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ARP survey: Furries vs. fursonas, therians, non-furs & artists

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Fursonas get furs "closer to norms"; unlike therians, most furs don't want to be "0% human".

International Anthropomorphic Research Project logoThe results are out for the ARP's Winter 2012 survey, held online and at Furry Fiesta 2012.

Researchers confirmed past survey results, while investigating:

  • personality differences between non-furs, furs and fursonas
  • furries' impressions of non-furry perceptions of the fandom
  • whether furs felt their fandom was distinct from anime
  • whether furries felt entitled towards content creators
  • whether certain fan activities were healthy or unhealthy
  • levels of pet ownership, vegetarianism, and association with animal rights causes
  • reasons for male-domination of and stigma towards the fandom
  • other differences between furries, non-furries and therians

The 32-country survey covered 1,098 adults (951 furs, 104 non-furs); 152 were therians.

Furries and their fursonas; personality differences, sexuality and fantasy

Personality-wise, the survey highlighted very significant differences between furries and their fursonas:

[furries'] fursonas were more extraverted, more agreeable, more conscientious, more emotionally stable, and less open to experience than they were (all p<.001).

These traits tended towards established norms, although when it came to comparing with non-furries, the only difference was that furries were less extraverted than non-furries (while their fursonas were more extraverted than both non-furries and the norm). The researchers suggested that fursonas might be a means for furries to "[ameliorate/change] an aspect of their personality to be more 'normal'/less deviant".

Past findings regarding sexuality were repeated; furries were roughly "half as likely as non-furries to be exclusively heterosexual and are about twice as likely as non-furries to be exclusively homosexual or bisexual", with fursonas more likely to be bisexual than their owners. 11.5% of fursonas were reported to be pansexual (vs. 8.1% of furries); 4.7% reported asexuality, and the same amount said their fursonas were asexual.

As seen before, female furs were "particularly likely to be in a relationship"; the team thought this might indicate how they joined the fandom.

Fantasy was very significantly related to the level of identification with furry, echoing Dr. Gerbasi's research at Anthrocon 2009:

Specifically, being "more furry" was related to greater engagement in magical thinking, more childhood (and current) fantasy experiences, greater perspective-taking and empathy and more engagement in furry-related fantasy activity.

Furries distinguished between identifying: a) as a furry, b) with other furries, and c) as part of furry fandom, though all three were correlated.

Distinguishing between furries and therians

In some ways, therians appear as a more dedicated form of furry fan. As previous surveys suggested, therians identified more with furries than furries as a whole did. They reported a greater identification with being a furry than furries in general, and said furry was a more important to their self-definition. Therians who considered themselves furry had done so for significantly longer than furries in general (8.67 years vs. 7.65). They also considered themselves a furry at an earlier age (15.6 vs. 17.1) and had joined the furry community at an earlier age (18.3 vs. 19.2).

While around 80% of furries agreed to some extent that they "strongly identified" with being a furry (~32% strongly agreed), "therians, as a group, tend to identify with being a furry moreso than furries" (~55% strongly agreed). Therians also had less variation in their level of identification – suggesting that the "casual" vs. "lifestyle" distinction common for furries did not apply to them.

Predictably, therians identified more closely with their species than furries; also, furries identified with fewer species than therians (3.09 vs. 3.64). Therians were "significantly more likely than non-therians to experience a gender identity that differed from their biological identity."

Most non-therian furs did not wish to be "0% human", though they were twice as likely as non-furs to want it (39.2% vs. 18.2%). Conversely, 58.6% of therians expressed this wish. Most therians (~85%) considered themselves less than 100% human, unlike non-furs and non-therian furs (28% and 35%). 30% of therians in this sub-group felt they were physically non-human, vs. 11% and 13% for non-furs and non-therian furs.

In sum, it is not accurate to characterize furries as "people who do not think they are human" [... or] as people who, while not feeling inhuman, wish they could be: only about 40% of furries would be 0% human if they could.

Despite the presence of species stereotypes and species-centric meet-up sessions at conventions, both furries and therians tended to disagree with the idea that the species of another's fursona predicted whether they would get along. However, furries tentatively agreed that it told you something about them, while therians gave this significantly more weight.

14.5% of participants identified as therians, and 11.9% as otherkin (in both cases, around 25% of those surveyed were ignorant of these terms). 94.7% of therians and 89.6% of otherkin also identified as furries; 36.2% of therians identified as otherkin, and 5% of the sample were all three.

