Dated March 21, here is an article in The Guardian by Brian Switek:
If I could be anything, I’d be a jaguar. And not just any jaguar. One with a dark coat, blue spots, but my general humanoid shape intact along with the feline features. That’s because I’m a furry.
It took me a long time to admit that to anyone. More than 15 years. That’s because I had always heard the word “furry” as a pejorative, a term practically synonymous with fetish. At best, being open about it would open me to ridicule and at worst, well, I didn’t even want to think about the reactions of friends and family. Despite the proliferation of nerdy pop culture – from anime to cosplay – furries have always been pushed out to the fringes.
Even when I decided to tell my wife about my interest in the fandom, I couldn’t hold back the anxiety. I was in a knot for days leading up to purchasing a ticket to my first furry convention at the relatively late age of 33. It was unexpected enough that my wife called me as soon as she saw the charge on our bank account. She thought some pervert had hijacked it. No, I said, I was the one going to Rocky Mountain Fur Con.
Even then, she asked me “You’re not a secret furry, are you?” To her, the term conjured the implication of people dressed up in mascot-like costumes who set about deviantly despoiling convention centre hotel rooms. All I could say was: “Not secret, but not how you think.”
Furry is not a fetish. I know that runs counter to the atrocious CSI episode about the fandom and a long-form 2001 Vanity Fair hatchet job, but furries are not bound together by some predilection for anonymous yiffing. It’s more like someone asking what superhero you’d want to be and saying no, thanks, you’d rather be a hyena or fox or deer. It’s about identity, picking a fursona – like a persona, naturally – that’s a projection of who you are or wish you could be. Instead of going to comic cons dressed up as Captain America or Black Widow, furries define an identity all their own.
Of course there’s a sexuality to the fandom. There is for almost any you can name. But that doesn’t define what brings furries together, and it would be a mistake to let the sneers and jeers of critics define the conversation. If you want to be surprised by who furries are and what they do, there’s an entire scientific profile on the matter for you to peruse. Stigma shouldn’t drive the way furries present themselves, especially during an era where a little escapism feels sorely needed.
Furries are hardly the only fandom to be misunderstood. But during a time when comic book movies are big box office and cosplaying is normal, I don’t understand why furry hate hangs on. If anything, it’s always been on the edges of our experience.
Anthropomorphic animals completely permeate our culture, from the earliest cave drawings to the Oscar-winning Zootopia (Zootropolis in the UK). People dress as animals for Halloween, identify with certain species as personal favourites, and, hell, a popular trashy novel and movie series had duelling fans debate the merits of whether the female lead should marry a blood-sucking corpse or werewolf. Whether you’re rooting for an animal-themed sports team or listening to Top 40 songs about being “hungry like the wolf”, we’re practically obsessed by crossover between the human and animal.
Furries have a culture all their own, formed through internet forums and conventions over decades. But the basic fascination has always been with us. Furries are simply drawing from our animalistic interests and curiosities to create characters for ourselves instead of trying to co-opt something already pre-packed and sold. It just so happens to be animal-shaped, and so much the better. At the heart of it, everyone’s a little bit furry.