There are two statements I hear frequently from furries these days: It's either "The furry fandom is so accepting of everyone!" or else "The furry fandom is toxic!" The second statement is soon followed by the announcement: "I am leaving the fandom!" There are popular furry vloggers who have YouTube posts asserting one or the other view, and I see furries on Facebook complaining about the toxic fandom all the time.
So, which is it? Is it time to hold each other's paws and sing "Kumbaya, My Lord!" or should we burn it all to the ground and dance on the fandom's withered and purulent corpse?
I am writing this editorial today to answer that very question. Hold onto your tails; here we go....
Let's begin with furry conventions. I returned from Biggest Little Furcon in Reno just a few days ago. During the con (I wasn't witness to this, just heard about it), apparently one of the furry attendees (and furiends) ejaculated on a pizza and left it in the hallway. Then, for some reason, a witless passer-by saw the za and ate some of it. Naturally, word got out, and it spread like warm Skippy peanut butter over toast all over Twitter. Immediately, there were posts that this would be the end of BLFC for it would meet the same fate as Rainfurrest. There were also posts about how the fandom has been overrun by pervs and that it will inevitably implode. Game over.
Of course, the people writing these posts were not at the con. I was, and I can tell you it was a super con, well run, and everyone had fun. The guests, the hotel staff, everyone. I talked to some of the staff and security and they all said it was great.
Hotels deal with crime and guest misbehavior all the time. The primary problem is theft, but there have also been cases of rape, drugs, and property destruction. This brings me to the big difference between what happened at Rainfurrest vs. BLFC. Rainfurrest attendees caused a lot of property damage to the host hotel, costing the hotel thousands of dollars. The main problem with Rainfurrest was that the people who ran the convention were too permissive. While I never got the chance to attend that particular con, I talked with furries who did, and they told me that Rainfurrest had a very lax, party atmosphere that encouraged bad behavior and had been doing so for years. The result was inevitable. A badly run convention will eventually close. This is not the case with BLFC and many other fine furcons. In the case of the cummy pizza, the guilty party was confronted by hotel security and dealt with. Reno Area Anthropomorphic Arts and Recreations (RAAAR), the organization that runs BLFC, raised over $21,000 for its charity and is already planning the 2022 con, which will occur in the summer. I'm not sure what attendance was (they haven't released final figures yet), but I'm sure it was a couple thousand furries, a nice number that I'm sure the hotel appreciated.
While I was at BLFC, one of the panels I attended was called "Why We Care about the Furry Fandom." It was run by Stigmata (Jonathan Vair Duncan) and Sasha R. Jones, two well-known artists of fantasy and furry art. The two talked for an hour about how being furry is about exploring your potential, coming out about who you really are inside, discovering things about your orientation and your spirituality, meeting new and interesting people, expanding your creativity, and so on. Their hyper-positive view of the fandom went so far as to discuss how furry is becoming an important social movement that is gaining acceptance in the normie world. This view is shared by many furries who feel that the fandom is a happy place where everyone gets along and accepts you for who you are.
There is an element of truth to this--a big element, really--but it is not entirely accurate. If it were, we wouldn't be seeing all the claims about the "toxic" fandom. A good example of this is this YouTube video by BetaEtaDelota. While acknowledging that there is a lot good in the fandom, he goes on quite a bit about the issues in the fandom that are not addressed (mostly about furries attacking each other). Yes, there are issues, and they are not addressed. Know why? Because, unlike corporate-owned fandoms such as Whovians and Trekkers, there is no one in charge of the fandom. The furry fandom has no organizational structure. No formal membership. No club president. No supervising board of directors. It is an amorphous blob of people indulging in creating a fantasy world of anthro creatures. Therefore! How can bad behavior be controlled if no one is in charge, eh? Oh, sure, there are furries in charge of Facebook (meta?) groups who can control posts as I do for the Greymuzzle group, but overall the fandom is like Hollywood's version of the Wild West. You're kind of on your own when it comes to controlling drama.
But is the level of drama worse in the fandom than elsewhere on the internet? Hell, no. If you know anything at all about the online world and the virtual community, you know that it is bad everywhere. Hell, the current political divisions going on in the USA right now have in large part been incited by social media. The furry world is no worse than any other sordid corner of the cyberworld. This is true when it comes to cons, too. You think furries have exclusive rights to acting like twits in hotels? My sister would tell me about conventions she went to that were for college educators and how she would see biology professors become drunken idiots; my late husband went to journalism conventions and once opened the wrong closet door to see two attendees humping each other. And these were conferences with attendees who were much older on average than furries.
Why, then, do we have this impression of ourselves as being worse than other groups?
