The lobby is crowded with people of different races, religions, and sexual orientations this hot Independence Day weekend. This gathering isn’t of business people or those visiting their relatives. It’s a gathering of people who love to give human characteristics to animals. These people are known as furries.
The idea has been around since ancient Egypt though this group came into being at a science fiction convention in 1980. Websites for this group started emerging in 1983. This group grew to the point where they needed their own conventions. The first convention happened in 1989. This con was called Confurence. The largest convention takes place in Pittsburg and is known as AnthroCon. It was started in New York in 1997 and moved to Pittsburg in 1999.
As you enter the convention center, there are lines of people. Some are sponsors, some super-sponsors, the rest are the average con-goers. Super-sponsors, since they pay the most, get a speedy check-in, and the others tend to stand in line for an hour or more. The many ethnicities coming together with a common interest is like a tornado in a trailer park; it’s overwhelming.
Once past the check-in, there are escalators and elevators that take you to the various rooms where events are held. These events range from the “How to Handle a Fursuiter” panel to “Uncle Kage’s Story Hour”. The “How to handle a fursuiter” panel is for what we in the fandom call handlers. Handlers make sure kids don’t jump on the fursuiter’s back. “Uncle Kage’s Story Hour” is an hour long event of Samuel Conway’s stories about his experiences in the fandom. The con has activities throughout the day and even at night; however, the 621 rule should be applied. The 621 rule is, as for all cons, 6 hours of sleep, 2 meals, 1 shower, per day at the very least.
In the mid-to-late-eighties, a soon-to-be-chemist by the name of Samuel Conway came to the fandom. His story begins while he is sitting in his dorm room, looking through a social networking site for furries. He, trying to find an animal he could characterize to fit his personality, called a fursona by the fandom, saw that there were quite a few foxes and wolves in the fandom. While trying to find his fursona, Sam saw a cockroach crawling up the side of his computer. Disturbed by this large black insect climbing the monitor, Conway went to the light switch and turned the light on. This cockroach, instead of scurrying into the dark, stood on its hind legs. Conway knew at this point what would be his fursona. His character, called Kagemushi, a play on words from the Japanese film Kagemusha, was a samurai cockroach. Conway became the chairperson of AnthroCon in1999.
A fandom writer, known as Squirrelfox, who ironically has a pink squirrelfox fursona named Beau, became a furry at age fifteen when he found fan-art of the cartoons he grew up with. Seeing that many furs developed their own characters, he decided to create his own. However it took him two years to put his two favorite animals in a hybrid form. Squirrelfox attended his first convention this year at AnthroCon 2013.
JakeM, a fandom singer/songwriter/author joined at age 17. He found the art interesting and fell into the fandom shortly after, though he watched Tom and Jerry as a young child. His character is found in the musician’s occasional stories. He’s never been to a convention, though he’d like to go. This character is a preteen brown wolf cub by the same name. Jake has only been in the fandom for approximately four months, though one wouldn’t think so by the way he acts.
Furries dress up in mascot costumes called fursuits. These suits can either be partial or full. The partial suits, consisting of head, handpaws, feet, and tail, range from $700+. The full suits, containing the head, handpaws, bodysuit, feet, and tail, range from $1200+. The heads of these suits can hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit in approximately 5 minutes. These suits normally represent a fursona. Though there are many cons held throughout the world, AnthroCon is the most popular US one.
I joined the fandom at fifteen. I didn’t fit in with any particular group and I’d always loved cartoon animals, so when I found this group by searching for werewolf art on Google, I knew where I belonged. I slowly entered the group as one would enter cold water; I got my feet wet then my ankles and so forth until I was fully submerged. Last year, I created my fursona. I took many “What animal fits your personality” quizzes then I listed all the animals and polled friends and family to find out which ones fit me the most. He is a shy little cub by the name of Maundrell Dante Ravenheart. His favorite three colors are blue, red, and black. Dante, as well as I, loves sweets, video games, soda, being comfortable, and the band Rise Against. This character of mine is a hybrid of three animals, a mouse, a dog, and a rabbit. An artist coined the term I use now to describe him. He’s a Dorabbimo. He has a monochrome, black-white color scheme excluding his eyes, nose, and tail. Through this group, I’ve become a writer for short stories involving my fursona. I try to help furries out through dealing with their problems as well as I can, and I couldn’t be happier.