I have a question that has been eating at me ever since I first realized that I loved the furry community and wanted to always be a part of it for the rest of my life. I have never truly known how to present this furry side of myself to my Father.
Let me give you some background on my family and I.
I was raised with both my mom and dad, they divorced when I was around 6-7 years old with a rather traumatic experience. (My mother packed the entire house and left, with me. My dad had no idea until he came home to an empty home. I remember asking my mother when my dad would come to the new house and she said, "You're dad is /NEVER/ coming over here!" I saw him a few days later yet the experience was the turning point for the relationship I now have with my mom.)
Of course you probably understand that my Mother is a very narcissistic person, she was never there for me.
I became reclusive, locked myself in my room and the internet became my only social outlet. So in my solitude I discovered these anthro wolf creatures and they highly intrigued me, I dabbled in role play and for once I felt better. I became this wolf character, like I could progress into a fantasiful new world and make a new name for myself. Be who I really was on the inside. I felt like I had friends, I felt that I /was/ developing and moving forward as an individual. Which was a big thing to me at the time since I was maliciously bullied in school and ostracized. (from kindergarten to the end of my high school experience.) Even the nerdy band kids picked on me and in some instances even laid their hands on me. (hit/smacked me, luckily never in the face.)
My dad never knew about my bullying, I felt it was in vain. Every time I tried to talk with my Mother about my issues she would wave me off and go back to her life of not coming home until 2-4 am on the week days, whenever I called her she would drunkenly accuse me of spying on her for my dad. Being a young kid I figured it would be a waste of breath to talk to my dad about it. (my mom also fed me lies about how my dad would react to my bad grades, etc. I became scared to confide in my father. I know better now.) My dad called me every night and made sure I was okay, I stayed with him a lot but I wanted to come back home to be online to draw, roleplay and chat. The only place I felt I could truly express myself.
Though as time passed, my fursona grew and changed. She gave me confidence to stand up to my bullies and not long after that I found my niche in Jr. High, I had real life friends for the first time. All thanks to my Fursona and to this day she still gives me great strength and artistic outlet.
My mother kicked me out of the house in a rather violent tissy fit on my 15th birthday. (I was used to her tantrums that would come from nowhere, I was her punching bag. She would come downstairs, scream at me then leave. I never took these to heart as she did them so frequently it actually made me laugh. This one was different, a violence I hadn't seen from her since I was five when she tried to punch my dad.) She was screaming that I didn't respect her, yet all I did was play in the backyard with my cousins while the 'grown ups' talked about my brothers wedding. She found it insulting that a 14-15 year old girl would love to sit at a table and stare into space as they discussed color schemes, etc. She tried to slap me, took my phone from my hands and tried to break it before flinging it across the room. I was so shaken I couldn't speak when my dad picked me up (my mom had called him and told him to get me since she was /done/ with me.) and I cried for 7 solid hours when I got to my dads. Though the next morning I felt liberated. My dad was furious and let me stay home from school to go to the office with him. (He has his own construction business with my aunt so I could sit and dink around online or draw then go eat lunch with them.) I underestimated my dad and I learned a big lesson that day. But the whole online thing I was still so wary about. Especially.. -gasp- Furries.
Although my dad knew about the character as I would show him my drawings and talk about her story that I had come up with when I was around 10-11. He thought that I had a great imagination and to this day has kept really old stories I had written in the sixth grade. But it began to change when I discovered fursuits. I loved them. So I began to create them. He didn't really say much but I could tell he felt uncomfortable. He never said any negative thing to my face about my fursuits, and it sort of cleared up when I started to take commissions and he found out that I could make money off of it. (I have been making suits now for around 4 years.)
About two years ago my uncle was living with us since he was going through a divorce, I had woken up earlier than usual and was about to head up the steps when I started to hear him talk with my uncle about how he just "wants me to drop to stupid furry shit and grow up". It cut me deeply and I only could stare at the floor as his hurtful words sunk in. I don't know whether it was because he was embarrassed, ashamed. I still don't know since I never brought it up but it has always bothered me.
He is convinced that the furry fandom is purely perverts and sex maniacs. He has even brought this up to my boyfriend and even though he insists that it's not what it's about my dad refuses to believe him or me (the very slim conversation I had once with him).
Now being 19, almost 20 year old woman I feel like I’m living between two worlds and I don't know what to do about it but I know what causes the feeling. I feel like my dad is such a big part of my life and my driving source to be a better well-rounded person, but the actual big part of my personality (furry) is a dark, dirty and disgusting secret that his daughter has. I try to bring up my artwork to talk about what it actually means to me to be furry but he quickly changes the subject.
Is he ashamed of me? I don't think so. But he is the type of person that is incredibly stubborn with thinking he knows /most/ of everything. He can admit he is wrong if he researches it out but he wont even talk to me about why I feel I need to be a part of the furry community.
I want him to understand that my fursona, my art is a part of my life and always will be. Fursuit making is a passion of mine, I love costume making and even though I’ve told him I don't want to do it as a career (I really want to write.) he can't understand what is fun about it unless it's just obviously a fetish. And now that I’m older, my absolute dream is to go to Anthrocon. I want to be an active role in the community, I don't think I should have to wait until I'm late 20's or even 30's to attend the convention. I feel like there is this choice I must make between the 'real world' and the furry community.
