I'm not really asking a question about the fandom, but for about two years now I have identified that I am both bi and mtf transsexual. I live in a relatively conservative area in Colorado and I'm nervous about the position I'm in. I'd have a hard time with both because every time I tell my parents something they say it's just a phase and all that. Every damn time, they say that. They also raised me to believe that you shouldn't change yourself. My parents are also Christian, not devout, though. I'm really in a pinch here because I know that I am bi and trans, but no one, save for a few friends I met online, knows about it. I really wonder what I should do and when (and where) I should tell my parents and friends.
Krystaline (age 15)
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Thank you for your letter; you do not have to write about a furry issue for Papabear to respond, so no worries there.
It’s rough being your age in this world, and even tougher when you realize you are a transsexual person and live with a conservative family. You have my sympathy.
Your parents are wrong on at least two counts: that this is just a phase and that you shouldn’t change as you grow. Conservatives, by definition, are afraid of change; they want everything to stay in a nice little world they can easily categorize and understand. But life isn’t that simple, and human beings are definitely not that simple!
At 15, it would be very difficult for you to stand up in front of your parents and explain just who you are and have them accept it; you’re likely still having difficulty fathoming it all yourself! That’s why it would be very helpful for you to find someone who can help.
I see you are in Colorado. There are LGBT community centers in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. Visit http://www.lgbtcenters.org/ to find out more about the resources available to you online and in brick-and-mortar centers in your area. If you go to the Contacts page at http://www.lgbtcenters.org/contact.aspx you will see some free counseling hotlines and an online form, as well. There is also the GLBT National Help Center http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/ and some great information at the IMPACT site at http://www.impactprogram.org/lgbtq-youth/coming-out/. You would do well by starting there.
Your best weapon in the upcoming debate with your parents about your being trans is arming yourself with the facts. Read up on the literature. But, again, the problem with your just trying to convince them you are transsexual and that they should let you be you is that you are 15 and they still feel very much like they need to protect and control you. Therefore, it is vital that you back yourself up with some professional assistance.
Call one of the hotlines and ask them what your next steps should be. They will be the most helpful.
Hey there Papabear,
I have not really been part of this fandom for a long time, but I really want to get involved. I just feel like too many people will think that I'm weird, or perverted.
* * *
I understand. I don't think there are many furries out there who have not struggled with the fear of rejection by non-furry family, friends, and associates. Human beings have an innate desire to be accepted by others because we are social animals. We judge ourselves, therefore, against the touchstone of what is considered "normal" in our culture and age. We should first consider that this standard has been malleable over time. Right now, in 21st-century America, we are somewhere, morally, between Puritan New England and the height of the Roman Empire. If you compare furry behavior to what was acceptable back in Rome (if you watch that video), you'd find yourself to be extremely tame.
What I'm getting at is that the problem is not your sense of what is proper but rather how it compares to others. So, the question is, who is in charge of your life? You or society? If society is in charge, then it will prevent you from having fun and participating in the fandom. If you are in charge of your life and destiny, then you will do what you enjoy and have a happier life.
The other factor has to do with whether or not you are open about your furriness. Many choose to be furry and not tell family members, and others have good relationships with parents etc. and go ahead and tell them. You might also be surprised by how many people are actually fine with your being a furry. I always think of my friend Tycho Aussie, who told his coworkers and they enjoy him fursuiting in the office; another example is the Furry Cruise off the coast of Florida. Furries share the ship with non-furries and the mundanes love it.
Often, though, the best way to do talk with mundanes who don't understand the deeper psychological and spiritual aspects of it, is to just talk about it in terms of costuming fun. Compare it to, say, Star Trek fans or to people who like to dress up as zombies on Halloween. If you aren't a fursuiter, you can compare it to all the literature and movies out there that feature anthro characters and that mundanes find perfectly acceptable (Disney films spring to mind). For example, when I showed my very conservative mother my fursuit, I just told her it was for mascot work and that it was just a fun thing for me to do and she was okay with it, even bored by it. So, when explaining this stuff to unexposed mundanes, just do it in terms you think they'll understand and don't try to tell them in terms furries relate to.
Good luck! Stay Furry!
We spoke many months ago: http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/his-friend-asked-him-not-to-tell-his-family-about-being-furry. Anyways, there has been some things going on with me. I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at an early age, my symptoms are is that I can't take a person's sarcasm seriously and I tend to miss cues, I repeat words or phrases under my breath consistently (echolalia), I have a tendency to smile, and I mean, SMILE. Even if its something that is supposed to be sad or serious, even if its not funny. and I also have trouble interacting with regular people, furry or no. But the best part about it is that I can blend in with regular, "normal" people.
