Re-evaluating Your Sexual Preference

There is a widely-held belief that new furries often re-evaluate their sexual preference after discovering the community.

Stereotypically, a young heterosexual male will begin socializing with furries – either online or in person – and will shortly re-evaluate himself as gay (or bi). Our young stereotype may think that furry helped him realize this about himself, and the experience will probably be a very positive one.

Confession time: my name is JM Horse and I am a stereotype.

I first heard about this phenomenon while reading about the community online. The then-popular Furvey, a long furry survey that people would fill in and post to alt.lifestyle.furry on Usenet, had this question (which I have lightly edited for clarity):

It is common for many furries to live as a heterosexual, and then through furry to discover their attraction to the same sex – is this the case with you?

 

This question has been asked since the mid-1990s. But is it true?

I asked Klisoura, who runs the Furry Survey. The chart below shows Klisoura’s data (visualized by Makyo), and it’s remarkable.

Years in the fandom vs. sexual orientation
Years in the fandom vs. sexual orientation - (full visualization)

The trend is almost certainly starker than the chart shows. Our first datapoint is based on furries who have been in the community for up to one year. Some of these furries will have already re-evaluated their sexual preference.

It’s safe to conclude that more than half of the heterosexual furries coming into the community will change their sexual preference.

The big question: why is this happening? I have some ideas.

Does furry make you gay?

No. Furry is no more making people gay than Christian gay-rehabilitation camps are making people straight.

There will, of course, be some heterosexual furries who experiment with gay sex. This happens in every environment: homosexuals often experiment with straight sex when they’re younger; young men brought up in a rural environment often experiment with bestiality. You can’t change, or choose, your sexuality.

Are most people bisexual, and perhaps furry behaviour just a representation of that?

The idea that most people are bisexual comes from the research of Kinsey and the philosophies of Freud. Both Kinsey and Freud, while very important, have been discredited on this point: Kinsey wildly overestimated the numbers of non-heterosexuals, and Freud believed that homosexuality was a curable mental illness.

Around 2% of people identify as bisexual, declining with age. Most bisexuals eventually reclassify themselves as straight or gay. However it’s impossible to read much into this as bisexuality is a slippery concept: the ex-bisexuals may be in committed relationships and simply reclassify themselves for clarity.

It’s an interesting and controversial idea, and one that I cannot do justice to here. Suffice to say that there is no evidence for a silent bisexual majority.

The idea, at least in the furry world, can be dismissed by looking at the data. The straight furries who change their sexual preference are much more likely to move from straight to gay, rather than bisexual (or pansexual).

Are furries, to some degree, all zoophiles?

I suggested in a previous post that furry is a half-step towards zoophilia. However I meant this only from an external perspective – people unfamiliar with furry may look at all these animal people and jump to a conclusion.

More pertinently, only about 1 in 6 furries identify as zoophiles. That’s a lot but it’s still a small minority.

Is furry a gateway to understanding your true sexuality?

Possibly.

For most people, it’s not easy growing up gay. It’s assumed that you are straight – this reference point colours your life as you grow up. Any behaviour that might be homosexual stands out as being different, and nobody wants to be different when they’re an adolescent. You might not meet any openly gay people and if you do, their status as “gay” often defines them.

This reference point – that straight is normal, therefore not-straight is abnormal – is easy to internalize. A child quickly learns that some thoughts and feelings are acceptable to express out loud, and that some should be hidden. If it feels like you shouldn’t talk about being attracted to the same sex, it can be easy to focus on only those thoughts that reinforce normality. It’s easy to be gay and not know it. It’s easy to be in denial. It’s easy to be gay and homophobic.

Anyone coming out as a gay person has to deal with these two problems – internalized homophobia and homophobia in society. The first must be overcome to admit to yourself that you are gay.

Perhaps furry is a ‘gateway’ to accepting your true sexuality. For a gay person in denial, it might be easier to enjoy non-human homoerotica without threatening that internalized homophobia.

Furry erotica is stylized. If sex seems a bit smelly or hairy or icky, then furry porn is glossy, neat, and elegant. For a gay furry in denial, it’s a lot easier to fantasize about your furry avatar in a sexual situation compared to imagining yourself in an entanglement with a member of the same sex.

For many furries, consumption of furry erotica is a stepping stone towards becoming a sexually active adult. Furry porn can lead to typesex with an online friend (or stranger), which can lead to flirting and friendly physical contact with furries in real life, which can lead to sex with a likeminded furry. In the best case, this can all occur in an enjoyable, satisfying, low-stress, low-expectation environment.

You don’t have to be a gay furry in denial for this progression to work. There is a preponderance of furries who don’t naturally have a way of expressing their sexuality in the context of normal society. Perhaps the furry community is just a gateway: a way for us to take babysteps to realization of our true sexual identity, whatever that might be.

If this is the case, then furry may simply be a convenient construct. It might be no more than a vehicle that we subconsciously commandeer, taking our conscious mind on a journey to the point where it can accept our sexual needs. To stretch the metaphor, perhaps we can abandon this vehicle once we’ve reached our destination.

(Aside to furries who are currently on the journey: you will get there. You will accept and embrace who you are. You will feel comfortable with yourself and amongst your peers. You will, one day, say out loud “I am ___” and it’ll feel great.)

Perhaps the only reason we stay with the furry group – once the porn and the community have helped us reach actualization of our true sexuality – is for our friends, and the fellowship, and the flirtatiousness or sex within the group. Perhaps this explains why 60% of furries are single; perhaps this explains why furry is so young – most people move on once they find a long-term relationship.

This is an idea worth exploring in more detail. As a committed furry “lifestyler” – someone who strongly identifies with his furry self and likes to write philosophical articles about the community here on [a][s] – it’s easy for me to disregard this hypothesis (and, don’t worry, I will in a moment). I’m not an impartial voice: you don’t ask a priest for evidence that god doesn’t exist; you don’t ask a trekkie for an impartial review of William Shatner’s oeuvre.

