So far my blog has been pretty inoffensive. Well, I like to think so anyway. But I knew the time would come where I’d have to post about something controversial and now is that time.
My son is a furry. And not only do I not have a problem with it, I’m damned proud of him. Yes, I really did just say that.
I know what some of you are probably thinking.
“What kind of a ‘parent” are you?”
“Furries are a bunch of perverts! How can you accept your own CHILD being one?”
“You are depraved to be
writing bragging about that.”
“You are going to hell and so is he.”
“You are SICK!!!ELEVENTY!!111!!
“MAKE HIM STOP!!!”
Let me explain. My son, now almost 23, was, along with me, his father’s scapegoat during most of his childhood and teen years. Like me, he’s a HSP (highly sensitive person) and HSPs and psychopaths as parents do NOT mix.
His father, Michael (not his real name), nearly destroyed my son’s self esteem. As a child, he was easily hurt, withdrawn to the point I thought he was autistic (he isn’t though your truly is), and was told (and began to believe) he couldn’t do anything right. Michael called him stupid, sissy, a wuss, and constantly told him he’d amount to nothing. Like me, my son had few friends in grade and middle school. He was bullied. I identified with him (and tried to protect him from Michael’s narcissistic rages) because well, he was so much like me.
I already told you earlier how Michael’s flying monkeys bullied him just prior to the divorce. Ethan (not his real name) was about 12 during this time and that’s a vulnerable age for even the strongest, most confident kid.
Fortunately, Ethan decided to live with me instead of his father after the divorce (my daughter chose her dad, and that’s another story I’ll get into in my next post). I don’t like to toot my own horn and I certainly wouldn’t have qualified as “Mother of the Year” but I like to think I did a pretty good job as Ethan’s mom, and some of the damage that Michael and his team of flying monkeys had done on my son was repaired. Or at least kept him from becoming one of those hardcore emo kids who writes freeverse poetry about suicide, rain and darkness and may even attempt the ultimate self destructive act. Or kept him away from drugs and early drinking. Or becoming a Narcissist himself. He never became any of those things, and in fact was always pretty straight edge. He told me (and I believe him) he never tasted alcohol until he was of legal age. He never liked pot and certainly never touched anything harder. He always did his homework. In high school he was one of those computer geeks and found he had a fascination with photography and art, something I also was involved with when I was his age.
Ethan wasn’t popular and seemed to have no interest in girls. He had a few friends he hung out with to play Age of Empires,” “Legend of Zelda” “Black and White,” and other video games. He was really good at the games and started his own forum about auto racing (something he’s still passionate about). But he was still painfully shy and lacking in confidence.
Two things helped to improve Ethan’s self esteem: Outward Bound and Kung Fu. His 8th grade graduation trip, instead of the usual “fun” trip to New York City or Washington DC, was a physically and mentally challenging 4 day Outward Bound expedition to the mountainous wildnerness right here in western North Carolina. I won’t get into detail about his trip (that’s a story he can tell), but he came back a little different, a little more mature, a bit more confident. When I asked him if he had fun, he said not really, but it was a trip he would never forget and that taught him a lot of things about himself.
When Ethan was 15, he decided to take Kung Fu classes. He was pretty good, and stuck with that for 3 years, advancing to Green Belt, which is more than halfway to Black Belt.
Ethan was keeping some secrets though, and admitted later on he was still deeply unhappy. I didn’t know this at the time, but I did know there was something he wasn’t telling me, and I could have guessed what it was. But I had to wait for him to say it.
At age 17, Ethan came out as gay. He was afraid to tell me, but I told him I had known for a long time but was waiting for him to say it. Ethan was relieved, and now that he was “out,” his confidence level went up a little more, and suddenly at school he was considered “cool,” something he had never been.
It’s so funny how kids will bully another kid they suspect of being gay but who isn’t “out” (and he was definitely bullied about that), but as soon as they’re “out,” they become accepted and cool. It’s a paradox, but it really isn’t–because it’s really not about gay vs. non-gay, it’s about self esteem. Bullied kids are kids who are too outwardly sensitive and have little self confidence. A kid with confidence, even if different from the other kids, is accepted, or at least respected. And I think that’s what happened with Ethan when he came out as gay.
After Ethan graduated from high school in 2010, he came out as “furry.” At first I didn’t even know what that meant, and Ethan didn’t want to explain it to me so I had to go online and do some research myself.
