My wife found out about my interests in the furry lifestyle. She doesn't believe that it is normal or okay. I am struggling to live my life genuinely but I do not want to lose my family. I cannot bear the judgement Margie unleashes upon me. How do I balance being a Furry Loving Family man? I am afraid my children Gilbert and Marge will abandon my heart the way their mother has if they find out. Also I have alopecia. And the furry community is the only thing that has made me feel loved and normal. More than my own family has. How do I live freely when my heart is chained between my work suit and my fursuit?
FoxyGrandpaMalcom (age 43, French Polynesia)
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Dear Foxy Grandpa Malcolm,
I am unfamiliar with life in French Polynesia, but I'm going to guess it is rather a conservative place? Also, I imagine it can be quite isolating, being a conglomeration of over 100 islands. Is there even much of a furry community anywhere around there? Much of your furry activity is likely limited to online activity, n'est-ce pas? Nevertheless, you have connected with the fandom community, and I'm glad to hear you have found acceptance with us.
How this affects your family depends considerably on whether you are a deep-seated lifestyler, a casual hobbyist, or somewhere in between. Obviously, if you insist on wearing your fursuit around the home and assume your fursona personality a lot, it is going to impact what your family sees and what they think about you. On the other side of the coin, if you just casually surf the Internet, play some games and chat with furries, and keep fursuiting activities (if any) limited to furmeets or furcons (if you attend such), it really shouldn't impact them at all.
Based on your extremely short missive, it sounds like you lean toward the lifestyler side, however. As a family man in his 40s, yeah, that's going to affect things. You do not with to deny who you are, but you surely don't want to lose your family. First of all, if your family somehow abandons you just because you're a furry, then, well, they aren't much of a family, sorry to say. But let's try to be a bit more sympathetic to them and view things through the eyes of mundanes who struggle to understand why someone would want to be a furry.
My main advice to you is to be considerate of your family's emotions. Don't spring everything on them at once, but slowly ease them into the idea so that they have time to become comfortable with it. Do things little by little. If you like to fursuit, start by doing it rarely and maybe (if you have them) with furiends of yours at a meet or something. Don't fill the house with furry art and plushies and such. Just add things in tiny drops, little by little. When you feel they are comfortable with one thing, then add another. You see?
In summary, it is important to be yourself, but in order to integrate that into your family life you need to be considerate and sympathetic of their feelings as well.
I just graduated high school four months ago, and all I can say is that I'm glad to be rid of that place (it wasn't horrible, but if I were asked to either repeat the entire experience or wear high heels for a week, I'd personally choose the high heels).
But besides that, I've started an online college about a month ago; a new class begins every month/four weeks, and this class is where my question/problem stems from.
This class had an assignment where we had to team up with another classmate or group of classmates and play something online. And while the person I teamed up with had a different instructor, we had the same class subject (I hope I explained that well enough). We got each other's discord and steam, set a date to do the assignment, and the rest is history.
He and I played a game for about 10-ish hours, and it would've been lasted longer if I didn't have something to do the next day/later that morning. At the end of that session, he asked if we could play again, and (shocked, might I add) I said "sure!" After that, I almost immediately thought, "Wow ... I like his voice." And HERE is when I started to process this question I'm about to ask you, but we'll get to that.
We did end up playing again just this past Saturday into Sunday. About 11 hours this time. It was definitely a lot more chill since we didn't have to be formal for the class anymore, and I certainly enjoyed it. Once again, at the end of the session, he said, "If you wanna play again sometime, let me know," and I said, "absolutely!"
Now just about 2 hours ago (I'm typing this up at about 5 am) HE asked if we could play again Wednesday (I said yes).
So, if I may assume, we both like each other's company (obviously, but I need to get all points across) to some extent, we do know each other (both first and last name because the school doesn't allow aliases or usernames), and we've talked a fair amount about ourselves for me to gather a fair amount of other info (can't say it here, gotta keep it vague on the off chance someone actually finds this, but I CAN say that we're the same age).
