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Updated: 3 hours 52 min ago

To Succeed, You Need Optimism

Sun 8 May 2022 - 09:47
Papabear,

I wanted to ask you if there is a way to handle feelings of emptiness.

Since the last months of 2021, I ended up hitting my lowest point because things haven't gone the way I planned. I came back to Vancouver to finish a diploma and settled there to start a life, but unfortunately, being unable to find a job in a whole new country has led to feeling empty and without a purpose. I'm starting to think it is no use trying anymore now that my current situation has led to personal issues with my family.

It seems like I'm getting embittered each day. And I'm afraid of shutting myself to people I love, along with any possibility of enjoying the good things that life might bring.

Regards,
Anonymous
* * *
Dear Furiend,

Where are you from originally? Did you get your diploma? Why haven't you been able to find a job? What have you done to obtain a job? 

There are always options. Don't give up. Just because you haven't found work yet doesn't mean you won't.

Please send me more info on what type of job you are seeking and what you have done so far to find work.

Hugs,
Papabear
* * *
Hi, Papabear,
I'm surprised you wanted to get in touch with me directly and even ask questions about myself.

I'll proceed to answer your questions.

I'm from a little state in Mexico and I managed to get my degree as a Digital Artist in 2017 after struggling with college in many aspects, then I came to Vancouver in 2018 to improve my skills/demo reel to enter an animation studio there. The first diploma/course worked out for me, but it didn't help me out to get a permit, so I had to take another course in that area to get a PGWP and I succeeded in doing so last year.

After finishing the second course I tried to apply as a Teaching Assistant at the 3D Arts school where I got the diploma that qualified for a PGWP (Post Graduate Working Permit), or a part-time job while the permit was in process. I focused on refining the  animation pieces of the demo reel, while getting any documentation for the paperwork process back then, but I couldn't nail anything on animation areas since the requirements for entry levels are asking for a year of experience in similar roles.

Right now, the landlady's relative helped me out to find a temporary job and I'm waiting for receiving a call to let me know when I do start capacitation. 

I'm trying to find a job as a 3D Animator and so far I'm simply working on other 3D animation exercises to improve the reel, while trying to send a general application for different studios. But the demand for higher level roles has led me to get discouraged from working on my reel further and now I'm trying to get over that feeling.

This temporary job could help me out for a bit, since it would be the very first time I get in the working force and to build experience. But I would prefer if it was related to my area to keep honing my skills, now that I have a work permit.

That's pretty much what I have been doing so far.

Last thing to bring is that I even ended up befriending people from the Vancoufur community and volunteered to help the VR Chat artists to see if I can make contacts that lead me closer to my goal. There's a reason why I'm doing this, but I'll bring this out in a follow up message.

Thanks so much for coming around. 
* * *
Hello, Furiend,

It sounds to me as if you are doing all the right things. You are working to improve your skills, searching for work in your field, and, in the meantime, finding employment elsewhere to get some income while you pursue your dream.

It can be easy to get discouraged when things don't go your way as soon as you would like, but that is how the world can be. Let me tell you a story from my life. When I wrote my novel, The Steel of Enadia, I mailed it out to one hundred publishers before I got an acceptance letter (that's 99 rejections, 1 acceptance). And even that publisher didn't work out, so I ended up going with a small press in Canada that was running a competition judged by author Piers Anthony. I won, and got my book published. As happy as that sounds, the book sold poorly, which was also discouraging to me. What happened next was I started writing nonfiction books and found I had a real gift for that, which is what I am now doing in my life: writing nonfiction.

There are two lessons here: 1) Never give up trying, and 2) Be flexible and keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. In the business world, no one is going to give you a free ride and hand you your dream job. You have to work and sweat for it. Before I got my first job as an editor, I worked in a burger joint, as a cashier, and in a factory. Sometimes you have to sweat over a fat fryer before an opportunity strikes. Don't let yourself get down and don't give in to pessimism.

Optimism is key. The person who succeeds in life is the one who is optimistic about the future. Optimism inspires you to work hard and to keep going no matter what. How do you become more optimistic? Here are a few tips:

  1. Don't blame yourself if things don't go your way immediately
  2. On the other paw, give yourself credit when things DO go your way
  3. Learn from your mistakes, but also from your successes, no matter how small, and build on those
  4. If you have a setback, remember it is only temporary. "This, too, shall pass."
  5. Believe in yourself and that you can make good things happen
  6. Learn self-confidence. Don't put yourself down. When you interview for a job, always say to yourself, "Yes! I can do this!"
  7. Don't develop tunnel vision; don't be so focused on one goal that you don't see opportunities outside that goal.
  8. And, no matter what, always remember this: Be a good person. In the end, nothing else really matters but who you are as a human being

Hope this helps.

Bear Hugs,
Papabear

Some Facts about Pedophilia

Tue 3 May 2022 - 12:24
[Ed note: Pedophilia is a highly sensitive topic. Papabear acknowledges this and wishes to emphasize that he in no way, shape, or form advocates child abuse of any kind, nor does he defend or excuse child abusers in any way.]

Papabear,

It's not so much a question but a hope that you may be able to help change some very wrong opinions about a certain topic. Society as a whole and furries especially hear this condition and immediately fly into a rage storm. I live with this psychological condition and wish people would take the time to try and understand it more. I have discussed my tools for managing this condition with psychological professionals and they see no harm in it so long as it remains strictly fictional and between consenting adults in roleplay settings. Anyway, due to a childhood trauma, I suffer from pedophilia and have never harmed a child in my life; in fact, I am asexual.

Anonymous
* * *
Dear Anonymous,

To say you are asexual and a pedophile is to be self-contradictory.  An asexual person has absolutely no interest in sex and, therefore, cannot have a sexual attraction for children. What you mean to say is that you are a pedophile who does not act out sexually with children. This is an important distinction. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, pedophilia means you have "recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children." Therefore, one can still be a pedophile even though one never acts on those desires.

It is entirely possible not to act on our sexual proclivities. It is wrong when people think that all pedophiles abuse children. In fact, the large majority never act out on their desires. It is also possible for people who are not pedophiles to sexually abuse children, using them as a surrogate for the true object of their desires.

​Research is showing that pedophiles who grew up in abusive households are more likely to act out on their attraction for children. Childhood traumas of various sorts can make this more likely. Therapy with a trained mental health professional is the best way to treat pedophilia.

There is also growing evidence that pedophilia tendencies are genetic, just as homosexual ones are. So, it may be that people are born to be pedophiles. Now, there is a movement to destigmatize pedophilia by calling pedophiles "minor-attracted people." This should not, however, be seen as saying it's okay to molest children sexually. This is never okay because children are minors, are not sexually mature, and do not have the social position to say "No." It is always wrong to force oneself on a child who is powerless to prevent such assaults. This is what makes pedophilia different from homosexuality: the latter involves consenting adults while the former does not. Also, pedophilia is classified as a psychological disorder, but homosexuality is not (yes, it was once, but is no longer). Here is a good article all about pedophilia.

Thank you for bringing up an important topic. Hopefully, this will clear up some misunderstandings about pedophilia.

Papabear

Finding a Fursuit Maker

Mon 25 Apr 2022 - 13:31
Papabear,

I’m new to the furry fandom. I joined when Covid started to get my mind off the pandemic. So I did not know how to get a fursuit, so I bought one from eBay. I was just starting. I did not know what to do. Is that bad? What are the best places to find a real fursuit maker? It is 2 years since I joined the fandom and I love it. I found you out by Cassidy Civet. I’m going to my very 1st fur con soon, and I will be wearing my fursuit I got, but I will be getting a real one soon. I hope, from Thunderhowl Studios. Is that a good place to start?

