I happen to be the only fur in my family. The rest of my family hates furries so I have to hide the fact that I am one. As a result, I often feel disconnected from my family and suffering from clinical depression just makes it worse. I feel like I have to hide who I am in order to get any acceptance from them. I love being a furry and wouldn't want to stop, but at the same time if it makes my family life miserable, is it worth it? Any advice would be appreciated.
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You may have already read some of my letters in the Coming Out Furry category in which I talk about how telling your family you’re furry largely depends on their attitudes. Well, you already know their attitudes, which are, sadly, very negative. So this is a good opportunity to discuss what comes next in more detail.
Papabear recently had a bad experience that is relevant to this conversation. Someone I care about who has been a big part of my life recently learned that I was a furry by stumbling over some stuff on the Internet about me that talked about my real name (I don’t hide on the Internet, but I don’t advertise my human identity, either). Now, “Pat,” as I will call him or her to protect their identity, is a lovely person but very normal and straight-laced and I didn’t think that Pat would handle the news well. Because I still wanted Pat in my life, I decided not to divulge my furry side in this case.
Apparently, Pat has taken this news very badly and hasn’t talked to me since finding out. There could be two reasons for this: 1) Pat is disturbed by furries and doesn’t like that I am one, or 2) Pat is upset that I didn’t explain I was a furry and was hiding something, feeling this is a violation of trust. If the reason is #1, then that pretty much explains why I didn’t tell Pat because I didn’t want to lose the friendship. If the reason is #2 and Pat is fine with my furriness but upset about my failing to reveal this side of me, then I’d have to say that the identity card always has two sides to it. If Pat is trying to take the moral high ground, I happen to know that there are a couple of secrets in Pat’s life that were hidden from people important to Pat. Perhaps I was wrong to conceal my furriness, but it was a judgment call I had to make (and, once made, can’t reverse) and that, at the time, I thought was correct.
So, why am I telling you about my life as an example? To show you the two scenarios of coming out. Number 1 is the most obvious one, but number 2 is more subtle. Your family might see your hiding your furry side as a violation of trust, even though I’ll bet you $100 and a couple of pots of honey that they have secrets of their own.
You ask whether being a furry is worth it, then. That depends on you. There is an increasing number of furries in the community who have only joined the fandom because they think it’s cool in an outrageous way and they want to be part of something different. These are the people who eventually abandon furries because they have “grown up.” They are posers. If you are a poser, then no, it is not worth it for you. Go do the stuff the other “normal” people do and forget about furry.
Then there are the real furries. These are the people for whom furry is a part of their being, their essence. They will be furries their entire lives. That’s me. I was a furry before I knew what the heck it was (and before the modern fandom was even formed). And once I learned about furries I was like “WOW! There are other people out there like me!” And I never looked back. Have I had to hide it from some people? As you saw above, yes, I have. Does it upset me some that I did so? Yes, it does, but here’s the thing: I am a furry, but I am many other things, too. I am a son and a brother; I am a writer and an editor; I am a friend and a lover; I am a seeker of spiritual truth and a lover of animals; I am an artist who is fascinated by science. These are all things I can share with people who cannot handle the furry thing.
You are more than just a furry, Nite. When you are with your family, be a son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew. Hopefully, there are things you like to do with your family that don’t involve the fandom, like maybe going fishing, or to a concert, or shooting hoops, going to church, or playing video games. These are all things you can share with them.
The point is we are not simple creatures with one pair of genes. We are all complex individuals with many things to offer to the world. Think of yourself as a chameleon who can do more than change color. When you are with your family, your chameleon form takes the shape of a family member; when you are with other furries, suddenly you grow fur and a tail. Take the case of Pat again. Pat might be under the misconception that all the other things I revealed to Pat were somehow a lie because they didn’t involve my being furry. But that’s not true. All the other parts of me are just as real as my furry side, and that included my friendship.
Take this lesson in life with you: as you grow as a person, don’t be a judgmental jerk like your family. Accept people for who they are (and learn to forgive) and you will have evolved beyond the gene pool from which you emerged.
I hope that helps. Bear hugs to you!
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.