I wanted to respond to this sooner but life happens, which... actually ends up being part of my message.
What I'm going to say is more or less a rehash of what's already been said, but I feel it's important enough for me to voice myself and take a stand for what has essentially become my family.
opened with "Who are we?", but maybe I should start with "Who am I?"
I am someone who has fought very, very hard to be a productive member of society, despite feeling rejected by it for a majority of my life. I am someone who has struggled through abuse, bullying, threats, physical harm, self-doubt, and may other obstacles for the chance to take the very breaths I take as I write this. All for being different. All for just being me.
I am someone who has spent more time than some of our community members have actually been alive in an effort to understand myself, puzzle through life, and try to figure out how to make the world a better place. Even if just a little
I came to TG a little over a half a year ago, and when I did, I had armor on, not sure what to expect. In the past, I'd seen that even through the struggles we endure at times as therians, other things stand in the way of acceptance. I had been told I couldn't possibly be a therian for a wide range of reasons, from "you're not canine" to all sorts of things that have made me doubt myself. I was outcast by those with similar stories at my time of need, if for no reason other than to show power.
I saw a door at TG and knocked on it, hoping for sanctuary but with expectations very low. Struggling to find my voice, my claws, and so many other things.
Those who answered, though... those who allowed me to take a step through the door, tell my story, get even a moment's rest in a world so chaotic and full of strife... those individuals have literally changed my life. Tremendously
. And for the better.
I came to TG looking for refuge; for a place to heal. As someone on the outskirts of the community for a very long time, timid to take those first steps in really becoming a MEMBER of the community... my needs were selfish. "I need to heal."
As I've done so, I've come to realize just how big this effort actually is - not because I
need to heal, but because we
need to heal. The entire community. For various reasons. We all have scars from various things and we're all on the mend.
My story is my own but components are shared throughout the community. Others have experienced things I can't relate to, and I'm sure others look at my story and think the same. At the core of this community, though, are creatures who are simply trying to survive and understand the world, through many lenses and perspectives, through many philosophies and religions and experiences, through varying degrees of humanity and animality.
I passed through the threshold into TG and was given respect, trust, fairness, freedom from judgment, opportunities to heal and be healed, and beyond all that, a place for my soul to be freed from some of the chaos the world throws at us. A place outside myself to feel safe and to be me.
My healing isn't done (is it ever?) but that sense of sanctuary has become very, very important to me. Not necessarily for
me, because each day, I realize more and more about what this community actually is.
A family of animal-people (of various degrees and definitions), with each member doing what they can to determine what is real and true in this world, how to survive, how to feel alive, how to be happy, and how to make change.
Many souls in need of refuge, as willing to give support as they are to receive it.
So I stand. I stand to support TG and, though I'm not certain what
I can do to make the community better, I have vowed to myself to try to figure it out. I stand to do what I can to support therians as a whole.
I vow to try to figure out how to mend rather than destroy. I vow to try to figure out how to inspire understanding in place of judgment. I vow to try to figure out how to band together and make my family's voice roar out in pride, and be heard. I vow to try to figure out how to replace the hardships we as a collective unit have endured with a smoother road for those coming to us in future generations.
It would be naive to expect that everyone will always get along. "Normal" families don't function that way, so how can a community as extensive as this do so? But it's also naive to think that a family backed by such strong goals should be torn down out of spite or differences. It's incredibly selfish to want something like this to crumble over personal pride or for personal gain.
It's difficult, sometimes, sure. I'll never fully agree with everything that everyone thinks, says, does, wants, or works toward. But you know what? I can choose
to respect those things, try to understand, to learn, to gain their perspective (and evolve my own), to teach, to actively work to make this community the family I've never had, to offer hope to those who feel utterly lost, and to otherwise bridge the gaps I can between the animals inside and the world outside. I can choose, just as others have the option to choose how they respond to me.
Not only can
I choose. I have chosen.
As an adult human. As an adult tiger. As everything else in between and beyond.
Because this is one of the first choices in my life that feels like it really matters
in the big picture. This choice will allow me to become a better creature and it will allow me to support others in their efforts to do the same.
I have chosen
The choice of whoever reads this... well, it's in their paws.
Who am I
? I am a therian. Always have been, always will be.
Who are we
? We are the therian community. Always have been, always will be.
ended with "We're on the same team."
I want to end with something deeper.
We're in the same family.
This roar is the voice I've long searched for. I hope to hear and feel yours, crying out in unison.
For whoever we are.