I have been having on-again-off-again thoughts on completely leaving the furry fandom for a couple of weeks recently.
I’ve been part of the furry community for about six years and got to know a couple good friends. I appreciated all of the good aspects the fandom has to offer during this time. However, I feel like my interests are changing as I get older, and I find myself enjoying it less and less. My trust issues started deteriorating even more because of these thoughts. I don’t want to cause any hard feelings with those friends in this fandom if I do decide to leave.
When we’re young, we think that things can last forever ... but they don’t. I know that life changes, people change, and everything changes overtime. It can be hard to accept at times, but moving on from something you no longer enjoy can be for the better.
I also am aware of the negative stigma around furries, and I stay away from all of the toxic parts of the community as much as possible. I haven’t really told people in real life about my furry-ism out of extreme fear that I might lose friends. It leads me to have serious social anxiety and me always feeling very reserved around others.
Nowadays, I honestly don’t know if I should stay in a fandom like this for the rest of my life. I’ve been part of it for so long that I don’t know how to quit. Sometimes I keep asking myself: “Do I really want to dedicate my time and energy into this any longer? Is it time to move on?”
So I ask you, Papabear: If I ever want to leave the furry community and move on with my life, how should I properly do so?
Anonymous (age 21)
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There are a few ways in which the furry fandom is unique from other fandoms, and the whole "I'm leaving the fandom" thing is one of them. You never hear someone say, "I'm leaving the Whovians" or "I'm formally announcing I'm no longer a Trekker," but when it comes to furries somehow it's a big, drama-inducing deal.
So let me set your mind at ease. If you don't want to do furry stuff anymore, just stop doing it. It's only a big deal if you make it a big deal. It's not like you're leaving the mob and we're going to track you down and make you sleep with the fishes. It's just a fandom, okay?
Look, in my opinion, there are two types of people in the fandom: 1) people who call themselves furry because being furry is a part of them; it's who they are, and they can't "stop" being furry any more than you can "stop" being a Homo sapiens. It's in your genes. 2) people who got into the fandom kind of as a hobby and because it was a way to socialize with fun and crazy people, but they don't have truly fuzzy hearts. Some of them, frankly, just got into it for the porn; some got into it for the gaming; some liked the fursuits. But then they "grow up" and decide that the fandom is just childish and they have lost interest. This typically happens to hobbyists when they reach their twenties, or finish college, get a job etc. Sounds to me like you are in this second type.
I'm not trying to shame you, not at all. You're just not a dyed-in-the-wool furry. You had some fun with it, made some friends, all good. Now you're done with it (or soon will be) and ready to be an "adult" (whatever the heck that means). So, as to your question on how one gracefully bows out, well, first of all, don't make a scene. Don't make a huge dramatic announcement on the social sites that "I'm leaving the fandom." That just comes off as vain and needy. Secondly, this doesn't mean you have to lose your furry friends. I would contact all the friends with whom you have close ties and say, "Hey, I've kind of lost interest in doing furry stuff and won't be active in the fandom anymore, but I'm grateful to have you as a friend and I hope we can continue to be friends...." Make sure they have your contact information and you can talk to them on Messenger or the phone or whatever. You can then be a "furry friend" who hangs with furries but really is not one himself. This is totally doable and can be rewarding. My late husband fell into this category. My fursuit maker, Beastcub, is not a furry but simply a person who enjoys making fursuits.
So, that's how you do it. Don't be dramatic. Keep the friends you want to keep. Move on with your life, and may it be a happy one.
I recently made my own fursuit, and hey! It's not too bad! But ... where can I fursuit? I fursuited on Halloween, and it was fun. Everyone liked it! Yay! I had some other ideas. are these good?
1: Wearing it whenever we have a yard sale
2: Bday parties
3: Making funny YouTube videos
4: To friend group's Christmas parties
5: To the city park
6: On a walk.
Those are just my ideas, but I really need your advice!
