Campus Newspaper Article on Furries at Texas A&M
A fairly negative piece that describes furry as a "fetish" and focuses on one particular (fairly extreme) individual and his difficulties with others on campus. Contains interviews with 'experts' who call furry an "alternative way to manifest... sexual preference" and an "attention-grabbing mechanism". Published Thursday in "The Battallion".
Aggies unleash their animalistic nature
By Sonia Moghe
Published: Thursday, March 24, 2005
When Brendon Jones gets ready to leave his apartment, he puts on his pants, his shirt and his dog collar. Without the collar he feels upset; almost as though he has no identity.
Jones, a freshman computer engineering major, goes by Sakanz - the name engraved on the metallic blue bone on his dog collar - and is one of thousands of Americans who identifies himself with a group of people that calls itself the furries. He describes furries as people who like to dress up as animals and interact with each other.
"I'd say being a furry is like being something that you feel is more yourself than being a human," Jones said. "Some people identify more with animals than humans."
Jones said that a majority of furries are homosexual or bisexual, and often engage in sexual activities with each other while adapting the mindset and donning costumes of specific animals. Two furries rubbing up against each other is called "yiffing," and they sometimes make noises that their chosen animal would make.
The Internet has served as the main networking method for furries to find others with this same fetish, and people like Sakanz attend conferences specifically for furries to meet. In the Bryan-College Station community, Jones and his roommate know 12 furries and try to hold meetings occasionally. About four furries go to Texas A&M, he said.
Jones describes himself as being an "otherkin," a person who believes he or she was an animal in a past life and still carries its spirit. Jones believes he is a raptor, and wishes he had a tail and scales so he could be more like the animal he has always admired. He tries to assimilate the raptor way of life into his own because he believes it's better than the human way of life.
"(Raptors' lives are) more basic," he said. "You don't have to spend four years in college to get a good job to live. They can just hunt; they don't have to starve if they can't afford food.
At one point last semester, Jones tried to construct a raptor suit to feel more like a raptor, but the process was time consuming, and he soon gave up. Other furries, however, sometimes wear entire body suits or simply a tail or ears to identify themselves with the animal they more closely relate to.
This way of life hasn't always gone smoothly for Jones; people's reactions to his dog collar aren't always pleasant.
"One person asked if I got my rabies shot," he said. "I just ignored him."
Alex Harder, a freshman biomedical science major, lived with Jones for two and a half weeks at the beginning of the school year in a dorm room after the two were randomly assigned to live together. Harder wasn't happy with his assignment. During their time together, Harder slowly learned about Jones' lifestyle and decided he didn't want to live with Jones anymore.
"I was probably a (jerk) when he moved out," Harder said. "I was really scared. I didn't know what to do. I told him I couldn't live with his lifestyle."
Harder said that before Jones told him the specifics of being a furry, he noticed a number of drawings of foxes adorning Jones' walls, and when asked, Jones told him that they were pictures of his boyfriend.
Piles and piles of stuffed animals could be found around the room, he said, and recounts walking in on his roommate lying disrobed between the bed sheets with every single one of them.
"I didn't know what to do," Harder said. "I talked to my mom, and she said it was really gross and perverted."
Jones explained that he liked the stuffed animals because they look like animals, and they are "fun to snuggle with." Snuggling and cuddling are a big part of Jones' draw to the furry fandom, or culture.
"(Snuggling is) one of the side effects of being a furry," Jones said.
Jones' sexuality and lifestyle bothered Harder, and eventually Jones moved out of the dorm room into his own apartment.
Arnold Leunes, an A&M professor of psychology, said that because many furries are homosexual, and their behavior could be an alternate way to manifest their sexual preferences.
"It strikes me that there's a sexual motive," Leunes said. "It's not easy being gay in this society. (This) might be an attempt to find a little gentler touch to the whole thing. Americans aren't too at ease with sex anyway."
Because people like Jones and some of his other Furry friends became involved as furries when they didn't fit in with any particular clique in high school, Leunes thinks their furry antics may be an attention-grabbing mechanism.
"Kids tend to be outrageous sometimes, " he said. "That's one of the nice things about being young; you can do some crazy, outrageous things."