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Updated: 2 hours 51 min ago

Lying about Your Age on Adult Sites

Sat 22 Jun 2024 - 10:17
Dear Papabear,

I need advice. When I was 16 or 17, I joined NSFW furry ERP [Erotic Role-Play] servers and I don’t know how long I can keep the lie up. I don’t know what to do, and I feel horrible for endangering the people in those servers who don’t know. I know I broke the rules and screwed up, but if I tell them, they’ll cut me out forever, and they’re actually very nice people who I’ve found solace with. The guilt is eating me alive. Please help.

Nanashi (age 19)

* * *

Dear Nanashi,

What you're asking Papabear is basically this: "How can I get away with being a liar and not face the consequences?" Now that you are over the age of 18 and permitted to go into NSFW websites, you are supposedly an "adult." Part of being an adult is taking consequences for your actions (this is why we have a 78-year-old candidate for president who is, IMHO, mentally still a child). 

Don't be like Trump. Suck it up, tell the truth, and take the consequences for your lie. If you apologize profusely, perhaps people will be okay with that and forgive you; perhaps not. But, you know, I am 100% positive you are not the only person who lied about your age to get on a NSFW site. That's kind of the problem with the internet. Porn is easily accessible to children who are unsupervised, and all they have to do is check a box to assert they are over 18 (if that). They might not have a credit card to use on pay sites, but there is no end to available porn for free. Also, IMHO, this is why I believe that furry adult sites such as FurAffinity, as well as nonfurry sites (X has tons of porn now, I hear [I left X when Twitter was bought]), should be pay sites to keep the porn away from kids.

You're feeling guilty because you know you did wrong. That's a good sign. It shows you have a conscience. As the Christians are fond of saying, "Confession is good for the soul." So, you have two choices: 1) Be an adult, tell the truth, and face the consequences like an adult; 2) Say nothing and hope no one notices and let the guilt turn into an ulcer (ever read Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"?).

Sorry, I'm sure that's not what you wanted to hear, but it's a true answer.

Good Luck!

Papabear

ABDL Struggling with Guilt and Panic Attacks

Thu 20 Jun 2024 - 13:42
Dear Papabear,

Over the past several years, I have made a good life for myself. I own my own house, my own car, I have a successful career as an electrical engineer for a prominent aerospace company. I am heavily involved in my local church. On my off time, I like to explore my creative hobbies. From the outside, I look like a very successful bachelor who has it all together, but I've been secretly struggling with an issue that has plagued me since I was 10, one that I could never ever admit to the people around me. I am secretly an infantilist (ABDL/babyfur etc.).

The TL;DR [too long, didn't read] is that I have an extreme fascination with basically anything that is "babyish" (diapers, pacifiers, baby bottles, etc.). I even have a small collection of ABDL-style diapers, pacifiers, onesies, stuffed animals, and baby bottles that I have hidden in my bedroom that I like to wear and play with on a regular basis. For some reason, I find the idea of being 2 years old again really comforting. It makes me feel safe and innocent and cute, and I often fantasize about another man taking care of me in that way. But even though I feel these things, whenever I "act out" in the privacy of my own home, I also feel equally very horrified and disturbed by it. I find myself regretting it and hating myself, sometimes crying and losing my cool over doing these things and having these feelings. What is worse is that very recently, I have noticed that whenever I'm in "Little Time" for too long, I start shaking and experiencing panic attacks, sometimes experiencing disturbing and hazy flashbacks to when I was 3 years old, and my mom pulling me out of daycare out of concern for my safety (I asked her some time ago about what happened there, but all she would tell me was that she thinks I may have been abused and just "wished she had found the evidence needed to sue them into oblivion").

I don't know who I can talk to about this. No one in my local circle of friends knows I'm into the ABDL thing (nor would any of them understand or want to understand what it is without being grossed out and disowning me). I confessed to a couple of friends in a furry Discord I'm in, and they have been compassionate and accepting, but I don't know them in person. As for others who are ABDL, I don't really interact with others in that community (outside of maybe a couple of babyfur meet & greets at some of the fur cons I've been to).

I just feel alone, living a double life with a weird attachment towards something that feels like it hurts me more than helps me. And I don't know what I should do about it, and no one to really talk to about it. I tried seeking psychological help for it, and while it has helped me get over the feelings of shame, it still hasn't changed my desires all that much. I still wear diapers and I still find myself clinging to these infantile desires, and I don't know what to do. Should I just accept this ABDL thing as just who I am, despite it hurting me and keeping me alone, or should I keep trying to free myself from it?

Anonymous

* * *

Dear Furiend,

Thank you for having the courage to write about this sensitive matter and your experience with ABDL (for any of my readers who don't know, ABDL = Adult Baby Diaper Lover).

It's important to first note that--similar to the confusion outsiders have with furries--this is not a sexual fetish. Rather, it is an outward expression of an inner emotional and psychological desire to return to a simpler time and also to feel cared for. It is a desire to destress from the complications of adult life. It is easy to see that you, as a very responsible person with a career and material successes, probably deal with a lot of stress from the burden of many adult responsibilities. In this way, ABDL shares something with many furries in that this practice is a way to forget about things like bills, taxes, work deadlines, rent, health care, politics, etc. etc. Now, ABDL should be distinguished from infantilism in that the latter is about fantasizing that one is a baby while ABDL can just mean that one indulges in wearing diapers and having other childish possessions such as plushies (another parallel here is plushophiles vs. ABDL; again, not the same thing), having a pacifier, wearing onesies, drinking from a baby bottle, etc. It sounds like you are both ABDL and some infantilism.

You find the above comforting because these things reduce your stress from the workaday world. Unfortunately for you, indulging in your little fantasy is bringing up an early trauma of being abused in a daycare facility. This is really sad that your one pressure valve to relieve stress can in and of itself cause stress because of what happened to you as a little kid! 

You say you sought help from a psychologist, but it didn't help much. I believe that is because you were focused on your feelings of shame about diapers. What you should have explored with the therapist was your childhood trauma. This is definitely something you need to confront and resolve. If, with the help of a trained counselor, you can overcome this trauma, it should cause the panic attacks to go away. It might even cause the ABDL to go away, too, if the desire to be an infant is an attempt by your inner psyche to erase the traumatic experience and replace it with a more comforting image of what your young childhood should have been.

But if the ABDL doesn't go away, that's fine, too. You really should seek out (again) a support system of some sort, though. You might try some babyfur groups within the furry community to start like this one. I also found this website called Tykables that is kind of interesting. It is a merchant that caters to the ABDL community, so it is, indeed, selling products, but it also has social websites at Facebook, X, and Instagram as well as a YouTube channel and newsletter.

Finally, because at least part of your attraction to ABDL may have something to do with the stress of adult life, I think it would be a good idea to explore other ways to relax. Exercise (swimming, jogging) are excellent, as well as meditation, yoga, nature hikes, biking, and so on. You might also spend more time exploring other facets of the furry community that are not about babyfurs, such as gaming, fursuiting, movies, cartoons, writing, and art.

So, in summary, I would recommend seeking a good therapist who specializes in childhood trauma; I would recommend finding some social support of like-minded people; and I would recommend finding other avenues for de-stressing yourself from work and daily life.

Bottom line, though, is that if you are not hurting anyone, you should not feel ashamed of things you like to do or wear or be. Definitely try to resolve your childhood trauma, but other than that, you're okay.

Bear Hugs!
Papabear

Where Can Older Furries Find Friends?

Sun 16 Jun 2024 - 13:01
Hey Papabear,

I rejoined the fandom back in late 2023 after nearly a 13 year absence, for a myriad of reasons. But since I've rejoined I've found I don't quite gel with the fandom as a whole and it's been quite lonely. I've even gotten to the point of wondering why I've even rejoined. Whether it's in person or online I just don't seem to fit in with the other furries.

For reference I'm not a very bubbly, goofy, or cartoonish individual. I'm chill, down-to-earth, and most people who know me would never guess I was a furry; a very average Joe. Cons aren't my thing as I'm not a fan of crowds and my masklophobia kinda solidifies my dislike of cons.

So I guess my question is, should I even remain in the fandom if I feel like I don't belong or mesh well with the furry community? Should I just go back to being a fan of furry art while not engaging with furries or having a fursona?

Jay (age 34)

* * *

​Hi, Jay,

Many furries who reach their 30s and beyond can feel alienated from the fandom--mostly, because the vast majority of furries are in their teens and twenties, so it is hard for the older generation to relate to them. I don't know if you've heard the term before, but you would now be classified as a "graymuzzle" (greymuzzle, if you prefer, which I do), which is any furry over 30. Fortunately, as the fandom has aged, there are more and more greymuzzle groups out there. For example, I run the Facebook Greymuzzle group. There are also greymuzzle groups on Telegram, X, Amino groups, and DeviantArt.

My group has about 3,800 members in it. Most of us, like you, are much more chill and laid back. I, as admin, also make sure it is free of drama, sex, and rudeness. I invite you to join my group and check out the others, as well.

There is still a place for you in the fandom. I'm sure you will like it better when you find people your age.

I hope to see you apply soon!

Bear Hugs,
Papabear

I Ask Christians, "How Do You Explain That It Is OK to Be a Christian Furry?"

Wed 12 Jun 2024 - 09:42
As anyone who reads my column knows, I often receives letters from furries who are either Christians or who are the children of Christian parents. They worry that they can't in good conscience be both furry and Christian. For years, I have answered this question as best I could. I am not currently a Christian, although I was raised Southern Baptist. (I left Christianity in my teen years.)

It occurred to me, finally (I can be slow at times), to ask Christian furries themselves how they would answer the question, "How can you be both a Christian and a furry?" Christian furry Jude Wriley took up my plea to answer the question by putting it to his fellow furries at an organization called the Christian Furry Fellowship.

Below are their responses. I have NOT edited this for content, and this is a VERY LONG entry (23 single-spaced pages in the original), so there is a lot to absorb here. The responses do not surprise me much and are mostly what I have said before, but there is a definite Christian perspective here that I think you will find valuable that I could never provide myself.

Twenty-one Christian furries answered the question. Thanks to all of them who took the time to answer in very thoughtful and measured ways.

​Here is what they said. . .

* * *

How do we, as Christians, explain that it's okay to be a furry?

I think I could do this by asking, "Why might it not be okay?" And the two (biggest) objections I would think of are (1) about “the Image of God” and (2) something to the point of associating with non-Christians and others who are mistaken about God.

(1) I would answer by pointing to the likeness of men/humans to God being more about our minds/souls than our bodies. (thinking of Colossians 3:10 especially).
(2) The superficial point here is one of us being in the world but not of it. More to the point, it's okay as we have to associate with non-Christians if we are to help them find Christ. That said, this is the more concerning point as love can be misused (c.f. Augustine and Amor Sui) to cause people to slip in their faith.

On top of these things. . . . It might be fair to point out that Jesus has been described as a lion and as a lamb at various points so the whole thing passes a (superficial at least) "Is it Christ-like?" test.

-- Dragoon

* * *

First and foremost, it is crucial to recognize that each person is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, with unique characteristics, interests, and ways of self-expression. The Bible teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, embracing them with compassion and kindness, regardless of their individual preferences or hobbies.

While the concept of being a furry may not align with traditional norms or beliefs, it's essential to remember that diversity is a fundamental aspect of God's creation. As Christians, we are called to foster a community of inclusivity, acceptance, and love, where individuals feel valued and respected for who they are.

By approaching individuals who identify as furries with an open mind and a heart of understanding, we demonstrate the unconditional love that Jesus exemplified during His time on Earth.

In conclusion, as Christians, we affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, recognizing that differences in interests or expressions do not diminish the value of a person in the eyes of God.
With grace and humility,

-- Shadow-Lightning Wolf

* * *

Being a furry means I can get closer to Furries and lead them to Christ.

-- Gilchrist

* * *

Hello, I happen to be a Christian furry! So I'm going to answer the question of "Is there anything wrong with being a furry?" So there is no harm with being a furry; it is a hobby. Now what that hobby is, is having an interest towards anthropomorphic animals. The interest in particular is thinking they are awesome! Some Furries can make their own furry characters to represent themselves as, that's called a "fursona." Some furries tend to roleplay as their fursonas, or use their fursona as a a profile picture. Someone can criticize the idea of being a furry by saying that's odd or they could use a bad example of what a furry did, but that doesn't make the hobby wrong in itself. It depends on how one does their hobby.

-- Sanctus

* * *

God probably has better stuff to worry about than people pretending to be cartoon animals on the internet.

[Papabear note: short and to the point. Me likey!]

-- Cal

* * *

As people, we all have a lot of hobbies. For me, I'm a computer nerd, an airsoft player, a furry, and a gamer. None of those define who I am; that honor has been eternally reserved by Christ.

They each are aspects of my life, but nothing more than that. Should any of them take precedence over my faith, or become my identity — at that point, they would become problematic, and yes, sinful.

This touches on the first concern we should have regarding furries, that being the topic of identity. Obviously, as furries we are still people. To identify as an animal would be to deny the image of God He has made us in. As Christians we recognize that being a furry is merely a hobby, and that our identity is in the One who has saved us.

So our prerogative as Christians is to keep furry as merely a hobby, and enjoy it the way you enjoy being a sports fan or a car buff. But there is another aspect we have to keep in mind if we choose to participate in the furry fandom; it's a sad reality that large swaths of the furry fandom practice sexual immorality of one form or another, and in fact take pride in it. It's very reasonable to question if we should even call ourselves furries.

To explain how we can live pure lives apart from the sin in the furry community, I'd like to use an analogy from another hobby of mine. I enjoy airsoft matches and airsoft military simulations.

Unfortunately, the airsoft community is highly toxic, and most airsofters I've met are not exactly a good influence to be around. So our predominantly Christian airsoft team enjoys our hobby while mostly keeping to ourselves, limiting our interactions to only a small piece of the wider airsoft community. This way we believe we can be a positive influence on others, instead of letting others be a negative influence on us.