Ozzy the Party Parrot (age 13)
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Congrats on making your first fursuit! Is it a parrot like your fursona? Neat :-) Let's start with a look at places NOT to wear a fursuit, first. Because your face and identity are concealed, the first thing to remember is not to go traipsing into a bank or government facility because you'll be tackled by security guards! It is also not advisable to wander into a place of business with your head covered without the business owner's permission for pretty much the same reason (this is why you might see furries wearing ears and tails but not a head at a store). Now, if you inform a business owner ahead of time, and they say okay, that's fine. Public parks can be hit or miss. For example, the San Diego Furries meet and fursuit at places like Balboa Park with no problem, but I have a furiend up in the Bay Area who once got approached by police for suiting in a park there because someone reported a suspicious person. So, when it comes to parks, do a little research up front or go with a group of furries who have organized an event. I would check ahead, too, before suiting at fairs and festivals to make sure the organizers knew I was going to be there (e.g., I've been thinking of fursuiting at the Palm Springs Street Fair, but I would check with them before I did so). Wearing what is essentially a mask in public has a history of issues related to what's going on in our society. For example, the rise of terrorism has made authorities very suspicious of people concealing their faces in public places; on the other hand, with COVID around everyone has to wear a mask. Wutcha gonna do? It's confusing. So, rule of thumb: always plan ahead and make sure it's okay before you fursuit in a public place or business.
Let's move on to ideas for good places to fursuit. Besides furcons and meets, going to related activities is a great alternative. For example, a lot of furries suit at Renaissance Faires. Comic book conventions are also a sweet place, as are related cons like anything related to anime, sci-fi, and fantasy. Wearing your fursuit on Halloween is also perfect (as you found out). Of course, anything to do with fursuiting on your own property or in the homes of friends and family is absolutely fine, so that covers your ideas about yard sales, birthday parties, and Christmas parties, as well as doing anything online like making YouTube videos. Taking a "walk" in fursuit kind of depends, as noted above, as to where you are walking. If you walk around your own neighborhood, that's probably fine, and I have never heard of anyfur getting in trouble for doing that.
Thanks for your question! Happy Fursuiting!
It’s me again; hope you’re doing well. As of now I am a senior in high school, and after I graduate I’m moving from New Jersey to North Carolina for college. Now I do love NC. In fact I’m here right now as school is remote and I can still attend online. My parents are retiring in a beautiful home at St. James Plantation and have made many friends there which I get on with. I love the little town of Southport that’s nearby, and the cute little beaches and local restaurants and stores all about. I’m also quite looking forward to college, as I’ve visited several campuses already, and though I know I may still be virtual, I’m excited for the opportunity to grow and learn more about myself. My boyfriend is even going to be moving down here from Illinois too, and although we’ll still be a few hours away, it’s better than being states apart. All things considered, things are going good for the most part.
However, I can’t shake that feeling of sadness when I think of living here. I’ve lived in New Jersey all my life. It’s where I spent my childhood years and has shaped me so far as the person I am now. I love the pretty forests and rolling hills, I love the winding roads through the countryside, I love how the towns have such a rustic, nostalgic feel, and the comfort I experience from knowing them so well. I love the friends and memories I’ve made there, and I’m glad I had the childhood I did. I know I’m going to have to leave a lot of that and more behind, and I’m not sure how to cope with it. I’m not deeply depressed mind you, but the last time I moved was when I was 9, and it was only 45 minutes away. With how long you’ve been around, I think it’s safe to assumed you’ve moved at least a few times, as I know it’s a common experience. What should I do to help accept and (try to) heal these emotions?
Galaxy (age 17)
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Nice to hear from you again and thanks for the update. To answer your question, what you are experiencing is simply nostalgia for the past. Yes, I have moved a LOT. I was born in Boston and have moved nine times, living in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and California. So, I know something about moving.
The bad thing about moving a lot is that you never have a town or city you really feel is your home town. If someone asks me my home town, I say where I am now, and if they say, "No, where did you grow up?" I say "all over" because no place feels like home to me.
