I am glad to have found your website where you help furries out and I myself am an ongoing Furry, with a similar problem someone had stated to you already.
I've got a hard time to decide what my fursona should be and find myself scared to be disliked or hated by others or even friends of the furry scene for being an overpopular chosen species, one that barely is taken and to be taking blame for being a copycat with a self-created species.
The fandom itself really helped me in up and downtimes of my life, wishing to take full part in it even with anxiety and trying to give too much to be noted. I hope you can help one like myself, wishing you great days and thank you for helping others out. Someday I may do the same as well.
Lyah (age 24, Germany)
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Greetings and welcome to the fandom. I’m not sure how long you have been involved, but I find your characterization of the fandom odd. Whatever gave you the impression that furries would hate you because of the fursona you chose? Maybe things are different in Germany, but here in the USA no one cares what species—or hybrid—you choose for a fursona, so long as you don’t copy exactly what someone else has done. I would be very upset, for example, if I saw a duplicate of my fursuit being worn by someone else; I’d also be a bit miffed if someone else called themselves Grubbs Grizzly. But I’m absolutely happy with anyfur who chooses to be a bear species. We need more bears! :-)
Remembering that it is not a requirement to have or fursuit, or even a fursona, to have fun in the fandom, you should design your alter ego to please you not someone else. The point is to enjoy yourself and not worry about what others think. The spirit of furriness is individuality and creativity. We are nonconformists, which is why we’re usually seen as oddballs among the mundanes.
So, please, create your fursona to your taste and participate heartily, merrily, whole-heartedly in the fandom!
Hello there! It is I, Zandafrost the Folf, at your service. I have read some of the letters people have sent you, and I found your responses to them quite wise. I decided to go ahead and ask a question of my own.
I used to lurk around the fandom, not sure if it was something I would enjoy for a while, and I finally kind of officially "joined" the fandom last year. As I quickly got more and more into it, I realized that since I am 16, I will need the consent of my parents if I want to go to most any convention, meet, and things like that. I mentioned the fandom to them one day, hoping that they would at least be understanding and accepting, maybe even interested. They were not in the least... Their reaction was one of shock, quickly turning to anger. They couldn't believe that their son could be into something so "weird" and "inappropriate" and I was grounded from electronics for a month or two. I've tried many times to talk to them about it since then and they shut me down every time.
I know they care about me and want me to be safe, and I think that they are scared I am getting myself into something possibly dangerous. My father is a school administrator and my mother is a teacher and they deal with things that involve internet safety a lot. I consider myself to be a smart kid, and I am appropriately cautious of others. I can see why they would have a problem with me suddenly meeting and talking to all these new people that they don't know. However, I think it is a bit of an overreaction to threaten to call the police on one of these friends just because he is 21 years old (a legal adult) and is texting me regularly. They didn't care that I first met him with friends at a school sporting event and not on the internet first, or how respectful he always was to me, and when he offered to come talk to them personally when I told him I wasn't allowed to speak to him anymore, they rejected him. Didn't wanna hear it.
I've tried to explain the fandom to them, I've shown them things, other furs have offered to answer questions or help explain. They don't care and don't want to hear it. I know it is their choice, they are in charge and I don't like to go against them, but this is important to me and they aren't hearing what I'm trying to get them to understand. I can see why they would have a problem, but they seem to be too set in their own views and opinions. I hope I don't sound like I am making my parents the bad guys, but I am starting to get a little frustrated. All I wanted was for them to accept the fandom enough to let me do things and make friends in the furry community. Have I gone about this wrong? Is there something I could be doing differently? Or am I just going to have to put up with my situation until I'm on my own?
I apologize about the wall of text, This has been bothering me for some time and as my story said, I can't get anyone to listen. Thanks for any advice you can give.
hugs and nuzzles,
Zandafrost (age 16)
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As you likely know, I’ve addressed the topic of coming out furry to parents many times in this column, as well as what to do with parents who are prejudiced against the fandom. It’s worth addressing the topic again, however, because I have yet to fully discuss the issue of trust.
Papabear has perhaps erred in the past because I’ve always taken this topic as a challenge on how to argue that the furry fandom is not about a bunch of pedophiles and sexaholics taking advantage of teens by luring them in with weird sex. Sometimes we should take a look at this from a more generalized perspective.
Let’s take furry off the table and ask these questions: how do you think your parents would have reacted if you had come out gay to them? How about if you wanted to convert to another religion or announced you were a pagan? What if you asked them about quitting school and pursuing your dream to be an artist in Paris? How about going out alone with a girlfriend at night? What if, even, you simply asked to attend a party at another house and told them parents were supervising it? How much have they restricted you in the past?
In other words, do your parents simply not trust your judgment, regardless of furry? If not, do they have reason not to trust you? Have you been trustworthy in the past? If not, then that is a problem you need to work on with them. If so, then it’s even worse that they don’t trust you even though you’ve given them no reason to feel that way.
Gaining, or regaining, your parents’ trust can be a long road, and the more protective and untrusting your parents are, the longer it is, but in most cases it can be accomplished. Here are some things you can do (this works both for gaining and regaining trust):
If your parents start to see you as a responsible young adult instead of a child, they should begin to loosen the leash. Once you have that established, it is time to restate your case for being a furry. This means learning how to argue effectively.
The big no-no here is to whine and pout and cry out, “You don’t let me do anything!” and that sort of nonsense. We do that when we’re teens because it worked when we were babies and cried to be fed. But that strategy runs it’s course by the time we’re, oh, 6 or 7.
Another error is to say stuff like, “All my other friends are into being furries.” Parents don’t care what other kids do. You’ll often hear the retort, “No child of MINE is going to blah blah blah....”
What do you do, then? First, gather your evidence to support your argument (you can refer to some of my articles here: http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/category/coming%20out%20furry. Especially check out the ones dealing with religious or conservative parents.
Next, don’t let them get away with just saying “no.” Ask them to explain why they feel as they do and ask them to give evidence to support it. However, do not make them feel stupid if they say things you consider to be ignorant (although their solution to punish you by forbidding you to play video games for a month betrays a certain simple-mindedness on their part). Instead, praise them for taking the time to look into furry stuff while pointing out evidence contradicting their ideas.
