I Am A Furry

[edited from the original version posted at Kyell’s blog]

I wrote a blog post recently about how we shouldn’t be afraid to tell our friends that we’re furries, and I got a thoughtful question on FA. Namely, why bother? It’s just a hobby, right? Do we “come out” as a stamp collector, or a Man United fan, or a Jane Austen fan?

I said in the original post that I didn’t necessarily want to compare coming out as gay with coming out as furry. The first is a preference coded into us at birth which dictates many aspects of how we live if we choose to live with a partner. The second is a not-fully-understood aesthetic appreciation for animal-people that can range in degree from a guy who likes to talk about Looney Tunes cartoons with his friends to a woman who makes a living designing fursuits and wears her own every chance she gets. But it’s telling that when people talk about telling their friends and family that they’re furries, that the phrase coming out is more and more commonly used.

It’s understandable. It means “revealing a part of ourselves that was hidden,” and because gay people were the ones most commonly hiding important parts of their lives well into adulthood, it’s been associated with revealing one’s sexuality. I think that its use in talking about furry is not so much connected to the “hidden” part as it is to the “important” part.

For a lot of people, furry is more than just a hobby; it’s a home. Some people don’t have any other homes; some people are perfectly happy with their family in one setting, with their office “home” in another, with furry in their spare time. What I mean by “home” is a place where you feel safe, where you feel sad to be away from, where some of the closest people in your life reside.

When I was first getting into the furry fandom, I had a friend who came out to his parents and was kicked out of his family. To a lot of guys in their early 20s, that would be devastating, and he was pretty broken up about it. But he had a boyfriend, and he had the furry fandom, a great support network that made sure he always had a friend around and an ear to listen to his troubles. That’s what I mean by a home.

Right now, I have a family who aren’t furries. But most of my closest friends are furries, and when Kit and I got married, the furry stuff was pretty much all over our wedding (because our wedding planner, a non-furry, fell in love with it). I have a furry image of myself as the lock screen on my phone, a furry pic of me and Kit as my phone background, so literally a day doesn’t go by that I don’t see some furry art, and now that I’m making my living from writing – largely in the furry fandom – most days I end up talking to other furries or talking about furries.

If your life is like that, if you have a group of close furry friends, and yet you’re not sharing that part of your life with other people close to you, then you’re hiding something from them. You’re not sharing all of who you are. And that’s fine, honestly; if anything, people these days tend to overshare. But if you want to tell them, and are simply not telling them out of fear that they’ll jump to conclusions, then you’re doing them a disservice. More than that, you are hurting yourself. When you make choices in your life, such as to continue to be part of the furry fandom, and then hide those choices from other people who are important to you, you are telling yourself that you doubt your choices. You are telling yourself that those people would be right if they mocked you for being a furry. That’s not a healthy way to live.

(And yes, there is adult stuff in the fandom. You don’t have to talk about that. What do you do when you go to conventions? What do you talk about online with your furry friends? Are adult pictures and stories really the reason you continue to be part of this community? Or is it the people, the ones you feel you can really open up to, the ones who make you laugh and who talk video games, who have a costume like you or like the same movie/TV show/anime? That’s what you want to talk about. Everyone understands “a group of friends who like the same thing I like.” What you all like is also interesting, but secondary.)

That’s who my original post was aimed at, people who cited the primary reason for hiding their furriness as “I don’t want to be associated with those people in the news.” If you’re a casual furry, or if you’re distant from your family and non-furry friends, then sure, they don’t have to know. But if one of your family, your co-workers, or your friends is trying to get to know you better, and they ask “why’d you go to Pittsburgh?”… well, before you automatically say, “just to see friends” and change the subject, pause for a second and think. Maybe that’s a good time to “come out.” Maybe that’ll help you get closer to the other people in your life. You might have to take a little teasing, but take it with good humor, and it’ll be fine. As I said before, as K.M. and I have said on the podcast and many people have said in many venues over and over: if you act like it’s something to be ashamed of, people will pick up on that. If you act like it’s a cool thing, fun, and a positive part of your life, which I think for most of us it is, then that’s how your friends and family will view it. And isn’t that what we all want?