My first word of advice: Count yourself lucky that you grew up in a very stable environment, and the result is you will always feel like New Jersey is your true home. That's nice. That's really really nice. As you get a bit older, you will appreciate that more. And that treasure trove of memories of the two homes you lived in, your family, friends, schools, that is always a part of you, and that is beautiful because it sounds like you had a very good childhood (message to Galaxy's parents: Good job, you two!).
Now you are in North Carolina, and it appears you like that, which is super duper! You have a whole world to explore, new friends to meet, new experiences to take in, new things to learn. The thing about growing older is you have two choices in this regard: you can stay in your little home town all your life, grow old and die there; or you can go out into the world and have new experiences and meet new people, which will open your eyes a lot to different points of view and make you smarter, to boot. There is nothing wrong about being a homey all your life, but it has the very real danger of making one too colloquial and too set in their ways. My mother used to tell a story about her first time in Abilene, Texas, to meet my father's family. Now, my mom had already traveled quite a bit at this point, including Europe. She asked a few of the Abilene residents if they had traveled, too, and they replied invariably, "Why travel when we have everything we need here?" Well, sure, you have food and home and church and friends all there, but you don't know anything about people who are different from you, and that can make you very narrow-minded and inflexible to change, and this is not healthy. (And no, watching TV is not just as good as traveling). Do you know what stays in one place all its life? A vegetable. Animals move. Be an animal.
Cherish your past memories; stay in touch with the friends you can (most people lose touch, but that is up to you and them; you still have the memories); remember the lessons learned and use them as information that can help you with the new challenges you face today. Someday, you will leave North Carolina (but probably come back to see your parents) to get a job or marry or just explore, and then you can look back at North Carolina and your college days and appreciate and learn from them as well.
The solution to your problem is attitude. Do not look at your yearning for Jersey as something that has to be healed or accept. No. The fact you feel that way indicates you had a great past and you should always love it. You don't have to fix that because there is nothing wrong with it. There is nothing to "heal" from. You're not wounded. You're fine.
Go out and explore life! Yay for you! Time to get excited about the future and all it holds!
I just wanted to ask about furry cons, even though covid-19 is currently happening right now, I'm still really curious about it and haven't gotten many answers. Like are most conventions only 18+ to go to? Are there furry events in shops around (like cafes stores etc.)? And also advice on what's best to do at cons, like best travel and hotels if covid ends. I wanna be prepared.
Cookie (age 13)
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Dear Cookie (love that name),
That's a great question, thanks for asking. When COVID-19 eases up (and it will; they already have two very promising vaccines in the test stage, as well as treatments being developed), furcons should make a comeback in 2021 and 2022. What a joyous occasion that will be! I'm registered to attend Biggest Little Furcon in Reno, and it's been delayed a couple times and is now hopefully going to occur in June, so here's hoping.
Most furcons with which I am familiar are kid-friendly. While, yes, there is adult art in the artists' den and in the marketplace, these things are restricted to those 18 and older, and you will not be allowed inside those areas, so you can enjoy the rest of the marketplace and art shows without worry. Everything else at furcons--events, parades, forums--are G-rated. Occasionally, there will be a forum that is for adults, but those will be clearly marked on a program and, of course, someone your age would not be allowed inside the lecture room in those cases.
Some cons also have tracks specifically designed for youth (e.g. Furry Migration), and all furcons have rules laid out on their websites about minors. These usually involve the fact that you need permission from a parent or legal guardian to attend, pay for the registration, and pay for the room.
Most furcons are held at hotels and convention centers, but some have different settings, such as campgrounds. If you are looking for small events (you mention meeting at a coffee shop) then what you want is called a "furmeet." These are small parties or activities organized by a local furry group. They plan things like house parties, bowling events, going to movies or parks, and so on. You might try Meetup to see if there is a regular furmeet near you, or search on social sites to find local furry groups.
Because cons are held in cities all over the world, I can't really advise you on what travel and hotel options are best without knowing where you intend to go. I would advise that you check out the website of the con you wish to attend, see if they have a youth track, and contact the person in charge of events to ask about best things to do there. I would, if I were your age, attend forums to learn more about the fandom, visit the marketplace, visit the artists' den, show your parents around so they can see that furry is a lot of fun. And try to meet people and make furiends.