Because we set ourselves up for it.
If you believe all the hype about how the fandom is a nirvana of acceptance in which people of all orientations, colors, and creeds don their fursuits or game avatars and get along like Girl Scouts around a campfire only to then discover that there is the possibility of running across trolls, haters, and prima donnas, you are going to be disappointed. Many are disappointed, and then they overreact and declare the fandom to be toxic.
So is the fandom toxic? No. Is the fandom nirvana? Again, no.
What the fandom is is a bunch of people sharing an interests in furry characters. The members of this fandom are human beings. All of them. Shocker, right? And although the demographics of the fandom are a bit different from the general population (e.g., more LGTBQI people, more young people, and, still, more white males, though that is slowly changing), people are still people.
The vast majority of people I have personally met in the fandom are super. They are interesting, fun, intelligent, playful, openminded, and just super people. But, there have also been a few who are total butt munchers. Don't let these few negative people get you down. Don't let them spoil your fun. Learn to recognize and avoid them, and you will have a super-splendiferous time in the fandom just as I have.
Remember why you came to the fandom in the first place. Have fun in the imaginative and creative world of furries. This is a community for you to enjoy, and if you approach it with a positive attitude but recognize it is not perfect, you will have a wonderful time.
Thank you for reading this post. Please feel free to comment below.
While I have made it a policy to ignore criticisms I receive from fellow furries so as not to encourage trolling, I feel I need to say something about recent reactions to the 2021 Good Furry Award. The GFA has, for the most part, been warmly received. But there are still furries out there who have called it everything from a waste of time to nothing but a popularity contest. One critic called it a slam to all the other furries who did not receive the award, saying it is "toxic really because it devalues all of the people that have worked to promote the fandom for many years only to say 'look at this award we have given to some newcomer.'" Another said the "award money should be used to help those who actually need the help to get back on their feet especially after losing their job as a result of covid."
I feel these comments deserve a reply from me.
Regarding the comment that the GFA "devalues" everyone who didn't get an award. I can get your thinking on that one. Years ago, when I was working at a publishing house in Detroit, the management began an "Employee Who Makes a Difference Award." I pointed out to HR that the title implies that all the other employees don't make a difference. They quickly changed the name. It was a poor choice of words. But one should remember that one person's success does not lead to the conclusion that another person is a failure for not getting an award. There is an episode in The Big Bang Theory in which the brilliant physicist Sheldon Cooper is upset because a colleague, Bert, won a prestigious award and he has not yet received a Nobel Prize. His girlfriend, Amy, points out that Bert's achievement was well deserved and that it is no reflection on the accomplishments Sheldon has himself made (he later wins the Nobel).
ALL the nominees for this year's award (and in previous years) are wonderful furries who deserve recognition. I would give them all prizes if I could, but I can only afford one a year. The good news is that they can keep getting nominated, year after year, until they win. So, I am not snubbing those who didn't win. They are all Good Furries and deserve recognition. In fact, the point of the GFA has never been to give someone a trophy and $500. The point has always been, and will always be, to give some time and space to acknowledge all the good people in the fandom. That is why I publish all the text people wrote when nominating candidates for the prize. It has always been my hope that people will read what these furries have done.
If you are doing something just to win a prize, then I question your motivations for doing those things. None of the nominees do what they do to get a GFA. All of them were surprised and happy when I told them they were nominated.
Now, concerning the $500, which "should be used to help those who actually need help." The first winner of the prize was Tony "Dogbomb" Barrett, who died as a result of contracting ALS before he could receive his prize. So, I gave the prize money to the ALS Association, which, I hope you will agree, could use the donation. Last year, Ash Coyote won, and she posted this video, noting that she was struggling financially with unexpected bills and that the money helped her a lot. This year's winner, Cassidy Civet, is not exactly rolling in dead presidents either. I'm not sure how the critic defines who is worthy of this small amount of cash and who is not, but I have a feeling they are ignorant of the above facts.
This year's winner, Cassidy Civet, can also be held up as an example that we are not talking about popufurs here. After I told them they had won, they reminded me that they had written a letter to this column in 2015 in which they were concerned about a slew of personal attacks that they had been experiencing in the fandom. I, personally, find it very satisfying that a furry who was being smeared and called names by bad furries six years ago is now the winner of the Good Furry Award.
I have been a furry all my life (before there was a fandom), and have been active in it for many years, but I am still amazed by how the fandom is its own worst enemy. It is not the media or other non-furs who do the most damage to our reputation; it is us.
My purpose for the Good Furry Award is to turn up the light on the many many good people in the furry fandom. Sadly, it is also true that the brighter the sun is, the darker the shadows appear.
