I was expecting sexual stuffed animals come to life, but ended up experiencing something completely different.
I sat down with Allison Barrios, attendee and self-proclaimed furry, to discuss the stereotypes surrounding the furry fandom.
We discussed the major misconceptions the public has about the fascinating subculture.
This infamous CSI episode being a prime example.
“Like almost any outsider you are fed the propaganda, the negative of it,” Allison said. Although there are late night adults-only workshops at the convention, none included blatant sex acts.
“It’s really just a bunch of people that love anthropomorphic art,” Allison explained. “The thing that got me into it was the art.” There were even specific drawing rooms you could sit in to share and create sketches and art pieces. The “Dealers Den” was the main expo dedicated to art and design.
Media access at the convention was tightly controlled and restricted. I soon realized a fear of the media has developed over time in the community due to dramatized and jarring ways the community has been represented. “Unfortunately people will always be looked down upon about it, but almost anyone will be looked down upon that isn’t the current flow of whatever’s popular,” Allison mentioned.
“Some people, especially those that believe that they are the top…will mess with you, and there are some cases where furries have been hassled. Some really bad cases.” Allison remarked. “It’s important to have people you trust that you know will not just chicken [out] and leave you, but that can protect you.”
“I mean, imagine the fur itself is expensive and you do not want to ruin it,” Barrios said, “because that’s just like $3,000 down the drain right there.” While attending a costuming workshop, I realized fursuits are mostly handmade. Everyone spends weeks if not months bringing their work to life. Just the fur can cost upwards of $2,000.
Even walking around the convention, I constantly was being asked about the experience and was welcomed with open arms. Everyone had their own unique story and was excited to share it with those around them.
“If anything, everyone is just happy and friendly and just really, ‘hey come join us,’ you know,” Allison remarked. There were numerous special interest groups including Off-Road Furries dedicated to off-roading sports and Fur Fans in the Military.
The attendees were welcoming and not afraid to just sit and talk with strangers. Many of the activities, whether it be watching animated movies or playing video games, were meant to bring furries together.
In many of the discussions I had, attendees had faced some sort of bullying in school, and have found acceptance and comfort within the community.
There are numerous species that you can belong to including horses, cats, and even mice. However, unlike Otherkin (who believe they are the spirit of a creature), it’s more of a connection you have to this species that fits you as a person.
I was surprised to see the vast majority of attendees in everyday clothes, with just a tail sticking out or ears on. Some attendees weren’t wearing any type of animal paraphernalia. “If you had a fursuit and you put it on, it sort of just elevates the level of that species that your acting in,” Allison remarked.