Dear Papa Bear,
I am the mother of a 21-year-old transgender child. He has in the past few years gone through many different identifications in his sexuality, and I'm starting to get a little concerned. When he identified as female, he told me he was a lesbian. This was when he was about 16. Then at 18 he told me he was trans. About 6 months later he said he was straight (still trans). About 6 months after that he decided he was gay. Most recently I asked him if he would like me to make him a trans flag blanket and he said he would prefer a non-binary flag.
Now I have absolutely NO problem with him being any sex or sexuality that he identifies with. What is concerning to me is how quickly he has been bouncing between identifications. I know everybody goes through periods of finding themselves and I'm very happy that he feels comfortable enough to share with me what he is feeling. My question is, is it happening too fast? Should I be concerned that he is changing his mind a couple of times a year for the past 5 years? Or am I just being an over-protective mom?
* * *
Dear Mama Lion,
I'd like to heap praises on you for being a fantastic mom. Your child is lucky to have you!
To the point: based on what you have written, I think your child could be described as "gender-fluid." Gender-fluid is a term describing someone whose gender identity shifts over time--and yes, the time elapsed can be as short as a single day. Gender-fluid people can identify as a man one day, a female the next. They can even identify as asexual, bisexual, transexual, nonbinary, straight, and on and on.
There is also something called "gender-queer." A gender-queer person doesn't tend to shift identity (although they might); they identify as not exclusively male or female. And, yes, you can be both gender-fluid and gender-queer.
Have a headache yet? That might be because many humans (even furries!) suffer from something I call "labelphilia": the desire to stick a label on, identify, and categorize everything. This started all the way back to Adam, when he was putting labels on all the animals.
Adam: I'm going to call you ... an "antelope."
Animal: Excuse me, Adam, but I identify as a lion, sir! And sometimes a giraffe (sticks out tongue and stalks off in a huff).
When we can't categorize everything, we tend to develop anxiety because labels and IDs offer a sense of stability and comfort in a crazy, chaotic world. This is a problem because one of the most complicated things ever invented is human sexuality and gender identity. This kind of anxiety is why many people are homophobic, and it is why most homophobes are simple-minded people (or politicians and clergy using homophobia to manipulate). Homophobes and anti-LGBTQ derps can only see things in black or white; they can't grasp complicated or subtle concepts. They can't believe that not only are there nearly infinite shades of grey in between black and white, but! there are also all the colors of the rainbow. AND! People don't have to be just light-grey or purple, they can be green and orange with a dash of striped grey-and-white thrown in.
Now, being that your child is 21, it should be noted that when people are young they tend to experiment a lot as they try to figure out who they are. This might mean that, as your child ages, the shifts could get less frequent as they settle into something they find comfortable. It might not mean that, but it could.
You can save yourself the trouble by simply not trying to label them at all and not worry about their gender identity so much. You'll save money on antacid purchases. We are much more than our gender and sexual preferences. I don't, for example, go around introducing myself as gay. I introduce myself as Grubbs or Kevin. This should not be too hard for you because you are such a loving and supportive mother, and bless you profusely for that. I wish you were common instead of the exception in this world.
If you still wish to make them a flag blanket, then you could ask them if they would like a gender-fluid one (yes, there is a flag for everything). Below is an example you can use as a model.
Heads up this is a bit sexual, but my research doesn't seem to be turning much up at all so I'm hoping you can help.
I have recently been exploring my sexuality on multiple levels, and have discovered that I erotically enjoy furry art, and more recently have found I enjoy imagining myself as an anthropomorphic animal - but only for sex purposes, and I often feel disgusted with myself afterwards. I still have not fully got a handle on why. I have no desire for a fursuit, or to engage with the fandom as a lifestyle in any way. But the more I engage with anthropomorphic erotica in this way, the more cemented my idea of my own sona(?) seems to get, though it's something I only associate with sex.
My understanding is that just sexual interest/association is not exactly the common experience for furries, and I'm feeling a lot of shame around having this... honestly it kind of feels like a fetish? and worrying that furry art etc. isn't being made for me, and engaging with it erotically is kind of violating the intent of the creators and the deep connection of many people with their fursonas, and possibly could help perpetuate negative stereotypes about the furry fandom. (In the interest of respect, I've mostly been sticking to explicit erotica).
On the other hand, I have a therian friend who is telling me to relax and engage with an open mind to slowly discover myself, but it always seems to come with the implication that the experiences I'm having are a gateway into other engagement with the furry fandom, which would be fine, I obviously have nothing against furries, but what if it doesn't, and I'm only interested in essentially a fetish? It feels like then I really would just be the disgusting sexual deviant both furries and the mainstream have no use for, and also still have no good framework for understanding why I'm like this when I don't even like sex with other people and get turned off by my own body at times.
It's just a lot, and if you have any advice for how to navigate this I would be incredibly grateful for it.
Thank you very much,
Mae (age 21)
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It's very natural for someone your age to be exploring their sexuality (hell, I'm still doing it at 55 LOL, but I digress). Let's clear up a couple inaccuracies in your letter, first. Furporn is quite common in the fandom, and many furries enjoy it. While it should be acknowledged that being a furry isn't about sex, because many furries are young and sexually active (or, at least, interested in sex), this naturally transfers into a lot of art in the fandom. Many furries are not at all interested in this aspect of the fandom. That's fine. Many are just interested in it as part of a multifaceted culture that includes lots of other stuff, and THAT is fine, too. And many furries, frankly, are pretty much only interested in furporn. That is fine, too.
Don't feel disgusted with yourself or feel like you are insulting the spirit of the fandom by enjoying the adult art. You are not. You can certainly find plenty of furporn online and enjoy that (not sure who made you think "that just sexual interest/association is not exactly the common experience for furries," but that's just not correct; it is quite common, though not omnipresent). And you can find lots of artists who draw it and you can commission them, and they will appreciate your business. You can also buy furry sex toys from Bad Dragon, and they, too, will appreciate your business.
