How have you been? Merry Christmas!
I come to you with a question about an incident which has shocked me quite a lot. As you are probably already aware, this year's MFF convention suffered what many consider to be a 'terrorist attack'. Someone unleashed chlorine gas which caused the evacuation of the hotel, disrupted the convention and sent 19 people to hospital.
Now, I am perfectly aware that the fandom is not lacking in haters. I have even stopped trying to explain what the fandom is when asked, due to the fact that most people are already influenced by third parties to think that all furries are perverts and whatnot. The only answer I give nowadays is “If you are not part of the fandom, you won't understand. So do not bother.”
I, for one, am perplexed with my own reaction to non-Furries. A few years ago, I would love to explain the fandom to others. About a furry's fondness of anthropomorphic animals, cartoons, art, and others. But every time I go online nowadays I find myself intoxicated with hate messages. Messages saying that all furries suffer from autism, or have mental disabilities, or are zoophiles. And that makes me feel like a freak. Just because I love the fandom and I love to be a Furry.
In the end, these repetitive incidents made me a bitter Furry. I antagonize non-Furry people with ease as soon as I am asked about the Furry Fandom, for I immediately think 'Potential hater right here!'
And now, the attack on MFF only increased my bitterness, especially because I keep seeing people post comments such as “The guy who did this deserves a medal!” or “You only hospitalized 19? Try harder!” Only one thought flows through my mind. Revenge. If we are being attacked, should we not fight back? I do not mean that we should respond with violence (although I really want to), but should we not find some sort of deterrent to prevent possible future attacks? The best defense is a good offense, yes?
I need your help to figure out how to change my attitude to non-Furry people. How can I go back to being optimistic about non-Furry people instead of despising them due to generalizations and misconceptions?
Thank you, and once again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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Many furries know about the incident at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont, Illinois, but for those who don’t, please read the post on the Midwest Fur Fest site here: http://furfest.org/index.php.
I think this is a good letter to end 2014 with because we can talk about some serious stuff here. Let me begin by saying that we should never assume guilt on anyone’s part without knowing the facts, and the facts of this case (who did it) have yet to be revealed. The person who set off that primitive chlorine device could have been a mundane or another furry. Some furries, you know, can be butt-munchers. It might have been a furry being pissed off at other furries and doing something very stupid and harmful while in a drunk and stupid state of mind.
So, before you go out seeking revenge—violent or otherwise—don’t go off half-cocked.
Even if the perp is some nasty mundane person, violence and revenge are never the answer. Once you start down that path, the result is an endless cycle of hurting, revenge, more hurting. It’s easy to provide examples of this, such as what has been going on in the Middle East for generations and the continued racial tensions in this country.
Only a few great men, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, have advocated the real solution to the violence cycle, and that is organized mass nonviolent protest. Imagine, if you would, if people finally got fed up with the Koch Brothers, Congress, the Waltons, the Rothschilds, etc., turned off their TVs and all together refused to work, buy gasoline, go to Walmart, attend sporting events and movies, and just sat down and said, “We’re not going to be your wage slaves anymore. You must fix this broken government and stop giving every advantage to the 1% or this country will collapse under the united weight of the people.” What are they going to do? Bring in the National Guard? And do what? Start beating and shooting people who are just sitting around? Throw us in prison? Confine us in football stadiums like they did in New Orleans? Even though the powerful elite have the police and army on their side, less than 1% of the population of this country constitutes “law enforcement” and the military. We are the 99% and if we would wake up we could create a sea change.
Similarly, if you are upset with mundanes, violence is not the answer. Education can go a long way. For example, I am starting work on The Furry Book, which I intend to be a guide to the fandom for furries and nonfurries alike. I understand there’s another furry out there doing the same thing, which is fine. The more books the merrier :-) Even so, and even if such books help make people understand us more, there will always be some prejudice and misunderstanding.
That said, I must say this as well: compared to, oh, say, 400 years of slavery and another century and more of injustice that the black community has endured in this country, we certainly have nothing to complain about. Not to lightly dismiss the people injured, but a chlorine gas bomb and some people calling us furverts or retards or social rejects in no way compares to the incredible injustices perpetrated against minorities in this country. From African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics and Asians to women, the poor, and the LGBT community, U.S. history is a study in injustice slathered in a thick, sugary frosting of haughty self-righteousness and blind patriotism. Even so, incredibly, this is still one of the best countries to live in because we have, in many ways, improved over the centuries (although recently we’re seeing our progress take a step backward). The stability of this nation depends upon the wisdom of the Constitution, which must be vigorously defended. Our salvation rests on the hope that the populace will not remain apathetic to what is happening and that we will—hopefully soon—rise up against the current problems facing our nation, the most important of which is the division between a small, tyrannical, self-entitled, wealthy elite and the majority of our citizens.
The purpose of my digression here is to give you some perspective. The troubles of the furry fandom are minor, at best. By and large, acceptance of furries is growing. We have conventions all over the U.S. and the world, and mundanes are starting to see some economic advantages to this—and we all know that money talks. If you walk into a diner wearing a fursuit, you might hear some giggles, but the manager isn’t going to tell you he won’t serve you food, and there are no signs on bathroom doors or water fountains saying “no furries.”
I’m a bit puzzled, admittedly, by your apparent experience with hatred from the mundanes. I don’t know where you are going on the Internet to get such reactions, but I have not had such a negative experience myself. My experience has ranged from fascination and acceptance to, at worst, puzzlement, amusement, and indifference. No active hatred. I might suggest you take a look at the sources of this ire and develop a new strategy for how you interact with people on the Internet.
In closing, I disagree with your statement that the best defense is a strong offense, if you mean that the offense is designed to hurt other people. If, on the other hand, you mean a strong offense of education, love, and patience, I would concur.
As we close the book on 2014, let’s try to take a lesson from its pages. There is enough hatred in this world that we do not need to add to it. When we let other people’s actions harden are hearts and souls, when we allow them to make us fearful, bitter, or angry, then we have already lost the battle.
My wish to you and all my friends out there, furry and not, is that you find a way to fill your hearts with love. On the surface, that might sound naive and simplistic, but, actually, it is the most hard-won strategy of them all. A wise man once said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Over 2,000 years later, most of us still need to learn that lesson.