If you have more specific questions, feel free to write again.
Welcome to the fandom!
I have a hard time having sympathy for furries. I feel less and less care when met with news of a furry experiencing financial problems, or worse. This is not without reason, however. I have suffered sexual abuse, less than a year ago. It has opened my eyes to how disgusting the fandom is, and how rare it is to find a furry that isn't a horrible, nearly irredeemable person.
I feel that most furries feed into the culture that caused my naivety back then, and helped a predator blend in within the fandom. The cuddliness of the fandom, I loathe it. Everyone gets in their beds with mere friends and rub on each other like partners. I feel that people like that, even those who do it in roleplay, assist predators. Their actions I feel contribute to creating naivety in minors by making relationship-tier affection something just "friendly". Don't even get me started on lewd interaction.
I have been attacked for bringing this up. Everyone is so okay with the fandom normalizing predatory behavior. Maybe I am wrong? I don't want to be okay with hearing that a furry is in pain because they are likely the type of furry I was referring to. Everyone is so okay with this. My question is, am I wrong for thinking this way? Am I a bad person? I recognize your lack of qualification for help with mental illnesses, and I am not coming here with them being fixed in mind, but having another opinion would be helpful.
Anonymous (age 15)
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The prevalence of sex in the fandom through art and social interactions is definitely a thing, and I understand your concerns. I am very sorry to hear that you were a victim of sexual abuse. There is never an excuse for that.
I would not condemn the fandom as a whole because of your bad experiences, however. I myself have had very positive experiences and have made many friends in the fandom. In my humble opinion, the fandom is what you make of it (which is true of anything). I am not blaming you for being a victim of sexual abuse (please don't think that), but I am saying that one must be careful about the company one keeps. If one marches into the fandom naively (as you might have) and unprepared for what one might find, then yes, you could find yourself among the wrong kind of furry. You are 15 years old and should not be seeking out X-rated stuff, whether that is furry or not. As you likely know, thousands of youngsters are victims of sexual abuse and predation OUTside the fandom. The internet can be a dangerous place, and one should be cautious at all times.
So, don't blame the fandom per se. You will find bad people everywhere, not just in the furry world. That said, you are certainly justified to be upset by what happened to you, and again, I am so sorry you went through that!
You don't mention your family, but I think this is something you should discuss with your parents. There are some sites online you can read up on internet safety, too, such as Internet Safety 101 at https://internetsafety101.org/internetpredators. And it's not just safety from sex predators, but also trolls and scammers who want to steal your money and your identity. So, watch out for people who beg for money (something you also indicated happened to you).
But getting back to the fandom. This is a topic I am discussing more fully in my book, but the reason the fandom can be a particularly tricky place is because it is a refuge for a lot of troubled people. Many young people struggling with sexual- and self-identity issues come to the fandom to seek some release and freedom and companionship. This can, at times, lead to misbehavior. Or, at least, what a lot of people would consider misbehavior. It is a highly complex issue because people are complex, and the fandom has grown to hundreds of thousands of furries all over the world. Learning to navigate such a huge social maze can be tricky. You need to become adept at reading clues that can signal if someone is lying to you. Here's a little tip sheet on that: https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-lying-to-you-online-or-in-a-text/news-story/f76033116da0964f2565d5a0d0180812.
All that being said, I will conclude here that if you, personally, do not feel safe interacting with members of the fandom, then by all means don't. The furry fandom is supposed to be a place of fun and fantasy, not terror and mistrust. Most people have a great time doing furry stuff, but if you have come to hate it, then there is certainly no law that says you have to be a furry. Your safety and happiness are more important than that. But, after reading what I have said, you want to try again, then feel free to do so carefully, and write me at any time.
Finally, if you haven't already sought help for sexual abuse, please consider talking to someone. There is a sexual abuse hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).
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.