"The term coming out means to reveal oneself as any orientation or gender. It means no longer hiding one’s sexual or romantic orientation, or gender."
—excerpt from the Simple English Wikipedia page on coming out of the closet
As zoosexuals, we’re often confronted with what other people think about us.
Really dumb cyberbullies on the internet often like to say things like, “Zoophiles are disgusting, nobody would be friends with you if they knew your secret.”
But for me, it isn’t a secret. My friends know that I date dogs, they know that animals are kind of my entire life, and most of these friends don’t really think anything about it. I have non-zoo friends who I talk shop with all the time about the latest zoo drama, getting the perspective of smart and mature people who don’t have a horse in our race. I have friends who have shown deep sympathy towards the facts of zoosexual life, sharing their sadness at the realities that animal partners have shorter lifespans. These friends may have never posted their endorsement of zoosexuality on Twitter—and I wouldn’t ask them to—but just by their personal support, I would consider them amazing zoo allies.
The idea that “no one would love us” over zoosexuality is pretty laughable. To the majority of people it isn’t a big deal, so if someone already likes you enough to be your best friend, odds are that they’ll just think of zoosexuality as one of your weird quirks. Let’s also not forget that zoosexuality is pretty common itself—we like to say 7% of humans are zoosexual as an average estimate, but even if it’s 1%, we zoophiles could all only talk to each other and have 80,000,000 people to choose friends from. I somehow don’t think there is quite the scarcity of zoo support that cyberbullies want to claim there is.
But, even though a lot of people are neutral or positive, it is also true that some people have a negative opinion of zoosexuality. Maybe they just feel deeply grossed out by the idea of humans and animals sharing sexuality. Maybe they have some reason to take a moral stance against it, due to concerns about animal welfare, or stemming from conservative ideas of limiting sexual expression.
So the reality of “what do people think of us” is that it isn’t all doom and gloom, but it also isn’t all daffodils and sunshine.
When people in zoo spaces are sharing their experiences of coming out to friends, these are some of the kinds of things that are really common to see:
😄 “I came out to my friend and he accepts me!! I was ready to debate him about consent but he already understands that animals can communicate well enough. He wants to learn more and is glad I shared this with him. I’m so happy, aaaaaaa!!!”
🙂 “I came out to my friend and it went okay! I don’t think he really understands it, but he said he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. We’re still going to play League of Legends tomorrow.”
😬 “I came out to my friend and it went kind of good but kind of bad. He says we can still be friends but he doesn’t want me doing anything with animals.”
😟 “I came out to my friend and he blocked me. I haven’t been able to get in touch with him at all, it’s been a week, I think it’s over.”
💀 “I came out to my friend and he is yelling at me that I need to get professional help and cure my zoosexuality.”
Now, maybe I just know how to pick friends or something, but I have pretty much always had it go 🙂, with the rare 😄 or 😟. But it will go different ways for different people, and all of these things are certainly on the table. So, how do we handle that? What do we do, knowing that coming out might go well, but it might go badly? Is it worth ever coming out at all?
Truthfully, these aren’t easy questions to answer. I wish I could say it’s always worth it. I do think it’s usually worth it, especially for people who you would think of as your best friends forever. But everyone’s situation is different. What’s worth it to one person might not be worth it to others.
Come with me, reader, and let’s start looking at all the different sides of this vast and difficult topic! If you’ve been unsure of how to navigate friendships as a zoosexual, hopefully by the end of this article you’ll have a better idea of what kinds of things it’s helpful to think about.
The first thing I’d like to talk about is this: Not all friendships are made equal. Sometimes, well-meaning people find their way into our lives. Other times, toxic and manipulative people may find their way into our lives instead. And we don’t always know which one they are right away. Taking stock of the kinds of people you’re surrounded by is an important step in deciding how to proceed with something like coming out as a zoo. So, without further ado, let us begin there.
Good Friends, Bad Friends
I love to read romance novels. Very often, there is a “best friend” character in the book. This character is, indeed, usually a great friend. They have our main character’s back. They are someone who the main character can talk to about all of the things that are on their mind. Heck, it’s actually pretty common for the friend to be gay and the main character to be straight, or for the friend to already be married or something, just to explain why they aren’t the romantic pairing of this book. This friend listens sincerely to what the main character is saying, and offers wise advice on how to proceed.