Love you all. Happy New Year!
I just want to say in advance thank you for taking the time to read this. And now on to the question!
I've been having a very emotional time in my dating life right now: my feelings for an ex coming back, new people all in my life. And I have a hard time saying “No” to people; and what it has resulted in is my being in 2 relationships and my ex being with someone else I was almost with. So I feel like my whole world has been shoved in my face all of a sudden. My question is: how do I magically fix all of this? Well, really my question is: how do I go about fixing my issue?
The two I'm with right now trust me to the ends of the earth, and one of them is underage. And I don't really want that. The other has been hitting rock bottom to being homeless, and I don't want to just leave her when she is at an almost all-time low. As for my ex, he isn't having a very good relationship with this other person; he has been talking to me, asking for help about what to do, which has been a little awkward for me, but I want him to be happy. I care about him very much and I trust him over anyone else in this world.
I feel like I've made a lot of mistakes in the past few months and I feel trapped, like I have nowhere to go. I want to be with my ex, but I don't want to hurt everyone. So, I'll restate my question, since I've talked a good bit more. How do you think I should tackle my problem? I realized I might not be able to be with my ex, but I don't want to keep feeling trapped like this. Please help me.
* * *
Reading your letter—and correct me if I am wrong—it sounds as if you are not hugely in love with either the underage person or the one who has hit rock bottom, but, rather, you want to get back with your ex, who seems to want to get away from the person he’s with at the moment.
First what you do is you state, in your heart, what you really want. My assumption in this letter will be that you want to get back with your ex and break it off with the other two and that your ex wants to leave his current partner (at least, romantically).
Breaking up with someone is never easy, but if you don’t truly love them then you are doing them a disservice by pretending to love them. If I were you, I would first break up with the underage person, telling them that they are underage and you aren’t comfortable with that, and also that you want to be with someone your own age. As for the other person, there is no reason you can’t be there for them and be supportive as a friend; you don’t have to be a lover to do that.
You are a lot like Papabear in this way: you are a people pleaser and worry that other people are happy to the point of not worrying about your own happiness. This is something you and I need to work on. Intellectually, I know that my happiness is also important, but I am so empathically attuned to others that I feel their pain when they are not happy. Perhaps you feel this way, too, but we both need to learn that we can be kind to others without sacrificing our own happiness.
After you talk to the other two, you should then talk to your ex. Ask him if, perhaps, the two of you might have made a mistake and if he might want to get back together. You know, just because you broke up doesn’t mean it has to be permanent. People make mistakes sometimes, but if the opportunity is there, you might be able to fix them.
Feeling “trapped” clearly indicates you are not happy with how things are going. Yes, it can be scary, and sometimes very sad, to break up with someone, but sometimes it is for the best for all parties concerned. With luck, it will lead to your being with the right person at last.
Wishing You Love,
Okay, be prepared to read a wild tale.
I am a female Brony (or Pegasister, if you rather) who married a furry 6 months ago. I appreciated the furry culture before, and since I met my furry mate, I have been trying to create roleplays and the like that I think he would enjoy. My problem is that he doesn't like ponies (which I respect) -- unless it's vore. I don't know your feelings on vore, but I want to be able to please him. It's just difficult to simulate in real life and I'm having trouble coming up with things to say and do that will help his fetish. It's also difficult to truly immerse ourselves into the fantasy because we can't afford props or suits to play in. I call him my puppy and have taken the dominant role in our relationship, which is great for his submissive personality and for daily life, but I have trouble being the predator when it comes to our bedroom. How can I accommodate him? Do you have any advice on how I could gain enough confidence to be what he needs me to be? I've always been submissive before I met him, so I'm having trouble being on the other side of the whip. Please help!
Brofists and hugs,
* * *
The specific fetishes etc. that you’re talking about here are irrelevant. It is also irrelevant whether or not you have the necessary props to perform a fantasy, since good role players can perform fantasies with or without such physical objects (remember, 90% of sex is in the brain, leaving only 10% for your poor genitals).
The real issue has to do with compatibility. I have to wonder how long you knew this furry before you married. Be that as it may, what makes a marriage or other partnership work is the give-and-take. That is, ideally, everything should be 50/50, including finances, housework, child rearing, and sex.
There are times when the 50/50 split has to be put on hold, such as when a partner is sick or out of work. When something like that happens, it is unfair to demand the one at a disadvantage to perform. An interesting example: I just watched The Theory of Everything last night, which is the story of Stephen Hawking. It focuses more on his personal relationships and struggle with ALS than on his academic achievements. Hawking (played brilliantly by Eddie Redmayne) meets and falls in love with Jane (also superbly played by Felicity Jones) while he’s at Cambridge. Even though they learn he has ALS and is expected to live only a couple of years (this is in 1963; Hawking is a testimony to the triumph of human will over medical “knowledge”), she sticks by him through thick and thicker. A funny scene occurs between Hawking and one of his school day chums when he is asked how ALS affects his sexual performance and Hawking replies that it is one reflex he hasn’t lost (he fathered 3 children while paralyzed). Anyway, the point is that Jane stuck by Stephen because she loved him and it wasn’t his fault he had ALS. However (spoiler alert) their marriage falls apart because of infidelity (on both of their parts, but—not properly emphasized in the movie—mostly on his part).
While you’re not talking about infidelity, what I mean here is that there is a time to compromise and there is a time to insist on your fair share. Your husband has no physical infirmity that you mention, so I assume he is in good health and there is no reason for you to compromise.
Therefore, you are asking me the wrong question. The question isn’t “How can I compromise even further to accommodate his needs?” The question, rather, should be “Why isn’t he doing anything to please me in return?”
You see, Cupric, if your husband returned the favor and stimulated you with your sexual fantasies, it would boost your libido significantly, and this would then make it much easier to play the dom role on occasion because you will have been sexually satisfied. The key ingredient here, therefore, is passion. You are having trouble satisfying him because you are not turned on, and you are not turned on because he has done nothing to show that he is sexually passionate for you as a person.
You need to make clear your needs in the bedroom, and if he is not okay with that then I foresee rough waters ahead for you and your marriage. Hopefully, he will see the light.