I think it’s worth entertaining the idea for a moment. If furry were simply a convenient vehicle for each of us to accept and express our true sexuality, we wouldn’t know. The human mind can, and does, keep secrets from itself: a gay person in denial is not aware of something utterly fundamental. We could similarly be non-furries in denial.

Self-deception is a well known phenomenon in cognitive psychology circles, supported by a lot of research and scientific evidence. The basic theory boils down to this: we create a version of the world that is consistent which what we already think. If we see evidence that is contrary to our version of the world, we disregard it in such a way that reinforces our existing belief. This is counterintuitive but true.

So what follows is either my false internal justification for the reality of myself as a furry and the importance of the furry community, or my objective reasoning for such. With that caveat, you may make up your own mind.

My conclusions

If furry pornography is just a stepping-stone to acceptance of one’s real sexuality, then we would eventually lose interest in furry pornography. We would move on to regular pornography.

It’s not uncommon for pornography to be a gateway. Let’s consider someone with a relatively extreme fetish: a bit of /ah roulette on Fchan has given me castration.

Someone with a fetish for castration is unlikely to leap straight into /ah – their developing adolescent mind will know that this is not ‘normal’, and so will reject the idea. So our castration-fetishist will find stepping-stones that aren’t too challenging when taken one-at-a-time. Maybe they will start with porn featuring a power imbalance, then maybe knives will come into it, them maybe violence and disfigurement, then maybe slavery and eunuchs, then eventually good-old consensual castration.

Once our castration-lover has accepted their fetish, they will discard the stepping stones and head straight to /ah every time.

Every furry with whom I’ve ever broached the topic is an enthusiastic consumer of furry erotica. For those of us who have accepted our true sexuality, we’re usually consuming regular porn as well. But we’re not discarding the furry stuff.

I’d also argue that all pornography is stylized, not just furry pornography. Regular pornography features people with impossibly little body hair, perfect tans and bleached anuses. For those of you who like body hair: have lots. Like large people? Have really large people. Pornography is always stylized to push our buttons, and it’s evolved this way because that’s what people are demanding. It’s social Darwinism.

More to the point, furry isn’t defined by sex or sexual orientation. Furry is about identity, and that’s what separates it from other fandoms and hobbyist groups. People who identify as a furry usually consider themselves, internally, as a sort of animal-person. And external expression of that internal reality within the furry community can be very rewarding.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I am one of those people who re-evaluated their sexual preference after discovering furry. I’d like to share the short version of my story with you.

When I discovered the furry community, I was in a long-term heterosexual relationship with a fantastic person. She and I were great friends and had an active sex life. After a year or so into furry, something new happened: I fell in love with a nominally bisexual furry guy. I broke up with my girlfriend and attempted a new relationship. It didn’t work: the experience made it clear to me that I am gay, and clear to him that he is straight. It was hard on all of us but our friendship trumped the heartbreak. The three of us are still very close friends. A few years ago, I was best man at his wedding.

My story is unique but typical. I would love to hear your own stories, either in the comments below or elsewhere (jm@furrynet.com).

The furry community is, I think, a great environment for people to get to know themselves. It’s introspective but social; it encourages tolerance and personal growth; it’s trivial and important. I can’t explain why so many furries have unusual sexual and gender identities – perhaps the heterosexual furries find enough acceptance in the non-furry world, happy enough as Lion King fans, or playing as Khajiit on Skyrim.

I think that there are many people who live as a heterosexual with the subconscious knowledge that they are not being true to themselves. These are people who are not lucky enough to grow up in an environment where sexuality is a preference rather than a potential abnormality, and people who don’t have something like the furry community to help them accept who they really are.

An acquaintance of mine is a palliative care nurse, who provides comfort and dignity to people who are dying. She once told me the biggest regret people have: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I feel very lucky to be a stereotype.

About JM

JM is a horse-of-all-trades who was introduced to furry in his native Australia by the excellent group known collectively as the Perthfurs. JM now helps run [adjective][species] from London, where he is most commonly spotted holding a pint and talking nonsense.

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46 thoughts on “Re-evaluating Your Sexual Preference

  1. My name is Indi, and I’m a stereotype too. :)

    In two ways, really: I realized I was gay after (and because of) getting into furry, and also right after (and because of) starting college. Erotica played a big part of it for me too. I’d never really consumed porn before getting to college, I grew up in a fairly Christian household, so that was certainly a no-no, and I’d been going along considering myself pretty lucky for not seeming to be ‘tempted’ by it. I never seemed to really want to go after the female stuff and of course anything else was unthinkable enough to be usually out of my mind entirely.

    In college, though, two things changed: I got a bunch of new RL friends who all wanted to seem adult, and I got a ton more unmonitored internet-using time. RL friends would suggest porn-viewing nights, and online friends would send me links that I actually felt okay about opening. Needless to say, all this was straight, because that’s the default, isn’t it? And somewhere in this it finally occurred to me to wonder why none of this was doing much for me. To make a long story short, it was then a combination of a great rolemodel of a gay RA, and another furry friend online realizing he was non-straight, to make me finally realize there were in fact other options than straight. I spent a couple months identifying as bi, but by the end of the first semester, I was identifying as gay online and in RL, and had a Tapestries account, a male mate online, the whole thing.

    I sometimes wonder how that would’ve progressed if I wasn’t involved in furry, with half of those influences gone. Possibly more, even; my choice of that college in particular was actually somewhat informed by my furriness, but that’s a whole different story. Really, I think that just goes to show the alternative is pretty much unknowable; furry involvement is pretty much an inextricable part of my identity, and was even then.

  2. [a][s] has a survey pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity within the fandom and a question similar to that on the Furvey is asked:

    1.c Do you feel that furry has an influence on your own orientation?