And lets just say in the fandom, people with Asperger's are NO exception. As much as people could possibly notice it IRL, I thought, well, I can remain anonymous on Twitter, and no one will EVER know the difference, unfortunately, after a mishap with a couple furs, they could tell instantaneously. Everyone has their own little quirks and stuff. But for some reason, I just have a problem being open about it, because I feel like people will give me special treatment or sugarcoat it when I do my little quirks, which, if you were to get to know me enough, you'd notice it. Anyone would. Even though there is an autism-awareness group on FA, I still feel like furs are ableist, and I can't really be open about it, otherwise they would reject and possibly exclude me or not want to hang out with me simply because of it, so I just hide it, trying my best to blend in with the "normal" furry crowd. Then again, furry isn't technically, "normal" now, is it? :|
So, its almost as if I'm trying hard to be sure that I don't mess up, but when I do, one of the best things about noticing my disability is that when I mess up, unintentionally or not, I do apologize and try my best to do better, and everyone makes mistakes regardless of age. But with me, its like one mistake and I have to be on alert to make sure I don't do it again, which is why I usually ask people, "What is the one thing that ticks you off the most?" or something along those lines.
I honestly have no care to join the autism part of the fandom if people are gonna subject me simply because I'm overly quirky and do things that most people wouldn't do.
So, what should I do? Should I keep it a secret and not tell anyone? Or tell someone in exchange for them giving me special treatment for something I can't control, regardless of how hard I try to stop it? Or... introduce myself, get to know them for awhile, and THEN be open about it? What should I do? :|
* * *
There are many people in the fandom with Asperger’s; a number of them have written in to this column. Papabear’s theory is that because people with Asperger’s and other forms of autism typically have a hard time dealing with “normal” society, they find refuge—and some sympathy and empathy—in the fandom.
You don’t say whether or not you are getting any treatment, but let’s assume you’ve gone that route already and understand the various treatments available to you (http://psychcentral.com/lib/treatment-for-aspergers-disorder/000878). As you probably know, then, a strategy that benefits Asperger’s sufferers is to establish life routines. Having a comforting feeling that you know what is expected of you each day and you know what will be happening for much of your waking hours can be very helpful and soothing. Also, avoiding distractions is important, and getting regular sleep (keep TVs, video games, and stereos out of your bedroom and reserve that space for rest only; otherwise, you will likely not get enough sleep). Finally, when facing a large task in life, instead of trying to imagine how to do the complete task all at once, break it down into digestible stages and tackle each small stage one at a time.
Furry environments can be very counterproductive to people with Asperger’s because they can be overstimulating. If you go to a furmeet or con, there will be all kinds of noise and distractions and vibrant activity happening all the time, which is almost a guarantee that you will have an adverse reaction that will kick in some of your troublesome symptoms.
Therefore, I recommend to you that you take your furriness in small doses. Try to meet furiends on a one-on-one basis in mellow environments, such as in your bedroom. When online, instead of entering a chat room, likewise just IM people one at a time. From there, you might slowly work your way up to small groups doing specific activities.
When you interact with your friends, you should, indeed, tell them you have Asperger’s, and if they don’t know what that entails, explain to them what they can expect. That way, if something happens, they aren’t surprised and don’t withdraw from you thinking you’re “weird.” If they have any intelligence at all, they will understand that your sometimes-frustrating behavior is a symptom of your condition, not a personality flaw.
The above goes not only for your involvement with furries, but with friends, family, and coworkers in general. When people understand what they are dealing with, they are much less likely to be shocked and come to the wrong conclusions, which should make your life easier to a certain extent.
Hello Papa Bear,
Me and my girlfriend are really wanting to get into fursuiting but we're really not sure here to get good fursuits. We know what we would like, but we have no idea where to get them, or how to make them ourselves.
Please help a Fox and a Wolf!
Kaz and Mjay
* * *
Dear Kaz and Mjay,
Thanks for your question. This is a two-part answer: first, how to get fursuits made by others; and second, how to make them yourself.
Commissioning a Fursuit
This I know, having gone through the process myself. Like you, I knew what I wanted in a fursuit (a bearsuit inspired by—but not imitating—the ones in Disney’s “The Country Bears”), so I went online and looked at pictures of fursuits on FurAffinity. After a while, I zeroed in on a designer I really liked: Beastcub. Then I visited her website, which was excellent and contained information on how to commission a design. You can also visit a really cool site called the Fursuit Database (http://db.fursuit.me/). This thing is HUGE and searchable. Find a suit you like and it will list the designer and whether he/she is taking commissions.
Once you have found a designer and agreed on a price, there are a couple things you need to do before the designer can begin:
Send all of this stuff to your fursuit designer and wait. Be patient, these things take time. Ask the fursuit maker to tell you when they actually begin construction and an estimated completion time, but don’t harass the maker repeatedly for updates unless you really want to be annoying.
Once the fursuit is done, received, and paid for, you’re still usually not completely set. Often, you will need to make some minor adjustments here and there on the suit until you are completely satisfied with it. Before you have a contract with a fursuit maker, ask him or her whether and how many adjustments you can make after the final product is delivered.
It’s a good idea to get in writing from the fursuit maker what he or she promises to do, when they plan to do it, and for how much. In other words, get a signed agreement so that, if things don’t go your way (such as the fursuit is never delivered) you have legal recourse to get your money back.
This brings up another good point: look for and contact other furries who have had fursuits made by your designer of choice. Ask them if they were happy with the work and whether or not the designer was easy to work with. When I chose Beastcub, I knew she was a reliable designer. I also knew that I would need to wait quite some time before she was available to make the fursuit, so I was prepared for a long wait. But it was worth it!