Here’s a cool trick, too. When talking to them, language is very important! Obviously, don’t use curse words, but, more subtly, avoid words like “you” and “me.” You don’t want to use language that creates the notion of opposing sides. INSTEAD, use “we” and “our” as much as possible. Example: “When we argue like this, it makes us both feel bad. What can we do to come to an agreement so that we all feel like we are getting along?”
Stay on topic. This is about your wanting to be involved in the fandom, not whether or not a 21-year-old is a pedophile (that’s a topic for a different conversation)
Compromise: This discussion doesn’t have to go all your way. If they give a little, be willing to give a little, too.
Persistence: Just because they say “no” the first time, doesn’t mean that they will always say that. If you keep trying, you might wear them down ;-)
Good luck! Stay furry!
I am a new furry in the fandom and so far so good. I made my first partial suit and for some reason my handler wasn't paying attention. Five kids literally hit, stepped on, and pulled my tail. How can I quickly respond to this chaos without making the parents think I’m mean or something?
What happened was that I made new plans for a fursuit, right? And I was wondering if u thought stompy paws would look good with ditigade legs :/
Mellow the Monster (age 14)
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On the first subject, you need to learn how to interact with people while in fursuit. Yes, your handler should do a better job because your vision is limited (maybe find a new handler or train him or her better on what to do), but there are things you can do, too.
First thing is this: never approach other people—children or adults—unless they ask you to. Try not to let others approach you from behind (that’s something a handler should help you with). If you feel you are being surrounded and tugged or stepped on, retreat away from the crowd and collect yourself before going back to interact with people. If your tail is pulled again, have your handler politely ask people not to do that. If they won’t stop, then it is time to leave. Some crowds are just not very nice.
As for stompy paws with digitigrade legs, sure, that could work. Make sure you carefully plan your design. Sketch it out several times until you get the right look before you begin sewing.
How are you? I'm mostly fine. While I am not exactly a furry (I still don't know if I am or not, but I am well informed of what does being a furry imply) I have enjoyed reading your column since a few time ago, and I like the way you help people with their problems. Unfortunately, this is the exact reason I'm writing this letter, I have a problem.
Now, my problem isn't that I'm not sure if I'm a furry or what to do if I really am a furry (I have had this question since I was 14). I can figure that out as I continue to live life. The real problem is that in a few hours I will turn 18. It might sound a bit dramatic for me to worry about my birthday, but the real problem is that I'm afraid to grow up.
I have always enjoyed the present, and don't yearn for the future as other teens do, however that has caused me to dislike growing up. I feel I'm just right at this age, plus being 18 means a lot of responsibilities (legal age in my country).
I knew I had a phobia because I have been distressed all month because of this. Then I thought I was okay, until my parents celebrated my birthday a day before the actual date (my dad cannot celebrate tomorrow, he loves me though). The moment I saw the 18 candles in the cake, and everyone congratulating me for "being an adult" I almost break to tears.
I know it is not the end of the world or my life, and that the legal responsibilities aren't my real fear, it's just an excuse I made up for anyone who asked, and I know changes are mostly for the better. While I can adapt almost to every situation, this feels different, I'm really feel scared, upset, and sad.
I remember I have always wanted to stay young, almost like the kids in the series "kids next door" in which adults were villains, and that growing up is something bad. That could describe my situation (of course I don't see adults as villains)
I still feel like a kid (I'm really mature though, don't believe I act like a little kid) and this transition in my life really scares me. I feel I'm not ready.
I have a loving family which I also feel I'm leaving behind, not only because I'm growing, but because they are getting older too.
I also don't know what I'm afraid of exactly, because even though I'm afraid of growing up, I don't know why.
I could really use a good advice now, and if this letter manages to reach you, I would like to thank you for taking some time to read it. It would mean a lot to me.
Always your fan, either furry or not furry, with the heart of a child
Not quite a Furry
(maybe someday I can choose a more suitable pseudonym)
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Dear Not Quite,
I believe that the reason a lot of people are furries is because, like you, they don’t want to “grow up.” This can be a good or bad thing, depending upon your approach. I’m going to borrow my mate Yogi’s story as an example. He likes to say, “I tried growing up once, but it didn’t work out.” This is in reference to his brief career selling insurance (he’s a radio and TV news professional). At a down point in his career, he took the job to make money, but quickly gave it up because it was so boring and not fun at all. More recently, when the broadcast media world changed for the worse, he lost his job as a news director and on-air personality. Instead of taking another dull-as-nails job, he started his own Internet radio station. It’s terribly hard work and the pay is not great (yet), but he is pursuing what he loves and makes him happy.
Many people fear growing up because they think it’s the end of fun. This is where choosing a career is vitally important. As they say, if you do something for a living that you enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life. My early career in publishing was like that. I absolutely loved my days as an assistant and associate editor and looked forward to going to work (that changed as the business changed). When it became too corporatized for my taste, I went freelance. It’s been hard, but I get to sit at home (love the commute!) and read interesting books.
My first advice to you, therefore, is to find something you love to do and then turn it into your career passion. Don’t worry about what that passion is. People make careers out of all sorts of things! There are people who, for example, make custom skateboards or become dress designers or pursue sports professionally or train dolphins. Here’s an article about that you might like to read: http://www.more.com/reinvention-money/second-acts/turning-your-private-passion-career.
The point is, finding something you love to do and making money at it will make you look forward to the future instead of the past.
Another issue is the fear of responsibilities: earning an income, paying taxes, taking care of your bills, buying a car, getting insurance, buying groceries and cooking for yourself, doing the laundry, worrying about local and world politics, etc. etc. etc. People want to be taken care of by their parents or other family; some people even get married because they hope their spouse will take care of them. They don’t want to have to deal with all the stuff that comes with taking care of yourself.
You mention that you feel unprepared for adulthood. I know how that can be. When I finished high school, my parents pushed me to go to a big university, so I was accepted at the University of Michigan. Absolutely. Hated. It. I have never felt so much like an anonymous number in my life. I was emotionally and psychologically unprepared for taking care of myself and never felt so lonely and afraid in my life. I was, sincerely, terrified. I had a meltdown and ended up going home and taking nearly a year off. Then, I went to a small local college and did much better.