Being furry is not necessarily a fetish, but you can have a fetish for furry stuff. And you don't have to be a furry to enjoy furry art. There are many people who are connected to the fandom who are not necessarily furries. I often like to give the example of my fursuit maker, Beastcub. She is not herself a furry, but she loves costuming and creating fursuits as an art (and it definitely IS an artform, in my opinion). Similarly, there are many artists, writers, and filmmakers who create stories that many of us would call furry but the creators are not themselves furries.
Your therian friend is correct that you need to chill and not overthink or worry about your sexual interests as long as--and this is important and key--you are not hurting anyone (and you are not, in your case). Whether or not you wish to become more connected with the furry community is entirely up to you. There are a number of social media groups you could join, and, of course, sites like FurAffinity and e621 contain a lot of what you are looking for.
As for your last comment, well, there could be a lot going on with you psychologically that you don't mention in your letter. A general comment I might make here is that there are many people who, for one reason or another, are more comfortable sexually if they put up a façade of some sort. Perhaps you experienced others body shaming you, or perhaps you had a bad sexual experience when you were younger. This has led to an antagonistic relationship with your own body and even the human form, but you still have sexual desires. Therefore, you cover up the human form with an anthro character, and this allows you to express your sexuality again. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part, but perhaps it has some relevance for you.
I hope this helps. Bottom line: just be yourself, as your friend said, and it is completely healthy to explore your sexuality. Anything is okay, as long as everything is above board, consensual, and not hurtful.
Hope that helps. Write again if you have further questions.
I am having some complex issues with my long term relationship, and I was hoping you might give me your opinion or perhaps your advice. Sorry in advance for the length.
First, I want to say I love my partner James. I’ve never loved anyone more in my life. He was the first person I came out to, and he told me on the spot that he “wasn’t sure if what [he felt] was love just yet, but there is definitely strong attraction [towards me].” We promised that if we were ever single at the same time that we would date. I went through several traumatic relationships that left me with more baggage than I could imagine. But he was always there for me, he helped me feel like me again. After a particularly nasty break up he put my shattered pieces back together, and in that moment I felt like I finally wanted to try with him.
It’s necessary to mention that when James and I started dating it was as a closed polycule of three; James, myself, and my existing partner Rile. Things went well for a while, the three of us even started living together when Rile’s home was undergoing renovations. Everything was great until Five months into dating, when James woke me up to break up with me. Much, much later he told me that he was frustrated by being in a closed relationship. Two depressing months later we got back together under two stipulations, being an open relationship, and having his privacy. We agreed, being poly it was easier to understand certain needs. For me I just wanted my two boyfriends and nothing else.
Rile started spending a lot of time away from home after we all moved back in together. He thought I started falling more in love with James than him. Much complication aside Rile and I parted ways, and I felt myself shifting more towards closed monogamy. All I wanted was James, and for him not to slip away from me. I started to think that him finding someone else would drive a wedge between us, and I would end up feeling just like Rile had towards me. I spoke with James about it, he promised me time to figure things out, but being closed was only temporary as it was one of the conditions of us getting back together. It was appreciated but not the reaction I hoped for or needed in that moment.
He seemed genuine about giving me time to figure out my sexuality, that is until I heard a notification and wanted to bring him his phone. That’s when I saw all of the dating app notifications. You name it, he had it. I just fell to the ground and stifled a pained moan. He had been cheating on me. He promised me that he never did anything in person, but that he did cheat by talking to others and leading them on sexually. He told me that leading people on gave him a sick kick, but it wasn’t entirely sexually motivated. He even admitted that doing so behind my back gave him a thrill. (This was 10 months after getting back together Nov 4th.)
He told me that if I wanted to break up it was entirely understandable. He also offered me a proposition; though it would be hard for him, he would try to be monogamous for me. That I would be able to look through his phone anytime I wanted to, that I was encouraged to for us. He showed me proof that he had deleted every dating app and his entire camera roll. This was after promising to show me every message he sent another person. Somewhere along the way he decided to change that and delete everything before showing me the phone. Probably to save me from my own anger, and increase the likelihood of me staying with him.
All of this sounds terrible and makes him seem like an awful manipulative person, but I do have genuine romantic feelings for him. Through our years together in and out of relationship, we have shared so very much, and I would be honored to call him my husband one day. For a while after that we were fine, and monogamy was followed through on as promised. I still wanted to check his phone, but I never found the courage to overpower the social awkwardness to ask.
When I did finally check up on him using his Facebook and Twitter accounts. I saw countless RP’ing convos, and more "lead on" conversations as he claimed them later. In particular there was where he told an old friend “I’m stuck in a relationship I can’t get out of.” When I confronted him he said that was mad that he made that promise to me initially [Nov 4], but had grown to support the decision since then [Dec 1], and that this whole thing was a slip up. Again he promised to let me see each convo, and instead blocked and deleted them, before I could see everything. We agreed that he could still RP as long as he told me or asked me.
I checked his open phone another night and found many more RP sessions he didn’t tell me about. In particular I found a conversation where he texted/rp’d? about cuckolding me by having sex with someone else in front of me. This seemed to be (out of character speak) too, he and Vlad constantly specified about talking when I wasn’t around which made it all worse. He claimed that it was just RP, not real, and not sexual, even though he sent messages about riding his dildo to the convos with Vlad. He promised me that he RP’ing with Vlad in particular was off limits, which I know now didn’t stand. I keep seeing messages from Vlad on his phone.
There was even a time where I made an RP account to test him, he took the bait and started RP’ing me while laying in bed next to me pretending to sleep. When I confronted him and told him it was me, he immediately refused to RP with me, and still refuses today.