Making Your Own Fursuit
It should go without saying—but I’ll say it anyway LOL—that if you are going to make a fursuit yourself you had better be a very good sewer. You should also know how to do other crafty things not normally seen in sewing clothes, such as how to make a fursuit head and paws.
There are a lot of websites out there with information you can read and view, but one that I like is on Matrices.net at http://www.matrices.net/fursuiting.asp. This excellent site has a ton of information and videos on making your own fursuit. Kudos to Sara Howard for making this available to aspiring artists.
Once you have your fursuit, now you need to know about performing in them and maintaining them. Fortunately! I have already written a column on that very topic here: http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/fursuiting-tips.
Hope that helps, Kaz and Mjay! Happy Fursuiting!
Hey Papabear! How ya doin'? :3
Well... I'm writing you again for a reason completely different from all the mess that E was... and actually I decided to take any possible chance to spend time with him and have fun in any way possible; obviously, this will have to stop as soon as one of us or both of us get a couple.
Putting that aside... and it may sound stupid... but uh... well, as you know, I'm already legal here at my country, but I still don't look at myself as an adult nor a young adult... Weird thing, since I already experimented with adult stuff like sex, and I'd love to have some tattoos... But aside from that... alcohol? other "adult stuff"? I don't care for those things, and I'm still really childish at times. I'm not ashamed of that, just confused, since some friends look more adult than before... Their features have hardened, and according to myself I have changed nothing! I still have a round face, my smile is really childish at times... So my question here is: Is it wrong to try and have a childish attitude at certain stuff? or, as a lot of people says... man up?
P.S Sorry if the letter is too long nwnUuu
Thnx again for everything you do!
Yang (age 18, Mexico)
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Embracing the child within all of us is rather at the heart of being a furry, in this bear’s opinion. Most furries, young and old alike, enjoy things that most “adults” have abandoned as being childish, such as TV cartoons, animated movies, comic books, and video games.
It is not “wrong” to still want to maintain that childlike fun in your life, but please do note the distinction between being “childish” and being “childlike.”
Childishness is about being immature, having temper tantrums when things don’t go your way, being selfish, being irresponsible, depending on others for basic necessities, refusing to work for a living, and so on.
But an adult who is childlike is someone who takes responsibility for him/herself, supports him/herself, and takes responsibility for his/her own actions, yet, at the same time, a childlike person enjoys fun, silliness, goofy stuff, and the joy of play. Such people don’t buy into the social pressures of “getting ahead” and “keeping up with the Joneses” (if you understand that expression in Mexico).
For the throngs of the many, being “adult” has to do with slaving away at a job to make more money, being concerned about promotions in the workplace, gaining the respect of their peers (even if they don’t like their peers), conforming to the standards of the group, and owning lots of stuff (the more expensive, the better). These are sad people who lack individuality and soul.
Many furries are rebels, rejecting “normal” society to join the culture of play and imagination and creativity.
It’s fine to be “childlike,” great even. But don’t be childish. Make sense?
I was wondering if I could get some relationship advice. Alas, I think I’ve fallen into the pitfall of online relationships. You see, I enjoy various types of role-play (RP), through which I’ve met many friends who I have friendly, but non-sexual (much of the RP is “baby-fur”) relationships with. I met a guy through a mutual friend about a month and a half ago, and this is where the relationship sort of started. After a few rounds of chatting and whatnot over two weeks or so, he asked if I liked him, and smitten, I replied yes.
My issue now is that after a while, I’m not sure I still feel the “boyfriend-style” love for him. I mean, he’s a great guy and all, but he’s so busy with housework and helping his mother and grandmother around their property that I don’t feel he’s ever available, and when he is, it’s often in a state of such exhaustion that I don’t feel that real connection with him. Compounding this, I have issues with relationships, and am absolutely a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde character within them. I’m utterly afraid of being left, and when I feel like I’m not holding all the cards in the relationship, I assume what I mockingly call my “Christian Grey” persona (From the 50 Shades of Grey character), where I seek to sort of gain that power back through being a powerful dominant. But, doing this also rather pains be, because I tend to be naturally mild and submissive, and I don’t really like to have to be that cold and emotionally detached.
So really, my issue is that he’s not really all that available, and I’m not sure whether or not to just try and detach and “friend-zone” him again (cruel as that seems), go for a straight-up breakup (hypocritically, this bothers me a lot less if I’m the one initiating the break-up), or try and save the relationship. I mean, I really do want to try a committed relationship (my only prior experience was a one-time “friends with benefits” thing that ended after a bout of sex), but I want to get something out the relationship as well. I just don’t feel like I’m a priority for him, and when we talk, it’s sort of friendly small-talk, nothing really intimate. He wants to try the long-term thing, but when he’s not really there, it’s Fox-damned hard not to feel a bit neglected. He promises that he’ll be more available in a year once he heads out to Montana State University (MSU) in the summer (he’s a fellow H.S. senior), but it’s a long ways away and I already see myself with someone else if he’s going to be this unavailable for another year (can’t see him IRL, he’s in upstate main and I’m in Northern Virginia).
I guess for me, absence doesn’t really make love fonder. Is there a course of action you’d suggest I take in this situation, or any relationship advice you might offer? My friends are rather unhelpful on this.