(Note: Papabear received this letter before Christmas and replied to in private before writing the full article you see below. This letter is dedicated to those of you who may not have had the most pleasant of family experiences during the holidays. Family life can be tough, but if you believe in yourself and don't let others beat you down, you can surmount the pettiness and hurt. Remember, too, that a family is not just about blood relations. You can find or create your own family! And you can find and create your own happiness, as well. Bear hugs to all of you.)
I guess I should start off by apologizing for being such a boomerang, I honestly have no one I can turn to. And it’s just so nice to have one place where I know I will be listened too. Sorry to waste your time again. I'm not sure what the correct way to ask this is, but how do you know when to “give up” on your family and hopes of having a decent relationship with them?
I have had this problem for years. For as long as I can remember, I've had to struggle to “earn” a place within my own family. I just don't fit in. Even back when I was a child, I always felt like the outsider. When I tried to take part in family activities, they always made me feel like I was the extra, unwanted third wheel. And I don't know why, but things had been this way since I was a child.
I remember that I started to notice this around 6. I wish—from the bottom of my heart—I wish I knew what I did that was so wrong, so horrible that I was forever cut out of the family. I've been trying. I've fought for years to try and fix whatever it is that I've done, but it’s never enough. I've never done a good enough job, I'm never enough.
I just can't take it anymore, from 6 to 26 this struggle has gone on. I've given this 20 years of my life and I can't give anymore. I'm tired, so very tired, and I'm in very bad health. I have an auto-immune condition, and it just makes life harder. I'm sick and tired and I don't want to fight anymore.
I given my mother everything: my time, my energy, my money, and of course my love, with nothing to show for it. I know she’s had a difficult life and I’m sorry she had, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I am unfairly blamed for the difficulties she is currently having. I can’t do it anymore. How much more do I have to take before she realizes that I can’t be held accountable for what she does? OR what happens to her? I have no power in this life. I try my best to always help her, but when it doesn’t work out, I’m the one at fault.
My brothers have followed the same path, as well,. My oldest brother acts like I'm this hideous creature that should have been locked away and kept as some dark family secret. I know that I'm not perfect and I've made mistakes in my life. I know that having a physically disabled sister is probably deeply embarrassing, but I can't change what is wrong with me. He was always considered the “pretty” one in the family, and I'm sure it’s awkward to have such an unattractive sister, but until I can afford plastic surgery, there is nothing I can do.
My middle brother blames everything bad in his life on me. He dropped out of school because my mom was going to various doctors with me. She didn't believe I was sick and she didn't believe me when I told her what the doctors said, so she would come with me to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were. He got a large sum of money from our father and is convinced I stole it, which I have not.
My youngest brother (and I'm sorry to say he is the only one I truly hate) just seems to exist to make my life more difficult. He is constantly making up lies for no reason at all! He told my mother I beat him and went after him with a knife, which I never did. HE also told her that I leave the house at odd hours and go places with strange men in cars, none of which is true. He’s constantly hounding me for the sake of it, made up these insane lies about my cats, and now I have to give them up because of him. He not only makes up these insane lies, but he has a fondness for trying to hurt them. I fear for their safety, and as devastated as I am about that, I have no choice. My mother refused to believe me and that he is lying. It’s like everything he says is gospel.
Now he’s on this kick where he has a childish tantrum every time I sit in the living and try to watch television. He used to have these tantrums every time I sat on the couch. It got so bad that I went out and bought myself a chair for the living room because I'm not going to sit on the floor. He's not a little kid; he's 17 years old and doesn't have any kind of mental or physical problem. He just likes making me as miserable as possible.
And the kicker is I’m constantly having fights with my mother because I spend so much time in my room. Where the hell am I suppose to go if he freaks out every time I sit in the living room? Is it wrong for me to just give up and walk away? I mean, it certainly seems like that’s what everyone wants. I really don’t want to cut them out of my life. It's a messed up thing to have to do. I really don't want to do this, but I've tried going to therapy and it didn't help. She denies everything and acts like the victim and has made it very clear she isn’t going to alter her behavior at all.
So what choice to I have? I'm tired of being hurt. I'm tired of wondering why I'm not good enough. I'm tired of wondering if I should just end it all. I just want to be happy, and I honestly don't think I can do that without cutting them out of my life, maybe not forever but at least for a long while. Sorry to write again and sorry that this is probably really long and probably hard to read. I was crying a lot when I typed this and I try to always write in proper English, I'm sure I messed up somewhere.
Thank you and Merry Christmas,
Galileo (age 26)
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I remember you writing a few months ago (http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/she-feels-rejected-because-of-her-disability-and-her-appearance) but you hadn't gone into such detail as you do here about your family.
If I could give you a big hug now, I sure would. I cannot excuse or adequately say why your family is like this to you, but they are not acting like family, in my opinion. Real family--and that is not necessarily blood relatives--love and support you no matter what. They don't treat you like this.
Psychologists and counselors call what is happening to you “scapegoating.” Scapegoating occurs in seriously dysfunctional families. There are a number of scenarios as to why this occurs, but in your particular case, I would say the key person here is your mother. She has “problems,” as you say, and probably low self-esteem. She is frustrated and angry with life, and to alleviate herself of the stress this causes, she has targeted you for the blame. The reason it’s you, frankly, is because you are seen as the weak family member and, therefore, an easy target who cannot or will not defend herself.
What happens next, as you have seen, is that your siblings pick up on your mother’s behavior, which indicates to them that they have her tacit approval to pick on you, too (especially the brother who is the “golden child” who can do no wrong). They become bullies, which makes them feel better about themselves because, hey, at least whatever things they are having problems with are way better than what their sister is suffering. You are, in short, a punching bag.
There is a very good article about this by Lynne Namka, Ed.D., at this website: http://www.angriesout.com/grown19.htm. Please read it.
If it helps, you officially have Papabear’s permission and approval to tell your family to take a hike. You are not to blame for any of this, so please do not blame yourself. A real, healthy family would love and cherish you without question. You, sadly, are living in a very unhealthy family.
