Dear Papa Bear,
I hate to send you such a long letter, but I've tried to include all the details you need.
I've been slowly getting into the Furry fandom for quite a few years now (I can't remember exactly how long I've known about it, but it's probably at least 5 years of me looking at it on and off) and only recently have I got the confidence to declare myself as a Furry.
And just so you know, I know the definition of Furry is just anyone who's a fan of anthropomorphic animals, and whilst Fursuiters are the most recognisable part of the fandom (and the first thing I discovered regarding the fandom), they're only one of many parts of it and there's no rule to say you have to be one to officially be a Furry.
Anyways, part of the reason I've only just confirmed my furriness to myself is because it's only been in about the past 3 months that I heard of Uncle Kage. I was turned off all these years because of all of the sexual sensationalism the fandom's gotten from outside media (note a certain CSI episode). But then I accidentally came across Uncle Kage's videos explaining exactly how the press manage to exaggerate the facts, how the original sexualised image created by early conventions became a lasting image even though those cons have since vanished, and that whilst there are sexual aspects to the fandom, it's something only the minority of Furries are into.
It's not that I have any problem with those who enjoy a sexual side to the fandom, it's just that because that's all I saw for all these years, I didn't feel welcome to join in seeing as I enjoy it for other aspects. But once I discovered Uncle Kage, I realised that I could include myself in the fandom without the fear that I'd be the odd one out seeing as I'm not into it for the sexual aspects.
Once I felt free to join the fandom, I started doing a lot of research about it very, very quickly, learning the different kinds of Furry, how it fits into other subcultures, the terminology, typical activities, species and personalities, phantom limbs, other famous Furries... just about anything I could find relating to Furry. I didn't care if it was positive, negative or indifferent, I just wanted to know as much as I could.
This then lead to me discovering this forum page (https://forums.furaffinity.net/threads/130527-Uncle-Kage?s=de8e6476726ab42efa64c98ef8e9b132) that involved other Furs discussing why they HATED Uncle Kage. This, as you could probably guess, shocked me since all I heard about him before was that he was a good man and only did good for the fandom. So, I began to read it.
There seemed to be 3 main points people had as to why they hated him. One was that he's looked upon controlling, which I understand people seeing, but I still stood up for him since he's trying to keep the fandom in a positive light and therefore needs to have this firm-but-fair approach alongside the funny stories and analogies.
The second point was how he likes his wine, which I find to be quite hypocritical since a) the whole of western society seems to enjoy its booze and b) I actually found myself still enjoying him when watching videos of him drunk, even though I usually find videos of other people drunk to be quite humiliating.
So with those 2 general disagreements I had with the other Furries comments, I still found Uncle Kage to be a nice (or at least, enjoyable) guy and a good role model for the fandom.
But then there comes the third reason these people hated him, which was the “rumour” he's got a secret Fursona called Rogue the Megawolf which he supposedly uses for sexual pleasures. So, part out of curiosity and part out of anxiety, I began to research exactly who Rogue was and found his Twitter, FurAffinity and Macrophile pages, as well as what other Furries said about him. It seems whoever this Fursona belongs to has a sexual fantasy about being a giant wolf who destroys buildings and either crushes or eats anything that's alive.
Now, I for one don't care what peoples fetishes are so long as a) they keep in the bedroom and b) no other creature is being hurt. I might not necessarily understand the fetishes, but I don't see a problem with most of them either.
So if this person gets a sexual kick out of wearing a Fursuit, I couldn't care less. Even if it is Kage under that suit, I find his arguments to be in defence of the Furry community rather than his own private life, so I can still tolerate him despite the fact he himself might be in it for the sexual stuff. And the same goes for the destruction element; so long as it doesn't extend beyond either his own imagination or his own property, it's fine by me.
But it's the sexual attraction to “killing life forms” that's causing me grief. I have a strong belief that causing harm to anything with a conscious, human or animal and not oneself, for sexual pleasures is down-right immoral.
I can tolerate people who are into things like age-play because it's not actual pedophilia which involves a child performing sexual acts, but rather the person with that fetish playing the role of the child. And on top of that nobody can literally turn back into a kid, so it's forced into pretending to be in that fantasy.
But with the crush fetish, even if it's only make-believe to begin with, it disturbs me that finding the destruction of life- forms stimulating can quite easily slip into actual torture being performed on other creatures; bug, animal or human. So I can't even tolerate the fantasy because it can go in the wrong direction of not controlled.
And it wouldn't be so bad if it was just any other Furry, as I'd just say to myself "oh well, that's just one bad apple in the bunch and there'll always Uncle Kage to give us the good name". But this particular Furry might be the very being that finally made me feel welcome to join the fandom! And even though I realise that there are plenty of good people in the fandom to look up to, it's the fact that the very person that I looked at as one of the best examples might actually be among the worst examples that's digging into me!
So, I really don't know what to think of him anymore, especially if it's true that Kage and Rogue are the same person. Should I just try and forget the whole crushing thing and keep reminding myself of his efforts for giving the fandom a positive image? Should I let the truth sink in that he's got a fetish I can't tolerate and try to forget that I ever discovered him? Should I somehow convince myself that getting a sexual pleasure out of killing things is somehow OK just so I can like Uncle Kage again?
I desperately want to like him, but I can't work against my morals either. What should I do?!
Charleston (age 20, UK)
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This is a good example that Papabear is surely not “in the know” about everything in the fandom. It is the first time I’ve heard the rumor that Uncle Kage is Rogue. After I read your letter, I did some searching on the Internet but didn’t find any proof there that the two were one. If Dr. Samuel Conway (Kage) is, in fact, Rogue, he is doing an excellent job hiding the fact. It makes me wonder that if Rogue is at a furcon and needs to go to the headless room for a breath of air and some water, why hasn’t anyone said anything? This fact alone makes me think that this is really just a rumor. But, in the spirit of getting the facts, I wrote an email to Rogue on his Tumblr account (waiting to hear back). I also looked at his Facebook page (nothing there to indicate anything), and viewed a number of videos of Rogue.
