[Ed Note: I recently found out what actually happened at the event discussed here. It was truly an eye-opener. However, I have been sworn to silence on the matter. It's too bad, because the truth would dispel a lot of gossip. In the meantime, Papabear has responded as best he could given the facts he was able to obtain secondhand. However, if anyone reading this knows the people who ran the NJ FurBQ, I urge you to ask them to come out publicly with the truth. The most informative and balanced report I've seen online is here: http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2012/07/animal-themed_party_at_west_wi.html.]
The Furry Fandom Nightmare
Hi, I may not have a name for a Fursona and you may notice the words on top: "The Furry Fandom Nightmare" and yet this Question might not be meant to be public... But I may give it a shot. I am not very sure if this is a proper question, you do not have to post this or Answer, or both if you do not want to. Especially if this is a lot of misunderstanding info.. . .
Ever heard about the news about this furry meeting party (NJ FurBQ) that there was possibly a certain behavior going on there? When I saw "all" the fear and the report, I was like "What is the big deal? Even if its true, what’s with all the fear over it? People probably was not hurt." And a lot of people in the Furry Fandom acted all burned with there "Fandom is not like this" (The whole Fandom isn't but part of it might be.) "We need to ban all these people!" "They need to keep their mouths shut about there sexual lives!" "We need to remove all the stuff that could be "offensive"!" "Sick!" And all the evidence talk like if it was a bad crime. (It made it look like a crime scene!)
Its fear just because of fursuits I think. And all this crap I have seen for the past months going on. And I have to say: This is NOT how I picture a Open, Warming, Accepting Fandom. Ever sense the first time: I have never seen the fandom the same way for a long time.
I think I know, it’s mainly to avoid something about society, but I don't think its the answer and think society is the one that needs to be more open about sexuality so all this fighting going on will end in a more better way.
There was a lot of other crap I have seen, I don't want to explain all, its making this letter too long!
I don't even know if this is a proper question, but I am going to try to make it one and connect it with above:
The Question is, is the Furry Fandom ever going to be more TRULY open someday? Will people be able to be accepted Equal and not be forced to put expressions in private when yet, society gets to express thiers? Like I know people have a legal right, I think, but was wondering if in the future, all this fear and fighting wont come up after or something.
Whenever I see talks about stuff (Like that NJ FurBQ) and I see all this fear going on, I get scared so bad about the future. It might make a lot of others and maybe me to stay more in the closet while other Furries get to come out.
Maybe I miss understood something, but I kind of doubted it for this one.
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Dear Anonymous Furry,
Your question provides Papabear with the opportunity to comment on the NJ FurBQ incident and everything to which it relates in the Fandom, so thank you.
A little background: the NJ FurBQ is held twice a year (Memorial Day and Labor Day) at the Twin “W” Rescue Squad (a charitable organization) facility in New Jersey. It’s somewhere between a large furmeet and a furcon, offering fursuiting facilities, games, a bar, live DJs, and outdoor grills for noms, of course.
Since Papabear was not at this FurBQ, I do not know what actually went on there (some furries claim it has been totally blown out of proportion, which I won’t deny as a possibility). For those of you who have been living under a rock and have not heard about it, supposedly what happened was that two fursuiters went off somewhere nearby and began yiffing (or, at least, passionately making out) in broad daylight. Some people, including park security, apparently, saw this and the shit hit the fan. The furry group involved has, rumors say, been banned from the facility (their website http://njfurbq.webs.com/ says nothing about it, so Papabear has no official word on the matter). There was a clip of the TV news story on YouTube, but it has been removed by the user for some reason.
The story, whether true or not, hit a raw nerve. Why? That, my furiends, is a long story. Here is how Papabear understands it from talking to a number of people over the years, starting with some history:
When the first big furcon, ConFurence 1990, was held in Costa Mesa, California, the organizers were concerned they would not get enough attendees, so they opened up the con to what were apparently some fairly sleazy people who were into some pretty kinky stuff (S&M, half-naked slaves on leashes, and such) and were not shy about showing off in public. The media got wind of this and the result was some negative publicity. Even though the next ConFurence considerably cleaned up its act, the damage had been done. Furries became increasingly shy and suspicious of the media after that. This was not helped by such things as the infamouse CSI episode “Fur and Loathing” http://www.csiseries.com/csi-season-4/csi-season-4-episode-5-fur-and-loathing/ which portrays furries only as people who like to have sex in fursuits. Here’s an interesting response to the video by a furry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRN7yPvUVhU.