As Christian furries, we strive to enjoy our hobby in a similar fashion — we largely keep within the Christian furry community, and limit our interaction with the furry fandom at large, so that we can spread the Gospel. And in all things our focus is not on our fursonas, but on the fulfillment of the Great Commission:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

-- MonocleRB

* * *

I’ve wrestled with this question before privately. I was once in very bitter denial about the fact that, well, I was evidently a furry. I was initially convinced that I was an awful weirdo for it, and I went through a great deal of mental turmoil as a result. However, after a few divine interventions that led me to the right people and places, God put me at peace. I hope I can properly explain the bullet points of that journey here.

I’ll answer the question by first acknowledging some of the objections I’ve seen to being both a furry and a Christian. Then, I’ll give my justifications for those objections. Finally, I’ll touch on some of the good that the furry interest has done for me personally.

Objection 1: Being a furry defaces/mocks/alters the Image of God.

This is a good objection to make, and thankfully it is not true. The main idea of the objection is that representing yourself as something that isn’t human corrupts the fact that you are a human made by God in his own Image. In reality, using a fictional character to represent your personality is no more corrupting to the Image of God than drawing an imperfect self-portrait with crayons on paper. Can fictional representations of yourself be taken too far? Absolutely. But it doesn’t have to go there.

Objection 2: Being a furry is immoral in regards to purity.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in all interests, furry or otherwise, are unashamed of sin. I want to point out, though, that this is separate from the furry interest itself. You can be impure as a furry, or a sports fan, a musician, or any other interest or hobby. You can also be pure in those hobbies.

Objection 3: Pretending to be an animal is a sin.

That depends on what you mean by “pretend.” Acting a character, human or anthropomorphic, isn’t a problem. Fiction can be taken too far of course, and if it does, then it becomes sin. I’m personally not much of a costume guy, but cosplaying as a furry character you made is morally no different than cosplaying as a human character.

Objection 4: Being a furry is weak/feminine/weird.

Like before, you can be weak or strong, feminine or masculine regardless of what interest you’re involved in. As for being weird? Yeah, fair. But normal is kind of boring anyway.

Now that I’ve explained why the furry interest isn’t bad, I’d like to tell you how, for me, it’s actually been good.

I am not very good at understanding my own feelings, and for much of my life I suppressed them just to avoid the chaos they caused. Of course, I couldn’t always lock them up like I wanted, and I would break down. After finding peace from God about being a furry, I put together a fursona (furry persona), a fruit bat named Osmond, meaning “God’s protection.” Suddenly, I had a fictional representation of myself that I could use as a sort of emotional illustration to observe from the outside. Coming up with feelings for Osmond that were similar to my real-life feelings helped me to understand and process the strange, racing thoughts in my head by watching them play out in a story I created. Eventually, I even matured enough that I felt Osmond didn’t fit me anymore. He represented myself in the past, when I was confused, afraid, and quiet. I retired him honorably as my fursona and made a new one, a pallid bat named Ezekiel, meaning “God will strengthen.” Ezekiel represents myself now, and he is much more at peace, fearless, and joyful than Osmond.

Shortly after making Osmond, I picked up drawing as a hobby. Art is currently one of my main hobbies. I particularly enjoy drawing anthropomorphic caricatures of my friends, who love seeing what animals I pick to represent them. I have met a lot of like-faithed people in the furry art community, and honing my art skills with them has been a huge blessing.

Well, that’s my explanation. Hopefully this doesn’t read like a college essay, but I am in college, so I can’t help it. I love the Lord my God, and I like drawing the funny bat guy. Whoever you are and for whatever reason you took the time to read this, I hope I’ve been able to give you some peace about all of this.

Hang loose,

-- Mark F

* * *

It is no less wrong to be a furry than it is to be someone that enjoys tabletop roleplaying games, voice acting, or other forms of live action roleplay.

Being a furry is simply an enthusiastic passion like any other and doing so doesn't make you any less human. Christianity is not exclusive to one race or group; from the Evangelicals in the U.S.A, the Eastern Orthodoxy in the Balkans, the Catholics in South America, the Anglicans in Africa, and the Oriental Orthodox in the Mediterranean, and so on and so forth; the truth remains the same.

Christ came for all.

As said in Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV), “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So who are we as Christians to reject teaching others about the word of God? Being a furry is just simply a sliver of who you are, one that doesn't have to interfere with you being Christian.

The main problem lies within those that make themselves slaves to their desires and let it degenerate them. It's all about moderation and not letting any aspect of your life control or deny your relationship with God.

I won't lie to you and say it'll be easy to be a Christian Furry, you'll more than likely face some push back from both Christians and Furries who may disagree with either side of that identity, but it's best to remind yourself they are misguided in those thoughts and persecutions. Meet them with love as hard as it may be, for loving Jesus isn't the hard part, but loving people like Jesus loves is.

Also, you don't have to be perfect, because in all honesty you can't be. Along the way you will trip, stumble, and bump into all kinds of sin. What really matters if you're willing to accept the hand that is willing to lead you away from it.

I'm not a furry myself, but I can say that you are loved, by me and your fellow brothers and sisters and Christ, and most importantly Christ himself.

Regardless of what hobby you have that'll never change, I ask of you not to endless devout your life to becoming an esteemed theologian, or priest, but rather realize that much like the Furry fandom Christians come from all walks of life and a few bad experiences doesn't mean the entirety of the people are bad.

All in all, I hope I managed to give you all a new perspective on why I believe both Christianity and Furries aren't antithetical to one another, and remember as said in John 3:16 (ESV): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Sincerely, Your Brother in Christ,

Jack

* * *

Hello, I got word in CFF chat that you were looking for responses to the question "How do you and I, as Christians, explain that it's okay to be a furry?" I thought I would give it a try.

Whenever I have to explain what furries are, I just say "they're geeks." It's just a particular flavor of geekdom. It's no more fraught with sin and idolatry than other fandoms or hobbies or anything other pursuit in life. But ironically, of all the fandoms, I think the furry fandom has the best potential for Christians to shine and image forth God.

God is endlessly playful and imaginative. One only has to look around at His creation to see this. From the common cat to the far-flung platypus, God is speaking his glory with every one of his works. The Bible does not shy away from using animal imagery to paint pictures. The last few chapters of Job are a showcase of animals from all extremes of creation.

If dressing up as a lesser creature is distasteful, consider that God's greatest work involved Him doing exactly this. He put on human flesh as Jesus (Phil 2:7). He gravitated in compassion toward the lowly and misunderstood, and bore the penalty of sin on the cross to save his enemies (you and me) to make them his friends and adopted family.

Jesus then calls his people out of (and into) every tribe, tongue, and nation; every community and common bond that emerges in humanity, for the mission of spreading his good news. The fandom is a unique opportunity to speak and live out this gospel, not as an outsider to it, but as one who has "become all things to all people" (1 Cor 9:19-27).

Stories, artwork, music, creative remixes of the raw material that exists -- God gave these as a gift not just to the biblical authors, but to all humanity. People often point to Narnia [Papabear note: referring to C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia books; Lewis was an Anglican lay theologian and Christian apologist] as a good example of creature-filled sanctified storytelling, but it's only the beginning of what is possible. As image-bearers of the Creator, we are free to create, play pretend, take risks, and tell new stories of our own, all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).

-- Hexadoodle Frog

* * *

The Christian church and furry fandom have almost always been diametrically opposed and seemingly incompatible with one another. Yet here I stand; I consider myself to belong to both of these groups. My name is Liam, and I have been a Christian for all my twenty-five years, and I have called myself a furry for a few of those years now. Many of my family and friends are either Christian and/or furry. Some are neither.

The furry community is a place filled with immensely skilled, beautiful people, and I love everyone I have ever met there. But my faith in God is the most important thing in my life. I have sacrificed a lot (and I really do mean A LOT) for my faith and it is the one thing no one and nothing can ever take away from me. God's love for me inspires me to show love to all other people, and that includes all Christians and all furries. This foundation of both reverence for my God and admiration of the individuals in the furry community is where my answer to this question comes from.

Whenever Christians ask a question like, "is this okay" to participate in as a Christian, I believe there are actually two questions that must be answered. An objective question that applies to all: is the behavior biblically endorsed or condemned? And a subjective question that each person must individually ask themselves: will my participation in this behavior bring me and others closer to God?

Here is my opinion on the objective question. I believe for those like me who both call themselves a furry and feel they are called to share truth and love to other people, "being a furry" is more than just "okay." I believe being a furry is part of a divine mission to connect with others atop common ground.

Many Christians are confused by the definition of what a "furry" is and are stubborn to learn it. They are so stubborn they have come to fear furries. This fear is often what drives anti-furry Christians to vehemently denigrate furries and all associations with the furry fandom. I would like to express my apologies to furries who have been hurt or bullied by any member of the Christian church. This behavior is unacceptable whether it's okay to be a furry or not.

This is my definition: a "furry" is someone who likes anthropomorphic animal characters. That's it. By that definition, I think anyone will be hard-pressed to find any biblical scripture condemning (or endorsing, for that matter) furries.

Let me clarify by addressing some common misconceptions many anti-furries have when they imagine what a furry is. Calling oneself a furry is not an expression of identity nor sexuality. A "therian" is one who identifies as an animal. I do believe that therianism is sinful, because this denies one's own humanity. In other words, it is a form of lying and self-deceit. A "zoophile" is one who commits sexual acts with animals, and I believe this is sinful for obvious reasons. It should be equally obvious that furries are not necessarily either of these things.

Another thing anti-furries seem to abhor is the concept of fursuits and fursonas, though I believe there are others who can explain it better than me. In short, a "fursuit" is a mascot costume one wears on their physical body for others' entertainment. Fursuiting is an expressive art form and I would consider it to be morally equivalent to cosplaying. A "fursona" is the character that one roleplays as. Furries often like to create artwork of their fursona as their profile photo for various social media. For fun. I myself do have a fursona (a vulture) but I do not actually believe I am the same as this character. I don't believe using either a fursona or a fursuit is sinful.

But there is one underlying concern that I'd like to address for all my fellow Christians reading this. The temptation of idolatry is pervasive for ALL people, at all times. As a Christian, it ceases to be "okay" to be or to do anything when that behavior, identity, etc. replaces God in our hearts. Even something that was once good, can become poisoned and evil if we place it above God. Everything we as Christians do should be done with active certainty that it will glorify God. With this in mind, I do believe it can be a very good thing to be a Christian furry. It is my prayer that calling myself a furry will allow others to understand and receive God's love where non-furries have been unsuccessful.

-- Liam

* * *

I simply cannot see any sort of natural sinfulness involved in an appreciation of furry characters . . . drawn, worn as a costume, or otherwise. Frankly, it involves natural, GOD-GIVEN talent and creativity to be so expressive. Certainly, there are aspects of the fandom that may be sinful, but we are considering a large fandom with an endless array of beliefs, backgrounds, personalities, etc. What others do that is sinful does indeed trouble me, and yes, I do see those things in the furry fandom, but I see them in every other walk of life as well. At its core, though, the true center of “furry” is a love of expression and creativity that, in its way, glorifies God through the use of his gifts to us as human beings. And you know what. . . ? I LOVE that!

-- Ridley Cooper

* * *

If I could answer this question in one sentence, I don’t think I would be able to. The truth is there is much more to being a Christian than simply how you dress or what your hobbies/interests are. Whether you are a furry or part of some other subculture, the one thing that all Christians must have in common is love for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In this way, we are to love one another in the same way; He died for us, not wishing that anyone should perish, but that all might be saved. Even though we may not have been called to give up our physical lives for His sake, there is a part of us that still must die in order to serve Him. Because of this, we all must be willing to take up our own crosses to follow him daily. This means that even in the fandom, we are to serve Him, loving others as He loved us without compromising the truth that He has given us.

While in most of pop culture, people view Jesus as being a good guy, there is not much else people can say about him. Though many people’s image and understanding of Christ has been distorted today, I can say for a fact that He has never changed; He has, is, and always will be God: the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and the Lord of Hosts. Though many of you may not understand this, He is alive today, and He is sovereign; had it not been for God sending his only begotten son to die for us, we would all be condemned by the weight of our own sins.

But enough of that; why is it okay for me and other Christians in the fandom to be furries? We realize that we have been saved from much. If you could ask any of us about what we were like before we came to Christ, I could say for a fact that we were no better than any criminal you would find on the street; however, because of the grace and mercy of Christ our King, we live to serve him in everything that we do. This means that even as furries, we are to be walking with him, not giving into our own selfish desires which separate us from Him. Everything we do is for His glory, and even the things we do in the fandom should be to glorify Him.

How then, you might ask, can you glorify God as a furry and still be a Christian? There are many things within the fandom that are neither evil nor good, but many people can use these things to do evil or good. Art is one of the greatest ways a Christian can serve God, but some people use their artistic talent to make pornography; similar things can be said about music, writing, and cosplay. As Christians in the fandom, we are to put aside all the things we once used for evil. This does not mean that God cannot use the things we enjoy doing for His purposes, but we have to be living in full submission to His will in order for Him to use us. We are part of the fandom because we love each other, and we love others in the fandom because God loved us first.

How would I explain God’s love and the reason why we love one another? The love of God is not the same as the world’s definition of love. The type of love we practice as Christians is sacrificial love because our Lord gave up everything He had, paying the ultimate price to buy us from sin and death. Because of the grace and mercy He has shown us through His love, we are willing to give up what we love the most in return in order to serve Him so that other people may be saved. We realize that nothing that we have to offer could ever please God, even though in our hearts we may believe what we are doing is right, which is why every day, we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit: a perpetual act of repentance from our old ways through prayer, meditation, and study of God’s Word (The Bible). Nothing we have is our own but belongs to God. Because of this, we are willing to bring Christ with us, even in the fandom, so that He can use us as a living testimony of his glory.

