Getting involved

A dog barks, stiffly gets up from his slumber on the couch, and trots to the door barking and barking, and wagging and wagging.
He stops barking to take a deep sniff under the door.
The scent of the one who has pressed the bell is unfamiliar.
Someone new is here.
A cause for concern? A cause for joy? He barks softly, "ruh, ruh," and wags and wags.
Tarro and I were talking this last week, and they mentioned an idea that I really liked: zoos should brag more. For the sake of feeling good about ourselves and about each other, being open about the things we did that we're really pleased with is hella constructive.
So, under that objective, I want to brag about what an incredible year or two I've had in the zoo community. And the point is not that "I am great, look at me." The point is that getting meaningfully involved in the community is super possible, and it doesn't necessarily take that long of a timeframe either. My name is Eggshell Ghosthearth, and I'm kinda new around here, but I've also had the pleasure of working really closely with all of my favorite zoophilia-related projects; Zooier Than Thou, Zooey Dot Pub, Zoo & Me, I don't have a Twitter account where I grow my own personal brand or anything, but, behind the scenes, I have really had an amazing time with getting involved in all of this barn-scented tomfoolery.
For Zooier Than Thou, I've written sketches, I've done voice work, and I've had a lot of fun chatting and joking around with everyone involved. I'm really happy with the positive feedback that the show gets when I see it. I started out at ZooTT by reaching out to Toggle saying thanks for everything that his show showed me was possible, and I offered him a sketch I had written, and then I kept handing him sketches over the weeks as we kept chatting.
For Zooey Dot Pub, I'm someone who has her head around 1,000 page tomes of punctuation and grammar rules, and, surprisingly rarely at odds with that, I'm also someone who has a strong appreciation for character voice (/personal voice) shining through and resonating with an audience, and so getting to help out on Zooey Dot Pub's editing team has been a great match. I started out here by reaching out to Tarro and letting them know I'd heard them talking about the magazine on ZooTT (serendipitously, it was the first episode to feature my skit writing as well, the Solitaire Sketch in S4E6 Dog Days,) and I offered the racc a piece of writing that they could use if they wanted it. It was something I had originally written for something else but that didn't really fit as well there, and I thought the magazine might want it. After a lot of back and forth with the editing team to get it into a shape where it was presentable, they put the article up. I kind of thought that would be a one-time involvement and me and the magazine would kindly tip our hats and each move on with our own business from there, but, as Tarro and I kept talking about ideas and content, I ended up being a regular editor and sometimes writer, and I'm really proud of the work that this team has gotten done and the impact that it seems to have had on people who needed to see that zoo affirmations are important, real, genuine, and good.
I've written a couple of zooey text adventure games that have been played on the zooey podcast Zoo & Me: one is called Formthief, and that one is publicly available if you want to check it out for yourself, and the other is a Halloween-themed game that I gave them a sneak preview of but it's not available to the public yet. That's not a scripted show, so, my abilities as a writer aren't super needed there, but I really enjoyed how those episodes turned out, and it's a fun show in general for the fact that I know the hosts. Listening to it really is like catching up with friends; it's the parasocial way that podcasts in general often function, but brought to an actually-also-is-normal-social level as well.
And besides all that, I've been keeping up a project where I post my own fiction unrelated to anything else, featuring stories and poems about zoo stuff with no pretenses about it being anything other than zoo-themed writing. Like, I'm not claiming that I'm the only game in town here, zoo writing has existed on the internet before, and if you go on some furry websites I'm sure you can still find lots of bestiality themed writing. But, on my project, the idea is that a lot of it is about the romance of interspecies couples, or about characters who are zoos who are navigating social situations about being a zoo even while no frisky animals are present. One of my dashboards tells me that the current total word count of the project is 292K, which makes it about as long as the first Game of Thrones book, except it's mostly a ton of different short stories instead of all being one continuous narrative. I've done fantasy, science fiction, modern setting stuff, alt history stuff, a novelization of Romeo and Juliet but Juliet is a dog and I had to change surprisingly little from the original plot of Romeo and Juliet. It's a year in and it's been a fun journey already, I have been surprised by some of the variance that's come out of it in terms of form and, honestly, humor: as the project has gone on, I've included a few stories that have a very ZooTT-y bent of being silly, which is not quite what I expected the project to be when I first started it, but I love that it's gotten to where it is.
