there is just something about anthros that turn you on; 3) you are gay or bi but you were so nervous when playing with those people that it prevented you from relaxing and enjoying it as much as you could have; 4) you are still discovering your sexual preferences and turn-ons, and this is just a stage in an ongoing process.
Any of those seem to hit the mark?
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Probably 2,3 and 4
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It can't be both 2 AND 3 LOL. Pick one.
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Okay, then two
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Okay, as long as you're being honest with yourself, good. Remember, sexuality is a spectrum. It is actually rare for someone to be 100% hetero or 100% homosexual. Most lie in between. For example, you might be, say, 10% interested in the male anatomy but 90% more into females.
Using this same reasoning, it could be possible that sexual preference might have a human v animal factor as well. Pardon me while I become fascinated with a question that never really occurred to me before. I mean, yes, I have known about zoophiles, but I always thought a zoophile was a zoophile and not that it could be part of a spectrum that involves anthro characters. In other words, just as there is a Kinsey Scale that puts hetero/homosexuality on a sliding scale, perhaps there is a scale for preference for human/animal attraction. Thus, furries into anthros are somewhere in the middle of the scale. Likewise, it could be possible you are attracted to anthros sexually but not so much to humans.
It becomes more complicated, too, because one would not keep the Kinsey Scale and (let's call it the Furry Scale) separate, but, instead, you would combine the two, creating a scale involving four factors: hetero, homo, animal, human, and any percentage combination of the four factors.
This is all speculative, but you would be an example, then, of someone could be 60% hetero and 70% animal sexuality, or they could be 80% homo and 10% animal sexuality (meaning 20% hetero-leaning and 90% human-leaning).
It's all part and parcel with the truism that human sexuality is very complicated.
But now you see, too, the problem with overthinking things. Bottom line that I have for you is this: Don't worry about it. Like what you like; don't like what you don't like. You are what you are, and your sexuality is what it is. Remember, as long as you aren't hurting anybody, you should do whatever you like and don't try to label yourself or make your round peg fit in a square hole.
Hope that helps a bit.
I was told to take a break from a server I really like because something pretty bad happened because of irrational choices I made when I was upset.
I need to ask … how can I stop feeling scared to keep trying to be a better person? Do you have any advice on how I can easily (???) improve myself and not make those mistakes again? I thought it would be simple, but I feel there may be a catch. The guy who runs the server is very sweet and he understands that I have trouble handling my emotions. He suggested that I take a break for as long as I need to. He also told me that if the server isn’t being good for my mental health, then I should leave for the benefit of my mental health. I just want to be better. But, I’m so unsure.
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I find myself needing breaks, too, from social media such as Facebook. Such places are full of hate, trolls, and bad news that can depress and aggravate even the most sane and kind of us. So, taking a break is not a bad idea at all. Remember that these days, the media thrives on giving us bad, sensationalistic news because it boosts ratings and earns them more money. Consequently, the world looks like a horrible place when it really has both good and bad things going on.
As for improving oneself, I recently saw a neat video on this. It was about a European fellow who had all the signs of becoming a sociopath. He had no joy, no emotion, no empathy for others. If he kept on going that way, he probably would have entered a life of crime, even murder.
How did he escape? Well, unfortunately, it was NOT easy (hon, there is no such thing as easy when it comes to self-improvement, so don't even ask such a question), but it WAS doable.
What he did was take baby steps. Tiny little daily steps to slowly improve himself. He would go on walks, exercise, do small acts of kindness, meditate, enjoy a moment of beauty in nature, do something positive such as clean up his room or get a chore done. Any little, good step would help. Slowly, one percent at a time, bit by bit, his view of his world and himself began to change.
What he discovered, unbeknownst to himself because he had no psychology training, was his own form of behavior modification therapy. Instead of going directly to the brain for a magical cure that would change his way of thinking, he slowly, very slowly, changed his behavior. As his behavior reflected more and more a good attitude about life, eventually he began to HAVE that good attitude, and this, in tern, vastly improved his mental and emotional health to the point where he says his friends no longer recognize him.
This takes years. There is NO magic pill. No magical advice I can give you. You have to be dedicated to changing yourself and you have to be supremely patient with your progress. In a world where everyone expects instant gratification, this is against what most people would like to hear, but if you don't do something like this you will never change.
Hey Papabear! I'm a new reader but I've had a dilemma for awhile that hopefully you can answer. I've been in the fandom for about two years now, and I can't seem to stick with one fursona. I know you've probably answered tons of questions like this, but I've been struggling with this for a long time and it's just so frustrating! I've looked at just about every "how to make a fursona" article that I can find, and I still don't know what to do! The main problem I'm facing is I can't match what I want my fursona's personality to be with a design I like, and I feel like buying an adopt or custom isn't really personal to me. And to top it all off, my design and personality preferences keep changing, so I can never stick to one thing! Any help would be appreciated.
Anonymous (age 13)
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Step 1: Be more bear. I don't mean be a bear literally; I mean, chill. Relax. Don't panic. There is no law you have to pick your fursona right now, and, even if you do, you can always change it later. Or! Another option, have several! No law says you can't have 3 or 6 or 27 or 2,408 fursonas if you choose. Furry is about breaking the rules, not adhering to them.
The likely reason you are having such difficulty is because you are in your developing years still. Your fursona is a reflection of you, and when you haven't figured out who you are yet, your fursona remains malleable. I was the same way as you, in a way, although not quite so drastic. When I was a kid, I was a wolf, probably because I wanted to be part of a pack and have friends (I was a loner). As a teen and young man, I was a dragon, wanting to be beautiful, strong, and fierce. Then, after I discovered (finally) my true sexuality (gay bear), I naturally became a bear, which is where I plan on staying because it fits who I am so well and I am unlikely to change.