Stitch
* * *
Dear Stitch,

Sorry for the delay in my reply, and thank you for your excellent question. You are correct that there are good sources and bad to contact when it comes to commissioning a new (or purchasing a used or premade) fursuit. You need to be careful on sites such as eBay because there are a lot of disreputable companies out there. There are a few--especially coming out of Asia--that show photos of beautiful fursuits, but when you order it and receive it, it's actually a piece of garbage you wouldn't wear at a cheesy Halloween party. You can learn about all the fursuit scams out there by going to YouTube and typing "fursuit scammers." You will see various vlogs there from good furries like Ash Coyote, who, by the way, made a vlog, especially about eBay scams. You should also be wary of other online merchant sites such as Etsy.

If you want a new fursuit, the best thing to do is research research research. Find a legit maker with a track record whose style you like and contact them to see if they are open for commissions. You can also ask any fursuiting friends you have about who made their fursuits and if they had a good experience with the maker.  I hired Beastcub to make Grubbs because I had seen a lot of her work, so I contacted her directly. 

Sounds like you have already picked Thunderhowl Studios. Yes, that's a good maker from what I've heard. I'm going to add some more information below for the benefit of my other readers.

If you don't know where to begin, there are a couple of database sites you might find useful. The Fursuit Database is great because you can search on species and types of fursuits, see real-life examples, and contact the maker of the suit. (Here's the listing for Grubbs, for example). There is also the Fursuit Makers Database, which lists the works of nearly 500 makers.

Commissioning a full fursuit new is a long, arduous, and expensive process. Don't be surprised if it takes up to 2 years to complete the purchase. Top-notch designers are in high demand and will cost you a mint ($3,000 and up, easily). The easiest way to cut expenses is to get a partial suit. These are also good because you can wear regular clothes and stay a lot cooler than a full suit. You can also look for makers who start their work using head bases (pre-molded heads of various species that you can customize). And, of course, the best way to save money is to make a fursuit yourself, but that takes a lot of skill and dedication on your part. Finally, you can buy a used fursuit. The best place to find those is The Dealer's Den. There used to be other sites such as FurBuy, but they appear to have closed their doors.

Happy Fursuiting!

Papabear

Overcoming Societal Pressures

Mon 18 Apr 2022 - 19:49
Papabear,

I feel very conflicted on my sexual orientation at the moment. All my life, I thought that I was hetero and attracted to females. I went to a Furry convention nearby and found that I resonated with the sentiments that the others had felt. I, however, felt that I was being ostracized by society, even my own parents. I was kicked out the house, and my parents threatened to disown me, because I wasn't normal. I want to feel normal again and embrace my personality. I want people to refer to me as Kanba Kanna Jothibass and not as the "monster." How do I overcome societal pressure and expectations?

Kanba (age 32)
* * *
Hi, Kanba,

While I'm sorry to hear your parents are not accepting you for you, at 32 years of age it is a good thing you are moving out of your parents' home. As with your process of discovering your gender identity, you need to discover who you are as a person, and the best way to grow and do that is to live on your own and on your own terms, so I wish you luck with that.

It should come as no surprise, sadly, that society (including your parents) does not, for the most part, accept people in the LGBTQI+ community. Society is all about conformity, and those who do not conform to society's artificial standards are typically rejected by the population. Your parents have proven themselves to be just as shallow and judgmental as society, putting conditions on their love for you, with that condition being you must be "normal." Sorry, but you have bad parents when it comes to this important topic of identity. Good parents love their children unconditionally for who they are.

You want to feel normal? I wouldn't go there if I were you. "Normal" people are boring conformists. The people who truly move the world are the nonconformists, the iconoclasts, and the heretics. These are the artists, inventors, and dreamers who improve our society. They are the scientists, revolutionaries, and innovators who take us to new heights.

Don't be normal, Kanba. Be special. Be unique. Fuck "normal." When you say you want to feel "normal," you mean you want to regain acceptance from your parents and others. All humans want to feel accepted because we are social animals, and we crave acceptance from our parents because they are the ones who nurtured us as children. But when parents and society reject us for being special and different, they show themselves to be just one of the crowd.

"How do I overcome societal pressures and expectations?" is your question. You do so by first recognizing that those pressures and expectations are not necessarily right just because a lot of people agree to them. You are not placed on Earth to please others and do their bidding. Each of us is placed on Earth to discover who we are and what is truly important in life. We are here to experience life. To interact with others. Doing so will help you learn the things that are correct and the things that are incorrect. How do you know which is which? Well, it might sound like a pat answer, but your conscience will tell you. 

Look, Kanba, there are only two rules you need to know: 1) The Golden Rule, 2) The Wiccan Rede. The former says to treat others as you would have them treat you, and the latter says that as long as you aren't hurting anyone (this includes yourself, so don't take drugs, etc.), do whatever you feel like doing. Or, as Patrick Swayze said in Roadhouse, "Be nice."

All the other "rules" that society piles up on you are mostly B.S. Now, obviously, there are laws out there that are for the good of everyone, and the best laws are the ones that are related to the Golden Rule and the Wiccan Rede, such as killing, stealing, raping, and pillaging are all bad. But rules like "You have to get a college degree to succeed in life," and "You have to make huge profits in business and take advantage of others in this dog-eat-dog world," or "You have to marry a proper woman (or man) and have children to maintain the family name" are all designed not for your benefit but for others.

Stop worrying what others, including your parents, think of you. Your life is for you. That's not being selfish. Discover yourself and discover your purpose in it. This is the only way to lead a fulfilling life.

Oh, and if people are seriously calling you a "monster," avoid such people at all cost. That's just ridiculous; such opinions are not worth your time to address. You are not a monster.

Bear Hugs,
PapabearOh, and if people are seriously calling you a "monster," avoid such people at all cost. That's just ridiculous, and such opinions are not even worth your time to address. You are not a monster.


She's Having Fursona Difficulties

Mon 28 Mar 2022 - 10:21
Papabear,

​Hi. I'm gonna try and keep this short, but I've been under some distress about a silly thing, but it still lingers in my thoughts all the time. It'ss about my fursona or lack thereof. I've been having trouble figuring one out, but I'm sometimes drifting into just having a nonfurry persona to use in the furry fandom. But I don't know if using such a character would be seen as weird in the fandom, or if people would say I'm not a furry.

Anonymous (age 25)

* * *

Dear Furiend,

Many people struggle to find their fursonas, but you should not worry too much. Like a fursuit, a fursona is not a requirement to have fun in the furry fandom. That said, to answer one of your questions, yes, it is a little odd to have an avatar or OC that is simply a human interacting with furries in game play or other social interactions. After all, the whole point is to be a furry socializing and playing with furries. I suppose it's not completely unheard of. I see, for example, drawings of humans on FurAffinity sometimes. I never really felt it was appropriate, but it is there.

I suggest you just create a quickie fursona for the time being and don't worry about it being an exact fit for you. Rather like whipping up a quick character for a newbie or non-serious player in a D&D or WoW game, this is just a temporary solution so you can do some interactions while you consider what you might do later for an OC. Pretty much any critter will do. In fact, this could be a useful exercise in picking a fursona. If I said, "Quick! Pick a favorite furry species!" what would you pick? That could indicate a good starting point for your fursona.

Keep in mind that it is also totally fine to have multiple fursonas, hybrids, mythological species, prehistoric species, and species that you have totally made up on your own. Free your mind to imagine whatever you like! That's the fun!

If you're still having a hard time, you can always go with the catgirl look: basically a human but with ears and a tail. This also works well when you're attending cons and furmeets. Just wear some ears and attach a tail and off you go!

