I've always struggled with my identity as I am an African American teenager who has grown up in a military family. I've have always been struggling with my identity because I am black but I tend to have a more (what people call) a “white” personality. This isn't the only problem. My family and people I know say I have an “intimidating look.” I am 5’11”, and guess I could call myself pretty athletic. And added to all this I am black so nobody expects me to be into something like the furry fandom.
When I was 10 years (around 2009) I moved too Japan. Around that time, I discovered I liked looking at and drawing anthropomorphic animals. I never knew of the furry fandom at that time so it was just a little thing to me. It was like that for the next 3 years until we moved back to America. This pretty much ruined my social life as I had already established my life in Japan.
We moved from Baltimore, to Rhode Island, then recently too California, all within 3 years due to my father being active military. I discovered the fandom when I first moved to Maryland. I slowly got into it and was started drawing and admiring artists through YouTube, DeviantArt, etc. But the thing is during this time between being in Baltimore and Rhode Island, my outside personality completely changed to conform with the people I hung around in school. And the people I hung around with was (yup, you guessed it!) the typical ghetto, suburban, rude teenagers. It was a struggle for me as I wanted to tell people about me being furry and share my art and make friends who liked furry art. I was actually lighthearted, nice person on the inside but yet I had this forced, rude outside personality that kept all that hidden.
I recently moved to California as I said earlier and I decided to make this a fresh start, yet I still have this conflict inside and outside of me. Do you have any suggestions on how to make friends that have the same interest as me even though my conflicting personality and outside appearance gets in the way?
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It is indeed very difficult being the son of someone in the military who moves around a lot. Children are happier if they grow up with a sense of stability and home, which is hard to do when the average military family moves every three years (I’m just writing this for the benefit of my readers). One thing I would say about your particular experience is that you probably gained a lot of insight and knowledge about other cultures by living in Japan. That’s something that could benefit you and your view of the world.
As for looking muscular and athletic—yes, I understand how people get intimidated by that, sadly. People judge too much by appearance, whether it is someone who is attractive (he’s attractive, so he must be a pleasant person) or ugly (he’s ugly, so she’s a bad person) or whatever. People see your muscles and that you’re black and think you’re a thug or some such. So sad. Obviously, you’re a sweetheart inside.
Now the trick is this: having the courage to show others who you truly are. You’ve conformed to the “ghetto” set because you wanted to be accepted and fit in (very human desire), and you are probably afraid to show your furry side because you could be rejected by your peers at school. For starters, since you are likely to move again and again, I would not be overly concerned about peers at school, unless some of them become actual friends and not just people you are trying to get to like you. Second, I would start slowly by first trying to make friends online. Fortunately, there are many places you can do this, and if you like I will send you some suggestions if you haven’t already located some good furry social groups. You could start with SoCal Furries (http://www.socalfurs.com/), since you’re in Oxnard, and, if you ever get the chance, try to go to the Prancing Skiltaire monthly furmeet that is held in Glendale (http://prancing.skiltaire.net/). Start talking to furries online, start posting your furry art, talk to fellow artists. When you locate some who start to click with you, then you might start to show them both your outside and inside through photos, cam chat, and the like.
You have to let your guard down. This is scary, I know. Very scary, but it’s clear you are not happy living a charade. You want to be who you really are, right? A nice guy who is into furry, likes to draw, likes to be physically fit, and happens to be black. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. And, you know what? You’ve discovered a community—furries—who are more accepting of differences than many other social groups. Here’s a cool article about how more and more African Americans are getting involved in the fandom (Anthrocon is an example): http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2013/07/10/more-african-americans-get-involved-in-anthrocon-every-year/.
Another thing that benefits you: many furries absolutely adore Japanese culture (especially anime, of course, and Japanese cartoons have had a very strong influence on the fandom--Kimba, the White Lion being of particular note), and you’ve experienced it first-paw! You can certainly find furries who share this interest with you, both in America and back in Japan.
Maximus, you don’t seem to know it, but you have stumbled into a community that might just be the ticket for your releasing the inner you: furries. I encourage you to get involved with them. I’m sure you’ll find some cool fuzzy friends.
Hope that helps.
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