I believe the problem, in part, was that my parents were overprotective and I was a shy and kind of hermit-like guy (I’m very different now LOL). My parents didn’t really teach me the fundamentals, such as taking care of a bank account, how to make new friends in an unfamiliar environment, how to handle and navigate a large bureaucracy such as a mega-university, etc.
My second piece of advice, therefore, is to ask your parents (I’m thinking this hasn’t happened yet) about such basics as managing money, cooking, cleaning, taxes, holding down a job, navigating through social life, and other issues involved in independent living. They should be your instructors on how to become a self-supporting adult. They can do a lot to ease the transition for you from dependent child to confident, independent adult. Use your parents (and any other family who might help, such as older siblings, uncles, aunts....) as a resource.
Growing up doesn’t mean you have to become boring (as Yogi found out). You don’t have to play bridge with the neighbors, complaining about taxes and your latest medical procedure. This is where the furry comes in! A big part of being furry is hugging the kid inside you. I can’t wait for Halloween, for example. I am putting on my Grubbs fursuit and handing out candy to the neighbor kids, making sure they get hugs and photo ops! Had a blast last year! Then, after that, I’m going downtown to see the costume contests and party. I’m 49 and still feel like a kid inside.
The transition from child to adult means you have to stop being childish, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop being childlike! Childish things include being selfish, not taking responsibility for your actions, and refusing to do the things that need to be done. But if you are childlike you maintain the wonder and joy of life. It is the childlike people in the world who make life special. People, for me, who come to mind in this area would be Jim Henson, Steve Irwin, John Denver, Jim Carrey, Carl Sagan, Jim Parsons, and Robin Williams. Did they have problems in their lives and have to act like adults? Certainly, but what amazing lives they lead (or led). (You might think Robin Williams is a bad example, given his suicide, but I don’t; his mental issues were another matter, sadly, but he still had that magnificent air of wonder about him).
In summary: find a passion in life; learn the ropes of being an adult; but don’t lose your grasp of your inner child. And stay furry! It helps!
This is the first time I write to you and I've to admit that my question isn't that important compared to others. However I wasn't able to find an answer anywhere on the Internet, which is the reason why I feel I've to bother you with it anyway. Of course, for me this question IS important. Excuses in advance for my bad English and the length of the letter.
I just recently discovered the fandom and, at first sight, seemed to know immediately that it's the right place for me, even better than what I've always hoped to find, which was only at least one person who shares my interests. Finally, per lucky accident, I found a place where I know that I should belong and where the people are just amazing! However I found out something very special about me and other furries: While seemingly everyone is fascinated or somehow attracted to animals, animals are not really my thing. I'm sure that I'm furry, I love anthropomorphic characters (yep, I prefer “characters” instead of “animals”) but I guess that I need to see certain signs of “civilized species” like humans are (or at least should be ;) ) in order to take a life form seriously as a person and see it on the same level, both intellectually and in terms of (sexual) attractiveness, or in order to be just interested in the character and the personality itself (by the way, I also find anthros MUCH more interesting than humans, humans—bah; however I can be sexually attracted to humans, as well -weird-). And yes, I can even be sexually attracted to anthros (yay!) as long as I see enough humanity or more precisely, as I call it, “characteristics of civilized species” in a character. I should mention that I also like some near-animal characters like "Bolt" very much, but not in terms of sexual attraction.
This leads to a very strange and funny thing I also found out: Before I discovered the fandom, I haven't even related anthros to animals. To me, anthros were anthros (to be more precise, I explained anthros as alien life forms) and animals were just animals. I think even the perception of anthros being aliens from an other world makes them cool to me. From my point of view animals are just not really cool. I mean I like animals as much as a typical non-furry would do, maybe even a bit less (often calling dogs “mutts”), but for me, animals kind of represent an uncivilized, primitive lifestyle, which I don't like. That's also the reason why proper clothing of anthros is so important for me! Anthros were really separate species to me, which could only have similarities to animal species, but I've never seen a sort of “animal spirit” in them. As you might have noticed, I'm especially a fan of alien, but also some mythical furry species (my fursona is a hybrid of fictional species from both types). Please note that I can also equally like more common furry species, and that I'm open to accept about any furry species as such (even animals, though they aren't my thing. If someone is a furry because he/she has a deep relationship to animals—that’s fine for me). In fact I'd like any humanoid furry species and even some "primitive" ones in special cases (like Bolt)! But I'm quite helpless with animals. I'm partly afraid of animals when they come close to me, or more precise, I'm shy of them and I'm shy of interacting with them (dogs, even cute kitties). Besides that I'm also neither very interested in animals nor attracted by them at all. Before I discovered the fandom there seemed to be no link between anthros and animals for me. Although I find some animals on screen, mostly drawn or animated, quite cool and I really like plushies, all together I'm not SUCH a big fan of animals.
Sorry for this long explanation but I wanted to be as precise as possible for the following section: I lost my own personality because of my point of view... I felt that in order to be accepted by the fandom I would have to get better with animals, and I even succeeded somehow, but I wasn't feeling the same anymore. Suddenly I realized that my feelings towards anthros and how I see them have changed as well—to the worse. I somehow lost my personal furriness which was just horrible!!! After years of wondering if there is anyone out there like me and finally finding a place where I should belong, losing this special something which was defining me since like elementary school and being the reason why I even discovered the fandom at first was nearly unbearable! I wasn't myself anymore, I didn't know who I am anymore and I got really upset because I feared that I lost my actual furriness just to be counted as a furry—how silly is that?! Right now I recovered a bit thanks to your column and some intense meditation, walking up and down in my room for hours. But I'm still concerned about that and I'm also still in the process of "recovering" my own personality, finding back to myself and my actual, beautiful furriness, which I've always loved, not knowing that it was called furriness then, and which I was always happy about and I am also proud of by this time. Thanks to your column I was at least able to figure out that I AM definitely a furry: I am interested in anthropomorphic characters (which isn't even a close description of my feelings I had back then when I was younger and before I discovered the fandom and read about animals, the feelings I now hope to feel again soon) and I consider myself as a furry. Immediately I felt much better when I found out! However I wasn't able to get out of writing to you at last.