Why do we do this? Besides love, grace, mercy, and truth, we all are required to have faith. Faith is the act of believing in a truth that is unseen; though we may not see God or all of the works he is doing (or even in this world, for that matter), We all believe that Christ has died, risen, and sits at the right hand of God the Father, and we believe that someday, He will return as King to establish His Kingdom here forever and ever. Because we rely on this truth, we do everything in expectation of His imminent coming; even in the fandom, we wish to show other people how great He is. By having faith that in doing what we are doing, we can honor God by being part of the fandom.

-- Shadow

* * *

For me, the furry fandom is a great way for me to live out my faith, practice my God-given talents, and is a great way to reach out to the lowly and the outcast.

I was always a very imaginative kid. When I was little, I used to write stories, draw scenes, and at one point even invented 7 or 8 different languages for the various characters that inhabited my little world. I always had my head in the clouds and my parents were kinda tolerant of it, not because it was wrong, but because they wished I acted more mature and focused on getting straight A's in school and didn't act like a total nerd.

I was born and raised in a cultural but nominally Roman Catholic household. My parents went to church but never really took it seriously. When I was going through middle school and the first half of high school, we stopped going to church and I fell away with my parents. I explored many different faiths and spiritual beliefs, but it wasn't until I had a real spiritual encounter with God in a dream that I had that it hit me that the Christian God was the true God. I got back into my faith with fervor, learning as much as a could about my faith, and now I'm a believer. But just because I was a believer, that didn't mean I stopped my creative side. If anything, it took off way more.

I continued writing stories and making art all throughout high school and college. Then, my best friend who I grew up with became a furry. I was curious, so I started looking into it more. I discovered that furries were just enthusiasts who loved cartoons and animal characters in fantasy in general. Despite being in high school, I never really gave up my love of cartoons, technically I tried to for like two years, but it didn't last (though I felt I had to hide it from my parents due to me getting "too old" for them).
During college, I decided to become as well. As a furry, I felt I could continue to enjoy Cartoons, Cosplaying, Art, Stories, and be around others like me, and I was right.

One of the things that I noticed whenever I talk about how I draw and write with people who are Christians, I notice that they are usually very accepting and encouraging of it. And I love drawing and writing. It gives me a sense of wonder and excitement, and lets me express myself in ways I could never do without it. Most of the times, the people who are judgmental and dismissive of my creative hobbies are people who are usually very miserable, and are only happy when others are miserable with them, and the Christian life is not a life of misery. It was through engaging with the fandom that I rediscovered that sense of adventure (going to cons has helped me explore the country). I have also made wonderful Catholic and Christian furries who truly live out the faith, and they have helped me be more open about my struggles, vices and crosses that I bare. It has also given me a mission to reach out to others here in the fandom and show them the Christian love and the truth of the gospel (normies aren't going to approach a furry with love and compassion, they would rather avoid us because we are too weird for them, and as Christians we are called to reach even the weirdos).

I understand that a lot of normies will never understand us. I understand that a lot of normies will never want to understand us. But a life truly lived is one where the only person that matters is God.

If we try to live our lives the way others want us to live them, we are not really living our life, and we are denying God the opportunity to work through us in a way that is different from the rest of the world. That isn't to say that there aren't challenges that come with being a Christian furry. Most Christian normies will look down on you for being involved in the hobby. Some secular furries will look upon you with suspicion or may be hostile to the faith. And there can be many traps that one can easily fall into that could compromise one's morals (as is true with life outside the fandom as well). But that is why we as Christian furries are called to live out our faith publicly and faithfully in this space. By doing so, we can show that there is a way to live as a Christian furry.

I hope this helps.

-- Felixian Fox

* * *

I would like to start off with saying I do not identify as a furry. In my heart I have found a personal normalcy for furries. From a non-furry, I adore furries and have a romanticized viewpoint on them.
From what I've seen of them it's as if they chase a magic in their hearts by maintaining a vulnerability, a softness, in their soul. They are more sensitive to the expressions of this world than the average person, for better or for worse: they revel in their bliss more when happy and are wounded deeper when hurt. All people of this world are molded by the things they love, but few more than the furries.

But more than this, are the furries who live between the two worlds of their fandom and Christianity.
To be a true Christian is to take the challenges in your life and carry it as your burden. And despite this, still try to give to the rest of the world through good actions: It is to give food to those who are hungry, even when you're hungry. It is to take the anger you feel towards those you disagree with or one who wants to bring you wrath and offer them kindness.

It is about knowing that you will be provided for by God in all ways.

It is a challenge from beyond transcendence of the unseen to be more than your base desires. It's something impossible to perfect, but any true attempt is noble.

Furries who have accepted the Lord into their lives occupy a unique niche in society: The mainstream idea of Christianity is rejected, by many, in circles that the furry culture thrives in. Conversely, traditional Christians will look to furries and think they're pagans due to the fervency of which they love their subject-matter.

But, despite this, Christian furries are ones who hold onto their love of who they are, while reaching for the light of God. This brings a new difficulty into their lives, they live in a dichotomy between the two, oftentimes opposing, worlds.

I believe this brings out a new foundational faith in them. They are like two plants intertwined which grow into something new, something beautiful in their own right.

May this niche of the fandom bear fruit for the word of God.

Thank you for reading.

-- Branden

* * *

“Being a furry” is a complicated subject. The image most laypeople have in their head when this subject is brought up is of a person pretending to be an animal, perhaps dressing up in expensive animal-themed costumes, perhaps walking around on all fours or doing other animal-related activities humans usually do not do. However, what defines a furry does not necessarily include those notions. In reality, a “furry” is just a member of the furry fandom, which is just a group of people who share the similar interest of anthropomorphic animal characters/art. If someone like Disney’s Robbin Hood, a popular movie that features anthropomorphic animal characters, that does not make them a furry automatically, but rather their choice to be included in the fandom. Many people will say that to be a furry you need a fursona (a “furry” version of yourself). You do not, but many people in the fandom do anyway. Many people also think that being a furry means you think that you are not a human but are actually an animal in some aspect. This is not necessary to be a furry, and in fact describes something entirely different called a therian, which is not the topic of this question.

Given this much more sensible definition, asking why it’s ok for a Christian to be a furry would essentially be equivalent to asking if it's ok for a Christian to be a fan of knitting, or snowmobiling, or any other hobby, because when you get down to it, that’s all “being a furry” means; partaking in a particular hobby. However, it is reasonable to ask a follow-up question: is it ok as a Christian to be associated with a fandom that contains so much sin? Even from the outside, it is evident that the furry fandom has a lot of problems, the most obvious of which are those of a sexual nature. However, given the nature of how “fandoms” work, it is very possible for a person to be associated with a fandom without being associated with the sinful aspects of that fandom. For example, a Christian might very much enjoy firearms and yet completely distance themselves from those that use guns for violence or illegal activities. Likewise, a Christian could easily hang out with other furries, show appreciation for anthropomorphic character art, have a fursona, even own and wear a fursuit and go to furry conventions, while at the same time purposefully distancing themselves from the sinful aspects of the fandom.

Additionally, there is also the angle of outreach. As mentioned previously, there is a lot of obvious sin in the furry fandom, yet does that not make it the prime place for Christians to be? Jesus himself dined with terrible sinners not because He approved of sin, but rather to bring those in sin out of it. Similarly, because the furry fandom is so broken, it needs the help of Christians more than most fandoms. To summarize, “being a furry” is not inherently sinful, even though there are very obvious sin problems within the fandom, and in fact, because of those problems, a Christian presence in the fandom would very likely be a good thing for those still deep in sin.

-- Alarotel

* * *

The word “furry” has gathered a lot of dirt in recent decades. However, at the root of it is an affinity toward the ancient concept of anthropomorphism, a sense of connectedness to the animal world, and often a desire to express this artistically. We see this gift at work way back in Aesop’s fables, in the animal stories of C. S. Lewis and Beatrix Potter, and the more recent comics of Calvin & Hobbes and Pogo. My point here is that what some may call “furry” is far more rich and mysterious than a bunch of kids scampering around in expensive animal-costumes at conventions. And while I wouldn’t roll my eyes at such kids, I do think that they’re only hitting the tip of the iceberg that is the treasure of anthropomorphics.

The creative nature of God himself is anthropomorphic. It is a rather avant-garde thing to not only create a physical creature in your own image, but to also incarnate yourself in that form out of love for a creative project dear to your heart. The purpose of this incarnation was to redeem mankind and raise him up to God’s level. Creative humans are, as image-bearers, microcosms of God’s creative nature, and some of them are born with or develop what I like to call a Dr. Dolittle type of thing. They exhibit their own creative nature on a smaller scale – imparting their own nature to a lower tier of creatures to raise them up in the same way that the Lord has done through the turbulent history of mankind. This has been done remarkably well in A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories and in Carl Barks’s Uncle Scrooge comics, but that’s just scratching the surface.

Also, God has already "anthropomorphized" many of his own creations, some to an eerie degree. Anyone who has spent time getting to know crows, raccoons, or monkeys will know exactly what I’m talking about. Anthropomorphism takes this aesthetic and ramps it up a bit. Contemporary furry culture has a problem with ramping that aesthetic up into carnal and shallow territory, and furries in general have caught flak for that. But this is somewhat like coming down on motorcycle riders for the wrongs committed by Hell’s Angels.

There is a lot of reactionary, emotional drama surrounding furries right now. Some of it is for good reason. But when facing the question of whether or not it’s okay to be a Christian fur, I suggest that we go back to the basics of assessing things by their fruits (Matt. 7:16). I believe that ideally, Christians on the Dr. Dolittle wavelength will hark back to the literary and artistic visionaries who used their talents and quirks to do what good art should do: help us see beauty in unexpected places, develop our empathy and understanding, to face tough questions without the urge to propagandize easy answers . . . and to create some darn good animal art and stories. Because anthropomorphic creativity is, in my opinion, more fun than driving a top of the line Corvette. I don’t expect everyone to understand that. Furs and creative people in general are oddballs, artistic Christians are oddballs to a greater degree, and furry artistic Christians are oddballs to an even greater degree than that. But odd/weird/abnormal are relative terms. The mantis shrimp is odd according to blue jay aesthetics and standards, yet both creatures come from the creative mind of God.

I therefore believe that Christian furs can grow close to the creative mind of God in special ways. This will take special training, patience, and spiritual discipline, and the majority of furries won’t care a bit about that. But I would urge my reader to not lump Christian furries in with such people. Christian furs are no better or worse than any “normie,” but they are nevertheless men and women of value. They need all the help and direction they can get, and since they’re not going to get it from a broken furry culture, why not consider lending them your own ear?

-- JJ Mike

* * *

Many people say that you cannot be a Christian and a Furry and a Christian for many reasons, but the main one I hear a lot is the fandom is too sexual for a Christian. I won’t deny the fandom is extremely linked to sexual tones, but it is not inherently sexual. There is a stereotype that medical professionals are promiscuous with each other in their work-lives, but I would venture a guess that most people don’t immediately look at a doctor and think “I bet they had sex this morning.” In either case, the connections are there, but neither is inherently sexual. As such, if we don’t judge one group for their stereotype, we shouldn’t judge another.

Being a furry is hardly immoral. Everyone has their reasons for associating with the animals they pick, and associating people or groups or even our own Lord is common in the New Testament. Lions, lambs, calves, snakes; there’s many animals which are used to describe people, often in symbolic ways. In my case, I view wolves as a symbol of family, communion, and faithfulness to one another. I have never believed in a wolf being a good way to symbolize someone who is adamant, hard-hitting, and tough. “A lone wolf is a dead wolf.” Like a person, every wolf needs various counterparts to thrive, and each person of a family comes together to, hopefully, make it a prosperous family. These are the qualities I hold highly in my life, and I do my best to be a representative of these attributes. I also consider these qualities to be important to a Christian. A good Christian cares for their family, both blood and chosen family; they commune with one another, breaking bread, sharing prayer, and exchanging laughs and stories; they are faithful to one another, supporting each other while also holding each other accountable. All three of these characteristics feed into and off one another. Personally, I think these are qualities people of all faiths and all creeds could agree are good things, but that’s neither here nor there.
Just a few weeks ago, I had a dinner with local furs that involved grilling and baking and all sorts of foods. What I thought was going to be eating while watching a movie turned out to be sitting around a table with one another as a large group, and we all talked, as a whole-group and as individual smaller groups; lots of laughs, lots of new friends, and I even learned many of the furs at the table with me were also Christians. Even if they hadn’t been Christians, most of them know I openly am one. It was nice to feel welcome and wanted.

So, if a wolf symbolizes what I associate to be excellent qualities of a Christian, why would I not want to associate myself with that? If Jesus is the Lamb of God, the scapegoat upon which our sins would be levied for atonement (like the scapegoat ritual before Yom Kipur), I would like to do my best to symbolize the qualities I consider important to being a good Christian. There is nothing in scripture which says I cannot be a furry. I do not use it as a form of escapism. I do not use it to pretend to be something I am not. My fursona and I are one in the same, even down to being overweight. He just happens to be an anthropomorphic wolf, and I’m just a fleshy human.

Furthermore, it is my personal experience that many people in the furry fandom have been abused or hurt by people who claim to be Christians. I consider it my responsibility to show these people who have been hurt in Christ’s name how a proper worshiper would love and treat them. Instead of judging and attacking others, show them that I come offering them hugs and food. Instead of being cold and defensive, I try to be warm and open to them. Instead of standoffish and withdrawn, I will be the friend who sits there and cries with you. For a community that has been hurt by people so much, I want to be a good representative, showing them the same love which my Lord showed me, and perhaps, just maybe, I can convince them to come back to Christianity.

These are my friends, brothers, sisters, and more. I want to be the kind of furry others think of when they think of a Christian furry; the furry who is faithful and kind to them.

