Congoers scatter across the dealer’s room floor, holding plushes and flipping through comics. Artists scribble at their alley tables, interacting with customers and taking custom commissions. Cosplayers pose as the flash of cameras overwhelm and daze. Badges displayed on chests, including on my own band t-shirt, read “Furry Weekend Atlanta.” I’ve never been to a furry convention before, and I’m not sure what to expect, but as I fall into the hectic fray of people, I feel right at home.
I know this beat. I’ve walked it on three day weekends for the past decade or so. This is a con, like any other, and yet when I told people, “I’m going to a furry con,” they looked at me as if I had announced I would be attending a demon summoning ritual at Satan’s First Anti-Baptist Church. And, like any other con, I felt comfortable as soon as I arrived.
Furries have long gotten a bad rap among cosplayers. “At least we’re not furries,” was a popular slur I heard when we felt childish, perhaps even immature, for cosplaying. And after years of spurting it myself, I wondered why I felt that way, why I was so easily slipping into a bully mentality, against one type of congoer. So I’ll admit it. I’m guilty of being a jerk. But I figured with this con, I could go out of my comfort zone and at least have an interesting story to tell later. Instead what I found was a wonderful sort of people and a great convention.
Have you looked at a furry mask? Like, actually looked at it? Because not only do you have to figure out the animal sculpt, you have to work with an array of fuzzy fabric—oh, and keep in mind, you’ll have to also take visibility into account and make sure you don’t get too overheated. That mask is going to need breathability while also being furry. Just trying to imagine how these incredibly talented people made their fursuits hurt my brain a little, so when I saw sculpts that looked as real as staring into the eyes of a wild animal, I was stunned. Then you also have to figure out the body, the paws, the feet, and after hours of sculpting and working with fabric, you’ll have one full costume. I love cosplay, I really do, but if I had to put that much effort into every single one of my costumes? I’d certainly not have a closet full.
Don’t even get me started on the fursuit dance competition. Yes, you read that correctly. People in their fursuitsdancing. I have the eternal curse of the clumsy, and I can’t dance worth a crap. I blame the fact that my legs and arms are too long, but the fact of the matter is I’m just awkward. Seeing people in full fursuits popping and locking, breakdancing, tapdancing, and hula hooping? Yeah, that just makes me feel like a dunce. With practiced routines and expert precision, these furries had me sitting on the edge of my seat and literally howling for more.
So if furries are kind and talented people, just like the majority of cosplayers, what keeps them as the punchline in so many cosplayer jokes? I’m afraid I know the answer. I’m even guilty of saying it myself: A lot of people believe furries are attracted to animals, and that makes them uncomfortable.
First of all, I’m certainly not one who can judge what people read, watch, and fap to in the privacy of their own home. The passion I’ve seen displayed for tentacle hentai, shounen-ai, and Lucky Star doujinshi is the same passion I see for furry porn. At some point we all have to say, “Hey, it’s not my thing, but I’m not gonna judge the people who are into it.” God knows some people think my own personal preferences are whacky—but what are we gonna do? Go back to the missionary position and outlaw blowjobs and anything else that falls under the label “fun”? I’ll leave that to crazy Conservatives, thank you very much.
Secondly, as many furries that I met and talked to, none of them were attracted to animals. Humanoid animals, yes, but not animals. I’ve begun to realize their passion for anthropomorphic animals is a lot like my love for Garrus Vakarian (who is my space husband, not yours, get away from him, hussies). Sure, Garrus may look like a lizard-bird, but if I ever saw a lizard-bird that looked like him? I’d certainly not drop my pants. But if some intelligent and well voiced aliens happen to invade Earth? Get out of my way, I need to welcome our alien overlords.
The bottom line is that many cosplayers who dislike furries define them by that one thing. They see only “furry,” instead of “artist, sculptor, hard worker, activist, etc, etc.” But, just like cosplayers, furries are not just furries as cosplayers are not just cosplayers. We have other passions and goals outside of cosplay just as furries do. Talking to them only helped illuminate that we have far more common ground than not. And, as the last lyrics of the last song that played over the Furry Weekend Atlanta dance competition said, “All around the world people want to be loved, they’re no different from us.” Sure, I may not be a furry, but I certainly see the appeal.
What are your thoughts on furry conventions, readers? While much time as been spent speculating on the ‘sexual’ nature of this subculture, what do you think of it from a costume construction standpoint? Leave a Comment below!