Hey there again, Papabear.
In October of 2018, after two long years, my sis I finally got our suits! They're so amazing and got a very great reaction at Furpocalpyse that year. My next con is Anthrocon, and while I am looking forward to that, it's quite a while away, so I've tried looking into more local events. However, that's easier said than done in NJ. While there are some groups, some aren't active and since I am a minor (especially since I can't drive yet) I'm pretty limited. While I'm not giving up, I've looked into public suiting. It looks really fun and I want to try it (with my mom offering to be a handler, she has done some research); however, I find myself not being able to stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong, especially since the events I'm looking at have a lot of people and dogs about. It almost makes me not want to do it.
Do you have any tips for public suiting and how to do it safely? And about my previous statement, how can I find more furry meets/opportunities around my area?
Galaxy (age 15)
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Congrats on the fursuits and glad you had fun at Furpocalypse!
Okay, so two questions here: 1) how to find local furries; 2) advice on public suiting. When it comes to finding locals, there are a number of social media sites, of course, including Facebook etc. and the furry social sites such as SoFurry.com, FurAffinity.net, and Furry Amino (phone app). I also sometimes check out what is on MeetUp.com to see if any new groups have formed. I've been playing around with the Furry Amino app a lot lately and find it a good way to connect; it even includes specialized furry groups you can join. Check it out.
Yes, not being mobile can be a problem, especially if you are not near public transportation. You might try to hitch a ride with furry friends or get a family member to drive you (your mom sounds supportive). If that isn't possible, you might consider hosting a furry party yourself. But then you get into the opposite problem if your friends are your age and they can't get to you for the same reason you can't get to them. Yet another option is to visit in the virtual world of SecondLife (or even World of Warcraft and similar games, but SecondLife is more suited to simply socializing and hanging out). On SecondLife you will find furry bars and houses and other hangouts where you can do audio chat in real time and it is almost like being there. However, you are a minor, and even though that booze isn't real in SL, you can run into some people who just want to have virtual yiff. Navigate accordingly away from them.
Public Suiting: that's a big question with many variations. You could do fursuiting at a Renaissance Faire, for example, or during a Halloween or Carnivale celebration, or you could work as a mascot for a local business and try to draw in customers. One thing you need to be aware of: local mask laws. This can be complicated because they vary from state to state, municipality to municipality. In MOST cases, you are okay fursuiting if you are at a public, sanctioned event (e.g. Mardis Gras in New Orleans) and all kinds of people are in costume. Renaissance Faires are also a good case in point where it should be okay. Things get a little trickier if you are by yourself. I know someone, for example, who was fursuiting in a public park in the Bay Area and the police told him he had to stop. I suppose he could have taken it to court, but that is a pain in the butt. I would also strongly suggest you not go fursuiting at, say, a bank or store where it might be interpreted as hiding your identity to potentially rob the place. With people freaking out about terrorists in this and other countries, wearing masks in public has become a bit more problematic.
So let's say everything is cool and you're going to a fair. You sound a bit nervous that there will be "a lot of people and dogs about." The point of fursuiting is interacting with people, so you WANT there to be people. As for dogs, well, they should have the dogs on leashes and under control. Even so, I've never had problems with dogs (or cats) in public. It's not like they are going to attack you. The only minor issue I have ever had is with little children and babies, who sometimes get frightened by my bear suit. If you are wearing a more cartoonish outfit, you likely won't scare them, but even then you might. The basic rule is this: do not approach people unless they ask you to (like for hugs or photos). Likewise, people should ask you first to approach you.
It is always best--especially if you are in unfamiliar territory--to have a handler with you. That is someone not in fursuit who can keep an eye out for people, pets, and for any objects that you might trip on or bump into. Handlers also help with giving you water or handing you things you might need (such as a donut :-P) Handlers are also important if you get overheated or get sick (it is easier for them to get help). So, do not do public suiting without one, especially if you are an inexperienced fursuiter. Thank goodness for Mom, in your case! Yay, Mom!
Since you smartly have Mom lined up as your handler, I think you are good to go. That is the single most important thing you can do to ensure safety at an event. Good for you!
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