Let's be happy for the winners and the nominees. They are all wonderful people, and I wish them the best. I am proud to run this award and to give some joy to those who have struggled to make the fandom a better place. And I will continue to run this award as long as this bear is alive and kicking.
The Furry Fandom: Nirvana of Love and Acceptance or Cesspool of Perverts, Trolls, and Losers? (Editorial)
I have been a furry since I was a little kid growing up in the 1970s (yes, I have moles on my back older than most of you reading this), and I first became aware of the fandom around 1990 (these are separate things, as I will later explain). Yesterday, I stumbled upon this YouTube video by Beta Eta Delota with the title The Furry Fandom Is Toxic. Just reading the title made me cringe (provocative title meant to draw clicks, no doubt), but I did my duty, which is my continuing effort to learn about all things furry and to keep taking the fandom's temperature every month or two to see if it is feeling well, and watched the video. (It's not long, so you can take a few minutes and watch it yourself.) Basically, he makes two points: 1) that furries too often excuse bad people in the fandom (and by bad, he means things like pedophiles, zoophiles, and Nazi furs) either because they have cute fursuits and/or have been nice to the person who is excusing them and who feels their bad behavior doesn't affect them, or 2) because furries use the fandom as an unhealthy escape from reality.
Now, he has some points here, and he is the first to stress that not all furries are this way. But, like everyone who criticizes the fandom, he makes two mistakes: 1) saying the fandom "can be better" without offering any suggestions or solutions as to HOW it could improve other than vaguely saying that furries shouldn't tolerate haters and pedos (well, no shit); and 2) somehow believing that a fandom consisting of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people should somehow be different than humanity in general. Everything he points out that is wrong about the fandom (tolerating bad people, escaping too much into fantasy) is also true of humanity in general. The fandom isn't bad because it is a furry fandom; there are bad people in the fandom and there are people who tolerate that because that's what human beings do. Furries are no different than anyone else.
Beta's vlog is just one of quite a lot of such videos blorping around on YouTube and social media. There are long diatribes from people droning on about "why I left the fandom" and whining how toxic it is all over the place. Most of them are either criticizing the furporn element or the, sigh, drama.
So, if the fandom is so toxic and shameful, you might wonder why there are droves of furries padding about in it with an "oWo" here and an "uWu" there. Well, the other side of the coin are the furries extolling the virtues of the fandom, arguing what a happy-pappy place it is full of people who will love you unconditionally and accept you for who you are and that it is all about fun and creativity.
While this is, in part, quite true, it is also--like the myth of the American Dream--in many ways a heaping barrel of horse manure. If the fandom were Nirvana, I wouldn't see many letters in my "Ask Papabear" inbox and everyone in the world would be scratching at the fandom's doggy door to get in. There is considerable drama, and yours truly has been on the defensive end of troll attacks and jerkwads on several occasions. But! There are many many wonderful furries, too! Just look at the over three dozen nominees for this year's Good Furry Award and you will learn about just a few of them.
So why is this an issue at all, and why do furries get their tails in a knot about it? Well, for one thing, the fandom has become a place to which many people escape because they are looking for the acceptance they did not receive in mundane society. While certainly not true for all furries, many furries come here because they are LGBTQ or because they have emotional or mental issues such as autism spectrum disorder (I've lost count of the number of furries who have written to me saying they have Asperger syndrome or OCD or some other anxiety disorder or depression). They are seeking a place of acceptance and have been told that the fandom is it. But what often (sometimes inevitably) happens is that when they come across some bad characters among their new social group, they find themselves rejected, say, by their local furmeet, and they feel utterly betrayed. So, they lash out at the fandom as a whole because of this, blaming everyone for their experience.
Another phenomena is Usurper Syndrome (my name for it). This happens when someone who may have felt like an outcast in mundane society suddenly finds too much acceptance in the fandom and rises (or misappropriates) a leadership role in a local furry group. Now finding themselves on the top rung of the ladder, they proceed to use their footpaws to kick people out to make a point: "I'm going to do to you what others did to me as a salve for my bruised ego." Doing this maneuver usually involves devious shenanigans to remove a group's previous leader and assume the throne for themselves. When this happens, the dethroned furry either announces that furries are all trash or says that they are "leaving the fandom."
Next, there are Furry Posers. These are people who join the fandom for all the wrong reasons (e.g. they think it is a cool way to be rebellious or to shock people) and end up causing trouble in the community because they aren't genuine. These are the people who steal art or fursuits (because they have no skills), are hungry for attention and want to be popufurs, OR, even worse, they see the fandom as a gateway to release their sexual deviancies and prey on people. These are not true furries, and I agree with Beta that they should not be tolerated within the fandom.
