I have autism and I'm gay and obviously a furry. I just don't know how to deal with the fact that I'm a living stereotype of all the insults, all the hate. I don't know how to put up with it anymore, and I recently had to come out to my parents because I had just got my first boyfriend and the next day I was texting him and my mom walked in smacked my phone and found out everything about me being a furry gay and about him. My mom made me leave him only after being his for less than 2 days. I just don't know what to do anymore.
Tyler (age 15, Florida)
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As you might imagine, Papabear gets questions like this all the time in various forms. Sometimes I just write the furry an email and don’t post on my website; other times I do. I post on the website because no two situations are exactly the same and also because each time I answer the question “How can I be myself when my family hates all the things I am?” I try to approach it from a different angle. For other versions of this, feel free to browse the “Coming Out Furry” category.
Now to you. I’m going to start with a story. Papabear has a very dear friend named Sam. Sam is an older, gay gentleman who was once married and during that marriage he had two children: a boy and a girl. His son got into some trouble, fathering a child out of wedlock and he did something against the law and was in prison for five years. Through it all, Sam loved and supported his son as best he could.
Yesterday, his son died of a heart attack. He was only 30. Sam is crushed, his heart is broken, and he’s been weeping uncontrollably since he heard the bad news.
Here you have a man, Sam, who came out gay. His son accepted him. Here you have a son who went down the wrong path and ended up in jail. Sam loved him still and tried to help him. They loved each other. They appreciated each other. Therefore, even though their time together was cut short, they didn’t waste their time and found joy even when there was heartache.
On the other hand, here’s another story. It was published in 1995 as a book titled Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son by author Leroy F. Aarons. This true story is about a very religious Christian woman named Mary Griffith, who learns that her son, Robert “Bobby,” is gay. She utterly rejects him for being gay. She tries to “cure” him through prayer. His son, devastated by his own mother’s rejection of who he is, jumps off a bridge at the age of 20 and kills himself. Afterwards, Mary comes to realize that she destroyed her own son and there was really nothing wrong with him. But it’s too late. Griffith has since then become an outspoken advocate for gay rights.
Here you have two parents, both devastated by loss. The difference is that one had a loving relationship with his son and no regrets because he accepted him, while the other, because she was blinded by ignorance, actually caused her son’s death just as surely as if she had shot him with a gun. The message here is that parents should love their children for who they are no matter what, because you never know when there might not be a tomorrow.
Your mother needs an education in the fact that her denying you a relationship with a boy or doing anything else to stop you from being who you are will not work and will, if continued, destroy your relationship. You cannot pray away the gay. On the other hand, you can be gay and be a Christian. Here is a wonderful sight I stumbled across one day for gay furries just like you: Rainbow Ark. I suggest you go there and read through the material. If you like, send me your mailing address and I will send your mother (give me her name to personalize it) a copy of Prayers for Bobby. She could benefit from reading it, even if she isn't a Christian (I'm assuming, sorry).
All that said, you need to start creating a plan for yourself. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, you can expect increasing pressure from your mom and family unless you can turn things around. Here are two courses of action….
Turning Things Around
The optimistic scenario is that there might be hope that you can convince your family that being gay is not the end of the world for you. To try to accomplish this, you need to arm yourself against attacks that the Bible says being gay is wrong. Here is an excellent article by Harvard Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes that summarizes concisely why this is a fallacy.
Whether or not your family is religious, It is also important for you to take a calm, rational stance on this matter. If you react as angrily as your parents do, then the only thing that will result is a shouting match. You, being autistic and the young teen, are at a disadvantage here because the parents have all the power (financial and legal). Try to see things from your family’s perspective. The underlying cause of their reaction is probably not that they hate you for being gay but, rather, that they are fearful that you will get a disease or some other nonsense that is just as true for straight people as it is for gay people. They might think, too, that because you are gay you’re going to run out the door and have sex with the first guy you find. Also nonsense. Gay people are just as capable of love, monogamy, and, yes, chastity, as straight people. Nevertheless, listen to their arguments. Acknowledge them by repeating what they say after they are done, such as, “I hear what you are saying. You think this and this, but actually this is what I am feeling and this is what is true for me….” The same goes for being furry. Some people think that furries turn people gay. The truth is that many gay people gravitate toward the furry community because they find acceptance here.
That all said, there is no reason why you have to go this alone. Get help from a professional. By this, I mean you have such options ranging from family counseling, finding a government social worker, or (and this might go well with your parents) getting your family together with your minister (hopefully you have a good minister and not a homophobic one; if he or she is antigay, then obviously that is not an option). Go to the Resources page on Rainbow Ark for some helpful links.
Worst Case Scenario
I hope this won’t be the case, but there is the possibility of being rejected by your parents, even kicked out of the house. Before this happens, you need to find some support, somewhere you can go if the worst happens. Do you have any relatives who might offer you a safe haven to live? How about friends? If not, seek out an LGBT youth center. In Florida (not sure exactly where you are) check out The Zebra Coalition. You don’t want to be one of the growing number of statistics of young LGBT people wandering the streets because their parents kicked them out of the house.
Find as much outside support as you can: other family members, friends, nonprofit LGBT organizations, government resources. Start researching on the Internet sooner rather than later. You need a safety net.
There is also the possibility that they won’t kick you out, but they will keep you under strict control at home for a long time. If you think you can do it, you might just want to “lay low” for a couple years until you can find some financial independence and move out of the house. Not a great option, but it might be something you need to do.
Get started on the above and let me know how it goes. I know it’s a hard row to hoe, but do the best you can.
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.