Now I'm old enough to know that Disney romances don't happen just like *snap* that, and if they do, that couple is REALLY lucky. Not only that, but this is also JUST me. While I do know that he does seek the opposite gender (ooh, ooh! That's ME!), I don't know if he's looking to be IN a relationship, and with ME no less. As well as there also being the factor that we live across the country from each other (personally, distance isn't an issue, but I'm also getting my hopes up here lol; I'm also but of a hopeless romantic, so that doesn't help too much either).
So, while I don't mean to be all over the place with my set up/story, I need someone's opinion on this. And with this comes my question: Would it be wrong to think like this? To like someone based off of their voice, personality, and a slightly vague description of their appearance? Or should I process this a bit more, and maybe bring it up in the fairly far-off future to him?
Daisy (age 18)
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It is certainly not wrong to be smitten by a guy after talking to him some, playing a game, chatting as you get to know each other a bit. It IS unwise to go from that to "I want to have a serious relationship with you right now!" Or, worse, "Let's sleep together!" (and, since you're far apart, that does include having virtual sex, FYI).
Ah, youth! So impatient! So quick to fall in love ... and just as quick to allow your hearts to be broken.
The wiser course is this: take it slowly! Yes, definitely explore this relationship further because that's the only way you'll ever find love, but please, take baby steps. This relationship is just beginning, so just focus on spending more time together, talking more, getting to know each other. Too often I see people leaping into bed with one another, "committing" to each other, and then, a few months later, when something happens and you realize you actually are not as compatible as you thought, the entire thing comes crashing down, and you are devastated. If you break up with a casual friend it is not nearly as painful as breaking up with your "first true love." You see?
Be friends first. Do not even utter the words "boyfriend" or "commit" or "serious relationship" yet. Take your time to form a stronger bond. And, if it works out, and you really do fall in love, you will have fallen in love with a good or even best friend, and that is the best kind of love of all.
Explore a relationship before you plant your flag in it ... or put a ring on it.
I was wondering, knowing that you’re a professional editor, if you could offer any advice to a young rodent who wishes to get a book published?
I know you’ve had a few furs write to you about getting their written works out there, but I think my case is slightly different because of three main fronts:
I live literally a short walk away from a book printers, so what I was considering was once I get it done, get it checked over and am happy with it, I send it over to them and only get a small number of copies printed (for now, 25 is the number I’m thinking of). I still need to check with them if the dimensions I’ve set my pages at are okay, but if they do need to change, I don’t think they’d be too far off.
However, some people who I either work with or am friends with have been telling me to not “sell myself short” and see if I can get a publisher onboard. I’m glad they think positively about me and what I’ve written –– more than I ever can –– although I really doubt if I’d actually be able to get it published by anyone other than myself. It’s a very niche topic, I don’t have a very strong network, I have a hard enough time trying to get commissions for my art anyhow, and… you know, I’m not exactly the next Rob Janoff [a famous corporate logo designer] or Saul Bass [a graphic designer and Oscar-winning filmmaker].
I’ve been writing this book for two main reasons. One reason that it’s a topic I legitimately enjoy. I have a fascination with language, how it functions, how it’s evolved and how it continues to evolve (despite my futile attempts at learning other languages like Welsh, French and BSL), for which studying typography ties in nicely with. The other reason I’ve been writing this is because I figure it’d be good to add to a portfolio and would help me with my career.
What do you think, Papa Bear? Would it be worth me sending what I’ve written off to a few publishers to see if they’d make it a reality? Or, is my initial plan of getting it printed myself and selling what I can (albeit I have a feeling most would be donated as gifts anyhow) what I should stick with?
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As you know, my main line of work is nonfiction publishing, so you’ve come to the right bear. Let me explain the process a little bit. There are two types of acquisitions: solicited and unsolicited. Solicited manuscripts happen when a publisher has a topic about which they want to publish a book and then they actively seek out an appropriate author to tackle it; unsolicited is when publishers receive manuscripts either from an agent or from a non-agented author. Manuscripts from agents—especially any agent with whom the publisher has dealt with in the past—would naturally take priority. Unsolicited manuscript gets tossed into a slush pile for review. Often, this review is very cursory, and it is pretty rare for unsolicited, unagented nonfiction books to see the light of day.
