Foreign Furry Fandoms: Australia

I lied to everyone who read my “furries from around the world” articles over a year ago. I concluded by assuring that I would post an article for Australia soon. That was, as GLaDOS would put it, “an outright fabrication”, as I moved back to college for the semester literally three days later and was absolutely confident (at least in the back of my head) that I wouldn’t be writing about furries during the school semester.

Then, suddenly, school ended and I had no excuse. I had a two-hour interview with Carnival and Kraden from ACTFur as well as four completed questionnaires, including one from a Midfur staff member. I had everything I needed. I just didn’t feel like writing. Four months bled into about fifteen months. But, I have the information, and it would be a shame to let it stagnate any more. It’s time to write about Australia.

aus1I’m coming for you, you big chunky land mass!

For those who haven’t read any of these articles (or have, and forgot how my sleazy systematic method of hunting down foreign furries for info works), I’ve been accepting survey responses from as many furries as possible from certain countries, asking them a certain set of questions, and summarizing their responses all in the name of getting a more interesting idea of what foreign ‘furry’ culture is like.

One thing I learned from my research for the New Zealand article is that Australians and New Zealand residents (known colloquially as “Kiwis”) don’t like getting mixed up. It only seems fair, since I already wrote a New Zealand article, to give Australia its own article, lest I be beaten to a bloody pulp by a rainbow mob of fuzzy (and scaly and feathery and what have you) creatures with cute accents.

“Furmeets”, small gatherings of 10-40 or 50 furries, usually at a furry’s house, are popular in America. Do those exist in Australia, and if so, are they prevalent?

The social layout of Australia can be likened to that of America and really any country divided into many smaller regions in that population disparity creates subculture “hotspots”. Kraden made note that, just like anywhere else with small scattered cities, it’s really about how many people live nearby. Australia is bigger than the contiguous United States, but has just one twelfth of the population. That means tons of scatter and unpopulated area, and if you happen to live in a more rural part of the country you naturally aren’t as likely to run into any furries. Or any other people, for that matter. There’s an incredibly relevant XKCD regarding this idea (and not just for the mention of furry porn.)

aus2Perhaps there are furries living on top of this? …unlikely.

In larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne furries reported that larger (non-casual, regularly-occurring) meets could get upwards of 50-60 attendees. Some even made reference to different activities – sometimes furries meet up and go bowling, sometimes artists gather at a restaurant, things like that. Traditional fare, really. Also, I’m seeing more and more examples of a universal rule: if there’s a place, and it has furmeets, it also has furry bowling. No exceptions. Furries and bowling go together like ice cream and more ice cream.

However, I also noticed the repetition of a trend that’s fairly common in larger areas – there were responses indicating that they didn’t believe meets happened at all. I see it happen all the time on the internet. Someone poses a question like, “Are there any furries in California?” completely unaware that not only are there furries in one of the most populated regions in the world but that, yes, a handful of them even use the internet to socialize. I’d like to take a moment to point out that despite “furry” being a very online-based social sphere a lot of furries seem to undervalue the usefulness of the internet.

Anyways, to summarize, meets are very popular and widespread especially in larger urban areas. This is generally the case for populated first-world areas.

How important is sexuality to Australian furries?

I’m falling more and more in love with this question because it always draws out some interesting thoughts. Before I begin with what might be the obvious perspective I’d like to point out that there’s a pervasive regional difference in how sexuality is accepted. Carnival noted that Sydney is the sort of “gay capital” of Australia and, if I understand correctly, a general rule could be stated saying that the farther south in the country you look, the population tends to be more accepting of alternate sexuality. Since mainland Australia has only six states, it’s noteworthy that generalizing trends by state is much more difficult.

Now, about that obvious perspective I pointed out. Not everyone responds with “extremely”. The responses are completely based on how vested any given respondent’s interest is in the sexual part of the fandom. For example, two responses indicated a rather distant perspective on the subject, with a pretty disconnected “Well, it’s probably the same as elsewhere. People are tolerant and stuff. Also, there’s a lot of gays.” My favorite response was an anonymous one: Well, it’s probably the same as elsewhere, because it’s a big deal. As they said, “Yiff seems to be an important aspect of the fandom no matter where you are.” In short, it’s a significant component to many. There are plenty of furries only in it for the art and the hangouts, but plenty also see it as an expression of their sexuality.

Is there a skew towards gay/bisexuals in the fandom like there is in the American fandom?