You are 26. Would you be able to make it on your own or with some friends? If so, then that wouldn't be a bad idea at all. It would be a great idea, in fact. You need to get out of this bad environment. If I were in your position, I would do whatever I could to get out of it. And I would also do some reading on scapegoating (Namka provides some resources) and work on rebuilding my self-esteem.
This doesn't mean you have to cut out your family completely. You can always leave the door open on your way out, and if they choose to actually be family to you again someday, let them back in. For now, you need some distance. You need time away to repair the emotional scars they have carved into your heart.
I'm so sorry you're going through this. You don't deserve it. No human being does.
I am a new furry with no fursona, and my brother hates furries, so i dont know if I should keep going furry. My sister thinks furries are weird, and I don't know how my mom would react. Please help!
Dirk (age 12)
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This all depends on how important being furry is to you and why you should care what your brother, sister, or mother think about furries. If being a furry is just a passing interest to you, and you don't care about it that much, then you might want to pursue some other interests just to avoid the subject all together.
If, however, you LOVE being a furry and have a great time doing furry things, then why do you need your family's approval? Well, probably you fear being teased by your sister and brother, for one thing. But, actually, that is what brothers and sisters often do: tease each other. It's called sibling rivalry, so if it wasn't furries it would probably be something else they would tease you about.
As for your mom, you say yourself you don't know how she'll react. So, she might be fine with it. Many adults don't understand what furry is, so you need to explain it in terms they won't find strange. One way to do that is to tell them simply that you like cartoon animals, such as what you often see in Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons--Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck are all anthropomorphic animals and are all culturally acceptable. Then explain to her that there are a lot of people out there who like creating their own talking animal characters, and they are called furries. That's really all she needs to hear about, if she cares at all.
The other thing to do is not make a big deal about it. Parents pick up on their children's attitudes, so if you act nervous or ashamed about being a furry, the first thing your mom with think is, "Why is my son so ashamed of this? Is there something shameful I should know about?" Then, like many others, she'll go on the Internet, and you probably know what she will find there.
There are many positive role models in the fandom, including friends of mine such as Tycho Aussie and Dogbomb. Furries do a lot for charities, especially for causes that help animal and children's charities. But mostly furries just have fun. Oh, and they don't all wear costumes. Only about 1 in 5 furries owns a fursuit, and not all furries have fursonas, either. It all depends on how immersed you wish to be in the furry world.
Basically, my advice to you is don't make a big deal about it; if you don't see it as a big deal, others won't either.
Stay Furry, Dirk!
It's been several months since we last associated with each other from here. The question here is about how hopeless I've felt about the fandom, most of my family, and my social life altogether since birth. Unfortunately, this is partly in innate due to a certain condition that I'm incredibly ashamed to reveal here on the net, so I'm not going to say anything of it at all.
Lately, it hasn't been very happy for me among people. It's an endless loop that things make me happy, not people. I can never really get along with anyone even to my siblings and mother like nearly absolutely everyone does in the general public & fandom.
As much as I am said to be a good artist, I'm not social at all after much "Post Traumatic Social Disorder," sheer bitterness, and unfair experiences I've had with people. This is not only in the general public, but EVEN in the fandom, and in the end, I've decided to depart from FA too.
Even to those I met locally, I don't consider them a friend at all anymore despite them possibly seeing otherwise. The reason? Their friends are jerks, and they associate with those jerks, so I've been fed up and flew away from them. (metaphorically speaking)
After a lifelong "warfare" of fights, undue solutions, burned bridges, broken hearts, and so forth, this is what turned me into a perfectly unforgiving and "spiky" person. Frankly, I wholeheartedly with I wasn't this way, but from how I've molded, I have to live with it, like a stuck mask. In fact I plan to add a bonehead mask to my persona anyway.
This has caused me mental issues & I hate everyone for it. I can only say that I trust father and my best furiend, who is a blue ice dragon that's also local. I'd be thrilled to live with him as a roommate this summer 2015 or it's all bust.
Nonetheless, I'm exceptionally unhappy and infinitely angry against the world, the furry fandom as a whole, and every single life form since birth who wronged me. I can't help it though; I wish I could be let nicer if they gave a chance. But the damages are done; I wish I was never born. u.=.u
If there was any side of social/sentimental hope, I will say that I do have a crush on a particular scalie that we probably all know and love. I'll leave you on guessing who. Reason I mention this is because I really would like to give it one last go & give myself the final chance to show my friendship, generosity (even as gift artworks), & care. I would really hope he'll be okay...maybe meet in May 2015? ;)
Anyway, going back on track here, I've had inevitably difficult social issues to the point where I've become incredibly hostile, overly defensive, and ultra-unforgiving. It's sad, and there's literally very few people I trust.
Goes to show that I don't take the word "friendship" lightly
Regardless, please suggest me anything healthy, reasonable, and practical. I've also been envious of others even to whom I knew well, and I just remain distant and isolated to avoid conflict forever, even among other circumstances in general.
Your wisdom to others and even to me are much appreciated.
~Sad, unhappy Western Electro-Lunar Skydragon, Azure (age 21)
* * *
It would help me a lot to know what this "certain condition" is, which I'm guessing is actually a big big part of why you are having these troubles. If you wish, I will keep the letter off the website.
* * *
It's called "Asperger's Syndrome," a variant of Autism, and I have a high-functioning kind of it too.
And you don't have to keep the letter off the website, probably shouldn't this time anyway. I just don't want the data to be lost like I thought it was, is all. Do what you must like you normally do. I like hearing about it. :)
I think I was merely in irrational fear of having revealed exclusively the condition right away on the site, but I'm okay with it in any way now. It was a false alarm. I apologize for the inconvenience. Carry on. :)
(that and I was really tired last night writing it before bed time, so I was prone to crankiness & paranoia!)
* * *
Asperger’s is nothing to be ashamed of. Many furries who have it have written to me suffer from this condition. Some of the symptoms of Asperger’s include social anxiety disorder and depression. People with your condition may also be hypersensitive and have a heightened sense of the importance of adhering to rules and codes of conduct.
This would explain why you have had such a tough time dealing with other people. Not accepting that people are not perfect, you are easily offended by any perceived wrong that they might do—either to you or anyone else. For example, even though some of your friends have not directly wronged you, you associate them with bad behavior because they have other friends you have deemed to be “jerks.” When you create such a high standard that it becomes impossible for anyone to earn your approval, the result is what has happened to you: no friends and complete isolation.