    The question was presented as free-text response, allowing the respondent to enter however much text they desired. Of the 25 respondents (a very small sample size, I know), 9 answered what appears to be a “yes”, 15 answered what appears to be a “no”, and one didn’t really answer the question. I say “what appears to be” with seriousness because, in all but a few cases, the response was further qualified. For example, a respondent may answer “no”, but qualify that they understand that the character’s sex does not always match the player’s sex, whether or not the player is cisgendered. Or perhaps a respondent may answer “yes” and then, as Indi stated above, wonder whether or not they would’ve gone through a similar change without the fandom.

    Most common among the qualifications, however, is the response that furry has exposed them to more than they feel they would’ve experienced outside of the fandom, perhaps due to it generally being accepted as a very open and accepting culture. Whether or not being a member of furry influenced their orientation in some way, it does seem a pertinent issue. Just some more to think about!

  3. Good topic and an interesting statistical anomaly, JM. I think there’s a missing factor in the analysis/observation, though. That would be the age of the respondents. Since the number of young respondents is higher than those who are, say, 30 years old or older, it isn’t so surprising that those who have been involved for 1-3 years are more likely to identify as “straight.” As you’ve pointed out, people in general become more willing to admit to their true sexual identity as they grow older and more confident that the sky won’t fall if they tell the truth. And, as you look to the right of Makyo’s interesting chart, you are inevitably looking at a higher proportion of older respondents,

    So I would agree that involvement with furry doesn’t turn anyone gay. But growing older and more self-confident does in fact encourage self-recognition and then public identification. This applies to furries and non-furries alike.

    I am not a stereotype in this respect. I didn’t discover furry until I was entering middle age, and by that time I was already solidly self-identified as gay. However, my own early history is not unlike yours. I was even in a heterosexual marriage for several years before starting to discover the truth, that I wasn’t really even bisexual, but was primarily gay.

    Oh and one other comment, perhaps a statistical outlier but certainly a fact: furry porn has never had much attraction for me. I love furry artwork and story-telling of a non-sexual type, however.

  4. Wow, I love this piece so much. My personal experiences have shown me that a lot of your points are very accurate indeed.

    For my own part, both my parents were non-practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses. I grew up not knowing what “gay” was. I had my first crush when I was eight. Because I didn’t understand what was going on, I just thought it was a case of hero-worship towards a role-model who was a few years older. When his friends noticed and taunted me, asking whether I was “gay”, I later asked my mother what it was. As an answer, I got a description of some bizarre caricature of aging pedophiles who forcibly rape little boys. “Oh,” I thought. “At least I know I’m not that.” Local news coverage of the gaudier aspects of the Pride parades was my only other source for discovering it. All that set me back about ten years. I think you’re right, the furry scene is the diametric opposite of what I encountered. Having a positive, emotionally-open, friendly community probably advanced peoples’ self-discovery by at least as much. That alone gives it so much value.

    I wanted to contribute to your idea about furry being used as a canvas on which to learn, Montessori-like, our true nature. If so, we may be drawn to using it as such because the emotional openness and honesty of animals reminds us subconsciously that there’s something like that we’re lacking. And this may include a bit more than acknowledging orientation alone – furry may be used as a palette to express other suppressed aspects of our intrinsically benevolent nature. I’ve found this latter point to be accurate.

    When society becomes dysfunctional and influences us to repress aspects of our true nature, those aspects never truly disappear. We may find ourselves subconsciously magnetized to concepts and mediums of expression that resemble what we intuitively sense is missing. When enough people sign on to a community that expresses that sufficiently, you have a subculture in which acknowledging those intrinsic elements is considered socially acceptable. This continues until either it no longer expresses those intrinsics of our nature in meaningful or relevant forms, or until so many people sign on to it that it becomes mainstream. For those who’ve played World of Goo, I can’t help thinking of the Water Lock level as a great visual example of this idea. ( http://youtu.be/xY6g3qmguy4 ) Eventually, what is suppressed comes back to the surface – usually with an intensity proportionate to the intensity of the force that repressed it.

    I like the idea of there being an intrinsic True Nature to us that we haven’t discovered and which we’re unaware, and that we’re in the process of finding. That sounds like the concept of self-actualization, or what Buddhists get into when they describe peeling away the illusions about ourself. They believe that ultimately, the cumulative result of all this peeling away of misperceptions about ourself will be that we’ve fully stripped away the Ego, and returned completely to our True Nature – discarding everything that keeps us in an unreal and imperfect material reality in the process. I love that.

    I also love that fursuits have such a role in the community, from this context. It’s almost as if our subconscious has influenced the development of the community, nudging us gently with subtle and cheery reminders, but reminders nonetheless. “Hey. Look familiar? Everybody’s adopting an unreal identity. They’re even accepting as their own `self’ a body that isn’t wholly real. Don’t worry, you’ll get it. Now go bound over there and snuggle all that floofiness!”

    It did my heart good to read of how things went with your nominally-bi-to-straight friend. I think a lot of us have been through similar relationships that weren’t so fortunate, and we internally thrill to read of the successful outcome that we all deserved happening for anyone. It enables us to remember that it DOES indeed happen.

    The furry community is, at present, the best environment for people to self-actualize and restore their benevolent True Nature that I’ve ever encountered. Inasmuch as it does this, I genuinely consider it to be, literally, the most important thing going on on the planet. That it doesn’t take itself this seriously is just another adorable part of it – humility and quiet, benevolent patience are generally pretty attractive qualities too.

    Your closing paragraphs are pretty intense, JM! Tough to read without being affected profoundly. We’re the better for your having shared them. Thank you again, sincerely, for writing this piece.

    Be well,

    – Satori

    1. Thanks again for such a thoughtful and kind response. As always, it’s really interesting stuff. I love your World of Goo metaphor, all the more so because it reflects my own experiences. There is a parallels with the idea of the born-again furry in there too.

