Tag Archives: history

Remembering alt.lifestyle.furry: Furry Can Change Your Life

Remembering alt.lifestyle.furry is an essay in three parts. This is part three.

In reading the words of alt.lifestyle.furry participants, one may observe that the newsgroup had become a place where many felt safe in the telling of their profound feelings of personal animal identity and experiences of mental transformations. Popular culture often denigrates the authenticity and validity of spiritual or mystic experiences, so it was a brave effort for some to share their stories. Here is more of their conversation.

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Remembering alt.lifestyle.furry: Exploring Furry Spirituality

Remembering alt.lifestyle.furry is an essay in three parts. This is part two.

When one looks back on the sincerity and passion for furry life that many participants on alt.lifestyle.furry expressed, we may not be surprised that religion eventually became a topic of discussion. In fact the alt.lifestyle.furry FAQ specifically addressed religion in Part 3 (Appropriate and inappropriate topics), point number four. Briefly excerpted it said,

For many furries, furry spirituality and religion are inseperable topics… we would like to assure everyone that it is ok to mention your religious beliefs here… if you believe they are important to your personal sense of furriness.”

Here are some voices from an extended discussion about religion and dignity.

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Remembering alt.lifestyle.furry: Creating Furry Culture

Remembering alt.lifestyle.furry is an essay in three parts. This is part one.

More than two decades ago, the furry community was one in which a small number of people created art and literature, and a greater number of people were the viewers and readers of those creations. A profound change began in Western societies with the rise of video games, active (e.g. MUCKs, and other such) and passive (e.g. newsgroups and websites, etc.) interaction on the internet, and an increase in science fiction-fantasy and non-traditional entertainment conventions that provided real-life interaction. From that change came the ability for the viewers and readers—the fans—to become more active participants in the cycle of content creation and content consumption. For many people the ability to publicly share with others their enthusiasm for furry art and literature was enough but another development was also underway. This development came fundamentally from the people who enjoyed what the content creators gave us, but who attached some serious personal importance, some profound emotional connection, to the furry art and literature. From this they began to create their own stories and characters.

On the internet, the establishment of the Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry became a place where this new kind of furry enthusiast could gather. That newsgroup (which still exists and has some participation) was originally a group of furries who broke away from the alt.fan.furry newsgroup in 1996. They did so partly as the result of severely acrimonious discussions occurring there, but they were also motivated to have their own forum for the discussion of topics that were not purely related to furry fan subjects.

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The Beginnings of the Modern Furry Aesthetic

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 is currently helping organize Furry Migration, which is held in Minneapolis August 28-30 this year.

This document started as a refinement of the Wikipedia definition to the nebulous “beginning of Furry” as a fan culture, but it quickly became apparent it would get bogged down in some nuanced specifics that, although really useful in understanding what started when historically, do not lend themselves to the brevity required by Wikis. In the end, this is more a thesis on specifically when furry started and what were the central galvanizing themes that set it apart from its sister fandoms/art forms. It may be useful to have both WikiFur and Wikipedia up as references for specific definitions and explanations. Warning: There is some graphic language due to specific quotes and citations, but general context is kept as PG-13 as possible.

The existing definition of the start of Modern Furry is somewhere around 1980-1985. It is the combination of funny animal comics and the use of anthropomorphism in science fiction into a form that is a sub-genre apart from both: Furry Fandom. WikiFur’s identification puts this point between the publications Vootie and Rowrbrazzle. Wikipedia tends to suggest Furry’s genesis as more a product of Science Fiction fandom and their corresponding conventions. Although Wikifur is more specifically correct in that furry fandom is a product of some particular underground comics, it is important to note that Wikipedia’s definition is still generally correct, but missing some nuance.

To understand all the pieces involved here, it is important to recognize what was happening during the 1970s, specifically in society and popular culture. It was a tremendous time of personal discovery, social expression and artistic experimentation. Specifically to pre-modern furry concerns, the use of anthropomorphism continued to be expanded in new ways across various media. Much of this is easily seen in the animation, science fiction and comic books of the time.

