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What is “Furry”?

If you as an adult still occasionally like to flip to the old cartoons, or have a stuffed animal sitting on the dashboard of your car, or buy cereal because it has a cool tiger on the box, you may well enjoy what our fandom has to offer.

-Anthrocon, 'What is "Furry"?'

From the outside looking in, Furry can seem like a strange concept, it is often oversimplified. “Furries are people who enjoy anthropomorphic animal characters.” And for some, it can be that simple. Many furries want to create characters in the form of a fursona: an anthropomorphic creature designed exactly how they want as a way to express themselves. These fursonas are brought to life through art, stories, roleplay, performance and sometimes costumes, known as fursuits.

The story of Furry – how the community came to be in its current juggernaut form, which entails massive amounts of visual art, writing, music, charity work, performances, events and so many other forms of creativity – is a rich one.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Furry community was small and niche, utilizing physical mailing lists and the early internet to communicate. Gatherings in person were generally limited to room parties at Sci-fi conventions. Furries were brought together through a love of animal characters in print and animation.

Photo by BartonFox.

They shared art of original characters, created stories, comics, and zines. Furries were carrying forward an age-old human tradition of using anthropomorphized animals in storytelling – from the animal-headed gods of ancient cultures, to the present-day usage of animals as sports mascots, in cartoons, advertising, and other media.

The media created by the early Furry Fandom would inspire many more people to get involved in the 1990s and early 2000s. People watching movies like The Lion King or reading books like Redwall or the Warriors series would hop on the internet looking to connect with other fans of said media, looking for fan creations, maybe creating their own – and would tap into the wider furry community. Furry has also always been a queer community. It turns out creating an idealized version of yourself via your ‘fursona,’ or furry persona, has helped a lot of folks grow, and even transition into the best version of themselves. Over the years Furry Fandom has become an even more beautiful, diverse safe space for queer people and allies.

New conventions began popping up in the 2000s and 2010s, including our own Anthro New England in 2015, and they grew rapidly. The top ten conventions by size now all see over 3,000 attendees annually, and the biggest sees over 13,000. Furry conventions are home to beautiful art, dance, music and performance. They are a time to be with friends you’ve only talked to online, reunite with others and make new friends. They are a general celebration of everything that Furry represents.

With all that growth, where does that bring us to today? The Furry Fandom comprises people from numerous countries around the world, with conventions and events on six continents. We count among our ranks engineers of every flavor, laborers, teachers, students, scientists, pilots, and every job description you can imagine. Our community creates vibrant, beautiful, diverse art, music, and media that truly represents who we are as people. We are here because of anthropomorphic animals, but we are also here to celebrate the community that our funny little hobby has brought us. 

So, as Anthrocon said – if you think the costumes are cute, or if you liked Zootopia or your friend mentions they’re checking out the local furry convention, tag along and see for yourself what we’re really all about!

Header Photo by BartonFox.

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