Lastly, there is the issue of his sex drive. The first and only time we have had sex, aside from two botched attempts, was our very first date years ago. James has been going through a dry spell as he calls it, where he wants desperately to bleed me dry every day, but now is embarrassed and unmotivated due to his lack of a sex drive not aligning with his desires. I have always tried to be understanding of this issue when poaching the idea of sex. But the way he has shot me down countless times now makes me feel disgusting and unwanted. My will to try having sex with him is completely broken, to the degree that I openly fear discussing any of my own sexual desires with him. On top of that is that I am a switch, he is a firm bottom. The few times I slip into a submissive mindscape I want or need him to take on the role of a Master. Recently, I slipped and called him Master, to which he promptly refused to ever accept the title. Hearing him say that broke something very deep inside me, and I haven’t been able to think of him the same since. I love him with every part of me, beyond anything or anyone I have ever known.. and yet, I don’t trust him.
I can’t stop invading his privacy, I am constantly checking his phone, Facebook and twitter. It constantly seems like he’s covering up his mistakes as soon as I find them. I feel sexually unwanted, due to his “dry spell”, and constant RP sessions with everyone other than me.
I feel disregarded and hurt for my occasional need for him to take on a “Master’s” role. Some nights I go to bed distracted by how much I love him, or from us just having a good day. But there have been just as many times I have stayed up unable to sleep next to him.
I don’t want to leave, I don’t want a break, I don’t want to be broken up with.
I want him all to myself.
I want to stop feeling like the bad guy.
I want to stop feeling ashamed of what I want out of this relationship.
I want to be able to trust him again.
I want to be able to call him Master when I need to.
I don’t know how to tell him any of this. I don’t know where to start at this point. I constantly fear that I’ll reach his limit of how willing he is to work anything out, and that he’ll break up with me again. I fear that he will see the real depth of how much he has hurt me, and how much he continues to hurt me, and that he will panic. I’m so scared that one day he’ll wake up and think how much better I would be without him. I’m utterly terrified.
Please let me know what you think, and how you think I could move forward.
Thanks for listening,
* * *
Your relationship with James is severely broken, as you know. This is a case in point in which, when two people are not sexually compatible, it can easily spell doom for that relationship. This just happened to someone very dear to me who is now getting a divorce after a long, monogamous marriage because the other person wanted to suddenly go poly and began ignoring her spouse in favor of the new third party. Poly relationships can work. Open relationships can work. But ONLY if everyone is on the same page and there is no jealousy and mistrust. Reading your letter, there is mistrust all over the place; there is lying; there is cheating; there is bad communication; and there is sexual frustration because you are, frankly, incompatible in the bedroom.
The biggest mistake that people in an incompatible relationship try to do is make the other person change or (incorrectly used) "grow as a person," which just means, "change so that they do what I want." Look, Lindell, you have four choices here:
Of these choices, the only one that has a chance of helping you and James to find a satisfactory sex life is the fourth one. Now, is sex everything in a loving partnership? No, it is just one facet, though a big one. Sometimes sex is not a factor at all, but that is usually not the case with young, healthy couples such as yourself. The reason you are fighting this inevitable conclusion is that you want to keep James in your life because other than this one issue, you love him. I can certainly understand that you don't want your partnership to change. For the most part, it's comfortable and familiar and cozy.
I wish to stress that you are not the "bad guy" and you shouldn't feel "ashamed" for what you want. There is nothing wrong with the things you want; it's just that the things you want do not coincide with what your partner wants.
Your letter likely helped you work out some of the thought processes and emotions running through your head. Hopefully, my reply will help you wrap that process up and finally come to a conclusion as to what you should do.
Hope that I've helped you figure it out.
I am honestly contemplating the possibility that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of sexual liberalism. The professional communities that study the natural sciences, along with social disciplines like psychology, may not be supporting this theory yet, but I attest from anecdotal experience: furry porn has gradually conditioned me to "define deviancy down". I never remember contemplating kinks such as rough sex, incest, cub or violent BDSM before encountering material about them online. I almost indulged myself three days ago, but I chose not to open E621 right before I was about to go there, and barely avoided crying because then, I started to pay attention to the feeling of my humanity slipping away. I was habituating myself to fantasies of scenarios I'd never rationally support. Not to mention all the gross advertisements, or ones for dubious businesses, because porn repels mainstream companies in more conservative countries. Even if they're not real, are they worth alienating family and friends with less open minds in this respect? Also, while we mostly may not literally imitate the stupid things characters do in fictional media, I believe the possibility that we might get desensitized to particular subject matter, depending on the content you consume. There's a reason the advertising industry is worth so much money, also that government agencies collaborate very often with the entertainment industry, and in addition, Buffy the Vampire Slayer plus Dawson's Creek plus Will & Grace- believe it or not- have been credited with humanizing LGBT communities, helping mainstream acceptance of them. If there is a real correlation, would you want to dive in incredible depth into the mind of a Caligula? If you know where to look, you can find stories similar to mine.
[Papabear note: The letter write supplied lots of citations in addition to the above, which are deleted here because this is not an academic site and, frankly, I don't think my readers would want to read all of these academic articles. However, if you do, let me know and I can send them to you.]
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Dear Bald Hyena,
Human sexuality within the context of "civilized" society is a complicated story, to say the least about the most. As you know, sexuality in the fandom has long been a subject of debate and even ridicule. In case you are not aware of our history, the Burned vs. Freezing Furs war (1998-2001 or so) is an excellent example of furries fighting about X-rated material in the fandom. The Burned Furs were a group of people who objected to porn in the art of the fandom, feeling, like you, that it had gone too far and that it distracted people from the true values of furries. The problem was that they got extremely radical about it, descending into intolerance for everyone from gay furs and plushophiles to Christian furs and lifestylers, writing long, hateful tirades on social media, and even physically threatening furries in the community. The Freezing Furs were a reaction to the Burned Furs, and once we had two oppositional groups forming, well, you can imagine the fireworks and discord in the fandom. After a couple of years, the Freezing Furs disbanded and the Burned Furs burnt out, although they briefly evolved into a group calling itself Improved Anthropomorphics, a rather less aggressive group that works to promote a positive image of the fandom sans porn and paraphilias (Improved Anthropomorphics is also no longer active, it seems).