I don't know how long you have been active in the fandom, but don't put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to your fursona, or anything else for that matter. When the time is right, it will all come to you, and you'll be fine. The fandom should be something you enjoy and not something that stresses you out.

Hope that's helpful.

Bear Hugs,
Papabear

Where's the Market For Short Furfiction?

Sun 20 Mar 2022 - 18:00
Papabear,

I'm curious to know if there are any furry publications that have multiple stories/art shown on a regular basis. I have a story I want to include for them but my research has been frustrating.

Rif Foxworthy

* * *

Dear Rif,

Back in the 1980s, '90s, and into the 2000s, there used to be a lot more options for furry writers to submit their stories in publications. There were several APAs, followed by BBS's and online archives where furry authors regularly submitted their stories. Today, many of those (FurRag, AnthroArchives, YiffStar, VCL, the Raccoon's Bookshelf, and most APAs with the noted exception of the quarterly Rowrbrazzle) are either gone or nearly inactive. The last death blow for the ones that were still limping around in recent years was probably COVID-19 (Raccoon's Bookshelf, for example, died somewhere around 2019 or 2020).

Furry writers these days seem to post stories on FurAffinity and SoFurry. These sites, of course, don't pay for your stories, but if you just wish to share your fiction, that's the way to go.

Since furry periodicals are rather a dead end these days (although you might wish to approach the publishers at Rowrbrazzle and give them a shot), the best solution for short fiction authors is to submit your work for publication in an anthology. The number of publishers even here is shrinking lately (for example, Bad Dog Books was swallowed up by FurPlanet Productions ten years ago), but there are still some out there, including FurPlanet, Sofawolf Press, and Thurston Howl Publications.

One last option: self-publishing. This could involve just setting up a personal website and putting your stories on it, or you can create an ebook quite easily these days.

I'm not certain exactly why furry short fiction seems to be languishing a bit these days. I fear one cause might be that Fred Patten's death has extinguished a voice that was our best promoter of furry fiction. We could really use one or more furries to pick up that banner and start waving it again, not just for the sake of the authors but also for furry readers.

Good luck to you, Rif.

Papabear

Species Dysphoria

Sun 6 Mar 2022 - 11:05
Papabear,

I’ve heard of this term "species dysphoria." Is this a valid term? I sometimes feel like I’m just going crazy, but I still just don’t know what I am. There are days I feel like I am a human being, but there are days where I just don’t. It stresses me. I hope my best friend doesn’t judge me for it. I have a very good feeling he wouldn’t; he’s always a very open-minded person and a huge sweetheart. But I’m scared about the chance of him rejecting my possible identities. However, I do remember we talked about how there are so many things in this world we probably don’t know the truth to and probably never will, and he explain that he does believe that maybe it can be possible for someone to be some kind of therian deep within their being. So, I do know he’s a very open-minded person.

I am in my 20s now. I turned 20 recently. I feel like my body has been going through so many strange feelings. I always try not to think about the worst-case scenario, but it’s hard.
 
I just worry I’m going crazy. I want to talk to my therapist about it, but I’m worried she’ll misconstrue [this].

Maxi

* * *

Dear Maxi,

There is, indeed, such a thing as species dysphoria (called Species Identity Disorder among mental health professionals), the feeling that you are inhabiting a body that is the wrong species. Are you familiar with otherkin? Otherkin are those who feel, for one reason or another, they are not human. This can mean they feel "other" in a spiritual/psychological sense or that they are actually, physically different but are concealing their true form under a human guise. I have met otherkin who believe they are from another world that faced some kind of cataclysm and they had to come here and take human shape in order to survive. Others believe they come from another dimension or that they are of an angelic or demonic origin. Some of these otherkin are in an animal form, some are more like a species of elf or other humanoid (but not human) race.

Species dysphoria is comparable in some ways to sex dysphoria (often incorrectly, in my opinion, called Gender Identity Disorder since "gender" just refers to social standards of what is "male" and "female" while "sex" is biological) in that both involve feeling that your physical form does not match who you truly are. It is interesting that psychologists are coming to accept sexual dysphoria as a real thing, but species dysphoria is regarded as a type of mental illness. But I have to ask, if one can feel that they are, say, a woman in a male body, why can't one feel as though they are, again as an example, a lion or a dragon in a human body? (Unfortunately, while surgery can replace male parts with something simulating female anatomy, the same is not true for turning someone into another animal--just don't watch the horror movie Tusk.)

In "Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism)" by Kathleen Gerbasi et al, published in the journal Society and Animals (August 2008), the authors surveyed over 200 furries at a convention and found that nearly half (46%) had, to a lesser or greater extent, some feeling that they were not entirely human. This coincides fairly well with my experience with furries in that about half of them feel they are furry while the other half are hobbyists and are just doing this for fun (in the same way as a Trekkie might dress up as a Vulcan at a Star Trek convention but never considers themselves to be an actual Vulcan).

So why do many furries feel this way? There are a couple of possibilities, and I will just touch on them here (this could be a book, seriously). One possibility is social. Many furries feel rejected by (or reject) humanity and their own humanness, which leaves them feeling disconnected to the extent that they literally do not wish to be human. When one feels this way intensely and long enough, it can become ingrained in your very being. Another possibility depends on whether or not you feel reincarnation is possible and, perhaps, furries with species dysphoria are recalling former lives as some type of animal (or even alien species). The third possibility has to do with empathy: a deep connection with another animal, one so intense that it begins to fill one's own being. This is kind of how I feel about bears. I feel very connected to these beautiful and majestic animals, almost feeling like they are a part of me.

Or, we could just be crazy.

But I don't think it's that last one. The definition of "crazy" to me means that our perception does not match reality. But if the reality is that we are deeply connected to another species, are we truly crazy? No. No, I don't believe that. Also, if we are really crazy, it would make it impossible to function in this world. 

This all keys into a core belief of mine: we are not our bodies. Even many "mainstream" humans believe this. They believe we are our "soul." But our soul or spirit or essence or ego is not the same thing as our flesh. Our flesh is just something we use to travel around in this reality. The spirit that is within us is connected to all spirit that inhabits this universe. Truly, we should not limit ourselves to thinking that we are just Homo sapiens. That is just a species. You know what I think? I think many furries (and others who don't know about furries or are connected in other ways) have freed themselves of the constraints of species and open themselves up to an interconnectedness with all creatures and spirits. 

Don't let it "stress" you if sometimes you don't "feel human." That's just you reaching outside of your physical limitations. That's just you stretching your spirit and embracing the life that is all around you. Just like a man who refuses to let society say they can't wear a dress or makeup if they choose to, you are rejecting having others impose upon you their standards of what you should look and feel like.

Bottom line: you are not crazy. You're merely struggling with trying to live up to the limitations imposed upon you by our neurotic society that insists on making everyone look and act like we are all the same.

But we are not all the same, are we? Instead of fretting about it, embrace it, explore this otherness you are feeling. You can still do that and function within our lame society. You can attend class or go to work with your human persona firmly in place, but when you have a quiet moment to yourself, you can explore outside your physical self and the rigid standards of humanity. What's cool is that you have an entire furry community that you can talk to about it and who won't call you crazy because we sympathize and empathize with you.

Hope that makes you feel better.

Hugs,
Papabear

Tips on Self-Publishing Furry Fiction

Fri 18 Feb 2022 - 12:03
Papabear,

My question is regarding creating furry content, primarily books. Over the course of four years, I have discovered that it is difficult to obtain any success as a self-publishing author. It feels even more difficult when your books contain furry related content.