      One thought in particular has stuck with me – the Buddhist idea of stripping away preconceptions to find your true self. If that process is reflected in the furry experience, then it’s bizarrely cack-handed: that creation of an imaginary alter-ego allows us to deal with ourselves on a more honest level. If our furry self is internally more “real” than our actual self… I’m not sure that’s what the Buddhists had in mind.

      But I like the concept of continuing self-improvement. My observations of non-furry friends suggests that many people stop thinking about themselves as they start to collect adult responsibilities. That’s not a path I intend to tread – the more I learn about myself, the easier I find it to be a content and happy horse-person. Like you, I think furry is a great environment for that process.

      1. You’re right in that it can be intensely counterintuitive that, through writing fictionalized versions of ourselves, we come to know something more true than our physical. But then, perhaps that wouldn’t seem too out of place for a Buddhist who regards both physical “self” and the material world as inherently unreal, yes?

        When I’d first noticed that parallel, you may be interested to read that I then developed it a little further. It’s probably even more counterintuitive to posit the furry community as serving an analogous function of all the healthy aspects of a church! Just consider: You have a community of folks who, by and large, share an interest in self-actualization and searching for a way of life with more meaning, and which they find more worthwhile. You have fellowship. You have a de-prioritization of the values of the world, in favor – typically – of benevolence, intimacy, friendship, and what amounts to a sort of emotional purity in terms of sincerity (about who one is, and what one is about). About the only thing you really don’t have is a dogma / gospel / doctrine, and yet there is an unspoken, undefined quality of benevolence and a joyfulness that embodies much of what churches profess to relate. In modern times, the proper, vital and healthy functions of what a church is supposed to be have gone by the wayside for the most part, in favor of official customs and regalia and forms and “the letter of the law”. But I put to you that in many ways, the furry community affirms “the spirit of the law” in much of what it does – only it doesn’t purport to hold the austere authority of a church – thank goodness! – and it’s vastly more tolerant in non-judgementalism towards nonstandard sexual and social practices. In keeping much of its values yet declining the sort of dogma that would conflict with those practices, we’ve managed (perhaps by dumb luck) to wind up with a PLUR-affirming community that accepts those unconventional behaviors as having a legitimate place _perhaps because they’re catalysts of self-expression and self-actualization._ A typical fur probably wouldn’t give you the same wordy explanation I just have, but I suspect that the value assessment is pretty much the same, if unspoken. There’s typically a recognition that something is acceptable as long as it doesn’t contravene fundamental moral principles, and that it has validity and worth if engaging in it is part of who the fur who’s doing it truly is – whatever society would have to say about it. Indeed, there’s a prevalent recognition that “Just because I don’t enjoy something doesn’t make it intrinsically bad, just because I do doesn’t make it intrinsically good, and so long as it’s not harming anyone everybody should be expected to practice tolerance towards it.” That used to be termed the virtues of grace, tolerance and forbearance. These are legitimate qualities present in a devout spiritually-aligned congregation, seldom encountered in most of the modern churches. I’ve gotten quite a lot of joy through just considering how, when the official systems for healthy virtuous living aren’t doing so well, the motivation of folks to find new ways to practice it together persists, and expresses itself in some gleefully unorthodox ways. I’m actually pretty amazed there isn’t more overlap between furry and, for instance, Shinto. It seems an obvious confluence. But then, maybe the parallel I’ve made hasn’t become conscious knowledge to a lot of furs.

        Be well,

        – Satori

        1. P.S.: Just now an unrelated search turned up a couple of quotes I thought you might enjoy, relevant to the above.

          We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourselves to put in the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.
          — Bly

          Something we were withholding made us weak,
          Until we found it was ourselves.
          — Robert Frost

          The search was for the Shadow archetype, representing those repressed and difficult-to-acknowledge facets of our psyche. I can’t help but do a mental double-take at your comment about self-actualization via fiction. It would make sense that when it comes to confronting stuff we haven’t yet accepted (and which makes us plenty reluctant to acknowledge it) that we’d find it much easier to approach through merriment and “What If”-style roleplay. A spoonful of sugar, and all that.

          Be well,

          – Satori

          1. I completely agree and it’s something that I’ve talked about before, although not in this forum.

            There is an argument to be made that furry is very spiritual, perhaps akin to totemism. I don’t think that furry would be well served by creating a dogma around the idea, which perhaps makes it quite a good fit for Western-style Buddhism, as you allude to in your response. I know a couple of furry Buddhists, although the furry survey suggests that they are in a very small minority – http://vis.adjectivespecies.com/furrysurvey/religion.html.

            I think it’s also worth expounding on one aspect of furry that serves the traditional function of a church: community. In furry, you meet a wide range of people from all sorts of backgrounds. Given the fellowship that furry provides, we are often drawn to offer help to those of us who are less fortunate. This might be a place to sleep for a few nights, or a bit of financial assistance, or advice on jobseeking. It certainly provides a window to the world outside of your immediate peer group. For less fortunate furries, this might provide rolemodels and mentors. For the more fortunate amongst us, it provides a bit of perspective. All useful on the path to self-improvement.

  5. Very interesting article, but I have a couple of questions.

    Can you source “1 in 6 furries identifies as a zoophile”? That’s not exactly a small minority (there are races with a lower percentage of human representation) and the number seems impossibly, astronomically high.

    Secondly, what was the sample size for “everyone I spoke to was an enthusiastic consumer of furry erotica”? There’s a clean fur group on FA, and I personally know a few people vehemently opposed to porn, so this statement seems to fall a bit flat. (Yes, “I know a dude” is hardly a resounding refutation)

    1. Hi Forneus, thanks for the reply.

      I wrote about Zoophiles (and the 1 in 6 statistic) in a previous article, here – http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2012/02/06/zoophilia-in-the-furry-community/ – I talk about the prevalence of zoophilia outside of the furry community as well. Short version: it comes from Klisoura’s furry survey.