Finally, there is the Prude Patrol. Some of you who know furry history will recall the Burned Furs, who, from about 1998 to 2001, went on a rampage to tell all furries they couldn't have adult art (rather like the American Puritans). Of course, this worked about as well as Prohibition in the 1920s. But there are many furries out there still who get their undies in a bunch because there is furporn. My reply: if you don't like it, don't look at it. Prudes are upset because they feel furporn will be a reflection on them, so they demand it be extirpated completely from the fandom. Such people also are overly sensitive to criticism and satire from nonfurries (a famous example is the Furry Force cartoons from CollegeHumor that are just hysterical). If you can't laugh at yourself, you either need to work on your self-esteem or not take yourself so seriously.
Because of people like the above (and there are other cases, but these are some of the major ones), furries tend to be their own worst enemy. This results either in furries posting videos like Beta Eta Delota's to complain about themselves, OR! they do exactly the opposite and idealize the fandom as something it really isn't: a perfect, loving place where all are welcomed and one can indulge in a fantasy life free from real-world troubles like bigotry and social hierarchies.
Years ago, I got it into my head that the solution to all of this was to create a regulating organization that I called The American Furries Association. I even got so far as to get some volunteer staff members, hold some meetings, and commission a logo. The idea was that it would serve as a way to screen out bad furries (you would have to apply and you could be kicked out for bad behavior), prevent fursona stealing (by creating a fursona and fursuit database), and be an information resource and support group for both new and experienced furries. I had to shut the doors on it before it got off the ground because, even with some volunteers, I quickly found out it would be a full-time job to lead the AFA, and I simply didn't have the time to give it that it deserved. But a second reason was that furries simply don't want to be regulated. One of the features that makes the furry fandom unique is that it is not associated with a franchise or regulated by a nonprofit or corporate entity (unlike, say, the Trekkies or Star Wars fans). Furries tend to bristle at the suggestion they have to adhere to rules of conduct or apply for a membership (other furries have sometimes tried to create such groups and issue membership cards to little effect).
Hence, here we are: a HUGE fandom of millions of people without a cohesive, organizing body to oversee them. The furry fandom more closely resembles a Mad Max world than it does Earth under the United Federation of Planets. It's a Wild West of chaos and adventure where you find both Outlaws and Lawmen, Showgirls and Trollops, Gunmen and Healers, Christians and Native Spiritualists. You can't put a leash around it's neck and rein it in. And don't expect to produce a vlog commanding everyone to behave and expect furries to suddenly say, "Ohmahgerd! You're right! How could we have been so foolish! We will all behave now."
Beta ends his vlog by saying that the fandom could be better. Sure, everything could be better. It could also be a lot worse, just as this world could be a lot better or worse. But without any supervision--which will never ever happen--it's going to be what it is: a crapload of people goofing around in fursuits or making art, or playing games. A lot of these people are wonderful, creative, and compassionate furries, but some of them are, well, assholes. Hey! Whaddaya know! Just like the real world!
Beta IS correct that we should not excuse bad furries just because they "have a cute fursuit." And someone who is guilty of a crime such as pedophilia (someone with a criminal record for this) or other crimes such as animal abuse, domestic violence, rape, or theft, should be banned from furry events. (And, if you didn't know already, there is actually something called the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable consisting of furcon organizers who discuss issues such as this.) He's also correct that it is unhealthy to immerse yourself in the fandom completely as a way of escaping the responsibilities of reality.
But the furry fandom in and of itself is not toxic. The furry fandom is not a kumbaya community, either. The furry fandom is what you make of it. If you bring drama to it or create drama, if you insist on associating with the bad eggs, you're going to have a bad time. Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Don't admire a furry because you think their suit is awesome or they are a talented artist. Get to know them as people, and be discerning in your choice of friends. Don't expect the fandom to change to suit your needs. That's like kicking a brontosaurus in the toe and telling it to change course. it's too big. It's grown exponentially from a small group of friends meeting at a sci-fi convention to a worldwide phenomenon. And it is not only growing, but it is changing as well. And it will continue to change because it is a living, breathing social movement.
I'm a furry because I love anthro art in film, TV, comic books, graphic novels, and online. I was a furry since I was about 6 years old, pretending to be Chip from Disney's Chip and Dale, not having a clue why I did it. I just enjoyed it. When I discovered that there were others like me by stumbling upon the Furry Nation website back around 1990, I was thrilled. I love the fursuits. I love the art. I love going to furcons and donning my own fursuit and being Grubbs Grizzly. I adore it. And while I am very aware of the bad posers out there and do not tolerate them, I am not going to allow them to ruin my good time.
