The Structure of Furry

Furry is not a fandom. At least, not any more.

We’re not a fandom because we aren’t fans of some specific piece of art. There is no furry canon.

Fandoms revolve around their canon. The canon provides a permanent reference point for all fandom-related activities. We furries have no such thing, and so furry is defined by whatever we, collectively, decide.

Furry is something that is constantly changing, something that is constantly being recreated by we furries. So, not surprisingly, what exactly makes us ‘furry’ is difficult to pin down.

The biggest common element among furries is the use of an animal-person avatar, our fursona. For most of us, our fursona is a representation of ourself, and we present as our fursona online and in real-world furry spaces.

So, if you meet me online or in a furry space, I’ll say “hello, I’m JM, and I’m a horse“. If you meet me in a non furry space, I’ll say “hello, I’m Matt” (and I’ll think to myself “I’m a horse, hahahaha awesome“).

JM and Matt are, physically, the same, but they are different identities. My furry identity, JM, is an imaginary creation but a personally important one. Lucky for me that all you other furries are have to accept the premise that I am a horse, which reinforces all those nice personal associations I feel about the horse. You make me feel good about being me. (Thanks.)

I think that this identity-play is at the heart of furry.

It wasn’t always this way of course. Furry grew from fandom groups in the late 20th century, and was still largely a fandom/geek phenomenon as late as the 1990s. Then the internet came along, we all found each other, and we created today’s community, of animal-people and art and conventions and everything else.

But I’m simplifying. There are still plenty of furs who consider themselves to be furry fans only, and there are furries who don’t interact through the lens of an animal-person avatar – like [adjective][species]‘s own Phil Geusz, or my old friend Paul Kidd.

Furry is still close to its fandom roots, and reference points like The Lion King or My Little Pony are important for many furs. It’s even evident in the most common term used to describe our community: ‘furry fandom’. I want to make this clear because our readership includes plenty of self-described ‘furry fans’, and I don’t want to imply that they are somehow excluded from our collective furry excellent adventure.

A furry fan named Perri challenged an article here I wrote for [a][s] last year titled The Second Wave of Furry. He said that the article ‘managed to dredge up feelings of being told I don’t belong here because I’m a fan‘. He charged me with ‘trying to paint the whole community with a wide brush, alienating everyone who doesn’t fit into their view‘.

As it turns out, Perri mentioned that he has produced a history of the furry fandom. His history, hosted here, is essentially a long, long list of comics, TV shows, movies, and other media that Perri considers to be ‘furry’. His list is not exhaustive, but it sure is exhausting*. He says that such furry media defines furry, because we are its fans.

* WORDPLAY!

I think that Perri’s history, which is a terrific resource, proves my point. None of his examples of furry media, which starts with Aesop’s Fables and ends with My Little Pony, are furry canon. Some of his examples are important to many furries, but none of them are important to ‘being’ furry today.

Any new furry entering the community today (and for the past decade or so) will find one implied requirement for entry: a fursona. Furry, today, is about identity—not fandom. With all respect for Perri (and Phil and Paul and whoever else), his approach to furry is an artefact of our fandom days. Furry has changed, and—lacking a canon or other point of reference—furry is going to continue to change.

For most of us, furry is an expression in identity. Collectively, we are experimenting with what it means to be a person, and we’re heading out for deeper waters. There are some groups in our wake:

  • The fans. Fandoms have long experimented with identity, such as with cosplay. There has been some research on the value of such identity experimentation. One psychologist has likened cosplaying as ‘a form of self-administered mental health treatment‘.
  • The catfish. Catfish are people who create a fake online alter-ego, and roleplay as that (human) character. It can go wrong when a catfish forms a close emotional bond with someone, as in the movie Catfish, or the Manti Te’o affair. On a less extreme level, it’s common for people to present a shifted version of themselves online: perhaps more outgoing, or in better physical shape.

There is an element of wish-fulfilment in all of this identity play, and that’s true for furry as well. Furry goes further because we are not constrained by a fandom canon (the cosplayers) or by the requirements of the real world (the catfish). We get to create a persona from scratch.

