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Looking at post-con depression through a lens of literary theory

When I first heard about the concept of post-con depression, the idea made a lot of sense. We have a massive community of people who meet each other over sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and various furry art hubs. These groups of people travel across or fly over states, countries or in some cases continents and oceans to see these online friends possibly once a year for a weekend, if that.

That’s already bittersweet.

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Acceptance and Affurmation: Examining Queerness and Normativity Within the Furry Fandom

Guest post by Oxley. Oxley is a relatively new member of the fandom, having only been actively involved for a year–at the time this article was written, he hadn’t attended any conventions, but hopes to continue his work in this area at Midwest Furfest 2016. He is currently looking for feedback and other opinions on this article, and can be reached at his email.


The year is 2015, and marriage has finally been confirmed as a right for all Americans, whether gay, straight, or otherwise. Though the legislation has brought the queer community (sometimes referred to as MOGAI, or “Marginalized Orientations, Genders Alignments, and Intersex”) farther than it has ever been before in its fight for civil rights, talk of marriage now overshadows other important LGBTQ+ issues: many groups still find themselves marginalized and vulnerable in society. As the struggle slowly progresses, though, queer America has found both allies and enemies in the strangest of places. Individuals from some of the most conservative corners of politics have shown solidarity to the queer community, as have major corporations and brands. Nonetheless, their backing has often been motivated by political or economic gains—after all, in many places it would be considered political suicide to denounce marriage equality. Rather, various other communities and subcultures have often proven to be most readily and enthusiastically supportive of social progress. Countless YouTube stars have advocated for marriage equality or even used the site as a medium through which to come out, while common names in music have vehemently opposed restrictions on marriage.

Perhaps the most perplexing source of support for queerness in America, though, comes from the ever-controversial furry fandom. For years, furries have had intrinsic ties with the queer community, as only a minority within their numbers are straight. While furries as a whole have certainly never been a strong voice against equality regarding gender and sexuality, though, their advocacy of gay rights is nonetheless imperfect, and often detrimental to those who do not fit the more easily-recognized definitions of “queer”—that is to say, the transgender population. Still, observing a subcommunity as being a largely queer space offers a peculiar analysis of it, from an angle that is not often used. That said, the intersections between the queer community and the furry fandom provide a valuable insight into modern conventions of normativity, and the queer community’s interactions with society as a whole.

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The Furry Canon: Equus

Equus, Peter Shaffer’s 1973 play, features a cast of humans and horses. The horses, of course, are humans dressed as horses. They are intentionally abstracted, usually wearing nothing equine beyond minimalist horse heads and tack that never obstruct their human faces. The horse costumes are the extent of bodily anthropomorphism in the play. The horses’ actors and actresses move like horses; they do not speak. Why do I render my verdict, then, that Equus belongs in the Furry Canon?

[EDIT: After warranted critique, I’ve decided to reverse my verdict. While Equus should not be part of the Furry Canon, I think it addresses matters relevant to the furry experience, albeit torqued by mental illness. Read on for my reasons.]

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The Furry Canon: Black Beauty

Would I recommend Anna Sewell’s 1877 classic Black Beauty for inclusion in the furry canon? Yes, but with one qualification: the book’s central conceit is innovatively furry; the rest of the book is not.

I will begin with the furry element of Black Beauty: it is, as its subtitle proclaims, the auto-biography of a horse. More than just the story of a particular, modern horse’s life—not merely as a symbolic or allegorical gesture—it is a horse’s life told in the first person. In his own voice, Beauty guides us through the daily adventures and boredoms of a horse’s life, commenting on his masters’ behavior, his material condition, and his emotive reaction to it all. Though Beauty never vocalizes an English word, he is a talking horse by virtue of the fact that he addresses us.

And I am sorry to say it, but this is the extent of the book’s anthropomorphism. Despite his internal rational faculties, Beauty is definitely a horse. Throughout the entire book, I waited for him to act in some way that would reflect the thoughtfulness of his narration, but no: this is not a fantasy, and Sewell makes sure that Black Beauty’s behavior fits solidly within equine parameters.