-- Kai

* * *

In the Army, there is an important acronym: BLUF. It stands for “bottom line up front” and means to lead with the single most important takeaway so it does not get lost in a lengthy composition. The BLUF I’d like to present is this: Consider more generally what makes something not okay and apply that model to being a furry. Allow me to elaborate:

My friend Thom and I have a rather ancient and niche hobby. Odds are, you’ve at least heard of it. It’s a hobby that is not addressed in the Bible in any way, nor is it contrary to its teachings or principles. However, for hundreds of years it was forbidden for priests to enjoy, and at one point all those who participated in it were declared anathema: considered assuredly damned because of it. The most recent Christian outcry against it happened hundreds of years ago; the negative sentiment has subsided and now millions of Christians around the world openly partake in it. What makes it okay to do? The corollary of that question is easier to answer: What would make it not okay to do? Just like this hobby, being a furry would be unacceptable if it were condemned, fundamentally incompatible, or against principles of conduct for Christianity.

The most basic prohibition on Christian conduct is an explicit condemnation of an action. Sexual intercourse with an animal, for example. There is a direct prohibition against it. Murder is another example. Kidnapping, human sacrifice, incest, all have a big NO attached to them. We may think of the big ones like murder as obviously wrong to anyone, yet they sadly still happen even today.

The next point of conflict is more of a meta one; an underlying incompatibility with Christianity. The message of Christianity–that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loves us so much that he became fully human while retaining his deity, lived a perfect life, died a horrible death to save the souls of any human who believes in Him despite our unworthiness and shortcomings–requires we believe we are human. It requires us to believe that as humans, we are created in the image of God. If we see ourselves as a non-human or animal spirit in a human body, there is fundamental conflict. That view would force us into three boxes: either as nonhumans we are without sin and are completely perfect in every aspect of our lives–not once looking at someone in malice or telling a white lie or having any shortcoming at all whatsoever; or there have no hope for forgiveness since we have fallen short of perfection yet believe that the forgiveness is solely for others; or there is no resolution and inner turmoil brews no matter how we try to suppress it.

Finally, we must examine the principles for conducting ourselves as Christians. The Bible is not an NFL rule book. It does not list out every penalty a la “false start. 5 yard penalty. Replay the down.” It is written as a collection of history, poetry, letters, and theology–the actions of real people both good and bad. One of the key teachings in terms of Christian conduct is the words of Jesus when asked what the most important command in the Bible is. He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Our behavior in all aspects of life should follow that rule of love which is all-encompassing. We are to be fair and honest, because that is how we show our love for others. Love, at times, can include rebuking and warning others, and carrying out discipline in some cases. It also covers showing genuine concern for those around you even when they hate you, being kind, and showing self-control. Implicit here would be not drinking while driving, obeying speed limits and civil authorities, and having compassion and patience to those who don’t understand you.

To sum up, any activity would be unacceptable if it were condemned, fundamentally incompatible, or against principles of conduct for Christianity. That is as applicable to someone enjoying the furry community as it is for Thom and I as we do our other hobby. If you choose to be a Christian furry, then enjoy it with a clear conscience and to the glory of God as much as Thom and I enjoy our games of chess.

Hope this helps!

With Gratitude,

-- ɹǝʇʇO

* * *

From a cultural perspective, the furry fandom often seems taboo, and this perspective is amplified among those of the traditional Christian faith. Justifying a Christian partaking in the furry fandom is usually overblown and not as complicated as it seems. In fact, there are several reasons why being a furry can be one of the most beneficial choices for a Christian with an anthropomorphic interest.

In my encounters, the common religious arguments against being a furry are: "Furries deny being made in the Image of God, which is against the Bible," "Being a furry is a form of idolatry, and biblically forbidden," and also claims of bestiality. It's essential to address these issues first so we can focus on the benefits of the fandom to our religion and vice versa. Firstly, Christian furries do not deny being made in the image of God. For many, being a furry is different from being a therian, someone who views themselves as an animal trapped inside a human body. Christian furries understand that they are humans, not animals. Their participation in the fandom, having a fursona, and fursuiting are parts of their hobby and do not conflict with scriptural values. Being a furry is not a form of idolatry, just as having a cup of cocoa isn't. Of course, anything can become an idol when taken to the extreme. If it takes a higher priority than God, then there is a reason for concern. Finally, there is the claim that furries engage in bestiality. Based on the definition of bestiality, it is immediately apparent that furries do not do these things, and while there are a handful that may, the fandom has always been quick to dissociate with them. It is synonymously held that bestiality or zoophilia has no place in the fandom.

Now, for the benefits of the fandom in the Christian life, there are three main aspects that have been most prominent in my experience. Namely, sharing the gospel, exercising love in fellowship, and sanctification, or training ourselves to be strong in our faith and more like Christ. First, sharing the gospel in the fandom is the perfect opportunity to obey the call of discipleship that Jesus gave us. In Matthew 28, Jesus has recently ascended from the tomb three days after his crucifixion, and before returning to heaven, he gives his followers a command. This command is often called "The Great Commission." He says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Finding opportunities to share the gospel with others can be challenging in our modern world, but the fandom is the perfect place to find those opportunities. We already share a common interest: a love for anthropomorphic animals, which gives us a stepping stone for reaching those who need Christ. Interestingly, joining the fandom is an act that obeys scripture. The apostle Paul, who was amongst the first generation of the Christian church, tells us that to reach those who were lost, he had to become like them so that he may reach them where they're at. (1 Corinthians 9:20-23) Being a furry is not only passable in our religion but also biblically encouraged!

Next is the topic of fellowship. In the Christian context, fellowship is simply a gathering of Christians who meet to encourage, unite, learn, love, and delight with one another in the Holy Spirit. Throughout the entire New Testament of the Bible, the writers constantly remind us to love one another during these times of fellowship (1 John 4:7, John 13:34, Romans 13:8) and share in each other's burdens and hardships. (Galatians 6:1-2) Sadly, in the Western church culture, vulnerability is often shunned, the pressure for a perfect image is strongly upheld, and being "strong" enough to conceal our struggles and emotions is the norm. The pressure of these values can lead Christians to close off, often to hide insecurities. This lack of openness leads to a lack of love, a reality present in many churches and a leading cause of why many walk away from religion altogether. For Christians in the furry fandom, we recognize our vulnerability and weaknesses and delight in humility and openness with one another. The Christian furry community loves each other more closely with how we are biblically commanded to. Having been in the faith for over 14 years and attending church for much longer, I have had many Sundays where I have encountered coldness in my interactions. In the Christian gatherings of the furry fandom, these cold interactions are drastically harder to find.

Finally, being in the furry fandom as a Christian tremendously aids in our sanctification. The furry fandom can be a spiritual battlefield for a Christian. Daily, we face obstacles that make us question our faith. Many also encounter situations in the fandom where they are shunned and persecuted for their beliefs. These sufferings are tools to strengthen our beliefs and make us more like Jesus, our savior. (Romans 5:3-5) In the fandom, we have an opportunity to witness to people who share in our interests, which is a gift from God. The times when we question what we believe force us to re-evaluate our understandings and turn to scripture for answers, thus making us more steadfast than if we had faced no struggle at all. Biblically, God often used the least likely people to accomplish his plan, and our involvement with the fandom is no exception. Being Christians in the furry fandom helps us learn to love others, even if they don't share our beliefs. While much of the Christian world misses the point of our calling to love others, as furries, we get to learn firsthand how to practice love to the most profound degree of obedience for the glory of God.

I hope this has helped you gain greater insight into the Christian's connection with the furry fandom and how we can feel at peace with being furries and Christians while thriving in the environment. By the grace of God, we are truly blessed that he has given us a place where our interests and faith can collide and flourish for his glory.

In Christ,

-- Finni the Fox

* * *

I remember a twitter post back in 2022 that made the case that choosing a fursona is a lot like creating an arms in heraldry. In western cultures, what was common place in the battle group the arms many universities, schools, organisations and even family dynasties would create symbols for their group. Today it is tradition to create a coat of arms when you are appointed to certain positions.

Before the advent of heraldry, Christians would decorate the catacombs of their deceased brethren with pictures of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and Lambs in their pasture. They focused on this theme (John 10, Psalm 23) as it has links to who Christians follow unwaveringly Jesus Christ.

Another way is just because a craft has content that Christian’s would find objectionable in it, doesn’t mean that the whole craft is objectionable. The recent existence of edgy embroidery does not mean that you must make that edgy content to embroider. You can still produce your own embroidery that’s your usual “Home Sweet Home” or have it based upon nature or can be done to glorify God. The medium in and of itself is not the problem in this case. In the same way, while there might be content that is problematic for Christians in the fandom, that doesn’t mean that you have to partake in that side of things. Moreover, this community has helped me confess my sins in this area to the Lord, and to help fight and flee these temptations, (1 Cor 6:18) along with help from my churches minister.

-- Josh

* * *

"Is it OK to be a furry?" Some of my cohorts may be doing the same, but, as a mathematician, I feel compelled to look at the negative of this question instead: "Is there something wrong with being a furry?"

When answering either version, I must acknowledge an important bias. As a Christian, what this question entails is specific. From a secular view, "Is it OK to do X?" is a question of legality, a question of social acceptability, or is not universally well-defined. It's certainly legal to be a furry. Whether or not it is socially acceptable to be a furry is inescapably subjective, and if it is moral, that would require understanding what the one asking means by moral.

From a Christian perspective, these cases align themselves and let us arrive at a particular and necessary question of clarification. You see, from a Christian perspective, if something is illegal or socially unacceptable, it is arguably immoral already. Since social acceptability is not objective and furrydom is not presently illegal, we can just address the last category: intrinsic morality.

Furry as an interest is not addressed in scripture. One way forward would be to examine the following questions:

1. Does "being a furry" imply any action or state that is explicitly prohibited in scripture?
2. Does "being a furry" impede or prevent any command given by scripture?

I think addressing these two questions to the fullest possible extent could be the meat of some graduate-level research. I am under instruction to keep my long-windedness to 800 words or less, so I will try to summarize by giving two passages and commentary with each.

The first passage: 1 Corinthians 6:12.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

I tend to avoid lifting a single verse off the page, but in some cases, the context is retained just fine. I think this is one of those instances.

There is an important insight here extending beyond Christianity: whether the proposition "It is morally OK to be X" is true or false, one should still investigate if X is helpful or harmful. Certainly, I think being a furry could be one or the other for different people. To some, it has been a grand positive. For me in particular, it has put me in diverse company and challenged my views, resulting in a healthy reconstruction of my faith. To others, it has been an avenue for temptation. If something is harmful to one, it might be fine for another. But in any case, if something has control over you, that is not healthy. Unless the subject in question is something as fundamental as your faith or basic needs, anything that you simply "cannot live without" has reached a dangerous level of desire and dependence. The furry fandom has been a help to me and is in some way part of who I am because of my experience and sense of community within the hobby, but it should never become my center or purpose. But the same is true for most things.

The second passage: Matthew 22:36-40.

[A] lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
"The Law and the Prophets" refers to the books of law and the writings of the prophets, which suggests that more than the "letter of the law" is carried by the two laws cited. Further, the author of Romans in chapter 13 (although in the context of submitting to government authorities) suggests that if there is another command besides the prohibition of adultery, theft, coveting, or murder, it is covered under loving your neighbor. So, the question might be, "Does being a furry impede my ability to love my neighbor as myself?"

I suspect, in light of these passages, that it is not obvious that "furriness" should cause any moral problem directly. I posit that being a furry is morally neutral, and any accusation to the contrary likely depends on associating some secondary item with the argument. For example, "Being a furry means thinking you're an animal." This is an assumption. Before making such an accusation, one should really find out what a person means by "being a furry." If the question is directed at oneself, the question should be, "What about this would be wrong, and what am I making of 'being a furry'?"

-- Thom

Advice to a 14-Year-Old on Budgeting for a Fursuit Head (and Saving for College)

Fri 7 Jun 2024 - 15:01
Hey Papabear!

I'll almost be 15 soon, which means that here in Oregon, I can get a low-level, probably fast food or ice cream, job. I want to save money for a fursuit, but I also want to put money towards college. For the maker I wanna commission, with a low-level job, it'll be probably a year of saving, to rack up at least 900 USD (to fit head accommodations as I wear glasses) with the calculations I've done with starting wages at my local fast food.

But that's not my actual question. My question is: I can't commission a fursuit on my own. I'd have to ask a parent or relative, and then give them the money I've saved. I'm thinking of asking my aunt, but how do I tell her without being embarrassed to the heavens and back? She's very accepting and knows that I'm a furry, but I'm terribly embarrassed to even bring it up.

How do I even do that?

Best wishes,
RaveCat Ivy
* * *

Dear RaveCat Ivy,

Thank you for your email, which can prove to be a great lesson for you and my other readers about a dirty word. And that word is this: Budgeting.

There is no reason that, with proper budgeting and planning, you can't save for your fursuit head yourself and begin saving for college (hoping that your parents will help, at least a little, with college?). Let's tackle the fursuit head first.

The $900 sounds reasonable for a quality, custom head. Make sure that you have a reliable maker on your side. This is very important. Do thorough research on the maker you want and ask their clients whether or not they had a good experience with the maker. That is, the maker should back up their work, make a quality product, be responsive to questions, and turn the work around in a reasonable time frame (and give you progress updates if it is taking time). Good makers are often backlogged, so if they ask for a turnaround time of a year or even 18 months, don't be too surprised (on the other paw, be very suspicious if they say they can give you a completed head in a few weeks). Most makers will want all or part of the money up front, so don't commission a work until you have the money saved up.

