This is the first time I write to you and I've to admit that my question isn't that important compared to others. However I wasn't able to find an answer anywhere on the Internet, which is the reason why I feel I've to bother you with it anyway. Of course, for me this question IS important. Excuses in advance for my bad English and the length of the letter.
I just recently discovered the fandom and, at first sight, seemed to know immediately that it's the right place for me, even better than what I've always hoped to find, which was only at least one person who shares my interests. Finally, per lucky accident, I found a place where I know that I should belong and where the people are just amazing! However I found out something very special about me and other furries: While seemingly everyone is fascinated or somehow attracted to animals, animals are not really my thing. I'm sure that I'm furry, I love anthropomorphic characters (yep, I prefer “characters” instead of “animals”) but I guess that I need to see certain signs of “civilized species” like humans are (or at least should be ;) ) in order to take a life form seriously as a person and see it on the same level, both intellectually and in terms of (sexual) attractiveness, or in order to be just interested in the character and the personality itself (by the way, I also find anthros MUCH more interesting than humans, humans—bah; however I can be sexually attracted to humans, as well -weird-). And yes, I can even be sexually attracted to anthros (yay!) as long as I see enough humanity or more precisely, as I call it, “characteristics of civilized species” in a character. I should mention that I also like some near-animal characters like "Bolt" very much, but not in terms of sexual attraction.
This leads to a very strange and funny thing I also found out: Before I discovered the fandom, I haven't even related anthros to animals. To me, anthros were anthros (to be more precise, I explained anthros as alien life forms) and animals were just animals. I think even the perception of anthros being aliens from an other world makes them cool to me. From my point of view animals are just not really cool. I mean I like animals as much as a typical non-furry would do, maybe even a bit less (often calling dogs “mutts”), but for me, animals kind of represent an uncivilized, primitive lifestyle, which I don't like. That's also the reason why proper clothing of anthros is so important for me! Anthros were really separate species to me, which could only have similarities to animal species, but I've never seen a sort of “animal spirit” in them. As you might have noticed, I'm especially a fan of alien, but also some mythical furry species (my fursona is a hybrid of fictional species from both types). Please note that I can also equally like more common furry species, and that I'm open to accept about any furry species as such (even animals, though they aren't my thing. If someone is a furry because he/she has a deep relationship to animals—that’s fine for me). In fact I'd like any humanoid furry species and even some "primitive" ones in special cases (like Bolt)! But I'm quite helpless with animals. I'm partly afraid of animals when they come close to me, or more precise, I'm shy of them and I'm shy of interacting with them (dogs, even cute kitties). Besides that I'm also neither very interested in animals nor attracted by them at all. Before I discovered the fandom there seemed to be no link between anthros and animals for me. Although I find some animals on screen, mostly drawn or animated, quite cool and I really like plushies, all together I'm not SUCH a big fan of animals.
Sorry for this long explanation but I wanted to be as precise as possible for the following section: I lost my own personality because of my point of view... I felt that in order to be accepted by the fandom I would have to get better with animals, and I even succeeded somehow, but I wasn't feeling the same anymore. Suddenly I realized that my feelings towards anthros and how I see them have changed as well—to the worse. I somehow lost my personal furriness which was just horrible!!! After years of wondering if there is anyone out there like me and finally finding a place where I should belong, losing this special something which was defining me since like elementary school and being the reason why I even discovered the fandom at first was nearly unbearable! I wasn't myself anymore, I didn't know who I am anymore and I got really upset because I feared that I lost my actual furriness just to be counted as a furry—how silly is that?! Right now I recovered a bit thanks to your column and some intense meditation, walking up and down in my room for hours. But I'm still concerned about that and I'm also still in the process of "recovering" my own personality, finding back to myself and my actual, beautiful furriness, which I've always loved, not knowing that it was called furriness then, and which I was always happy about and I am also proud of by this time. Thanks to your column I was at least able to figure out that I AM definitely a furry: I am interested in anthropomorphic characters (which isn't even a close description of my feelings I had back then when I was younger and before I discovered the fandom and read about animals, the feelings I now hope to feel again soon) and I consider myself as a furry. Immediately I felt much better when I found out! However I wasn't able to get out of writing to you at last.
My question is: Is my point of view about animals, which is part of my furriness as I define it, relevant to my furriness to be counted as actual furriness? Or to put it this way: Will my definition of my furriness be overall accepted by the fandom? Will I be seen as the furry I definitely am? Because I'm not so sure about that since I couldn't find anything about anybody who shares my kind of furriness. I also fear staying alone, not ever finding a girl I want to spend the rest of my life with, who is a furry but understands it when I don't want to have (bigger) animals around me.