      I know that there are plenty of people who aren’t into furry erotica. Altivo, who made an earlier comment, points out that he isn’t a consumer of it. My comments is based on those furries that I have got to know in person – even those who were apparently asexual were still consuming furry erotica in some form.

      Unlike the zoophilia statistic, that’s hardly scientific. It’s just based on those furries I know well enough to discuss sex. So my sentence is also based on “I know a dude”.

  6. Ok, let me start of by saying I am straight. My view of this is that yes, from what I have seen there is a huge percentage that is gay or bi, but does the fandom have anything to do with it? I think maybe so. Like the article said, people tend to re-evalute themselves with this “fantasy” (for lack of a better term), and it makes people see their true colors. It has somewhat helped me not to give a dang about other peoples opinions. People think I’m crazy, so be it. People think I’m a nerd, go ahead. I don’t care. I even now write quotes on my forearm all the time to remind me not to give a dang (or about common tips, or my very libertarian political views, but lets not get into that). The point is, it can make people believe what they truly want to believe, however, I do believe there is influence in there, too. The fandom can, and I believe has influenced people’s beliefs. As for the porn, I cannot say anything, as I have no interest, or expirience in yiff. I will conclude by saying that, as for my sexuality, I have confirmed that I am straight, and have no interest in the same sex, but I do not ridicule or discriminate gay people. I hate discrimination and prejudice, cause were all equal. Were all human.

    1. I figured its worth noting that referencing the part about “not caring about other people’s opinions” in my previous comment, that I do not really say outright that I am part of the fandom. Only a select few of my (very) close friends know. This is mostly because of where I live, and also of a few more issue, both personal and moral. What I actually meant was, that I do not care about what people think about my normal life and lifestyle. In the fandom, I’m mainly interested in the artwork, the writings, and somewhat the alter ego stuff. I’m not really into the suiting or tail stuff, but I do respect those who do, because you just don’t care what people think! I’m not into yiff, vore, babyfur, etc. That was just to clear up a few things

    2. Hi Joshua – thanks for the comment.

      It’s nice, but not surprising, to hear that the furry community is fostering tolerance as well as self-realization. Your journey is a different one from those I talked about in my article, but it sounds like it’s been very rewarding in its own right.

      And don’t feel bad about being a nerd! Furry is a very geeky group. There are positives and negative aspects of this, which I’m sure you’ll be familiar with. I’m currently framing a future article on this very topic, so watch this space.

  7. JM,
    As an answer to your question: Maybe I haven’t been in the Fandom long enough, but No.
    I guess that the reason that I am in the Fandom and Still have not found any reason to consider myself either Homosexual or Bisexual is my overall reason for why I am here in the first place.
    It was around Late 2007 or early 2008 in which I was introduced to the Fandom. My interest stemmed from a general interest in Werewolves. The stylization of a carefree nature and a very “capable” physiology greatly appealed to me, so much so that I wanted to know more. In my search, I came across the FurAffinity website. The first experiences that I had there were certainly quite ‘unfiltered’ and never having seen really any of it before made it naturally intriguing. I had a casual off-and-on relationship with sites like High Tail Hall and the now defuct Fur-E-Auction.
    By time 2009 came, I had seen a little bit of everything (straight and otherwise). I stopped early in the year and took a two-year hiatus. Upon getting back though, I realized that anything I saw of a homosexual nature was repulsive to me and not appealing in the slightest. The Hetero pieces were especially intriguing at that point.
    In the end, I stopped with the pornography all together and instead discovered that the main reason that I am in this Fandom is that I may project my character and opinions without worry. I have become a much more vocal individual at this point, and much less prone to what were once inhibitions. This is what I had always desired, but had never realized until I was given the environment to express it.

    1. Hi Leon. Thanks for the comment.

      Lots of heterosexual furries come into the community and remain heterosexual. “Completely heterosexual” and “most heterosexual” are the most common sexual orientations in the furry community – see http://vis.adjectivespecies.com/furrysurvey/orientation.html for data from the last few years.

      It’s nice to hear that furry community has been a positive environment for you to discover more about yourself. Everyone has a unique experience, but internal growth seems to be a common theme.

      1. Well, its not so much the fandom thats the nerdy part, its my hobbies. Apparently, being a military enthusiast, survivalist, pyrotechnician, and inventor, used to be nerdy, but now people tell me its awesome. Oh well, guess you just can’t please everyone. Oh yeah, one really great quote that would apply to this is “To be great is to be misunderstood.” from Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  8. Yay, I’m a stereotype.

    I was introduced to the furry fandom through through erotic art when I was 15. At the time I was very attracted to women and not at all to men. The as I explored the fandom more I realized there was a lot of material of a gay nature and I tried to avoid it for the most part. But one day, on a whim I read a short story involving two males and something clicked for me. I realized that maybe I could be attracted to men as well.

    Did furry make me turn me bi? Well, if I hadn’t read a gay furry story on a whim one day, I’m fairly certain I would never have felt anything for another man for the rest of my life. It’s hard fror me to believe that I had some latent homosexual desire through all the years I spent listing after women. As much as the victimist in me wants to say I was born this way, I’m honestly not sure that’s true.

    I wouldn’t consider myself a serious furry. Without a doubt is has played an important role in my life. It not only caused me to re-evaluate my sexuality, but other aspects of my life as well. It has helped me become much more open minded and helped me understand and respect other people and points of view which before I would have dismissed or derided as strange or just plain wrong. But its not something I’ve ever wanted to share with my family or friends. I’ve never wanted to wear a fursuit and I’ve never been to a con. I can count the number of other furries I’ve met in real life on one hand. For the most part I’ve kept this aspect of my life strictly online. And over the past year or so I’ve been distracted with other things and have kept up with the fandom less and less. So I have been concerned about drifting away now that its run its course aiding my self-discovery.