The policy of many furcons has been to ban or restrict the media. Here is Uncle Kage, chief organizer of Anthrocon, at the 2011 Anthrocon talking about the subject of the media and furries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5HyMH7YXFM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_732134&v=OgVUzqw1LKc&src_vid=K5HyMH7YXFM&feature=iv. Kage asserts that furries are their own worst enemy, often embarassing themselves in front of the media, so it is best just not to talk to the media at all. He goes on to say we should refer to ourselves as people interested in cartoon animals (when talking to nonfurries) and to avoid describing ourselves by what we are not because that puts ideas in people’s heads (e.g. “We are not pedophiles” so people automatically have an image in their heads that we are pedophiles). Kage, as one can see from the video, is very suspicious of the media and feels that they will do anything to twist the story to make furries look like sex-obsessed deviants.
Kage’s idea that the media should be excluded from furry events as much as possible is a bit of overkill, although such views have moderated somewhat over the years (see http://www.anthrocon.org/rules-conduct#media). Papabear’s mate has worked in the media for nearly 40 years, and he advises that keeping furcon doors closed to the media just arouses suspicion that something nasty is going on. Papabear agrees with Kage that we should not describe ourselves by what we are not, but we should also not be ashamed of ourselves and try and hide.
Other cons also adopt policies that reveal how wary we are of the media. The FurtherConfusion official policy allows some restricted media access and also discourages con attendees from speaking to the media (http://www.furtherconfusion.org/2013/policies/press-policy); as another example, Midwest Furfest also requires media personnel to have a badge or they cannot conduct interviews or videotape anything (https://www.furfest.org/page/code). And Califur’s policy is even more restrictive: http://www.califur.com/2012/?page_id=127. To be fair, many conventions put restrictions on the media. Comic-con, for example, makes it very difficult to get a press pass. It is wide to not make a private convention into a free-for-all for the media, but an air of paranoia about TV and radio stations persists to this day.
While it is true that there is some negative stuff out there, here is evidence that the media is not “out to get us.” They might not get everything right, but the stories below are certainly not malicious:
Also, the story in New Jersey (sorry I don’t have a link) was not all that negative, really. There are more stories out there, but that’s a good sample for you. Some, like G4TV, touch a bit on the kink, but certainly don’t obsess about it. It was not, by the way, difficult to find these more positive videos. Papabear believes it is high time we stop fearing the media so much.
Okay, so that covers the media issue fairly well, I believe. Now, back to your question, which was why can’t the fandom be more “open.” Papabear takes this to mean “why can’t we be more open about the sexual nature of furry?”
The answer is we can be a bit more open about it, but the problem lies in how we do it and how we handle society’s reaction to it. Papabear believes that, within the furry community, we are very accepting of our sexuality. Furries open their arms to people of all sexual orientations and practices. More than any other group of people, I feel that we are the least discriminating. Everyone is welcome, no matter the race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or whatever.
But we live in a much broader society, one that is not always accepting of people, especially those who do not conform to what is considered “normal,” which, in America anyway, means heterosexual, non-kinky sex practiced by married couples in hushed tones behind closed doors and only for the purposes of procreation (boring). Overt sexuality makes many Americans uncomfortable unless that overt sexuality is used to sell cars or beer or movie tickets or Carl’s Jr. jalapeno patty melts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UGoVioteJk; then it is okay. To this bear’s mind, such attitudes about sex are twisted and neurotic in themselves, but that is what is accepted in this country.
So, back to the New Jersey incident. You seem to think that people have the “legal right” to do what these furries are rumored to have done. In fact, you would be wrong about that. Public indecency laws are common throughout the country. It is not legal for you, for example, to go naked in a public park, and having sex in, say, a public toilet is also against the law. So, it is not your legal right to behave in such a way.
The police had a right, therefore, to detain the two furries performing sexual acts in public (again, I’m not saying this happened for sure, but if it did, they could be arrested for it). Banning all furries from the park, if true, was an overreaction.
The reaction to the FurBQ news, and calls for “banning” the accused furries who were involved in the supposed indecent behavior, is not a call to restrict furry sexuality but rather to do something to curtail such foolish behavior, or at least punish those who are seen as giving furries a black eye.
That the furry fandom is so loosely and informally organized is why this cannot happen. There is no official furry body that can “kick someone out” of the furry fandom because you don’t have to belong to an organization to be a furry. Therefore, nothing can be done about these two furries, if, indeed, they did something at all. All the yelling on the Internet is a result of people’s frustration about not being able to act upon this.
Papabear believes there are some things we could do to clean up our image, if we wanted. Here are some suggestions:
Whether or not something unseemly happened at the New Jersey FurBQ, it is clear to this bear that more can and should be done about furry image paranoia, both in how outsiders feel about us and how we ourselves behave in public in front of outsiders. It goes both ways.
So, Anonymous, I hope that what I have written so far explains a bit why this was treated, right or wrong, as such a big deal.
It sounds to Papabear like you feel you can’t be open and express yourself within the furry community. I think you are not really correct on that point. Among furries, you can be yourself, I truly believe that and encourage you to do that. I also believe that, with more time, we will gradually get over our fear of the media and such. It is already happening to a certain degree, but it will take time and patience.
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.