Perceptions of prejudice towards and lack of knowledge of furries by non-furries; distinction from related fandoms

While non-furries who took the survey did not have a particularly negative opinion of furries,

[...] the "more furry" a participant was, the more socially acceptable they said it was to be a furry, the more they felt non-furries were prejudiced against furries and the more they agreed that they were treated worse when people learned that they were a furry.

Participants saw average Americans as "much more likely to know what anime was than what furries were", and thought that anime fans had less of a stigma towards furries than the average non-fur.

The "more furry" a person was, and the more they considered membership in furry fandom to be based on essential characteristics, the more they perceived furry fandom as distinct from anime fandom. Conversely, furs also identifying as anime fans felt furry fandom was less distinct.

Researchers suggested that furries sought "a clear sense of identity", and proposed investigating whether furs had negative opinions of bronies on the basis that this group encroaches upon furry territory.

Vegetarianism, animal rights, pet ownership and relations with artists

Neither furries nor therians were significantly more likely to be (or have been) vegetarians than non-furries, and furries did not show concern over "eating of animals or animal products". Therians were significantly more likely than furries to support animal rights (94% vs. 83%) and to identify as animal-rights activists (19% v. 7%); there was no significant difference here between furries and non-furries. Therians were also more concerned over animal rights issues than furries, although furries strongly agreed with concerns about "displacing animals for land use, the use of animals in laboratory research, pain and suffering in animals, wearing of animal fur, and cosmetics testing on animals".

There was no significant difference in the state of pet ownership between furries (68%) and therians (78%), though therians owned significantly more pets (3.65 vs. 2.72). Roughly equal numbers of furries kept cats and dogs (13.5% vs. 13.6%); other pets were at 2% or below.

While many artists have horror stories about fans with unreasonable expectations, most fans did not did not agree with statements that would indicate a sense of entitlement towards content creators. Respondents distinguished sharply between expecting special treatment from favourite artists (1.62 on a 1–7 disapprove/approve scale), or going above and beyond to fulfil requests vs. simply replying to email (4.46) and listening to suggestions from fans. About 30% of furries agreed that they would report sub-par work by an artist (20% neither agreed nor disagreed).

Read more: Full results from the Winter 2012 surveysummary of the Summer 2011 surveymore survey coverage

Comments

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Fantastic summary, Greenreaper =D

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Perhaps therians have more empathy to animals. They treat non-human animals or the animal species what they concerned as their own self. I believe that the therians have more faith to bring them more spiritual powers than furries. That's why they are more active in what they concerned such like supporting animal rights, or even more active in some fandom or non-fandom activities. Because it is not only an "interesting".

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*nods* If I understand what you're saying correctly, I believe your response is in line with one of our hypotheses: therians, in identifying with animals, are more likely to support animal rights as a result. People are protective of their in-groups. If a human treats an animal as the "other" group, they're less likely to be protective of them. If, however, animals are part of the group one identifies with, they are much more likely to be protective of them and support their rights.

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This would imply that I am a Therian, not a Fur as such. Hmmmm.

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I think the point is that you can be both, but that thinking that you are in some way an animal or wanting to be one is the distinguishing trait of a therian, not a furry (though 40% for the latter is still high in my book).

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Yup; Therian/Furry is not a dichotomy: you can be one or the other, or both! Funny enough, we have had occasions where, after giving one of our talks at a convention, furries have come up to us and said "oh, so THAT's what a Therian is! I'm one of those - I just didn't realize there was a name for it!" As our study suggests, there are many people who don't really know what therians are, and presumably at least a few of them may actually be therians without knowing about it.

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If you've ever heard of "Rhiann of the Sauk", then maybe you'll see that I could fit that viewpoint. I am she and she is me in so many ways--only not the physical nor the mental.

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I'm amused by their comment that most women enter the fandom because they had a relationship with another fur, which pretty much ignores at least half of all lesbian furs.

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A prior study (Q7) found that there were relatively few predominantly/exclusively homosexual women in the fandom (~10% of women vs. ~30% of men). Half of that is 5%, and it comes out as closer to 1% when you consider that ~23% of furries in the sample are female. So yes, it doesn't apply to all lesbians, but they are a very small part of the sample.