    I’m still single, but if I were to enter a relationship with someone who is not familiar with furry, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable sharing it with them. And if I became involved with another furry, I don’t know if I’d want my family to know about it, being the relatively conservative Christians they are. Either way I’d be hiding something from people I care about, and I’m afraid in such a case I might end up abandoning the furry community to avoid complications in my life.

  9. ok im not a stereotype rathaer i feel uniqe the fact is wen it comes to furry art im not oppesed to bi thing but actual guys i have absolutely no intrest in i first got into furry when i was youg (thnks digimon) but over the years iv evolved to the point were i acttuly wish our world was a furry one no humans our fursonas and us being on in the same unfortunately this is just that a dream im no diffrent than one else tho i hurt i sleep i eat and (aside from wearing solid black constantly) am what youd all consider avrige. now for the question do you believe furry is a way of life,a choice, or sumthng your born with

    1. Hi TDW, a late response for you – I missed this one first time around. I hope you’re still reading.

      I don’t think furry is something you’re born with. The furry community didn’t exist until the 1980s and has expanded massively since then. If people were ‘born’ furry then there would have been furries around in preceding years. Something about the world’s environment or culture is affecting us, and it’s expanding around the world too – Zik here on [a][s] has catalogued furry groups everywhere form Russia and Eastern Europe, to South East Asia, to South America.

      I don’t think it’s a choice either. The common experience (including yours, I’m guessing) is that people find themselves drawn to furry characters and the idea of being one. For many people who discover furry at a slightly later age, it’s a revelation: the community represents something they feel about themselves. These people – and I am one of them – don’t come across the furry community and choose it. It’s more like a bolt of lightning.

      Furry is a way of life for me, in that my partner is furry, many of my friends are furries, and I write articles for a certain furry website. It’s different for different people though. Personally, I am much happier in a furry world.

  10. Hello JM,
    I just found this blog, and it is a pleasant surprise to see you writing here. I think your posts are marvelous to read. I just want to put in a quick answer to the question: Is furry a gateway to understanding your true sexuality?

    For me, that answer is a yes. I’ve always identified myself as straight even though I knew deep inside I was playing for the other side. When I met furs IRL in 2009, I developed an immense limerence for another fur, a guy. It was then I had a massive internal struggle with my sexuality.

    Which way did I really lean? Finally, I decided to give accepting my sexuality a go, that indeed, I did play for the other side. Came out to family, then asked him out for a date.

    I am still grappling with this aspect of myself. I’ve worn my straight face for more than 3 decades. It is difficult to shed my adopted ways to let my true self through.

    Apart from the furry fandom, I also believe living in London played a very big part – no one bats an eye when two similar sexed people holding hands stroll past the natural history museum. From where I come from, it was never seen.

    Truly, I only met gay people when I started working around the world (Australia was the first country I saw two guys partnered). Hence, I’d also like to state that environment may also play a part in understanding and accepting one’s true sexuality.

    PS: Thank you very much for speaking about the psychology of flow and stuff at CF after the hypnotism experience – while I have not been looking into it yet from a theoretical aspect, understanding how it works has allowed me to get into the state of flow very much faster now, thank you very much :)

    1. Hi AW, apologies for the late response. I just spotted your interesting comment now. Thanks for the kind words too, it means a lot – I put a lot of effort into my articles so it’s nice to know that people are reading them and enjoying them.

      My latest article is relevant to your first question. I do think that furry can help people discover their true sexuality, like you (and me), but I think there is a lot more to it than just a gateway. The furry experience is both juvenile and fun, but also internally rewarding. I consider myself to be a thinking person/horse but the I’ve never been able to put my finger on just why the furry experience is so special. I mean, I’m just pretending to be a horse… how did this help me accept my own sexuality?

      Anyway, I’ll let you have a read (its called Growing Up and you’ll find it on the front page) and I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

      My own re-evaluation of sexual preference was some 8 years ago and I still haven’t completely got the hang of it. I think there is a certain amount of learned internal homophobia, and it’s hard for me to think of myself that way. I’m getting better at it though, and I’m sure you will too.

  11. Thoughtful and well-written. The overall tone of this piece is scholarly, as though written for peer review rather than a lay audience, but a good deal less dry than is usual with such fare.

    However, I was struck by your assertion “You can’t change, or choose, your sexuality.” My first reaction was, that’s a materialistic viewpoint — and I vehemently reject materialism.

    My second thought was the potential creation of caste system of sorts within the homosexual community, with those who claim to have “chosen” homosexuality being treated and regarded as second-class, as being not ‘true gays.’

    It seems to me that our sexuality is a subset of our consciousness, and as such is a good deal more complicated and even volitional than the mere results of a cosmic crap shoot.

    With kind regards,
    Claymore G. Highfield

    1. Hi Claymore, thanks for the kind comments. I have a great deal of respect for your intellect, and it shows in this comment. You’ve hit on something that I wasn’t sure about.

      I do think, for some people (and probably only a very small number), it’s possible to change your sexuality. These people are ‘edge cases’ – the ex-gays who have been cured through aversion programs, or the bisexuals who accept the odds in the army, or in prison, or maybe even in furry.

      I didn’t write that in my article for a few reasons:

      – It’s contrary to the “party line” on homosexuality. If you assume that homosexuality isn’t a choice, it’s a lot easier to make a logical argument against those who would seek to restrict gay rights. If you soften that to “homosexuality isn’t a choice for almost everyone”, the argument loses a disproportionate amount of power. It’s an interesting discussion, but one for another article.