Not surprisingly, furry has proven attractive to those people who don’t fit into the mainstream world very easily. We have a lot of young people, who may be attracted to furry in those confusing years where they are no longer a child, but not yet an adult. And we have a lot of square pegs: the LGBT, the zoophiles, the fetishists, the borderline autistic, and so forth. All of these are people who might find special value in experimenting with an alternate identity—and so they may be drawn to the furry world.

A further part of the attraction of our community is that there are no rules about what ‘furry’ is, or isn’t. We have no formal structure, and nobody is in change. Those furries who act as leaders essentially do so on merit: they are people who are respected, or perhaps provide a service to the community, or otherwise stand out from the crowd. We don’t always collectively choose the most capable leaders, but it’s a nice change from the real world where people can rise to high positions for other reasons. The furry community is decentralized.

Our structure, then, is quite anarchic. Our community is made up of people engaging in a kind of extreme identity play, and our leaders are organically selected. It’s the sort of structure that is common on the internet on a smaller scale—a group grows around a small nucleus, before imploding and fracturing when it becomes too large.

Small furry groups grow and fracture all the time, but the wider community holds together because of a core, shared idea: we all identify as furries. It’s an environment that promotes wider togetherness, even while drama and chaos often reign on the smaller scale.

This structure—leaderless and decentralized, but strong—occurs in other internet-based communities. The only requirement is that the central idea is compelling enough to maintain continuity amidst the drama. Such groups are often called ‘loose collectives’, and the best example is Anonymous.

Furry and Anonymous share the same decentralized structure. But there is one big difference: Anonymous is driven by a central idea that might be defined as negative, in that it’s a reaction to a perceived wrong—in this case (and very roughly), disenfranchisement from society. Positive central ideas are rare, because it’s always easier for people to bond over a common enemy—Keynesian economics, say, or the Church of Scientology. Furry’s positive focus is rare.

This doesn’t mean that furry is ‘good’ and Anonymous is ‘bad’: there are elements of both in both communities. But it does mean that we act in fundamentally different ways. To generalize, furry is creative rather than destructive; proactive rather than reactive.

The structure of furry is driven by our shared interest in exploring identity as an animal-person. This is a personal exercise, but we are drawn together because we mutually reinforce each other’s animal-person identity. Furry is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Or to put it another way, we are having a voluntarily shared delusion.

Furry, then, is necessarily self-referential. New furries look to fit in, and so they adopt the community’s norms, such as creating an animal-person avatar. This helps settle and define furry culture, while simultaneously we challenge the status quo by exploring the edges of what it means to be a furry. Our growth and change as a community happens unpredictably, as successful furry ideas are embraced (YCH auctions) and anachronistic ideas are discarded (‘burned furs’).

[adjective][species], this website, can be seen as a microcosm of this natural growth and change. The site is subtly changing as we write new articles, and as the readers respond. Successful ideas take on more importance, as they provoke more content from either one of the regular writers or one our growing numbers of Guest Articles. The site has a life of its own, a life collectively defined by the consumers of the site itself. (Even this article was partly provoked by a yet-to-be-published Guest Article that I’m helping to edit. It’s about leadership and penguins and it’s terrific – look out for it.)

Furry will continue to grow and change. Soon enough, the furries of 2013 will find themselves perplexed, and possibly unwelcome, in whatever the new furry world brings, just as Perri-the-fan finds himself today. And some of us will hark back to the good old days of 2013, back when JM was engaging in awesome wordplay on [adjective][species].

The desire for things to stay static is a natural conservative instinct. It’s easy to stay fixed, and to look back on the past with rose-tinted glasses, while the world has moved on. Most furries are young and so will not have experienced this, but all of us will be able to think of someone who refuses to engage with today’s world on today’s terms. It requires effort to look to the future with optimism, not just back at the past with fondness. I, for one, am looking forwards to where furry will take us next.

About JM

JM is a horse-of-all-trades who was introduced to furry in his native Australia by the excellent group known collectively as the Perthfurs. JM now helps run [adjective][species] from London, where he is most commonly spotted holding a pint and talking nonsense.

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23 thoughts on “The Structure of Furry

  1. I don’t know about furry not being a fandom. I think you can be a fan of genres rather than specific creations. I would say I am a mystery fan and a sci-fi fan as well as a furry fan. One can also be a fan of certain activities such baseball. These do not have canons any more than furry does but people can be fans.