Kit Callaway (Age 17)
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There’s a lot going on here, and you know Papabear’s position on the viability of LDRs. From what you’re saying, there’s not even a possibility of you two being together in the near future. While you can have a virtual relationship in terms of friendship, human beings need to have a physical component for any real mate-bonding to occur. Even without that, you say in the second paragraph that you “don’t feel that real connection with him,” so my question is: why are you obsessing about this in the first place? It’s a non-issue if you don’t feel your heart strings being tugged or pulled.
That aside, what I find more intriguing about your letter (and why I’m posting this on the website instead of just answering you via email) is your psychological approach to relationships in general: your Jekyll vs. Hyde personality, as you call it. You describe yourself as generally meek and mild, but with abandonment issues. Without knowing anything about your parents, Papabear wonders if you come from a broken home or have lost parents to death or, another possibility, if you were adopted. Any of these would create understandable feelings of insecurity. Thus, when you feel a relationship is at risk you become defensive, like a cornered cat—afraid, neck fur bristling, but appearing aggressive with fangs and claws bared. Sound like you?
Therefore, going back to my earlier question as to why you are obsessing about this guy, the answer might be that you feel uncomfortable with any breakup, even if it is with a person you don’t even love that much who lives far away.
Your LDR “boyfriend” is, then, truly irrelevant to your problem (a symptom of a larger issue), though Papabear suggests you stop obsessing about him and find someone local. Downgrade him from BF to F status, but do it kindly. Your focus should instead be on how to get over your relationship insecurities, or else you will likely repeat the experience you are currently undergoing.
Why are you so insecure? Figure that out, and then you can go to the next step of unloading your emotional baggage. And, finally, when you dump that baggage you can forge ahead with confidence into new and healthier relationships.
Please feel free to write again if you wish to discuss this further.
Wishing You Love and Health,
* * *
Since you offered to discuss this further, here's the events in my life I feel relevant to this issue. If you have any questions or desire any additional information (privacy is not an issue), please feel free to shoot me another email.
Note: This is a candid account of the relevant portions of my life, and as such, contains some triggering content and frank discussions of mild sexuality (a fetish)
Your description of me as “a cornered cat—afraid, neck fur bristling, but appearing aggressive with fangs and claws bared” is pretty spot on. A bit of my personal history might be helpful in explaining this dynamic, so forgive me if I’m a bit long-winded. I do have a rather large amount of emotional baggage.
I’ve grown up solidly upper middle class, living in a single-family home in the suburbs, two BMWs in the driveway, all the games and amusements my heart desired.. “The American Dream” and all that. A mother and a father, many friends, high marks in school, everything a guy could want. So not a broken home. I’d say more a home that lacked love.
I don’t have many memories of my childhood. From my (limited) recollections and what’s been told to me over the years, I had little contact with my parents as a young child (0-6 years old). My Mother worked extremely long hours (~80 per week), so I rarely saw her (I mean literally on Saturday, once a week-if that). My Father was an alcoholic, the type that would pass out on the couch after making me dinner. So I really never had a strong bond with either of my parents. My Father overcome his alcoholism in time for my Mother to depart for a one-year tour in Iraq (2003) with her organization, but with my Father’s “hearty” meals, I soon became rather heavy (to the point where I now weigh less than I did in third grade). From this, I developed a rather unhealthy self-consciousness of my weight, as well as an emotional distance to my Mother I’ve never overcome.
During Elementary School, I had few friends, aside from my current best-friend due to shyness stemming partly from my weight and partly from a minor lisp. I found solace and comfort in books, especially “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Collier. The character of Artemis held great appeal for me, especially his complete and utter unwillingness to depend on anyone, for anything, and to use people for what he needed them for, and nothing more (I disregarded his change of heart in latter novels). At that point (fourth grade), I developed a deep depression which I hid well from my parents (along with mild-self harm tendencies, scratching, head-banging, etc.), and I would console myself by stating (I’ve forgotten the exact wording) something along the lines of “my parents don’t love me. No one loves me. I’m just using them for the things they buy me.” So for the longest time I was an island, a rock alone, invincible. From this came my “Christian Grey” persona, the man that doesn’t need love, because he has all the money and power in the world to fill that hole.
However, this persona is also balanced out by another side of me which developed a bit later, during Middle School. As my sexuality emerged, I developed a rather strong diaper fetish (not exclusive, I’m bisexual, but still quite strong). From this, I gradually developed a fascination with regression fantasies and being babied (I would consider myself a “lifestyle AB” to some extent). So the counterbalance to the rock hardness of the other persona is the persona of the two-ish year old arctic fox kit (hence the pseudonym).. (Note: this is not DID by any stretch, simply varying states of mind). So he’s sort of around to “fill-the-hole” I guess, since I honestly do not remember every enjoying being a kid-I was always the calm, adult outsider.
