Things I Don’t Relate To

Fran Nowve has some things to say about my recent post about how a furry I never met helped me cope with the prospect of my own death. I don’t agree with everything she says in her post, but it’s certainly an interesting commentary.

I was rather aghast at the story about the middle aged father of seven who identifies as a six year old girl and got himself “adopted” so he can live out his fantasy.  Of course he is an adult who has the right to do whatever he wants as long as he’s hurting no one, but what about the family he left behind?

I’m sorry, but I think that’s much weirder than being a furry. I’ve never known a furry who actually identified as the animal they were depicting (it’s not like being transgender or anything). I know a bit about the furry community because of my son, and for most of them, it’s just a fun hobby and a way for shy or awkward young people to socialize and/or explore the performing arts behind the safety of a mask. Dancing is a big thing in the furry community.  Some of them outgrow furry, and emerge with more self confidence and skills they can then parlay into careers in the arts.

Although there is a subset of furries who have a sexual fetish about dressing up as cartoon animals, most just do it for fun. It’s really no different from a Star Trek convention, and in fact this hobby grew out of the scifi community.   But due to an old episode of the crime show CSI, in which a furry turned out to be a serial sex killer, furries have gained a negative reputation.  It’s time to set the record straight.

That being said, there are some people in this world who do some very weird things, both harmless and harmful. I don’t even know what to think about the man who identifies as a little girl.   It’s one thing to be transgender, but identifying as a six year old seems beyond the pale to me.

People are strange.

Comments are closed here.  Please comment on the original post.

CLUSTER B

…and yet,

furries-500x333My friend, Lucky Otter, doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. Yet, I never “felt” more psychopathic than I did reading her latest blog, A furry that I never met helped me conquer my fear of death. Her son is what is known as a “furry.” I had never heard of them until Lucky blogged about her son. I’m sorry, Lucky. I just can’t relate to this phenomenon.

dogbomb1The furry who helped her overcome her fear of death, Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb,” is pictured on the blog I linked to above. His face is what I can only call “creepy.” He has what I would call “a kick me face.” Furries wear animal costumes which look like pajamas with fake fur and a head mask. What I find most off-putting is the way they almost all look like “animals” you would see in kids’ cartoons. They are unbearably CUTE.

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A furry I never met helped me conquer my fear of death.

Video

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Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb”

On the morning of April 5th, a beloved, longtime member of the furry community, Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb,” who had been diagnosed with ALS ( amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) over a year earlier, made the difficult decision to end his own life via physician assisted suicide (he lives in Arizona, where assisted suicide is legal for sufferers of terminal illnesses).

ALS is 100 percent fatal, and “Dogbomb” (as I will be referring to him here) had been experiencing a rapid decline in his quality of life. He was having difficulty walking, and even breathing and swallowing. ALS is a devastating and disfiguring disease that currently has no cure. It normally kills within a few years (2 to 10 years being average), although in rare cases, it can take much longer (astrophysicist Stephen Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS in 1963, and he didn’t succumb to it for 55 years!)

I never met Dogbomb, but he’s a member of the same furry community my son has been active in since about 2009. He’s evidently hugely popular within the community because of his positive, upbeat attitude, even in the face of such a devastating diagnosis and grim prognosis. Since Dogbomb was first diagnosed in early 2018, he has organized marches and walks to raise funds for ALS research and has become a huge inspiration to people both within and outside of the furry community. He’s older than most of his fellow furries, who tend to be mostly Millennials, and has taken on a kind of older brother or mentoring role to many of them, who are in turn inspired by his love of life, enthusiasm, positive attitude, and passion for activities that help find a cure for ALS.

That’s enough background.  I read Dogbomb’s story on Twitter the other night completely by accident, and then I stumbled on this short animation created by one of Dogbomb’s close friends (“Jib Kodi”), made just after Dogbomb publicly announced he would be ending his life. I don’t think there’s any need to explain what this video means, other than that it’s about the power of friendship and the furry community’s unwavering support as Dogbomb commences his journey out of this world and into the next. Notice the “Run to Fight ALS” shirts some of the characters are wearing.

 

This little animation made me totally lose it for almost an hour. Not just a few tears, but full blown sobbing. This wasn’t actually unpleasant at all, but cathartic. Like a good emotional enema, I felt like my soul had been cleansed.

Later, I tried to figure out why I had reacted so intensely. I didn’t know this man, I never fought ALS or knew anyone who had, I’m not a member of the furry community, and yet…this little video grabbed my heart, turned it inside out, and twisted it hard!

For years I’ve been terrified of dying. Not just the suffering and pain that often precedes death, but a fear of death itself. It’s really a fear of the unknown. No matter how strong one’s faith, no one knows for certain what will happen after they die. I don’t have all that many years left, maybe two or three decades at most. Maybe less than that. My fear of death, rather than dissipating as I grow older as it seems to do for most people, has intensified. This is a real problem, since death isn’t something that I can avoid. I can delay it, but one day it’s going to happen whether I want it to or not.