I love writing in general, whether is furry related or not, but I really had high expectations for this particular story that I meticulously created since high school. Even with all of the doubts and hardships, I've managed to publish at least two of my stories. Sadly, I have no family members or friends who are supportive in buying my story or helping me to advertise it. I get that I can't force them to own one, but the lack of interest does create this cloud of self doubt. Maybe the world just isn't ready for mainstream furry content? IDK. When I see shows like Beaststars and similar ideas, I feel like that should be me also.

Is there some sort of secret marketing strategy that I am not aware of? Or is it just one of those deals where I'm going to have to pay to get noticed?

Ebon Wolf
* * *

Dear Ebon Wolf,

Excellent questions, ones that I'm sure plague many writers of all sorts, not just those who pen furry fiction. Publishing is a very fickle thing. There are many excellent writers who struggle to get their works published and read, and there are many shoddy authors who make a very good living writing garbage that is popular with readers.

If your question is "What sells?" Well, you need to start off with a good story with sympathetic characters that readers can route for, of course. Big publishers like Random House or Simon & Schuster tend to be very conservative; they like to publish stuff that is similar to books that have sold before. Rarely do they take risks to publish something truly original. This is why you see a lot of stuff like "tell-all" celebrity autobiographies, thrillers and detective stories, and romance novels. When someone does have a breakthrough like J. K. Rowling, you can bet that their book will be followed by lots of copycats; this was also true after the Tolkien books became popular.

When it comes to furry fiction and learning what is popular, read what furries find exciting and take notes. For example, when one thinks of a best-selling furry writer, the name that pops to mind immediately is Kyell Gold. Read some of his stuff. But also read non-furry anthro fiction, such as Brian Jacques' Redwall series, Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, or Richard Adams' Watership Down. The more anthro fiction you read by other authors, the more you will experience an osmosis of technique that will begin to affect your own writing in a good way.

Because it can be extremely challenging to find a publisher to print your works, many authors are going the self-publishing route. For this, you need some money, sure. Or a lot of knowledge about how to typeset and print a book yourself. With paper costs soaring lately, printing has become quite expensive. Another route you can go is the ebook. The good news is that even if you don't know how to create your own ebooks or epubs, there are inexpensive services out there that can help you. Just google "ebook conversion services" and start shopping around for companies that can convert your text into an ebook that you can sell online.

Next problem is getting the word out. One of the best ways to do this is to send your manuscript to a book reviewer, and, when it comes to furry fiction, the place for you to go is The Furry Book Review (https://furrybookreview.com/) which I do believe is willing to review self-published books. You can also take excerpts of your book and post them on various furry social sites with links on how to purchase the full book. You can try to get on furry podcasts for interviews. Some other tips can be found here https://www.editage.com/info/book-editing-services/articles/11-Powerful-book-promotion-ideas-for-self-published-authors.html. However, I do not recommend going through Amazon because they will rape you of all your profit. It's not worth it. They take huge chunks of your money. Now, if you're not doing this for money, then go ahead with them, but I would suggest trying other ways first before you resort to Amazon.

Hope these tips help. Good Luck!

Papabear

"Never Let Them See They Got To You"

Fri 11 Feb 2022 - 13:33
Heyo Papabear!

I've written to you before, but I used the name StormFolf! Well, when I wrote you, Storm was my first Fursona, and I hadn't fully gotten into the fandom yet. But now I've done my research and things are going great!

My new name is Harmony. I'm a Raptor! Anyway, I took your advice and told my family and friends about being a Furry, and they were entirely supportive. A few days after telling my brother, he bought me a raptor mask, and a few days after THAT, one of my friends that I told bought me some paws, and painted my mask! Its all thanks to you, and I thank you greatly.

I am doing great, except for one thing. I told one group of friends that I was a furry, but they have banded together and won't stop taunting me. They tell me that I'm a f*g, and tell me to stop watching animal porn, when I've made it clear I'm not into that. I've told many adults, but nothing helps. My mom says I may have to stick up for myself, but idk how.

Please help,
Harmony (age 13)

* * *

Hi, Harmony,

Thank you for your letter and I'm very happy for you that your family has been supportive of your furriness :-3

Okay, about bullies: You may have read some of Papabear's earlier posts about bullies, and the same kind of logic goes with your situation. All bullies are alike, and sometimes they glom together in bully cliques to torment innocent kids like yourself.  Bullies behave this way for a couple of reasons: 1) they are insecure about their status in their social group, so they tear down other people to lift themselves up; 2) they have no skills or redeeming qualities in themselves, so to feel better about who they are they pick on others to try to make them outcasts; 3) they are like wolves in a pack, and sensing weakness in others gives them a reason to go on the attack to assert their place in said pack; 4) they are emotionally troubled because they have a lousy home life, which causes anger to build in them and they release this anger on others because they need to vent their frustrations and sadness in some way (even if that is an inappropriate way [this is like the character Gideon Fox]); and 5) they are fearful of anyone who does not adhere to what are considered "social norms," and fear leads to hate, which leads to bullying.

Once you understand some of the psychology of the bully (or bully group), you will see that the flaws lie within THEM and not within YOU. You don't get bullied because there is something wrong with you; you get bullied because there is something wrong with them. 

You describe these people as "a group of friends," but I assure you, they are not. Not if they treat you this way.

The way to defeat bullies is to take away their power. What is that power? The power is the ability to make you feel bad about yourself. This is reinforced by the strategy of trying to stick a label on you such as "f*g." 

The most effective way of fighting back is to show them that what they say has absolutely no effect on you. Yes, at first, this will be difficult, but the more you practice it the more it will be true. When they say things like "You want to watch animal porn" or "you're a f*g," just say something like, "That would really hurt my feelings if I cared at all who you are or what you say. You're not my friend and I have no respect for your opinion." Don't say this with tears in your eyes or angrily. You must do it with great calm and indifference. The more indifferent you are, the more they will see they are not hurting you, and bullying you won't be fun for them anymore. 

Other things you can say:
  • "Huh? Did you say something? Or did you just fart out your mouth?"
  • "I'm sorry for your social anxiety issues. Maybe you should see a counselor about your mental problems."
  • "You again? Don't you have anything original to say or is it the same lame hate as always?" (this sometimes leaves them stuttering searching for new insults, and you can just keep going about how you've heard it all before and maybe they should work on trying to be more original).
  • "You know, when you yell insults your face gets all puckery and red. Not very attractive."
  • "Do you kiss your Mommy with that mouth? Does she wrinkle her nose because your breath stinks?"
  •  (After a long onslaught of insults) Look at your watch or phone distractedly, maybe take a picture of them, smile and wander off, maybe saying, "Sorry, I have someplace to go that's more interesting than listening to you."
  • "Gosh, Tourette Syndrome sure is awful, isn't it? You poor kid."
  • In a loud voice, introduce the group with a grand gesture and in a loud voice announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen! I present to you, the local chapter of LGBTQ+ Haters of America! Soon to be performing at Kenneth Copeland Bible College and also with Pat Robertson at Regent University!" (a great way to throw the attention on them and away from you)
  • "If you're tired of throwing the same insults at me every day, might I suggest you invest in a thesaurus?"
  • "You know, I thought you guys were being broadcast in black and white. Turns out, you're just outdated and colorless."
  • After listening to them for a while, yawn really loud and look sleepy, then wander off.

​Remember, in NO WAY show to them that you are upset. This is actually where you can take some advice from Nick Fox in Zootopia: "Never let them see they got to you." Don't try to defend yourself with arguments or denials because this is engaging with them and that is exactly what they want. They are not interested in your arguments or in the truth. Their sole purpose is to upset you and pick on you. Don't let them. If you do a good job, they'll get tired of you and pick a new target. Then, you might share with that new person what you have read here.

Get the idea? You can come up with your own comebacks, too, as you feel appropriate. (Remember, if they turn violent, report it at once. I doubt they will because most bullies are cowards, but you never know).