No one gave me permission to write those stories. I was just thinking one day while walking a dog--my husband--about how much of a waste it is that I'm so interested in storytelling, and I'm not telling the stories that would matter to me or my people. And so I decided to try it for a little while. See what came out, if I decided that I was willing for zoosexuality to not be something subverted or obscured in a story, but actually be the primary on-the-face-of-it-all theme. I'm glad I did. Working on those stories led in to skit writing, article writing, all of that stuff.
Anyways. Basically, broad picture, I'm so happy with what I've gotten to do since I opened up to doing zooey stuff in my work, and chatting regularly with other zooey folks who are also doing zooey things. I'd like to say I've gotten to be really good friends with Tarro, Brass, Toggs, and a lot of others who are looked up to among cool queer zoos.
And if you're someone who like, does stuff, then I would love for you to get to do the same kind of thing. Maybe you also do creative writing; Maybe you do computer programming; Maybe you know how to train AI models; Maybe you have a cool voice; Maybe you know how to draw. The zoo community is a fertile field hungry for and appreciative of contributions. It is a place where your talents will not go to waste as easily as though you were trying to "make it" in Hollywood, on YouTube, on Amazon KDP, et cetera.
I think that meaningful advice is complicated to give. What I've said above is probably more helpful than whatever I'm about to say below that is actually under the heading of "advice." What I've said above is about doing things, and that's how I've gotten to be in this place that I like being in: by doing things. Writing skits I think it would be funny to hear others act out, writing articles about things that I would like to tell the zoo community about. I have known people who want to be famous authors and talk about it all the time, but have never written a book. I don't imagine their book that literally does not exist is killing it on the bestseller lists.
I also don't mean to imply that everyone has to be a creator. I think it's normal to dabble in art of some form, be it music, writing, drawing, and then find that it was fun but it's not something you want to dedicate time out of your day to going forward. That's fair enough.
Anyways, again, I do think, for the reasons said above, that giving meaningful advice is complicated. But, let's give it a shot.
Be pleasant to be around. If you're rude and angry with others who you're trying to get in the good graces of, they may not really be impressed by this rude angry person, and will probably--wisely--keep you at a distance from anything important or sincere. Emanate vibes that are nice to be party to. Be respectful in a way that is not just respecting people in your own way, but respecting people in a way that they themselves would think of as you being respectful towards them all on their own.
Live a good life. If you're stressing about a hundred different things, you might not have the throughput to add "cool zoo activism" onto the pile of things to get done. That's not to say you have to have everything going perfectly before you step in. If things are on fire but you have an article that you want to send to Tarro, fucking go for it. But, one way that I have been thinking of it, that I am hesitant to say, is, "Make good choices, and then make bad choices." As the saying about combat goes, "Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing." In our case, maybe we didn't seek to be in any kind of combat to begin with, but we have found ourselves spawned into a world that wants to criminalize us and shun us from positive self expression, and so pushing back against that can be really meaningful and important if it's your kind of thing, rather than standing there and silently taking that treatment forever. But, that's easier to do--and do effectively--if you have a place to sleep at night and food to eat, and maybe even some spending money to throw around on tools to make your zoo work go harder. Basically what I'm trying to encapsulate with this point is, take care of yourself first, and then if you find that taking care of yourself includes expressing yourself with involvement in zoo projects, you will be better positioned to think intelligently about whether that risk is worth it for you, and how to minimize your profile if risk mitigation is important for you as a part of going forward. (I reckon risk mitigation should be important for most people, but, I'm not your mom.)
Reassess. Maybe, something that made sense 4 years ago might as well have happened 10,000 years ago on the other side of the planet, for all the good it does you to stick to your guns on it now. Things change. Maybe Twitter has gone to shit and being on the platform isn't worth it anymore; Maybe your furry boyfriend who spouts off anti-zoo shit all the time is kind of a tool, and is holding you back.
Look at things carefully. But also, don't let the illusions of assholes hold you back from becoming the best version of you.
If you're good at something, make something zooey worth bragging about.
Article written by Eggshell Ghosthearth (March 2024)
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