So what exactly is the furry community... this can be a very hard thing to define, in a similar way that you could find it a struggle to define exactly what the BDSM community is or the science fiction community.
In its most general term the furry community is a group of people who meet on the internet, in real life, or via other means who meet for the purpose of appreciating, talking about, and disseminating art, literature and items that are related to animal anthropomorphs.
So what is an animal anthropomorph, Antrhropomorph refers to something that does not normal display the defining characteristics of humans that now does. An animal that walks on two legs, talks and thinks at the same level as a human, has facial expressions and semi human anatomy.
Anthropomorphs appeared in science fiction, and fantasy work well before there was a development of a furry community, and it is strongly believed that the earliest members of the furry community were members of the original groups who met to talk about and appreciated these specific science fictions and fantasy's.
Creatures like the half animal alien "Navi" from Avatar, or the anthropomorphic Thunder-cats from the cartoon of the same name, The anthropomorphic animals from Harry Turtledoves book (alien Lizard anthros). All of these are examples of anthropomorphic animals, but perhaps some of the greatest main stream examples are animals from cartoons where animal anthro's like bugs bunny live in the thousands.
So here comes a quandary of a sort, everyone seems to always assume that everything within the furry community is based solely upon the sexual side, that furry is a fetish. But just like sci-fi community that has some fetishists within it, and the bdsm community where some people live the life rather than just have the fetish, the furry community is a world of more than one side, and while many members are fetishists who "get off" on anthropomorphic animal ideas there is still a huge amount of the community that simply enjoy anthropomorphic art, stories, and ideas.
First off let's look at perhaps one of the most well known areas of the furry community, it has appeared on more than one television show including "CSI" and a couple of others, and that is the part of the community that is called "Suiter" or "Suiting" Furries. These are the people who dress up in mascot esque costumes and meet for conventions.
It's unfortunately been bandied about that what happens at these conventions is that the furries in suits rub up against each other in what was perhaps wrongly called "yiffing" and get off on this... Now again the reality is more complicated than that, yes certain furries will go back to hotel rooms with each other and engage in sexual actions in or out of their suits... but then at Star trek conventions plenty of people go back to hotel rooms and have sex in their startrek uniforms.
In truth furry conventions are allot more complicated than this, and while yes sex and group sex and yiffing and scratching all is likely to go on, that's likely at any large meeting of people who are attracted to the same things. Furry conventions are more like any fandom convention, artists display art, writers display literature, sculptures have stalls of models, there are pins and badges to collect, talks to go and listen too, rooms full of playstation, xbox, and Pc games to compete against, and costume contests for people in the best fur suits in different categories.
And not everyone who visits a convention needs to be in a furry suit or even a furry. Suiters make up maybe 40% of the average furry convention, and most of that 40% are "casual suiters" or people who wear a suit to a convention and a special event, just like how most people only wear costumes of other fandoms to their conventions, but there is the hard core that walk around in those costumes all the time. Some furries come wearing a pair of ears, or a strap on tail to show off their furryness, some wear badges or labels that hold furry symbols, but in general everyone just gets together to enjoy a pretty standard fandom convention.
So why is it that suiters are the mainly known part of the fandom if they only make up a small percentage of hardcore suiters, and the rest are casual... well because they are bloody obvious, it's hard to miss a 6 foot 10 inch mascot costume cuddling another 6 foot 10 inch mascot costume... it's much easier not to notice the people wearing little badges on their bags, or a pair of cat ears that just poke over their hair.
So that's the conventions, artists, writers, sculptures, lecturers, computer game players and yes some people who get together for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, be it with normal individuals into the same sort of fetishes, or with people fully dressed from head to toe in fur suits.
Next is the online community, where there is a huge number of sites and areas dedicated to the sexual encounters and "cybering" of furries, and because of these being some of the first to appear during searches many people wrongly believe that the furry community is all about the sexual aspects. Allot of furry art, roleplay, and writing is none sexual in nature... allot is sexual, don't mistake that, yes of course, if you say a certain fandom is all about sex for 40 years, then people interested in sex are gonna go looking for it, and people not interested will avoid. However there is still large parts of the community not interested in sex, but interested just in anthropomorphisation (try sayin that with a mouth full of cereal).
In the online community people meeting up for cyber tends to take place as it does in other online fetish communities, through chat and forums, PMs, e-mail and all sorts of other things, and just like any other fetishist group you have those parts of the community and those sub-fetishists that you don't particularly want to be the forefront of your community.
Just like with those who like snuff in the BDSM community, or those who like extreme levels of violence... there are those in the furry community who's sexual predilections go beyond what is generally socially acceptable, and allot of the furry community gets tarred with the same brush, but because of that brush the community attracts more of the same people, however these extreme fetishes are still an edging of the fandom and not a major aspect of it.
One survey of furries showed that in the early 2000s LESS than 2% of furries were interested in zoophilia or beastiality, (different takes on the same general concept). That leaves 98% who don't have an intrest in it, and yet everyone who is furry seems to be labelled as a person who likes beastiality because of the small part of the community that does, and the general misconception of anthropomorphised animals, being a way to do it with an animal.
Within the furry community many individuals seek to curb the association between extreme fetishes and the furry world, many conventions ban art depicting beasiality, or sex with under aged furries involved, or incestuous content. Unfortunately it is what exsists.
So that's the real life meetings and the furry community, but what about the community members themselves.
Some are fans of the literature, arts, and other such items, they appreciate the appearance, or find the appearance of anthropomorphised animals to be attractive, whether sexually or not. (general furry fans)
There are those who believe they contain some part of an animal's behaviours, either by having part of their soul, being reincarnated from an animal, or just the fact that some genetic structures are more primordial and animalist than others. (This group is often called Totems, or Thropics)
There are those that wish to be anthropomorphised animals, that see it as a better life, similar to those people who spend their whole lives trying to pretend to be start trek captains, living out their lives in suits, the furry believers live out their lives in suits. (Suiters, or Lifers)
In truth anyone interested can be a furry, and you don't have to be interested in sex with anthropomorphised animals to fit in the furry community. As long as you wont hold that against others, the furry community will welcome pretty much anyone. And on that note I'd like to finish this blog with a poem a friend of mine from the furry community first showed me back when I was not part of the furry community, and had the same confusions and misgivings allot of other people have.
This is by a furry called Croc O'dile, and he had a bit of help from a furry writer. This people was written back in 95.
If the true meaning of furry you wish to understand
You must think in terms of paw and not hand
You must release your mentality from society's cage
For furry pre"furs" no race, sex, persuasion or age
You must sort through the hype and the exploitation
Because to be furry needs no justification
It is to reach out and embrace the unknown
To be surrounded by friends and yet still be alone
It is not a gimmick or a political movement
It's nothing so pretentious as a method of improvement
It's only to seek solace in the presence of friends
For when one is furry, the search never ends
It is sometimes to be controlled by one's emotions
It is to often be unsure of depths of devotions
It is the sweet pain of impossible dreams
It is never quite as close or as far as it seems
It is feelings being known without words being spoken
It is the inevitable occasional heart being broken
It is the type of love that now seems cliche
It's experience gained from having learned the hard way
It's a smurgle, a fuzzle, a rumble or purr
It's scales and whiskers and tails and fur
It's what we are, not outside but within
It's the binding force that makes us all kin
It's a howl in greeting to friends held dear
It's a bristling growl when confronted by fear
It's a friendly lick or scritch to show that we care
It's a deep understanding, a compassion that's rare
If what it is to be furry you still don't comprehend
Then consider this advice, my curious friend
If you're willing to respect that which you don't understand
Then come take my paw and I'll take your hand.
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