[Editor Corbeau says…] Statistically, a young furry is much more likely to be bi, gay, queer, transgender. They’re almost always either the quiet kid in the corner or the hyper kid hanging from a lamp post. Almost by definition, they’re imaginative, creative folks. Their life as young adults will hurt. It just will. High school is hell, and without a social group, it’s worse. During their young adult years, a good community is remarkably healing and powerful. True, pretending to be a fox and wearing a tail to school is going to draw some negative attention, but from experience there’s absolutely nothing a geeky, dreamy young weirdo can do to avoid abuse. The alternative is hiding, staying still and quiet for your entire school experience, or giving up. The strength of a community helps overcomes that. There’s even research. Furries are as happy and well as “normal” folks–and that’s against some serious odds.
The furry fandom won’t make your child weird. If they’re interested in the fandom, they’re already weird, and we’re okay with that. Although we do embrace weird and give a safe space for weirdness to stretch out and celebrate itself. My father tried to keep me out of the fandom, saying “you’ll never be able to run for president with that on your record,” but that’s kind of a long shot, since I was gay, ADHD, and fixated on werewolves a long time before I met the fandom.
Long-term? We haven’t seen any lasting harm. The silly weird stuff tends to fade with age as kids mellow into adults. The fandom can provide a lot of the support a church-type group can. It can help with life transitions, help bring relationships together. And we have a lot of talented, creative folks in the arts and in computers, who like to help and share. If your kid is interested in working in computers, entertainment, or the creative fields, the fandom is a great network. Older furries tend to be educated, tend to hold degrees, and tend to be job-holding, sensible people.
What has the fandom done for me? I’m married to my partner of 10+ years, who I met at my first furmeet in 2002. I had friends to help me finally come out to myself as gay, at the old age of 24. I’m a cheerful, social extrovert, overcoming long odds and a decade of bullying to get to that point. I’ve made friends with award-winning animators…and a few publishers, useful for a writer! And as a mentor in the fandom I’ve taught my furry friends some very useful tech skills, secretly planted furries in my former jobs, consulted for artists and built a few web pages, and gave a few insider tips for college applications and successful job applications. And even though I’m over 40, I still have friends that can let me pretend to be either something I’m not, or what I secretly am.
Thanks for listening 🙂 – Corbeau