Ever since I was little I was a furry. I just didn’t know it.
What is a furry? Well, there’s all sorts of resources smattered across the web about what a furry is, but I can only provide what a furry is to me. To me a furry is not simply a member of the Furry Fandom. They don’t have to do anything in particular like draw, go to conventions, fursuit, etc. Really, a furry is just about anyone who says they’re a furry.
A furry is interested in anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism simply put is giving human(-like) qualities to things that aren’t human. This could be a robot, this could be a god, this could be an animal, this could be a vehicle, etc. I generally lump ‘furry’ with any of these anthropomorphisms, however, specifically furry is concerned with anthropomorphism and animals.
One of my earliest memories is of an anthropomorphic wolf smiling on either a bottle of beer, or in something in a liquor store. When I was little I was enamored with the idea of a human being able to be something as interesting and varied as an animal. In some ways I suppose I became interested in the sexual aspect of the fandom when I was going through puberty, but that was really a second aspect (and one that eventually digressed). The point is that I was interested in humans being able to be other things than simply human from a very young age.
Back during this time there was no internet. I was alone in this fascination. I thought nobody else had this fascination like I did because nobody expressed it anywhere other than the occasional cartoon or animated movie. I was obsessed with animals being human and humans being animals. When I’d play pretend I would pretend to be “walking talking dogs”. On the elementary playground, when Starfox came out, I pretended to be Starfox every day with my friends (now brother-in-law). Of course, I was always Fox McCloud.
Furry then in this sense was very personal to me. I dreamed of furries and in that sense I thought I was kinda special. My interest was part of what defined my character. I know that may sound kind of odd, but it’s true. I thought, this furriness interest and imagination was an ‘Asher thing’ (among many other things).
When I was in eighth grade my mother and I made my first fursuit. This was before there was really any conception of a fursuit anywhere. I was Gmork from The Neverending Story. It wasn’t the best fursuit, mostly a furry hood with a snout sticking out, but it was a fursuit.
Then the internet happened. As I was growing up we gradually gained access to the internet. First we could only access it at school, which was kind of a downer. However, being the little hacker I was, I found that I could log in to this service ACLIN at the library using telnet and my 14.4 baud modem. At the time I could dial long distance into AOL, but it cost a lot. I had to find some way to access the internet for free. Well, the ACLIN service employed this browser, I can’t remember the name of it now, that was completely text based. The ACLIN service ran on its own web server that this browser accessed, BUT, this browser could access other websites too if you found the right link or command. So, I’d hook into ACLIN and then escape their web server and go onto others servers.
Around this time I had this book from the city (we didn’t really have any bookstores where I lived) about Multi-User online textual virtual worlds. I took the knowledge I gained from this book and used my 14.4 baud modem to telnet into ACLIN and then follow telnet links to these worlds (MUDs, MUSHs, etc.) I was playing internet computer games on the tax payers dollar… sneaky little bugger. This was around the same time I made myself an administrator on our school’s BBS. I was a funny little guy, I’d hack and then tell the person (like Mr. Stegner) what I did. I remember we could only run certain programs on the computers at school. The BBS had an entire collection of shareware games that you could download. If you logged in as a teacher you could play any game you wanted. Well, there was this program like HyperCard that you could make a button to run a program. When you launched an application this way it used the administrator privileges afforded the HyperCard program and you could run any game you wanted. I of course shared this with the dumbstruck teacher… and my classmates. Oh boy.
ANYWAYS, I discovered these collections of stories and these virtual worlds dedicated to furries. That was the first time I came across anything furry. It was all in text, but it was fascinating. I realized, in the depths of the underground internet I wasn’t alone. There were actually other people out there like me who were entranced by furriness. Of course, the internet and the fandom wasn’t anything like it was now. It was mostly made up of comics and very technically savvy people (or artists). But, I wasn’t alone.
However, because of where I lived, none of my friends were really as furry as me. It was still my own special thing. I wore a tail to school every day way before that was actually a thing. It was part of who my creativity, part of my expression.
Eventually I moved to the city and started making other actual furry friends (almost all of them gay). This was great! Then I went to a convention.
My first convention was pretty good, but I had a fursuit I had built that I could go around in. I didn’t realize how much that helped things. I went to the same convention again a year later (or couple years)… the beginning of the end.
I didn’t have a fursuit… and I didn’t really know anybody. It was the most isolating experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. Yes, the furry convention with a bunch of fursuits running around was the most isolating experience I ever had… even more isolating than my experience at Colorado University in Boulder. At one point I was holed up in my hotel bathroom crying to my mother.
You see, furry to me is my special thing. It’s not part of a group I’m part of. It’s not a shared identity, it’s not an interest, it’s my special thing. Furry could be anything and whatever I imagined, with any emotion attached to that thing. Just like how I don’t play MMOs because I don’t like other people in my game world, I realized over a long time I don’t really like other people in general being in my special thing. That’s kind of a problem, because there’s a lot of talented and loud people in my special thing.
I eventually disconnected from the furry subculture and simply fostered it as my own thing. But therein lies the problem. Most of my friends were furries so eventually they disappeared. I don’t really have a lot of friends, in fact, I don’t really have any friends of my own besides my friend Aly. I never really had a model of how to make friends or be friends, as my father never really had ‘friends’ like that.
So, I kind of ventured off alone, ensconced in my own ‘special thing’. So, when I see other people doing really cool things in a place I can’t really enter, it’s very painful for me to process. I’m not good at allowing other people into my special thing, so when I go to a fur meet, I literally lack the ability to introduce myself to anyone. I guess I’d rather be alone with my special thing than allow other people to possibly ruin it. In this sense, furry has come to mean isolation to me. When I see other people having friends and doing cool shit with their fursuits and such, I just feel super super small, frustrated, and very lonely.
That is part of what can explain my crazy outburst when I went to the Fox Trot without a fursuit. I was extremely angry at myself, angry at the furries, and extremely isolated. I wish I could be better about this, but in reality, I just keep it to myself. It’s my special thing, and I’m very careful who I let in.