I am not part of a "toxic" community, and labeling an entire community in this way is irresponsible at best, an invitation to hate at worst. If I thought the fandom was toxic, I wouldn't be writing this column and I wouldn't be running the Good Furry Award.
I'm not a furry because I found the fandom; I participate in the fandom because I'm a furry. The community that is the fandom and the fact that I am a furry are two separate things. Like oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, they can taste good together, but unless you shake them up together occasionally, they will separate out and reveal themselves as quite different from one another.
So, don't worry about "fixing" the fandom. It's fine. If you want to improve something, just work on yourself. We all need improving, myself included.
Dear Papa Bear,
Normally, I would not write in to a column about a issue I'm having. However, since this is something I've had a lot of people talk to me about and I don't know the answer, I figured taking it to a higher source makes more sense. So, I am a late 30-something furry, and I've been in the fandom nearly a decade. As I've aged, I've noticed furry has become, for lack of a better term, "tainted" by social politics, gender wars, and identity politics. Unfortunately, much of the issue is coming from a result of the young taking over leadership roles in our community. My question is, what can we "the elder generation" of furries do to maybe help curb the tide of this problem and what do you think of furry becoming so hyperpolitical?
Lotus Wolf (37)
* * *
Dear Lotus Wolf,
Good question, and one I certainly relate to, being a greymuzzle myself. Yes, the fandom is changing, and it is radically different from when it started in the late 1970s/early 1980s. This is the result of a couple of things: 1) the internet, and 2) how it has grown to include hundreds of thousands of people. As the fandom becomes more visible to the general public, it has attracted a lot of people who don't really "get" furry. They are in it more to get attention than to be a part of the fun. Part of getting attention has been to do political things such as becoming a Nazi or Antifa furry. In this bear's humble opinion, furry is not a place for politics (this includes any sexual or gender or identity politics). It's supposed to be a place to avoid mundane things like politics and economics and social pressures. I disagree with you that furry has become "hyperpolitical." Yes, politics have encroached upon it, but not in an all-consuming way--just enough to be annoying.
What to do about it? Number one is to avoid validating people who want to make politics a thing in the fandom (doesn't matter if they are on the right, left, or moderate). They are basically trolls and should be ignored and blocked. Second is to reemphasize the fantasy aspect of the fandom by encouraging and participating in the writing, art, and games of the fandom. Third is to do what we can to educate the younger generations about furry history and who we are. Such things as Ash Coyote's documentary The Fandom can be helpful, or reading books such as Joe Striker's Furry Nation.
Change is inevitable and will continue in any living fandom. There will be good things about the fandom and bad things, but that's okay as long as we don't lose sight of who we are. Communication and education are the best approaches. We should also recognize that some things simply are not acceptable. I, for one, do not appreciate seeing anyone wearing a swastika armband at a furcon (or the Furry Raiders' armband, which is obviously similar, and don't tell me it's not), and I'm not a fan of how Antifa furs have behaved in the past, nor do I care to see furcon room parties for Soviet Furs.
Young people in America, especially, have lost an appreciation for democracy and freedom, sadly. They have been coddled and spoiled and no longer understand how lucky they are. A Cambridge University study showed that 55% of Millennials don't think democracy is important. The failing here is not with the Millenials, however; it is with the older generation and our current politicians who have made a mockery of democracy. What the Millennials are abhorring, really, is the distorted and corrupt "democracy" we now have. The internet, as we have seen so painfully recently, is also to blame for spreading lies and misinformation about our political institutions and a number of politicians.
The furry fandom is a victim of the times. Don't blame furries themselves. I hate when people say things such as "The fandom is just a bunch of furverts and drama queens and haters." No, it's not. Almost everyfur I meet--young and old--is a wonderful person. But it only takes a drop of arsenic to poison the entire cup of tea. More and more, admins in places such as Facebook groups (including me) have been prohibiting politics and hate in their groups. If those who run social websites, furmeets, and furcons remain vigilant, they can do a lot to eliminate or, at least, minimize the problem.
There need to be adults in the room, in other words. And I call on the greymuzzles and other, younger, adults who have taken it upon themselves to assume leadership roles in the fandom to set standards for their groups and organizations. We have seen what happens when supervision is lacking (e.g., the closing of Rainfurest and some other cons). Be an example to the younger furries and you will go a long way toward keeping the furry fandom a fun and enjoyable social phenomenon.
This is an important topic, and I've only brushed the surface of it. I welcome my readers' comments and input below.
Thank You, Dear Readers
I have been writing the "Ask Papabear" column for seven years now. I wanted to pause for a moment and offer these thoughts and points to all of you who read this blog....