My prediction, therefore, is that this dragon you like will eventually let you down, too, and you will reject his friendship.
Having no friends and isolating oneself will also exacerbate your feelings of depression and hopelessness.
The solution to your problem, then, is treatment for your Asperger’s. The good news, too, is that many people who have your condition get better and better at managing it as they get older. Again, don’t be ashamed—instead, get help. You can learn more here: http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/
Wishing You Luck and Health,
Hello, Papa Bear!
I wanna start by saying thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply, even though this'll be a short one.
I've been a furry for just over a year now. I have some trouble with friends. I used to go to a Catholic School before I began homeschooling, so most of my friends are religious and/or homophobic. I'd love so start coming out to my friends slowly that I'm a furry, and that I'm bisexual.
I don't have many close friends, but I have one who probably wouldn't mind much. I just don't know how to get to him, or to get it to him in that matter, as he lives on the other side of Canada.
Anyway, the question is, how would I slowly but surely tell friends who don't like furries all that much that I'm furry?
Philly (age 13; Canada)
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As you might imagine, Papabear has answered questions about coming out furry many times on this site, yet I still get letters like yours that add a little spin to the issue and make it worth readdressing the topic.
I’d like to congratulate you, first, on figuring out at such a young age that you are bisexual (and furry). That gives you a lot of time to adjust and grow into yourself, so to speak. You would be surprised how many are in denial about who they are or don’t realize it until much later in life.
That said, I will caution you about the obvious: coming out gay or bi in a conservative, religious, homophobic community is like walking into a small room where there has been a gas leak while carrying a lit candle. You are asking for trouble.
I appreciate the desire to be allowed to be oneself in public, as well as in private. In an ideal world, those who deviate from “acceptable behavior” wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable around friends, peers, and family. But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we, Philly? Being a furry might or might not be more or less incendiary than announcing one is bisexual, but in either case, you’re looking for trouble.
You recognized this, though, and came up with the solution of “coming out slowly” as a furry. Human society doesn’t function like that, however. Rumors, gossip, and juicy facts about people have a way of spreading like wildfire. Say you come out to this friend you trust pretty well. (He’s on the other side of the country, so how well do you really know him?) Even if he is pretty trustworthy, he could unintentionally let this news slip past his lips, and before you can shout “Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!” a bunch of your friends will know what you confessed. (This is especially true now in the electronic communication age.)
The solution is not to come out to your current, homophobic friends, but, rather, to surround yourself with new friends who can accept you for who you are. You say you’re homeschooled now and no longer attend the Catholic school. That’s fine. That makes it easier, actually, not to tell them about either your furriness or your bisexuality.
Next, find a new community of people who are either like you or who are accepting of you. You can then easily tell them your real identity and it will be no sweat.
If friends hate you for what you are, you can do one of the following: convince them they are wrong about their views, or find new friends, or hide who you really are and pretend to be someone your current friends can accept. It is, quite frankly, extremely difficult to convince a lot of people they are wrong about their beliefs; even if you can “convert” a couple, most will still not accept you, and the result is you will be shunned. And hiding who you really are will just make you miserable. The best solution is to change your environment. Take me, for instance. I lived in Homophobe Central (Michigan), so I moved to Palm Springs, where half the population is literally gay. Much happier.
You don’t say where you are in Canada, but there are definitely furries out there (for example, Ontario Furries http://www.ontariofurries.ca/ and the Canadian Furries group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cafurry). There are cons in Canada, too, such as What the Fur! in Quebec and Fur-Eh! in Edmonton. Check some of these out and start making furiends! You might have been having trouble making friends before because you couldn’t fully relate to your religious schoolmates. I suggest that you will run into a lot of interesting people with much more open minds among the furries.
I don’t want to be a bummer, but I have decades more experience than you in these matters. Trust Papabear and listen to me when I say that there is no slow and gradual way to come out to conservative and closed-minded people. If you do, you will end up getting hurt.
Also, think of the other side of the coin: if you tell someone about being furry and/or being bi but then insist that they not tell anyone, you are imposing a burden of secrecy upon them that they might not want or appreciate.
Instead, take the next few years to learn more about furries, about your sexuality, and about being an adult in a world that can be, sadly, very harsh and judgmental. There are many good, kind people out there, but there are just as many who will attack you for being different and will do anything they can to make your life miserable. And, at 13, you are not really of an age to be able to defend yourself very well.
That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but I hope you will listen.
Take Care, My Furry Friend,
First I ask that this not be published. Anyway, I'm in a situation that both bothers me and causes me to start to lose some confidence in the fandom. I will try to provide as much information as I can, so here it goes.
In July I attended my first ever convention: Anthrocon 2014. With me was, at the time, my non-furry friend, who has, since attending AC, joined the fandom. While there we talked about getting fursuits together and attending Anthrocon every year that we can, which excited me greatly. I have always wanted a fursuit. Just the idea of bringing my fursona to life and making people smile as him makes me happy. So upon returning home I started my search for a fursuit maker. I researched, I priced, I was careful. I found a maker on Furaffinity; I researched her, found no bad comments about her, saw a couple suits she made, and so I proceeded to contact her and commissioned her to build me a partial,
She charged me $600, which I paid in full upon her request for me to do so. She gave me the completion date of September. I tried to keep in contact with her, which proved difficult every time. And when I did finally did get in contact with her I got an excuse why she wasn't providing pictures of the progress and was told that the completion changed to October.
I figured, okay, things happen, it's life. Then again, hard to get a hold of her, and again every time I did, excuses why I wasn't receiving photos of the progress, and again time change to November, and, yes, same thing again.
Now it's December and I have tried to be in contact with her and have not heard from her in over a month. I'm not sure how I should proceed as, honestly, this was my first-ever commission. I've never even commissioned art, and I am afraid if what has happened has truly happened I may never trust to commission again. So my question on this: am I wrong in thinking that I have been scammed? Should I cut my losses? And is there anything I should be doing that I'm not?