I'm really looking forward to your answer because every time I read about the role animals play in furries' lives, I ask myself: Do I really belong in the fandom (I know that I should, but do I)? And if: Is there anyone in the fandom who shares my thoughts on this topic, or does furry mean that you also have to like animals in order to be accepted by the fandom? I mean I took several Internet tests on furriness and because most of them were about interests and identification with animals (not anthros) they told me that I wasn't furry and I'm just a bloody human and shall piss off! That really shocked me and made me angry as well ('cause I am so what furrrrry!! *grrr*), followed by inner conflicts as I've already told you, deciding to change my view on animals etc., etc... leading to the situation I'm currently in: Knowing that I'm furry but still without any approval from the fandom, plus that I somehow temporarily lost my personal furriness (that is actually much worse and more important), which led to even bigger inner conflicts, which are still there beneath the surface after the "calming down" phase, which still isn't over yet, and so on... Just to clear things up: I already know—again—that I'm furry, thanks to your column, but I don't know if the fandom is going to accept my view on animals and me as a furry. And of course, it bothers me how I should cope with animals now and I wonder why I've never compared anthros to animals before. But that is in fact the current problem with my furriness: Now I compare anthros with animals and I'm somehow, I don't know, sort of disappointed or even frustrated when I look at anthros this way, like I never did before. Anyway I know that my feelings towards anthros have changed ... what shall I do? :(
Thank you sooooo much for taking you the time answering this one! (even reading this one, lol)! I know, this may be a tough one for you and it really hurts me to bother you with this letter...
I also wish to give you a thousand thanks for everything you put up for furries, not only this awesome column, but also the AFA! I enjoy both very much and I am always happily surprised by the diversity of topics and people in the fandom since I'm very very new to it.
Patrick Drabax (age 19)
PS: My personal definition of a furry: Someone who is in any thinkable way or even in several ways intensely attracted to at least one character of at least one species of any kind you can imagine except the human species. Assuming that, I believe that probably anyone has a furry inside him- or herself, like anyone has some sort of musician inside him- or herself, because it's something which is in human nature, I think, and most people just don't know.
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My goodness, aren’t you the chatty one! Thank you for your comments on my column; I’m sorry to tell you that the AFA is on indefinite hold, however. I had to admit to myself that I simply don’t have the time to devote to it as it needs. Maybe, when I retire, I will look into it again. Of course, perhaps someone else will decide a nonprofit association for all furries will be a good idea and take up the torch instead. The good news is that this column will be here as long as I’m alive and have my paws and faculties operating.
After such a lengthy missive, I like to summarize what I believe the writer’s point is. If I have your viewpoint correct, you love anthro characters, especially in science fiction, but really are not drawn to animals themselves, nor are you into humans. You feel that, because a lot of furries do love animals or, like me, feel they have a spiritual connection to them, that you are being rejected by the fandom.
Actually, dear young one, you are rather a throwback to the original furries who started the modern fandom. They were all science fiction fans who first met at sci-fi conventions and discussed their interest in anthro characters within the genre. In fact, the mother of all furry comics, Albedo, was a furry sci-fi adventure story that debuted in 1983 (I believe there have been no new ones since 2005). So, your concept of furries as being alien species certainly fits the bill of how they were originally conceived by the founders of the modern fandom.
Since that time, the fandom has grown and diversified tremendously, and there are many subcultures within the subculture. Some people say you have to have a fursuit, some people say you have to have a connection to animals, some people say they have connections to other worlds or that they can actually transform spiritually or physically into an animal or were-creature, and some people say, “Get over yourselves, it’s just for fun.”
It has gotten so complicated that there really is no such thing as a unified, homogeneous “furry fandom.” We use the term as an all-inclusive way to describe anyone who has anything to do with or who has an interest in fictional creatures who are part human and part animal (either real or mythological).
Are you a furry? Yes, indeed you are, and you know it. Are you at risk of being “rejected” by the fandom? Well, I suppose some narrow-minded people who feel they must put labels on people will reject you, but people like that aren’t fun to be around anyway, so why worry about them? There are plenty of good furries who will like you for you and will have fun talking to you about the same things you enjoy. If you spend enough time socializing with other furries, you’ll find them.
You’re new to the fandom, so I guess you’re a bit anxious and nervous about being accepted, but just as you have made the mistake of thinking you can be rejected by an entire subculture of people, don’t think that all furries are the same. It might seem simple to say that furries are people who like anthro characters, but the truth, like most things, is a lot more complex than that.
Don’t let others define you. Don’t let others tell you what a furry is (not even me LOL). You have your own sense of what a furry means for you on a personal level, and that’s just as legitimate as anyone else’s definition. (I don’t know what “tests” you took, but who cares? Why is some test on the Internet more valid than your own belief system? Answer: it’s not.)
Please make yourself at home. And, when you meet furries, take them on an individual basis. Some will become friends, others mere acquaintances, and some may not like you. That’s life. No different in the furry world than it is in the human one.
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.