Why do I write "Ask Papabear"? Hmm. I started writing it when young furries started seeking advice from me unsolicited. I became active in the fandom rather late, but most furries are in their teens and twenties, and I saw that a lot of them lacked positive mentors in their lives. You know, when I first created the website, people made fun of me. "Who is this guy that calls himself 'Papabear' and why does he think he's so great he can give furries advice? Does he just want to be a popufur?" There was some furry radio podcaster who mocked my voice (even though there is no audio on the site) and acted like I was a doofus. A friend of mine alerted me to the broadcast as it was ongoing, and I felt humiliated. So I called the station up, and they said the guy who was mocking me was just doing it "because it's his job on the show to mock people." Although they apologized, and I told them I accepted that apology, in my head I felt really bad. I almost quit right there because I felt, "Well, if this is how furries are, then f*** 'em."
But I didn't quit because I realized that people like that were a minority, and if I quit then a lot of furries that needed some encouragement would go lacking.
Why do I feel I am qualified to give advice? First, it should be noted that most newspaper advice columnists in the past were women with absolutely no background in psychology or social work; newspaper editors gave them the job on the old social pages to fill up some space and appeal to women readers. So, I didn't need any qualifications LOL. However, I actually DO have qualifications, even though I'm not a trained counselor. I have life experiences that cover many bases relevant to furries, and, being a furry myself and a fursuiter, I know what it's like to be a furry. I've actually had compliments from psychologists and social workers about my column. Oh, I also studied psychology for two years in college before switching majors to English. Finally, since I don't charge for my advice, I'm not pretending to be a professional, so nothing illegal is happening here.
But WHY do I do it?
I have found in my life that things such as money, material goods (houses, cars, etc.), and power have no appeal to me. They do not give me any satisfaction. The only thing that has made this bear's life feel worthwhile is hearing from people like you who have said that I have helped them. When I hear, for example, that I have helped a married couple with their problems in bed and have brought them back from the brink of separation, or that I have gotten two furries to hook up and become lifetime mates, or that I helped a parent understand her furry child, well, that just brings a big grin to this greymuzzle's face! So, I guess you could say I'm being selfish. Helping people makes me happy. I have struggled since my teen years with depression (still have it, of course), and people like you are my antidote for when I feel sad about the losses in my life or about the state of the world.
To you, and to all my readers, thank YOU for helping ME.
Papabear Grubbs Grizzly
While not perfect (emphasis on fursuiters and also makes it look like all furries have social anxiety issues), this is a well-done show that de-emphasizes the fursex stigma and really shows how fun and beneficial the furry community is. I would give it an A- overall. Worth a watch.
[Note: I want to thank all those who have offered comments at the end of this article. The information I wrote about some of these cons was brought to me by various furries and online articles. I was not at RMFC or the early ConFurence I mention here, or, indeed, any of these cons. In the end, however, it it not important who, exactly, did what to whom. There are two undeniable facts: 1) several furcons have been cancelled over the last couple years; 2) the fact that they were cancelled is NOT because the mundane community banned furries; it IS because, in one way or another, furries behaved badly. It might be that three conventions being cancelled in three years is just a coincidence, but it seems to me that this is an escalating symptom of a phenomenon I am seeing, and that is that the fandom has grown so large that it is getting out of control. What the solution is, I'm not sure, but I think we need to start addressing this in a serious manner.]
I need to pause here and take a breath. There have been some sad developments in the furry world over the last two years or so, and I am going to state my opinion about it so my readers know where I stand.
As any furry who pays attention knows, three furcons have now shut down due to bad behavior: Rainfurrest, Oklacon, and, very recently, Rocky Mountain Fur Con. In the first case, the con got out of hand when a bunch of furries trashed hotel rooms, costing the hotel a lot of money, and also indulged in bad (sometimes gross) behavior in the lobby and public areas. In the case of the Colorado con, it seems to be a combination of the actions of a group calling itself the "Furry Raiders" (I've also heard the name #AltFurry), an apparently new group that supports right-wing principles and is opposed to what is, really, a rather liberal social group, as well as furcon admins who didn't pay federal taxes. One admin has also been involved in sex with a minor and (not sure if it's the same person) is connected to the Furry Raiders, allowing them to reserve a block of rooms that ended up excluding other furries and that, in turn, resulted in threats of violence.
Here's a good article about what happened at RMFC.
Also, in 2014, Oklacon was menaced by drunk furries who engaged in public sex acts that forced the con to shut its doors the next year.
