There are two statements I hear frequently from furries these days: It's either "The furry fandom is so accepting of everyone!" or else "The furry fandom is toxic!" The second statement is soon followed by the announcement: "I am leaving the fandom!" There are popular furry vloggers who have YouTube posts asserting one or the other view, and I see furries on Facebook complaining about the toxic fandom all the time.
So, which is it? Is it time to hold each other's paws and sing "Kumbaya, My Lord!" or should we burn it all to the ground and dance on the fandom's withered and purulent corpse?
I am writing this editorial today to answer that very question. Hold onto your tails; here we go....
Let's begin with furry conventions. I returned from Biggest Little Furcon in Reno just a few days ago. During the con (I wasn't witness to this, just heard about it), apparently one of the furry attendees (and furiends) ejaculated on a pizza and left it in the hallway. Then, for some reason, a witless passer-by saw the za and ate some of it. Naturally, word got out, and it spread like warm Skippy peanut butter over toast all over Twitter. Immediately, there were posts that this would be the end of BLFC for it would meet the same fate as Rainfurrest. There were also posts about how the fandom has been overrun by pervs and that it will inevitably implode. Game over.
Of course, the people writing these posts were not at the con. I was, and I can tell you it was a super con, well run, and everyone had fun. The guests, the hotel staff, everyone. I talked to some of the staff and security and they all said it was great.
Hotels deal with crime and guest misbehavior all the time. The primary problem is theft, but there have also been cases of rape, drugs, and property destruction. This brings me to the big difference between what happened at Rainfurrest vs. BLFC. Rainfurrest attendees caused a lot of property damage to the host hotel, costing the hotel thousands of dollars. The main problem with Rainfurrest was that the people who ran the convention were too permissive. While I never got the chance to attend that particular con, I talked with furries who did, and they told me that Rainfurrest had a very lax, party atmosphere that encouraged bad behavior and had been doing so for years. The result was inevitable. A badly run convention will eventually close. This is not the case with BLFC and many other fine furcons. In the case of the cummy pizza, the guilty party was confronted by hotel security and dealt with. Reno Area Anthropomorphic Arts and Recreations (RAAAR), the organization that runs BLFC, raised over $21,000 for its charity and is already planning the 2022 con, which will occur in the summer. I'm not sure what attendance was (they haven't released final figures yet), but I'm sure it was a couple thousand furries, a nice number that I'm sure the hotel appreciated.
While I was at BLFC, one of the panels I attended was called "Why We Care about the Furry Fandom." It was run by Stigmata (Jonathan Vair Duncan) and Sasha R. Jones, two well-known artists of fantasy and furry art. The two talked for an hour about how being furry is about exploring your potential, coming out about who you really are inside, discovering things about your orientation and your spirituality, meeting new and interesting people, expanding your creativity, and so on. Their hyper-positive view of the fandom went so far as to discuss how furry is becoming an important social movement that is gaining acceptance in the normie world. This view is shared by many furries who feel that the fandom is a happy place where everyone gets along and accepts you for who you are.
There is an element of truth to this--a big element, really--but it is not entirely accurate. If it were, we wouldn't be seeing all the claims about the "toxic" fandom. A good example of this is this YouTube video by BetaEtaDelota. While acknowledging that there is a lot good in the fandom, he goes on quite a bit about the issues in the fandom that are not addressed (mostly about furries attacking each other). Yes, there are issues, and they are not addressed. Know why? Because, unlike corporate-owned fandoms such as Whovians and Trekkers, there is no one in charge of the fandom. The furry fandom has no organizational structure. No formal membership. No club president. No supervising board of directors. It is an amorphous blob of people indulging in creating a fantasy world of anthro creatures. Therefore! How can bad behavior be controlled if no one is in charge, eh? Oh, sure, there are furries in charge of Facebook (meta?) groups who can control posts as I do for the Greymuzzle group, but overall the fandom is like Hollywood's version of the Wild West. You're kind of on your own when it comes to controlling drama.
But is the level of drama worse in the fandom than elsewhere on the internet? Hell, no. If you know anything at all about the online world and the virtual community, you know that it is bad everywhere. Hell, the current political divisions going on in the USA right now have in large part been incited by social media. The furry world is no worse than any other sordid corner of the cyberworld. This is true when it comes to cons, too. You think furries have exclusive rights to acting like twits in hotels? My sister would tell me about conventions she went to that were for college educators and how she would see biology professors become drunken idiots; my late husband went to journalism conventions and once opened the wrong closet door to see two attendees humping each other. And these were conferences with attendees who were much older on average than furries.
Why, then, do we have this impression of ourselves as being worse than other groups?
Because we set ourselves up for it.
If you believe all the hype about how the fandom is a nirvana of acceptance in which people of all orientations, colors, and creeds don their fursuits or game avatars and get along like Girl Scouts around a campfire only to then discover that there is the possibility of running across trolls, haters, and prima donnas, you are going to be disappointed. Many are disappointed, and then they overreact and declare the fandom to be toxic.
So is the fandom toxic? No. Is the fandom nirvana? Again, no.
What the fandom is is a bunch of people sharing an interests in furry characters. The members of this fandom are human beings. All of them. Shocker, right? And although the demographics of the fandom are a bit different from the general population (e.g., more LGTBQI people, more young people, and, still, more white males, though that is slowly changing), people are still people.
The vast majority of people I have personally met in the fandom are super. They are interesting, fun, intelligent, playful, openminded, and just super people. But, there have also been a few who are total butt munchers. Don't let these few negative people get you down. Don't let them spoil your fun. Learn to recognize and avoid them, and you will have a super-splendiferous time in the fandom just as I have.
Remember why you came to the fandom in the first place. Have fun in the imaginative and creative world of furries. This is a community for you to enjoy, and if you approach it with a positive attitude but recognize it is not perfect, you will have a wonderful time.
Thank you for reading this post. Please feel free to comment below.
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