Sometimes in books, we also see a character who is a BAD FRIEND. The main character thinks that this person cares about them, but really the friend is being SELFISH, and is actually emotionally manipulating the main character to get something that they want at the main character’s expense. Sometimes the bad friend doesn’t actually care about the main character at all and just wants to leech off of what the main character has, like money or like borrowing a flashy car, or like access to the Cool Person Group that the main character is in. Other times, the bad friend just has a superiority complex, and needs to feel like they are better than the main character, so if they see that the main character is succeeding, they need to cut the main character down and start arguments about arbitrary topics to make the main character feel bad.
Sometimes in real life, our friends are textbook examples of a good friend. They are here for us, and they want us to succeed. Other times in real life, unfortunately, our friends turn out to be textbook examples of a bad friend.
Usually when I see people talking about how scared they are about coming out to a friend, I kind of cringe, because I worry: “Gosh, is that person really your friend?”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s smart to know the risks of coming out—and we’ll get into that later in this article, I promise! It is a good idea, before coming out, to assess what the outcome might be. You might have worries like, “Oh god, my friend is such a gossip, are they going to tell my secret to everyone just because they don’t realize that it being secret is a really big deal to me?” That kind of question is a real concern, and it doesn’t necessarily make me think that this friend I’m hearing about is a bad friend—they still care about you—it just means that the friend might be a security risk to you for reasons that the friend is hardly even aware of.
But things like, “My friend has said how much he hates zoosexuals before and how he would hurt them if he ever actually knew any, so I worry he would really do that to me.” “I told my friend I was a furry and he said that that was too weird for him to deal with and he never wants to hear about it again, so I know that he would not take it well at all if I came out as a zoo.” “I think my friend would blackmail me if I gave them this information about myself.”
Jeez! Hey, if I was seriously worried that a person might react in any of those ways, guess who I want to be best friends with: NOT THEM. What the fuck!
That might be someone who’s fun enough to hang out and play video games with, but that does not sound like someone I would ever want to be friends-friends with. And if those were my real worries, that if I came out they would throw away the friendship over it, then frankly I would be inclined to skip the middle step and just stop hanging out with them myself.
Toxic people don’t deserve time out of your day. You do not exist just to please them, and if you’re worried that they’re going to be Bad News for you, then that’s all the more reason to dump them and surround yourself with people who are better.
Of course, I do want to say that I understand, sometimes these things are easier said than done. Maybe you have trouble making friends, and so yeah, the few people you hang out with are toxic, but if it weren’t for them you’d have nobody at all. And that is difficult. It’s being caught between a rock and a hard place. And frankly, if you’re in that situation, coming out as a zoo probably isn’t your biggest concern: finding better friends is. And that may take time. Do the best you can.
Coming out to “bad friends,” I wouldn’t risk it. I also probably wouldn’t prolong the hurt by continuing to be friends with them forever. But, sometimes it is what it is. Maybe they’re not even “your friend” exactly, but are a friend’s friend, so you have to be around them sometimes anyways. You don’t have to feel bad for keeping these people at an arm’s length from you: in fact, it probably is usually better if you keep some distance. “Bad friends” are where 😬 and 💀 coming out stories often originate from.
Coming out to “good friends,” I do think is much more worth whatever risk there might still be. This is the land of 🙂 and 😄. Good friends are the ones who will listen to what you say your experience of zoosexuality is, rather than falling back on what they’ve heard before about zoosexuality. They are the ones who will give you the benefit of the doubt. And, if you intend to be friends with them for a long time—maybe hopefully for the rest of your life—then having to keep on that armor of secrecy around them really sucks.
If you have good friends who you might feel safe coming out to, let’s talk about some of the positives of that.