This short history is meant to show you that the debate about adult art in the fandom has been ongoing with the result being, mostly, much drama but barely any effect on the content of art and literature in the fandom (i.e., there's still a lot of adult art out there). Why is this? Well, that is a looooonger story I can't get into in this column too deeply, but I am addressing it in my book. There are many social-history and psychological reasons for furporn. The bottom line, though, is that as long as there is pornography in general society there will be pornography in the furry fandom because, well, we're sexual beings.
As you suspected, censorship is not the answer. In fact, suppression of sexual imagery is one reason I theorize that furporn is so prevalent. The more people tell you NOT to do something, the more you want to do it. As to your hypothesis that furries are becoming more tolerant of various paraphilias, I've been seeing everything from vore to cub sex on sites like FA for decades, so no, I don't think it is any more or less prevalent today than it was in the past. You are just maybe more aware of it.
I would like to comment quickly about Bad Dragon (and no, they are not sponsoring my column). I have spoken to representatives of Bad Dragon, and they are actually doing a good job about promoting responsible sex, wearing condoms, and such-like things. Also, when you look at it, using a sex toy is the safest sex you can have, no? Well, as long as you don't borrow it from someone LOL.
All that being said, one definitely should point out the dangers of harmful sexual practices. You mention choking as one, and I would add that any brutal form of sadomasochism is also a no-no, as well as anything involving nonconsensual sex (pedophilia and rape). There is a BIG difference between criminal sexual acts and sexuality that is experimental, consensual, and/or playful. I am in no way saying hurtful sexual activity is okay. There is also the problem in the fandom — especially among younger furries, but across the board — involving ignorance about sex and how to be safe about it (one furry told me that one could put a candy wrapper on one's penis for safe sex — oy vay). Finally, there is the issue of porn addiction. When people get addicted to porn, it results in desensitization to strong images and can even negatively impact the possibility of having a healthy, real-life sexual relationship.
So, bottom line, here is my conclusion on the topic of sex in the fandom: better sex education is needed. I believe that a lot of furries (again, skewing to the younger furries) come from families that have not provided them with solid information about having safe sex. A lot of conservative families, for example, will just tell their kids not to have sex at all (I'm talking about legal age young people), tell them that sex is evil, and then forbid them from understanding their bodies. Then, these kids stumble upon the furry fandom and its pornographic images and get turned on because it is forbidden fruit. This makes them vulnerable to porn addiction, and, worse, to sexual predators on the Web. Also, if they are not familiar with how to practice safe sex, that leaves them vulnerable, too.
Having an open forum on this issue is a stupendous idea. In fact, it would be an excellent idea of a forum at furcons. I might actually propose that to future furcons I will be attending.
Does this answer your question?
How to know you are in your true sexuality, or in-denial, or obsessed about sexuality?
Good day, Papabear!
I apologize if this might seemed to be too ranty or seem immature. I ask for your patience if there are grammatical errors. English is only my second language. I hope expressing my secrets on this site will help me to connect. I've been keeping this secret for so long.
When I was a child, other kids labelled me as gay or bisexual because they said I was too nerdy, lanky, soft, and effeminate. They even said I act more delicate and sensitive than most of the other girls. Due to that, I felt like it became a "licensed" for other boys to dominate me. There was a time, someone humped; other times, they showed their dick print; and usually they are caressing me like I was a dainty little girl. I know this because they emulate a certain show where a girl is surrounded by boys, and they treat me like I was that girl. Also, when I was much younger, my brother, who is two years older than me, engaged me in gay sex. It so happened that he experienced the same thing with his male classmates and our much older cousin. My thoughts during that time are empty. I don't know what we are doing during that act. Did I like it? Am I in denial? Am I truly straight? I hate that experience.
I don't want to become someone's bitch. I don't want to be submissive. I hate they abused their power against me. If only I am not a weak, passive, and introverted, and trying to maintain the image of "be a good boy who hurts no one," I'll fight them off. The thought of someone who is much stronger, bigger, virile, and loud, dominating a weaker person feels so unpleasant. Yet, here I am in a rabbit hole of NSFW furry art, searching for furry porn that usually has themes of solo, muscled males, and then eventually to big dom/small sub.
My liking for anthros or kemono characters, beastmen & human girl pairings, obsessions about having a well-built muscle (and, embarrassingly, being well endowed), playing video games, and idling around the internet served as a gateway for NSFW stuff which started around 2014. It started at first in searching beastman and human girl pairings, until I went to gay content. (They are usually much well-drawn, and are much well-endowed and muscley.) At first, I was repulsed, yet I've observed why do I feel something in my groin? It seems I automatically to "self insert" my consciousness on them. It was like "how would I feel if I was them?" I strongly felt unpleasant whenever I view NSFW arts that have tags of rape, M/M or M/F sexual humiliation, gore. I keep searching them. I should separate the feelings from fantasy and reality. But, I can't stop that bad feeling and mental image to go away.
My thoughts told me that "you felt erection especially on M/M, so you must be gay. You felt your heart beat faster, and sudden heavy force in your stomach. That must be your arousal. You need to accept it by exposing yourself or else you are homophobic, and you are living a lie. You see that? the submissive male is you. It became my compulsion to masturbate on that stuff, yet I am so confused if I actually enjoy it or not. This became my midnight ritual: search for furry porn, then masturbate--almost everyday even now. I felt nervous if I don't flush the toilet three times and If I don't pour water around its rim, or else they might found out how disgusting I am. Since I am always sleeping past midnight, it affected my school performance noticeably from 3rd year high school, and it even affects my performance in college which is BSME (I know this course needs a lot of attention, yet I am distracted so I don't have stellar performance). What once have been a brilliant mind (as esteemed by my close friends, family, and self) to a severely crippled, distracted, weird mind (I don't opened this to any of them except for a very few because I know this is weird, in a negative way, cringy, and pathetic from outside view).
On June 2020, I opened this to my classmate who also happened to identify himself as gay. After I revealed this secret, I asked him if I was truly gay or something . He said I might have unconventional interest, but others have much weirder than that yet lead decent lives. He doesn't sense any kind of "gay energy" within me. He said I might be too obsessed and a perfectionist. I felt a short term of respite, but they are not completely gone. If I don't want to belong to any label, am I queer? What if I was just a male who happens to act softly? What if I was lying myself this whole time?