As best as I can tell from talk-therapy (which I do with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist), most of my security results with never having had a really secure relationship with anyone up until High School. My Mother had once admitted she regretted not having more children (I’m an only child), so I relentlessly strove for excellence. I tried to become the guy everyone envied in order to get love, except...I still feel a deep emptiness. I have abandonment issues primarily because I’ve never felt that anyone loved me for who I am, only what I’ve done and the stuff I have. I’m ordinarily quite passive, but I can’t stand having relationships “break up.” It’s not a rational thing. Simply put, I’m “successful” and conventionally attractive enough that I could probably get a warm body in my bed if I felt so inclined. But...I want more out of relationships, but I’m afraid of appearing vulnerable and admitting weakness because I fear that I’m not good enough. I’ll...never be good enough. I never feel secure enough to invest emotionally with anyone, because I’m so afraid of getting burned. Instead, I just don a mask, being whatever they want, instead of being me. My two personas are the physical manifestation of this, and who I am, genuinely, is somewhere in between. That’s perhaps the root of my insecurity, and I don’t know how to fix it.
* * *
This all makes perfect sense to me. Abandonment doesn't always have to be physical. You were emotionally and psychologically abandoned by both parents. That kind of hole in your childhood will leave life-long marks on your personality because it is during childhood that we learn (preferably from parents and other family) what love and nurturing are, and money and things and status do not fill that hole.
It also explains your interest in baby furs. You want to return to childhood, but not the childhood you had; rather, a real childhood in a nurturing environment. In other words, "if I could wave a magic wand and do it again, I would go back to childhood and have it done right."
What you need to do is find an "abandonment recovery" strategy. If you search on that term, you will find some websites you can research. There are also books such as The Emotionally Absent Mother and Black Swan: The Twelve Lessons of Abandonment Recovery that can really be helpful to you.
I suggest you explore some of these and see if they help.
* * *
I appreciate the advice. Perhaps one of these sites will have what I'm looking for.
All the best,
* * *
So tonight when I attempted to text my 'mate' tonight, I instead reached his mother. Apparently he's been distributing erotic pictures of himself, a minor, naked, to well over twenty different men, ranging in age from 14 to 62 years old. I am absolutely sorry I did not follow your advice and break up with him immediately when I expressed my doubts before. I was used, to both cheat on his real-life boyfriend of one year, and for the erotic role-play I engaged in while 'mated' to him. I would perhaps use this as a warning, that people in online relationships can absolutely not be who they say they are, and that pursuing online-only romantic relationships is utter folly. I'm done with "Tabi", and I'm feeling a bit burnt. Perhaps now is a good time to work on my own issues before pursuing another romantic relationship.
All the best, and thank you for your advice,
Hello, Papabear, it's me again.
For these last 2 weeks I been feeling very upset about something in the furry fandom. I feel like the artwork in the fandom can overshadow everything else in the fandom, like writing. Now I’m not really mad at artists, but it really burns me up when furs go look at a nude wolf rather than read a good furry story. I know I’m barking at something that can't be changed but ... how can us furry writers compete with furry art?
Werehog the Werewolf
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You’re correct that furry art gets a lot of attention in the fandom (after the art, it’s probably fursuits), but don’t write off authors yet (pun intended)! Furry writing is very important! Heck, the modern furry fandom began because of sci-fi writers who told stories about anthros. And you couldn’t have furry comic books or furry novels without writers. Good writing is important. There are few things worse than a comic by a good artist who also tries to write it him/herself but has no skill with the pen.
Furry writing is also the only one of what I call the three main furry arts—drawing, fursuiting, and writing—that crosses over to the mainstream. Many novels that nonfurries read that belong to the science fiction and fantasy genres include furry (anthro) characters. So writers are really the main artistic connection between the fandom and the mundane world.
What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means that writers stand a better chance of making money in the mundane world than do fursuiters or artists, so you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Yeah, the art (usually the porn art; do note that there are a lot of furry porn stories, too, please) gets much of the attention, but there is a huge community of furry writers out there from whom you can learn and get support (good example is the Furry Writers Guild). And there are also lots of furry boards out there where writers contribute stories and evaluate each others work. In addition, I don’t know of any furry art awards (other than at furcons), or for fursuit design or performance, but I know of at least two awards for furry writers: the Ursa Major Awards and the recently initiated Cóyotl Awards. (Actually, the Ursa Major Awards do have a category for published illustration, but the emphasis is really on furry fiction in novels, comics, graphic story [combo of art and lit, but story and character are the main consideration there] etc.)
So, you’re actually incorrect when you say that writers don’t get recognition in the fandom. They do. Check out the guild and go from there.
I appreciate your time to read my question here.
I'm a rather young furry at the age of 10 years old, I've been in the fandom since I was about 6, most of the years having not heard of the fandom itself.
Looking back, I have seemed to have a second self / fursona for a while, developing as I go. I'm into fursuits and the good side of the furry life, and hope to own a fursuit myself sometime.
Onto my problem here, I'm having a hard time explaining to anyone I'm a part of this fandom. They always say things along the lines of, “You don't draw anything but dogs!” or “It's in the name, Dog Collar.” I've had a habit of wearing an old dog collar, and feature it on my sona. It means a lot, but I haven't really told anyone. My sister, at 14 years, knows I'm into the fandom, but doesn't get the subject itself.
I'm worried if I tell my Mom / relatives, she will get the wrong idea, thinking I'm into some adult subjects at a young age. She's seen me browse through fursuit images and all, but I only got “Ah, you’re a funny child,” in the nicest way, of course.
I don't have much self-confidence, so if I were to become a fursuiter, an entertainer like I've hoped to become, I think it'd raise my esteem and social ability.
