Furries don’t have it easy. Whether it’s the coverage they received in a 2001 Vanity Fair article or the way they were portrayed in the CSI episode entitled: “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas”, the mainstream media seems to always cast furries as sex-crazed fetishists in colorful animal suits. For those who aren’t in the know, furries—depending on who you talk to—are a fandom, a subculture, or a fetish group where members take on different “fursonas” (furry personas) and freely practice plushophilia.
So what is a fursona, you ask? An animal costume, sometimes with its own unique identity. While examples of popular fursonas include canids and felines, some don costumes of dragons or strange hybrid animals like “folves” (a combination of a fox and a wolf). Though some furries do like to “yiff”—a catchall term for sexual activity or material like erotic art, there’s a whole lot more to the community.
To educate us about what it means to be a furry, I’ve reached out to a practicing furry who’d prefer to remain anonymous. I’ll call him Stomper the Stag.
Stomper, what first attracted you to the furry fandom?
I don’t think there was like one thing that snagged me, more a constellation of interests that slowly pulled me in. For one, I’ve always enjoyed cartoons. We’ve all grown up watching cartoons of anthropomorphized animals, think; “Mickey Mouse”, “Thundercats”, “The Care Bears”, that kind of thing. I think growing up with that and seeing so much of it in the culture makes the idea of a seven feet tall talking stag less unusual, if you know what I mean.
Following that, I became really interested in art that showed anthropomorphized animals and started sketching out some of my own, like terrible Bugs Bunny knockoffs. A fascination with anthropomorphized animals is really old in humans, far older than the hieroglyphics we see in ancient Egypt with gods who had the bodies of men and women and the heads of different animals. It’s definitely nothing strange or new to us, that’s for sure.
These interests opened the doors up for me, that and the idea of becoming or dressing up as something else. Stomper the Stag, my fursona, is confident, sociable, maybe even a bit impulsive, which is so unlike me. He’s like the weekend version of me, I guess. When I learned about the community, that people were really doing this, I was surprised because I was already there. That said, I felt like I finally had permission to really embrace that part of me. Others were doing it, so why shouldn’t I? I ended up spending hundreds of hours building my fursona, went to my first con [convention], and the rest is history.
What kind of things do you get up to as Stomper the Stag?
All kinds of things. I know what people think when they see adults dressed up in really flashy animal costumes… that it’s some kind of kink, but it’s more than that. Sometimes I’ll go outside and do like household tasks as Stomper or I’ll walk around the house and hang out in costume. It’s actually more boring than you’d expect.
There’s something exciting, almost exhibitionist about becoming Stomper. Look at it this way, my neighbors have definitely commented on it, but they’re also open minded so it doesn’t bother them. Beyond that, I’ll go to some of the conventions, Anthrocon is a really big one though most big cities have them. It’s a great chance to meet others, dance, hang, be a furry among furries.
Have you ever had sex as Stomper?
I’ll put it out there: sex is definitely a part of the community, but—and this is a BIG but—it’s not the reason furries exist. It falls within the normal range of things furries do. I mean, I’ve definitely had sexual experiences in costume, but it’s mostly just innocent. I’ve gotten and received oral, masturbated, that kind of thing, but logistically it can get, excuse the pun, pretty hairy. Some people have partial costumes which make it easier or costumes that can facilitate that kind of interaction, but we spend hundreds of hours and sometimes thousands of dollars on our fursonas… the thought of getting them stained or dirty in that way is not appealing.
Most of us enjoy fandom erotic art or furry porn and I speak for myself when I say that it’s sometimes arousing being in costume as Stomper, performing, and being around people who are open minded and who don’t have plenty of hang ups. It’s liberating, but it’s also easier to connect with others. You sort of lapse into more intimate ways of interacting.
Do you have a partner, and if so, what do they think about all this?
I’m gay and my boyfriend has been part of the community since we started seeing each other. I think he is far more invested in the sexual side of things than I am, which is totally okay with me. When we met he was really casual about the whole thing. In my experience, lots of furries are gay, or at least they’re part of another group that has been marginalized in some way. They’re more open to new things, less critical. To be honest, it hasn’t really been a problem for me, though I do know that people widely look down on the fandom.
Why do you think that is?
People don’t need a reason to be prejudiced. The media hasn’t done much to really get at the heart of what we’re all about. We’re also hard to ignore. I’ve walked around my neighborhood as Stomper and everybody notices. Some people thinks it’s great, the types who’ll say: “Hey, let your weird flag fly.” Others have a sense of humor about it and see it as a funny quirk, like look at the grown man dressed up as a pink stag.
Then there are the ones who get genuinely angry about it. Things that are misunderstood, especially when human sexuality is involved, usually get a terrible rap. This is why furries sometimes get looped in with the perverted when, in fact, surveys have indicated that there’s nothing psychologically wrong with furries at all. I’ll concede that we can be a bit weird, but anything that’s not normal, that’s not vanilla, is weird. Weird is good. It’s not bad.