I felt usually in low energy. My brain seems to be foggy and full of random and intrusive thoughts (aside from above, there are thoughts showing me licking the feces on the road or on toilet. There are thoughts showing randomly while I'm doing everyday tasks where a dominating virile monster is on my back and trying to sexually subdue me). I don't enjoy these thoughts, but why I'm having erection?
Does this signify that I'm gay or bisexual in-denial? Was it due to my obsessiveness? I don't know. I just want to cleanse my mind. I just want to be free from these feelings. I can't afford therapy, because we are poor (You do not need to be obligated to help in financial matters). What I've read from psychological self-help books like "The body keeps the score" and a few others is that trauma from childhood manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Also, sharing secrets to others anonymously especially in safe places will help alleviate the distress even for a short time, and worry about the fear of being found out in person. I don't have to worry about someone who I share my secrets with, seeing me.
I know that you have your own problems. I am sorry if I did add some burden. I felt like managing this kind of page is mentally exhausting, but I am still sending you this.
Who knows? My confession might be one of the catalysts for healing.
Thank you so much for your time and understanding. I am grateful for your efforts.
Have a good day!
Anonymous (age 21, The Philippines)
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Thank you for writing such a deeply personal and important letter to me. And, yes, writing your thoughts and feelings down can be helpful. In fact, if you don't already do so, consider keeping a journal and writing your feelings and thoughts down every day. It can be very therapeutic.
There are a few things to address here, so bear with me (pardon the pun). First of all, it is entirely possible for a man to have "effeminate, girly" qualities and still be straight (just as you can have very masculine men who are gay--leathermen and bears). What we consider to be effeminate or masculine is not biological; it's purely cultural. In some old cultures, for example, women did the hunting and men weaved baskets and took care of the children. A little more recently, back in the early 20th century in America, at least, pink was a color that boys wore, and blue was for girls. It was only much later that there was a switch. Today, men enjoying "girl" things is sometimes called "metrosexual." Of course, the opposite can be true for women. They can enjoy "guy things" (like racing cars, engineering, boxing) and still be heterosexual. Culture can be a trap. Being kind and sensitive like you are isn't weak or girly, either. It takes more strength to love than it does to hate. And, if you feel physically weak, well, there's nothing that says you can't go to the gym and work out and still enjoy being sweet and gentle.
Next topic: rape. If you are sexually molested (this doesn't have to involve penetration but can include things like inappropriate touching, shaming, groping, or even teasing you by displaying their own sex organs, etc.) by family members, classmates, or whoever and forced to have sex against your will, that's rape. Rape is often not a sexual act but, rather, an act of assault. "Butch" guys who are insecure in their masculinity will often go after someone who seems weak to them and assault them physically and sexually to "prove" they are strong (in reality, it does the opposite). To do so is meant to humiliate the victim, not to prove that he or she is gay. If you are a victim of such an assault, the thing to do is report it to the authorities. You don't say whether you did that or not, but I hope you did. I'm not sure by reading your letter whether or not the thing with your brother was consensual. It sounds like he initiated it and you just went along with it, probably because you felt pressured to. Again, because you are a sweet, sensitive person, others perceived you as being weak and took advantage of you. That in itself does not mean you are gay. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and other orientations are biological. However, being assaulted can certainly turn you away from the gender that abused you. This is a topic that has filled many books, so I don't have room for it in this column, but there are many aftereffects of rape, and one of these can be questioning your sexual orientation (as you wisely noted).
What do you do now? First, you need to try to recover from the sexual molestations you have suffered. This article summarizes the many things you can do, including everything from seeking professional counseling to simply treating yourself with kindness. In addition, you need to focus on accepting yourself for who you are without regard to society's definitions of who you should be as a young man. The cultural standards of human society are oppressive, limiting, and imprisoning. Liberate yourself by defining who you are and what your own moral compass tells you to do, and fuck society. Human society is a mess, so why would you wish to emulate it? That is one reason why we have furries--most of whom reject human society to celebrate their own individuality.
Bottom line is this: you shouldn't care if you are gay, bi, straight, or whatever else you might be. The sooner you stop obsessing about your sexual orientation the happier you will be. Look, I am a gay bear, but I don't go around wearing my orientation on my sleeve. I don't walk up to people at a party and say, "Hi! I'm Kevin and I'm gay!" Do you see people at parties saying, "Hi! I'm Bob and I'm a heterosexual"? Similarly, you should not define yourself by who attracts you physically. I bet you are a lot of other things besides what makes your penis hard. I, for one, would like to know what your hobbies and interests are, your likes and dislikes. THAT is what makes you an interesting person, not what type of porn you look at online.
Your obsession with this, as you note, is affecting your life at school and at home. Obsessions and addictions of any sort are unhealthy. It would not hurt you, I daresay, to get some therapy if you can (I know money is an issue), hopefully from a professional who is not a homophobe and is nonjudgmental. So, don't go to a church counselor. I've talked with some others in the Philippines and have heard it is a rather macho culture, so you might need to shop around a bit to find a good counselor who isn't trying to make you a cultural conformist so that you become "normal" by their standards.
So, to answer your initial question, yes, you are definitely obsessed with your sexuality, and this is because of two things: 1) your rape experience, and 2) your struggle to be accepted for yourself. These are things that are not solved overnight but, rather, you need to work on over time. You also ask if you are in denial. No, I don't think you're in self-denial; I just think you haven't figured yourself out yet. You have been addressing the issue head-on, so that's a good thing. You should continue to actively explore your sexuality. At 21 years old, you're right in that time of life when many people are still working on their sexual orientation. Heck, I didn't really figure out mine until I was 40, so everyone is different. Don't compare yourself to other people's standards or timelines. Work at your own pace. Finally, how do you know "you are in your true sexuality?" as you put it. Well, not with porn. You will know for sure when you find someone you love and wish to be with and with whom you have a good sexual relationship, whether that person is gay, straight, trans, male, female, or whatever. Fall in love with the person, not their genitals. Sexuality is not, ironically, just about sex. It is about the kind of person you are attracted to, who they are on the inside. Sexuality is largely in the mind.