For now, don't worry about changing your fursona. Instead of fretting about it, have fun with it! Try lots of different stuff. Experiment. This is actually great because you are opening yourself up to new things. Eventually, you will settle into your own spot, something that will parallel your own personal growth and, hopefully, self-realization and acceptance.
[Papabear note: I was unable to reply to this writer because it was sent to me from an email account on the Tahoma School District server, which apparently does not allow replies from friendly bears. Therefore, here's hoping the letter writer will see this page!]
Hello, I've come to say... WHY AM I BULLIED AT SCHOOL?!?! I don't understand why kids at my school think I'm weird and mock me. but there's some nice people, one time, at my school, Logan, this kid said my Dinosaur mask was COOL! and asked if he could wear it (before Corona virus), so, I let him! and he was pretty nice, but also someone called me B**** at school, he got in trouble, and then this one girl was afraid of me, but no she CHILL! Anyway, I've recently Noticed that I'm being bullied, because this one dude, I was making noises at, was mocking me, like, "Raaga ghhh, yeah, shut up," and ow hes still rude to me ... and now my friends are saying when I tell them my problems, they are saying, "Well, what do you expect when you're running around like a dinosaur?"
It's just annoying to me, and I'd like advice.
Card the Wyvern
P.S my TikTok)) @dragondinosquad ))) follow me im lonely guys ;w;))
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Well, I notice in the form you sent that you're not a dinosaur, you're a wyvern. That's pretty awesome that you know the difference between a dragon and a wyvern and you are only 12 years old :-3.
The issue of bullying is a HUGE one, and many books have been written about it. I don't have time to write a book, so I will be brief.
First and foremost to note is this (and it seems you already understand this): if you are being seriously tormented with hate (verbal or physical), make sure that the adults in your school and your parents are aware of this and take appropriate action to stop it. There is no justification for bullying, which is a very serious act and should never be tolerated.
The second point is this: people bully for a couple of reasons. One reason is that they are insecure about themselves, and so they pick on people who are different or appear weak to feel better about themselves. Most bullies will back down if you stand up to them because, inside, they are actually cowards. The second kind of bully is just the sort of mundane who has no imagination and is fearful of those who are different, creative, unique, or more intelligent or enlightened than they are. There is IMMENSE pressure in the schoolyard of life for people to conform because they want to be accepted by society. That is human nature.
But you know what? The remarkable people of the world, the people who are inventors, artists, and dreamers who make the world a better place, are never the bullies and conformists of the world. They are people like you, Card.
It is terrific you are exploring your furry side, but there is a lesson to be learned here: There is a time and a place for being furry. Wearing a reptilian mask at school and making growly noises is going to set you up for rejection, disdain, taunting, and bullying (whoever said "what do you expect?" was actually making a keen observation). Therefore, you need to keep such behavior out of school and, when you go to school, just focus on listening to the teacher, doing your lessons, and taking your tests.
There is a lesson here to learn, and it is not a happy one: People might say they will accept you for who you are, but that is not true for many people. They say it, but they don't mean it. To protect yourself, you must learn that sometimes, especially in social settings like schools, where you do not control the situation, you have to pretend you are "one of them."
The good news is this: There are tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of furries in the world, and these are the people who are fine with your being a wyvern.
Part of growing up is learning how to deal with people. You will learn, after much trial and error, who the real people are and who the fake ones are. Choose your friends carefully, and you will be much happier. Learn which people are not your friends, and those are the people to whom you do not show your real self. They don't deserve to know what a terrific person you are, so don't give them the opportunity to try and bully you and put you down.
And always remember this: If you get criticized, consider the source. If someone who is not your friend or who you do not respect criticizes you, then what do you care? Brush it off. It is of no consequence because they have not earned the right to judge you.
Big Bear Hugs,
I struggle with self-worth as an artist, and find it difficult to see my art as anything other than garbage when compared to the countless amounts of art that I see out there. I'm not that good of an artist, but I like making comics. In fact, I'm currently working on a comic that I love doing, but every day, despite me working hard on it in my free time, I still feel inadequate and will never feel happy about myself. So I guess my question would be how I should approach my views on myself as an artist in the future.
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Artistic types--whether they are painters, musicians, writers, or whatever--are often very self-critical. This is because the work they do is put out into the public sphere, making it vulnerable to criticism from the outside. Since many of us seek validation from others, criticism can hurt, and then we forget why we created the art in the first place.
Why do you create art? Why do you work on a comic book? Because, as you said yourself, you love to do it.
You should draw and color because you love it, not because you want others to approve of you. This is only important at all if you are aiming to sell your artwork. That's when you do commissions and such, drawing or painting things that other people want to see.
As for the quality of your art, practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the better you will become. Work on your technique, perhaps take art classes (in a classroom or virtually), seek out advice from other artists, but most of all practice, practice, practice. Just like practicing a musical instrument, the more you draw and study technique and theory, the better you will be.
To answer your final query, stop comparing yourself to others and stop seeking validation from others. The only person you really need to please is yourself. You are not put on Earth to get the approval of other people. Oh, and remember, some of the greatest, most brilliant artists ever born were criticized and even ostracized by the public. Public taste does not equal good taste, necessarily. In fact, public taste is often bad, dull, and insipid.
Be an artist because you love it. Draw your comic book because it makes you happy.
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.