My question is: Is my point of view about animals, which is part of my furriness as I define it, relevant to my furriness to be counted as actual furriness? Or to put it this way: Will my definition of my furriness be overall accepted by the fandom? Will I be seen as the furry I definitely am? Because I'm not so sure about that since I couldn't find anything about anybody who shares my kind of furriness. I also fear staying alone, not ever finding a girl I want to spend the rest of my life with, who is a furry but understands it when I don't want to have (bigger) animals around me.
I'm really looking forward to your answer because every time I read about the role animals play in furries' lives, I ask myself: Do I really belong in the fandom (I know that I should, but do I)? And if: Is there anyone in the fandom who shares my thoughts on this topic, or does furry mean that you also have to like animals in order to be accepted by the fandom? I mean I took several Internet tests on furriness and because most of them were about interests and identification with animals (not anthros) they told me that I wasn't furry and I'm just a bloody human and shall piss off! That really shocked me and made me angry as well ('cause I am so what furrrrry!! *grrr*), followed by inner conflicts as I've already told you, deciding to change my view on animals etc., etc... leading to the situation I'm currently in: Knowing that I'm furry but still without any approval from the fandom, plus that I somehow temporarily lost my personal furriness (that is actually much worse and more important), which led to even bigger inner conflicts, which are still there beneath the surface after the "calming down" phase, which still isn't over yet, and so on... Just to clear things up: I already know—again—that I'm furry, thanks to your column, but I don't know if the fandom is going to accept my view on animals and me as a furry. And of course, it bothers me how I should cope with animals now and I wonder why I've never compared anthros to animals before. But that is in fact the current problem with my furriness: Now I compare anthros with animals and I'm somehow, I don't know, sort of disappointed or even frustrated when I look at anthros this way, like I never did before. Anyway I know that my feelings towards anthros have changed ... what shall I do? :(
Thank you sooooo much for taking you the time answering this one! (even reading this one, lol)! I know, this may be a tough one for you and it really hurts me to bother you with this letter...
I also wish to give you a thousand thanks for everything you put up for furries, not only this awesome column, but also the AFA! I enjoy both very much and I am always happily surprised by the diversity of topics and people in the fandom since I'm very very new to it.
Patrick Drabax (age 19)
PS: My personal definition of a furry: Someone who is in any thinkable way or even in several ways intensely attracted to at least one character of at least one species of any kind you can imagine except the human species. Assuming that, I believe that probably anyone has a furry inside him- or herself, like anyone has some sort of musician inside him- or herself, because it's something which is in human nature, I think, and most people just don't know.
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My goodness, aren’t you the chatty one! Thank you for your comments on my column; I’m sorry to tell you that the AFA is on indefinite hold, however. I had to admit to myself that I simply don’t have the time to devote to it as it needs. Maybe, when I retire, I will look into it again. Of course, perhaps someone else will decide a nonprofit association for all furries will be a good idea and take up the torch instead. The good news is that this column will be here as long as I’m alive and have my paws and faculties operating.
After such a lengthy missive, I like to summarize what I believe the writer’s point is. If I have your viewpoint correct, you love anthro characters, especially in science fiction, but really are not drawn to animals themselves, nor are you into humans. You feel that, because a lot of furries do love animals or, like me, feel they have a spiritual connection to them, that you are being rejected by the fandom.
Actually, dear young one, you are rather a throwback to the original furries who started the modern fandom. They were all science fiction fans who first met at sci-fi conventions and discussed their interest in anthro characters within the genre. In fact, the mother of all furry comics, Albedo, was a furry sci-fi adventure story that debuted in 1983 (I believe there have been no new ones since 2005). So, your concept of furries as being alien species certainly fits the bill of how they were originally conceived by the founders of the modern fandom.
Since that time, the fandom has grown and diversified tremendously, and there are many subcultures within the subculture. Some people say you have to have a fursuit, some people say you have to have a connection to animals, some people say they have connections to other worlds or that they can actually transform spiritually or physically into an animal or were-creature, and some people say, “Get over yourselves, it’s just for fun.”
It has gotten so complicated that there really is no such thing as a unified, homogeneous “furry fandom.” We use the term as an all-inclusive way to describe anyone who has anything to do with or who has an interest in fictional creatures who are part human and part animal (either real or mythological).
Are you a furry? Yes, indeed you are, and you know it. Are you at risk of being “rejected” by the fandom? Well, I suppose some narrow-minded people who feel they must put labels on people will reject you, but people like that aren’t fun to be around anyway, so why worry about them? There are plenty of good furries who will like you for you and will have fun talking to you about the same things you enjoy. If you spend enough time socializing with other furries, you’ll find them.
You’re new to the fandom, so I guess you’re a bit anxious and nervous about being accepted, but just as you have made the mistake of thinking you can be rejected by an entire subculture of people, don’t think that all furries are the same. It might seem simple to say that furries are people who like anthro characters, but the truth, like most things, is a lot more complex than that.
Don’t let others define you. Don’t let others tell you what a furry is (not even me LOL). You have your own sense of what a furry means for you on a personal level, and that’s just as legitimate as anyone else’s definition. (I don’t know what “tests” you took, but who cares? Why is some test on the Internet more valid than your own belief system? Answer: it’s not.)
Please make yourself at home. And, when you meet furries, take them on an individual basis. Some will become friends, others mere acquaintances, and some may not like you. That’s life. No different in the furry world than it is in the human one.
My problem is not strictly one relating to the furry world but is a side effect of such. A little background about me. I am 19 years old, I am a Britfur, and I've always been very open about who I am.
Well, okay, that last statement is a lie.
I was a closeted fur for around 5 years before coming out recently. And may I say, it was the best decision I made. Having been to several meets and already booked for Confuzzled next year, the furry community is the most accepting I've ever encountered. So much so, that it was to a fur I first revealed to somebody I wasn't involved with about my pansexuality and feminine qualities. I am a HUGE femboy and whenever I am around my friends (and strangers) I feel confident enough to stride around in my girly outfits and flirt with everyone. Life is great. Except when I come home.