There’s been a lot of negative publicity about “furries,” especially since an infamous episode of the TV show CSI, in which a serial murderer was a furry who liked to kill wearing an animal costume. But this negativity isn’t deserved or even valid. Most of the criticism of furries is related to their alleged depravity–furry detractors insist furries engage in bestiality, or at best, have a fetish about having sex dressed up as animals.
While I won’t deny there is a subset of the furry community that may have a sexual “fursuit” fetish, it’s a small subset from what I’ve seen (and I know a lot about furries now) and the idea that they’re into bestiality is a ridiculous claim with nothing to back it up.
My intention here isn’t to give you a history of the furry fandom (there’s plenty of other places to read up on that). But a little background is required. The furry fandom grew out of the science fiction community back in the early 1980s. Most furries are geeks–comic book geeks, computer geeks, sci-fi geeks, Dragoncon geeks, art geeks, and among Millennials, animated cartoon geeks. Millennials grew up inundated with a huge array of the best made animated films and shows Disney had to offer; and because their stressed out parents were often working or busy with other things, cartoon animals like Mufasa, Timon and Pumba from “The Lion King,” CatDog, Bolt, and the Animaniacs were often left in charge as surrogate babysitters to entertain them.
Naturally a lot of Millennials developed a special affection for these cartoon critters who gave them so much laughter and comfort as children, and some of them continued this fascination into adulthood.
Enter the furries. The vast majority of them are Millennials (born from 1982 to 2000 or so) and there are a surprising number of female furries and heterosexual furries, and many of them are married. There are furry conventions that are becoming more popular every year, the most famous one being Anthrocon, which is held in Pittsburgh every year. Most furries are involved in art–either visual or performing art. I’ve talked to furries, and as a whole they’re a creative bunch. Furry isn’t a perversion; it’s a hobby, no different than someone who attends Star Trek or comic book conventions.
Being a furry has helped Ethan find his creative outlets. Ethan is naturally rather shy and reserved. Dressing up as “Mex” and his other “fursona” has allowed him to discover his outgoing and sociable side and that he has a love of performing (dancing and acting), which is something he might not have explored had it not been for the costume where he feels more comfortable experimenting with that side of himself.
He showed interest in photography and art at an early age, but has developed these abilities, and is now a fledgling filmmaker with a professional eye. He took up filmmaking in college and now has a degree. He makes his own music videos and has posted many of these on Youtube. Not all are about furries. Although none have gone “viral,” several of his films have received thousands of hits. He also is a competent artist, and draws well, although I think he’s more naturally talented at photography and filmmaking.
Here’s one of his videos from his music channel, Radio Recall.
What he’s proudest of is his dancing. He’s been training himself in street-dancing for two years. At the past two conventions he’s attended, he entered the fursuit dance competition. At the most recent one, he was one of the finalists, and he told me being accepted as a finalist was the happiest, most validating moment of his life and the high from it lasted for days. Now he’s working hard at getting even better so he can possibly win one of the Top 3 awards the conventions give out to the winners.
Here’s a video of his performance in the dance competition at a convention in Florida.
Ethan has shown me what can happen to a highly sensitive person who is able to escape from psychopathic abuse when still young, and then is given validation and encouraged to follow their own path, even if it’s not a path most of us would take. He’s shown me what I could have become had I been given such an opportunity (or taken advantage of it) when I was young. Not a furry or dancer or filmmaker, but someone who chased my dreams and never looked back. Ethan has shown me that none of us is a hopeless cause, and it really is possible to free yourself from the barbed wire prison of family psychopathy. Instead of being attacked by the flying monkeys and having your wings clipped, you can learn how to fly.
And that is why I’m proud my son is a furry.
Thanks for posting this! I just learned a ton and I will say I am proud of your son, too.
Oh, I’m glad to hear that! 🙂 I was afraid how this post might be taken. There will probably be some critics, though, I have to accept that.
Wow! what an awesome post!, I’ve heard of furry’s and have never once thought they were strange or weird etc, I think it’s awesome that your son is a furry and can use that as a form of self expression, I must say he has MAD (as in good) Dance skills, I couldn’t even begin to imagine just how hot it must get in that suit and how hard it must be to dance in one, my hat is off to him 🙂
And a special KUDOS to you for being the BEST MOM in the World!! you not only accepted the fact that your son is gay (and didn’t disown,throw him out or try to kill him) BUT you also accepted him for being a Furry !! I can tell you for a FACT…The world NEEDS more parent(s) like you!!