College, of course, is much more pricey than a fursuit. It's great that you're thinking of saving up now. But don't think you have to do it all yourself. Assuming you are not getting a full scholarship because you are a star athlete or have a genius grant, you're going to need some strategies here. Some ideas:
  • For your first two years of college, attend a community college. Community colleges are actually quite excellent and their tuition is far lower than a four-year college, even if it is a state college. The student-to-teacher ratio is also much better at a community college (at big universities, too often you get stuck in lecture halls with hundreds of students being taught not by a professor but by an assistant, except for the lectures). Research 2-year colleges that have reciprocity programs with universities. That is, the credits you earn at the two-year college are fully transferable to the four-year college or university. Most of these agreements are between colleges in the same state, but sometimes there are interstate agreements such as the Oregon to California Reciprocity Agreement between select schools in California and Oregon. Also! In Oregon there is a program called The Oregon Promise that pays tuition to Oregon high school graduates attending community college!
  • If they haven't already done so, have your parents set up a college fund for you. These are savings programs that accrue interest and also have tax benefits toward saving for college, such as the Oregon College Savings Program. The one catch, usually, with state programs is you will have to attend an Oregon school. That's not a big deal, though, as there are some fine colleges in Oregon.
  • Research scholarships and grants. Every year, Oregon funds 40,000 students through the Oregon Opportunity Grant, which is aimed at students in lower income families. There are many other grants and scholarships available to you, many only require a 2.0 GPA. Check them out here. Now, you're too young yet to fill out a FAFSA, but you can still learn about what money is available to you by checking that page out.
  • Don't forget, there are also work/study programs like this one at the University of Oregon. This is where you get a job working on campus or in government or in a nonprofit and the money goes to your tuition and expenses.
  • Too, if you ever get birthday or Christmas money from relatives (or bonds), put them in the college fund.
  • You don't have to go through this all alone. When it gets close to time (a year or two from college) set up an appointment with a financial advisor at your school of choice.
  • If at all possible, try not to get bank loans. While college loans have pretty low interest rates, they still have a way of chasing you around for years after you graduate. Only use these as a last resort.

Whew! That's a lot of information, eh? You're at a great time to start learning about all of this stuff, though. It may give you a better idea of how much you will need to save in order to achieve your collegiate dreams. 

Once you have a financial goal in mind, it's time to budget. (There's that word again!) Once you find that job to start earning, start by setting up an Excel or other spreadsheet. Each month, put in your income, subtracting taxes and FIFA payments. Add other expenses, such as gas (if you drive) or bus fare to get to work. Then you are left with your actual income. Take a look at that and then establish a percentage or dollar amount you want to save each month toward that fursuit head and then, with what is left, decide how much you can put aside for college each month. (Go ahead and leave a little for yourself for "fun money" like going to a movie, but not too much).

Have a good idea of what your income is and where you are going with your money can really help lower anxieties you might have about paying for things. It really does help to have a plan!

Once you have that plan in place, I bet you won't have to ask any family members for help. If you can set aside, say, $150 a month toward a head, you will have your $900 in six months. All on your own, which is a matter of pride! Then, once you have paid off the head, you can take that $150 you were saving for the fursuit and add it toward your college fund.

Last issue: You're 14 and can't legally send money over the internet, so you need help from an adult. If your parents are amenable to the idea, one thing you can do is set up a Teen Checking Account. Many banks and credit unions will allow a teen under 18 to set up an account if their parents will sign for it. Tell your parents that this is a way to help you learn about money and balancing a checkbook etc. Then, you can write a check to the fursuit maker via snail mail or set up a PayPal or Venmo or suchlike account linked to your checking account. Or, set up a savings account, and you can write a Money Order based on the savings account.

If the above are not options, then yes, perhaps your aunt is the best person to turn to. If she already knows you're a furry, then what is there to be embarrassed about? Just tell her, "Hey, Auntie! You know I'm a furry, right? And one of the fun things you can do with being a furry is wear a costume, which is called a fursuit. I have saved up money for a fursuit head based on my fursona (my character). But I can't order it myself because I'm not 18 yet. If I give you the money, could you order it for me?"

Being direct is the best way to do it.


Happy Saving!

Papabear

People in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones, Part 1

Mon 3 Jun 2024 - 17:48
[Papabear Note: This is going to be my first in a two-part editorial/correspondence regarding the accusations often levied against furries. Traditionally, furries go on the defensive when faced with such criticism. Well, it's time to go on offense (at the risk of being offensive!)]

Dear Papabear,

I have a problem.

To start off, I found the Furry fandom about 8 months back when I was aimlessly skipping around the Internet. It just popped up in front of me, I looked it up, and … I fell in love with it. To me, the idea of furry was this perfect blend of imagination and wonder — something I’d always loved and, unknown to me at the time, always found refuge in. It turned my world on its ear to know that there were people out there that like this ‘outlandish’ concept as much as I do. But now, I’m scared.

You see, I want to tell people I know about this, but I’m terrified of being judged. I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and, with how the fandom’s portrayed, I don’t know if people will believe me or what they hear. I know I need to tell my parents (who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, too), yet I’m scared of what they will do. I love my parents, and I don’t want to hurt them by getting involved in something that they’ll believe will hurt me, but I don’t want to lose it. It’s been such a big part of me for as long as I can remember, and I don’t want to have to throw it all away — I love it. I’ve read how you responded to a similar situation, but it’s more than that.

I have not been in my right mind for a long time now. I suffer from depression and some form or another of mental instability. It’s terrible and tears me in half, but furry helps.  I don’t feel so horrid if I think about something furry or saw something furry earlier that day. I (for the most part) feel better than I have in a long time, but I can’t tell my father that furry things help me, he won’t accept it. (He’s not the kind to believe in something that isn’t quite traditional.) I don’t have any friends and it is hard to talk to people, but there, too, furry helps me.

So, above all, how do I show my parents all the good things that being a furry does for me without them thinking that I’m going astray morally or spiritually?

Uncertainly,
Rusty K. (age 16)

* * *

Dear Rusty,

Typically, when I receive a letter such as yours about being scared to tell parents one is a furry, it is because said parents are religious. The more religious they are, the worse it is, with the most problematic sects being Evangelicals, Southern Baptists (Baptists and Evangelicals being pretty much the same, but not all Evangelicals are Baptists by any means), and, lately, Jehovah Witnesses. I also get letters from Middle Eastern furries on occasion, and it's pretty safe to assume (though they usually don't mention it) that their parents are Muslims.

Lately, I have received several letters from kids whose parents are Jehovah's Witnesses. Because their parents are JW's, they say they are too, which is typical for that young age to simply follow your parents' examples. On the spectrum of conservative-to-liberal religious denominations, JW's are on the very conservative side (FYI, the more liberal religions and denominations include Unitarian Universalists, Reformed Jews, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterians, Methodists, and United Church of Christ). In addition to Reformed and Conservative Judaism, the more liberal non-Christian religions are Wicca (definitely), Buddhists (although technically more a philosophy than a religion), and Baha'i (socially liberal but morally conservative). Wicca, by the way, is the fastest growing religion in the United States :)

Politically and/or religiously conservative people such as your parents typically pick out bad examples in the fandom and then generalize those bad examples to "prove" that all furries are bad. They also pick up on false news (e.g., the completely false rumor started by Republicans for political reasons that furries demand cat litter boxes in school bathrooms) and believe it as if it were Gospel.

What you're likely afraid of is that you will tell your Jehovah's Witness parents you are a furry, then they will go online, discover negative stories, and then lose their love or respect for you. You usually see stuff like "furries are pedos or zoophiles" or that they "want to be animals" (well, many do identify with animals, but that is too complicated phenomenon to explain adequately here).

None of that is really true. Are there pedos in the fandom? Are there zoos? Yes and yes. But they are not the norm and there are more pedos and zoos in the general population than in the fandom. What happens is that conservatives seek bad actors within the fandom and say that they are examples of what the fandom is all about. This is called "the hasty generalization fallacy" and is the argument that most furry haters make.

I can do the same thing to a Jehovah's Witness.

A quick google results in these stories about Jehovah's Witnesses and child abuse:
Not only are there multiple cases of child abuse, but Jehovah's Witnesses have been accused of covering it up multiple times (similar to the Catholic Church covering up pedophilia among their priests). According to a Wikipedia article:

In some cases, members of Jehovah's Witnesses have been prevented or deterred from reporting child molestation to civil authorities. Particularly since around 2000, the Jehovah's Witnesses organization has been accused of covering up cases of child molestation committed by its members. In March 2001, Christianity Today printed an article reporting allegations that Jehovah's Witnesses' policies made reporting sexual abuse difficult for members, and did not conform to typical treatment of such cases. The article also included a response by representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Australian Royal Commission heard that an elder discouraged an abuse victim from going to the Commission by saying, "Do you really want to drag Jehovah's name through the mud?" In Ireland in 2016, two Jehovah's Witness elders were removed from their positions as punishment for reporting a child molester to the police after the London Branch legal department told them not to.

The BBC reported allegations of a cover-up in July 2002, in an episode of Panorama entitled "Suffer the Little Children." The report revealed that the headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Watch Tower Society, requires all congregations to submit details of child abuse allegations and maintains an internal database on all cases of child abuse reported to them. It described one case where a child came forward to the elders of her congregation to report sexual abuse by her father, but was sent home, despite their having known for three years that her father was an abuser. When the girl eventually went to the police, her father was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

According to Witness spokesman J. R. Brown, Jehovah's Witnesses are not required to report crimes to elders before calling civil authorities. Victims and their families are free to call police, he said, although some don't choose to. The Watch Tower Society maintains a policy with no explicit requirement for elders to report all child abuse cases where such is not required by law. Elders are instructed to "leave matters in Jehovah's hands" if an abuser denies the accusations and there is no second witness available


​​The point is that if a Jehovah's Witness declares furries are zoos and immoral and gives one or two examples, it is very simple to give LOTS of examples of JWs being immoral. This can be done on an individual basis, too.

For example, there's this guy on YouTube named Richard Lorenzo Jr., a self-declared Jehovah's Witness, who posted this video called "The Shocking Dark Truth about the Furry Community" in which he says we are zoos and that we are trying to "convert" children to the dark immoral side. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjjCBk-F1bA&t=400s What he does is take one video clip of one furry confessing they are a zoo. If you continue to watch the rather lengthy video, you'll see how he tries to take advantage of vulnerable teens and convince them to convert to Christianity. This is a typical ploy among proselytizers.

So, what can we do about that? Well, a 3-minute search on Mr. Lorenzo gives us this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=014rUVupyAU about what a fraud he is.

You can literally find stuff about almost anyone or anything online to trash people and groups. Doesn't mean those people or groups are sinners, agents of evil, immoral, or criminals. I am going to say right here and now that I have no clue whether or not Richard Lorenzo Jr. is a good or a bad man. And I will also go out on a limb and say most Jehovah's Witnesses are probably good people (same with Catholics or any other group of people). The point is not to make broad generalizations about anyone based on a bloody google search. That's stupid. Same with the "I heard it on the internet" or "someone told me this in a chat room."

Non-furries need to do likewise. Don't judge furries based on some garbage people are spreading online. I have been in this furry community for decades, and I can tell you that it is filled with wonderful people. The furry fandom is what you make of it. You can embrace it and love it, or you can trash it and use bad publicity to make money on your YouTube channel or get political contributions from ignorant parents of school children.

Your choice.

I apologize, Rusty, for using your letter to get on my soapbox and make a speech, but it needed saying.

Okay, so that addresses the fear your parents may have that being in the community will hurt you. To continue, as you noted yourself, the furry community can actually help you. Time and time again, furries have told me how being a furry has given them more confidence, has helped them to socialize, and has made them many friends. I'm one of them. There are actually studies, too, that being a furry helps people with who are on the autism spectrum. And being a furry helps you to explore yourself as a person by giving you the freedom and inspiration to try new things. I talk some about the benefits in my fairly recent article that was also written to a Jehovah's Witness.

Furry, as you attest yourself, makes you happy, and that is a good thing! It can help you make friends (also a good thing), help you with anxiety and depression, and also inspire creativity and imagination. Furries are also givers. They donate tens of thousands of dollars every year to charities (mostly through donations to sponsor charities at conventions). They also contribute to the economy (for example, big conventions like Anthrocon in Pittsburgh result in micro-booms in the local economy). 

There is nothing immoral about furry. There is even a Christian Furry group you can join if interested (and there are a couple of Christian groups on Telegram). I think it would be a good idea for you to contact one of those groups and ask them for a little help on discussing furry with your parents.

Is being a furry different and unconventional? Yes, of course! That's what makes it exciting and fun, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Your father, especially, needs to get over his fear of people who are not ordinary. Remember, it is not the ordinary people who make a difference in the world.

Dare to be extraordinary.

Hope this helps!
Papabear​​

Haters Gonna Hate so Here Are 7 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem

Sun 26 May 2024 - 10:17
Papapbear,

Why am I bullied and BARKED at by everybody else in 5th grade? When I walk in the halls, why does everyone glare at me and gossip behind my back? Why am I always last to be picked for gym class for a team? Why do I feel useless and incapable because people say so? Why do I feel so weak when I cant say "stop it" to their faces? Am I in the wrong?

Sawyer (age 11)

* * *

Dear Sawyer,

If you are experiencing serious bullying at school, you need to inform the school administration and, if you haven't already, your parents. They need to put a stop to it. Here is a useful resource page from KidPower that you and your parents should read about the problem.

But that is mostly about what to do if you are bullied. The answer to the question "Why am I being bullied?" probably has something to do with your being a furry (I'm guessing this because you are being barked at). In a world where it has definitely become uncool for kids to bully others because of things like their race or being LGBTQ (although it, of course, still happens), furries are one of the last groups of people that our culture seems to feel is okay to torment for being different. All kinds of stupid rumors are being spread (mostly by conservatives trying to make a non-issue a political issue for their campaigns of hate) against furries these days such as the idea that furries demand cat litter boxes in school bathrooms (not true) or that they growl at and bite kids in the hallways.

Humans hate people who are different--and furries are definitely different. It's ingrained in their DNA. So, when they are not allowed to hate black people or Jewish people or even gay people, they will continue to look for someone to hate for no reason other than they are different. Lucky for the haters, there are furries! We are people they don't understand at all, and what humans don't understand, they fear, and what they fear, they hate.

So, that is why you are being bullied.

What do you do about it? In addition to reading the link I sent, what you need is to beef up your self-confidence, your self-esteem, and, while you're at it, your courage and physical strength. People (especially school kids) prey on the weak. So, don't be weak (easier said than done, I know, but you can do it). I suggest you take up martial arts or boxing or wrestling. Learn to defend yourself. Kids are less likely to mock you if you're capable of giving them a roundhouse kick to the face. That's not to say you should beat people up. No. Violence should only be a last resort when you have to defend yourself from harm. But if people KNOW you can kick their ass, they are less likely to mock you. I would hope you would never have to use such skills, but that doesn't mean they are a waste to learn. Martial arts are a great way to improve your health and flexibility, which is pawsome for you in any circumstance.