Thank you in advance,
* * *
Please do not “lose confidence in the fandom” because of the actions of one slow fursuit maker. One should never condemn an entire group of people because of one or two bad eggs.
That said, and although I have written on this topic before, this is a good opportunity to talk once again about contracts, verbal contracts, and your legal rights.
One of the things that has long frustrated this bear about furry businesses is that furries who sell goods don’t seem, for the most part, to understand a damn thing about business—whether you are a business owner or a client. I chalk this up to the culture of informality in the fandom. That is, we have established a chummy community within the fandom in which we believe—often falsely—that fellow furries will treat us fairly because they are part of one big happy family. Therefore, we do not take precautions when it comes to business.
There once was a time when “a man’s handshake was as good as his word” (or pawshake, in this context). That’s no longer true, whether in the mundane or in the furry world. I have to use two paws to count the number of times my mate has been f***ed over by business people who did not honor their verbal agreements.
I’ve encountered some of this myself (not with my fursuit maker, Beastcub, who is super-pawsome and worked very closely with me to deliver an outstanding result), but with a certain artist who took over two years to complete a commission I had wanted for a Christmas gift (hence, timeliness was important). While he eventually did get around to it, I will never commission him again.
And that is one thing many artists in the fandom don’t seem to get: if you mistreat customers, eventually the word-of-mouth will bite you in the butt. It’s bad for business.
In hindsight (too late for you right now, but perhaps helpful in the future), you should always get a written agreement with an artist or fursuit maker. If they refuse to agree to one, tell them “no thanks” and find someone else. Secondly, never never never pay 100% for the commission up front. The artist I work with for this site, Dan the Bear, for example, never demands I pay him until I am satisfied with the result and he has delivered it to me.
With fursuit makers, because they have to buy materials for your fursuit, the proper thing to do is treat them like a contractor working on your house. When I have a carpenter or plumber or electrician doing work, I pay him or her for all the supplies they need as soon as we agree on what’s to be done. Then, when they are done with the job, I pay for labor. The same should be true for any respectable fursuit maker. Get an invoice from them for the materials they need and pay for those. Then, when the finish, give them the rest. You could also pay in “milestones.” That is (and this can work for larger projects), pay for completion of certain steps. For instance, pay 25% for when the head is completed, another 25% for the body, and then the balance when it is all done.
The fact that the fursuit maker in your case refused to show you photos makes her, indeed, suspect. It might be that she was once reliable (as online evidence seemed to indicate), but people can go from good to bad sometimes.
Okay, so what to do from this point? Well, you don’t have a contract, but what Papabear is hoping and praying for is that you saved your email and any other correspondence with her. These are considered legal evidence of an agreement—especially if you have emails from her saying, yes, she received the $600 (or some other evidence, such as a PayPal receipt) and, yes, she was going to complete it by such and such a date.
While written contracts are best, verbal contracts are still considered enforceable. Gather up these emails, and if you have witnesses, get them on your side, too. With those on your side, contact the fursuit maker and tell her that you are unhappy with her lack of progress and want a refund immediately. If she refuses, tell her that you have email evidence that she received your money and agreed to make the fursuit, and if she still refuses tell her that she leaves you no choice but to take legal action—that is, you will take her to small claims court (tips on how: http://www.peopleslawyer.net/legal-topics/small-claims-court.html). Here’s some info to know if the person you are suing is in another state: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/small-claims-book/chapter9-2.html.
Another thing she might do is ask for another extension. If so, and you feel kind and generous, that is up to you to accept. BUT! If you do accept it, this time get a written contract that includes a date of delivery and a description of what, exactly, is to be delivered to you in satisfactory condition. Also include a clause saying you have a right to refuse the work if you consider the quality unacceptable (e.g., she hands you a wad of fabric with two eyes glued to it).
Don’t threaten to bad mouth her on furry forums. You can actually get into legal trouble yourself sometimes when you do that (she might accuse you of slander). But do tell her in no uncertain terms what you expect from her and when.
You’re in an unenviable place right now, but with some work—and if you stick to your guns—you can get this straightened out and, hopefully, learn from the experience.
* * *
Thank you for your advice. I will take it to heart and act upon it. I do have the emails and PayPal receipts. Update on the situation: this morning, after I emailed her twice in a week about needing to speak with her, I reviewed an email from her with only three words: "my laptop broke." And this upset me a great deal, so I am definitely going to be requesting a refund and searching for a new maker. And again thank you for the advice.
I once told you my fursona problem, which kind of still hovers in the room as I am finding not a solid answer, yet to it and am still young to the fandom itself even though it has been a few years until today of joining. The bigger thing is that I suffer severe depression, am pretty anxious, lack self-confidence and often am indecisive as well. Hard I know, but it is why I am feeling the fandom locks up on me for being one who doesn't contribute enough of matter nor being much of a speaker (noted my English not being the best of course). Regardless of this it does bother me a lot.
I decided over and over what I should be with no answer to be found, trying to meet furs on FurAffinity effortless as none often answer. Kind of saddens me that the fursona would help me reflect myself and how I'd want to be in the end as much as drawing and writing from there on with him. I just lack the decision making and the confidence to work on it.
Long have I been staying strong and growing stronger, thanks to the few friends who hold me so dear. For them of the Fandom I'd like to fully take part and shape as Furry and make much more presence, just unsure how.
Regardless in Time you'll get a proper thank you for all this help.
Lyah (age 24)
* * *
It’s become a bit of a fascination for this bear that I get a lot of letters from people like you who are fretting that they don’t contribute enough to the fandom or are seen by other furries as not being involved enough. Yet there are many, many furries like you who are very shy and have trouble socializing (which is why, frankly, you don’t get a lot of response from other furries you try to contact—they are like you!), which is really one reason they become furries: they feel shy about mundane society and find a safe haven in the fandom as something set apart from it.
Another phenomenon is that many furries feel bad if they don’t have a lot of followers or friends on Facebook. My question to them—and you—is what would you rather have? A pawful of good, loyal, true friends or a massive following of fair-weather acquaintances calling themselves friends? You’re better off with 5 really good friends whom you love than 10,000 Facebook followers, trust me. So, as the goombahs say, fergetabowdit (er, pardons, that American dialect might escape a German speaker, so what I mean is be Zen, be mellow, relax, and don’t worry about things that are of no real consequence).