What can you do to increase your odds? First thing: check out the competition. This is easily done with the Internet these days. On the subject of typography, you’re going to be competing with people like Ellen Lupton, who is a curator of design at the Smithsonian. She has written a couple of books on the subject that are highly respected. Check them out. How would your book compare to hers? Would it offer something new and different? Does it address a different audience? Is it more accessible to readers? If not, then you’re in for an uphill battle. However, just because one publisher like Princeton has released a book doesn’t mean another publisher might not want to have their own book on the topic. My publisher, Visible Ink, often releases books on subjects that others have addressed because there is a large enough audience for books on history, ethnic studies, and the paranormal. On the other hand, publishers like mine will always choose a prestigious name author over someone no one knows (like you, sadly).
Next, find a copy of The Literary Marketplace online or at your local library. The LMP is the source for locating publishers and agents who are accepting manuscripts, and it tells you what subjects and genres they publish so you don’t waste your time sending your book to someone who is not interested in the topic.
Next, write a cover letter. Here’s a nice little column about that. It is a bonus to you that the book is finished. Publishers are more interested in taking a gander at a completed manuscript than something that is a mere proposal, especially, again, from untested authors.
Send out as many query letters and manuscripts that you can. I sent out over a hundred before my novel was accepted. It takes a lot of legwork. Even Margaret Mitchell and Stephen King got lots of rejections at first, so keep trying and don’t be discouraged.
As for, finally, my opinion as to whether you should self-publish or try to get an established publisher: there are good and bad points. The bad news is that when you publish through someone else, you are not going to get very much out of it (people like J. K. Rowling are the exception, not the rule). The publisher may give you a small advance on royalties and then a pittance percentage if the book sells past a certain number of copies. You’re not going to earn much. Also, you will be releasing control to the publisher, who will likely take your rights, take charge of the design of the book (ironically, in your case), and take charge of the marketing. The good news about this is that they handle everything, so it is less work for you. On the other hand, if you self-publish, you have to put up any costs yourself, but you will have much more control over the book and keep more of the profits. This is why I will be handling my next book by myself. Since I can do everything except print-and-bind and distribution, I can keep most of the profits. This is not the case with many authors who need help with typesetting and so on. You, I take it, can handle these things, so it could be well worth your while to self-publish, especially if you have a good marketing plan.
I found your website by looking on google for someone to help me out with a problem that has been plaguing me for years.
For around 5 years, I have been involved in the furry community. I have a fursona, Alula, and I'm not really shy about it. No, I don't go around waving my tail in everyone's face, but I'm not ashamed of it. I treat it the same way I treat the fact that I'm Queer. If I want to talk about it, I will. If you ask me about it, I'll probably tell you unless your being a jerk.
Two weeks ago was the first day of school. As per usual, almost every teacher wanted to play some "Get-to-know-you-game." In theater, we were playing a game where you tear toilet paper and for each square you have to tell about yourself. Now, the teacher didn't tell us about the game at first, so I of course rolled out 20 or 30 squares. So I was at square 20 something and I didn't know what to say so I mentioned the fact that my fursuit is being made right now and should be sent to me soon. I told a few details about her and then I went to the next square.
Now I thought that would be the end of it. Great, a few people gave me looks of disgust. Who cares. I go to lunch two days later and see a bunch of eyes on me and hear laughing. Someone told the entire theater department that I sleep (to keep kind words) with dogs. Everyone is laughing at me and I don't know what to do. Please help.
Alula (age 16)
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First of all, congrats on your fursuit being made and I hope that you enjoy it for many years to come. Now, to the issue at hand....
Okay, so, you're in high school, which for nearly everyone is a quagmire of social drama difficult for anyone to navigate, and, to make matters worse, no one gives you an instruction manual on how to manage things such as bullying and gossip and the social strata and cliques that form. There is, as you know, the constant battle over who are the popular and cool kids and who are the losers and rejects.
But there is a big difference between a bunch of white teeth teens and those keeping it 100. You are being true to yourself, and the fact that you are descending into a world where you are getting bullied is indicative of the sus jerks who only seek membership within the schmid crowd. High school society is like a wolf pack--those who are seen as weak or different are bitten and harrassed by the dom wolves to create a hierarchy. When you are seen as different in any way, the alphas and betas leap and try to shove you into omega status. Seriously, high school is little better than a savage game of survival of the most "socially acceptable." This is a phenomenon that is learned in the schoolyards of America and then continues, sadly, into the adulting world.
