Well this may be awkward, but I thought this may be one of my best chances to get some answers from someone in the furry fandom without alienating myself or hurting friends/relationships I have made.
Slight background: I have been a furry for years, but only actually started to get into the fandom more heavily within the last 6 months. Photographing, drawing, writing, bowling, cons, a little of everything. But something has been troubling me for quite some time and still is bothering me today to the point that sometimes I just cant function well.
As anyone in the fandom knows, the fandom itself is very open sexually compared to many other groups of people. Not a bad thing, but often attacked upon. I learned that art-wise to get recognized, you really need to allow yourself to do adult work. And more so, allow yourself to gay art work. I know the fandom has a large LGBT, and I am a huge supporter of that. I personally am a demi-sexual (only having sexual attraction to those I care deeply about), but am attracted to the opposite sex (females). I found more and more as I delved into the fandom that this did not bode well for me though....
It did not take long for myself to have admirers of the same sex. Even though they fully knew I was straight (did not know about demi at the time), they still professed their love for me. Being friends with them, I did not want to hurt them, thus I did not break off our friendships even though I was not willing to do anything with them (be it RP or a meeting some day). They were willing to change their fursona's to female characters just so I could be with them. Not wanting to have anyone to change for me like that, I told them not to and started to “embrace” a gay side of myself.
I am (somewhat) happy that they are happy, but it does not make overall joyful over the situation that I have literally had to become gay to be accepted.
Here is my question: Do I have to accept that I have to be gay/bi to truly be part of this fandom? I don’t want to make people upset, or alienate my work as a furry artist. Least of all, I don’t want to lose the friends I have made.
Any suggestions you can make for someone lost in the world of furry customs and procedures when it comes to being “straight” in the fandom?
Flots (age 26)
* * *
There seems to be a disconnect between the perception and reality of the furry fandom. When you look at the latest furry survey on http://klisoura.com/ot_furrysurvey.php, which was taken in 2012, you get these figures:
This appears to show that there is a pretty good distribution between hetero-, homo-, bi-, and even pan- and asexual furries, with about 37% either completely straight or leaning mostly straight (fascinatingly, versus about 20% who describe themselves as homosexual or leaning that way, which is 17% less that straight furs!). These figures were arrived at through an anonymous survey with people entering their preferences in the privacy of their own homes, so there is no reason to think they would lie about their sexual preferences.
Papabear’s theory on this is that we perceive a fandom almost engulfed in homosexual men for a couple reasons: 1) as a social group, the percentage of homosexuals is a lot higher than in the overall world, and so it seems to us that there are more than there really are in comparison, 2) in the fandom, LGBT people feel a lot freer to be open about their sexuality, a lot more comfortable with being fully out in public, so it is a lot more in-your-face gay, so to speak, and 3) LGBT people are often a lot more flamboyant about their dress, hair style, mannerisms, etc. than straight people are (this is a generalization for which there are always exceptions), especially at a furcon, making them much more noticeable, too.
(Side note, I live near Palm Springs, California. If I were an alien and landed in Palm Springs and that was the only sampling of human behavior I saw, I would believe that over half the population was gay and that a lot of them like to drive Fiats and own little dogs.)
Now, you’ve been hit on by some gay guys at cons, but I would also note that it is not just gay guys who are more sexually aggressive among furries. I recall, in particular, when my mate and I were at a furry meet in Novi, Michigan, and even though he and I were clearly together, a female furry hit on Yogi, and I quote her: “One thing I like about being furry is you can have sex with just about anyone,” she said seductively, touching my mate’s thigh. I think it was all he could do not to laugh in her face, but he simply said, “Isn’t gonna happen, sister.”
Which brings me to the next issue: age demographics and hormones. The Klisoura survey shows that the vast majority of furries are young males (about 79% male and about 83% between 15 and 30 years of age. Anyone knows that this is the Age of Raging Hormones, when Mother Nature tells fertile young men (and women) to “go forth and yiff your brains out—procreate, dammit!” This often leads to unwise decisions in which the brain is towed behind the genitals.
So, you are at a convention, surrounded by young, horny guys without parental (or other) supervision who see (I surmise) another young, attractive man. Buying into the “common knowledge” that all young male furries are gay, they hit on you. You, being demisexual and only interested in making love with those you genuinely love (very admirable), try to kindly rebuff them, but they keep coming at you.
Other than wearing a sign around your neck that announces “Straight Furry,” what do you do? Well, one thing you should not do is pretend you are someone you are not, which is what you appear to be doing. Don’t pretend you’re gay just to make friends. And anyone, gay or straight, who stops being your friend because you insist on being yourself is not your real friend and not someone you want in your life.
I would recommend you join Furry4Life (if you have not already) and become a member of the Straight Furs group at http://furry4life.org/group/straightfurs. There are 560 members there, as of this writing, so you can probably find some furries with whom you can connect. On Facebook, you can join Straight Furry Pride! at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Straightfurs/ which also has about 500 members.
About art: Yes, I have seen this before. A furiend of mine who is an artist struggled for some time trying to earn commissions with G and PG art and just could not swing it, so he gave in and now draws a lot of furporn, which makes him quite a bit of money. It is simply a reality of this fandom that there are a lot of furries who like this stuff, including me, I admit. I could write many pages as to why this is true, but this letter is getting a little long. Back in January, I wrote a column to an artist like yourself with a similar problem: http://www.askpapabear.com/1/post/2014/01/furry-artist-wants-to-take-on-non-x-commissions.html. Take a look and see if that helps you.
When it comes to the arts, it is interesting that a lot of people are drawn into the fandom by innocent cartoons and movies like Disney films and My Little Pony and yet, within the fandom, gravitate to porn. But there is a lot of fandom-created art that is completely G or PG, sometimes R, but definitely not porn. “Nordguard” by Blotch http://www.nordguard.com/ is a good one (interestingly, Blotch draws a lot of porn, but this is a nice switch for that female artist team), and I just posted an ad on this site for the online comic “Pride of Life” http://www.prideoflife.com/ that, while it has some violence, is not porn. Neither of these works have homosexual themes, either. But, back to porn, there are artists who draw straight furporn and also find success.
I invite my readers to comment on this column and suggest comics, artists, and other resources for Flots to check out.
To answer your question “Do I have to accept that I have to be gay/bi to truly be part of this fandom?” directly (at last), no, you do not have to be gay or bi to be part of the fandom. I think you should ask yourself, as well, why you felt compelled to tell your gay friends that they should not feel they have to roleplay as females to be your friends, and yet you feel that you should have to pretend to be gay not to lose them as friends. If you can accept them for the way they are, do you feel your friends have so little character that they cannot do the same for you?
Think about that for a while.
You’ve only been really active in the fandom for six months. It took me a couple of years interacting with furries before I really got it. Give it more time, Flots, and good 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.