Another word of advice: FurAffinity is not really a good place to socialize. While you can make friends there, the main purpose of FA is to share and view art. Socializing is better done on a site such as Furry4Life or on Facebook and other more social media. You should also see if you can find some local German furries. Too, have you ever attended Eurofurence in Berlin? Best furcon in Europe and right in your neighborhood. Even if you’re not in Berlin, you are fortunate to live in a country with outstanding train transportation, unlike America.
A lot of your perceptions of the fandom are likely influenced by your emotional issues. Because you suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-confidence, you see other furries in a more negative light than what is actually the truth. If you work on alleviating these feelings, you will, at the same time, feel better about the fandom, as well. That’s what was occurring in your previous letter http://www.askpapabear.com/letters/german-fur-having-fursona-trouble and what you still need to work on. As I often note, if you have difficulty surmounting your fears by yourself, a professional counselor may help.
Dear Papa Bear,
I hate to send you such a long letter, but I've tried to include all the details you need.
I've been slowly getting into the Furry fandom for quite a few years now (I can't remember exactly how long I've known about it, but it's probably at least 5 years of me looking at it on and off) and only recently have I got the confidence to declare myself as a Furry.
And just so you know, I know the definition of Furry is just anyone who's a fan of anthropomorphic animals, and whilst Fursuiters are the most recognisable part of the fandom (and the first thing I discovered regarding the fandom), they're only one of many parts of it and there's no rule to say you have to be one to officially be a Furry.
Anyways, part of the reason I've only just confirmed my furriness to myself is because it's only been in about the past 3 months that I heard of Uncle Kage. I was turned off all these years because of all of the sexual sensationalism the fandom's gotten from outside media (note a certain CSI episode). But then I accidentally came across Uncle Kage's videos explaining exactly how the press manage to exaggerate the facts, how the original sexualised image created by early conventions became a lasting image even though those cons have since vanished, and that whilst there are sexual aspects to the fandom, it's something only the minority of Furries are into.
It's not that I have any problem with those who enjoy a sexual side to the fandom, it's just that because that's all I saw for all these years, I didn't feel welcome to join in seeing as I enjoy it for other aspects. But once I discovered Uncle Kage, I realised that I could include myself in the fandom without the fear that I'd be the odd one out seeing as I'm not into it for the sexual aspects.
Once I felt free to join the fandom, I started doing a lot of research about it very, very quickly, learning the different kinds of Furry, how it fits into other subcultures, the terminology, typical activities, species and personalities, phantom limbs, other famous Furries... just about anything I could find relating to Furry. I didn't care if it was positive, negative or indifferent, I just wanted to know as much as I could.
This then lead to me discovering this forum page (https://forums.furaffinity.net/threads/130527-Uncle-Kage?s=de8e6476726ab42efa64c98ef8e9b132) that involved other Furs discussing why they HATED Uncle Kage. This, as you could probably guess, shocked me since all I heard about him before was that he was a good man and only did good for the fandom. So, I began to read it.
There seemed to be 3 main points people had as to why they hated him. One was that he's looked upon controlling, which I understand people seeing, but I still stood up for him since he's trying to keep the fandom in a positive light and therefore needs to have this firm-but-fair approach alongside the funny stories and analogies.
The second point was how he likes his wine, which I find to be quite hypocritical since a) the whole of western society seems to enjoy its booze and b) I actually found myself still enjoying him when watching videos of him drunk, even though I usually find videos of other people drunk to be quite humiliating.
So with those 2 general disagreements I had with the other Furries comments, I still found Uncle Kage to be a nice (or at least, enjoyable) guy and a good role model for the fandom.
But then there comes the third reason these people hated him, which was the “rumour” he's got a secret Fursona called Rogue the Megawolf which he supposedly uses for sexual pleasures. So, part out of curiosity and part out of anxiety, I began to research exactly who Rogue was and found his Twitter, FurAffinity and Macrophile pages, as well as what other Furries said about him. It seems whoever this Fursona belongs to has a sexual fantasy about being a giant wolf who destroys buildings and either crushes or eats anything that's alive.
Now, I for one don't care what peoples fetishes are so long as a) they keep in the bedroom and b) no other creature is being hurt. I might not necessarily understand the fetishes, but I don't see a problem with most of them either.
So if this person gets a sexual kick out of wearing a Fursuit, I couldn't care less. Even if it is Kage under that suit, I find his arguments to be in defence of the Furry community rather than his own private life, so I can still tolerate him despite the fact he himself might be in it for the sexual stuff. And the same goes for the destruction element; so long as it doesn't extend beyond either his own imagination or his own property, it's fine by me.
But it's the sexual attraction to “killing life forms” that's causing me grief. I have a strong belief that causing harm to anything with a conscious, human or animal and not oneself, for sexual pleasures is down-right immoral.
I can tolerate people who are into things like age-play because it's not actual pedophilia which involves a child performing sexual acts, but rather the person with that fetish playing the role of the child. And on top of that nobody can literally turn back into a kid, so it's forced into pretending to be in that fantasy.
But with the crush fetish, even if it's only make-believe to begin with, it disturbs me that finding the destruction of life- forms stimulating can quite easily slip into actual torture being performed on other creatures; bug, animal or human. So I can't even tolerate the fantasy because it can go in the wrong direction of not controlled.
And it wouldn't be so bad if it was just any other Furry, as I'd just say to myself "oh well, that's just one bad apple in the bunch and there'll always Uncle Kage to give us the good name". But this particular Furry might be the very being that finally made me feel welcome to join the fandom! And even though I realise that there are plenty of good people in the fandom to look up to, it's the fact that the very person that I looked at as one of the best examples might actually be among the worst examples that's digging into me!
So, I really don't know what to think of him anymore, especially if it's true that Kage and Rogue are the same person. Should I just try and forget the whole crushing thing and keep reminding myself of his efforts for giving the fandom a positive image? Should I let the truth sink in that he's got a fetish I can't tolerate and try to forget that I ever discovered him? Should I somehow convince myself that getting a sexual pleasure out of killing things is somehow OK just so I can like Uncle Kage again?