I live with my parents. They know I am a furry. But they don't know anything else. They have no idea about my sexuality or gender identity. All my girl clothes I keep in a box I have stashed under the floorboards. I do all the washing for them myself and I only ever do it when I'm home alone. I don't have the confidence to tell them about who I really am. I'm always afraid that they'll treat me differently and unlike the situation with general people where the attitude “if they don't like it; you don't need them” applies, this is my family. I can't just walk away from them. They've already done so much for me in ways I cannot explain publicly. But I digress, and the point is that I don't want to live this lie in front of them. I don't think I'll be living with them much longer but it's gnawing away at every brain cell I have.
Well, that was a lot of explaining and ranting. Now to the problem. I want to have the confidence to tell them. But I don't. I can tell everyone else but family. And I see things replied to stuff like this all the time to the effect of "just believe in yourself" or some other nonsense. That clearly isn't going to help because it's not like I haven't told anyone. I just... I don't know ... want them to know without me telling them. Are there any ways I can do this? Or are there any ways to help be build the confidence to tell them something like this? I just need them to understand.
V (age 19)
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Before I can formulate some solid advice about your question, could you tell me more about your parents? They sound like kind, supportive people, and you clearly love them. Do you know anything about their attitudes toward the LGBT community? Are they really religious and find homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality etc. morally offensive?
Do you feel that if you told them they would be the sort of people to toss you out on the street and abandon you? Or do you just fear that "things will never be the same" once you tell them?
Information like this would be helpful.
Thanks for writing. Hope to hear from you soon.
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Well, my mother is only concerned with getting more grandchildren since my older brother isn't having any more so she would be 50% okay with it. As for my father I don't know. We don't talk much. No, it's more accurate to say HE doesn't talk much. We have a biological bond but that's it. We never talk or socialise with each other and that's fine with me, it's the way he is but my mother I have a very strong relationship with.
I know for a fact that they wouldn't disown me or anything like that. The reasons for this I cannot share even anonymously but I do worry that there would be a breakdown of family bonds. Especially with my mother. I always feel like there would be, as they say, an elephant in the room. Even if nothing was ever said, I can read her like a book.
My father isn't religious. My mother is but not in the zealot kind of way. She's always taken a laid back approach and while she is firm in her beliefs they are accepting in general. She doesn't oppose alternative sexualities or anything. We actually talked about this stuff a few weeks ago and she's all for the gay marriage laws and the like but things are different when they're at your front door. I was raised as a Catholic, like my entire family, and I rejected it and my whole family knows that I have. I got into enough trouble with my religious studies teacher to prove it. But I feel I am digressing from the main issue here. The point is that while I don't feel that anything definitely negative would happen, I don't want to damage the bond I have with my family. With moving recently, I don't have any friends in the area. The closest I have are my friends at furmeets.
Another kettle of fish is my brother. I consider my brother one of my closest friends. Growing up he was always my idol. He is 8 years older than I and he's very in the dark about things such as alternative sexualities/genders. And he's a very stereotypical “man.” And while he is super understanding and caring and I love him, I have the same issue I do with my mother. I don't want to lose him. Especially with him having his own family now, he wouldn't need me. It all feels silly reading it back to myself but the thought of 'coming out' as it were frightens the hell out of me. But keeping secrets is both physically and emotionally tiring.
So, that's a little more I suppose. Thank you for responding so soon.
* * *
All right, thanks for this information. If I have this correct, you have told your family about your being furry but not about your sexual orientation. Telling them you’re furry hasn’t changed anything, but you feel that being a femboi would. From what you’re telling me about them, I don’t think you’re giving them enough credit; your brother also seems to be pretty cool.
Really what we’re dealing with here is your anxiety over changing the family paradigm. You know your family won’t reject you or put you out on the street, but you somehow feel they will love you less. Hon, if your parents love you, really love you, nothing you do is going to change that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they already strongly suspect—or even know—what is going on with you, unless they are completely unobservant people. You’ve gone to some pretty far extremes to keep your true identity hidden, but parents—especially moms—are a lot more observant than you think. This is the woman who has been with you since before you were born, who potty trained you, fed you, helped you to walk.... She knows who you are perhaps even more than you know yourself.
This is a matter of courage, then. What is courage? It’s not about being unafraid, actually. You ask any soldier who has been in the line of fire, and he will tell you s/he was afraid, very afraid, but they did what needed to be done anyway. Only insane people are unafraid of such conditions. While what we are talking about here is not anywhere close to being shot at, we’re still dealing with fear. It’s okay to be afraid. Courage is about doing what needs doing despite your fears.
Now, if you wish, you could wait until after you have moved out and gained some independence before telling them so you don’t have to face the awkward situation of living with them after talking to them, but I don’t think that’s really necessary in your case. You intimate the notion of somehow having them just find out. Well, you can do that. You could leave your girly clothes around for them to find instead of hiding them, and that would certainly initiate a “discussion.” But it would be far better if, instead of giving them a little shock of surprise and showing you don’t trust them, to instead talk to them.
Here is a website that talks about the process of coming out to your parents. Some of this we have already discussed, but it also goes into what you might expect after talking to your family: http://www.glbtss.colostate.edu/coming-out-to-your-parents.
Good luck! Feel free to write again if you have more questions!
* * *
Your advice and suggestions are kind and warm. And I appreciate it. What you say seems to make sense and I firmly believe in what you say. The fear is ever more apparent to me now than it ever was however, I still have the problem of how to tackle it. Not only this, I question on how to bring it up. I don't feel it's something I could just sit down and announce to them. It's not how I am. I had a period in school, many years ago, exploring my sexuality where I thought I was homosexual and I lived in fear of anyone I knew telling them. It was almost phobia level fear and, in some of my phobia cases, beyond it.
I read through the article you linked me and this has raised my confidence somewhat but I am a shy and meek person when it comes to expressing my personal emotions. From many things they have already found out about me, such as being furry et cetera, my mother sometimes just says whenever we are in the car together, "you're really weird, aren't you". I don't believe she says this with any malice. She simply says it in regards to the things she knows I am into and personality quirks/flaws that are too painfully obvious to ignore.
I sometimes close my eyes at night and when I wake up I hope they just know and nothing has changed but of course, tue idea is absurd. I even sometimes debate whether I should or not. I've managed to go undetected thus far, whether it is worth it.
Regarding the "may already know/suspect" thing, there was another time, back during school, when she found girls underwear in my drawer which I had forgotten to hide properly and I told her the truth which really upset her. She "didn't know where it would lead". Maybe this is a source of my fear? That this would repeat again. I told her I had gotten rid of all the things I had and I believed myself it was a phase, which as it turned out all my "school phases" were more than such.
