Doug Fontaine is a writer, ployglot, and generally talkative otter. Read more at his SoFurry account.
This article will touch upon the reason having a fursona is so essential for many members of our community. Whether we have a spiritual or a more down-to-earth relationship between our normal and furry selves, the fandom accentuates what is otherwise a purely personal fantasy.
Art, literature, music, blogs, videos, and more; they all serve to express common interests within their respective communities. Through drawings, stories, and even this article, we portray our fascination of anthropomorphic animals, similar to other subcultures and their main interests. We have sites dedicated to furry artwork, podcasts with furry hosts, even famous musicians and authors who consider themselves furries (such as Fox Amoore or Kyell Gold). We hold numerous gatherings throughout the globe. In 2013, Anthrocon (currently the largest fur con) was estimated to have generated $6.2 million in direct spending (ref) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA.
However, an interesting phenomenon has occurred in the furry fandom that separates the subculture from “the norm”.
The foundation of our community has been overtaken by original fan-made content. Okay, maybe my last statement needs some explanation and examples. By “foundation”, I mean the source, the spark from which the furry subculture emerged. Fred Patten—a historian and writer—identified the first usage of the term “furry” as occurring in 1980, (the question originated during a debate regarding anthropomorphic beings at the NorEasCon II World Science Fiction Convention in Boston) (ref). The fandom has grown exponentially, inspired and nourished by animated and illustrated media featuring creatures with humanoid characteristics, such as SWAT Cats, Robin Hood, The Lion King, Looney Toons, etc. along with novels that draw our attentions to talking feral animals.
We have come a long and perhaps, sometimes tedious, way from Albedo Anthropomorphics by Gallacci to social websites dedicated to our own furry creations such as Fur Affinity, SoFurry, etc. Through three decades, the fandom seemingly lost (not completely) its interest in Watership Down, Redwall, Kimba: the White Lion, and Disney’s Adventure of the Gummi Bears. Instead our focus has been directed, now more than ever, at our own creations; stories, artwork of fursonas, fursuiters…
Beloved characters and popular fursonas such as Sea Salt, November, Buddy, Lupin Assassin, difFURently, and Fender (just to name a few) are maybe more likely to ring a bell than Kimba, Mattimeo or Matthias the Mouse, and Bigwig. We are valuing our fans and their works more than what made us admirers in the first place. That is not a criticism, quite the opposite, but rather an acknowledgement of an impressive feat. Our fandom has become an internet Ouroboros, if you catch my drift. It doesn’t rely on external factors/contributors anymore to survive, to create new content – Fursonas!
Commissioners fuel the artistic side of the furry subculture with drawings of their characters. Numerous of artwork depict the individual furs, you! Writers blog and compose tales in which their own or fictional anthropomorphic characters thrive. Kyell Gold, a fellow fur is a prime example of how our fandom can create stable careers in furry literature. Roleplayers actively participate within the community to engage others with their own fursonas. At the majority of conventions, “Fursuit Parades” are held as fursuiters animate their fursonas with hugs and muzzle boops and murr sui-…you get the idea.
A fursona isn’t a mere description of who you are, or just a drawing of your furry self within the furry community. It initiates for many their participation to the subculture, entrance fee if you want. Our fursonas are as much part of the fandom as the fandom is a part of our fuzzy or scaly alter egos.
To misquote Karl Marx via George Orwell: “Animals of the world, Unite!” Whether you see your character to be your totem animal, a personification of your inner self, or a better version of who you see yourself to be, be proud to show the fandom what you’ve got! Without individual characters and fursonas all over the world, our community would be solely devoted to artists/artisans/authors/etc. rather than being the welcoming family, cherishing every single contribution you want to offer.