The one thing I need help with is how exactly do I explain the whole fandom to my family, and the idea of having a fursona and fursuit? Any help is highly appreciated.
Thank you. c:
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Papabear gets questions like yours all the time, and lately I have been referring writers who ask about “coming out furry” to read through past articles I have written here. But occasionally I like to re-address the subject as I come up with new ways to talk about it. Before I do, a couple notes about your letter....
It’s always nice to hear from very young cubs like you, and I hope that when you “grow up” you stay furry always; not everyfur does. I also hope that you get a fursuit some day. Now Papabear, being an American Grizzly, isn’t too familiar with furry life across the Pond, so I’m a little puzzled about the apparent complaints that you draw only dogs. Canines are the most popular furry species here in the Colonies, but perhaps not in the U.K.? It’s a silly criticism. Draw what you like and don’t worry if it doesn’t please others. You draw to please yourself. And if you like to wear a dog collar because it has special meaning to you, then by all means do so. That’s a great reason to wear one.
Now, about telling your mom about this: first off, she sounds like a kind and loving woman, so that’s great news. She already knows you dabble in this stuff and, though she finds it a bit quirky, perhaps, she seems indulgent in your uniqueness.
Since you have a rather sympathetic parent, it shouldn’t be too hard to talk about this, but you need to do so in terms she’ll understand. When it comes to fursuiting, compare it to how kids dress up for Halloween. It’s fun to pretend to be someone or something else and just exercise your imagination. You can also note that people dress up as animals to be sport mascots, or dress up as characters from Dr. Who or Star Trek or Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter to go to conventions. You can also talk about beloved children’s books involving talking animals, such as Paddington Bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, Stuart Little, and all the wonderful characters in books like Charlotte’s Web and The Wind in the Willows. People have long loved stories with animal characters in them, and being a furry is like bringing these characters to life, and more! You’re not just imitating a character some other author created, you are imagining your own fursona!
Then tell her how you’ve discovered there are a lot of people like you who enjoy imagining themselves as animal characters and that it’s fun to join in the furry fandom and talk with them.
I like how you note you were a furry before knowing about the fandom. I was the same way. But the “fandom” is not a real entity that people “join.” It is just a word that is used to describe all the people out there who share an interest in anthropomorphic animals. It’s not a cult, it’s not a club, it’s not an association, it’s not a religion, and it’s not any type of formal society. You don’t get recruited, you don’t convert to being furry, and you don’t pay membership dues. Therefore, it is not something that someone—even a parent—can “forbid” you to do because it is a part of you. So, be heartened that you will always be a furry, even if your mom or someone says you can’t be.
If for some reason, Mom goes on the Internet and finds you-know-what online, just explain to her that, like anything else, there is adult stuff and then there is G stuff. For example, if you look you can find Disney movie pornography; would she therefore forbid you to watch Frozen? (Rule 34: if it exists, there is porn made about it). You’re a kid and have absolutely no interest in the naughty bits. If your mom is nervous about that, invite her willingly to observe everything you do with the fandom and show you have nothing to hide. The best way to ease a parent’s anxiety is to be completely open and honest about your life. It sounds like you and Mom have a good relationship, so this should not pose any difficulty for you.
I hope that helps, Rajiko.
[Please, once you post this, I want you to tell your readers to please respect my religious views and to not say anything offensive about it... I am tired of people not respecting that I am a very devout Christian. Also, keep me anonymous. <3 Thank you. All names have been changed to further protect identities.]
I dunno if you remember me, but I wrote to you privately a couple of years ago for a situation I had with my boyfriend, who I will call Lion. He was playing with me and another girl who I thiiink I called Vixen, but I´m not sure. Then, I went on telling you how he played with both but he slowly realized his wrong doings and changed, left Vixen, and stayed with me, and we became official on December 10th. We are currently saving up to get married, but the thing is that things have turned upside down in the recent months, and I really need some advice.
So. Right after my last letter, things went normally. He kept getting closer to me and for a moment I really thought he had changed. He began to tell me these beautiful things, that he really wanted to get married with me, to have children with me, and to live with me until we were old and death made us part. He was really making me excited and beyond happy, because I thought that he had finally changed for the better. I fell more and more in love with him, believing every lie he told me. I blindly believed in everything that came out of his mouth. I recognize that you may not believe in God like many of the furs that will read this letter, but I have to include Him in this letter because He plays a big part in the situation.
There was something that kept telling me in my heart that I should not trust him completely. There was something off about all of this, and just when I thought that maybe it was me, Lion began to talk with a girl, whom I will call Foxy. Supposedly, Lion and Foxy were friends 10 years ago, and they recently found each other again because he works where she lives. They began talking first randomly, then consistently, and I started to grow more and more uncomfortable as time passed by. And I remember waking up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding on my chest because something told me to be careful about their "way too friendly" relationship. Something began to bug me to much, and every time I asked him, he got annoyed. I began to suspect again about his behavior, and every time I tried to know what was going on, ask him or anything, he denied everything, told me that I was being jealous and that there was no reason for me to be so. They were friends after all.
