First I want to say how much I have enjoyed reading through your past letters and responses. The advice you give helped me answer a lot of questions that were arising inside of me.
Well, recently I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be part of the furry community. I'd always had a touch of furry inside of me, knowing about the top webcomics like Kevin and Kell, Fur Will Fly, and The Class Menagerie. I've always loved anthros, coming more from the Disney and Sci-Fi school of thought like the OG generation, and my favorite novel series are Brian Jacques "Redwall" books, which were a huge influence on me wanting to be a writer.
I didn't keep up with pursuing the fandom in high school sadly. It wasn't the perceived social stigma, so much as I was not aware of anyone else I could talk with about the fandom and my interest laid dormant from graduation, through college, and through post collegiate life. I did encounter furs in college, but they were more ... exclusive, we will say ... about who they accepted and once again my interest retreated back inside.
Well, a couple months ago I befriended several people with ties to a different fandom who happen to be furries and I found myself remembering my old interest and fun at the anthro art and comics. I started diving a little deeper than I had since I was a kid, and learned about many top people in the community, and even for the first time discovering there is a literary side to it that is as healthy as the art. This intrigued me a lot...I've always fashioned myself as a writer, and even though I have a degree in photography too writing was my first love but it fell away, as no new ideas came to me and I fell into a creative funk that became mild depression. Couple that with anxiety disorder in a high-stress work place, the depressive nature of the news, and other factors in my personal life, and I consider my furry friends lifesavers for my sanity and creativity. I found that spark again to write and currently am having my first go at an anthro story. I have a novel outlined I'd like to attempt to but I'm digressing from the main point.
My question is that I'm ready to accept my furriness and embrace it, but will I be thought of as another "wannabe" trying to be something they're not? I'm still terrified after the snub I got in college that coming into the community after being an outsider for so long I'll be looked at as some sort of poseur (no fursona to speak of and not yet a member of any furry social media). The fandom is something I want to involve myself in and be part of the community and bring what talents I have to help keep it alive. The friends I do have have been accepting, which gives me hope that once I make myself known more, that those fears will fall away. But in the back of my mind, I still have those self-sabotaging doubts.
Thank you in advance for reading this and I hope I was not a rambling bore.
Best regards and best of health,
Rakkety Tam (age 29)
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Hi, Rakkety Tam (love that name—how’d you come up with it?),
I completely understand this letter in many ways. As a writer myself, for example, I get what you are going through in attempting your first novel. I also understand the fear of not being accepted by the furry community, especially as an older furry. The times I’ve been to the Prancing Skiltaire party, for example, I felt like the complete outsider because it was nothing but young people (well, couple of older ones, including the hosts, of course) and they already had their cliques and all that. I stopped going for that reason. It’s also why I started the Facebook Greymuzzle Group for furries 30 and older (contact us on your next birthday) so that older furries could chat with each other more comfortably.
That said, two things are true here (in my experience): as a whole, the fandom is accepting of pretty much anyone, regardless of age, sexual preference, nationality, race, religion, etc. etc. However, it is also true that local groups of furries form, and each group can have its own microculture. Sometimes that culture is open and accepting, sometimes it is elitist and cliquish. A lot of this depends on who becomes the “leader” of the group. Their character as people will generally define the nature of the group they run. I’ve had people write to me at this column singing the praises of their local furry groups, while others feel completely ostracized by theirs. That group you met in college was not one of the better ones, apparently.
Just because you had a bad experience there, though, doesn’t mean it’s like that everywhere in the fandom. Indeed, I would say the bad groups are in the minority. You yourself note that while that college furry group was not so inviting your other furry friends have been “life savers.” You just need to keep socializing with more furries and establishing your furiends network, which will evolve over time.
You’re not a “wannabe” at all, Rakkety. Indeed, in my experience it is more common to see younger furs who are poseurs and who later drop out of the fandom because they just did it to try something different. It’s the same reason many young people do things like coloring their hair purple or getting a nose piercing. They are trying to find themselves and their creativity, but this period ends for many people who become “adults” and drop their furry pursuits because they are “childish.” Probably way over half of the under-20 furries you see now will not be involved in the fandom after they get regular jobs and start raising families and paying taxes and worrying about their mortgages or rent.
If you are still a furry in your late 20s, 30s, 40s and onward, you are hardcore in my book. You are furry for life, not just because it’s cool or outrageous, but because you have a furry soul. Papabear considers you a furry in my book. And, even if I didn’t, who cares? You aren’t a furry to please other people but to please yourself. So, enjoy the art, the comics, the books, and good luck with your writing! (I’d love to see it!)
You’ll make friends, don’t worry.
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