    I agree that it is reasonable to make a distinction between fandoms that revolve around a canon and those that do not, but I would argue that the distinction is between types of fandoms not between fandoms and non-fandoms.

    …………..

    1. While I agree with you on not needing a canon to have a fandom, I think the bigger point being made is how central the creation and use of fursonas is to much of the furry community, which is something you don’t find in other fandom environments. Sci-fi fans don’t typically use roleplay characters as their primary means of interacting with other sci-fi fans, for example; it’s mostly people sharing things they have a common interest in, where the use of constructed identities is at most a pastime and often does not occur at all.
      To put it another way, I think JM is arguing that the core idea of furry is “I am/want to be/like to imagine [x], and enjoy the company of those who are like me” rather than “I enjoy watching/reading about/doing [x], and enjoy the company of those who enjoy [x] as well”. The main goal of his hypothetical average furry is self-discovery and self-expression rather than expression of a specific interest. Whether or not you buy that premise is another matter entirely, and I’m willing to bet any attempt to define an average furry is going to be at least a little reductive regardless of intent.

      1. I think people in other fandoms engage in a similar kind of play. However, they are constrained by the work; either to acting out a specific character, or an original character within that universe. (Depending on the size of that universe, this may be virtually no constraint at all.) In science fiction, it has become more common with the creation of MMORPGs in which you can (must) play a character.

    2. Good point, but is furry even a genre in the sense that SF and mystery are? Furry is something you can add to any other genre. Admittedly, you could argue the same thing for something like mystery (though the sorts of things you’re adding are quite different), But even there there’s a broad canon, a genre or other externally-created thing that you have to be familiar with to be a fan of. One of the other fairly unique things about furry is how self-created it is; it’s generally seomthing you are (or at least something you DO) rather than something you consume or watch.

    3. Hi Keito, thanks for the comment. You’re right, of course, and there is a lot in common between furry and (other) fandoms.

      It’s really just a semantic difference I think – I strongly suspect that we’re talking about the same thing, just have a difference of opinion on how to define it.

  2. Very interesting analysis as usual. There’s just a couple details I’m not fully agreeing with:

    >We’re not a fandom because we aren’t fans of some specific piece of art. There is no furry canon.Furry, then, is necessarily self-referential.<

    This seems to contradict most of the article and the very paragraph it's written in, but maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by self-referential. If anything the furry community seems more open to outer influences than an actual fandom would be. It has to be because if it weren't it would run out of imagination fuel very quickly.
    There may be the occasional hard rejection of things like Pokemons or My Little Pony but I think such episodes have more to do with politics than substance. Every new succesful phenomenon revolving around anthropomorphic animals ends up having a strong influence on furry imagination, even if furries don't want it or don't realize it. A clear example are the super colorful "sparkledog" characters which are commonplace today. There was nothing like that in the 90s: sparkledogs are entirely a product of cartoons like Pokemon and modern videogame characters.
    The fact that the community's focus has shifted from comics to fursonas and personal identity also proves that the community can adopt new ideas almost out of the blue rather than just refining previous ideas. Back in the fandom days people who identified with characters were shunned and the idea was usually dismissed as having nothing to do with being a furry… the whole concept of identifying with an anthro animal in order to explore one's self was a niche idea found only in some works of literature.

  3. Sorry, the above comment got butchered somehow. :-P

    Very interesting analysis as usual. There’s just a couple details I’m not fully agreeing with:

    >We’re not a fandom because we aren’t fans of some specific piece of art. There is no furry canon.

    I’d argue that there is indeed a furry canon, although it is not a specific setting or stories, but rather a very small set of canonical drawing styles.

    Take the most succesful furry artists from the past decades, such as Ken Sample, Terrie Smith, Michele Light, Goldenwolf, Dark Natasha and compare them to the most succesful furry artists of today ( http://www.popufur.com/ ). There are some differences in “flavor” of the art, choice of media, technical skill, but the underlying styles are individual variations of just two basic styles.

    The first is a fundamentally toony style, where the characters are mostly smooth, colorful and simplified, but the anatomy is made more complex and sensual compared to actual Disney-style cartoons. Wolfy-Nail’s art fits this archetype almost perfectly, and so does Zaush’s art. But Terrie Smith, Michele Light etc. were doing essentially the same thing, only with different tools and slightly different goals.

