Reasons to Be Furry, Part 3

Continuing this project will be a bit difficult without first acknowledging the elephant in the room – though perhaps it is a boar in the case of this particular author.

Dear reader, I am a big gay furry. This would likely be a niche detail that doesn’t really say much about my life that could have gone unspoken, but it’s going to come up…a fair amount. From meeting my most recent romantic partner at a local furry group to overwhelming convention weekends and even a death that I cannot reasonably untangle from the community, it is a background detail that every now and then will take center stage.

So I guess it’s not really a minor part of my identity. I’d say about half the people I regularly associate with these days are furries, and the other half I am secretly converting. Perhaps you can add a bit of comedy to some of my future pieces with the knowledge that I unironically referred to myself as a husboar and boarfriend to my most recent ex-partners.

Yes, yes, I know. I’m simply unboarable.

Now that we have that acknowledgement out of the way, I kind of want to dig in and ponder the questions I regularly hear asked about the community. “Why did you decide to be a furry? Is it, like, you know? A sex thing? Can I set your suit on fire and watch you burn inside it?”

No to that last one, of course. I don’t own a fursuit! Do you know how much those things cost? Not to mention my claustrophobia, nearly had a panic attack when I tried on a friend’s head.

So, why am I drawn to such a concept? Well, on the most basic level, I do think it’s kind of simple.

As a child growing up in the 90s, there were hundreds of cartoons to choose from, many of which involved cute animal creatures just going about their otherwise human lives. Some kids hone in on princesses, others on superheroes, but I could never get enough of those funny animal people. In a way, I guess I have always been a furry; not that I have always associated with the community, but I would always lean towards work that had the animal aesthetic.

I really do believe it’s that simple for most of us. We grew up with media that featured these things and eventually developed a strong affinity, much like any other nerd culture. Perhaps the confusion is in part due to there being no centralized cultural work. Even if you don’t get the intensity of their passion, it’s easy enough to get Trekkies just really like Star Trek. Furries are based around a concept.

But what I really think trips up outsiders is the concept of the fursona. We don’t just consume media that happens to feature anthropomorphic animals; we end up creating our own characters. There’s also that always lingering question about sex, which I think is brought on by another apparent factor; the furry community is much queerer than the average population. From my perspective, I believe there’s a clear link between these concepts, of being queer and the desire to create an alternate identity.

I believe one under-discussed difference between cisgender straight people and queer people is how we view our own bodies. Of course, plenty of straight people have concerns about their appearance, but many queer people also have to struggle with comparing their bodies to those of the people they are attracted toward. And, obviously, a transgender person is constantly made aware of their own physicality.

As a queer person, I’m rather lucky in the sense that I do fall into the general range of what I find attractive; but even then, the simple fact I even consider whether I find myself attractive is a telling sign. There’s a drive to fit into a certain mold, and to be unhappy if we don’t. It seems almost nonsensical; why does it matter if we find ourselves attractive as long as other people do? Yet, ultimately, I present myself in the way I do more for my own sake than to try and appear attractive to others. But even with my general body positivity, I’m still aware of the small pieces I would change if I could.

What I’m suggesting here is, a fursona is a method of creating another version of yourself, an idealized one. This is a community where people are encouraged to consider their own self-image, to dress up as a form they can be happy with. This has a natural appeal to a community consisting of people who spent their teenage years being questions by themselves and others.

Let’s look at me specifically. Why did I create Bleu? A boar is an especially uncommon choice among furries, perhaps because porcine creatures get a bad rep. I idealize the concept of being misunderstood, of being better than what people assume from a first glance. Male wild boars are solitary creatures, which I felt fit my personality. I’m a bit heavyset, and boars have the right shape to be chubby without immediately coming off as fetishistic. There are other creatures that could tick these boxes, but I simply like tusks.

Which is funny, because despite settling on a boar due to the tusks, I immediately decided to break one. Not on a stylistic whim, but because I was in the process of needing a root canal while my friends were pushing me into finally making my ‘sona. So I guess while selling this idea of creating an idealized self, I’m the type to embrace flaws…

Another key element here is the possibility of visual diversity and symbolism. A boar and a fox is going to come with different social connotations. “This guy is a horse so he must be depressed, and this dog is obnoxiously excited at all times.” There’s shorthand in how we view animals, both inside and outside the fandom. There is an endless sea of animals to choose from; creating a fursona offers up infinite possibilities.

Just don’t ask me why, with so many options to pick from, half of us settled on dog.

At the heart of it all, this is a community that asks you to visualize yourself in another form. It gives you a mirror that only reflects what you want to see.

So, now for that question that has been sitting on the edge of your tongue since I first mentioned it; is this a sex thing? Well, this is a people thing. Do I need to tell you whether people can be sexual?

There is this strange trend in parts of the furry community to adamantly deny the adult side of the fandom; but any quick google search will show it’s there, and boy is there a lot of it. Some of us want ‘outside respectability’ to the point of being self-defeating. The constant denial only adds an air of shame to the whole thing, one that shouldn’t be necessary.

So, of course there is an element of sex to this fandom, largely because it is a community where people create idealized versions of themselves. It’s not about sex, but sex is there if you want it. It’s really a simple thing; a central element of this fandom is to commission artists to create images of your character. A lot of it is entirely innocent; my first piece of Bleu existed just to capture the boredom of walking to work. But all it takes is a tiny bit of horniness while you’re shopping around, and you have plenty of options to get something lewd. So it’s not so much that the furry community is sexual as much as it allows people an open form to express themselves. It only seems natural that a community based around self-expression and content creation would have a notable (but not centralized) pornographic side.

So, yes, furries are humans who sometimes like to think about, and maybe even have, sex. It may be hard to believe, but furries don’t have a monopoly on horny.

To close this out, I want to cycle back to what I consider the most important element. This is how I met a romantic partner and numerous other friends. It is a community all about acceptance, sometimes to a dangerous fault. It’s a place not just to be yourself, but to imagine who you want to be. At the heart of it all is the people.

Now, let’s get back to exploring my traumas in intimate detail. I promise not to boar you with any more misplaced animal puns.

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