Recently, I had the absolutely pleasure of attending Eurofurence with a group of other zoos. Some of them are zoos that you may know from being around the community. Others are zoos that choose not to engage at all. From an outside perspective, we probably seemed like any other group attending. We ate together, played music, had a party, attended panels. I've been to a number of conventions before, and there was no thing that made this one special.
But it was special to me. It was wonderful.
To anyone that hasn't had this experience, it might be hard to explain, but I'll do my best. A lot of people discover they're animal attracted before finding the community. Zoosexuality is a wonderful thing, but it can come with a lot of very negative feelings about yourself, something I'm sure many readers have felt. But, eventually, through Twitter or a Telegram group or whatever, some people do find it. I've had the privilege of being that first point of contact a few points now, and watching people go from feeling alone to feeling like there are tons of people out there that understand and support them is amazing. There's a level of disbelief that we exist, even when we're right there. It's apprehensive, but excited. Nervous, but eager.
I've been in the community for a while now, but real life brought me back to that feeling. I don't want to seem like I'm trying to devalue online relationships here, the friends you have online are just as valid as the friends you have in the real world. But zoosexuality is something typically experienced behind locked doors, in your house on the computer. It's something that you keep extremely private, maybe shared amongst close friends. Or at least, that's my experience. But that wasn't the case here.
For a few short days, we were able to exist in public as ourselves.
It wasn't perfect, don't get me wrong. Lots of us still used pseudonyms, and spoke in codes, and we were always aware of who was around us. But to be able to just lean over to Akito, host of the Zoo & Me podcast, someone I've talked to hundreds of times, and just say "Hey, could you pass the water" or "What'd you think of that panel?", it was just so cool.
That's the weirdest part about it, too. It's not like our conversations were even about animals or our sexuality that often. A lot of the times it was just about life, the weather, the convention, or whatever else was contextually relevant at the time. It was more that we knew that if we wanted to, we could talk about it. It was so liberating knowing that I didn't have to worry about "slipping up", or remembering to not call my partner "my partner" instead of "my dog". Even just being able to talk about this magazine was so cool. I spend so much time and effort on this. Most of my real life friends have no idea, and those that do don't really care. To be able to just chat ideas, and talk about the parts of it that I'm passionate about was incredibly satisfying.
Anyway, I'm not writing all of this to try and brag. I wanted to share my story so that if you're someone out there who hasn't been able to experience this, maybe even if you're someone who hasn't really stepped into the community yet either, I want you to know it's possible. You can have everything other people take for granted. We might not have a real zoo pride parade, but you can sit in a park and sing songs together and it sure as hell feels pretty prideful. We might not have zoo conventions, but a furry convention full of zoos is pretty damn close. Being a zoo doesn't have to mean rejecting other humans. You can have amazing relationships with both humans and animals. It isn't perfect yet, it isn't easy, but if you can it's well worth it.
We're all fighting for a better future, but that doesn't mean the present can't have some incredible moments too.
Thank you so much to:
Brass Bulldog, Akito, Milk, Vex, Inter, Cookie, Konny, Zipwok, Vex again (they asked to be on twice), Feloin, and all the other awesome people that can't currently be on this list. Please know you gave me one of the best weeks of my life.
And to you dear reader, I hope you can have an experience like this someday too.
Article written by Tarro (September 2023)
Find them at https://twitter.com/hereforthezoo
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