I just want to take this time now however, to thank you for all your advice so far. It has already helped my confidence but I still fear rejection. Or maybe not rejection, but awkwardness and the feeling of distrust.
* * *
Reading your email it made me think of Divine. Are you familiar with him? He was the bizarre gay cross-dresser who starred in John Waters films like "Pink Flamingos." He became estranged from his mother (largely because of his using her credit cards, but also it was hard for her to understand him). Anyway, she wrote a book called My Son, Divine. I think it would be a good read for you. Divine loved his mother, and in the end, the two reconciled before his death of a heart attack. The story is from her perspective. Give it a look. It's a little pricey; see if you can get a used copy or borrow a copy from a library.
This might sound like odd advice, but I think you'll benefit from the read. If you agree, I think it could be an ice breaker. "Accidentally" leave the book out where your mom can see it. If she asks about it, suggest she read it.
Feel free to write any time.
* * *
I am not familiar with this but I will definitely try to find the nearest library and borrow a copy. Thank you for all your advice.
I don't feel ready to come out to them just yet but I think I've conquered the first stage of getting there.
I've already recommended your page on my personal FA page and advised others to do the same.
I hope I wont need your advice again but if I ever do I'll contact you as soon as I can.
Thank you so much. <3
* * *
Okay, V. I would not want you to come out before you are comfortable with it. Only you can judge that. Hopefully, I've given you some tools toward getting there.
I'm not really sure how to word what I want to say other than my current state of inner conflict revolves around intimate relationships. I'll start off by saying that I have only had one girlfriend and that was back in 8th grade and I royally screwed that up. I am a virgin and proud of it and am not really looking for a sexual relationship. Whenever coworkers or new buddies I meet find out that I am a virgin they always try to hook me up with someone or invite me to a big party. I always happily decline those invitations.
The biggest thing I've looked for is just someone to become emotionally attached to. Learning from my first and only declared relationship, I become emotionally attached very quickly even if our physical and memorable relations are lacking. When she left me I was emotionally distraught. I know I'm scared of this happening again and have been unable to find someone to share this sentiment, or simply does not want to engage in a relationship at the level I am looking for.
When I joined the furry fandom it surprised me when I found an abundance of people who want to cuddle with you for no other reason than to cuddle. Even now I still get embarrassed at the act but it is a really great feeling to have someone there as comfort. Often I fall asleep at night with an imagined person sleeping beside me with their back pressed against mine. It is comforting, but painful when I remember that I have no one to actually fill that space.
To feed my fear of not finding someone, I had to watch my mother (whom I still live with for college) suffer for a long time after my parents were divorced. She has admitted recently that one of her greatest fears was to be alone. I seem to have inherited this fear and at night it becomes paralyzing. I am truly terrified of not finding someone to love.
I have tried to find relationships and those individuals either rejected me or I realized they would not put forth the effort of a relationship. I become really depressed about these things, but only when I lay down to sleep. I keep my mind free of these thoughts with work and college so I have limited my time to become depressed. I am good at finding other things to occupy my mind, but doing this for the last few years has worn on my emotional stability.
The only person in my life that knows even half of my emotional state is my mother. She only found out when I broke down about a year ago when I realized that the closest and biggest chance I had of someone actually loving me vanished. I have no one else I trust enough to reveal my inner troubles.
I simply don't know how to cope with this emotionally anymore. How can I cope?
I am sorry if my subject was unsteady, my writing skills aren't what I would like them to be.
Thank you for listening,
Yote (age 20)
* * *
Six years is a long time to allow yourself to be traumatized by an 8th-grade breakup. And while it’s great to assert your commitment to remain a virgin until you find someone you love and it is also great to want a deep, emotional relationship, most people in the 14-20 year range are not ready for such seriousness. By putting up walls after the 8th grade and by setting up such high standards and, basically, searching only for a lifetime mate, you have effectively lost a period of your lifetime when most people are simply living, having fun, and getting to learn the ropes of socializing with other people and the ins and outs of relationships. Those teen years are, shall we say, a “training period” to get you prepared for the real relationships that are more likely to come in one’s 20s and 30s or beyond.
The first thing you need to do, Yote, is own up to the fact that the real reason you are alone right now is because of you. You’re too frightened to open up your heart and take a risk, too picky to give anyone a chance at a relationship, too afraid of the past and that you’ll be like your mother, and too emotionally needy to attract anyone you might have a chance with. I’m not trying to be critical here, but let’s face it, you already know this to be true: “I have tried to find relationships and those individuals either rejected me or I realized they would not put forth the effort of a relationship.” That sentence in itself shows that you are being too demanding (stop putting so much emotional burden on teenagers) and easily offended or hurt.
Your comment about furries who want to cuddle is interesting. You like to cuddle but are unable to relax and just enjoy the cuddles without dragging it down with a huge question: “How can someone cuddle me without making a huge lifetime commitment to me?” If you approach all your relationships like that, you’re going to do nothing but scare people away your entire life.
RELAX, Yote! That’s what you seriously need to do. Most people go through several relationships before finding one that fits. You had one bad experience and promptly closed the door because you were afraid of getting hurt (or screwing up) again. BUT, if you never leave yourself open to failure, you will also never find success!
As I’ve said often in this column, the one thing that holds people back the most in this life is fear. Until you break free of the control that fear has over you, you will never get what you want in life. To stop sabotaging yourself, try these strategies:
Too many people struggle to find a relationship because they are focused on what that will do for them (or what they think it will do). But that’s not how you find love.
Love, also, cannot be possessed, nor can it be earned. Love is not about “oh, I’m a good person because I’m a virgin” or “you should want me because I’m not all about sex.” Those are statements of pride, not love.
You know what love is? Love is when all you care about is how you can make the OTHER person happy. Love is when that other person is in your thoughts all the time. Love is when the mere thought of that person brings a smile to your face. Even when that other person is not there to cuddle you and you are sleeping alone that night, they are there in your heart.
Love is not a selfish act about your needs and wants. That is why you can’t find love. You’re focused on yourself. Love is a giving, not a selfish thing. Not once in your letter did I read that you wanted someone in your life to give yourself to. It was all about fear and need and doubt.