After some time, I began to notice that the frequency of which he spoke to her began to only increase. Sometimes he went out of the house just to talk with her and if I went to him to find out what he was doing he got mad with me, telling me I was eavesdropping and that I was acting childish. However, I kept quiet, waiting to see if I was only having some nightmares all over again.
So, here's how God enters the picture. There is this man, in his middle to late sixties, that began to go to my church. He came out of nowhere, and just sat down there, visiting, listening. We noticed that he was very nice, but he was too eerily observant. We began to form a bond with him, and to talk with him often, making him known that he was welcome in our church. So, one night, Lion and I were cuddling, when suddenly my mother comes out crying with her phone on her ear, and I immediately stood up. She told me that this man had felt God move him into paying for a great majority of my wedding stuff, like the dress, veil, cake, center, tables, chairs, etc. Turns out he was a millionaire that goes from church to church to bless those that he feels that God wants to bless monetarily. We are right now facing a really bad economical crisis, so when the news came, I was moved to tears. I was so excited and happy, and I couldn´t believe what was happening. It was too good to be true.
But... instead of him being happy, he was shocked. He seemed more shocked than happy. I was like, "are you happy?" and he barely could speak. He was like, shocked, then worried, then shocked again. I ignored it, because he may have been worried or shocked for any reason, but I shrugged it off.
Time passed, and he began to grow a little bit cold. He didn't kiss me like before, he didn't treat me like he did, and he began to get more and more distant. And now, here's the touchy subject of the letter. One day, he left his phone on my car, and before he noticed, I grabbed the opportunity to check his phone, because I was really beginning to suspect something with this Foxy girl. I began to check his messages, and to my unpleasant surprise, I found out that he is sexting with Foxy, telling her things that I shall not repeat. I was heartbroken, yet I didn´t say anything. I returned him his phone and left.
One day, he had a car accident, and began having a big pressure in his job. He was without his car for one month, and it was in this very moment that he made a drastic change. He never came home, he barely went out with me and when he did he seemed very distant and cold, he sometimes didn't call me all day, and when I called him he always seemed busy... He began to get into a depression, and at first I thought it was because of all of this. But then, when he got his car back and things in his job were better, he kept being "depressed." I asked him countless of times what was wrong, what did I do wrong, and he said nothing. He stopped going to church that sudden, and he began to grow much colder day by day. Then, one day, I began to cry, and told him to tell me what was going on. He told me that he didn't feel the same in the relationship and that he was beginning to doubt his feelings. I was so crushed. He said that he didn't leave me "because it wasn't fair for you, for your parents and for the kind man that is paying for our wedding," but not because he loves me. So, I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said that he wanted to work things out.
I kept seeing him more and more distant, and I could literally feel a very uncomfortable energy that oozed out of him in the scattered days we were together. It is like a very strong heat that I can feel coming out of his body and it drains me and it makes me feel weak. I saw him worse and worse, until this Sunday, November 8th, I couldn't stand it anymore. He came to church, and he was very quiet, very distant and very cold. My mom, dad, him and me went to eat after church, and he was quiet, not speaking a word. His mind was not there with us at all. He was quiet, and he was not interacting with me at all. We went home, and I told him I was tired. I demanded explanations. What was wrong? What happened? And he told me the same thing. I told him I didn't believe that was the only thing, because his car was fixed and that his job was back to normal, so there was no reason to feel this way. After an hour of interrogating him, he told me that he didn't love me anymore.
In that exact moment he told me that, I felt a wave of peace enter my body. I cannot say anything else but that it is of supernatural origin because I could not be standing right now if it wasn't for this odd peace. I would be destroyed, shattered to pieces, but I'm not. I feel strong and peaceful. Anyway, he began to cry, he hugged me, and he then told me everything else he had to say. But I know there is something he isn't telling me, because you can't suddenly stop loving someone you've been with for four years. There must be another reason. I asked him if he wanted to stop the relationship, but he said no, so right now, we're almost mentally separated but the relationship's still there.
I thought that he wanted to work things out, but apparently, this was all part of a plan.
So, I logged in to his Facebook this morning [November 10th, on our 11th monthaversary] and I found a message in which it said, "But I'll love you forever baby," to Foxy. Apparently, this Foxy girl was forcing him to leave me so that they could be together. All this was planned, and because he couldn't get away with it, now she doesn't talk to him that much, he wants to get back with me. Keep in mind that this Foxy girl is really problematic, has a kid, and has a very obsessive and abusive on-again-off-again boyfriend that is the father of the child, and she still has feelings for him. My boyfriend is like her lover, so to speak. How wonderful is that?
The thing is I'm tired. I'm really tired, y'know? I think I have denigrated myself as a woman thousands of times, asking for love when love is not asked for but given. I am tired, and this situation has only made me stronger. And did God go wrong? No, actually. I actually believe God allowed all of this so that his true colors would come out, freeing me from committing my entire life to a complete lady's man, ending in my total unhappiness [I am extremely loyal and I expect the same from my partner.] and possible sickness because I know that he is having sex with Foxy and like two or three more girls. I know that maybe God allowed all of this so I would open my eyes and see that he wasn't the one for me. However, we are still together. I want to leave him, but knowing him, I don't want him to tell people that I left him because I was a crazy, frenetic jealous madwoman, but I want him to not have any excuse to give, because he has no excuse for his behavior. I have never loved anyone as much as him, and all I get in return is this betrayal. And it hurts, Papa Bear. But there is a strong sense of peace that I cannot explain. It is like something, or more accurately, God does not want me to fall down and cry over him because he is not worth it. He is an hypocrite, a pathological liar, and he does not deserve my love. at. all.
