Dear Papa Bear,
A friend of mine has recently discovered that he's bisexual, and because I was basically the first friend he had in the fandom, he turns to me for advice regarding his sexuality, among other things.
He's also been raised as a Christian from a Roman Catholic family. They haven't actually been to church for a while, but by the sounds of it, they do hold their faith dear to their hearts. Also, he told me that no matter what anyone tells him, he knows that "god loves him no matter what", so he clearly doesn't have any problem with being both a Christian and bi.
Unfortunately, his mother does. I'm not sure how, but she's discovered that he's a both furry and bisexual, and she's not happy about him being either. He told me that beforehand, she continuously told him that she loved him. Now, even though he told her all the right things when she wanted to know what being both furry and bi meant, she didn't want to believe any of it. And now, whilst he hasn't been kicked out of the house, it did result in him telling her he was planning to move out in the next few years.
Still, I gave him what advice I could, like suggesting that he should give her some time to come to her senses and perhaps realise he's still the same son she raised, as well as offered him countless links to organisations and helplines I thought he'd find useful (including one forhttps://www.gaychristian.net , just in case you were thinking of putting their link in your reply)
When I asked whether or not she believed sexuality was a choice, he told me that she thinks the fandom has made him bi. Whilst this is, of course, a ridiculous thing to believe, I didn't know how to answer. I told him that being a furry doesn't transform someone into being gay, bi, or whatever, and he completely agrees, but I didn't know what to say to back it up. Whilst I'm for certain that there have been clues in his past to say he likes both sexes, he's only discovered and accepted his sexuality since joining the fandom, so I didn't know what I could say that would prove the fandom hasn't made him this way.
So, my question is this... what can he tell his mum which will help him to defend the fact that he hasn't 'become' bi since joining the fandom, and that the way he feels is a perfectly natural way to feel?
Also, if you don't mind a small question on the side (pardon me for breaking your 'one question per letter' rule), I was thinking of writing an open letter to his mum as an attempt to give her a wake-up call. Would you recommend this? I want to tell her how I feel, but I don't want to accidentally make matters worse.
For a friend in need,
* * *
A very controversial and difficult topic is this. My own personal beliefs on it are actually still evolving somewhat. If you don’t mind a kind of wishy-washy answer, my current thinking is this when it comes to nature vs. nurture: it’s a bit of both. The debate has been ongoing among biologists, anthropologists, psychologists and other professionals forever and a day.
On the one paw, it is clear that nature created two sexes for human beings and that the purpose of this is for the two sexes to get together, mate, and produce offspring (it’s also true that this is not the only natural model for reproduction). It is, furthermore, true that sexuality exists not just for breeding but also for social bonding, which is why it is okay to have sex without necessarily having a goal of popping out a kid.
Another thing that is true is that homosexuality is found in nature. Some scientists theorize that the percent of homosexual animals in a species’ population increases as population increases (i.e., it is a method for keeping population explosions from occurring). To irritate a right-wing person, you might ask them if they think some whitetail deer “choose” to be gay (if they say yes, they would be saying that animals have free will and make intellectual choices, which would result in Winnie-the-Conservative-Pooh sighing, “Oh, bother!”)
To complicate things further, there is growing evidence that contamination in the environment is actually having an effect on people’s hormones and sexual development. One problem, for example, is that women on birth control pills are excreting hormones through their urine into toilets, which gets into the water supply, and has actually been blamed on causing young girls to become sexually mature earlier. Diet and pollution are clearly affecting girls (http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/06/puberty-comes-earlier-and-earlier-girls-301920.html). There is also some evidence that young boys, while growing larger penises, are actually also having a harder time ejaculating and are becoming less fertile (low sperm counts). The effect of these hormones has been pronounced in fish (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-105466/Fertility-timebomb-drinking-water.html) and if it affects fish, it probably affects us, as well.
Anyway, in nature, it is the norm for a certain percentage of the population to tend toward homosexuality; environmental conditions can increase or decrease this percentage. A fascinating 2012 study (http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/scientists-think-they-have-found-out-why-people-are-born-gay141212/) explains how homosexuality can continue in a population, even though homosexuals don’t, usually, breed, and it also explains why twins can have one being gay and one being straight (some anti-gay people who feel it’s a choice have used twin studies to say it is not genetic—well, folks, here’s the reason why it still can be—science!)
That’s on a whole-population scale. Now, on the individual level, Papabear believes that no one is born 100% straight or gay. We tend to have proclivities toward one or another, and environmental factors can strongly influence them. Take me as an example. I didn’t realize I was gay for 40 years (though, in retrospect, there were clear signs). A big reason was I was never exposed (er, pardon that choice of word) to gay people except through the media, which portrayed all gay men as very effeminate, which didn’t appeal to me. The trigger came on the Internet, when I discovered gay bears: masculine homosexuals. I was hooked. That was my trigger.
Therefore, in one sense, your friend’s mother could be considered correct (though she likely didn’t reason it out the way I just did here) in that something like sexy furry art could “turn” or, more correctly, “trigger” a homosexual response. The difference is that his mother thinks this turns a straight person gay, but the truth is that it could awaken homosexual feelings that have always been present, but were hidden (either consciously or subconsciously).
And that’s how you explain it to her in a way she might understand. Whether she accepts this or not is up to her.
But here’s the more important point.
It shouldn’t matter one effing bit whether her son is straight, bi, pan, asexual, or gay. He’s her son, and she should love him no matter what.
Love the person.
As for writing to his mother yourself, I’m not sure I would recommend that. She will just think you are a gay furry trying to “recruit” her son and she will ignore the letter or, perhaps, even get angry by thinking her son put you up to it. So, no, don’t do that. Instead, talk to your buddy about this letter and see if it helps.
Wishing him luck!
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.