As my regular readers know, Papabear receives many letters from furries about "coming out" to parents and friends or being teased and bullied at school. These letters make this bear so sad. As a community, we are, many of us, ashamed or embarrassed about being furries, mostly because of the sexual stigma often attached to our interest. When a minor, therefore, tries to talk to his or her parents about being a furry, one of the first things (most) parents do is look on the Internet to find out what the heck it is, and then they, inevitably, find furporn and then forbid their kids to be furries.
Some who read this may disagree, but I wish to unequivocally state here, once and for all, that being a furry is NOT about sex; it is NOT fundamentally a sexual fetish. Even though there is that aspect of it, and you can't deny that, the essence of furry is escapism.
Escapism is why the fandom started, when a few science fiction fans got together to share their interest in anthros within the genre. Escapism is why we create fursonas. Escapism is why we fursuit. Escapism is why we draw art, create graphic novels and comic books, and get together at furcons and furmeets to meet others like ourselves. (And, too, yes, escapism is why we have sexual fantasies).
Why do we need escapism? Gee, I dunno. Perhaps it's because humanity is in a state of constant war. Perhaps because there are terrorists who, at any moment, might kill us for no reason other than we don't share their beliefs. Perhaps it is because the news media constantly tells us to be afraid of EVERYTHING so that they will gain viewers to see the latest report as to why (seriously) we can't let our dog lick our face or that multivitamins will give us cancer or that foods we once thought were healthy will actually make us sick. Perhaps it is because people cannot accept us for who we are. Perhaps it is because people who have taken over this world insist on destroying society and the environment, making our water undrinkable, our air unbreathable, and our food inedible. Perhaps it is because religious people fight and kill each other over petty differences when we all supposedly worship the same God. Perhaps it is because we don't feel safe in our schools and the police are as likely to beat or shoot us as they are to issue a ticket. Perhaps it is because rampant greed has made it nearly impossible to find a decent-paying job and, when we finish college, we are tens of thousands of dollars in debt and all we can find in terms of employment is stocking shelves at Walmart.
So, when we go to our parents and tell them we are furries, and they turn around and tell us we are forbidden to be furries because furries are sex freaks, they slam the door on the one escape route we have to save our sanity.
Is it any wonder many of us have become neurotic?
Many people might see escapism as unhealthy, but, actually, it is a form of play (just like videogaming). Play and leisure time are an important part of mental health. It is only unhealthy when you become disconnected from "reality" to the extent where you are no longer able to perceive what is real and function in your life. This is not the case with the healthy furry, who either sees furriness as a hobby or as a part of who he or she is. I recently conducted an informal survey about whether furries saw being furry as part of who they are or just a hobby, and the overwhelming majority (97%) saw it as part of who they are. It is the same, really, as identifying oneself by sexual orientation, race, or religion. It is simply a part of you. Nothing wrong with that.
To all those that say we are freaks: yeah, we are freaks, if by being a "freak" you mean we do not conform to "normal" society. You have made us freaks. And we'd rather be freaks than be like you.
I'd rather be a furry than a soulless monster like Charles or David Koch. I'd rather be a furry than someone who spouts hatred and fear so that they can get elected to public office. I'd rather be furry than be a preacher who shouts that gay people are going to hell and that the LGBT community is why we have natural disasters. I'd rather be a furry than a cop who kills people because they are afraid of the color of their skin. I'd rather be a furry than a parent who kicks his own son out of the house to be homeless because he is gay. I'd rather be a furry than work for Monsanto or Halliburton, participating in wholesale environmental destruction.
Embrace the freaky community. Those who wish to control us can take everything away except one thing: our true identity, our souls.
Stay furry, my furiends.
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.