When I found your website I was absolutely thrilled, because I've been wanting to ask this for a while. My parents have always been cautious of what I do on the internet, from my point of view it seems like they think that everyone on it is probably a 60 year old pedophile.... But I've managed to sneak it, I have a FA account that I use regularly. I'm thinking if they knew about my FA they'd probably make me get rid of it, and then research what a Furry is. Finding out, like most parents, the internet description of it is "a sex-crazed fandom." I don't want this, that's why I've been keeping it from them for so long. But lately I've really wanted to commission some art from some of my favorite artists, and send things to some of my good friends I've made. I don't know how to go about telling them that I'm a Furry and that I've really been wanting to commission some of my favorite artists.
*My dad tends not to be too accepting towards different things, he would probably think I'm a weirdo if I told him. My mom would probably just be concerned for my internet safety.
Kodi (age 13)
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I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use your letter as a jumping-off point for a topic that has been slowly evolving in my mind since I began writing this column, and, more recently, as I've begun researching my book about the fandom.
As you and everyone reading this knows, there are two sides of the furry fandom: one is innocent, playful, and imaginative, the other one is much much more mature. Papabear understands that people such as yourself (and there is a growing number of them) are not interested (well, most aren't) in the sexy side of fur. They just want to have fun imagining themselves as their fursona having adventures with their friends in fantastic realms.
How did this bad reputation develop in which people see furries as, well, perverts?
The beginnings of the modern fandom were deliberately aimed at adult audiences. Back in the 1980s, when what I will call the Founding Furries began to meet at sci-fi conventions, they were discussing how they enjoyed talking animal characters but that all the stuff being created about them (comic strips, cartoons) was for children. What they wished to do was create stories, magazines, illustrations with anthros that were aimed at adult audiences.
Now, by this I don't mean X-rated, necessarily. Rather, they were stories that allowed for adult themes, such as more violence, political and social themes, and, yes, more erotic stuff (however, the erotic stuff tended to be part of the story, not just porn) to be addressed. A classic example of this is the "Omaha: The Cat Dancer" series by Reed Waller and the late Kate Worley. The stories in this series involved organized crime, gay themes, corrupt politicians, romance, and, yes, some love scenes. It was not pornography, but it was definitely not for children, either. Another, somewhat more recent, example is the "Blacksad" series by the extremely talented Spanish team of Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido featuring a title character that is a black cat who is a P.I. and gets into all kinds of ugly situations. The Arctic Nation issue deals brilliantly with the topic of racism, for instance.
Both of these series--and many others--are quality works of fiction. Neither of them would I recommend to a 13 year old such as yourself to read.
Over time, the media and mundanes (those outside the fandom) became obsessed by the sexual imagery in some of these works. Indeed, more and more artists began drawing furry porn. This was not really the original intent of the fandom, but in many ways it has evolved in that direction.
Because of this, I must regrettably come to the conclusion that the fandom is really not intended for the under-18 crowd such as yourself. (Don't give up on me yet, read on....)
Your parents are concerned about you and what you might find on the Internet. This is actually very correct and proper for them to do. As parents, they should be involved in what you view online. I know, you think you are aware of all the bad stuff that is online (and, no, I am not saying everyone out there is a pedophile--that certainly is not true), but there are a lot of bad people online, Kodi. People who try to take advantage of others, either for money or sex or just to be mean. And some of them are furries.
What I would like to do is recommend to you some great works of fiction for you to read. These are not "furry" books in that they weren't written by furries, but they certainly do have what you are looking for. Here's is my reading list. Let's call it:
Papabear's Reading List for Aspiring Furries
I'm not sure how sophisticated you are as a reader, but the above books range in age and you will likely find something. All of the writers listed above are extremely gifted and I'm sure you'll fall in love with their characters (if you haven't read some of these already).
Of course, there are many movies and TV shows with furry characters for you to enjoy, including, notably, the very recent Zootopia and the Kung Fu Panda films.
The reason I am talking to you about all of the above is that these are all ways for you to enjoy anthropomorphic characters in fiction that is considered "mainstream." You are not going to be given any grief from Mom or Dad if you read The Wind in the Willows.
All of the above is, however, neglecting the social side of furry. I'm sure a big reason that you are getting interested in furries is that you would like to chat with others who share your interests. You can actually do this, if you didn't know, by joining fan clubs of some of the works listed above. Certainly, there are fan clubs out there for all kinds of Disney and Pixar movies. If you type in any of the titles above and add "fan club" in a search engine, you will come up with interactive sites for those who share your love of these books and movies.
In addition, you can connect to friends your own age in your neighborhood and school and see if any of them are interested in anthros. If so, you might start your own little group of like-minded teens your age, meeting at one another's houses.
Like video games? Tons of games out there where you can be an anthro and have lots of fun, everything from Kung Fu Panda and Ratchet and Clank to Starfox and Yoshi. Want to create your own fursona? No reason why you can't. You don't need the furry fandom to do this.
The point is, there is plenty of stuff that is considered "mainstream" for you to enjoy before you venture into the adult world of the furry fandom. And you won't have to worry about hiding it from your parents (a behavior that is not conducive to gaining your parents' trust, by the way).
Can parents be unfair? Sure. Can they be a pain in the butt? Certainly. But please keep in mind that they love you and don't want you to be hurt. You are 13. You should not be entering the furry fandom world right now any more than you should walk into an auto dealership to purchase a car. That's for adults. But, don't worry, you will get there before you know it.
In the meantime, there is plenty of terrific stuff for you to enjoy. The books above are things I read at your age and prepared me to become part of the fandom later in life.
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.