In addition to this, you need to build your confidence. Being good at self-defense does this, truly, but there are other ways. Here are some tips:
  1. Stay away from negative people in your life. Anyone who puts you down, whether that is people at school, other friends, family members, etc. is not helping you. People who belittle you, tell you you are not good enough, tell you you are not "living up to your potential" or "need to do better" are just dragging you down. Avoid them. There will always be haters, so don't let them define you. Haters are pathetic people who can only feel good about themselves by putting others down, so why would you want their approval? They are bad people. Who needs them? Parents can, sadly, be as bad as haters by making you feel you are not good enough. Why they do this is a huge letter in itself, but to be brief, it is a big lesson to learn that we don't need to please our parents and live up to their expectations. It's your life, not theirs. Just be a good person. Nothing else really matters, including what career path you take.
  2. At the same time, keep people close to you who offer you support and love (hopefully, family members are included in that, but friends are often as good as family). They don't have to be "yes men" and agree with you all the time, but they do need to be on your side.
  3. Find things you are good at and focus your heart and soul on them, whether that is music or drawing or sport or hobbies or whatever. Becoming really good at something because you are devoted to it and enjoy it will boost your self-esteem tremendously.
  4. Avoid putting yourself down. If you say negs like "I'm dumb," "I'm ugly," "I'm weak," they will drag you down.
  5. Replace the negs with positive affirmations. Each day, say something nice about yourself, whatever that might be, while looking in the mirror. Doing this in the morning is a good idea, but any time of day works. It can be a simple thing like, "You took a really nice photo of that bird today" or something deeper like "You're a good person and always try to do the right thing." If you keep affirming your value daily, it will boost your self-esteem immensely. You see, you need approval from yourself as much (or more) than from other people.
  6. Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone is different; everyone has good and bad points; there will always be someone better at something than you are (and there will always be someone worse, so don't be mean, either). 
  7. Don't obsess on the past. Think of what you are doing now and what you can do in the future. If you've made mistakes (who hasn't?) it's okay, as long as you learn from them and move on.

I hope this little pep talk has helped. Always remember: This is YOUR life. As long as you are not hurting anyone, do what you wish. You're only 11 and have a lot to explore. This is an incredible, complex, bizarre, frustrating, joyful world, and it is yours to live in. It's for you to grab the reins and go for a ride. You own this horse, kid, so enjoy it.

Bear Hugs,
Papabear​

Furry Isn't about Hiding Identity, It's about REVEALING It

Thu 23 May 2024 - 10:00
Papabear,

I am a Jehovah's Witness as well as both my parents and sibling. I have recently told them I'm a furry. It kinda flew over my dad's head and he is just impressed by my partial. My mom however had a lot of questions about what a furry is. I told her to do her own research on the fandom. The next day, she said it seemed very community-based and that she doesn't want me interacting with strangers, especially in a fandom that revolves around hiding your identity. Her reasoning is reasonable, and I want to obey her wishes, but I also want to experience the community and socialize with people who share the same interests as me.

Sakura (age 14)

* * *

Dear Sakura,

Your mother is right that this is a community-oriented fandom. She is wrong that it is about "hiding your identity." Quite the opposite. Furry is a way to explore your true self, to examine your dreams and feelings without the stigma of people judging you by your appearance, age, race, nationality, gender, or sex. When I say this, of course, I'm just talking about fursuits and/or people using their avatars in online interactions. When you're at a con or meet in person, most people are not fursuiting and you can see exactly who they are, although they will likely want you to call them by their fursona names.

Your mother is assuming that a mask is intended to hide something, like a bankrobber wearing a ski mask, so it might sound ironic that fursonas do the opposite. They are very freeing. They allow you to drop your inhibitions, anxieties, and fears of being judged and to present yourself in ways that feel more genuine. This fosters interpersonal relationships rather than hindering them. The REAL masks in our society are not the ones made of foam and fur; they are the fake facades that people like politicians and businessmen and the pious put on to impress others. Have you ever, for example, watched a politician give a speech about how All-American and Apple Pie and Moral they are, only to see them be caught later cheating on their wives or stealing money from their political campaigns for personal use? THAT is a mask. Or the mask that a Catholic priest wears, the one of piety and virginity, only to be ripped away when they are found fornicating with young choir boys. Or the businessman who sets up a charity, only to be discovered that he did it for a tax write off and to give his moronic, useless children jobs as executives of said charity. This stuff happens all the time, and the masks worn are invisible.

The masks furries wear are there not to conceal but to reveal. They can make you braver, more playful, and definitely less self-conscious. The first time I ever did karaoke, for example, was in fursuit. I sang The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book on stage at a furcon while in suit. Something I would never have been brave enough to do just as me. It was a blast! When I'm in fursuit, strangers from the very old to the very young come up to me and hug me. It's bonding and touching and sweet. Do you think someone would just walk up to 6-foot tall, 58-year-old, pasty-white Kevin Hile and give him a hug? Not likely. And they sure would back off if I walked up to them and tried to hug them!

Furry isn't about hiding. It's about opening up to others, freeing yourself from social constraints and expectations, and being YOU.

If you don't believe me, perhaps you will believe science. There have been studies, for example, that demonstrate that participating in the fandom helps those on the Autism Spectrum. Here is a link to the FurScience page about that. If it helps people with autism, think of what it does for people who are not neurodivergent.

Not to criticize, but you kind of made a mistake when you told your mother to go do her own research. What you should do, Sakura, is YOUR own research and then share it with your mom. Please share this email with her, and if she has ANY questions, feel free to tell her she can write to Papabear.

Hugs!
Papabear

Trans Teen Needs Advice on Coming Out

Wed 22 May 2024 - 13:00
Hi Papapbear,

You may remember me from 2 or so e-mails I gave you when I was a pre-teen. I'm now 16. Crazy how time flies. Anyway, let me get the point. So, I'm not only still in the furry fandom but I am also now a FTM trans man. I tried coming out when I was 13, but my parents said I was too young to know, which makes sense at first, but I was already feeling as such ever since I was 10 and, in fact, wrote about it in a diary message.

It doesn't stop there. Then, my dad reads my whole message history with a friend of mine and gets mad at me because I told my friend first. I have now re-read those letters I sent you as a pre-teen and, to be honest, I should've remembered those letters as a warning sign, but oh well. Anyway, to the good news: Technically, he said if I came out again at 16 he'd believe it. I am now of age, so I am going to try to come out in the next few months. How should I tell them so they take it seriously?

Sincerely,

GlaDOS The Wolf (age 16)

* * *

Dear GlaDOS,

As soon as I saw that name, I remembered you (which means you picked a memorable name, eh wot?) Back 4-5 years ago, you were concerned about your furriness and going to Fangcon, and you noted your mother was struggling with being bipolar. Did you ever go to Fangcon? How is your mother doing?

Having one's child come out as gay, bi, or trans can be very difficult for parents, who will always see you as "their little girl." It's a tough adjustment, so be patient with them. Also, your father is not far off when he insists you wait a bit before deciding on something like this. Did you know that the human brain is not fully mature for women until around age 22, and for men around age 25? The ages from 13 or so until your early 20s are transitional (no pun intended), and the thing you must do is to be patient with yourself. Don't make rash decisions. You know, many times, a person who believes they are trans is actually simply gay (these days, I guess it's considered not all that fire to just be gay). Other times, a person who feels they are gay might actually be trans. Or, sometimes, a person who is unsure of themselves might be bi or ace. Some people confuse the difference between feeling you are the wrong gender (social pressures) and feeling you are in the wrong physical body (trans). 

Your parents already know you are questioning, so this won't come as a shocker. Instead of doing a "hard" coming out, may I suggest you simply have an open chat with them. Don't act like anything is decided, just tell them, openly and honestly, that you are exploring who you are. This doesn't mean, of course, that you are going out and sleeping with people to decide what you like and don't like. (A lot of parents jump to the conclusion during a sex talk like this that you are saying you are gay or trans or whatever because you have a secret lover you are bumping junk with.) You might say, though, that you don't think you are truly female or that you feel you might be gay or trans but hetero (that is, F2M and attracted to women). Sexual and gender identity are complicated and very personal experiences. Ease your parents into the idea that you are examining your feelings. Be non-confrontational. Don't make demands. Request only that you have an open and honest dialogue about your feelings and make sure that you reassure them that you love them and that, whatever you come to decide, you are still their child and will always want them in your life.

It is also important to remember this: You are more than your gender and sex. These things are just two aspects of your full personality and identity. Don't obsess about them. Let them flow organically. Allow me to use myself as an example. I don't introduce myself as Kevin Hile, Gay Man. Yes, I'm gay and don't hide it. But I'm also a furry, a columnist, an author, an editor, a publisher, a husband, a friend, a mentor, a brother, a nature lover, an amateur philosopher, a spiritual seeker, a lover of chocolate, a bear, a doodler in art and piano, an animal lover, a person fascinated by the sciences, and an all-around explorer.

It's good that you are exploring your sex and gender, just don't forget the other aspects of who you are while you do so.

Hugs,
Papabear​

Teen Lacks Motivation and Direction

Sun 19 May 2024 - 09:58
​Dear Moon,

Thanks for your letter. Let me start right away by saying that there is no law demanding you have a hobby. Plenty of people are perfectly happy just working and spending time with family. That said, it DOES sound like you are interested in learning about the world as you watch PBS and the Discovery Channel. You could broaden that inquisitiveness for very little money by reading books. If you have a nearby library, even better because you can borrow books for free. I've heard said that reading is a very nice hobby that exercises the brain.

Speaking of exercise, I suggest you get a bicycle. You don't need a licens to ride a bike, and not only will you get exercise but you can also get around to a lot of places miles away very nicely on a bike. This can help solve the #2 problem. As for #1, you don't need parents with "deep pockets" to have hobbies. Plenty of things are free. You live in Idaho, which is a beautiful state. You could go on nature hikes and--Mr. Inquisitive Mind--learn about local animals and plants. That's a free hobby! You don't say whether you are religious, but you could also volunteer at your church. If you're not into that, look for a local place to volunteer. Perhaps an animal shelter or food bank. Giving of your time to others is a very fulfilling hobby and will give you a sense of purpose.

So, that's 1 and 2. As for #3, I'm betting that your "social activity" has been limited to online and maybe school. The key thing about social skills is it's hard to get them without live, in-person social interactions. You might feel awkward at first, but, given time, you will gradually, inevitably improve. Humans are naturally social animals (although if you have autism--you don't say--this can be a challenge, but it's possible even with people who are on the spectrum; I have seen people with ASD improve a lot with time and patience. Being a furry can help you there too. You might try a group like the East Idaho Furries (https://www.facebook.com/groups/EastIdahoFurries/).

Number 4: You are pretty correct about that. Yes, the internet is increasingly becoming a cesspool of drama, politics, and hate. This is why I strong suggest trying to interact with people in the real world. Actually, I encourage you to help out at your father's store. Why? Because you'll be interacting with customers, which can be a very valuable experience in social interaction!

There ARE some safe spaces for interacting online. For example, you might try out the furry app Barq, which also helps you locate local furries. Furry Aminos are also pretty good, in my experience. Social sites on Facebook, Discord, etc. are hit and miss. It all depends on the admins; some are good at moderating groups, some are not. Keep trying, though. Many of my current friends are people I met online. In fact, my late husband, Jim, was one of them. 

Number 5: Oh, my, you're talking to the right bear LOL. I'm lazy, too. I really have to push myself to get stuff done and not just lie on the couch watching movies. But I do. (I think you meant you have an "intrinsic LACK of motivation," no?) So, you already know the solution: find something to get excited about. For example, for this bear it is writing this column. It gives me a sense of purpose as I write at my desk on a Sunday morning instead of watching YouTube videos. 

Don't get a hobby because you feel people expect you to get a hobby. Wrong reason. Don't look at things as vocations or avocations. Instead, look at your life as an experience. All our lives are very short and precious, and in the few decades (if we're lucky) that we are given, it is our privilege and blessing to experience this amazing planet and universe and people. I'm hopeful for you because you sound like you have an inquisitive mind. You're not watching The Kardashians; you're watching The Discovery Channel. Thank the gods for that!

Don't put pressure on yourself. Don't feel like "I have to do this or that" (despite the suggestions I wrote above; you don't have to listen to me). Instead, experience things as broadly and voraciously as possible. Of all the things you watch on TV, surely SOMETHING interests you or else you wouldn't be watching informative programming. Perhaps astronomy interests you or physics or archeology or paleontology or meteorology or any of a bunch of ologies. Find one or two or more of these things that excite you, and start reading about them. Find others who are interested in the same things and sign up for groups that are into that topic. Believe me, if you find a group that is, say, into astronomy and telescopes, they are much more likely to talk about those things than politics. Same with photography or art or animals etc. etc. etc.

Be of good cheer, Moon. You're only 15. Your life is just beginning, and you have LOTS of time to discover the world and to discover yourself. Just remember: Don't live your life to satisfy other people's expectations of you. This is YOUR life. Don't apologize for it, just experience it and challenge yourself. You'll be fine.

Bear Hugs,
Papabear

Parents Blame Their 6-Year-Old for Their Divorce

Wed 15 May 2024 - 13:04
Dear Papabear,

Recently, my parents have been fighting a lot and saying they wouldn't have divorced if it wasn't for me, and I'm also thinking of ending it all. What should I do? I have no one to talk to and I live with my aunt who's always at work and is neglective.

Sincerely,
Eli (age 6)

Hope to hear from you soon.

* * *

Dear Eli,

Are you really only 6? You write well for someone so young. I am sorry to hear your parents are fighting and making you feel bad. It is very wrong of them to say "they wouldn't have divorced if it wasn't for me." What an AWFUL thing to tell your child!! Horrible! I'm glad you can live with your aunt. I don't know what her job is, but perhaps it seems she "neglects" you simply because she works hard and is tired? At least she took you in. Don't judge her too quickly.