I hope this helps.

Thanks for reading Ask Papabear.

Hugs,
Papabear Grubbs

Bad Dragon Toys; Fursuiting in the Heat

Sun 6 Feb 2022 - 11:13
Papabear,

​I'm looking to buy a Bad Dragon toy; I'm a gay furry bottom. What toys do you recommend? I would like something that fills me yet can fit easy and feels good like not a bunch of weird surfaces. Thanks :). New to fandom. How do you cool down in suit in 103 F Louisiana air? It's humid and hot.

* * *

Hello, DarkStorm,

I don't know if this will shock you or not, but I have never purchased a Bad Dragon product. Not that I wouldn't recommend them (they seem like a good company and are very popular with many furries), but I'm not into sex toys. Even if I did use their products, I wouldn't know what to recommend to you, given that I don't know anything about your needs, so to speak. I would therefore suggest you contact their customer service people by following this link: https://help.bad-dragon.com/.

As to your other question, keeping cool in a fursuit is important, indeed. Even experienced fursuiters will have trouble staying in suit for more than a few hours (my max is about 5 hours). But this max is while being in an environmentally controlled room such as a hotel lobby. I would not recommend going out in 103-degree, humid heat and fursuiting. At least, not for very long. 

To stay cool, fursuiters do a number of things. Number one on this list is wearing a cooling vest or other cooling suit tech. There are a number of them on the market (just search for "cooling vest"), including one invented by the furry community's very own EZWolf (EZcooldown.com). Other things you can do include having a small fan installed in your fursuit head (I have one; it helps), wearing a balaclava to help direct sweat away from your face, wearing heat gear (e.g., Under Armour athletic wear), and, of course, keeping hydrated. Be aware of your body and dehead and cool off as often as necessary to keep from overheating.

Now go suit up and have fun!

Papabear

Family Abuse Is Causing Serious Nightmares and Hallucinations

Thu 3 Feb 2022 - 14:30
Papabear,

​I'm in the closet, and if I come out I lose everyone I still care about except for my brother. My mom hates gays but thinks my Greek grandmother molesting me and hitting me and starving me as a kid is ok and says I am being a sissy pretty much cause I don't want to be around her.

[I'm] single, male, no job cause of stuttering, can't drive yet, and severe nightmares. i can only sleep in daytime. These nightmares are so bad I can't fall asleep at night. Every sound makes me jump and turn on all lights. I feel pain, and I can't wake up from them, like, Freddy Kruger-style.

Of course, no marks when I wake up, but my mental health is declining. I feel so alone, and I am starting to see my nightmares when I'm awake, too.  Like, I can see it but only as it rounds a corner or out the corner of my eye. I know it's not real; in fact, I'm an atheist, but this terrifies me. It'ss a deer who wears its skeleton on the outside of its body and stands 12 feet on hinds legs. I'm 6 ft 7, and it holds me down and bites me, causing extreme pain and suffering.

[At] age 21 and a half, [I'm] not sure what conversion therapy they were talking about [Papabear note: this is a follow-up letter of one I received in which the letter writer asks if he should go through conversion therapy; I asked for more background, which resulted in this current letter], but I read and watched vids, so I'm scared of that shock therapy stuff.

Dating site stuff, all want me to pay, and I currently can't. Money issues and no credit card. When I put my mind to it, I can do tough jobs, but my mind has been deteriorating for years now. I've lost hope. Only reason I ain't dead is my brother, and I am too sissy to end it, and idk how to end it.

If you can help that would be wonderful. Also, current counselor is way too queer. I guess I just need someone to tell me it's okay and [get some] advice. Racist south Louisiana, but gay is the new black (aka, gays are being beaten every day, and no cops interfere). I spend time on video games hoping that tomorrow is a better day. Like walking dead, taking it one day at a time.

The way my grandma did stuff was she was like the Baba Yaga in [the Witcher]. She weaved a web of lies and fed off my pain but sexually. Grooming and touching and rubbing and hitting and starving. Now [that] I'm larger, I cant retaliate. Why? Cause she is a woman, and I'm a man, and she is old now. Please help if u can. I don't sleep much, and I fear I may go crazy if I already haven't. 

Solmyr Wizard22 (Louisiana, age 21)

* * *

Dear Solmyr,

Yours is a terribly sad story.  I see why you might ask about conversion therapy. So, we need to be clear here. Conversion therapy does not work and never has. It is, indeed, a form of mental and emotional torture and has been banned in several states (see this map https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/conversion_therapy). People who still believe in conversion therapy consider being homosexual a type of mental illness or social deviancy. This is not true. There is nothing wrong with you, which is why conversion therapy doesn't work (you can't "cure" something when there is nothing to cure). Indeed, as you can see here, conversion therapy is dangerous: https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy.

Being gay and having family hate you for it seems to be only part of the issue. Your grandmother is a huge problem, too, as you know. The nightmares you are having are likely a manifestation of your fears and horrors experienced while living with this horrible woman. She is the deer with the skeleton on the outside of her body. Because your anxieties are depriving you of sleep, these dreams are now manifesting in your waking world. When you do not get enough sleep (REM sleep), you can experience many side effects, including hallucinations, and this appears to be what you are experiencing now.

Of high importance at this time, therefore, is for you to get some sound, restful sleep. Here are some tips from Harvard Medical School (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/tips-for-beating-anxiety-to-get-a-better-nights-sleep). If need be, try over-the-counter sleep aids (I would avoid ZzzQuil as it tends to exacerbate nightmares). You can also talk to a trained therapist about how to alleviate your anxiety to sleep better.

Speaking of counselors, yours is evidently not a good match. There is nothing wrong with shopping around for a therapist until you find one with whom you are comfortable and who helps you.

Your mental health issues are peaking, which is concerning since you are entertaining thoughts of suicide. For this, I would ask you to please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. It is a free call and you will reach people who are trained specifically with this issue. And, FYI, it is GOOD that you are "too sissy" to kill yourself. This means you still have a will to live. Hold onto that healthy desire to live.

You also need to start working toward getting away from your present environment, especially your grandmother, but also your gay-hating parents. YOU are NOT the problem. THEY are. You have not done anything wrong. Being gay or bi is not a moral failing.

You don't make clear why, at 21, you don't have a job, but you need to amend that. If the problem is your anxiety, then deal with that first and then work toward employment. If you are disabled and cannot work, then apply for government disability. Do anything to get some money so you can take control of your life.

That's my initial advice to you. You can write again any time when you have more questions.

Hugs,
Papabear

11-Year-Old Furry Asks for Advice on Bullies

Sun 23 Jan 2022 - 19:42
Hi, I really need help. At school I’m constantly bullied for being a furry, it has be happening for 4 months. A whole sixth-grade class will bully me when they leave the cafeteria. They supervisors helped on the 3rd month, but they still bully me. Whenever they walk past my lunch table I always get quiet and fell very uncomfortable. It has also been making extremely emotional lately. Do you have any advice?

Skyla (age 11)

* * *

Dear Skyla,

I won't ask how the entire school discovered you are a furry. They know, so now you need to deal with that. You have done the right thing by telling the school about the bullying (and I hope you have also told your parents). Keeping adults informed of what is going on is important. You should also keep track of bullying that happens to you, either by writing it down (include people's names when you know them) or taking pictures of video with your phone (if you have one). If you are being bullied online or on your phone, block all bullies. Do not interact with them; do not reply to them. Just block them. Bullies thrive on knowing they are bothering you, and they slink away like wounded weasels when they know they can't affect you.