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Dogbomb’s Twitter icon (artist unknown)

Dogbomb was a man who, though not very old, did not fear death. He stared his own mortality in the face and said fuck you to it, and then grabbed its icy hand and told it some jokes. Dogbomb was a man who I have been told always smiled at everyone, and was always willing to listen to others’ troubles, even when he had much worse problems of his own and knew his illness was terminal.

Rather than sink into self pity, crawl into his bed, and wait for death to take him, he stayed active, organized events and marches to raise funds to find cures and new treatments for the disease that was killing him. He got countless others involved and did a lot of good for sufferers of ALS. At the very least, he gave them hope and inspired them.

And finally, he decided he was going to die his own way, not ALS’s way. He died willingly in a loving and supportive environment among his closest family and friends. If dying joyfully is a thing, Dogbomb did it.

And now, after being so inspired and moved by Dogbomb’s story, I can finally understand those who say that death can be a beautiful and uplifting thing, a beginning rather than an end, the start of a new journey — and not something dark and morbid that we should fear.  For someone with ALS or another painful or physically crippling disease, death also means freedom for a soul that had been  trapped in what had become nothing more than a burdensome flesh prison.

Dogbomb wrote one last tweet on the morning of his death:

“Dogbomb has left the building. I love y’all!”

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Screenshot of Dogbomb riding into the sunset from an animation by Jib Kodi

I can’t say my fear of death is cured, but I’m getting there. Dogbomb’s beautiful life of service to others, and courageous (and joyful) passing has helped me with that.

Here is where you can make a donation to the ALS Association.

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Further reading:

My Son is “Furry” — Got a Problem With That?  (posted 9/20/14)

Fear of Death

The Ultimate Dissociative Experience

I was an honorary furry for a few days last week.

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Me trying on one of my son’s fursuit heads during my August 2016 trip.

I completely forgot to mention this in my posts about my Florida trip.   I met a few of my son’s friends in the Tampa area furry community, and they are all awesome people — very chill, extremely friendly, and best of all, very supportive of each other.

I actually attended a furry party my son threw at his apartment.   I was an honorary furry for that night!   No, I did not wear a costume. In fact, no one did.  It was just good clean fun, nothing questionable or too weird going on.  We watched a furry dance competition on livestream on my son’s Mac, played Cards Against Humanity (it’s a hilarious game), and watched a couple of bad (non-furry) films.   (One of my son’s hobbies is throwing “bad movie” get-togethers for his friends — they watch these movies ironically and laugh at them — if you remember Mystery Science Theatre 3000, that’s the general idea here).  After all the silliness, we all headed down to the apartment complex’s pool and hot tub for an evening swim and relaxation.

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Two views of the bumper of the car that belongs to one of my son’s friends who was at the party.    She can’t get enough of ferrets and owns four of them.  It’s hard to see it here, but her car is a lovely frosted pink and is awesome.

Speaking of science, tomorrow is Earth Day, and I will be attending my second protest — a March for Science taking place here in my city.    I haven’t made a sign yet (and am not sure I’ll have the time), but I’ll be picking up a tee-shirt I paid for in advance (proceeds go to help the cause).    I’ll be wearing this tee-shirt along with the buttons I purchased at the last protest I attended about the ACA and healthcare.

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I’ll definitely post about my experience at the march tomorrow and will take pictures, as I did the last time.

The rest of the weekend I’ll probably be engaged in the tedious task of pulling posts from this blog I may want to use in my book.   That’s my intention anyway;  I can’t say I’ll actually commit to doing it.   Actual writing is so much more fun.

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Happy Earth Day 2017!

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Another mom who supports her son being a furry.

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My son dressed as “Mex,” about 2 years ago.

I just received an email from a woman who read my blog post from almost two years ago,  “My Son is Furry–Got a Problem with That?”   Here is that article for those of you who didn’t see it.

https://luckyottershaven.com/2014/09/20/my-son-is-furry-got-a-problem-with-that/

Here is the letter I received today.   All identifying information has been excluded.

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My son’s fox/otter fursona.

*****

I was browsing websites looking for Furry bumper stickers and came across your blog.

I have a 21 year old son who is gay and a furry.  So it seems we have quite a lot in common. I have known my son was gay before he actually told me which was about age 13. It was around the age of 15 he started talking about furries. I was fascinated and we started watching Furry convention videos. I was hooked. I tried to be very supportive regarding this to my son. This was a group of people that he could finally relate to and thank God not judge him. He is a very sensitive and highly intelligent person. He just never fit in with his peers. Middle school was the worst and after one year of high school it still wasn’t getting any better for him, so we opted for an online school.

I am very close with my son and he always tells me how awesome I am and he tells his friends that. I am close to a couple of his friends and they are also furries.   I have never met and talked with another parent who supports her gay and Furry son. I would love to have an email friend that I could relate to.