About Kyell

Kyell is a fox, a writer, and a California resident. He likes to write stories of varying lengths, often (but not always) dealing with gay relationships and foxes. You can find information about his stories on his website, and read his blog at http://www.kyellgold.com/wpblog for thoughts on furry fandom, writing, gay rights, and eagles, and for information on his upcoming books.

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One thought on “I Am A Furry

  1. Hello!
    So last year when I started drawing (because of the fandom mainly XD) I actually had a bit of anxiety about people thinking “OMG he’s a furry! EW!”
    But then my friends at school noticed I was drawing anthros. And I explained to them that I liked drawing anthros, thought they were cool, and the end result was that it was a cool part of me. They knew very well I wasn’t into any of the adult stuff. Even if it was mostly just my closest friends who saw my artwork, and knew that I was a part of the Furry fandom (though mostly just drawing and following some clean artists on dA). I actually was more afraid of people in the fandom thinking I was condesending of them because I wanted to avoid the adult stuff as much as possible. I didn’t get over that fear until a few people, including a couple artists who were inspirations for me, started commenting and interracting with me within the fandom as I started commenting on their works and I decided to follow their social medias. And so I eased into it. Realized that I was actually pretty standard in terms of avoiding that stuff when it comes to furs my age XD
    Thing is, I pretty much kept this entire thing secret from my parents. I never had the opportunity to really talk much. Until one day my mom asked if she could look through the sketchbook I got from her for Christmas. I said yes. (although I was panicking inside.)
    As it turns out, however, I had nothing to fear. She told me to keep drawing. Commented on how I was able to use ears and eyes to make the faces more expressive, and also jokingly said “You’re a fan of foxes aren’t you?” To which I said “yeah” as I was still a bit anxious.
    That was the end of it. I was encouraged to draw furries more basically xD I even mentioned the Furry fandom a couple times (granted very off to the side) in a school project where we had to make a video about discrimination (ours was on fandoms and fanbases). I’m fairly certain that at the end of 9th grade, before we all left off to our various high schools because of boundaries, that everyone pretty much knew I was a furry of sorts. But if anything, I made it cool because I was learning drawing techniques and was developing a new talent my parents greatly approved of because of the fandom. (granted my parents don’t know EVERY little detail and every person I interract with. But that’s not needed. It’s just “be safe online, and blah blah blah)

    And now it’s present day. I’m at a new school, that’s now my actual boundary school. Few people know much about me other than when I’m at church and church/neighborhood activities. (sad because I’ve lived here for like 5 years).
    And it’s been kinda sucky. Mostly because I don’t have my friends with me who thought that me being in the furry fandom was cool. Now it’s this anxiety of “I don’t know how most of these people will react. I’m just a socially awkward kid who lives down the street.”
    And it’s not healthy. As a result I actually fell back onto the fandom for a bit of emotional support and social interraction that doesn’t care about my interests, religion, S.O. and such. They’re people who encourage me to keep drawing and being a musician, and being myself and who I am.
    It’s going to be a while for me to be comfortable with myself again because I have to make such a hard adjustment and find people who are comfortable with the awkward and shy me at first, who plays piano, claims he can draw, reads lots of books, and doesn’t talk much. To the me who’s fanboying over the latest episodes of a TV show, a book serries, or sharing pictures of uplifting quotes, beautiful works of art from the furry fandom, or other people who don’t do furry-related stuff, funny furry comics, and even my own stuff. I actually openly share furry stuff to my social media for all my family and friends to see. I’m very open about it to these people because I’m comfortable around them.
    While I love the online friends and support I get, it’s often not as fun as having friends who are weird like you (like how all of the girls I was friends with were MLP fans, and as for the guys of my friends group, there was me, the furry, and then Marvel to bring us all together XD. It was just something unique and cool about me) and to encourage you IRL while you can talk to them face to face at lunch or before class starts.

    -Sorry for the long post and such but I kinda just need space to vent my thoughts out because it’s actually very healthy and relaxing…

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