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The Second [adjective][species] Poetry Collection

The moon hangs full and heavy over the clearing, and a bonfire crackles in the still night, sending up swirls of orange sparks as each log falls into ash and ember. Its smoke carries the fragrance of white sage and cedar, of sandalwood, of myrrh. Its light dances over the pattern of stripes, the white ruff, and at last the burning eyes, a wash of gold over emerald as the tigress’ gaze catches and holds.

Greetings, traveler, and welcome. You have the look of a seeker about you — how well I know that restless heart!

There are others of your kind here, ancient and modern, their songs dreaming, wondering, praising. Here, in their words, you might find a moment’s peace, or perhaps there will only be more questions. On a night like this, who can say? Those might be spirits gathered out there, beyond the reach of the flames — but then again, it may only be a trick of the light. That might be a drumbeat; it might be a heartbeat; it might only be your own.

The fire is lit. The smoke is rising. In the end, all questions become one:

Will you come and join the dance?

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Clair C and the limits of anthropomorphism

Clair C is an unusually prolific furry comic artist. She has several long comic collections, including Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon satires, the delirious Unicorn in Black, and her ongoing comedy/adventures The Flying Lion and Mythical Adventures.

Yet perhaps her best work is not a long story, but her collection of one- or two-page comics, published under the title Slices of Something.

Slices of Something is thematically united by its exploration of the boundaries of an anthropomorphic universe. The comics are, to a furry reader, immediately engaging and funny and, to a lay reader, befuddling. Her ideas are subtle enough to feel magical, yet deep enough that the magic doesn’t fade when you manage to put your finger on exactly what she’s doing.

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Sondaggio Furry Italiano

[Articolo di JM. Le note del traduttore sono tra parentesi quadre in corsivo.]

Il furry è un fenomeno internazionale, e l’inglese è il linguaggio predominante. Tutte le nostre convention più larghe, da Anthrocon, a Eurofurence, al Meeting of Furries in Giappone, a Russfurence, sono pensate per un pubblico inglese. Partecipate a qualunque di queste e troverete furry che usano l’inglese come seconda, terza o quarta lingua, che comunicano e si divertono in questo linguaggio comune.

Per chi è nato in paesi che usano questa lingua è facile non fare caso a quella parte del mondo furry che non lo parla. Ma quella parte esiste, e per quanto ne sappiamo, le due maggiori lingue furry dopo la nostra sono il russo e l’italiano.

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Sondaggio Furry Italiano: Data from an Italian Furry Survey

Furry is an international phenomenon, and English is our predominant language. All our large conventions, from Anthrocon to Eurofurence to Japan Meeting of Furries to Russfurence, cater to English speakers. Attend any of these and you’ll find furries with English as their second or third or fourth language, communicating and participating in our lingua franca.

For a native English speaker, it’s easy to overlook non-English-speaking furry. But it exists, and as best we can tell, the next two biggest furry languages are Russian and Italian.

We are really pleased to be able to present here, for the first time, data from an Italian furry survey (Sondaggio Furry Italiano), that was open over 2012/13. The survey was entirely in Italian, and the results to date have only been published in Italian. Thanks to [a][s] contributor MrMandolino (who is Italian), we can present them here in English. (We’re also republishing the results, and a translation of this article, in Italian.)

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Managing Anti-Social Behavior at Conventions: A Better Approach

Guest article by Flip. Flip has been involved with furry and other fandoms since the late 1980s, running conventions since the mid 90s, and generally being an uberfan. He helps organize Furry Migration, which is held in Minneapolis.

This article is a companion and counterpoint to JM’s recent article, Ideas on Anti-Social Behaviour at Furry Events.

It’s odd when I find myself in such contrasting agreement and disagreement with an article at the same time. For the most part, I AGREE with JM’s article in his goals and even parts of his methodology. However, I do not believe the use of “nudge” dynamics is the best approach. Nudge assumes a sort of passive aggressive control from the staff. Control should not the final goal; responsibility of membership should be the final goal. I am going to suggest a reframing of the argument to better meet this goal.

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