      – I find it hard to believe that anyone (sane) would “choose” to be gay. If you’re gay then you get treated poorly, you’ll never have biological children with your partner, and you’re forever checking yourself for appropriate language and actions. Because this article is mostly about ex-straights realising that they’re gay, I felt that clarification would detract from the thrust of my point.

      I think most gay people do feel like the victims of a cosmic crap shoot – brilliant expression btw – especially while growing up. It has been proven that there is more to homosexuality than just genetics, but that doesn’t mean that there is choice.

      1. Fair enough! I understand and respect that you’ve narrowed the focus of your piece. *facehoof* Hadn’t even considered the niche for whom you were writing when I made my comments, thanks for the response.

        For what it’s worth, there are other categories in our lives which are chosen, and yet which are esteemed and/or legally protected. I chose my religion, and have certain legal protections for that choice (in America, Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, are exempt from displays of civil respect toward the American flag which their faith deems idolatrous); if I were to choose to adopt, the law would view such children as no less mine than biological offspring.

        Your points about the shameful treatment gays receive because of their homosexuality are well taken, but I bring up the issue of choice because it is so closely related to human will, and to one of that will’s most powerful manifestations, love. Orientation, perhaps, is set by prior events, but should one make the choice to love another — of whatever gender — I do not believe that choice should be denigrated or invalidated, whether by biological decree, societal custom, force of law, or prejudice.

        Kind regards,
        Clay.

  12. A very interesting read. When I came into the fandom in 2001, I was 33 and heterosexual. I had already had multiple long-term relationships and a bevy of short term ones with women, including an engagement to be married to one of my classmates in grad school. I never strayed from being straight in the six years I was a more active Furry. I don’t know if that stems from me being older and set in my ways, but I truly believe that if I was younger when I got into the scene, I would’ve remained straight as I doubt very seriously that I could ever go against my wiring to be with the female set. I formally retired my fursona in 2007, but I still draw and write in the furry genre. I am still quite straight and have been married to my wife, Kelly since 2005. I guess I’m not the stereotype as you stated in your article.

    1. Hi Patrick, thanks for the kind words.

      I have no doubt that, had you found the furry community earlier in life, you would have come in heterosexual and remained heterosexual. The stereotypes, like me, have always been gay (or bisexual, or whatever). Once you work it out, it becomes blindingly obvious. I had a few girlfriends when I was younger, but I never fell in love the way I eventually did with future boyfriends.

      It’s possible that, if you’d found furry at a younger age, you might have experimented with other guys. But that wouldn’t have made you any less heterosexual than you are, no more than my relationships with women stopped me from being homosexual. Research shows that sexuality is essentially immutable: nothing would have stopped your wiring to be with, and love, women.

  13. “Around 2% of people identify as bisexual, declining with age. Most bisexuals eventually reclassify themselves as straight or gay. However it’s impossible to read much into this as bisexuality is a slippery concept: the ex-bisexuals may be in committed relationships and simply reclassify themselves for clarity.”

    This has been discredited, by the way. After a year of identifying as bi, the majority keep that identity. I would strongly recommend being careful about the claims you’re making here, which attempt to portray bisexuality as a phase, or not a legitimate permanent orientation, when it very much is.

    I would also be careful about saying that “sexuality cannot change”. It may not in your case, or in most people’s cases, but that does not explain some people’s experiences, especially some furries’ experiences, and making concrete statements like that is sort of devaluing and erasing those people’s experiences.

    1. Hi Vatnos, thanks for your comment and I appreciate both of your cautionary statements.

      I wrote this article a while ago now, and I would rewrite or at least clarify my comment on bisexuals. I don’t think that bisexuality is a phase, or that bisexuals tend to move on from bisexuality, but I can see it reads that way. All I meant to say is that someone in a committed relationship will often allow themselves to be reclassified for simplicity’s sake: so a bisexual women in a long-term monogamous relationship with a woman might reasonably decide to call herself a lesbian. But I don’t want to suggest that her sexual orientation has changed, or suggest that people don’t have freedom to classify themselves however they damned well choose.

      I also know that “sexuality cannot change” is a bit charged. I’m happy enough with it because there is a lot of evidence supporting this statement. I of course don’t wish to discredit or undermine any personal experiences. But in this case I’m talking about the science.

      1. Thanks for responding. I think it’s great that you’ve highlighted this stuff and I like your articles. I don’t want to come off as grouchy or upset anyone. I think some people in the furry community tend to erase heterosexual furries a bit and I like that you’re shining a light on that myth. Het furs deserve some respect.

        If there is one thing that sickens me though, in regards to all this talk about the ‘changeability’ of orientation, it’s that the right wing has forever stained the concept of flexible sexuality by turning that concept into an attack on gays–forcing the gay rights movement to mostly latch on to the ‘born this way’ rhetoric to defend themselves from these radicals.

        I hate that this has happened, because I think it gets in the way of mature discussions about human sexuality. I think it has also set the scientific community back quite a bit. It’s one thing to point at the near 0% success rates of ex-gay camps and say “see it can’t change”… well yeah… it’s not something that can be deliberately changed, and even if there were some agency to it, praying to jesus to change your sexuality sure as hell isn’t the way that would work.

        But there are people who clearly seem to experience a gradual shift over 10+ years. There is evidence that emotions play some role in sexual preference, and emotions *do* change. I think there is actually a pretty good case to be made that the human brain has enough plasticity to experience some change, at least in some individuals. As an example, many people are attracted to 14-year-olds when they’re 14, and then other 25-year olds when they’re 25. The physical difference between 14-year olds and 25-year olds is quite significant, so that is a significant change in one’s preferences over time. The types of body parts someone focuses on… the types of skin, the overall morphology, can shift a bit among one gender. Fetishes can come and go. Someone’s tastes can mature like a fine wine, I think. For the occasional individual, I think there is just enough room there for a sign change on what gender that causes them to gravitate to.