Thank you for sharing this, I’m off to read and learn more about Furry’s (they are a fascinating people ) ,
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Dawwwww! I’m blushing lol. Yeah he tells me a lot of his friends’ parents haven’t been as accepting. The other day I saw a horrible video of intolerant, toxicly religious parents disowning and abusing their son when he came out as gay. The video went viral, but I won’t post it here because it may be triggering for some people.
I just don’t get people like that.
My son will be happy when I tell him I got a comment saying he has mad dance skills lol. I posted this on twitter (where I mostly go to talk to my son) , because he has almost 2K followers it’s being retweeted by all his twitter friends. I hope he’s not too embarrassed, haha.
Oh, about the suits getting hot? They sure do, can you imagine wearing one in the florida heat? (that’s where the last convention he went to was) but at least the rooms at the hotel were air conditioned. I hear some of the suiters actually install a little fan inside the suit to stay cooler.
Awesome! All those twitter retweets 🙂
The furries approve.
I am very proud of your son but more so of you. I know how difficult it is for a mom to put herself out there vulnerable to any criticism regarding an unconventional trait of their child. We as moms are so protective. It is so good to hear your son has survived so much adversity. He seems to thrive now.
I am still struggling with my son, he has barely left his room for the last 3 years. He is 19 now. I hope to post something inspirational about him one day.
As far as the furry costumes, A few decades ago I worked with artists who used these types of costumes for TV, Theater and Ice shows. Yes those costumes do heat up and get stinky. I just wanted to let you in on a little trick to keep the stink at bay. Mix vodka and water 1 to 3 and any essential oil (a few drops) scent that may inspire your son. Just the vodka water works fine, essential oil gives it a nice scent. Then just spray in on the inside of the costume. It gets rid of the stink. It is an old theater trick for actors and actresses who had to put on the same old stinky costumes again and again. It is much more effective than Febreze and much cheaper.
I even clean my house with it! Spraying it on a dust cloth, not drinking it!
Thanks! Yes, I think my son has mostly overcome his childhood, although I know he still struggles with anger issues and excessive worry (as I do). However, my daughter I am more worried about. She’s 21 and right now doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or interested in much of anything. I’ll go into more detail about that in a later post. She also has a taste for drugs and too much alcohol, and is showing some traits that make me worry she has NPD. She definitely has PTSD. She won’t see a therapist (if she’s NPD that would be typical). We can pray and hope but we can’t make them change. Your son is only 19–he may grow out of this. The fact he wasn’t exposed to the abuse for that long is hopeful.
I don’t know how I survived it so long either, but it started to seem “normal” to me.
Thanks for the advice about the vodka concoction. I’ll let my son know about this–he does complain his suits get stinky, especially after dancing.
Oops! I just realized part of my reply to your comment was directed at someone else’s comment on another post. Embarrassing. Too bad comments can’t be edited, But anyway, everything I wanted to say is still there. Haha.
The vodka concoction is a very old trick (no exact proportions on the mixture are necessary). I know that it has been used in Shakespearean Theater forever. Think of all of those heavy elaborate costumes worn and re worn for years under those lights! And they had to be worn by different people no less, yuk! Just use it like you would use Febreze.
I also used it for my son’s roller hockey clothes. Lots of nasty sweaty foam that washing could not get the stink out.
Enough of my domestic “tips”, On to the real stuff….
I also am hoping my son will grow out of this phase. I too can only hope and pray.
I think I found a good counselor that will work with me a sliding fee. We have our first appointment this coming Monday. My son is reluctant to go and said he is just going for me. So again I am hoping and praying that this first session will go well. It is more like an interview that will last for 2 hours. God willing, my son will be sold on the concept.
You can lead a horse to water…
The pain of watching your child suffer can be so devastating. It pains me to hear about your daughter too. I get it. My son may also be developing NPD. I spent most of his childhood protecting him from his dad’s behavior, but dad was still around to influence him. I believe NPD runs in the DNA. I have witnessed it passed down from generation to generation in my and my Someday To Be X Husband’s families. Not sure how we are predisposed to this disorder, it may be a defense behavior developed to protect our psyche. This is only from my observation, I have no psychological background except for the few classes I took in college way back when.