Why coming out to friends is worth it
I’m personally not Christian, but I want to share something that a Christian priest told me once while I was attending a funeral. He said, on the subject of suicide: “Isolation is the tool of The Enemy.” I think there is truth in these words, from a religious point of view or from an a-religious point of view. Isolation is literally a form of punishment, whether that’s making a misbehaving child sit alone in the corner, or whether it’s putting a prisoner in solitary confinement. When we are isolated, we can think the worst about things. “Everyone must hate me right now, everyone sucks, I hate myself, I hate everyone else for not seeing my pain.”
Sometimes, isolation is literal: You are in a room that nobody else is in. You are literally alone.
But, other times, isolation is more insidious than that. Sometimes we can be in a room PACKED with people, but because we “can’t be ourselves,” we don’t feel like “we” are really there. Sure, we are physically there. But nobody there knows us. Nobody there knows who we REALLY are. We are effectively still alone in our head, and sometimes this feels even worse, because the idea of opening up is RIGHT THERE, yet we can’t allow ourselves to do it.
And if you don’t have ANYWHERE where you CAN open up? NOWHERE to fulfill that emotional need? That can be very harmful to your mental health. And it’s especially harmful if we’re talking about a self-imposed isolation sentence of years and years and years, or worse, our entire lives.
Being able to open up leads to a much more fulfilling life. Maybe, if you don’t have friends you feel safe opening up to right now, you could open up to a therapist. If you’re not in a position to seek therapy, even just writing something down on a piece of paper can be a meaningful outlet. I’m serious! Journaling is big! You don’t even have to keep the piece of paper if you’re worried about someone snooping through your things and finding it. But if you’re feeling down and alone, one thing that might be a helpful way to vent could be to get a pen and paper, and write down that you are a zoophile, write out some sentences about what that means to you, write some honest thoughts down about how animals make you feel. And then, once you’ve done that, you are free to rip up the paper and eat it or whatever, but the important thing is that in real life you expressed these feelings.
And of course, being able to talk with real friends about this is a real step up too. Even beyond telling a friend “Gosh I think German Shepherds are hot” (which I do say a lot to friends,) I also love telling my non zoo friends about the day-to-day stuff of zoo life: what me and the dogs have seen on walks, what kinds of jokes were in the latest zoo podcast episode, what animal genitalia trivia I learned today. Compare this to having to keep those things to myself? Yuck. Sad. Painful. For the rest of my life I never want to live like that.
Having friends you are out to is amazing from a mental health standpoint. It’s also good from a security standpoint. That might sound counter-intuitive. “If more people know my secret, doesn’t that mean more people could use it against me?” Yyyyes, technically that is true. But think of it this way: If you come out to zero people, and then accidentally send animal porn to someone in your contacts list, you have zero people that you can fall back on in this unfortunate situation. On the other paw, if you come out to ten people, and most of them don’t care and two of them are super allies, and you accidentally send animal porn to someone in your contacts list, that still sucks a whole lot and you might still face consequences, but you also have people to fall back on for emotional support, people to vent to about the situation, people who can give you advice, people who might even be able to help you through any legal or work situations even if it’s as simple as giving you a ride back from the police station or letting you crash on their couch for a night. Having allies is big.
Overall, having people you are out to is really, really worth it, whether you need to hear that from an emotional perspective or whether you need to hear it from a nuts and bolts safety point of view.
Knowing the risks
It’s true that there are risks to coming out. Sometimes, coming out to people doesn’t go well. Usually the risks exist simply because of how taboo and/or illegal bestiality is in many places. Risks can come in a few forms:
Emotional risks – Maybe this person you have trusted does not accept you. That hurts for sure. You put yourself in a vulnerable place with them, and it didn’t go the way you would have hoped.
Legal risks – Maybe someone takes a way stronger moralizing stance against bestiality than you ever would have thought, and they make it their mission to get you arrested over it. It’s… frankly unlikely that they will actually make this work, but many places do have some law or another that can be stretched to be interpreted as anti-bestiality, so the possibility of it can be unnerving.
Professional risks – Maybe word about your zoosexuality gets around to your workplace, someone makes a stink about it, and you get fired because the company thinks that’s the easiest way to deal with the situation. Or if you’re self employed, maybe they try to smear you publicly and make customers not want to support you anymore.