He believes that once I can support myself I can do whatever I want, but being a full time student doesn't lend that possibility for a few more years. I tried asking him about going last year but he abruptly cut me off (after trying to get the courage for 57 minutes of driving to the office, it normally takes an hour to reach it.) and sounded quite angry, saying that all I want to do is go to "that gay furry convention" and I've got other things to worry about like school. I was so shocked, it wasn't like him to suddenly snap like that and I started to cry once I got out of the truck. He seemed hurt. I wouldn't really speak or eat and he seemed concerned but the topic never came up again.
I understand taking school first before vacationing, but its not just because its a vacation that he is so upset it's the fact that it involves furries.
How do I bring up this topic in a mature manner that would open up an actual real conversation about my feelings with this topic? I am so afraid to bring it up, every starting sentence I come up with doesn't sound right so I remain silent. I can't keep feeling like being a furry is an embarrassment to my Father. The man that has cared for me and shown me all the love and support of both parents, that has guided me and even shown unrelenting support to my friends by giving one of them a place to live before he was sent to Basic Training for the Marine Corps. (his parents left him nowhere to live as well. (This is the same boy that my dad had the furry talk with earlier in this letter.)
I've been fighting and struggling with this question for so long I’ve finally ruled out just keeping it hidden, it doesn't feel right. My Father and I have such a wonderful relationship yet this feels like a skeleton in the closet when it shouldn't. I apologize for the length of this letter but I feel that every detail is important and necessary to the exact awkwardness of my situation.
Is there a certain way I should bring it up? He already knows I'm furry but now it's just addressing why he feels uncomfortable without getting into a weird argument. I don't want to get choked up like I did last time, I want to solve this once and for all and finally feel whole again.
What advice do you have for this one confused she-wolf?
* * *
What a moving, sad, and inspiring story you tell. The more letters I get from readers, the more common seems your story. So many furries have parents who don’t understand them and buy into the hype that the only thing the fandom is about is gay fursuiters yiffing each other. I know you are as frustrated as I am by this prejudice; it gets tiring, sometimes, having to repeat over and over to people that furry is much more than that.
Furry is about imagination, a facet of the human condition that is essential to life and that can bring sanity to an insane world. People like your father and mother—each in their way—are victims of a society intolerant of difference, creativity, and, yes, even joy and the ability to reconnect to childhood (I’m reminded of Michael Jackson and how he spent his adult life trying to reconnect to a childhood he was denied). They think life is all about school and work and struggle and pain and money and consumerism and gaining the admiration of your peers and being just like everyone else. Furthermore, most humans have completely lost touch with their animal side, with Nature, and Mother Earth and what is truly spiritual in our lives (not religious, spiritual. There’s a difference).
This is what you have created for yourself in your wolf fursona. She is not just a figment of your imagination. She is a part of your spirit you have connected with and who has become a protector. Without her, you may not have survived to adulthood—maybe physically you would have, but not mentally.
It is interesting to note that you only gained approval for your furry activities—however briefly—when you showed your father that you could make some money at it. This is the sad state of affairs that most of the human race finds itself in. Nothing matters but money—oh, and power. Humans are way into power, which, not coincidentally, also equates as money.
Keyra, you are to be congratulated for surviving your awful childhood with your mother. She could clearly use some psychiatric care, but that is material for another letter. Your father cares about you, which is wonderful, and is very protective of you. His attitude about furry might be compared to a father’s concern if you had gotten involved in a dangerous gang. His prejudice against furries is born of ignorance. I know you have tried to explain why you like furry and have been wonderfully open with him about it. For some reason, he just doesn’t get it or he refuses to try.
You and your father both understand that school is important, and I certainly agree with that. However, life isn’t all about school and work. You have to express yourself as an individual and you need to have fun in life, or what is a life for? Life should be enjoyed. Life should be experienced (something your father probably has forgotten). Being an “adult” all the time sucks the joy out of life. We all harbor children within ourselves, and it should be okay to express the joy of childhood, even when we become adults. And the way you experience it is through the fandom.
The way to talk to someone like your father is to start on common ground and then add your own personal needs to the discussion. In your heart-to-heart talk, tell him how you love him and how he is a central part of your life. Tell him how much you respect him as a person and as a father. Tell him you agree with him that school and work are important and that you will do your best to make him proud. But then tell him that being a furry is an outlet for your creative expression and that you enjoy it because it is a lot of fun and it is a part of who you are. Ask him if he can please love you for the way you are in the same way that you love him for the way he is. You are all individuals; you are not exactly like your father, and he shouldn’t expect you to be just like him. Tell him how you wish to be a writer and that that is part of your interest in furries (there are many highly respected authors of sci-fi and fantasy who have published award-winning novels with anthropomorphic characters—mention some: everyone from Brian Jacques and Richard Adams to C. J. Cherryh and David Brin.) Inform them that there are many people who have businesses in the fandom, creating art, writing stories, making fursuits, crafting jewelry, even programming online games and hosting amateur radio shows and much more.
This is, as you mentioned you desired, a discussion between two adults. You are at an age when you can call yourself an adult, surely. And adult relationships are built on mutual respect. Tell your father you will always be his daughter (of course!) but that you wish to have a more adult relationship and you wish to have your interests respected. He needs to get his head out of the idea that this is about kink. It’s not, not at all. Before your talk, arm yourself with evidence and facts to counter any claims he makes about the fandom.
Your father sounds like a good man who has bought into society’s idea of “what is normal.” It won’t be easy, but you need to open his eyes a bit that there is no such thing as “normal.” All that is is people hiding behind façades for fear of being rejected for who they truly are. You don’t want to be a drone; you don’t want to be just another “consumer,” just another number in a computer. You want to be who you really are.
Gosh, you’ve got Papabear rambling a bit. I hope what I’ve said makes sense and is helpful.
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.