Fur as a Path to Self-Discovery
Happy furry fluffy holidays! Looking for all things warm and fuzzy as it gets colder and colder this holiday season I’ve been exploring the world of furries! Curious about the furry scene for a long time, I decided to dive in and find out what it’s all about. I spoke to three local furries – Vex, ChronoWolf, and Kayoran Nova – about the community and their experiences in it. Here’s what I learned.
I had thought that furries were people who had a kink for dressing up like anthropomorphic animals. What I found is that’s only an aspect of a movement that’s vast and thriving, with a worldwide community that grows every day. The furry movement started as an outgrowth of fandom. People who enjoyed anime and other cartoons that feature anthropomorphic animals like the Disney animated feature film Robin Hood were often people who also enjoyed cosplay – dressing up in elaborate costumes based on favorite characters from books, movies, TV, comics, and games. These enthusiasms merged and a movement was born.
Far more than merely a sexual kink, being a furry is a way to explore and express different aspects of oneself in a safe space. Fur is simultaneously expression, validation, performance, and entertainment. One of the most notable aspects of the furry movement is how open and accepting it is. LGBTQ+ is the norm here. Neurodiversity is welcomed. Straight people are accepted, but a minority. This makes perfect sense as you delve into what being a furry means for those in the community.
Furries create characters, called “fursonas,” much like Dungeons & Dragons players do. Fursonas can serve multiple purposes. Sometimes fursonas are based on parts of their creators’ personalities they don’t normally express in their everyday lives. For instance, a shy person might create a fursona that’s outgoing and gregarious. Someone who would never feel comfortable speaking or performing in front of an audience could create a fursona that loves doing those things. A person who might not feel safe expressing affection for someone else might have a fursona that would be less inhibited. Fursonas can also be a way to inhabit a more theatrical characterization, like a villain or a superhero. This is more performance than self-expression and can be equally enjoyable and useful to its creator. A furry expresses their fursona not only by devising the character and purchasing or constructing the costume, but by creating art of the fursona and even writing stories featuring that character, or that the character has written themselves. These days it goes without saying that many furries create online presences for their fursonas as well. A furry can create as many different fursonas as they want to. Fursonas are ways a furry can explore their own personality, orientation, gender expression, and sexuality by inhabiting and characterizing them in both figurative and literal ways.
While dressing up like anthropomorphic animals might seem like strange behavior, it’s actually been part of human civilization from the very beginning and continues today. Indigenous tribes often dressed in the skins of the animals they killed for ceremonies of gratitude for a successful hunt or to connect and travel to the spiritual realm, or to take on traits of animals that would be useful to them, like the bravery of a bear or the cunning of a fox. Today you see people dressed as animals everywhere from Disney theme parks to holiday parades to sports stadiums. It’s very common. This is a good example of how vanilla people often think of kink and fetish as something separate from everyday life, when in fact aspects of kink and fetish are everywhere in our lives, both private and public.
Much like the conventions that are devoted to anime, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, and seemingly every other aspect of pop culture from which were born from the furry movement, the movement itself has conventions of its own. More furry events happen every year all over the world and attendance increases annually.
If the furry movement has any one goal, it’s achieving mainstream acceptance. They hope to achieve what the so-called “Nerd Culture” has. Fans of science fiction, fantasy, comics, anime, and role-playing games used to be regarded as strange people on the fringes of society. But in the last few decades “nerds” have emerged from the shadows to dominate the pop culture landscape. Furries hope for the same normalization. Changing the reductive view of furries as people who dress up like animals to have sex, to a remarkably inclusive community that creates safe spaces for people to explore themselves and each other in vibrant, entertaining ways is how to reach that goal.
Are you fur-curious? Want to know more about the furry movement?
The United Utah Furry Fandom, also known as U2F2, is a local group based here in Salt Lake that hosts weekly and monthly meetups, game nights, parties, and all kinds of merriment for furries, their admirers, and anyone who wants to make friends. Find them online at UtahFurs.org.
Check out Ash Coyote’s fantastic movie The Fandom: A Furry Documentary on YouTube.
The International Anthropomorphic Research Project is a think tank devoted to studying furries and their fandom and decreasing the stigma for the movement. Visit them at FurScience.com.
Club Try-Angles has a furry event called Fluff Party every fourth Friday of the month. Come see furries in action.
Special thanks and love to Vex, ChronoWolf, and Kayoran Nova for being my guides into the wonderful world of fur.
Have thoughts, questions, or comments about this column or anything to do with Kink? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll print them and answer them in an upcoming column. Be safe and have fun out there!
In Kink We Trust.
Alpha Mercury has been an out and proud member of the Kink/Leather/Fetish/BDSM community his entire adult life. He has a degree in Film Production from the University of Southern California and is an author of erotic fiction. Alpha Mercury lives with his Leather Family in Salt Lake City.