However, I dunno what to do, really. I don't know what to say or think. But from my point of view, the relationship is over. I am giving myself importance, growing my self esteem, and playing hard-to-get, because I'm tired. He even forgot that today was our monthaversary. Now it looks like he is changing his mind, and he is constantly calling me, asking me what I'm doing or how am I, because he sees a change in me. I'm always doing the same mistakes of begging for love and it really tires me like you have no idea. I deserve much better than this, don't you think, Papa Bear? I deserve so much better than this. I've been good to him. I've given him food and water, kept him warm in the cold, and helped him financially too, and I have helped him in the good and in the bad. In sickness and in health. And I have seen everything he does and I have forgiven him countless times only to see him return to his previous behavior. I am sick, tired and I want to live my life, with or without him. So, what should I do, Papa Bear? Am I taking the right decisions? Or what should I really do?
Anonymous (age 20)
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First, a note: Papabear would never mock or condemn someone’s religious beliefs (one God, many paths), and if a visitor to this website posted a negative comment about your Christian beliefs, I would quickly remove it from the site (I monitor all comments pretty much daily).
I am very sorry to hear of this development in your relationship with Lion. Your last letter to me was so hopeful and now we take this downturn. I grieve for you.
There are two kinds of people who write to my column, I have noticed: the first kind are people who are genuinely confused and need a little help being pointed in the right direction; the second kind are people like you who actually know what to do but don’t trust their own judgment, so they are looking for a little validation to feel better about their decisions.
While I believe in giving people second chances (and it seemed in your ealier letter that Lion had turned over a new leaf), there is validity in the expression “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
I would not be surprised if the man in your church who gave you the money was sent by God, not so much as to give you a nice start to your marriage but, rather, to poke the Lion and show him for his true colors, which is what happened. When Lion found out about the generous gift, he freaked out. He is the kind of person who takes advantage of others. He fools around with Foxy and other ladies because they give him sex; he swears “loyalty” to you and professes that he wants to be with you because he sees you as a safe haven, someone who supports him emotionally and, apparently, financially. In short, he is a sweet-talking user.
Honey, you and I already know you deserve better. This guy has manipulated you for years. The fact that you have stayed with him demonstrates an unhealthy codependence on your part. Perhaps you fear you will not find love again? Well, you haven’t found it in the first place, because Lion is not a genuine soul and he is not someone you should waste any more of your young life with.
You have given him your heart and he has crushed it twice. Don’t give him a third chance.
Do you really need me to validate what you already know? If so, you have Papabear’s blessings to shove this guy out the door and let that door smack him on the behind on his way out. I am hopeful that in this time you have learned some self-respect. You deserve someone whose heart matches yours. I am truly sorry Lion has turned out this way. Lion, actually, is an apt animal for him (look up sexual behaviors of African lions online and you’ll see why).
What do you do? Tell him you are tired of being used. Tell him you are tired of his lies. Tell him that in this game, it is two strikes and you’re out, not three. Dump the bum! Please!
Hey Papabear and gang,
I'm often getting in contact with furs I've never met before, typically on Twitter. I love getting to know new furs, but I've started to notice a lot of furs who tend to, for lack of a better term, creep me out a bit, whether it's by contacting me way more than normal or just saying/asking creepy things (one example was a fur asking where I lived).
Being my pitiful self, I have problems telling people to back off, because I don't want to come off as rude. At the same time, though, I don't want to block them, because I also don't want to come off as rude (you may be picking up on a pattern there), but I get uncomfortable talking to them.
How would you suggest dealing with furs who are being a bit creepy without seeming like a total fuzzy jerkface?
Sil (age 16)
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Everyone has a different definition of “creepy.” What is “too much” when it comes to being contacted? If it’s every hour, then yes, that’s too much, but if it’s once a day, is that creepy? And asking where a person lives isn’t so bad, so long as it isn’t a street address, unless you’re actually going to visit someone or send them a birthday gift. You’re 16, so I’m guessing you’re a bit new to the fandom and perhaps don’t understand that furries tend to be more affectionate than mundanes, so please take that into account.
I sense, too, that you are shy and have low self-esteem. You therefore might not have been prepared for the onslaught of furry friendliness and are misinterpreting it as us being a bunch of stalkers or something.
Unless someone is making an unwanted sexual advance at you, Papabear’s suggestion is that you take this “creepiness” for what it really is: genuine interest in you and in making friends.
Now, if you do get an unwanted sexual advance, all you need to do to not be rude is say something like, “I’m really flattered by your interest in me, but I’m not looking for something sexual. Just looking to make some furiends, ok?”
Most furries are cool and will say okay. The other reactions might be undignified pouting or begging (just ignore this) or, more unpleasant, aggressive demands (very rare). If you get the latter, that is the time to block someone and/or report them to a site administrator. That’s not rude, that’s protecting yourself (and others) from someone who needs to better control his sexual urges.
Hope that answers your question!
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.