And then there is the incident at Midwest Furfest during which someone released chlorine gas in a stairwell. You will notice, though, that MFF is still running. Why? Because it is a great example of a well-run furry convention (kudos to the staff). Something happened that was beyond their control, but they quickly managed the situation and the result was that this convention is still around for good furries to enjoy.
While all this saddens Papabear, I'm not really surprised this has happened. The fandom has grown so large and is sans any kind of controls or rules or regulation that unsavory elements have inevitably infiltrated our ranks. Such a lackadaisical approach is the result of a permissive culture that abhors societal restriction (much like the hippie generation). I get that, but there comes a point when being too laid back is a problem.
Like a parent who allows her children to do whatever they want, the result is a bunch of spoiled, self-entitled brats who think they can do whatever they like, even if it is harmful to others.
It is more important than ever for those who run conventions to be vigilant. It is not impossible to run a large con efficiently and well. Anthrocon had 7,310 attendees in 2016 and you saw nothing like what happened at Rainfurrest or Oklacon. This result is directly attributable to those who run the con.
The danger of having badly run furcons is not just that they will close but that they will give all conventions and the fandom a bad name.
[Note: Dogpatch Press published a good article about how false rumors can also spread about cons, however.]
The preventative is vigilance. The Rainfurrest organizers were overly indulgent with attendees (public drunkenness was rampant); the RMFC staff permitted bad behavior on the part of the Furry Raiders and also either didn't do a background check or didn't care that someone in their ranks had a criminal record.
Frankly, these conventions deserved to close. If you can't do it right, then you shouldn't do it.
Convention founders and administrators need to have enough gumption to ban furries or groups of furries from joining in on the fun if they have proven themselves to be a problem. (For example, if a group espouses hate, violence, or prejudice towards others, that should be a clue they are not good furries and should not be permitted into a convention). RMFC had the opportunity to do this with the Furry Raiders group, but they backed off and suffered the consequences. (To be fair here, after talking to more people who were there, bad behavior was also demonstrated by anti-Furry Raiders people, one of whom tried to throw a punch).
No apologies should be necessary when it comes to who you allow into your organized, private function. Furry conventions have a right to ban anyone they wish for the good of the attendees who simply want to have a good time.
We need to seek an answer to this problem now before it escalates any further. My (admittedly, unasked for) advice? I would propose that an organization be created that includes all those who run or wish to run a furry convention (it would be great if this could include furries from all over the world). The purpose of this organization would be to:
The days are past when furcons could operate just fine in isolation from one another.
[NOTE: In light of the comment added by Smash in the comments below, the above is obviously a good idea that is already in existence (never said I was original LOL). Funny that I have not heard about the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable before, even though it was founded back in 2010! I'm sure the members of that group have been talking about recent events. Would be interesting if they could maybe be a little more public about it. Good for them for organizing the FCLR! Kudos all around, and I wish them success in the future.]
When I talk to furries and ask them what they like about the fandom, one of the frequent answers is that they enjoy the camaraderie and the fact that furries accept everyone. Indeed, that should be the spirit of furry. You might think that I am against the Furry Raiders' conservative values and that's why I'm ripping on them here. Not at all. If you want to be a conservative furry and vote for Donald Trump, go for it. But don't espouse hatred. Don't threaten violence against other furries. Don't reserve a block of rooms for the purpose of keeping furries you don't like from attending. Such behavior is obviously unacceptable and should be rejected by all good furries everywhere.
The furry fandom is supposed to be a world where people can escape from the nonsense of hatred and prejudice that plagues the rest of society. Yes, of course, furries are humans and subject to human flaws, but that doesn't mean we can't strive to be better than that. It takes work, and the more furries there are in the world the more work it will take.
I think it's worth the effort.
[Thanks for all the comments below. I've gotten a few things incorrect, apparently, but was simply reporting what I had heard from people who said they were there. I'm getting some different stories from other people who also said they were there. Details. Well, let's forego all the details. The point is, that furcons have been and are being taken down by furries who can't behave themselves. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed by the community. A good start would be the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable.]
Happy Thanksgiving 2016
Dear Furry Community,
While not all of you visiting this site are American (and therefore do not celebrate Thanksgiving), I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who have visited, posed questions, and perhaps took the time to offer a compliment or two.
Take a little time today to think of things you can be grateful for: friends, family, food on the table, clothes on your back, a bed to sleep in.
And do not envy those who may seem more prosperous and successful than you. There will always be others who have more money, better careers, better physical features than you. Envy just brings you down.
Instead, work on accepting yourself for who you are, and exercise kindness towards those around you at all times.
Take time to appreciate the beauty of nature, the love of a good dog or cat, the flavor of the ice cream melting on your tongue, a kiss on the cheek.
