And then, there is Furry Fandom
When I planned my list for the A to Z blog, I thought that Furry would be good for “F,” but sitting here I am grasping at how to write about it without it being this huge long thing.
Here’s what I will do. I will start simply. The general definition for furry fandom is that it is a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animals according to Wikipedia. Right now you are scratching your head over the ten dollar word “anthropomorphic” (see I can spell it right twice!). Basically, it means an animal with human characteristics- intelligence, facial expressions, wearing clothes… And then, it breaks down into smaller subcultures.
Three of these mascots are animal-based, and without the collegiate ties would be purely considered doing something called fursuiting. CSI episodes aside, some people are drawn to fursuiting as a way to interact with others in an anonymous way to get around their shyness. Others like to entertain. While yet another subculture uses suits for a not so PG13 use that I will not discuss in my mostly not adult blog.
Fursuiting takes form in different ways. The picture about shows a full suit. Partial suits are a combination of a head, arms, legs with human clothing. Others are happy with just ears and tail.
How did we get here though?
That same Wikipedia article credits Albedo Anthropomorphics by Steve Gallacci as the first Furry comic. However, being named in 1980 at a science convention, the anthropomorphics go all the way back to Mickey Mouse, and Felix the Cat when they were called “funny animals.”
Since then, people have continued to identify with cartoons, be it Bugs Bunny or the Thundercats. As the Wiccan/Witch movement gained momentum, people connected to the traits of their spirit animals. Others took it further believing they can transform or shape shift into an animal called therianthropy. This is becoming a common path in various role playing game systems.
It is a lifestyle
Furry fandom definitely has a cultural lifestyle. Each year, numerous conventions are held all over North America and Europe. A few well-known conventions stateside are: Anthrocon (billed as the largest Furry convention in the world), RainFurrest, Further Confusion, and Midwest Fur Fest. In fact, I have mentioned this under “C,” that the Twin Cities will have their own convention in September of 2014 called Furry Migration (the site should be live any day now…). Previously, the conventions tended to focus solely on fursuiting & creating/building/accessorizing and graphic arts. Now, the trend is a focus on highlighting authors, publishers, games, videos, and gaming. Furry conventions are different from science fiction conventions in the way that the attendees interact with each other. They are families coming together again after visiting at the last convention. An interesting crossover does occur with Anime conventions, and cat girls. Well, more than just cat girls.
Who loves a parade? Fursuit parade at Midwest Fur Fest 2012
Fursuiting can be the ultimate crafting experience. Suits range in price from $500 to $10,000. Some folks like to build their own, while others go out and order them.
“Fursonas” are characters developed by Furry fans. Wikipedia attributes the development of these fursonas to role playing. That is correct, but I know others who have created them as an alter-ego. It is a place where mentally, they can relate better to themselves and others.
The development of the internet and Usenet is also has a hand in today’s Furry fandom. It is the belief of one of my friends that Furry fandom has such a strong gay representation because on Usenet you find alt.gay followed by alt.furry. This gave people an avenue to more freely talk about themselves and their feelings, wants and desires. I believe this is where the fursonas really started.
The television shows take the sex angle, and make it sensationalistic. As in any subculture, there is some aspects that not all people can relate to. CSI and other shows pick up on some random tidbit in the news, and they create a whole episode around it. Is all of Furry fandom like this? No, but it is something to keep mind.
And by the way, if you go out looking for more information, watch out for the hate sites. The first one I saw threw me for a bit. I am a female, and a Furry- some sites will say that I cannot possibly be both. Yet, this is voice people hear in the media, on the internet, and talk among friends. Furs just want to be respected, left mostly alone, and not be seen as deviants.