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 As a child, he was easily hurt, withdrawn to the point I thought he was autistic (he isn’t though your truly is), and was told (and began to believe) he couldn’t do anything right.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.