Human sexuality is extremely complicated. Most people, studies show, are not 100% gay or 100% straight but, rather, somewhere in between on the spectrum. Don't worry about it. And don't let society and those around you define who you are. Sexuality is just one small piece of the full human being that you are. Explore your life. Explore the world. It is an amazing place to learn about once you finish cleaning up in the bathroom. Things will eventually fall into place for you if you let things flow organically, naturally.
I hope that makes sense to you. Feel free to write again if you have more questions.
IHey! I'm back and with a question, does it matter if i have for instance: a non- binary sona, or a trans one? - even tho I'm cisgender, does it change anything, i wanna stay christian, but its just a fursona! right? ?? (no offense to anyone lgbtq, i support you.)
Lacra (age 11)
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Fursonas are a way of expressing yourself and/or experimenting with different identities. Sometimes, fursonas express who we would like to be in an ideal world; sometimes, they express who we really are but are afraid to be or are too shy to express; sometimes, they are a way to experiment with other identities of all types. I've known furries who are male but their fursona is female (and vice versa), and furries who are straight might explore being bi or gay in their fursona.
Fursonas are just playful ways to experiment and explore and rejoice in being you or to take a break from being you. Oh, and you can be Christian no matter what your gender or sexuality, so don't worry about that. Anyone who says you can't has not listened to what Jesus really said.
Create a fursona who is whatever you like them to be. That's the fun of being in this fandom. And while you do that, your fursona might surprise you and teach you things about yourself you didn't know or want to admit.
Be what you wanna be, dear. And have fun with it!
I have a hard time having sympathy for furries. I feel less and less care when met with news of a furry experiencing financial problems, or worse. This is not without reason, however. I have suffered sexual abuse, less than a year ago. It has opened my eyes to how disgusting the fandom is, and how rare it is to find a furry that isn't a horrible, nearly irredeemable person.
I feel that most furries feed into the culture that caused my naivety back then, and helped a predator blend in within the fandom. The cuddliness of the fandom, I loathe it. Everyone gets in their beds with mere friends and rub on each other like partners. I feel that people like that, even those who do it in roleplay, assist predators. Their actions I feel contribute to creating naivety in minors by making relationship-tier affection something just "friendly". Don't even get me started on lewd interaction.
I have been attacked for bringing this up. Everyone is so okay with the fandom normalizing predatory behavior. Maybe I am wrong? I don't want to be okay with hearing that a furry is in pain because they are likely the type of furry I was referring to. Everyone is so okay with this. My question is, am I wrong for thinking this way? Am I a bad person? I recognize your lack of qualification for help with mental illnesses, and I am not coming here with them being fixed in mind, but having another opinion would be helpful.
Anonymous (age 15)
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The prevalence of sex in the fandom through art and social interactions is definitely a thing, and I understand your concerns. I am very sorry to hear that you were a victim of sexual abuse. There is never an excuse for that.
I would not condemn the fandom as a whole because of your bad experiences, however. I myself have had very positive experiences and have made many friends in the fandom. In my humble opinion, the fandom is what you make of it (which is true of anything). I am not blaming you for being a victim of sexual abuse (please don't think that), but I am saying that one must be careful about the company one keeps. If one marches into the fandom naively (as you might have) and unprepared for what one might find, then yes, you could find yourself among the wrong kind of furry. You are 15 years old and should not be seeking out X-rated stuff, whether that is furry or not. As you likely know, thousands of youngsters are victims of sexual abuse and predation OUTside the fandom. The internet can be a dangerous place, and one should be cautious at all times.
So, don't blame the fandom per se. You will find bad people everywhere, not just in the furry world. That said, you are certainly justified to be upset by what happened to you, and again, I am so sorry you went through that!
You don't mention your family, but I think this is something you should discuss with your parents. There are some sites online you can read up on internet safety, too, such as Internet Safety 101 at https://internetsafety101.org/internetpredators. And it's not just safety from sex predators, but also trolls and scammers who want to steal your money and your identity. So, watch out for people who beg for money (something you also indicated happened to you).
But getting back to the fandom. This is a topic I am discussing more fully in my book, but the reason the fandom can be a particularly tricky place is because it is a refuge for a lot of troubled people. Many young people struggling with sexual- and self-identity issues come to the fandom to seek some release and freedom and companionship. This can, at times, lead to misbehavior. Or, at least, what a lot of people would consider misbehavior. It is a highly complex issue because people are complex, and the fandom has grown to hundreds of thousands of furries all over the world. Learning to navigate such a huge social maze can be tricky. You need to become adept at reading clues that can signal if someone is lying to you. Here's a little tip sheet on that: https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-lying-to-you-online-or-in-a-text/news-story/f76033116da0964f2565d5a0d0180812.
All that being said, I will conclude here that if you, personally, do not feel safe interacting with members of the fandom, then by all means don't. The furry fandom is supposed to be a place of fun and fantasy, not terror and mistrust. Most people have a great time doing furry stuff, but if you have come to hate it, then there is certainly no law that says you have to be a furry. Your safety and happiness are more important than that. But, after reading what I have said, you want to try again, then feel free to do so carefully, and write me at any time.
Finally, if you haven't already sought help for sexual abuse, please consider talking to someone. There is a sexual abuse hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).
Since I was about 7 years old, I've felt like I wasn't a girl. When I tried talking to my dad about it, he told me not to listen to how I feel. At first, I thought I wanted to be a boy, but 3 years ago I discovered the term non-binary and only came out about a month ago. I only told my mom and best friend, and while my best friend has been super supportive, my mom seems a bit uncomfortable. I told her she could continue to call me "she" and her "daughter" to make her more comfortable, but it doesn't feel right. I want her to call me "they," but I don't want her to feel weird. Me and her have always loved drag queens, and she has always told me if I ever turned out to be gay she would be supportive, so it confuses me a bit to know she's uncomfortable with me being non-binary. Do you have any idea why she might feel this way and what I could do to make her feel better?
