While I have made it a policy to ignore criticisms I receive from fellow furries so as not to encourage trolling, I feel I need to say something about recent reactions to the 2021 Good Furry Award. The GFA has, for the most part, been warmly received. But there are still furries out there who have called it everything from a waste of time to nothing but a popularity contest. One critic called it a slam to all the other furries who did not receive the award, saying it is "toxic really because it devalues all of the people that have worked to promote the fandom for many years only to say 'look at this award we have given to some newcomer.'" Another said the "award money should be used to help those who actually need the help to get back on their feet especially after losing their job as a result of covid."
I feel these comments deserve a reply from me.
Regarding the comment that the GFA "devalues" everyone who didn't get an award. I can get your thinking on that one. Years ago, when I was working at a publishing house in Detroit, the management began an "Employee Who Makes a Difference Award." I pointed out to HR that the title implies that all the other employees don't make a difference. They quickly changed the name. It was a poor choice of words. But one should remember that one person's success does not lead to the conclusion that another person is a failure for not getting an award. There is an episode in The Big Bang Theory in which the brilliant physicist Sheldon Cooper is upset because a colleague, Bert, won a prestigious award and he has not yet received a Nobel Prize. His girlfriend, Amy, points out that Bert's achievement was well deserved and that it is no reflection on the accomplishments Sheldon has himself made (he later wins the Nobel).
ALL the nominees for this year's award (and in previous years) are wonderful furries who deserve recognition. I would give them all prizes if I could, but I can only afford one a year. The good news is that they can keep getting nominated, year after year, until they win. So, I am not snubbing those who didn't win. They are all Good Furries and deserve recognition. In fact, the point of the GFA has never been to give someone a trophy and $500. The point has always been, and will always be, to give some time and space to acknowledge all the good people in the fandom. That is why I publish all the text people wrote when nominating candidates for the prize. It has always been my hope that people will read what these furries have done.
If you are doing something just to win a prize, then I question your motivations for doing those things. None of the nominees do what they do to get a GFA. All of them were surprised and happy when I told them they were nominated.
Now, concerning the $500, which "should be used to help those who actually need help." The first winner of the prize was Tony "Dogbomb" Barrett, who died as a result of contracting ALS before he could receive his prize. So, I gave the prize money to the ALS Association, which, I hope you will agree, could use the donation. Last year, Ash Coyote won, and she posted this video, noting that she was struggling financially with unexpected bills and that the money helped her a lot. This year's winner, Cassidy Civet, is not exactly rolling in dead presidents either. I'm not sure how the critic defines who is worthy of this small amount of cash and who is not, but I have a feeling they are ignorant of the above facts.
This year's winner, Cassidy Civet, can also be held up as an example that we are not talking about popufurs here. After I told them they had won, they reminded me that they had written a letter to this column in 2015 in which they were concerned about a slew of personal attacks that they had been experiencing in the fandom. I, personally, find it very satisfying that a furry who was being smeared and called names by bad furries six years ago is now the winner of the Good Furry Award.
I have been a furry all my life (before there was a fandom), and have been active in it for many years, but I am still amazed by how the fandom is its own worst enemy. It is not the media or other non-furs who do the most damage to our reputation; it is us.
My purpose for the Good Furry Award is to turn up the light on the many many good people in the furry fandom. Sadly, it is also true that the brighter the sun is, the darker the shadows appear.
Let's be happy for the winners and the nominees. They are all wonderful people, and I wish them the best. I am proud to run this award and to give some joy to those who have struggled to make the fandom a better place. And I will continue to run this award as long as this bear is alive and kicking.
So, I'm an aspiring furry and I want to make a head for my fursuit! But, my mom thinks that the furry fandom is sexual and keeps telling me to stop being one because its "GROSS!" and "bad." I keep trying to explain to her that the fandom isn't sexual and that we are actually donating to charities and stuff but she won't listen. What should I do?
Grazer (age 11)
* * *
Both you and your mother are correct. The fandom can be a lot of good, clean fun, and yes, a lot of charity work has been done by furries. But your mother is also correct in that there is a lot of adult art in the fandom, and you need to be careful you don't associate with the wrong crowd. There are a lot of good furries, but there are also some very bad ones. You, being 11, can be an easy target for bad furries. Your mother is trying to protect you, which is not only her right but also her duty as a parent.
That said, your mother needs to not go the easy route of just saying, "No, you can't be a furry." This is what I call "lazy parenting." Also, it is ineffective. When a parent tells a kid, "You can't do that because I said so," the kid just wants to do the forbidden activity all the more and thinks the parent is not listening to them or sympathizing with them. This can create resentment, secretive behavior, and misbehavior on the part of the child.
What Mom needs to do is become more involved in your life. The two of you should explore furry together. First, understand that the furry fandom was created for adults, not children. The entire establishment of the furry fandom was meant to create anthro characters in adult situations (not just sex, but everything from scenes about violence to other mature situations and themes). But since it began, the fandom has evolved, too. It used to be mostly for people in their teens and twenties (and still largely is), but now more and more you see furries who are a lot older (I'm 55, for example) as well as kids as young as 10. The fandom needs to accommodate this changing membership, and in a lot of ways it does. For example, if you go to a furry convention, there will often be an art gallery. Most of the art is clean, but there is some mature art, which is kept in a separate section and only adults are allowed in. Also, minors such as yourself must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at any furcon, and panels and workshops that address adult topics are restricted to mature members.
You should not argue with Mom. Instead, explain why you are interested in furries. Have a discussion with her. Also, tell her you understand her concerns and tell her that she is right to be worried, and also you should thank her for caring! Then, invite her to explore furry with you. Tell her that she can freely monitor what you view on the computer and on your phone to make sure you don't see anything bad. Ask her for her help in navigating the online world. Ask her to watch the movies and TV shows you enjoy with you. Maybe, with enough communication, you can even ask her to take you to a furcon someday.
In short, don't argue with Mom. Communicate with her. Listen to her concerns and ask her to listen to your feelings as well.
How do I make friends in the fandom?
Hey there Papa Bear! My name is Papaya, I don't consider myself a furry, but an anthro enthusiast (that's a story for a different day). I'm more of a right leaning person and I've found it difficult lately to find similar people like me. I don't mind if my friends are furries or if they're anthro enthusiast like me, however I'm wondering what is the best way to go about making some furry friends. It's been hard lately with such a divide, I'm scared of sharing my views with someone who will blast me on Twitter just for having an opposing view.
* * *
I'm not too sure what the difference is between an "anthro enthusiast" and a furry. My first thought was that you meant you didn't participate in furry activities like going to cons and meets, but then you want to make furry friends, so ... I dunno. Anyway, my thoughts about politics and religion are that it is best to keep such topics out of the conversation unless you know somebody very well and feel confident you can discuss such things without causing hurt. As you are aware, these days, especially in America, the right and left have become super-polarized without much room for compromise or moderation. In my Greymuzzles group, I set up rules that religion and politics be kept out of the posts, and that has been pretty successful at keeping the peace in the group. That's rule 1. To make new friends in the fandom, simply join any furry social media group and look for people who share your interests. Then, strike up a conversation with them. It's really not complicated. Then, once you get to know them well, you might open up the conversation to a wider range of topics. Not all furries are left-leaning. There are many conservative and even hard-right furries out there. For example, if you are a gun enthusiast, you can find furries who enjoy hunting and target shooting. Furries are a diverse group of people and you can find people who share your views and hobbies if you look hard enough.
Good Luck, Anthro Enthusiast ;)
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.