Ironically, the more you give of your heart, the more it will be filled.
Wishing You Love,
[Note: this letter is a correspondence that occurred over a couple of days; it is quite long and deals with the subject of anal stretching, so this one isn't for the young furs. The letter writer wishes to be anonymous for obvious reasons.]
Furry: I have a fetish that is harmful to myself and has already resulted in some damage. I have abstained from doing so for some time but I am still watching pornography that relates to it and I am worried I may succumb to my desires and become mutilated. Do you have a solution?
* * *
Papabear: It would help a lot if you could tell me what the fetish is.
* * *
Furry: I didn't think it necessary to specify. I apologize, but I find it hard to talk about. It seems to be a f****d up masochistic desire to have an extremely dilated anus and the insertion of any large object. This disturbs and repulses me and I haven't really acted on the feelings yet. It started in my youth, so the thoughts are hard to get rid of. I personally believe brutal electroshock therapy is the solution to this, but it's not legal to my knowledge anymore. Your thoughts, Papabear?
* * *
Papabear: I'll answer in more detail soon, but, for now, my advice: hold off on that electroshock therapy. You're not as weird as you think you are. Many people fantasize about being penetrated by huge penises, and some even use huge toys that most people would consider monstrous (I know a guy who can stick a two-liter bottle of soda up his anus).
Keep in mind the physical dangers of this fantasy being real, and we'll talk some more soon.
* * *
Furry: Your friend has mutilated himself and a fetish that results is such disfigurement is a negative thing in my eyes and as well as many psychiatric professionals. Insertion to the point of having a mail box for a anus or having to seal it with duck tape before you go to work in the morning requires a sick sick person but I'm not oppposed to someone doing what makes themselves happy. I'm absolutely for that freedom.
Anyone could take a razor blade and cut off their lips and yank their teeth out to increase capacity to suck a horses member for example but would thinking that is a sane decision be normal? I have a dilemma and my state of mind is clearly unhealthy. bleeding, piles, fishers, prolapsed rectum, incomplete bowel movements, incontinence, bladder incontinence, weak bladder, possible infection of the colon, even the sphincter seems to prolapse on some people. And people encourage them. I cut myself sometimes. I find it relieving. I do it in moderation. I even sanitize the wounds afterwards, but I'm told that's a negative thing by most people; that strikes me rather odd.
Your friend is in a special place or deep down is ashamed of what he's done to himself. Thinking in purely logical terms, it seems wise to have some moderation I have seen enough videos on the Internet to see that these people are pretty relentless in their goals to insert large objects but don't seem to care that their anus looks like the Mariana Trench. Often young men, these people are going to have a lifetime of discomfort; this is an issue that needs to be addressed and I expect it's fairly common. Don't get me wrong, though; personally I love getting things inserted into my rectum, but people need moderation if maintaining continence is something they would like to keep. I know this is not a question, Papabear, but nothing bugs me more than this. What poses a person to be totally accepting of such extreme self-mutilation?
* * *
Papabear: I agree. As I mentioned in the earlier letter to you, you have to be aware of the physical dangers here. I didn't realize the extent of your fetish. For some people, putting a large dildo inside the anus is very extreme. If you're talking about putting such large things in there that you are destroying your body, then this is symptomatic of a mental disturbance that requires the treatment of a professional. Have you consulted a psychologist or psychiatrist?
My belief that your desire to stretch yourself out to the point of harm is that you are actually punishing yourself as a result of some kind of psychological trauma or a deep-seated psychological need. For instance, that friend I mentioned. When I asked him why he did that, he said he "liked to feel like I was being filled." I took this to mean he had a feeling of emptiness inside him. The guy craves love and has had no luck in that area. I think that if he found a faithful mate, he would stop doing it.
To understand why you desire to hurt yourself, I would need to know more about your past. There is something going on here that just treating the symptoms won't help. What was your childhood like? Did you ever face a serious emotional trauma? My guess--and correct me if I am wrong--is that you were raped analy at a very young age. And now you wish to punish yourself by torturing your anus because of the guilt you are feeling. But it could be a number of other things. Something else in your life that makes you both sexually aroused and desirous to punish yourself.
Do you feel comfortable telling me about this? If not (or even if you do), I would very much like to recommend you seek a professional counselor.
I'm sorry if my earlier response troubled you. Please know that I am in no way making light of your situation. I will try and help the best I can.
* * *
Furry: I was not raped from what I recall, but I am a masochist and I do feel the need to punish myself frequently. Your insight into the mind is impressive. I'm unsure why I have the need to or want to insert increasingly large things, but I only know that the sight or thought of it is the most arousing thing I think of. When I watch porn I don't watch it to see the people; I only watch videos mainly of people inserting things into their rectum. The larger it is the more arousing it is to me. When I'm done pawing I feel disgusted.
The first time I tried to insert something large in my childhood, or what was large to me at the time, was after seeing a horse with a massive erection while fishing. After that, it was a long-term fetish, I believe, but I'm unsure why. It's so intense to me. I have a number of other fetishes, even two paraphilias, but it's unrelenting and concerning me. I'm beginning to think I may accept it and not be ashamed of it, even though it's clearly wrong to do this to myself. I'm very conflicted, but I think fighting this urge is the right thing to do.
* * *
Papabear: Yes, I encourage you to try to not harm yourself, of course. Understanding why you do this, though, is key. Extreme anal stretching can be seen as a form of masochism. It is theorized that masochism might arise for a number of causes: 1) as I suggested earlier, you may have been a victim (or even just an observer) of extreme inappropriate sexual behavior; this then becomes your model for such behavior and the only way you can be aroused; 2) you may have been prevented from practicing normal sexual behavior, and the result has been that you, needing some release of any kind, found an alternative way to express that need; 3) you are feeling disturbing emotions of anger, aggression, and guilt because of some other trauma, but these feelings are suppressed and then released in an inappropriate manner (similar to cutting oneself, which is complementary to your anal fetish, it seems); and 4) there is also a theory that people develop an array of different sado-masochistic behaviors because they never learned how to form healthy relationships with other people.