This brings us to the most important way to fight bullying. It's not fighting, of course (if you are being physically threatened, report it immediately to the school, your family, and even police). No, the way to fight bullies is to show that what they do doesn't bother you. By this, I don't mean doing what you described where you "get quiet and feel very uncomfortable." That is exactly the kind of reaction bullies like because they know they are getting to you. Bullies do what they do because they can only feel better about themselves by putting other people down and making them feel bad. Groups of bullies (like that 6th grade class) bully a kid that they feel is weak; groups do this as a way to bond socially with each other (they have something in common in that they make fun of a kid they all think is below them). This is wrong, but this is how a lot of immature people behave. 

If you feel confident about yourself and who you are, then bullies can't affect you. For this to work, you have to be comfortable with being a furry. Since you are just 11 years old, I have to guess that you are a furry because you simply enjoy cartoon and animated animals and like the idea of pretending to be like one of these characters, right? There is nothing wrong with that. Liking anthropomorphic (humanlike animal) characters is something that millions of children and adults enjoy. That's why animated movies like Sing, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and Zootopia are so popular, as well as cartoons like Sonic the Hedgehog, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and PAW Patrol and book characters like Winnie-the-Pooh and the heroes in the Redwall stories. There are a lot of reasons why people of all ages like stories featuring animals who talk and act like people, but it would take too long to describe them here in this column, so let's just acknowledge that millions of people read and watch such stories.

If kids at your school ask you why you are a furry, just say, "Well, I just like cartoons and movies and stuff (like the ones I mentioned), like a lot of people do. I even bet you like them, too, right?" Ask them to mention some shows they like, and I bet at least some of them have furry characters in them. And if they ask if you pretend to be a character like that, just say that this isn't weird either. People dress up as monsters for Halloween or Marvel and DC Comics heroes at Comicon. People also like to play video games in which they pretend to be comic book heroes or even (shocking!) furry characters like Sonic, Angry Birds, Spyro the Dragon, Starfox, or Crash Bandicoot. Ask them if they have ever played one of these, and if they have, well, they have enjoyed a furry game!

Once you see that you have nothing to be ashamed about, then their teasing will be senseless and have no power over you. Now, I realize that part of the problem, too, is that you want to be accepted by your schoolmates and not mocked by them, right? Everyone wants to be accepted. But you should only want to be accepted by people who are dope. If you talk to people, you will get to know who is awesome and who isn't. Bullies are phony, and you don't want them as friends. If bullies tease you, my reply is always, "Wow, that would really hurt my feelings if I cared about your opinion or who you are." See, you have to take away their power. You do that by not caring who they are or what their opinions are. People who are mean just to hurt people are not worth your time.

To summarize, this is how to deal with this problem:
  1. Be confident in who you are and know that nothing you are doing is bad.
  2. Learn to recognize that bullies are not worth your time. Take away their power by not caring what they say.
  3. Be open to making friends with people you can find who like cartoons, animated movies, superhero movies, anime, fantasy and sci-fi, and so on.
  4. If the bullying continues, continue to keep adults informed about what is happening and keep records by writing it down.
  5. Don't forget to enjoy being a furry! Your best revenge is to be happy and enjoy the things you like no matter what other petty people say!

One last thing, if the bullying gets really bad, call the Stop Bullying Now Hotline at 800-273-8255.

Remember, the special people in the world are not normal. Dare to be weird!

Stay Furry!

Hugs,
Papabear

Underage Furry Sabotaged His First Chance of Getting Dad on His Side. Time to Try Again.

Thu 20 Jan 2022 - 11:07
Dear Papabear,

Hi. 13 year old new furry here. I want to ask my dad if I can get a fursuit. He already knows I'm a furry from snooping on my computer and discord. I don't really know too much of how he feels about it. I also want to attend my local furry con in June. I am really struggling with this new liking. I also want to make friends with furries, but my dad recently made me completely log out of discord and other forums for (reasons) that I will not share here. I hope someone can help me out here!

Victor (age 13)

* * *

Dear  Victor,

Your father is trying to protect you from porn, of which there is a lot on furry websites, as you likely know. At 13, you are too young for such things. The furry fandom was created for adults, not children, but these days a lot of kids as young as 10 are discovering the fandom. It is attractive to them because it relates to many of the cartoons and animated movies young people enjoy watching, and the idea of becoming an anthro animal character can have a lot of appeal to the young imagination.

If you wish to continue exploring your furriness, Papabear's advice to you is that you stop hiding your internet and phone behavior and have an honest discussion with Dad because, at the tender age of 13, you are not going to be able to attend a furcon without his cooperation and support. You are likely going to have a tough time of this, honestly, because it sounds like you have been looking at furporn and possibly indulging in other unsavory behavior. 

Furcons will only allow underage furries to attend if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. You can't just go by yourself or with a friend.

So, for you to get a fursuit (are you paying yourself or asking Dad to buy it, which will be even harder?) and go to a con, you are going to have to reestablish your connection with Dad. Indeed, you will need a verbal agreement with him to do the following: NOT look at furporn or engage in X-rated roleplay online and be completely transparent with your online and phone activities with Dad (no more hiding what you do; Dad must have complete access to your browser history and more). You will then need time to repair your relationship so that Dad trusts you to be honest with him. Seeing that this is January and the con is in June, I seriously doubt you can fix this in time for the next local furcon.

That said, all hope is not lost. With a lot of work and love, you may be able to get Dad on your side again. You can do this by discussing the fandom openly with him and by showing him such things as the documentary The Fandom by Ash Coyote, which is available free on YouTube here.

Good Luck!
Papabear

Group Dynamics Make It Hard to Please Everyone

Thu 13 Jan 2022 - 15:53
Dear Papabear,

So, I have a friend group, and the "leader," let's call him Fred (not really), is purrfectly fine with furries (see what I did there?) and couldn't care less. However, if I tell him, the other, not so nice kids are bound to find out, like the notorious Steve (also fake) will go, and I quote, "You're f@&$ing a!$ stupid for being into that porn &h$!." And they will tease me about it. I don't know what to do! Please help! ;w;

Anonymous (age 12)

* * *

Dear Cub,

Ah, group dynamics are a complex thing.  After years (decades, really) of failing to belong to any groups myself, my approach now and forever more will always be to have friendships on a one-on-one basis. You don't have to be friends with everyone in that social circle, especially those who are going to act like "Notorious Steve." Don't worry about that. Why would you want to be friends with haters? Be friends with those who accept you for you, and the others can go take a long walk off a short pier.

This is a good time in your life to learn how to figure out which people are friend material and which ones are shallow and judgmental. If you learn this at the age of 12, you will be way ahead of most people in the world by the time you are an adult.

Remember, you were not put on this planet to get people's approval. You are here to lend a unique voice to the chorus of humanity. Your job is to learn who you truly are as a person and to live your life genuinely, truthfully. 

Hugs,
Papabear

Get Healthier by Taking Small Steps

Fri 17 Dec 2021 - 14:57
Dear Papabear,

Hello. I have a question regarding physical and mental health. Lately, I have been unhappy with my body, and I always tell myself, “I will get into shape when I get home!” But when I get home, I just give up. I just feel so … defeated right now. Do you happen to have a strategy to keep your mind focused on exercise, and how to keep a positive self image?

Cooper the Moth

* * *

Dear Cooper,

Thank you for your great question. This is a problem that many people — furry and non-furry alike — struggle with.  Do I assume correctly the problem is that you feel you are overweight and that when you say "mental health" you simply mean getting in the right frame of mind to get in shape? It's really not a mental health issue, unless you're having a problem with self-esteem?

