Guest Post – Safe Haven by Spectrum C/W Self Harm
*Note from Shane*: Sometimes I get caught up in the day-day work of just trying to make sure HavenCon happens and that we provide the best
experience possible our attendees. Making posts, social media, ensuring we meeting our pre-registration numbers and 100 other tasks.
I get lost and forget the *real* importance of the show.
This story is a reminder of why I do what I do. This story and so many others like it are why we need HavenCon.
This is 1 story from 1 attendee, from 1 fandom, and I am happy to share it with you now as a reminder to all of us of the ways we influence the world around us, sometimes without even realizing it.
Thank you to everyone that has worked with HavenCon, purchased pass, made a contribution big or small to provide a space for people like Spectrum to find themselves and to be the best version of that self.
Content Warning: Self Harm
Safe Haven by Spectrum
Last year marked some of the best and worst parts of my life, but we should focus on this one
moment, frozen in my memory. It was honestly one of the best weekends of my life, meeting
new people, new friends, and breaking my own mind’s emotional barriers. So this begins the
tale of a haven, my safe haven.
It was last year, 201 6, February or March I believe. If you have never met me, I am a huge
geek, and if you know what fandoms are, my culture library on them is filled! But one of my
favorite is probably one of the most, controversial. See. I’m a furry. If you don’t know what that
is, it’s basically where a person has a anthropomorphic animal original character, or what we
call it, a fursona (A fun play on words of furry and persona). Now, what do we do in this fandom
you ask? Well, some of us draw their character, some even do that for others, be it as fanart,
trading, a free piece of artwork, and if they think they’re a good enough artist, they take
commissions. Some write, either for fun, tradings, or for money. But the best known thing that
we do is fursuiting. It’s basically like a very high quality version of a mascot suit, but we view
from the eyes rather than the head. So, just a little backstory on that so you will understand
what is happening in this story.
So back on topic, there is a local furry convention I was unable to attend, which stunk, but my
mom wanted us to still go to a convention. After a little research, we found one called
Havencon. I was thrilled to see such a convention so close to us, like painting on a wall close.
So we booked a room for the whole weekend, and got our passes. The day finally arrives, and
couldn’t be better because yes it was a school day, but my class was going on a field trip, so I
was lucky in the sense of I could go in the morning for the convention and not have to show up
for school. So, flash forward to when we get to the hotel. I was completely awestruck
considering we weren’t even near the convention hall and I could already see people cosplaying
as their favorite character from video games, shows, books, movies, whatever! I specifically
remember a gender swapped Ike cosplay, the wings were amazing! So me and my mom ended
up having to wait a bit, because the room was still occupied, (don’t worry, they upgraded us to
VIP for the wait, and for free!) so we decided to wander around. What we then saw from that
convention that weekend was astonishing, people selling custom art, chainmail, fursuits, comic
books, and way more that I cannot think of off the top of my head! The only issue is, I actually
have sensory autism, so if there’s is a lot of people in one area, I start to overload, and get
nervous and go quiet, wanting to go. So of course, the worse happens and I started to overload.
Don’t worry, I don’t like panic or cry or whatever, I just get really shy and quiet. So the first day
for me was very quiet, barely any words escaping my mouth that morning or evening. But I was
excited also for the fact that not long before that, I had bought my first fursuit head and tail, and I
was eager to show it off. (I now have one partial, and one fullsuit AKA pro stuff) The next day is
when everything was truly going to kick off, so let’s just skip to then.
The next day came not quick enough for me, and I was immediately in that suit, and the
unthinkable happened. I changed, not physically, but I was no longer nervous, in OR out of the
suit. I was making friends, dancing in the elevator, which is a long story in itself, and it was
insanely fun! Little to my knowledge, when I was dancing in the elevator, so when the doors
open the people entering would get a laugh, the owner of the convention, and his two right hand
people, and The Walking Dead actor that was ther entered. Not knowing them (or able to see
really) I went along with my funny little skit, dancing and making them laugh and smile. They left
on the ground floor, waving and wishing us well. As I was doing this however, my mother was
outside in tears. The owner and his associates walked out and asked what was wrong, and she
told them how great the convention was and how it was changing me for the good. I have yet to
explain you this too, just so it would pack more of a heart stab, the blade made of emotion.
During this time, court hung over me and my mom. My father wanted to go back for the fourth
time, and he served my mother right in front of me. I fell into the dark pit of self harm,
depression, and suicidal thoughts. I still deal with self harm, it’s hard to stop, but don’t worry,
I’ve gotten way better. During this time though, I never really showed true joy, and for my
mother to see me, being social, dancing, laughing and making friends, it showed her how much
the convention changed me. She explained this all to the owner, Shane, (hope you’re reading
this dude! Love ya!) and it supposedly not only moved him, but also the co owners. They told
her they were going to plan something last minute for me, and oh boy did it change me.
Later on in the night, there was a dance, or rave, and my mother came to me, telling me that
Shane wanted me there myself. I was of course shocked, considering I wasn’t even the allowed
age to go in, and also that the owner wanted me there. I of course told her yes, and we went
down to the dance. There was some volunteers standing outside, age checking everyone.
When I approached with my mother, one of them, a lady, nodded to me and told the others that
I was ‘the one’. Of course I was confused, worried, and excited all rolled up into a fifteen year
old boy. They marked my hands with black sharpie and allowed me in. Me and my mother had
fun, dancing and laughing while we waited on Shane. Now before I continue, here’s another
little thing about furries. In our fandom we have our own celebrities, such as Syber, Telephone,
Haven (wink wink), and lots more. I look over my shoulder when my mom pointed to it, and no
other than my favorite furry was standing there, Haven. He strutted over, his suit was really too
cute to handle, and he gave me a big ol’ hug. But he said something that made my mind click,
and i figured it all out. He said “I saw you dancing in the elevator, that was amazing and your
mom told me all about you. You’re the reason this safe haven of a convention was made.” Of
course I was emotional after hearing this, no one really told me stuff like that before. But the
man in the suit was none other than Shane himself, the owner of the convention. He let me
hang out with him, dance, have a great time, and more.
Now here’s the sad part of every convention, the ending. Me and my mother went to the closing
ceremonies, which was like a panel with the people who own and run the convention, and
watched. Then, one person with a question walked up. I had met her before, and she was the
sweetest. She was a transgender, male to female, and was definitely proud of it, just like she
should’ve been. She stood before the runners and owner of the convention, and rather than a
question, she started to thank them, for this was really the only convention she has been to, that
I have been to, that’s criticism free, that you can feel safe. She then went on and said that proof
ws that it helped an autistic boy come out of his shell. I nervously gave her a wave, and she
smiled, and Shane pulled me on stage, first asking ig anyone heard what happened. Every head
nodded, and it made my heart flutter, it going wild as he explained the story anyways, everyone
smiling and clapping, thus ending such an amazing weekend.
Not only did I not stop smiling while on that stage, I never stopped smiling the whole weekend.
That magical place made my fresh cuts and old scars disappear, only making them the thought
in the back of my mind, replaced my depression and sorrow with cheerfulness and fun. I cannot
say this enough, this convention is truly life changing, and yes, life saving. So, I wish to dedicate
this paper to Shane. Without his big heart, the wonderful place known as Havencon, the place
where dreams DO come true, the place where people there are no longer strangers, now family,
the place that changed me into who I am today, it would’ve never existed. So Shane, to the
staff, the co owners, planners, everyone who works so hard on Havencon, I thank you, with all
of my heart. And cheers to this year’s Havencon, I can’t wait to see my family again.