If you’ve ever seen what you might have mistaken for a group of mascots out in public or at a pride festival, you know it’s a rare, but normal sighting. But this is no ordinary gathering of people looking to help cheer on team sports. It’s not the Netflix Christopher Guest show Mascots. Nope, what you’re witnessing is a gathering of furry enthusiasts. Call them freaks, call them lovable, or just call them a misunderstood group of individuals; furry folks are part of the queer community.
A fandom so far main stream that some still don’t know they exist, furries are a group that often flies under the radar or is mistaken for something else altogether. Enthusiasts take their furry fandom very serious. These people’s fursonalities, fursonas, and fur followers are more than just a fetish. Furry life is just that: a sub culture group of people finding a common bond in the escapism that stepping into their fur character allows them.
Kind of its own unique form of cosplay, furry enthusiasts get together at festivals and at meetups at bars, clubs, bowling alleys, and more—just like any other social group. Portrayed on TV like huge parties of drug induced orgies in the Hollywood Hills, most furries will tell you it isn’t about sex. It’s about personifying an animal character that is a romanticizing of who the person underneath the fur suit wishes they could be. Just like any other subculture, most meetups are for socializing and making friends.
Fur suits can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Each furry character is a uniquely tailored and designed to fulfill the wishes and desires of the person wearing and designing their fur suits. Everything from a mask, gloves and leg warmers to a full-on animatronic costume.
Many furries confess to feeling like outsiders from society. Their furry personality is a way to break from their day to day lives and be something extraordinary. The furry movement really took off after 1980 and the introduction of the world wide web in the 1990s. This allowed furry enthusiasts to reach out and find one another from across the globe.
A large percentage of furries recognize as LGBT: less than 30% of participants studied recognized as exclusively heterosexual. 80% of participants are men that are in their mid-twenties. Because it is still a taboo fandom, and still a misnomer as a fetish versus a lifestyle or set of common interests with people, it is still taboo to come out about being a furry to friends, family or colleagues. More than 75% of furries remain in the closet to the closest people in their lives, as a result.
Next time you see a group of furries or hear about a friend being a furry, show some love to a subgroup of people who, are often misunderstood, and who more often than not, recognize as queer. Give ‘em a great big bear hug of love and understanding. Every gay person knows what it is like to not be understood and to be looked at as less than because you weren’t part of the norm.
To all you furries, fur suiters, furry lovers, and fursons, keep doing what it is that you are doing. You be you. The world is painted with a lot of different, beautiful strokes, and you furries are one of them. Bear hugs all around.