None of this is YOUR fault. PLEASE do not blame yourself. How could it be your fault when you're just a child? Repeat after me: "This is not my fault. This is not my fault. This is NOT my fault."

If you are serious when you say you feel suicidal, please call the hotline at 988. They will help you. There is no charge.

If you wish to talk more, you know where to find me. You can email me directly.

Please take care of yourself.

Hugs,
Papabear

Furry Is Troubled by Sexual Desires

Sun 12 May 2024 - 20:06
Dear Papabear,

On days that I have too much free time on my hands, casual Internet browsing led me down an unfortunate road. First, I read one of your letters, and I felt aroused. Then, browsing e621, curiosity killed the cat, and I ended up enjoying these artworks.

Am I just being influenced by the pornography I've looked at, or is something fundamentally wrong with me? If the latter is true, how do I remedy it?

​Thank you.

Sergio

* * *

Dear Sergio,

Furporn is just one form of sexual fantasy. Sexual fantasies are a window into exploring our sexual pleasures and identities, and they can also be a way of assuaging our feelings of guilt about our sexuality. Why do we have sexual fantasies? Well, when it comes to young people, their heads are floating in a bouillabaisse of testosterone or estrogen in which practically anything is a turn on LOL. Fantasies also have us dreaming of becoming more sexually attractive or arousing than we think we are in real life, or they might resolve sexual needs that are not being satisfied in real life, or they might be a way to "spice up" a current sexual relationship that has gotten a bit, shall we say, routine or humdrum.

Anthropomorphized animal characters can be attractive to us because they express animalistic urges and needs. The symbolism is pretty clear. Animals strut about all the time sans clothing, and often we crave the physical freedom of being without clothes. Also, animals are not restrained by the sexual politics and social restrictions of human society. If they feel like screwing, and they can find a partner, they will screw with abandon. (Reminds me of a joke: How many microfurs does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Just the usual two, but the trick is getting them inside the lightbulb!)

Many furries find the fandom because of furporn, which is typically discovered online, but sometimes in comic book stores, too. I know I found it through Reed Waller and Kate Worley's Omaha, the Cat Dancer (although that is more erotica than furporn). Furporn not only serves as a release of sexual tension but can also be a way to safely explore our sexual curiosity, including experimenting with gender, in ways that "normal" society would frown upon. Hence, it can serve as a safe place to discover who we are as sexual beings. (It also has the advantage of keeping one safe from STDs and pregnancy).

Do not be ashamed of such exploration. It doesn't mean you're a pervert. It means that you are exploring the physical side of yourself. In a way, furporn has some parallels with horror films: they both get us excited (in different ways), get the adrenalin rushing, while reassuring ourselves that we are safe and sound.

My advice, then, is don't fret about it. After a while (by "while," I mean probably a couple of years), you'll probably lose some interest in furporn as the novelty of it wears off. Hopefully, too, you will find yourself in a healthy physical and emotional relationship by then, and you won't be too tied up in furporn. However, you might still find it helpful to give you ideas about what to do in bed for fun.

Hope this reassures you, Sergio.

Bear Hugs,
Papabear

Coming Out Furry at 50

Tue 23 Apr 2024 - 07:57
Dear Papabear,

How does one come out as furry? I am an older gay who has always wanted to be a furry. My generation never really accepted furry, to say the least. I have spent over 15 years wishing I could just be me and express what I truly want to be. I have been out mostly my whole life, but never able to express what I want to be to any of my partners or even now, my husband. It's hard trying to fit into the gay lifestyle much less trying to me something that makes you even more of an outcast.

Today, I saw some vids of furry cons and other activities, and all I could do is cry. I just wish I knew how to be a part of something I never could admit is me.

Dozer von Droolstein (age 50)

* * *

Dear Dozer,

A good way to prepare for such an announcement is to surround yourself with supportive people, and I can't think of a better place for that for you than in my Silvermuzzle and Greymuzzle Facebook groups. If you don't have Facebook, there are graymuzzle (or greymuzzle) groups on other social media such as Discord, Furry Amino, and Telegram.

It's funny, but I have received a number of letters like yours over the years, and it seems to be true that more people are uncomfortable coming out as furry than coming out gay. I suppose this is because in recent years being LGBTQIA+ has gained some (reluctant) acceptance in American society (still lagging behind western Europe, but getting there), while furries are still generally not accepted. Oh, we've made some strides forward, but the conservative backlash inflamed by the MAGA movement set us back a bit. 

Anyway, "coming out" furry is done rather the same way as coming out gay or lesbian or trans. To begin, you should first come out to those you trust with your feelings the most, which means to those who you feel accept you for you. Even if they find furry weird, they will support you and, hopefully, get used to the idea. This was the case with my husband, Michael. I told him early on in our relationship that I was a furry. Now, mind you, his daughter had already told him some negative things about Bronies, so when I told him I was a furry (he later confessed to me), he wondered if I was "safe" to be around (he has severe PTSD from being in active combat and can be nervous about things that aren't normal, and he had some bad ideas about Bronies thanks to his daughter). Anyway, I slowly got him used to the idea and started taking him to cons (he absolutely loves BLFC in Reno), and even adopted his own fursona (a dragon-bear hybrid) even though he really isn't a furry. He makes a real effort to support me and my work in the fandom. Other people may surprise you about being supportive. I never told my ex-wife about it, until she called me one day and asked if I was a furry. This seemed to come from out of the blue, but she had discovered the fact by googling my name one day. Anyway, I hemmed and hawed (I didn't think she'd like it) and finally admitted it, and she said she thought it was very cool and wondered why I hadn't told her before. Then there was my late husband, Jim, whom I told very early in our relationship and he accepted me right away. So, you never know.

After you tell the people you are more comfortable with, you can start working on the ones you are a bit more iffy about. If they have never heard of furry, this will make it easier because they don't have any preconceptions, so you can give them an appropriate definition right from the start. What I usually do is explain that it is rather like people who cosplay as superheroes and such at comic-cons only we focus in particular on anthro-animal characters such as what you would find in Kung Fu Panda or Zootopia. Now, I don't know whether you're a hobbiest or a lifestyler furry at heart, but it is best to start such people off by explaining it as a hobby.

The third group of people are the tough cases. These are the people with either incorrect, preconceived notions about furry ("oh, you want sex with animals"--um, no, that's zoophilia, dear) or are conservatives who believe Fox News-style nonsense such as we demand to have litter boxes in schools or that we bite people who displease us. I suspect this recent uptick in anti-furry sentiments is a symptom of the backlash against the trans community that we are seeing from religious and politically conservative people. In other words, such people conflate their antipathy for one group of unconventional people (trans) with another (furry) because of their fear and hatred for those who are different. Also, there are quite a few trans folk in the furry community, so it kind of gets combined at times. Hey, we're all queer in our own way, and normies don't like that. (Shhhh, mostly because they want to be odd, too, but are too afraid of normie society to do it, so they redirect that fear into hate; just one of those dumb psychological things that humans do).

Anyway, you really are under no obligation to come out to closed-minded people, so don't worry about them (and be careful about work; some bosses can be very anti-furry, and I have heard of some furries being fired from their jobs after they are "found out" because there are no laws against furry discrimination).

Now, you ARE lucky in that you are doing this at 50 rather than 12. It is much easier to tell people you are furry in middle age than when you are dependent on judgmental, controlling parents or navigating the hostile hallways of a school building. Since you are, I assume, financially independent, you can go about your way as you please. That's a good thing. 

You know, there are two big reasons why the furry fandom has so many LGBTQIA people in it (as well as those on the autism spectrum and with social anxiety issues in general): one is that they are trying to find an accepting community, and the other is that furry helps them express the real them that is inside. Being furry and participating in the fandom can be very therapeutic. In fact, there are studies that show it helps people with autism. Becoming active in the fandom can therefore not only help you find yourself as a furry but also as a gay man. You will find a LOT of supportive people and--I guarantee it--make many new friends.

So, go ahead and start telling the important people in your life who love you like your husband. Then be prepared to answer any and all questions they may have. It might be a little unnerving at first, but you will feel so much better when you do, and you may even be  pleasantly surprised by the reactions you get. 

Good Luck! Hope to see you joining one of my Facebook groups soon!

Papabear

29-Year-Old Furry Considers Moving Out of Mom's House

Sun 14 Apr 2024 - 14:40
Hello, Papabear,

It's been a long time since I last asked you a question, but I hope you're doing well. I'm messaging for some advice because rgis is something that's been on my mind for a good while. I currently live with my mom and it's not really bad, but there are times she can be more of draining to me than my own job. I'm more than happy to help with stuff or grab something she needs, but sometimes when I've just finished a tiring ten hour shift and just got home she'll ask me to go right back out to grab something for her when she's been home all day and could have went out to grab it herself.

There are times when she'll ask to use my car for something instead of her own for something. I don't mind since my car is bigger than hers and for groceries it certainly holds more, but there are times it messes with my own work schedule, and when I have no choice but to use her car, she'll leave it with little to no gas at all.

But most of the issues I feel I get are from just being around her. There was a day she called me from my room just to see me and say "You're getting fat." It made my day which was relatively nice feel much worse. She says how she wants me to lose weight and worries about my health and right now I'm around the 240's, I'm actively moving about at work and I maintain my weight rather well but all she sees is my belly and just goes back to that. It feels as if everytime we talk her tone makes it that she looks down on me, or at the very least like I'm still a little kid. I sometimes wonder what to do, even my sister suggests I finally move out.

I'm sorry for trailing on like this, my question after all of this is do you think it's a good idea for me to try moving out?

Kageichi (29)

* * *

Hi, Kageichi,

Please forgive me if I don't recall what we might have talked about in the past.

Before I answer your letter in more detail, could you answer a couple of questions? 1) Why, at 29 with a full-time job, do you still live with your mother? 2) What are the conditions for your living at your mom's house? (e.g., i.e., do you pay rent or have some other agreement for your continuing to live there?)

Thanks for your replies.

Hugs,
Papabear
* * *

Hello There

First of all, it's alright. It has been many years since I last sent a letter to you.

As for your questions, I live with my mom because while there are plenty of apartments a part of me feels pretty nervous too, I feel worried I might be unprepared to move out and handle being out on my own. A lot of things over the years just makes me have little confidence in myself.  The living condition of living with my mom aren't bad. I help with some bills, and I give my mother 100 bucks a week. She never told me where the 100 dollars go to, but I just thought maybe it was for rent.

* * *

Okay, one more question if I may: how much $$ do you bring in per month? Also, does your job include any benefits like medical insurance? 
Oh, and what city and state are you in?
* * *

I get paid every week and since I work almost 40 hours every week, my pay usually rounds up from 500 to $700 a week after taxes is taken out. My job does include health insurance and 401K which some of my cash goes to. I live in D***, SC.

* * *

Hi, again,

Okay, thanks for the information. So! Basically, you make about $2,400 a month take-home pay. I looked at apartment listings in the D***, SC, area, and you can get a studio or 1-bedroom apartment for anywhere between $800 and $1,500 a month or so. Let's say you find a good deal at $1,000 a month, leaving you with $1,400 a month. Let's further assume your car payment is $200 a month, leaving you with about a $1,200 a month for utilities, gas, food, sundries. That's not a lot in this economy, even in South Carolina (you wouldn't survive in an expensive state like New York or California). You're giving your mom $100 for rent a month (sometimes).

You should be kissing and hugging her "Thank you!" for saving you so much money. You should NOT resent her if she asks you to occasionally buy some food or to borrow your car. And if the worst she does is suggest you might need to lose some weight? I would hazard a guess she is genuinely concerned about you staying healthy. Don't take it as a slam (unless she says it in a mean tone to you, but it sounds like some of that is how you are taking her words).

If you moved out of the house, you would likely struggle financially unless you found a better-paying job. And, if you lost your job, you'd likely have to move right back in.

Instead of complaining about your mom asking for a few things, you should sit down with her and make out a JOINT budget in which you figure out how you can pay your fair share for the room and board she is supplying you. If your biggest complaint is that she sometimes asks you to buy some food after work when you are tired, that can easily be fixed by the two of you planning your grocery list ahead of time and going to the store together to make sure you have everything necessary. Set a rule that, unless it is something vital to purchase right away, she should not ask you to run errands right after work when you're tired. Schedule a time in your week when you run errands for her. You should also be paying her more per month. Compromise between the $400 and the price of an apartment, so, let's say, give her $750 a month. That's a good deal, and you should be grateful for it. If you don't feel like you can afford that (I don't know what other expenses you might have) then compensate by doing more chores around the house (you don't mention if you do any, but just because you work doesn't mean you can't do chores, too).

Moving out right now, while doable, is probably not the best choice financially. Your mother sounds like she is not bad to live with at all. If she treats you like a little kid, it might be because you are acting a bit like one by not helping to pay your fair share of the expenses at the house. She might be a little passive-aggressive with her criticism of your belly, so you should talk that out. Perhaps she's directing some frustration over you by saying you're chubby.

Sit down with your mom and discuss the following:
  1. Budget: Find out what her expenses are and what you can reasonably contribute to house payments, utilities, and gasoline. IMHO you are not paying your fair share of living expenses in a house you live in full time.
  2. Schedules: Come to an agreement as to how to do things that need doing without conflicting with your work schedule.
  3. Being respectful of each other's needs: Tell your mom how you feel when she says you're fat, but do it in a calm way. Explain that you know you've put on some pounds but that it hurts your feelings when she says that and talk about how both of you feel about your health. ALSO! Ask her about HER health, HER feelings, and HER needs. It's not all about you, Kageichi.

You're 29 years old. Time to step up. You don't have to move out (unless you want to), but you do need to show more responsibility and appreciate your mother more for helping you out so much. Whether you stay or go, you need to do the adult thing.

Take Care,
Papabear

Buying a Fursuit with a Past Doesn't Obligate You to Keep the Fursona

Wed 3 Apr 2024 - 10:52
Heya bud.