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Of Animals and Men

Doug Fontaine is a writer, ployglot, and generally talkative otter. This is his second article for [adjective][species]. Read more at his SoFurry account.

If you’re looking for some furry smut story, then you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree here. But don’t be a scaredy-cat; muster up your courage and be as brave as a lion. Reading something informative can be as stimulating as a story with furs breeding like rabbits. Whether you’re as sly as a fox or as strong as an ox, you might have noticed a prevailing presence of animal related idioms in the English language. Okay, no more monkey business; let’s explore animals in our cultures throughout history.

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The Animals

Let’s start with some unusual furry roleplay.

Dear Longed-for Colt:

 

When a certain cat saw the enclosed full-color picture of a Dub in holiday decoration, he shed tears of sadness and longing. He misses and worries about his Old Dear so terribly.

 

Kitty only lives to be with his Darling Drub again. He has set April 1 as the deadline for their reunion, if that fragile feline stamina persists, and if it does, upon arrival in the stable Kitty will need massive intravenous doses of Horse Essence.

 

All of a kitten’s unswerving love and devotion,

 

It’s creative and a bit unusual, but unmistakably furry. And it is excerpted from a letter that was written in 1966.

The feline is portrait artist Don Bachardy. And Old Dub/Drub the horse is Christopher Isherwood, one the great English novelists of the 20th century. His work includes The Berlin Stories, source material for the Cabaret musical and film, which starred Liza Minnelli and won 8 Academy Awards.

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Paleofurs— The Anthropomorphic Fans of the Past

In many ways I’m not a very typical fur. I’m almost fifty-three as I write this, work in a blue collar field, and have little to no interest in furry art or artists. (I’m into furry fiction to the near-exclusion of all else, fandom-wise.) I don’t have a “furry-name” or “fursona”, and my first fursuit, if I still had it, would be older than the word itself. I would never have heard of half the fandom-famous anthro-cartoon characters if it hadn’t been for the fandom itself, because I was already an adult—even in many cases middle-aged—when the programs aired and became part of the rest of the fandom’s childhood. Perhaps most tellingly, I was thirty-seven years old before I ever heard the word “furry” used in its fandom sense. In other words, I lived most of my life in the universe that existed before there was a furry fandom, and remember it well.

This world was the world of the “paleofur”. The time before any of us knew there were others like us, who shared our interests and tastes. Before the internet brought us together, in other words, the long, long era when being a fur was a terribly lonely and to some degree even shameful thing.

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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.

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Furry Research: A Look Back at Dr Gerbasi’s Landmark 2007 Study

The first notable academic study on furries is six years old. Completed in 2007 (published 2008), Gerbasi et al’s Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism) provides a review of furries based on 246 responses (including 217 furries) to surveys distributed at Anthrocon, plus an ad hoc ‘control group’ of 65 psychology students.

The study had two main goals: to test the validity of the usual furry stereotypes, and to investigate whether furries exhibit signs of personality disorder.

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Blood, Toil, Tears and Fur

(This is a lightly edited reprint of a column from Anthro Magazine #20)

I’ve always admired Winston Churchill, perhaps more than anyone else who ever lived. Somehow he managed to cram not one but a whole succession of lives into the span of one. He rode in the last cavalry charge of the British Army; wrote more books than most full-time authors (winning the Nobel Prize in literature along the way); became arguably the most successful columnist and reporter of his day; was a noted watercolorist; coined terms like ‘seaplane’ and ‘iron curtain’; arguably invented the tank; not only prepared the Royal Navy for World War I but also led it during the early and most crucial parts of that conflict; and sponsored key social legislation that few associate him with today. He was present on Wall Street just after the Crash of 1929, in Cuba during the insurrection against Spain, and personally fought in desperate, bloody actions in India. He remains the only person ever voted an honorary citizen of the United States, by special Act of Congress. Oh, and by the way, he also led Britain during the proudest and toughest period of her history, when she stood alone for freedom against Adolph Hitler and all of occupied Europe. Mustn’t forget that part!

He was also without question a furry, long before there was a name for such a thing.

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