There has always been some repetition with this question but I’m certain it’s because alternate sexuality is a notoriously prominent piece of the furry fandom. Most responses are on the same page as far as this notion goes.

Simply, it turns out that furry, with a huge population of semi-adolescent males, has a significant homosexual lean. (If you squint hard enough at some of the surveys over the years, furry sexuality approaches a relatively straight line across the Kinsey scale.) But, the question asks for a direct comparison to America, which relies on the respondent’s own perspective of American furries. Are we all willywashers over here? (Carnival used that word in the interview and I *absolutely* had to use it.) I think it’s a fair question. I’ve only been to one convention in my life, but if I had a dollar for every pair of guys I saw making out at that convention I could buy a pretty fancy sandwich. My point is, we might have a bit of a reputation, and it offers a basis of comparison for foreign furries.

One estimate guessed that maybe half of furries are straight and the rest are scattered across the bisexual/homosexual spectrum. Others suggested that there’s quite the lean towards the homosexual end of things, adding some speculation about the generally mandated rule that furries have to be nice and accepting to each other, thus fostering a welcome environment for alternate sexuality and explaining the rate of same-sex interest. Another noted that homosexuality might not be as prominent as it appears. The range seems to be from “yes, of course” to “well, maybe not”. There hasn’t been much in the way of “foreign furry survey data”, and there could be much to learn in the future.

Ultimately, the perception of the furries one has met versus the seeming “general consensus” is a pretty loaded and tricky question but always does a lot to shed light on the respondents.

How do Australian furries see the American furries? What do they think of us?

Kraden called America’s furry growth as a “trial by fire”, a sentiment echoed by a respondent to this same question mentioned in my Brazilian article. Consider first that the fandom’s growth has arguably been most pervasive in America. Nine of the ten largest furry gatherings in the world are in America. Fifteen of the top twenty are American as well. Large slices of furry activity inevitably lead to issues. (4chan word-filtered “furry” and its variants to the word “drama” for a long time. Technically for different reasons, but still accurate.)

As one respondent said, American furries would possibly be seen as “a bit more over the top, more drama, etc.”

Since America is exploring some uncharted territory as conventions and meets become bigger and more pop up, non-American furries can learn from the shortcomings of American furry activities. Thus, a “trial by fire”. We’re slowly figuring out how to do this whole “furry” thing together.

Do furries in Australia have a strong internet presence? How important is social networking over the internet?

There’s a general agreement that Australia is just as active over the Internet as any other nationality. There were citations of Facebook and FurAffinity groups, though most answers were pretty general. It’s certainly important for communication, but there weren’t any specific or unusual answers.

Kraden and Carnival reiterated this, also noting that word of mouth is important. They mentioned that message boards used to be the active way to get in touch with people (“Shoutouts to Furstralia.”) Finally, between Facebook, Deviantart, and FurAffinity, they claim you can cover just about all furries, thus making it at least relatively easy to maintain contact.

aus3

Pictured: The Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, and about $12 billion (USD) in fursuits.

What does the fandom mean to you?

The reports sent back from my Australian respondents seem to echo [what I sort of remember as] the general sentiment from many other places. Your involvement determines how meaningful being a “furry” is to you. What you put in, you get out.

One answer was a flowery chunk of reflection on the deep creativity, brilliant artistic work, and fun-filled meets of furries. Another was less enthused; it’s like reading, like a little bit of escape from reality. One answer called it “somewhere I was meant to belong.” Another said “it’s really just a way of meeting people with common interests.” (One of those previous two responses was from an artist; I’ll let you guess which one.)

The fandom is certainly important to some Australian furries. Though, as always, results vary.

What does the fandom mean to those in your region/locally?

One response noted that the fandom is very important to some Australian furries, though not as much as to the enthusiasts in Europe or America. I thought this was interesting. There are some pretty intensive furry enthusiasts who run conventions, host meets, and partake in everything else that goes well above and beyond what many (like myself) just consider a passive interest. However, Australia still has some pretty dedicated furries. After all, RivFur, Camp Wildpaw, MiDFur (which I learned recently is turning into ConFurgence due to its size), FurDU, FurJam, and FurWAG aren’t going to run (and participate in?) themselves.

However, the same respondent, as well as some others, place some reasoning on Australia’s size. This is reminiscent of the furry meet question. Since furries are scattered around an especially large area in this case those who don’t live near other furries or have any deeper interaction with the fandom may not consider it an involved hobby.

aus4

Supposedly, 98% of Australia’s population lives in the white, non-yellowed area. As Carnival said, “crusted around the coasts of Australia”.