Just a random question for a suiter... I recently bought a fursuit (I really like the suit), but he is an already established character (I am the third owner), so he has been around cons and has about 480 followers on his own twitter account done since 2018. I am debating whether to remake his character or continue his character from the previous 2. The 2nd owner continued the first owners character. Thing is, there were a lot of changes already: foot paws, hand paws, and tail were replaced. Padding removed, so no longer digitigrade (needed to remove it cause it wont fit otherwise). So, I feel like he is no longer the previous owner's character. I wanted to redo him, but what about his history? And then, can I still call him using the maker's name when 3 things are no longer the original? This is my very first fursuit.

Anonymous

* * *

Dear Furiend,

As with most things in the furry fandom, there are no rules, so I am not going to give you lines like "you have to do this" or "you have to do that."

That said, here are Papabear's feelings on the matter.

The only reason to keep the original fursona's name and rep would be if you are jonesing to keep his followers following you. And the only reason to do THAT is if you are desperate for followers and trying to get a rep as a popular furry. You don't owe the followers of the original fursona anything. As you pointed out, the fursuit has been modified quite a bit, anyway, so it's not really the same character except maybe for the name.

My feeling, then, is to make this fursuit yours, make it personal to YOU. Continue to modify the fursuit as you wish to please yourself, and change the name to a name that you like and is personal to you.

You bought the fursuit because you wanted a fursuit, not because you wanted the character, right? So, make it your own.

Enjoy! Happy Fursuiting!

​Papabear

Where Can You Learn about Furry History?

Thu 28 Mar 2024 - 14:46
Hello Papabear,

I have been in the fandom for the longest time since I was 15 years old. One of the thing I really love about the fandom is the golden age of the fandom. I love hearing stories of the past when the furry fandom was a new concept, seeing classic artists and art that shape the fandom for what it is today.. My question is, I really find it hard to find info of the past. Do you know any sites or good links that have a history of furry knowledge and classic art. 

Lighten

* * *

Dear Lighten,

I sure do! There is a growing number of good online sources for you to check out to learn about the fandom's history. Here are a few of them:

​For Starters:

After you've digested the above overviews, delve deeper with...

  • Wikifur.com. As you can guess, this is a wiki devoted to furry. You can find information about almost anything here. The only trouble is that in order to get some use out of it you need to know what you're looking for. For example, if you've never heard of Robert Hill, you won't know to look him up and find out he was the first fursuiter; and if you've never heard of an APA, you wouldn't know to look that up, either. That said, you can go directly to the History entry for a nice overview.
  • Fang, Feather and Fin: A Furry History Blog and Archive (https://www.fangfeatherandfin.com/): This incredible website by a nonprofit organization needs to get more attention! And I'm happy to do that here! The mission of this page is to archive print and online sources of furry history, as well as conduct and post interviews. It is a treasure trove of information!
  • The YouTube channel Culturally F'd https://www.youtube.com/@CulturallyFd is dedicated to exploring the history of the anthropomorphic arts. Lots of info to be learned here.
  • Confurence.com https://confurence.com/: The online archive of con books from the first furry convention from 1989 to 2010. Also includes fliers and other publications from the era.
  • Furry Times archive https://furrytimes.net/downloads/: An archive of conbooks, APAs, and fanzines.
  • Conhistory.com: An online resource of furry con history, as well as comic cons, sci-fi, and other conventions.

As a bonus, I would also suggest you take a look at the recent memorial video Rod O'Riley created on YouTube that is all about the late-great Father of the Furry Fandom, Mark Merlino. You will learn a LOT about the fandom's origins by watching this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLfNdhHmh1Y&t=14837s.

There are also some excellent books out there for you to read, including:

  • Patten, Fred. Funny Animals and More: From Anime to Zoomorphics. Theme Park Press, 2014.
  • Patten, Fred. Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989<en>2015. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2017.
  • Stoddard, Tim. Furtannia: The History of the Furry Fandom in the United Kingdom. Uncle Bear Publishing, 2023.
  • Strike, Joe. Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture. Cleis Press, 2017.

There are, of course, other sources online and in print, but the above represents your best bet to get the information you want.

Happy Researching!

Hugs,
Papabear

Learning Is a Joy Not Limited to College

Fri 8 Mar 2024 - 20:39
Hello, Papabear:

I will graduate with my 2nd A.S. degree this spring. After 8 years total of going to CCollege, I am mentally exhausted. Everyone has been asking me, "Are you going to transfer and get a bachelor's degree?" I wish I could, but tbh I am exhausted. Seven years of school and I leave with insecurities that I am not smart enough for UNI. I mean, 3 more years would be a commitment!

I have always had other interests such as in science and foreign languages. I have always wanted to learn about chemistry and learn a third language. How can I learn these two subjects for fun on my own and feel confident about it? I know I'll never be a chemist or science major, plus you don't need to go to university to learn a third language, anyways.

Thanks!

EmmyLovesFurries (age 26)

* * *

Dear EmmyLovesFurries,

Thanks for your questions. Let's start with the foreign language question. It's wonderful to learn other languages, especially if you have a gift for it. I studied German for seven years, French for two, and Spanish for one, and I can tell you, I don't have much of a talent for it. But, honestly, here's why I struggled: high schools and colleges teach language wrong. Endless vocabulary list memorization and grammar instruction is a mechanical, unhelpful way to learn. You know who teaches languages right? The U.S. military. What they do is throw you into an environment where you are only allowed to speak in the language you are learning. This total immersion in a new language is highly effective. 

The other way to do it is to move (or travel for an extended time) to a country that speaks the language in which you have an interest. One of my biggest regrets in life was when my German professor urged me to study in Germany for a while to really get comfortable with the language, but I was honestly too afraid to do that by myself and I turned down the opportunity. Now, living where I do (America is one of the most culturally isolated countries in the world because of its geography and poor public education system) my German is terribly rusty. I envy Europeans because they are constantly exposed to languages, and going to a foreign land is like traveling to another state in the U.S.--easier, too, because they have a good train system.... But I digress.

If I had the time to beef up my language skills, here is what I would do: go online to a website such as Babbel or Pimsleur (Rosetta Stone is also good, but rather expensive). These programs teach you conversational, colloquial language and use tried-and-true methods such as repetition. Some programs like Babbel even connect you to volunteer native speakers for practice, which is quite wonderful. 

Another way to approach this is to learn as a child would: that is, pick up some primer reading books in the language you want, read comic books, watch cartoons in that language. (You can watch Sesame Street in Spanish and many other languages!)

You are correct that you don't have to go to uni to learn a language and, as noted above, that is probably the worst way to do it unless you're studying a dead language such as Latin or ancient Greek.

Let's move on to chemistry and other sciences. 

I personally have an interest in history, but I didn't enjoy history in high school. In fact, I hated it because it was all about rote memorization of dates and places, kings and queens, famous battles, etc. Snore. No, I am much more interested in cultural history. How people lived centuries ago; how nations developed, thrived, and fell; what their architecture was like; how they dressed and ate and worked and had fun. You know, in school back in the 1970s (not sure about now), when they taught history it was either American history or European and British history. Never learned squat about Asia or Africa or South America, and these places are fascinating! The history of China goes back 6,000 years! And now I'm learning of discoveries in advanced architecture going back 12,000 years to places like Gobekli Tepe, or about the amazing technology that the Romans possessed. The same is true about science. I love learning about physics and astronomy, but also about advances in technology, environmental sciences, and wildlife (I used to be a zoo docent).

The point is, if you have an interest in a subject, you don't have to go to school to learn about it. There are all kinds of amateurs out there gobbling up books on various topics and becoming quite the experts. Really, the only reason to go to university is if you want a job in your particular field, in which case your employer will want to see your college diploma. But if you just want to learn, there are nearly countless resources online, ranging from science magazine websites to YouTube videos to virtual lecture halls. 

Learning is a joy. You should learn all your life. There is so much to learn that you will never come to the end of it. College is for getting a job. So, the question for you is not what you want to learn but what you want to do for employment. Once you figure out what you want to do for a job (it doesn't matter what, as long as you're okay doing it and it gives you enough money to pay the bills), decide what you need to do in order to obtain that job (whether it is school or some kind of apprenticeship or learning how to make YouTube videos for money) and go for it. Then, you can learn as much about sciences and languages on the side as you want.

Good Luck!

Papabear

Young Teen Wishes to Demonstrate Quadrobics at School

Sat 24 Feb 2024 - 15:13
Dear Papabear,

I have been thinking about learning quadrobics for a while [Papabear notes: "quadrobics" is the physical activity of running and other performaces while on all fours; it is typically a therian behavior, although some regular furries indulge as well]. I've always been more connected to my animals and fursona than I have been to my human self. I want to learn and be able to do it in school hallways, but I'm not sure how others will respond. Can you help me find a way to express my animalistic side to my peers?

Hazel (age 14)

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Dear Hazel,

Unless you want to set yourself up for being mocked and hated, I would urge you to not try to "express" your "animalistic side" to the general public, whether at school or elsewhere, especially in a state like Texas, which is very conservative (this is a state where a student recently got expelled for growing their hair too long even though they kept it tied up and off her face during school, so imagine how they'd react to therian behavior). Such behavior in a school would likely not be tolerated by school officials. So, just don't. DON'T. DO. IT.

And, anyway, why would you want to? My first guess would be that, like so many people, you wish to be recognized as different and special, to get attention and, maybe, even adoration for your skills. We all like to feel special and to get attention, but believe me, please, you would only be setting yourself up for attacks and hate from people who don't understand furries or therians.

There is a time and a place for everything. School is not a place to act like a furry (or therian or otherkin, for that matter). American schools are where citizens get trained to conform, to be good cogs in the capitalist machinery. The social environment of the hallways, playgrounds, and classrooms of a school (in America, at least, but I'm sure in other countries as well) are a horror show of one-upmanship, cliques, posturing, bullying, teasing, and even physical violence against anyone who is different or seen as weak or weird. 

What IS the place for wearing fursuit gear or practicing quadrobics? Anywhere you can get together with people who have similar interests is great, but if you can't do that, I would suggest you practice your quadrobics in private places, such as in the woods (if available), at your home, or in other secluded places (as long as you feel safe there).

So, stop this notion at once that you somehow need to show your animal side to your peers unless you enjoy getting beaten up, made fun of, or being seen as a social outcast (the kind of person you see eating alone during lunch hour and getting tripped in the hallways).

Is that a harsh response by Papabear? I suppose, sadly, it is, but, Hazel, this is the world we live in. This is why people like you and me enter the furry fandom so that we can be among our true peers who will accept and love who we are.

Hugs,
Papabear

Goodbye, Sy

Tue 20 Feb 2024 - 10:59
Mark Merlino (left) and Rod O'RileyMark Merlino (left) with husband Rod O'Riley, receiving the Good Furry Award Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022. A giant of the furry fandom passed away last night at his home in Garden Grove, California. Sy Sable (Mark Merlino) died with his husband, Rod O'Riley, by his side after battling Stage IV liver cancer that also led to his having a stroke.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Mark's role in the fandom. Along with another late giant, Fred Patten (1940-2018), he founded the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization in 1977. The C/FO was primarily interested in bringing Japanese anime to America, but it also can be viewed as the precursor of the furry fandom because the Los Angeles chapter of the C/FO was the birthplace of furry.

In 1982, he created Tiger's Den, the first BBS dedicated to furry. Next, he cofounded the first furry convention, Confurence, which had its first gathering in 1989 in Costa Mesa, California. When Confurence shut its doors in 2003, Mark started Califur the next year, which ran until 2018. Finally, Mark and Rod created the first and oldest furmeet in the world: The Prancing Skiltaire house party, which was based out of their home. When he wasn't working on conferences, Mark traveled to other conventions, giving talks about furry movies, TV, and the fandom in general.

I am so fortunate that I was able to meet Mark on several occasions. It was at the Prancing Skiltaire in 2008 that I encountered my first fursuiter in person, and although I was already a furry by then, I was hooked after that. My dear friend Bart Swaim, took me to that furmeet, and it was also at that time that I met another important furry, Bob Hill (d. 2018), the first fursuiter.

Mark was a kind, knowledgeable, generous, and sweet man. His passing is a great loss to the fandom, and he will be missed.

[Update March 28, 2024] The memorial service for Sy Sable is now available on YouTube.

A Couple of Random Fursuit Tips for a Newbie

Sat 10 Feb 2024 - 14:44
Dear Papabear:

I'm in school as of typing this so BEAR WITH ME if I don't make any sense, but if I were to make a fursuit head, would I have to wait to be older? I'm currently 15, and I'm not sure if my head would get bigger in size or not. 

I'm concerned about color schemes as well! I don't know much about color theory, so most of my fursonas stay uncolored in my notebook pages :,)

Also, are there any furmeets that you know of near me? Sorry if this is asking a bit too much, but I don't know of many furries near me, especially ones that are trans :(

Dove the Kittydog (age 15, Buffalo area, NY)

* * *

Dear Dove,

I ask people who write to me to limit each letter to one question, so keep that in mind if you write again. But here we go with some answers:

People's heads continue to grow through puberty and beyond a bit, usually being pretty well formed by the age of 18 to 20. However, bones keep shifting and fusing etc. even up to age 40 or so (also, cartilage such as in the nose and ears will grow pretty much until our deaths). However, these changes are pretty minor when it comes to fitting hats or fursuit heads, and by your age you should be fine. One thing you can do to make sure is to get the head made slightly larger than your head is now, and then you can add a bit of foam or other padding as needed. Here is a quick tutorial on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSoah9h59Mo.

As for colors, go for whatever you like. This isn't art class where you get criticized for not knowing about color theory. What are your favorite colors? Hey, maybe add some metallic color or pastels or neon. Have fun with it! Nobody is going to get on your case if you think neon orange and gold foil look cool together. The fursuit is for you, not other people. Please yourself. Be true to yourself.

As for furry groups, I would suggest you join the Buffalo & WNY Furs. They have a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BuffaloFurs/

I hope that helps!

Happy Fursuiting!

Papabear