My policy about such things is that, unless someone can give me hard evidence of this connection, or I hear from Dr. Conway himself, then the Rogue/Kage rumor is just that: a rumor. Even if it is true, then I have to applaud Conway for practicing what he preaches, which is that ones sexuality is a private matter and none of the public’s business. On the other paw, too, if he is Rogue then his sexual fetish is a bit extreme and just reinforces stereotypes of furries being sexual deviants (fascinating, if true, that his other fursona is an easily squashable roach). Again, I’m not going to condemn or defend him without knowing all the facts.
This brings up an interesting point about human beings—especially, it seems, Americans. I’ve noticed an increasing trend among humans that is a pattern of building up heroes only to take them down in a blaze of scandal. Some people who come to mind are O.J. Simpson, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Swaggart, and President Bill Clinton. People seem to love to admire talented celebrities and other magnetic personalities. But, over time, they become jealous, envious, eager to kick them down to sewer level so they feel better about themselves. Like lions picking out a sick zebra from a herd, as soon as the media and others discover a flaw, they go in for the kill.
Conway has been put on a pedestal by the furry community because he helped organize and chairs the biggest furcon in the world. He is also an engaging public speaker and works well with the media. I think it is important to recognize what he has done for the furry community. On the other paw, he’s not perfect. I’ve seen him drink and get drunk at MFF, for example, but I defy any furry to say he or she has not behaved poorly at some point in his or her life. I would say he is also a bit of an egotist, but psychologists would point out that egotism is a trait common in leaders (Bill Clinton was a great president and also an egotist).
I also disagree with Kage about the media. Yes, some journalists prefer their stories yellow, but, being partnered with a professional journalist who thinks furries are way cool, I can tell you that they aren’t all bad. The problem Conway has is that he generalizes a group of people, which is just as bad as saying all furries are furverts. Also, he seems rather condescending to other furries, saying that no one but he should be allowed to speak to the media because only he is smart enough to handle them. That’s the thing that really bugs me. For instance, the recent incident at MFF where a chlorine bomb (of sorts--actually, it was a broken jar) went off in the hotel. Did we see MFF Chair Toby Murono in front of the news cameras? No, it was Kage. To me, he’s rather like the Al Sharpton of the furry community.
But, you know what? That’s fine. Kage likes to take the helm and, for the most part, does a fine job of it.
On to your question: should you forget about the whole thing about Kage being Rogue? Should you, if true, accept crushing as an acceptable sexual kink just so you can like Kage?
Do not pass judgment on Dr. Conway until you are sure that he is Rogue. For now, just as with our justice system, presume him innocent until proven guilty. If, someday, someone proves that he is Rogue, then recognize that we are all human and none of us is perfect (this presumes the opinion that his fetish is a flaw). If you judged everyone harshly for not precisely fitting your ideals of what a good person is, you would end up despising the entire human race and having no friends. Also recognize that, if true, this is part of Dr. Conway’s private life and none of your business. It does not cancel out all the good that Kage has done any more than President Clinton getting a bj from Monica Lewinsky undoes all the good he did during his presidency. Admire the man for what he has done.
When it comes to the sexual fantasy of crushing, you do not have to accept that as okay if you don’t wish to. You can learn to accept people for their gifts as well as what you perceive to be their flaws. If Conway, again, is Rogue, so what? He is not pushing a sexual fetish on you. And, except in his fantasy life, he is, as far as we know, not indulging crushing in real life and is not actually hurting anyone.
The only thing that is really troubling you, then, is the hypocrisy of it all. Like the senator who tries to pass anti-gay laws who is then caught with his hand under the bathroom stall wall, Kage would appear to be an immense hypocrite if he were caught being Rogue. Even if he is not Rogue, it is unwise of him to minimize the sexual aspect of the fandom because it is most certainly there. I myself don’t hide the fact that I enjoy that side of it, but, at the same time, I recognize that the fandom has a lot of other things to offer people and that if you don’t wish to indulge in the adult parts you certainly don’t have to.
Even if there was zero, zip, nada sexual about the furry fandom, people would still make fun of us. I’ve seen newscasters and other people point and giggle. I was at MFF a couple years ago and a couple men at a bar pointed at a furry innocently having fun interacting with a child and called him a “freak.” Why? Because humans don’t like anything that is out of the ordinary. They want everything to be predictable, label-able, categorizable. If white conservatives had their way, everyone would be straight, Christian, Caucasian, work in an office, and, for hobbies, drink beer and watch football. How boring would that be?
Society controls us through shame and guilt. Rogue, whoever he (or she) is, is likewise controlled by guilt to the point of hiding who s/he really is. We are all, in that sense, prisoners in our lives. Matthew 7:1—Do not judge lest ye be judged (ironic I quote the Bible, no?)
Again, I find the bear way the best way—don’t let it bother you. Make of the fandom what you like. Don’t condemn it for its “flaws” anymore than you should condemn other people for theirs. Unless they are hurting you or anyone else, it’s really none of your business. You could also go with Matthew 5:29: If your eye offend thee, pluck it out. In other words, ignore Kage completely and go on with your furry life as you see fit.
What’s great about the furry fandom is that you make it what you wish it to be. Unlike Star Trek, there is no “bible,” no timeline, no preset cast of characters. It is all left to your imagination. Don’t let others dictate to you what your dreams should be.
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