        Until we have a working mechanism for sexual orientation fleshed out–and I think the current hypothesis of epigenetic imprinting is a good one that shows promise, we won’t have a definite answer on this. I work in genetics, and this is a problem that has fascinated me my whole life, as I’ve personally experienced a shift throughout my life.

        If I were to take a stab at it… I mean there’s obviously something hard-wired about it. You can feel that. I can feel that. It would be silly for nature to leave something as essential to survival up to chance as reproduction. I would guess that because everyone has to be able to produce offspring of both genders with the right attraction pattern, that means that we all have to carry genes for an attraction to *both sexes*, so there must be some regulatory mechanism that is supposed to turn on the right set of genes. In most people I would gander the sex hormones turn on an opposite-sex attraction. In some people… the opposite set gets turned on, maybe through an infection they had as an infant or hormones in the womb, in some people neither set gets turned on, and in some people both sets get turned on.

        But then there are other factors. How does a human brain know what a ‘male’ or a ‘female’ is? Parental imprinting, possibly. Using faces of parents, siblings, close friends in early childhood to create a template for attraction later. This process could go askew any number of ways. There have got to be hundreds of variables.

        Anyway, sorry for the rant. I could post several pages more on this, but I’ll spare you. ;)

    1. Hi Zavvnao, thanks for the comment. I see that this article has been shared around a bit on Tumblr, which is really cool.

      With regard to your suggestion – we have stats for that!

      http://vis.adjectivespecies.com/furrysurvey-old/orientation.html

      As you can see, not many furries identity as “completely homosexual” or “completely heterosexual”. We are, pleasingly, spread out all over the place with no dominant sexual orientation.

      I’ve seen the stats from 2013 (published on the site soon) and I can tell you that, if anything, furry is very very marginally edging towards a greater proportion of homosexuality as the years roll on. But it’s very minor, and less than a quarter of us identity as either completely or mostly homosexual anyway.

      So it is safe to say that gay furries are not becoming less common. But it’s also safe to say that there are less gay furries than you might think.

  14. One of the first kinds of porn I looked at was furry porn, and through it, I developed a few fetishes myself. (Of course this was at that age when good ol’ puberty started to kick in for me.) Most of what I enjoy is gay porn, and that too was one of the first kinds I viewed and continue to do so. However, I do enjoy straight porn equally.

    For months now, I’ve been questioning my orientation; we’ll just say ‘bi-curious’ to put a name to it. This started when I developed a crush for one of my guy friends. The interesting thing about me is that I’ve never been in a relationship, and I’m still a virgin. Simply put, I’m waiting for the right person for me, male or female. I know having previous relationships helps others define their orientation, but that’s something I don’t have; porn and defining myself in general are all I got right now (22 year-old college kid here).

    I have wondered if I am gay not only because of what I enjoy, but probably because I’ve never had a dad. You could say I’m looking for that permanent, male figure in my life. Still, I have thought about what I enjoy in terms of porn and how it relates to my orientation, along with what kind of guys I might be physically attracted to: jocks, somewhat beefy, chubby, and/or somewhat hairy. Same goes for what gals I might be attracted to: lean or somewhat chubby. However, no matter what their appearance or gender, I’ve found I tend to be attracted to a person’s personality and character.

    As for my faith regarding this topic, I still consider myself a Christian, so be prepared for some religious terms and beliefs (and possibly a bit of a rant).

    First and foremost, as a Christian, I believe that I am forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, and that he died for the sins of the whole world. For me, this means that God was willing to come down in human, mortal form, die, then rise again to give me a second chance, and because there’s no way I can live a perfect life to enter His Kingdom when I die. This is the core of the Christian faith, and the core of what I believe to be true, in terms of spirituality.

    I have wondered if I’m doing wrong because I’m bi-curious, and that others are doing wrong for simply being LGBT, yet are faithful followers of Christ and all around good people. Supposedly, there are even gay pastors within the Church (as in the whole community of Christians). However, I do acknowledge that there are several particular verses in the Bible that condemn homosexual practices, yet the Bible’s been interpreted and translated so many times over, some of those being completely false. It angers me that there are fellow Christians who condemn and hate the LGBT simply for who they are, especially those who’s children come out, and like to put homosexual practices on a pedestal as the greatest sin one could commit. Sin is sin in the eyes of God, regardless of what it is, and it’s not our job to pass judgement on each other.

    This is why I’m neutral towards my LGBT friends and anyone I meet who are part of that community. Who am I to judge if you’re a guy who likes dicks? Add on to the fact that I myself am bi-curious, as I’ve explained before. If you’re not being a complete moron or douchbag, then we won’t have any problems.

    Ok, I think I got everything out, at least for now. Great article JM; it really got me thinking about this stuff again, as you can see. I know this is an older article, but I found it from your recent one about Furry Demographics. If you want to use what I said on future topics related to gay furry Christians, I’ll let ya!

    ~Ricky

    1. Ricky, thanks for the comment and thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like you’re looking forward to what the future brings, and I’m sure your tolerant and thoughtful nature will serve you well on your journey.

      The good news is that there are plenty of Christian furs who have been through similar experiences, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. Hopefully you’re able to draw on those experiences, perhaps like you’ve been able to identify with the information in this essay.

      On that note, we had a followup sharing a few stories from some furs, that you might be interested in:
      http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2012/04/02/re-evaluating-your-sexual-preference-2/

      Thanks also for the kind comments on the article. It means a lot to me.

    2. Wow.
      Thank you so much for writing this.
      It’s very well written and very succinct and describes wonderfully how people reconcile different aspects of their lives, trying to find an equilibrium that makes sense to them.

  15. Stylized pornography is Social Darwinism? That came out of nowhere. It should not be required at all just to make a point. Its really strange to read that and suddenly: Porn=”Survival of the Fittest”. Is this just a mistake? And what makes you believe that stylized furry porn is different from regular porn?

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