After reading about your daughter, I reflected back on my life when I was that age. It was pretty much the same. I just happened to be living in SE Asia which makes is sound more interesting but it was pretty much the same. Drugs were cheap and very available. There were some mornings. I believe, that I was lucky that I woke up. I was living a death wish. How I survived it all is a miracle.
I know how lost and lonely her soul feels (my son’s too). At least they both have moms that have the compassion do what they can for them and that can make a big difference.
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I think NPD is inherited too, but I think sometimes the family situation can exacerbate it–sometimes it won’t develop if the child is raised in a healthy environment. Kind of like alcoholism (which runs in the family too–and there does seem to be a correlation between alcoholism and NPD)–if someone has the gene for alcoholism they may never develop the disorder if they are kept away from alcohol and educated about the disease before it happens. In our family, my daughter was used at a VERY young age by her father to triangulate against me and her brother. I think deep down she knew it was wrong but wanted to please her dad. Later it became more ingrained, especially since he manipulated her to be his “partner in crime.”
In the book “People of the Lie” and elsewhere I’ve read that people become “evil” (or develop NPD which is essentially the same thing) when they sell out –that is, give in to something they morally oppose at some level but decide (or are manipulated) to do it anyway (and it has to be a big thing, such as turning against another family member). I don’t believe there are any “bad seeds.” I think all kids are born basically good, but can turn bad if they are trained at a young age to mirror bad behavior, before their sense of right and wrong kicks in. They grow up with a twisted sense of right and wrong, and their true self (the good self) is lost as the parent’s bad behavior overlays and then obliterates the original self. Its a sort of mask they wear at first, but later becomes them (but it’s not really them). At some point they can no longer access their true self. It’s like they lose their soul. I dearly hope my daughter (and your son) don’t have NPD.
On the bright side, I think even the worst N has moments of clarity even if rare and at those times they may be reachable. But only if they want to be reached. I see in my daughter these moments of clarity, and they are pretty frequent so I’m not sure if she is NPD or just Borderline with narcissist traits, which is also a strong possibility (and she actually has a dx of BPD). Some Borderlines can look an awful lot like Narcissists, but they can be helped. Your son may be the same way. I think most parents worry excessively, and imagine things are a lot worse than they really are. I do know my daughter truly loves me, but she does love her father too (and sometimes she really hates him — lately she’s been noticing the games he plays, so that’s a hopeful sign). Most teenagers and young people aren’t too keen on getting therapy either. In time your son may decide it’s something he needs.
Thank you for your encouraging words.
I know my son loves both me and his dad. He is very conflicted about this especially due to the nature of the very long and hostile divorce.
I do my best to keep him out of the ugliness, but it has been 3 years and stuff comes out.
He hears the phone calls from the bank about the pending foreclosure (2 years), the IRS about unpaid back taxes, lack of money and on and on…
I do my best to hide the stress, but it is a lot to contain.
He has no one to confide in about this. I know he does not want to take sides nor does he want to be in the middle of this mess. Unfortunately it cannot be helped.
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Somehow I missed your comment here. I do understand how difficult it is to keep your kids out of the drama when the parents are in conflict. It can be damaging to them but sometimes it can be even more damaging to keep them too much in the dark. Kids are smart and know when something isn’t right. So I think it’s best to be honest with them, but also assure them they do not have to worry, that you will take care of things (even if you feel like you can’t). It’s also important to keep a balance between honesty and not badmouthing the other parent, but when you and the ex are not on good terms, that can be a real challenge. I’m not proud to say I’ve badmouthed my ex to my kids, I try not to but I still find myself doing it. I know he does it about me too, but that’s not an excuse really.
It is hard to keep my mouth shut, but I normally do. I am so afraid that if I start it will be like an uncontrollable diarrhea that I am unable to stop. All the hate and venom will just gush out.
I agree that honesty is the best policy, but I keep the info limited on a need to know basis.
It is hard because so much goes on and it limits a lot of conversation with my son.
I love your advise on assuring my son that I am going to take care of things even though I have no clue as to what or how I am going to do such. I guess that is where I am acquiring my skills to have faith in myself.
My exterior is calm and collected but I have a big volcano stewing inside. So far I have been able to release a little steam now and then and I have had no major eruption yet. How long I can keep it all contained is anyone’s guess.
