Two very close friends of mine who have been part of this community fro a good while have recommended me to ask you regarding some pointers for starting out in the furry community, as for myself, I am rather new to the world of anthropomorphic animals and the cool, creative ideas that this will conjure up! As for what I decided to do with this field, my fursona is a friendly and wholesome Sun Bear who likes to fish for salmon in the woods and enjoys honey like most bears tend to do, details aside, my question is this: How do I best present myself appropriately in this community so that I may enjoy myself, let people enjoy me as a person and the character I portray, and to better avoid the more unfriendly and toxic side of this community (because as sad as it is, there are people in this world who tend to be unwelcoming and a bad influence to others.) Not to mention, it's very nice to hear some wisdom from a veteran who would know more about this then I would, who just so happens to be a bear as well!
Many thanks in advance,
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Dear Bro Bruin,
There is no one way to become an active part of the furry family. Back during its early years, when it was a few anthro fans meeting at sci-fi conventions and sharing APAs, it definitely WAS an isolated community that only a few people could participate in (e.g., you couldn't get a copy of an APA magazine unless you also contributed to it). Today, anyone can join and participate, whether that is in one of the numerous online outlets (Facebook, FurAffinity, Furry Aminos, Discord, Telegram, etc. etc. etc. etc.) or in person at a furmeet or furcon, there is no end to the many opportunities.
As you become more active, make sure your motivations for getting attention are healthy ones. Many times, furries write to me asking me how they can be popular and get attention in the fandom. In other words, they envy popufurs and want to be like them and to have their existence validated. This is incorrect motivation. Don't fall into that trap, for its jaws will consume you.
Addressing your question, "How do I best present myself appropriately in this community so that I may enjoy myself, let people enjoy me as a person and the character I portray, and to better avoid the more unfriendly and toxic side of this community...," the best way to present yourself is to simply be a good furry. Don't be a douchebag and you will inevitably make friends. Look for communities within the fandom that share your interests (e.g., being a bear, you might like to join my Bear Furries group on Facebook).
As for avoiding the "toxic side" of the family, that is all about the company you keep, and that means being a good judge of character, which is how you avoid toxic people in ANY community, not just the fandom. Obviously, stay away from people like the Nazi furs or others who try to make the fandom something political or exclusionary. Avoid people who try to define what furry is (in their favor) and who try to exclude others because "they aren't real furries." Also, avoid furries who only wish to have a hookup with you. These are the ones who will cause you grief.
Fortunately, most furries are kind, friendly, fun, and welcoming. This should be about fun and frolic, not about creating drama. Don't create drama, don't participate in drama (often manufactured by trolls desiring attention), and DO hang with people who simply like movies, TV shows, drawing, playing games, and having a good time. Do this and you, too, will have a good time.
Don't worry about your rep. Don't worry who likes you and who doesn't. Furry is all about being your true self. Be yourself and you will find others who want to be with you to share mutual loves and interests.
Welcome to the fandom!
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