Dear papa bear,
I have just recently become interested in becoming a furry after hearing about them on [the television series] “Taboo.” I could hardly wait to find out more and become one myself!!:)
I am new too all of this and was wondering if you would tell me more about it.... How to become a furry? How to create my fursona? What is the best animal for me?.. (I have thought of a couple but still haven't decided) and what do furries do? I would love if you emailed me back and told me more about being a furry along with answers my questions. so I can become part of the furry community:)
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Thank you for your letter, and welcome to the furry fandom (bear hugs). I am familiar with the episode of “Taboo” that drew your interest. Like many television shows that have talked about furries, it leaves a lot out. There is a lot more to it that fursuits and furry art and fiction. So much that I can’t really explain it all in one letter. To start, it would help you to read up a little on our history. Here are a couple of articles online you can peruse:
“An Informal History of Furry Fandom” at http://www.furrydolphin.net/2009_files/furry-history.html and
The Wikifur history article at http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/History. (Wikifur is an excellent place for you to browse and learn about the fandom in general).
You don’t have to really do anything to join the furry community. We are not formally organized in any way. If you love anthropomorphic beings in one form or another and have an interest in being part of the community, then you are a furry by default. You don’t have to be a fursuiter (only about 20% of us are), or an artist, or a writer, unless you wish to be. You can just be a fan.
In Papabear’s experience, though, there are basically two kinds of furries: those who simply enjoy the art and stories and games and such (hobbyists), and then there are those who have a more spiritual sense of furry (lifestylers)—who have more of a connection to animals and for whom there is much deeper personal, even religious meaning. The latter tend to be more picky about their fursonas than the former, and, indeed, having a fursona is not a requirement to be a furry, either. But if you DO wish to have a fursona and are having trouble figuring it out, you might want to read one of my earlier columns: http://www.askpapabear.com/1/post/2012/05/choosing-a-fursona.html. You can also read some of my other letters about being a furry on this website.
Because the fandom has grown so much and diversified since its modern roots in the 1980s, you will come across many opinionated furries who will try and tell you what a furry is and what a furry isn’t. Don’t listen to any of them; they are the negative side of the fandom. Furry is what you want it to be, whatever you make of it.
On the positive side (which is the majority), furries are an inclusive group: we welcome all races, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, nationalities, political opinions, etc. Everyone is welcome, as long as they are into anthropomorphic animals, which, to this bear’s mind, is the only fundamental requirement for being a furry. After all, if you din’t like anthros, you wouldn’t be here.
As to the question “What do furries do?” there are a number of things, including attending furcons and furmeets, creating art, fursuiting, participating in online communities, donating to charities (usually animal charities), mascoting (a number of furries are also professional mascots), producing radio shows and short films, performing in variety shows, going out in public and making goofs of ourselves, making friends, and just having fun!
As with any large and diverse group, I do have to warn you that you will run across some furries who are just plain jerks and drama queens. Some people “leave the fandom” in a hissy fit because they get annoyed by these people, which is sad because it’s not the fandom that is to blame, it is a minority of the individuals in it who can sometimes ruin it for people. Fortunately, these derps are easy to recognize, and, once you spot them, just run the other way. After all, “leaving the fandom” is not a solution to escaping derps—they are everywhere in the world.
Papabear loves the furry community because it has brought more friends into his life than he ever had before. It can be the same way for you, Rissa. There is much for you to explore! In addition to the Wikifur site I mentioned above, another good way to find out what is going on is the furry news sites Flayrah.com and FurryNewsNetwork.com, and you can also listen to such podcasts as FurWhatItsWorth.com and FurMedia (www.livestream.com/FurMedia/).
In addition, next year I am hoping to get the nonprofit organization the American Furry Association off the ground, part of which will focus on helping to introduce new furries like you to the fandom. Stay tuned about that!
I hope this helps, Rissa. Feel free to write any time if you have more questions.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.