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Reblogged this on sandwich land and commented:
everyone should read this!
My son (18) came to me last night and needed me to teach him to sew. Inquiring as to what kind of sewing he was interested in, he finally told me all about his furry ways. I could see the relaxation in his body language after he spilled the beans. This answers so many questions for me. I now understand so much of his behavior in the past 6 months. I personally don’t care who my son is, or what he becomes, he will always be my most special blessing. All of my “friends” are super conservative christians, as is my family. I told my son last night, and I mean every word, I will give up all of the friends, family, church, to support him. Fortunately, I don’t believe it will come to that.
Last night, for the first time in a long time, I saw light in my son’s eyes. He was super excited about an event he is attending this weekend. He has worked a full time adult job for 2 years. He has accomplished so much by himself. I consider this one more of his accomplishments. You go sew, son! I got your back!
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What event is your son attending? My son is leaving for a furry convention in Atlanta early tomorrow morning. Maybe they are both going there.
My son was also 18 when he told me he was furry. I didnt even know what furry was, but I’m openminded and was more interested than anything else. He was more afraid to tell me he was gay (he came out when he was 17). Not all members of the furry fandom are gay, but many of them are. There are even some hetero married couples. There are lots of women in the fandom.
I don’t think being furry goes against Christian or any other religious teaching. It’s just a hobby. The sexual element does exist, but most furries just do it for fun, not because they have a fetish.
There are even Christian furries, and at some of the bigger conventions, there are events for furries who are also Christian.
That’s great your son felt comfortable enough to tell you, and that you were able to listen to him and stay open minded about it. It’s so much better than if he was doing drugs or stealing cars or something. If it makes him happy (it makes my son very happy and has raised his confidence) then that’s all that matters. If other people can’t or won’t understand, too bad.
My son (Daniel) left for the Atlanta event this morning. We actually live in metro Atlanta, but he is staying in the city until Monday. I just hope he has a fantastic time and makes great memories.
I don’t think the hobby goes against any religious teaching, either. We just seem to be surrounded by very closed minded people, who can’t or won’t accept anything or anyone who is different. Maybe it is time for me to expand my circle of friends!
I shared with my son last night that when I was a teen, I worked at an amusement park during Halloween and I got to wear all kinds of costumes. Some were furries and others were traditional (vampires, witches). I found it very liberating to be able to mix with the public and have my picture taken and no one could even tell if I was male or female. So, I did have a tiny taste of what he is going to experience. Just seems like a lot of fun to me!
It seemslike a lot of fun to me too. I wouldn’t mind attending one of these conventions sometime and joining in all the fun. They do seem to have a great time!
My son will also be dancing at the convention and is also leading the choreography for a group fo 5 dancers.
I hope Daniel has a great time! I’ll let my son know.
Wow, I really liked this post. It very much demonstrates a lot of passion and that you care very much about your son. I didn’t know much about furries before. You’ve informed me enough to really give me a new perspective. This was great.
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Thank you! He is is very inspiring to me.
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My son is just about 15 and just learnt he was a furry. I will always be proud of him. He just saved up for a tail but plans on getting a job in the next year to buy a suit. I love the way he smiles when he talks about his fursona.
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Give your son a big hug! 🙂
I I love this. Im actually really please with this. I cant tell you how many of these parent blogs ive seen that are against furry, that condemn it. As a furry myself (of 15 years), it is really refreshing to see a positive one for sure. thanks for being awesome.
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Thanks for speaking up. 🙂
Yes, there IS sexual content in this fandom..and my question is…So what? America treats sex as if it is a bad thing. Why? Sex is NOT wrong nor bad. America needs to trash these very outdated puritan views.
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Agreed. But there’s too much focus in the media on the sexual aspect, when most of this hobby has nothing to do with sex.
My stance on most things, including this, is that if someone is happy and not hurting anyone than I support it. I wouldn’t consider myself knowledgeable about Furries, but I certainly knew about this community. What I’m taking away from this post isn’t a new found understanding or respect about or for Furries, (I say more power to them) but a smile and a happy feeling because you’re demonstrating what all parents should be like. Every child deserves to have unconditional love from their parents. A safe place to be who they are without having to be guarded. It’s a beautiful thing to read about and it made me happy. 🙂
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Thank you for this. My son just told me he’s a furry. I didn’t understand what it meant.