Let's start with basics. Our worries about how our bodies look are largely dependent on what we feel others think of us and what society dictates is the ideal body type. It also has to do with health, of course. So, the first question is, "Why do you wish to lose weight? Is it because people are body shaming you, or is it because you don't feel well and want to be healthier?" I know people who are perfectly thin, yet they tell me all the time that they are fat and feel like slobs. This is the result of family, peers, colleagues, and TV commercials shaming them. We also blame people for being overweight, but the food and restaurant industries in the USA conspire to fill us with fat and sugar. Most Americans also work at sedentary jobs, then they drive home and sit in front of the TV all night. This is all encouraged by our current society, which then blames YOU for being overweight. Doctors are often part of the problem when they insist on us adhering to the BMI (Body Mass Index) recommendations, which are often absurd and inaccurate. BMI standards vary from country to country and cannot measure the difference between fat and muscle weight.

The first step, then, toward having a positive body image is to ignore outside opinions of what your body should look like. Your first priority is to be healthy. That doesn't necessarily mean weighing 90 pounds. You can be beefy and healthy.  Have you seen the men who are in those strongest men competitions?  If you took their BMI measurements, it would say they were fat! 

Okay, so you throw away outside opinion and just work on being healthy. Step one is to see your doctor and assess your current health.  I have no idea if you have any medical conditions, but things like having a bad back or diabetes or circulation problems can and should influence your course of action in getting in shape. 

Next, assess your dietary needs. If you're eating a lot of junk food and McDonald's, you need to quit that right now. Also, don't drink soda and don't eat processed foods. Eat fresh foods whenever possible. Just doing this will have an amazingly positive effect on your weight and health.

Finally, start an exercise regimen that suits your needs. You don't have to work out at a gym 12 hours a day and run marathons to be in shape. Start slow. Exercise just 10-15 minutes a day. EVERYone has at least 10 minutes to fit in some exercise. And exercise can include many things. Take a walk (walking a mile burns fat just as much as running a mile), ride a bike, play some basketball. Just get active. As long as you're moving, you're doing your body some good. Find a sport or other activity you enjoy and exercise will be fun and not seem like work at all. Remember, small. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. I imagine that when you say you're going to go home and get in shape that you are thinking something like, "I'm going to go home and lift weights for an hour." Then, you get home and that goal just seems really intimidating and, let's face it, exhausting, so you go to the pantry and grab a sleeve of Pringles and watch TV instead. Inertia is a bitch.

So, there are my three pieces of advice: 1) stop listening to outside critics; 2) eat fresh foods; and 3) get active by doing fun stuff and/or taking small steps toward getting more active.

Hope that helps!

Hugs,
Papabear

Where to Find Furries Near You

Wed 1 Dec 2021 - 09:30
Dear Papabear,

Do you know any sources on where to find furries near San Antonio, Texas?

Anonymous

* * *

Dear Furiend,

Easily done. You know, there is the Alamo City Furry Invasion, right? Go here https://www.furryinvasion.org/ to learn about this con. Going to a local con is a great way to meet people. Also, there is the Mission City Hero Fest coming up December 11! It is for both furries and anime fans. Go here https://furdar.org/group/90-san-antonio-furry-connexion to register while there's time!

Next, go to San Antonio Furry Connexion hosted at Furdar at https://furdar.org/group/90-san-antonio-furry-connexion. That site will give you information on local furry events. Next, broaden your scope to encompass Texas and you will find some more furcons to attend, such as Texas Furry Fiesta in Dallas as well as the Arlington and Plano Fur Meets. There is also a Houston Furry Meetup group at https://www.meetup.com/houtxfurries/. I'm not sure how mobile you are, but it doesn't hurt to connect to other furry groups in your state to make connections.

Sad to say there WAS a Texas Furries group from about 2012 to 2017, but it closed its doors for some reason. 

Furdar.org is a great way to find what out things going on in your area, furrywise. As well, you can create an account on Furmap.net, which shows you locations of registered users. I just went on there and found 7 furries in San Antonio.

Check it out!

Finally, there is another option for you: sometimes, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. So, why not start your own San Antonio Furmeet! Start by going to the resources I mention above and then announce your intention to start your local meet. Register an account at Meetup, or create groups on your favorite social media outlets. 

Bear Hugs,
Papabear

Taking the Right Steps When You Are Made Fun of at School

Wed 29 Sep 2021 - 10:10
Papabear,

I was barked at on my way home from school, and was handed a homophobic note in my locker. I don't know how to handle this. I know I'm not supposed to come to you about this. I just need some advice. I'm sorry.

Alice (age 13)

* * *

Hi, Alice,

There is no reason why you can't come to Papabear for this question. I'm happy to help.

I'm assuming "barked at" means that your fellow students know you are a furry, as well as gay. I'm sorry you're having to go through this, but it is quite common when one is at school. I, too, was often mocked and even beaten up at school for being different. Here is my advice to you:

First of all, make sure adults know what is happening. Show the note to your parents and also to the school administration. You might not know who put the note there (bullies are notorious cowards), but just making adults aware of what is going on will help to put them on the lookout for future incidents. This is not being a tattle tale. It's being smart.

Second, keep records of EVERY case of bullying, taunting, and any other abuse. That means, keep copies of anything written (on paper, in text, etc.). You can also record video chats, although it's a little more complicated. Here is a video on how to record vidchats on your Android, and if you have an iPhone, it's a bit easier to do this. If you are being bullied face to face, you can simply use video record on your mobile device. Keep a journal about any incidents, too, and record times and dates and describe the people involved if you don't know their names.

If you feel in any way physically threatened at school, again, tell the school administrators. When you are not on school grounds, it might be a good idea to carry pepper spray with you. Do you walk in a safe area? Make sure you don't walk alone in dark or remote areas. You might also consider taking self-defense classes.

I don't mean to scare you by the above; I'm just covering all the bases. Judging by your email, it hasn't gotten dangerous yet. You are just facing some moron cowards who are making fun of you to feel better about themselves, which is, of course, pathetic. You should keep that in mind: What they are doing is juvenile, cowardly, and a poor reflection on their character. It is NOT evidence that YOU are in any way a bad person. You are growing up in a world that hates people who are different, whether that is because of race, income, sexual orientation, or being a furry. 

Alice, I know you feel bad and maybe embarrassed by what happened, but it should actually make you feel special. It is not the ordinary and accepted people on this planet who are special, it is the weird people who challenge social conventions that make the world wonderful. People like you. 

Do not feel alone. You are not alone because you have an entire furry community who is like you and who are there to be your friends. You also have a huge LGBTQI community. Don't worry about getting approval from derps and twits like the ones who left you that note or barked at you. They're losers. They are the sort of people who make this world a crappy place. Why would you want their approval? You shouldn't.

You're a special person because you are unique and willing to find out who you really are as a person rather than trying to be like everyone else. The fact that you are an individual and not a conformist is what irritates boring people like those who have mocked you.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Hugs,
Papabear

Another Furry Worried about "Toxic" Fandom

Mon 20 Sep 2021 - 14:26
Papabear,

Do you think it makes a person happier if they just accept something they don't want to accept? Like, a group having a huge flaw such as bias, but the person doesn't want to accept it because they're afraid it'll ruin their perception of the group and make them hate it (because maybe the group saved their life).

Like, maybe this person is in a fandom and they LOVE this fandom. It makes them happy and they have a lot of good memories of it, but like any fandom, it has flaws. Like, maybe the fandom has a toxicity problem, and to this person the thought of the community that makes them happy being one with a toxicity problem is revolting to them and they deny it.

And this person is me. Honestly, it's bugging me right now. I know that the furry fandom is what you make of it, but I feel like I need to be aware of its issues and use that to be a better furry and a better person. I don't think I'm being clear about what I'm trying to ask, and I'm sorry for that.

I just hope you at least get what I'm trying to say.