Carnival made a point about Australian furries not really drawing Australian animal art or choosing Australian animals for their fursonas. This has been an issue in the past when I wrote my previous articles. For each article about each part of the world I tried my best to find at least a picture or two with some “local flavor”. Carnival/Kraden claimed to know a bunch of dingoes but said kangaroos are hard to come by. Kraden himself is a “WolfCoyoteFoxJellybean”, which are native to Australia. However, I ended up deciding to use some fursuit outing photos from the awesome Atpaw to add some color to the article. I think they work just as well.

How is furry looked at by non-furries in Australia?

One respondent sized it up pretty handily: Some see the costumes and think they’re cute. Others think they’re weird. But, most just don’t really care.

In a way, this is echoed by the other respondents. It’s mostly in the dark, as one answer added. People who know about ‘furry’ and have a weird impression of it exist, but seem to be uncommon.

Ultimately, furry is still its own microcosm. Anthrocon, easily the biggest furry convention, had just under 5,600 in 2013 and only surpassed 5,000 last year. As reference, Anime Expo had 61,000 attendees this year and Comic Con (San Diego) has reportedly had to cap its attendance to around 130,000 for several years. Furry is, like, a thing, *maaaaaan*, but you can’t walk up to just anyone and expect them to know what a fursona (or a sparkledog) is in the same way you can walk up to most people and expect them to know what a comic book is.

What do people do in fursuit in Australia? Community activities? Furmeet activities? Just at conventions?

One respondent simply noted that one reason fursuits are rare (at least in Brisbane) is simply because it’s hot. I can understand. I’m a redhead, so I feel like I’m going to burst into flames whenever I walk to my mailbox. A fursuit seems like a death sentence.

There was some disagreement regarding how popular fursuiting was. One answer remarked that fursuits were only seen at conventions, as far as they knew. However, another answer said that people would get into suit at barbecues and meets as well. I’d like to note that the first respondent implied that they hadn’t been to a convention or possible even a furry meet-up.

The more real-life furry activity going on, the more likely there is for fursuiters to do their thing. Unless it’s hot out. Because the heat is awful.

aus5

I did some quick research on how you could fursuit at a beach and not die. April in Australia is autumn, but on the Gold Coast in that time of year it should be around 27ºC, 80ºF. That’s still pretty warm, but not too warm to be a bad dog.

How are fursuits different in Australia from America?

The joke’s on me because literally every answer made reference to the fact that the Australians who do wear fursuits generally buy theirs from overseas. I don’t even have much else to add to this one. I’ve been bamboozled, because it turns out a lot of Australian fursuits *are* American.

Do know, however, that Carnival mentioned a furry called Oz Kangaroo who is a relatively popular fursuit creator from Australia. In addition to that, a handful of people dabble in making tails and other accessories, but for the most part it seems that fursuits are imported.

Anyways, that’s just about a wrap for Australia. I don’t intend for it to be a finish to the series. There are nineteen interviews unaccounted for in my notes from all over the world. I would like to write a large collection filled with some of the insightful things people said in response to the questions. I also have a super-secret bonus plan for one more article that will hopefully happen as well. I’m moving soon (again) and starting a new job, so no guarantees, but I’ll be keeping an eye on [a][s]. Thanks for reading!

About zik

Zik is an otter who’s been dabbling around the furry fandom for nearly a decade. When he isn’t doing schoolwork, he spends time raging at videogames as well as hunting down music, art… and fish.

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4 thoughts on “Foreign Furry Fandoms: Australia

  1. Just a slight addition here, though I’m certainly no expert on the Australian fandom. Rose Quoll, who was born in America but is a naturalized Australian living in Brisbane (if I’m not mistaken) has made fursuits and masks/heads for many years. I think she no longer takes commissions, but there certainly must be a lot of her suits still in circulation in Oz.

  2. Very interesting read!

    As an Aussie furry it is interesting to read a neutral view of the local fandom. I also feel like a bit of an anomaly since I have an Australian made fursuit and my own fursona is based on an Australian animal (platypus dragon)

    We are heavily influenced by US furry culture because most of the large cons/websites are US based.

  3. In a fursuit builder panel in this year’s Rain Furrest, one builder said she refused to build a kangaroo because the pouch looked too sexually suggestive and no one could wear it in a public setting. That being said, I remember at least a couple of kangaroos in the 2012 Rain Furrest Fursuit Parade, carrying Australian flags.. I keep meaning to check the photos on that.

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