Living situation risks – If you are depending on someone for a living space, e.g., you live with your parents or with roommates, maybe word gets around to them and it goes really poorly and you get kicked out. It certainly might be worth waiting until you are not dependent on someone else before you come out to that person directly, especially if you’re on the fence as to whether or not it would go well. But, someone you come out to who takes it the wrong way may identify telling your parents/roommates as a good way to harm you.
These are all very real, tangible dangers to a lot of people. Is there anything you can do about them?
Some of them can sort of be mitigated. If you pay your own rent or own your own property, that makes your living situation a lot more secure. If you do blue collar work for a small independent business whose owner already knows you’re a zoo, you probably don’t have to worry about getting fired over someone telling your boss this scandalous secret.
Basically, the more ways you’re already kind of set in life, the harder it is for one bad actor to disrupt everything. I still don’t think you are required to be independently wealthy and live off the grid before you’re allowed to feel safe coming out to anyone as a zoo. But, there is something to be said for the fact that being more independent does make these risks smaller and easier to justify.
Ultimately though, coming out is a risk no matter what. It’s important to weigh the benefits of coming out with what risks are realistic to your situation. If you really do have a good friend who is willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, then the odds of these risks actually coming to pass should look very small. But, for some people, that risk calculation will tip towards just keeping it a secret for now. If that’s how it is, and yet you’re reading a zoosexual lifestyle magazine right now so like clearly zoo stuff is a topic on your mind sometimes, then I would make it a goal to get to a place in life where you do feel safer coming out to people.
Because, as stated earlier, these risks also cut both ways. There is serious emotional damage to staying confined in your secret armor for your entire life. There are legal, professional, and living situation risks that can be amplified if rumors break out suddenly in a way that you didn’t control, at a time when you haven’t built up any safety net of people who support your zoosexuality.
The obvious emotional risk of coming out to friends is only a possibility. The invisible emotional risk of staying closeted to friends is guaranteed.
A few last thoughts
So let’s recap, and also tidy up a few last thoughts on all of this “coming out to friends” stuff.
Overall, I think coming out to friends is worth it. It’s not something you have to do carelessly, and it may be the case that you’re not in a good position to come out to friends right now. But, in the long run it’s something that I would hope most people have the opportunity to do.
Even with friends who probably will be okay to come out to, it’s okay to not rush things: Sometimes we have to put in the time with someone as "okay friends" before we get to the level of definitely being good friends who are trusted enough.
If you’re not out to anybody at all yet, I would look forward to a time when you can be out, rather than thinking you will have to keep it a secret forever.
This article has been about “friends,” but some of the same ideas might also apply to other people you could want to come out to: boyfriends/girlfriends, family members, maybe people who you work with professionally depending on what the dynamic there is. Ultimately, you are the one who has to judge if it’s a good idea or not.
If/When you are out to someone, you can decide from there how often to bring it up again, the same way you would think about it for any other topic. Many of my friends have no interest whatsoever in wargaming, so I have learned which friends not to annoy with all of the detailed stories of how my games have been going lately. Some friends, while not hostile in the least to my zoosexuality, also just aren’t interested in hearing the latest on what’s going on with it. Others are interested, so I just talk about it with them more often instead. No need to overwhelm them if they’re kinda indifferent. But, also no need for it to be a secret anymore! It’s still a win.
If you want more tips on the actual process of coming out, and some other topics that are related to this, I'll include links to other relevant articles down at the bottom below this article.
Also, feel free to make friends with other zoos! It’s kind of a fun shortcut around a lot of the things we’ve been talking about in this article. If you make an account and join somewhere like Zoo Community, or this magazine’s Discord server, the fact that you and everyone else is a zoo is basically just the default assumption. So, since you don’t have to worry about that being a secret, you can actually kind of talk about that right away, and then over time get to the point where you’re comfortable telling someone about your real League of Legends username so you can queue up together sometime.
Good luck everyone. Whether you’ve never come out to anyone yet or whether you come out to every new person you meet on the spot, I wish you many 🙂 experiences, and even a whole bunch of 😄
Article written by Alissa Dogchurch (October 2023)
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