None of us knows why we are really here. Perhaps there is no reason at all. So, do your best to enjoy what you have in the here and now.
You have no doubt by now heard about the shooting in Orlando, Florida, at a gay club there and that the perpetrator (who is now dead) killed dozens and injured dozens more in the name of ISIS. It is, to date, the worst mass shooting in American history.
When something like this happens, we weep and we ask "Why?" Many reasons come out. In this case, several reasons have already been proposed, including that the shooter was an Islamist, that he was mentally ill, and that he was homophobic. It's also worth noting his parents are from Afghanistan and he could have been upset by what is happening in that country.
Then there is the corollary that we are not vigilant enough and we allow these things to happen. The killer was investigated not once, but twice, by the FBI, which never charged him. Yet, should this not have raised a red flag when he legally obtained two guns days before the shooting? And there is always the argument against the availability of high-powered weaponry that is obviously not meant for hunting deer. There is also the argument that the writers of the Constitution meant the 2nd Amendment to apply to a "well-regulated militia," not the proliferation of automatic guns and other weapons among unregulated, private citizens. One can easily point to countries in Europe and elsewhere that see far less gun violence because they regulate guns better than we do (they still see violence, but not on the same scale). Furthermore, the NRA argument that more guns, not fewer, is the answer is patently absurd. We have more guns than ever in private hands, yet the problem grows worse every week.
All of the above are valid points to be made and could all be factors that led to the shooting deaths of 50 people, but I like to keep things simple. The problem is much deeper than gun laws and prejudice and religious zealotry. The problem is a fundamental flaw in human nature to hate what we don't understand or what we fear.
Even now after this heinous act we see people spreading their venom about gay people, making matters worse. The infamous nutbag Pat Robertson has said that it is God punishing us because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is constitutional. And Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick posted a tweet that you "reap what you sew" (he has deleted the comment, but not before thousands saw what kind of person he truly is).
Why do people feel this way? Why do people spread hatred and commit acts of violence? In the case of gay hatred, my theory is that the worst perpetrators are the ones who have doubts about their own sexual feelings and use hatred as a way to deny them (how many times have you read stories of anti-gay senators or ministers being caught with their hands in the masculine cookie jar?)
But to be less specific, more generalized, the reasons are fear and ignorance. Why do countries go to war? Because they fear they do not have enough power and resources and they are vulnerable unless they conquer their neighbors. Why are people prejudiced against other cultures? Because they are ignorant about how others live, and they fear that which they do not understand. Why do Islamists kill people? Because they have been misled into believing that other people hate their God and don't respect Him. Why does the U.S. government have the biggest military in the world with bases all over the planet? Because we mistakenly believe that if others do not govern as we do or have capitalistic economies then they are a threat, and we also believe that we are wiser and more free than anyone, which just isn't so. Why do some people hate furries? Because they believe all the crap they see on TV and on the Internet and they are afraid of people who behave in imaginative ways they don't understand.
So, is there a solution? You cannot solve all the problems of the world by yourself, true, but you can be part of the solution. Educate yourself and learn about other people not just people like yourself. Show love and kindness toward your fellow humans and to Nature. Shine light on the world by being an example of acceptance and charity. Meanwhile, also strive to achieve inner peace and a connection with the universe. (By the way, this is also directed at those furries who seek to create division within our own ranks).
The Orlando shooting and other similar crimes serve as an example to all of us of what not to do, and how not to react when you are troubled or angry. The person who killed all those innocents is now dead. We cannot exact revenge, and to be angry and bitter offers no salvation.
The only way to fight ignorance is with education, and the only way to fight hatred is with love.
That is the lesson here.
Grubbs "Papabear" Grizzly
If You Seek Meaning in Life
Jim's death has solidified in my heart and mind what the meaning of life is. One can only find meaning in Eternal Truths. Anything that is transitory or impermanent is not an Eternal Truth. These include things such as money, material goods, fame, and power. Love, however, is eternal and exists beyond the material. How am I sure? Jim, whose body was material, is gone, but my love for him persists and always will.
Now, that love once did not exist because there was a time before which I did not know Jim. But, after I met him and got to know him, I fell in love with him. Therefore, Love can be Created, and, if it is Real Love (not lust or romantic idealized love, but real love), it will always exist.
Therefore, we are beings who have the power of Generative Love, and that is the remarkable gift that God has given us.
Our purpose, then, is not to seek to be loved (passive love, because you are merely receiving it), but to learn to love and to create everlasting love in the universe.
(Real love does not dictate, does not seek to change others, but is accepting of others for who they are.)
If you seek to do something truly meaningful in your life, then go out and create a loving world.
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.