Thanks for taking time to read this and hope to hear from you.
Best,
Proud Mom of a Furry


My son’s latest dance performance at Megaplex 2016, Orlando, FL

My reply:

Thank you for sharing this with me!   It is a coincidence isn’t it?  My son is almost 25 now and his fursona is a fox/otter — he’s the one responsible for getting me to love otters so much I named my blog after them and also use it as my user name too.  (I’m not furry though, lol)   Now he has a second character, a black and white stoat named “Mex.”   Mex is a dancer in the competitions at the conventions and has placed  2nd or 3rd in several of them.  He has yet to win, but I’m sure that’s coming.   My son began dancing about 4 years ago. He never took a lesson; he is entirely self taught.  

Some people think it’s strange that I actually love furries and the furry fandom.  I think it’s a harmless hobby and allows these kids and young adults to socialize and have fun.    I think they’re so entertaining and funny–and very friendly too.  You probably read my article about my feelings about my son being a furry, which is why you wrote.   He has developed so much more self confidence and improved his social skills immensely since he began attending the conventions (his first one was in late 2010).  

My son was a lot like yours.  He was pretty much an outcast at school and middle school as especially bad for him.   He is very creative and intelligent (I think most furries are–many of them work in scientific, computer, or medical fields or in the performing or visual arts) and most have some kind of art or performing avocation.  

My son, like yours, was so shy and unsure of himself, lacking in confidence and socially awkward.  He told me later on that he was very depressed during his middle and high school years.  In 2009 he came out to me as gay but I think I already knew.  I never had a problem with that.   I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay and never have.  Many of the greatest friends I ever had were gay.

He was embarrassed to tell me he was a furry but when he finally did I just looked at him with a blank stare because I had no idea what that meant.  He explained and I looked it up on Wikipedia.   Sadly, furries have gotten a bad reputation and it’s become associated with depraved sex and perversions, but the reality is, that is not the case.   I found out the furry fandom is an outgrowth of the science fiction conventions and has been around since the 1980s.   I don’t know why they get so much hate and why people fear them so much that there have been actual hate crimes and bomb threats at a few of the hotels that hold the conventions.  It’s just a hobby and a passion for dressing up and socializing (and performing) in costume.  Furry allows shy and creative young adults like my son to become more outgoing because they are in costume and take on a persona that fits their chosen animal.   My son’s life is so much better since he became a furry, and every time he performs in another dance comp, I always watch and root for him (most of them are live streaming now). 

I’m glad you’re another mom who supports her son being a furry. You sound like you have a very warm and loving relationship with him.   My son will be tickled pink when I tell him that another mom supports her son being furry.

I also want to write a blog post including this letter and my reply but I will not identify you by name or your son’s fursona either.   I want to do that because I think it’s important that the truth about furries come out because so many parents of children who are furries completely misunderstand what it’s about and think it’s some kind of sex cult, which it is not.   It got it’s unfortunate reputation mostly from an episode of CSI that featured a furry who was a serial murderer.   It’s time for the truth to come out–that this is a harmless (if rather expensive!) hobby.  

“This is the Real Me” (music video)

My son starred in and created this video while he was attending Megaplex 2015 in Orlando a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

My son’s second 2nd place dance performance!

On Saturday night, my son was at a convention for furries in Orlando where he competed in the dance competition. He and his friends worked on this for months. My son did the choreography. Here is the result. Unlike his other dance performances, this one tells a story.
The judges must have liked it since they placed second again!

My son’s dancing this weekend!

My son’s in Orlando, attending Megaplex (a furry convention) and right now I’m following his Twitter account and living vicariously through that, because he’s going to be having so much fun for the next 4 days.

He’s in the dance competition again and will be performing with a friend of his. They’ve been working on it for months. I haven’t seen any practice videos because he wants to keep it a surprise, but he thinks it’s the best dance set he’s done yet.

So please send your prayers and positive thoughts that he does well. I’ll post a video when it’s available. Here was his second place (novice category) performance from a convention he attended in Chicago in November.

Here’s his performance at the same Orlando convention last July, where he was a finalist but didn’t place (awards are only given to first through third place).

What really matters.

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Life isn’t about what you do or who you are.
Life is about those moments that just make you say “Wow. I did that.”

–“Mex Nyman”

Hopefully this clears up some misunderstandings about furries.

A furry (“Spazz Fox”) dressed in his fursuit for his three year old son for the first time. The boy’s reaction is priceless. Making people happy is what fursuiting is really all about.

My son competing in “Floor Wars” at Furry Weekend Atlanta

My son competed in three dance competitions this past weekend in Atlanta. Unfortunately he didn’t make finals this time in the solo fursuit competition and he says the group performance he choreographed was a mess (I disagree).

He did do well in the “Floor Wars” dance competition, where competitors dance out of costume (which he says is much easier!)

He’s the one in the red shorts. He made it through three rounds into the semifinals (Top 4 out of 32 dancers).

Here is the group performance he choreographed (he wasn’t given a choice–the original choreographer quit and put him in charge!) He was really freaking out about it, but it’s not nearly as bad as he thought it was.