    The second is a fundamentally realistic style, where the characters have detailed fur texture and look believable in general but also have some highly idealized traits – usually muzzles/expressions, limbs and overall physical fitness. Blotch is currently the most popular artist of this kind but his art is not so different than Goldenwolf’s, they just have different ideals of beauty and so they idealize different details.
    Any style which strays from these two templates isn’t going to be very influential in the fandom. And I say “influential” instead of “successful” because there are several examples of other styles developing a strong following and become successful (for example manga inspired styles like ArtDecade’s, or the underground inspired styles of the Rruffurr crew), but those are not the styles furries choose when they want a reference for their fursona. In other words they can be greatly appreciated but they are not considered representative furry art.

    >Furry, then, is necessarily self-referential.

    This seems to contradict most of the article and the very paragraph it’s written in, but maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by self-referential. If anything the furry community seems more open to outer influences than an actual fandom would be. It has to be because if it weren’t it would run out of imagination fuel very quickly.

    There may be the occasional hard rejection of things like Pokemons or My Little Pony but I think such episodes have more to do with politics than substance. Every new succesful phenomenon revolving around anthropomorphic animals ends up having a strong influence on furry imagination, even if furries don’t want it or don’t realize it. A clear example are the super colorful “sparkledog” characters which are commonplace today. There was nothing like that in the 90s: sparkledogs are entirely a product of cartoons like Pokemon and modern videogame characters.

    The fact that the community’s focus has shifted from comics to fursonas and personal identity also proves that the community can adopt new ideas almost out of the blue rather than just refining previous ideas. Back in the fandom days people who identified with characters were shunned and the idea was usually dismissed as having nothing to do with being a furry… the whole concept of identifying with an anthro animal in order to explore one’s self was a very minor concept found only in some works of literature.

    1. Hi Scale, thanks for the interesting comment and the contribution to the conversation.

      I guess the idea of “furry canon” depends on how you want to define that term. Your approach is just as valid as mine, and it feels like we’re talking about exactly the same thing, but with different language. The argument feels like a semantic one to me.

      And I love a good semantic argument! That what [a][s] is all about, we’re exploring this vague, complicated Furry Idea, and we’re having to create language and fixed reference points as we go. Makyo write a terrific article exploring this, ages ago, titled Doxa, and it’s well worth reading and rereading: http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2012/03/14/doxa/

      When I say that furry is self-referential, I mean that our reference points for guidance on how to act/be furry are self-produced. We lack a fixed focus: the bronies have MLP; the sci-fi fandom have the broader SF canon; we don’t really have anything. And so the definition of “furry” is a fuzzy, moving target.

      Your last paragraph is a particularly good example. Furry has changed, a lot, in the last couple of decades. We, unlike a fandom group, are able to invent and reinvent ourselves. We have no fixed foundation: it’s furries all the way down.

  4. Great article, well-said!

    One thing I’m left wondering, and it’s more a question of terminological opinion. If furry isn’t a fandom, what is it; what word would you use? Subculture? Movement?

    1. Indi, thanks for the kind words. I like ‘community’, because I think it captures how a lot of people engage with furry: on a personal level, but collectively.

  5. If this is true, and it is, then what ideals do you think are universally embraced by this Fandom? Our Fandom (and I use that term historically) does not Center itself on a common product, but I theorize it centers itself on a common set of ideals. A Furry Dream if you will which we as a culture hold as valuable? If we didn’t have these ideals I doubt the concept of anthro art would be enough to hold us together as a community. I think its something we all know…but is hard to out into words because it a little different fit everyone. We are all searching for something different on Furry, and yet, all the same thing. What do you think oh high Furry scholars?

    1. Hi Hemms, thanks for the kind words. I’m not entirely sure what to think about being called a ‘high Furry scholar’ (I’m not), but I’ll go ahead and respond anyway.

      I’m not sure that there are any universal ideals embraced for furry, other than some vague reference to anthropomorphism. As you say, furry is different for everyone. And I suspect that the idea of furry is changing with time.

