The sidewalks of Broward and Palm Beach County are a little bit less explicit now that the New Times cover story about zoophiles I wrote for last week's issue is to be replaced by this week's issue. But before we leave that subject, which generated robust debate on this blog, I'd like to point readers to a website that can answer every remaining question they may have on this subject: zetaforum.org.
I spoke this afternoon with the site's founder, Chris, who declined to give his last name but gave me permission to say that he's 32 and lives in the Denver area. He told me that he launched the site in 2003, knowing of his own attraction to animals but knowing nothing of "zoophilia," nor of any others like him. Zetaforum quickly attracted a loyal following and for the first few years Chris kept the site small -- an intimate venue for a few thousand members who shared an aspect of their lifestyle. The forums were kept away from search engines as a way of preserving that intimacy.
Around 2007, Chris took the site out of seclusion, and by making it available to search engines Zetaforum saw a huge spike in membership. It currently has over 31,000 members, the majority of whom identify as zoos.
But that move raised Chris' profile, and it led to one scary brush with the law.
"It was 2 in the morning and there was a knock on the door," Chris says. "I opened to find nine deputies outside."
This was 2008, shortly after he had banned a member from zetaforum who retaliated, says Chris, by telling police that Chris' animals were abused.
"They had a vet who looked for signs of abuse," says Chris, of the deputies. "He couldn't find any."
An ex-cop who now gets disability, Chris says he was well aware of his rights and ready to document the well-being of his animals.
"There was a horse I had rescued that was slowly dying -- it was 39 years old," he says. "It had trouble adding weight." But Chris had the vet reports that showed he was treating the animal. So even though police asked for a charge of improper care, the prosecutor threw the case out.
Chris liked the New Times article, though like other zoophiles he's not asking to be included in the gay rights movement, per se. Rather, he sees how zoophiles can apply strategies that worked for that political cause.
And he's willing to be patient. Among the cultural signs that encourage him is jpw in recent years sex with animals has become more commonly incorporated into comedy. In Fox's Family Guy, for instance, Brian (a dog) dates and has sex with women. At first it's hilarious, but by show's end you forget that he's a dog -- maybe because he talks and is the show's most articulate, cultured character.
"It's not necessarily acceptance, but acknowledgement," says Chris. In Family Guy he adds, "it's not talked about as a negative thing but as a funny thing." He likens it to the Sixties, when gay characters on television were treated as weird but endearingly funny. Over time the shock of their acting gay wore off, and curing is the first and necessary step to earning social tolerance.
Chris, who goes by "Fjord" on zetaforum (after his favorite kind of horses), says that non-zoophiles are welcome to join and meet actual zoos so long as they observe basic standards of internet civility.