I desperately want to like him, but I can't work against my morals either. What should I do?!
Charleston (age 20, UK)
* * *
This is a good example that Papabear is surely not “in the know” about everything in the fandom. It is the first time I’ve heard the rumor that Uncle Kage is Rogue. After I read your letter, I did some searching on the Internet but didn’t find any proof there that the two were one. If Dr. Samuel Conway (Kage) is, in fact, Rogue, he is doing an excellent job hiding the fact. It makes me wonder that if Rogue is at a furcon and needs to go to the headless room for a breath of air and some water, why hasn’t anyone said anything? This fact alone makes me think that this is really just a rumor. But, in the spirit of getting the facts, I wrote an email to Rogue on his Tumblr account (waiting to hear back). I also looked at his Facebook page (nothing there to indicate anything), and viewed a number of videos of Rogue.
My policy about such things is that, unless someone can give me hard evidence of this connection, or I hear from Dr. Conway himself, then the Rogue/Kage rumor is just that: a rumor. Even if it is true, then I have to applaud Conway for practicing what he preaches, which is that ones sexuality is a private matter and none of the public’s business. On the other paw, too, if he is Rogue then his sexual fetish is a bit extreme and just reinforces stereotypes of furries being sexual deviants (fascinating, if true, that his other fursona is an easily squashable roach). Again, I’m not going to condemn or defend him without knowing all the facts.
This brings up an interesting point about human beings—especially, it seems, Americans. I’ve noticed an increasing trend among humans that is a pattern of building up heroes only to take them down in a blaze of scandal. Some people who come to mind are O.J. Simpson, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Swaggart, and President Bill Clinton. People seem to love to admire talented celebrities and other magnetic personalities. But, over time, they become jealous, envious, eager to kick them down to sewer level so they feel better about themselves. Like lions picking out a sick zebra from a herd, as soon as the media and others discover a flaw, they go in for the kill.
Conway has been put on a pedestal by the furry community because he helped organize and chairs the biggest furcon in the world. He is also an engaging public speaker and works well with the media. I think it is important to recognize what he has done for the furry community. On the other paw, he’s not perfect. I’ve seen him drink and get drunk at MFF, for example, but I defy any furry to say he or she has not behaved poorly at some point in his or her life. I would say he is also a bit of an egotist, but psychologists would point out that egotism is a trait common in leaders (Bill Clinton was a great president and also an egotist).
I also disagree with Kage about the media. Yes, some journalists prefer their stories yellow, but, being partnered with a professional journalist who thinks furries are way cool, I can tell you that they aren’t all bad. The problem Conway has is that he generalizes a group of people, which is just as bad as saying all furries are furverts. Also, he seems rather condescending to other furries, saying that no one but he should be allowed to speak to the media because only he is smart enough to handle them. That’s the thing that really bugs me. For instance, the recent incident at MFF where a chlorine bomb (of sorts--actually, it was a broken jar) went off in the hotel. Did we see MFF Chair Toby Murono in front of the news cameras? No, it was Kage. To me, he’s rather like the Al Sharpton of the furry community.
But, you know what? That’s fine. Kage likes to take the helm and, for the most part, does a fine job of it.
On to your question: should you forget about the whole thing about Kage being Rogue? Should you, if true, accept crushing as an acceptable sexual kink just so you can like Kage?
Do not pass judgment on Dr. Conway until you are sure that he is Rogue. For now, just as with our justice system, presume him innocent until proven guilty. If, someday, someone proves that he is Rogue, then recognize that we are all human and none of us is perfect (this presumes the opinion that his fetish is a flaw). If you judged everyone harshly for not precisely fitting your ideals of what a good person is, you would end up despising the entire human race and having no friends. Also recognize that, if true, this is part of Dr. Conway’s private life and none of your business. It does not cancel out all the good that Kage has done any more than President Clinton getting a bj from Monica Lewinsky undoes all the good he did during his presidency. Admire the man for what he has done.
When it comes to the sexual fantasy of crushing, you do not have to accept that as okay if you don’t wish to. You can learn to accept people for their gifts as well as what you perceive to be their flaws. If Conway, again, is Rogue, so what? He is not pushing a sexual fetish on you. And, except in his fantasy life, he is, as far as we know, not indulging crushing in real life and is not actually hurting anyone.
The only thing that is really troubling you, then, is the hypocrisy of it all. Like the senator who tries to pass anti-gay laws who is then caught with his hand under the bathroom stall wall, Kage would appear to be an immense hypocrite if he were caught being Rogue. Even if he is not Rogue, it is unwise of him to minimize the sexual aspect of the fandom because it is most certainly there. I myself don’t hide the fact that I enjoy that side of it, but, at the same time, I recognize that the fandom has a lot of other things to offer people and that if you don’t wish to indulge in the adult parts you certainly don’t have to.
Even if there was zero, zip, nada sexual about the furry fandom, people would still make fun of us. I’ve seen newscasters and other people point and giggle. I was at MFF a couple years ago and a couple men at a bar pointed at a furry innocently having fun interacting with a child and called him a “freak.” Why? Because humans don’t like anything that is out of the ordinary. They want everything to be predictable, label-able, categorizable. If white conservatives had their way, everyone would be straight, Christian, Caucasian, work in an office, and, for hobbies, drink beer and watch football. How boring would that be?
Society controls us through shame and guilt. Rogue, whoever he (or she) is, is likewise controlled by guilt to the point of hiding who s/he really is. We are all, in that sense, prisoners in our lives. Matthew 7:1—Do not judge lest ye be judged (ironic I quote the Bible, no?)
Again, I find the bear way the best way—don’t let it bother you. Make of the fandom what you like. Don’t condemn it for its “flaws” anymore than you should condemn other people for theirs. Unless they are hurting you or anyone else, it’s really none of your business. You could also go with Matthew 5:29: If your eye offend thee, pluck it out. In other words, ignore Kage completely and go on with your furry life as you see fit.
What’s great about the furry fandom is that you make it what you wish it to be. Unlike Star Trek, there is no “bible,” no timeline, no preset cast of characters. It is all left to your imagination. Don’t let others dictate to you what your dreams should be.
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.