      I guess that [adjective][species] exists to explore the Furry Idea. A lot of words have been spilled in these virtual pages, and there are many (many) more to come. If this were an easy question to answer, I don’t think we’d have quite so much grist for the mill.

  6. To be honest, there are other fandom communities which lack a common canon. You can talk about “sci-fi fans” or “anime fans”, and even if there are some shows or books that are common reference points, they aren’t THE CANON, unlike more specific fandoms like whovians (Dr. Who) or bronies (My Little Pony). In these more loose fandoms (subcultures?) there might still be a sense of community, they might have conventions, there might be members of the community that are well-known, and so on.

    And now, what should it be called instead of fandom? Furry community? Subculture? Movement?

    For me, it has been important to differentiate between the furry community (which I don’t consider myself part of) and the therian/otherkin community (which I belong to). While a person can more or less choose to be a furry, and furrydom is a lot about roleplay, hobby, arts, creating your own fursona. Therianthropy is about spiritually/mentally being an animal, and you cannot choose it and you cannot create your animal persona any more than you can create your everyday personality. I know there are furries who consider themselves being animal in a more therian sense, but it is still not what the community itself is about, and I’ve ran into several furry fans who scoff at the “craziness” which is therianthropy and do not want to be associated with that at all.

    1. Hi Susitar, thanks for the interesting comment. The question of whether furry is (or isn’t) a fandom is, at heart, a purely semantic one. As you point out, there are different way from looking at the question, starting with “well what is a fandom anyway”.

      Personally, I like ‘furry community’, and that’ the phrase I tend to use here on [a][s]. But I’ve certainly used other terms, including fandom, when convenient for whatever point I’m trying to make at the time.

      The relationship between furry and the therian/otherkin community is a close and complex one. There are many furries who have a close spiritual relationship with their species, who would describe that relationship in a way similar to a therian. I’ve recently been browsing through some of the bespoke responses to religion questions from the Furry Survey, and it’s clear that many people consider their furriness to be associated with this spiritual connection.

      And on the other hand there are furries who would outright reject any association with therianthropy.

      Over here in the UK, I understand that the therian community used to be significantly larger than the furry community. Over the last 15 or 20 years, the numbers of the furry community has become overwhelming, and many therians have been assimilated into furry.

      I suspect that many furries are very similar to many therians. I’m sure that most therians could participate in the furry community (as furries) without any required change to their mentality, and I’m equally confident that many furries would be welcome to call themselves therians.

      Perhaps the major difference is that theiranthropy is about “being” a non-human animal, whereas furry is about “roleplaying” a non-human animal? It’s a subtle difference, although I have no idea it would receive wide agreement from either of the two groups.

      But I’m not in a position to talk about therianthropy with any expertise. I’d love to see a therian contribute to [a][s], exploring the ways in which the two groups are similar and different. Perhaps you’d be interested…?

      1. There are therians who are also furries who would be much better at that. My only connection to furry stuff is porn. :P Since I haven’t ever contributed to the furry community, I don’t have a fursona and most of what I know is through furry friends I don’t think I would be that good at comparing. My advice is that you find a therian who is also a furry, and that shouldn’t be very hard since there is some significant overlap.

  7. Just wanted to say that this article was really well-written and insightful. However, I do think it is still appropriate to call furry a “fandom,” as the attitude toward furry things is the same fanboy/fangirl attitude that other fandoms have… but furry is definitely unique in that it prizes originality and creativity over adherence to canon. That’s one of its biggest draws to me. ^-^*

    1. Hi Tica, thanks for the kind words. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. The broad possibilities of furry is one of my favourite things about our community (/fandom/subculture/international underground fraternity) too.

  8. I kind of agree with Furry not being a Fandom anymore, Fandom as a Culture sounds limited.

    However, “Canons” are not permanent with any fandom either. Nor can it control anything. The idea of that is simply yet, another belief system that causes limits in this “reality” or something to think so.
    For example “My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic” “fandom”:
    We all know that came from a TV show, but it can expand so far, to a point that it could be a culture just like Furry, perhaps some of it can be un-canon, yet came from somewhere, yet anthropomorphic may have came from some thing too, but due to all the free-will we did with it, it’s kind of a small culture now, and we can even make “furry” mean anything now but a very similar thing could happen loosely too, as everything originated from somewhere.