While you can try to prevent the behavior by sheer force of will, still the best way to heal yourself is to get professional help. Your issue is an extreme form of a type of sexual addiction. You might, therefore, try Sexaholics Anonymous at http://www.sa.org/. Their website is excellent and helps you find meetings in your area or, if none are available, other ways to contact people and get the support you need for free.
I hope that helps. Write again if you have more questions.
* * *
Furry: Don't have a extremely dilated anus, but I have caused myself a rectal prolapse of which I'm waiting to be addressed by my county's NHS [National Health Service]. It's a discomfort daily. I must say thank you for your advice Papabear, but I mean to ask: I am attracted to humans; I think I'm bisexual with a strong leaning to the same sex. If I am attracted to a female emotionally it's because she's a tomboy, so that suggests I'm primarily homo-romantic, I believe. I haven't had a mate. I mainly RP and chat with a small group of furry friends on the Internet. I'm soon to move to live with my father for a while and I seem to have a unhealthy attachment to a stuffed animal Bolt. Specifically, I do so because I pretend he is my mate in some capacity and having him to hug provides instant comfort no matter how I feel. I fear without him I would suffer greatly. This may be discouraged or frowned on, but I'm going to do it anyway.
* * *
Papabear: Didn't mean to say you did have a stretched anus yet. If you're having trouble with a rectal prolapse at your age, then it sounds like you've already been doing a bit too much with your anus, though. Your bond with the Bolt plushie tells me you definitely have a hole in your heart that needs to be filled, and I strongly suspect this is connected to your fetish. I hope you do contact SA. As for the rest, was there a question there or were you just giving me more information?
* * *
Furry: I don't know why I was taking like that I suppose I just actually can't get over the shame of what I have done to myself. It's killing me.
* * *
Papabear: Have a look at this; perhaps it will help.
* * *
Furry: Thank you Pbear, you are more helpful than I ever thought you would be.
* * *
Papabear: You're welcome! Please write again if you need to, any time.
Dear Papa Bear,
Hey, it's been a while since I wrote you last! I have a different kind of question for you concerning fursuits. I've made two suits myself before, but they weren't ACTUAL suits like you see at the furry cons, but more like modified clothes I altered myself a few years ago. I then bought a mascot suit earlier this year for AC '14, and even though I had a great time, I knew it wasn't the real deal. Can I still call myself a fursuiter if I either wear a bought mascot suit or clothes that I added animal ears and tails to?
P.S.: My last letter to you was in 2012 concerning my then recent diagnosis of Asperger's. I'm doing much better.
* * *
The thing to remember here is that fursuiting should be fun! Let’s not split hairs (hares?) about what is a “real” fursuit and what isn’t. If you have a mascot suit, that’s fine. The point is that you had a great time!
Yes, you’re a fursuiter. Anyfur tells you otherwise, I suggest you give them a big kiss on the lips, giggle, and bounce away happily just to piss them off :-P
Hugs from a Fellow Fursuiter! I'm so glad you're doing better!
How have you been?
I came to ask you for help regarding the way I am feeling.
As you know, I have been a furry for many years now, but an unfortunate, personal event in my life, which was caused by the lack of understanding of other Portuguese furries when I was undergoing a phase of depression, drove me to leave the furry fandom for some time. However, I have always wanted return when I felt ready to do so, despite the fact that I decided never to socialize with other Portuguese furries again.
It’s been three years since I walked away. I desperately want to return. But the fear that I may somehow ruin it all again prevents me from taking bigger steps.
An example of that fear was my very first letter to you, when I asked you to help me choose my fursona because I was too afraid to do so.
Now I am afraid of creating an account on FurAffinity. I usually state that I do not wish to create an account there because I feel that my artworks are less secure there than they are on other websites such as deviantART, and although this is partially true, I have come to call it self-deception for the real reason for me doing so is that I do not want to come across my ex-furry friends again.
Moreover, the idea that living in Portugal, a country where the furry fandom is shunned and dismissed as a perversion by the large majority of people I have encountered, plus the fact that there are not many furries here (about 40 in the whole country) causes me to lose hope to ever obtain a respectable position in the furry fandom.
Somehow, I feel that if I had been born in another country, such as in North America or England, I would feel less an outcast. I feel somewhat blue when I think what other furries in other countries think about Portuguese furries. Do they even notice us at all?
I have always wanted to go to a furry convention, to meet other international furries, to have a fursuit, and to maybe even become a respectable and known entity such as yourself. But I seem to be too much of a coward to try and do so.
I do not know what to do. Will you please help me?
Armand DeCrow (age 21)
* * *
If there truly are only 40 Portuguese furries in existence, you might understand that the international furry community might miss them. As far as this bear knows, no one in the U.S. has an opinion of Portuguese furries one way or the other, good or bad. If you wish to go to a furry convention, I would suggest you try the big one in Europe, http://www.eurofurence.org/, which you could get to by train a lot easier than coming to the U.S.
Going to another country will not solve your problems. If you think the furries in Portugal are drama queens, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet LOL. Such miscommunication and conflict happens whether or not you’re talking about furries. It’s human nature. Papabear gets letters all the time from furries who have suffered a misunderstanding or have been shunned by other furries. And the furry community is not commonly accepted in American society, either, although that has slowly been changing. I have been seeing reports on news channels that have been less critical of the fandom, such as this one about a recent Anthrocon: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/07/02/furries-bring-fun-costumes-and-lots-of-revenue-to-pittsburgh/.
I’m glad, though, that your past troubles haven’t destroyed your desire to be involved in the fandom. In moving ahead, there are two options you can consider when reopening accounts on FurAffinity or elsewhere.
In the meantime, you need to get over your fears. After all, what is the worst that could happen by being identified again or coming into contact with some of your compatriots again? Perhaps some jerks will block you; perhaps some people might post some bad things about you. But you’re not going to die or be banned from the fandom for any of that. Assert your rights to be part of the fandom and be a good person and you will be fine. Everyone gets trashed sometimes, including me. It is more a reflection on the trolls and haters out there than it is on you. Follow the Golden Rule and don’t worry about detractors. If you let them create fear in your heart, you are letting them win. The best way to defeat a troll is to show that you don’t care what they say or even acknowledge they exist. When you do that, they wither away.
Welcome back to the furry fandom, Armand!
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.