Hijinkx the Cataroo (13)
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First of all, your father's advice to not listen to how you feel is absolutely THE WORST advice he could possibly give you. So, do not listen to him on this point. As for your mother, at least she is trying to be sympathetic to you. I think she is uncomfortable about the non-binary term because she doesn't really understand what that is. She can comprehend homosexuality, but, let's face it, lately, there has been a lot of research and terms being flung around by the scientific and LGBTQI+ community that can be very confusing to most people. This page https://www.healthline.com/health/different-types-of-sexuality lists 46 terms that describe sexuality, gender, and orientation, for example, and there are actually even more than that.
What's going on here is that science, in recognizing that human sexuality and gender are very complex, is attempting to define all the various possibilities. Many people find this helpful because there is a sense of relief when one feels that one's personal feelings have been validated scientifically. But for those who are just plain-old heterosexual, white bread, and socially "normal," it can muddle the issue more than it clarifies it. I mean, throw around terms like cisgender, skoliosexual, demisexual, etc., and you are gonna get a blank stare. So many definitions can give one a headache and make one just want to tune it all out.
But just as this terminology can take some time and study to comprehend, so is your own sexuality coming into definition. At 13, you are still undergoing many changes, and you are still figuring things out. You are making a lot of progress and you definitely have resolved the fact that you don't feel like a girl even though that is what you are genetically. But now you are working toward what exactly that means and what variations of that apply to you, as well as how are you going to deal with it. This is an extremely personal voyage that only you can travel, although it helps when you have support from family and friends, people who can hold your hand.
What I am saying is this: Do not rush too quickly into defining yourself. You are only 13, and you are going to be developing physically, mentally, and emotionally for years to come still. And, just as you should not push yourself to the finish line too quickly (the finish line will just move farther ahead anyway), you should not push your parents too hard, either. Do not insist on them using the "they" pronoun yet. To them, you are their daughter, and that is a lot of responsibility in and of itself. Let them call you by whatever they are comfortable with. It is not an important issue right now. What is important is that you continue to explore your own feelings (and ignore parents who say ignore your feelings). This is not to say don't talk to your parents! TALK to them. But don't insist on anything. Just be honest about how you feel and don't put a label on it. Labels can be limiting anyway. If your mother can deal with this best by just thinking of you as being gay, then let her for now, even if she is not being accurate. If your father can't grasp your complex identity just yet, then let him just think of you as his daughter.
While this is all very much about you, it is also about your parents and their feelings. Try to be as sympathetic to what they are going through as you would like them to be about what you are going through. Do you understand? This is a process that will take many years. Do not expect instant results or instant sympathy and understanding. Take your time and be patient with them. And count yourself lucky that at least your parents are there for you, even though they are struggling to understand you.
And remember: we are more than just our sexuality and gender. We are complex beings of mind, spirit, and body. Your sexuality and gender are just one aspect of a complex human being--do not neglect the other aspects of yourself while you evolve as a person, and do not keep your parents from appreciating those other aspects as they strive to raise their child. Let them into your life without being insistent on what is just one part of you. Don't hide it, but don't bludgeon them with it, if you get my drift.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Big Bear Hugs,
Hey Papa Bear,
I would like to hear your opinion on what you think about furry porn. …But that question alone is only worth maybe a “it’s good” or “it’s bad” answer, so… The true question is, what do you think of the whole scope about furry porn, and how it affects artists, members of the fandom, etc etc.
To give you more to work with, ever since I was a wee little chap watching TV with my lower lip quivering, and my eyes gleamed when I saw Flamedramon for the first time, I knew what I was in for. That said… The porn is good and all, but I’m always very sad to see how it affects the fandom. This mix of popularity and sexuality seem to entice many people, artists and commissioners alike, into very deplorable habits of flaunting for instant gratification, of filling their galleries to the brim with art of very varied levels of quality involving their sonas into every possible existing sexual scenario on this planet, just for the sake of… Attention, right? Well, money too, in case of the artists. Is that really worth it in the long-term?
It always bums me out that this sexy animal guy I’m jerking off to is almost surely a total douchebag if I met him in person, which… From my own experience, is very often true (But I admit that that’s on ME because I’m a very judgmental idiot and I also have impossibly high standards for everything. I’m sure someone out there could get to know one of those people and find their life-long partner, and that’s perfectly okay.) Still, there are also exceptions. I’ve seen some artists who draw porn but they don’t let their egos get mixed up in it (as much), and I respect those way more because they’re just more human to me. And I’m glad because otherwise that would’ve probably made me a total hypocrite, grabbing my dick with one hand and pointing and judging people with the other…
... Anyway, now that I made my point of view awfully, almost tangibly clear, I would like to hear yours. Hopefully it’s different from mine because I’d like to learn something new from this.
I await curiously for your reply.
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Dear Uncle Tuper,
Sex and the fandom is a huge topic, and it is one I discuss in my book. It is difficult in a column to cover all the bases, but here's the gist of my take on furporn: Mundanes focus on this aspect on the fandom because they themselves do not have healthy attitudes about sex or they are incredibly inhibited about it (religious and other societal pressures cause this). They are uncomfortable with the idea of a fantasy-related fandom, and so, in seeking a way to reject it because it is "not normal," they zero in on what they feel is its unsavory aspect (furporn), and stereotype furries as sex addicts and zoophiles in order to reject and shame them.