    However, if “Culture” and “Fandom” can be both, I guess I may be talking about something else then..
    I mainly say this for the idea of “taking” things from anything (Like a show for example) and treating it as a very huge part of something else; expanding things with it or other. Pony for example is like one of those things ha..

    Yet, you can even make any name mean anything too as information is free.

    Oh, and Furry originality means to describe anything with a ton of Fur. A cat with Fur mainly all over would be “A furry creature”. Fur-ry
    Though, yet we still took the name (Or copied it and made a separated meaning) to mean something else sort of.

    Just my thoughts

  9. I must point out that there is no unwritten law that requires anyone to have a fursona or avatar to join this community. Lots of folks on Fur Affinity list their species as human, and no pressure is put on them to pic an animal.

    It’s the same in Second Life. We don’t exclude humans from our community. They are there because they are, in a sense, fans of the SL Furries and what they create – illustrating that there are many different kinds of fans. We don’t need to be fans of books and movies to be fans of Furries.

    Another item of interest that crossed my path today was a teen-age Furry who bases his Furry philosophy on White Fang, which is getting close to a hundred years old. So, if as you say, young Furries don’t care about the things in my chronology, it’s not because those things aren’t Furry. It’s more likely they’ve never had a chance to experience all that old stuff, and thus they are naturally more involved with what is popular and easily accessible today. But when, by chance, they do come into contact with that old stuff, it affects them profoundly.

    I should also point out that I am an extreme example of what you’re talking about – someone who explores self identity through Furry writing and Second Life avatars. But when I talk to my fellow Furries on Second Life I have a heck of a hard time finding anyone who has ever heard of such a thing as lifestyling, let alone is doing it for themselves.

    In fact, one thing I find particularly irritating is the fact that these Furries DON’T have a fursona like I do. They wear Furry avatars because they’re cool. And they change avatars with such frequency that some of them can never be recognized on sight. And this prevents me from getting attached to them the way I can with the few who take their fursonas so seriously that they never change them.

    The majority of the Furries I meet are just playing a fun game, socializing, expressing their interest in My Little Pony or whatever new Furry movies are out, or talking computers, politics and other normal stuff.

    Another thing they talk about quite frequently is Fur cons. And I find it interesting that these furs don’t just socialize online behind avatars. They know each other in the real world and frequently meet up at these fur cons. Which is a drastically different thing from my Furry experience.

    I exist as a rabbit. Nobody in The Furry Community knows me as anything but a rabbit. And I consider this essential to my exploration of my inner rabbit, my use of my inner rabbit to overcome the problems I have that otherwise make socializing impossible.

    If your theory was accurate, I would not have to explain that concept to just about every Furry I meet. Even the one Furry I know well who’s exploring his inner Coyote doesn’t take it that seriously.

    This shows that you’re blowing this avatar stuff way out of proportion. Everyone with an avatar is not a lifestyler like me. I’m a minority. In fact, in everything I do in The Furry Community, I find myself in a minority. And the reason for that is because we all do so many different things.

    You would think, “Here is this huge community where everyone is exactly like me,” and you would come in here and you would be sooo disappointed.

    If you’re lucky, you’ll find a neighborhood in the community for people with your specific Furry interests. Sure you can always find plenty of Furry porn, if that’s your only Furry interest, but if you have it in mind to draw anything else, you’re a minority and you’re going to have to make some noise to get some attention. If you’re a serious writer like me, the silence will be deafening.

    It is always bugged the heck out of me that I’m probably fairly well known in The Furry Community for responding to articles like this one, but not for writing the biggest document on the Furry interest ever to be attempted, and not for writing a Furry serial that is currently pushing its 200th episode.

    What does that tell me? Only a small minority of the community is interested in serious reading? That’s not really news. But a significant percentage of the community seems very interested in drama, socializing, and what people are saying about the community, because they feel it reflects on them with potential injustice.

    Unfortunately, I’m not in a minority with that last one. Anytime anyone comes out with an attempt to define this fandom as anything but a fandom for anthropomorphic animals, I know that one minority in this community is about to be painted as the whole community. And even though in this case it’s my minority that’s being slapped over the face of every Furry with a wet paint brush, I take no joy in it. I take no joy in you insisting that all these thousands of Furries are doing what I’m doing with my fursona, when I know dang well they’re not.