So, was the above paragraph so extra coming from a 54-year-old bear? I was kind of making a point with the slang I was using. You're 16, so you likely know better than I do whether those terms were used right or not, but even if they are right, sounds lame coming from a greymuzzle, doesn't it? In the same way, you stand a risk of becoming lame if you don't stay true to yourself. Ask yourself this: Do you want to be special in this life or be just like all the other mundanes in the world--boring, nose-to-the-grindstone, paying your taxes, raising 2.3 children, and dying in an office cubicle? Or do you wish to be special, unique, and have fun in this life, which is the only life you're gonna get?
The reason why you are bothered by the cowardly whispers and giggles is that, currently, you want the approval of others; you want acceptance. That's perfectly understandable, but ask yourself whose approval do you seek? People you respect or people who just want to be part of the norm even if that means hurting others with rumors or worse? People who gossip and care about superficial things are not worthy of your concern.
The best way to deal with bullies is to take away their power by not giving a damn what they are saying because, when you consider the source, they aren't worth your time. Meanwhile, actively look for people who are good friend material. Perhaps even find some furries in school, if possible. Next, lead by example. That is, be a good person, do good deeds, show yourself to be really cool. The more awesome you are in real life, the more the whispers will fade away into inconsequential nothingness. An extreme example: imagine a rumor going about that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once had his fly open during a speech. Now compared to all the amazing things Dr. King did, who the fuck would care if he accidentally forgot to zip up one time? Similarly, if you go around doing volunteer work or doing other awesome stuff, then people who gossip about your being a furry will look foolish. Also, it will give furries a good name :-3
Make being furry cool. Then there's nothing to mock.
Remember, if bullying becomes serious, tell someone in charge at the school such as a school counselor. Tell your parents, as well, if you are bullied. It is important that you don't do this alone. But if you really need some comebacks (and ONLY do this if you are cornered and have to defend yourself) ... if you catch people gossiping about you, here are some things you can say:
Bullies and gossips are weak people. Standing up to them makes them whither away.
I have a question about popular furs. I’ve always looked up to them but when ever I try to talk to them online, I never get a response. I don’t hate them nor do I want them gone, I just wish they would say thanks or hello.
I guess I kind of don’t like the fact they have so many friends while I don’t. It kind of hurts to see them with their friends and having so much fun while I can’t really go to conventions or do the kind of stuff they do. I live in a state that is literally just looked over and seen as another empty place.
Should I chalk this up to being just jealous or them not really caring about someone who isn’t as popular or interesting as they are?
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I've talked about popufurs in passing in various columns before, but I don't believe I have addressed the issue head-on just yet, so thank you for your question.
Let's define what "popufur" means to start off. The denotation is, basically, anyone in the furry fandom who has gained a lot of popularity and followers for one reason or another; the underlying, less flattering connotation that has developed is that a popufur is someone who is, to put it simply, an elitist in the fandom who is also dismissive of anyone who is not as popular as they are.
I know of one or two popufurs who don't have a great attitude, but I don't think we should write off all furries who are popular just because they have a lot of friends and followers and automatically consider them jerks. That's not fair at all.
Let's take a look at your experience. You say you have tried to contact some popular furries and "never get a response." There may be some legitimate reasons for this. For one thing, some furries may be a bit gun shy about people they don't know who contact them out of the blue and wish to engage in dialog. Or they might be overwhelmed by people contacting them and forget to reply! I've done that, too! Ack! Another possibility is that, depending on what your message says, they might just think you were saying hello and not necessarily looking for a reply.
A good way to get replies from people is to ask them specific questions that would elicit a response. If you say something like, "I am a big fan of yours and love your fursuit!" this might not result in a response. If you, on the other hand, say, "I am a big fan of yours and wanted to know if you made your fursuit or if someone else did, and, if so, who did?" this is more likely to get a reply.
At any rate, if you're writing to someone who doesn't know you and don't get a reply, don't worry about it. A bigger issue is communicating with people you do know. If they don't reply, then that is a lot more rude of them and you need to figure out why they are not reacting to you reaching out to them.
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.