Why, then, do furries get into the porn aspect? There are a lot of reasons, and none of them have to do with zoophilia. Furporn is just one form of many types of sexual fantasies that people have. You can go on the Internet and find all kinds of fantasy porn out there, some of it is much more strange than anthro sex. Okay, so, why specifically fantasies about anthros? Gosh, there is a laundry list. For one thing, various anatomical features of animals could turn people on, such as the soft fur of a feline or the genital girth of a horse or the fact that an elephant can play with you with its trunk. There are also fantasies such as vore, which has to do with the submission fantasy or even the fantasy of the return to the womb (very Freudian). There is, too, the animalistic nature of it all--wild and passionate sex without inhibition. Also, assuming a fursona in sexual roleplay is a form of self-defense against sexual shame ("It isn't ME doing this, it's my fursona.") Why so much furporn out there? Why do so many people commission artists to draw porn? Well, one reason might be that the fandom demographics skew toward the young range, and, let's face it, young people have "raging hormones" and tend to be horny. Hence, porn. If it weren't furporn, it would be something else X-rated (Star Wars porn, cartoon porn, whatev).
I have no problem with furporn (in fact, I'm a fan LOL). It is not inherently "bad" or "good." Sexual fantasies are only "bad" if they become addictions (i.e., you become so obsessed with porn that it interferes with your daily functions in the world) or if they become violent or hurtful to others in any way (i.e., acting out fantasies for any kind of non-consensual sex). Outside of these two conditions, furporn and sexual fantasies about furries can actually be a healthy and normal thing. Sexual fantasies can assist people in exploring their sexual identities, likes and dislikes, and add a bit of zing to a relationship you might already be in.
What mundanes need to get over is focusing on this one aspect of the fandom. The furry fandom offers a lot more than just some X-rated art. If you focus only on porn, you are missing out on a lot.
So, when it comes to you, personally, I would suggest you explore a bit further what exactly you like about Flamedramon, and this can teach you a bit about yourself. As for online relationships, you should always be cautious about these and make sure you don't let in a predator or other jerk. Such people eventually make themselves known, so you will figure out whether "sexy animal guy" is a jerk or not. If he is, dump him and move on. There are lots of furries out there who are very cool people.
Don't beat yourself up for having sexual feelings or that these feelings range into the world of fantasy. There is nothing wrong with you. Just remember to be kind to other people and avoid trolls along the way.
Hope that eases your mind.
I know you probably get this a lot from other furries in/out of the closet, but as a male just learning I am gay, how do I handle the fact I like guys in todays society? How do I deal with the whole "homosexuality is an abomination of God etc?" About a year ago I was baptized as christian, however not sure of my sexuality then. In case you have forgotten, my parents split and I am currently living with dad. I told him I was gay, he was just fine with it, even at one point in an effort to help me with my depression, he suggested getting a boyfriend. (all this was months before codvid-19.)
Mom however is a different story.
Long story short she is very family centered, raised as a Christian. I am pretty sure her opinion on LGBT stuff is she does not think highly of them. One time years ago when I was still questioning, after finding the local LGBT (am I badmouthing my mom as I type this? or is that just my OCD talking? Please answer as a sidenote.) Once I borrowed a book from the local LGBT center and forgot about it in the car. Mom found it and questioned me about it, clearly in a disapproving way. About a week later she told me to read something with her, and it was the bible verse "thou man who laid with a man has committed an abomination." Then she told me if I wanted to be with a guy she will not tolerate it.
So as a Christian, raised with Christian teachings by mom but an accepting dad of my homosexuality, what do I do? How do I accept myself as for who I am, and be happy going forward? Am I obligated to tell my mom? How do I deal with the fear from religion about being gay and it being morally wrong?
0.O *realizes the pandamic going around*
Nicholas (age 23)
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As you know, you're writing to a gay bear, so my answer to your questions is likely slanted. First and foremost is this: the only person who needs to accept you is you. The minute you define your value in life by other people's opinions of you, the minute you seek their approval, you will doom yourself to a life of misery and self-doubt. Whether those people are Christians, family, friends, your parents, coworkers, peers, whatever. It doesn't matter one whit what they think. Most of them are wrong, anyway, being misguided by a judgmental society.
As for Christianity.... In my experience, there are good Christians and bad ones. Good Christians accept and love you for who you are. They recognize that no one, including themselves, is perfect, and only God has the right to judge you. Bad Christians are the ones who use the Bible to defend their hate and prejudice. Stay away from them. The God in whom I personally believe is a loving God, not a God seeking to punish me or hurt me. I do not believe in Hell and eternal damnation. I do not believe that God just wants us to constantly grovel and worship Them. I think of it this way: If I were God and was all-powerful, omnipresent, omniscient.... why would I need to be worshipped by tiny little ant beings? I would not have such a pathetic ego that I would need to be constantly validated for something I already know I am. I would not get my jollies off of hurting people. I would want to be kind to them and try to help them. So if I, a tiny little human being, can feel this way, then God, who is infinitely superior to me in every way, must have all these loving, caring qualities to the infinity power.
So, why do Christians, the Church, parents, etc. try to shame you for being who you are? Simply put, it's a power thing. It is the pathetic desire to control you and your life, and also to make themselves feel holier than thou. Oh, they will SAY they are just trying to help you, but don't believe it. The truth is, by being gay and--God forbid--actually enjoying yourself, you will challenge their worldview, and that makes them uncomfortable because it is easier to just accept what you are told to do rather than to think for yourself.
Religious people who abuse and torment LGBTQIA people for something as unimportant as sexual orientation are doing the opposite of what religion should do, which is to love and help human beings. I could go on for pages and pages as to why the Church disapproves of gay people (most of it has to do with keeping people in line and perpetuating generations of tithing loyalists), but I think you get the point.
You are not your sexuality. That is just one aspect of a well-rounded person. Most people define who they are by what they do for a living and their families. You don't hear straight people introducing themselves like this: "Hi, I'm Bill! I'm a heterosexual architect and married man!" No. So, why should we define ourselves for being gay or bi or whatever? We mostly do this because it is not "the norm." Screw the norm. Norm is boring. Being normal is what has caused so much misery, war, and injustice for millennia.
Do not seek out to be normal. Be you. Be different. Contribute something unique to this world. The world needs unique people like you.
And remember, no matter what: God loves you.
Be a good person. If you do that, you are golden.
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.