Maxi

* * *

Dear Maxi,

If you refuse to participate in any kind of group that has problems in it (e.g., drama, jerks, bad people) then you will never ever join any group (including the human race). I hear complaints all the time about the "toxicity" of the furry fandom. I've been in the fandom for many many years, and I have no problem with it and find the vast majority of furries to be great people. You only get sucked into the "toxicity" if you allow yourself to be and if you hang out with bad furs. Like arsenic in a cup of tea, it only takes a drop to make the entire drink deadly. This is what often happens with furry meetup groups. Many of them are great, but some get taken over by awful people who ruin everyone's fun. This can be a big bummer when that local furmeet group is the one close to you. What I tell furries who have this problem is that they should have a bit of chutzpah and organize their own meetup group. Have meets at local parks, bowling alleys, farmers' markets, whatev, and just have fun with it. When you're in charge, you have the power to tell problem-makers to exit the doggie door and don't come back.

When it comes to the entire fandom and the criticism it has received, there are two things to say about that: The first is that media are finally starting to understand that furry is not a bad thing and, in fact, can do a lot of good. We give to charities, and furcons boost local economies, and no, it is not a big orgy and a sex cult. Sheesh. The bad attention that continues has to do with the fact that today's news (at least in the U.S., but other countries too) is all about sensationalism to gain viewers. Of the tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of furries out there, I've seen maybe 4 or 5 stories that were legitimate horrible crimes committed by furries or that involved furries in some way. That's actually a lot less than the general population, but when a "journalist" notes that a furry was involved, everyone suddenly gasps and says, "Furries are evil!"

You say you love the fandom. Great! If you are enjoying the fandom, then continue to do so, and don't worry about a few bad eggs. But, if it really does bother you that much, then do something about it by being a GOOD furry and setting an example to the world that furries are pawsome!

Hugs,
Papabear

His Parents Are Bad Christians

Wed 1 Sep 2021 - 11:42
Papabear,

Okie, why do Christians hate gay furry people? They have always been hating them, but they claim that they do "love" them. (Especially where I live. If you are gay, don't expect to be treated like a human, just hide it for your safety). My parents found out I was gay by guessing (they are good at it). Now they see me walk feminine, they make me walk again till they see I "walk like a man." They call me names ("sissy," it's annoying), and they just stress me a lot. Can you please help me?

Possible Snow (age 13, Alabama)

* * *

Dear Possible Snow,

Christians do not hate gay or furry people. True Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ follow His command to love ALL humankind. There are dozens and dozens of passages in the Bible that tell us to love one another. For example, in John 15:12, Jesus says, "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." Jesus doesn't say to love only fellow Christians or only straight people or white people or to hate gay people. Therefore, those who say they are Christians and then say they hate you for being gay (or for anything) are not true Christians. They are a sadly common breed of fake Christians that have overwhelmed the Church in America and around the world. 

Fake Christians get around the Word of God by saying things like: "Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner." This is just a convenient way of trying to get around what God (according to their own religion!) says so that they can pretend to love you but, in truth, they look down at you with contempt. I experienced a horrific example of this two years ago when I got married to Michael. We invited his only sister--a classic fake Christian--to join us at the ceremony. But she told us she preferred to go to her minister's retirement party than to be there for her only sibling. The reason, obviously, is that we are gay and the marriage makes her uncomfortable. Now, when I confronted her on this, she protested, saying, "But I LOVE you Kevin!" I call bullshit. Actions speak louder than words. She hurt me and Michael deeply because she is a bad sister and a bad Christian. Oh, the pièce de résistance was when she surprised me at the front door around Christmas time to hand me a Christmas card with a $20 Starbucks card in it. Good Lord! Oh, yeah, $20! That makes it ALL better!

Pardon my digression, but I think you see my point. You're asking the wrong question. Your question should be this: "How do I convert my parents from being fake Christians to being loving parents who are good Christians?" This is where the Bible comes in. Know your Bible. Read it. Find all the passages in which Jesus commands us to love others. If you need help, see whether you can find a minister who is not a homophobe (this might take some research, but they are out there). Also, I have a link on my website for Rainbow Ark, a resource for gay furry Christians. Check it out.

Good parents love their children unconditionally. Apparently, you need to teach them how to be good parents. This is hard to do living in a state like Alabama, which is the heart of Homophobe Country, but if you talk to them in a way they understand by using the Bible, there is a chance they might listen.

Good Luck,
Papabear

Being in the Fandom Is Optional When You're a Young Furry

Tue 17 Aug 2021 - 11:51
Hi-

I have a question... So as I've been growing up I have always liked animals and yeah I would make my first fur suit at the age of 4! (Plastic and cardboard materials) as when I was 10 I discovered the furry fandom but I was to afraid to tell my parents... After a while I went to Amazon to buy myself some paws but ofc I needed my mother's and fathers permission to buy it (with my money) my mother when I told her she looked at me awkward and she said, "Well, if you want it buy it is your money and is your liking" somehow I found a way to take it bad and the whole night I thought that I was just weird- the next day I told my father he said, "Well... I think it's a little pricy." I didn't get a straight answer so now I'm thinking if I should tell them. But I don't know how or is just that I don't have the courage too so I found this website a day after that and now I'm here typing! So I would love some tips.

Clover (age 11)

* * *

Dear Clover,

That is so neat that you built your own fursuit when you were 4! You and I have something in common: we were both furry before we even heard of the furry fandom. This means that we always loved imaginative play about being an anthropomorphic animal of some kind. With me, it had to do with my love of The Jungle Book. Was there some show or movie or book that made you interested in furries?

The point I want to make here is this: being a furry and being active in the furry fandom are two different things. You do not have to be in the fandom (for example, going to conventions, role-playing online, participating in social media websites) to be a furry. A lot of young people like yourself who are into things like Zootopia and Sonic the Hedgehog or anime cartoons stumble upon the fandom and think to themselves, "Cool! There are people like me who enjoy these things, too! How can I meet them?" But what you may not be aware of is that the fandom was originally created by fans who are quite a bit older than you, and the intent was to take cartoon characters and put them in more adult situations. This does not necessarily mean sex. It could mean stories about violence, prejudice, serious adult relationships, drugs, and so on, but it sometimes DOES mean sex and pornography.

Your parents are correct to be careful. You're their daughter and they want you to be safe. Good parents! Also, if they go online at all and type in "furry fandom" or something similar, they are going to see furporn. And then they might ban you from any ambitions of being in the fandom. 

Deep breath! I have been to several conventions and seen children your age or younger, sometimes in partial fursuits, with their parents having a blast. I have gone to panels and workshops to which parents were invited and heard their questions and concerns. All of this is valid and important.

The key here is communication. Openness. Tell your parents honestly how you enjoy furry characters. This is not at all a bizarre thing. Many people (even adults) enjoy animated cartoons and movies. But tell them also of your interest in the fandom and ask for their help. They should always have free access to what you do on your computer and on your phone. Ask them to learn about the fandom. Ask them if they will go to a furcon with you (they may even have a good time!) or a furmeet. Never hide anything that you are doing. Ask them to teach you (if you don't already know) how to avoid trolls and dangerous people online (this is useful information whether or not you are a furry because the internet is full of scummy people).

And do me a favor, Clover. Show them this email. And tell them to send me an email if they have any questions. I'd be happy to answer them. If they like, I will send you my phone number and they can call me.

There is absolutely nothing wrong about being a furry. It exercises your imagination, which is something we need more of in this world of machines and cubicle jobs and people who can't seem to think outside the box. Imagination and creativity are beneficial to our emotional and mental health. Whether you are a furry or an artist or a musician or an architectural designer, these are things that help enrich our lives. So, I hope you will continue to talk to your parents about furries. 

Thank you for your letter.

Big Bear Hugs,
Papabear