    You may be fortunate enough to be living in a lifestyler neighborhood. And I would guess you probably never leave it. That’s how people come by these misconceptions that The Furry Community has changed, or that it’s all about one thing. But the neighborhoods in this community are beyond counting. And when one goes to make broad and sweeping statements about the community as a whole, one is not given leave to dismiss that fact.

    I am personally very proud of what I do with my fursona. I would love to have what I do respected for new ground it breaks in the treatment of social anxiety disorder, exploration into the human condition, and extending one’s ability to help others. I would dearly love to have that recognized. But, please, not at the expense of the rest of the community.

    I love my fellow furs, and I respect their diversity. I understand their pain at being constantly misrepresented and misunderstood by just about anyone who can write an article or go on a talk show. Everyone is all too eager to tell the world what we are, and to project a definition that has absolutely nothing to do with a fandom for anthropomorphic animals.

    If you must paint us as a whole, paint us as fans of anthropomorphic animals who are free to decide as individuals which anthropomorphic animals we’re fans of, what areas of anthropomorphic creativity we favor, and what related ideas and concepts we may choose to explore.

    By the way, you’re totally wrong that things have changed. This community hasn’t changed since its inception, and this article is proof of it.

    Every so often, after a period of enjoyed peace, someone comes along to write that the community has changed, it now belongs to a new crowd, and the old guard will get used to it. There’s a lot of brouhaha, often a lot of hurt feelings, sometimes an embarrassing amount of media coverage. But eventually it blows over, and we all go back to being the same community of Furry fans we always were.

    This community grows and regenerates constantly. Web sites come and go. Old furs are sometimes replaced by young furs. But the community itself does not change. It has one central object that everyone knows and is in some way attracted to – the idea of anthropomorphic animals and the appreciation thereof. Dismiss that and you dismiss the glue which holds us all together. You dismiss the main thing that makes all this social experimentation possible. Just as you dismissed my chronology as a simple list of titles, rather than recognizing documentation of a phenomenon that has been making this kind of experimentation possible since the dawn of civilization.

    Furry has never been popular just because it’s cute. Furry has been recognized for ages as something that goes where other forms of artistic expression can’t go, could get away with exploring controversial ideas that nothing else could touch, and specifically ideas that had to do with sexuality.

    I went to the trouble of writing that monstrous document because I wanted Furries to be aware that we haven’t gathered to celebrate a recent invention. We are the appreciation society for something that is intensely important in the fields of both artistic and social exploration.

    It matters not which of those two aspects of Furry most interests you. If you find enough interest in either the artistic or social aspects of the Furry phenomenon to want to join a community for it, you’re a fan of Furry. If you’re living a lifestyle because you’re here, it’s because of what you’re a fan of. And that is why this community can not change hands. Because the fans and lifestylers are one in the same.

    You want to talk lifestyle? I have given my entire life to Furry. For over 50 years I have been consumed with the exploration of Furry’s potential. And if there is one thing about The Furry Community I find heart-breaking, it’s that I am constantly surrounded by Furries who have not experienced the smallest fraction of the potential I have personally explored, because there is always somebody writing an article that encourages them not to explore it, not even to respect it.

    You don’t get to that potential without first being a fan. And if anyone is in this community looking for the lifestyle benefit without being a fan, they’re missing the whole point. And any benefit they’re getting from being here is minuscule compared to what they could have.

    The Furry Community is geared to provide benefits for fans. I feel so sorry for anyone who is here in this community and deliberately not partaking of those benefits. I don’t know what to make of people who would encourage the entire community to disrespect and waste this precious gift that has brightened all of our lives.

    We have learned to see the world differently because we have seen through the eyes of the anthropomorphic animals we have loved. And what is a fandom if not a love for something? Not just the characters themselves, or the people behind the avatars, but that very quality of anthropomorphic animals to expand our sight, to see things in others that would otherwise have been invisible to us, to find things within ourselves that we would never have known was there. I would think something that can do all this and so much more is worthy of its own fandom. It’s just sad that this fandom so seldom properly honors this very special thing that has brought us all together.

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