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Indeed, what Greenreaper has said is correct. This is the unfortunate part about summary statistics and averages: they don't represent everyone, just averages or trends. We recognize full well that there are lesbian furs out there. In fact, they provide an even MORE interesting question to our research team, because we're interested in how women overcome the social barrier of the furry fandom seeming to be a primarily male-dominated group, and our one primary mechanism (e.g having a male partner already in the fandom) doesn't apply to them, meaning they find another way into the fandom (either by shrugging off the norm, or perhaps another means, such as being an artist or having friends in the fandom).

At any rate, the intention was certainly not to ignore lesbian furs. No matter how we present the data, it is impossible to represent every group (for example, we barely mention transgendered individuals, not because we don't think they are important or that they don't matter, but simply because they only make up a small portion of the data, and social scientists tend to deal with aggregate data or trends).

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To add an interesting note to that statistic, I met my SO on FurryMuck and about 5 years later married her. Now, what she played and what she is are definitely not the same thing.

Considering the small size of the study, it seems that the best image you can get is from an extremely broad brush. We all know there's far, far more than a mere 1500 or so furry-related fans out there.

(Sorry, meant that as a reply to Remi)

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The whole therian angle is at this stage in the game a bit of a weird duck. The therian business seems a 90's thing. It's a bit too new age and vague to feel relevant to a generation of people who are growing up surrounded by an increasing amount of technology and digital socialization.

There could be a problem with the literalness inherent in therian. The way many therians tell it at least. Thanks to the therian contingent, people who might be open to the idea of having an identity divorced from their physical body shy away from taking that seriously. Because there is a reputation to it. It says 'if you conceptualize yourself as something other than what your body is shaped like, you have to believe in ______ wonky supernatural claims and beliefs.'

Which is entirely untrue. A person's relationship with their own ideas is the most real thing in the world because only the individual can live inside their own head. Someone does not have to convince themselves that somewhere a wolf died, a spirit orb floated out of it, then traveled over to enter their body, in order to craft a persona for themselves and say "I'm a wolf".

Nothing against therian personally but the controversy it has stirred up down through the years has scared a lot of people away from the liberation of identity play and diving into their own brain to see how they tick.

If the therian 'meme' was not so powerful around furry culture one wonders how differently furries would see themselves and their identities.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

On the other hand, why can't it be true? Does technology have to be the end of 'magic' as it is classically known? What is magic but the manipulation of energies by the self without the need of external devices (i.e. technology)? In some ways, technology is allowing people who would have otherwise hidden or maybe never even realized their "other selves" to explore the notion that their 'public' selves are the real masks and that with the assumption of anonymity of the internet and they ability to create avatars, they can, at least for a while, be what they want to be rather than what everybody expects them to be. In short, it is distinctly possible that technology may spur the rebirth of real magic simply through the opening of minds.

One problem with the label of "therian" is that the therian him/herself can be seen as schizophrenic or otherwise mentally imbalanced because they don't fit the accepted 'norm'. Interestingly, literature itself has been helping us (as well as harming) by linking the 'other' side of a person to a physical change and an 'opposite' personality. Think about Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. Consider, of all people, Jack the Ripper, both the factual and the legendary. Werewolves. So many others. The bad part is that until recently this 'other side' was inherently evil in that literature, yet like Frankenstein's Monster the evil isn't necessarily in the being, but in the perception of the changeling.

This leads me to a slightly different tack where the legendary Changelings may or may not have been yet another aspect of the dual personality/ therian individual. Science has gone out of its way to label things it doesn't understand and psychology is as much a science as any other. However, as is typical of almost every scientist, what is not understood must be explained, whether that explanation is accurate or not. Psychologists have to rely on what they experience for themselves and what they are told by their subjects (I will not call them patients). I don't deny that how a person is raised can make deep changes in a person's personality, but they still have only the one mind. What of the others? What of those who demonstrate two or more quite distinct personalities? Why do they have them? What purpose does it serve? Are they really "crazy" or is it possible that there really are multiple people sharing one body? Honestly, it can't be explained away and such people tend to attract undesirable attention. These people tend to get put away as a danger to themselves and others when really the danger comes FROM others; others who don't want to accept--don't want to understand. Changelings could really be the result of a life-changing event one way or another, or they could be a person who has decided to accept and embrace their other selves to the exclusion of accepted 'reality.'

So where does this leave me? Am I a therian, albeit a more loosely based one where it's not the animal, but the individuality of the avatar that I accept, or am I a simple fur who believes that a furry is nothing more than a human with ears and tail? Human society is anthropomorphic in nature; we 'give' human personalities to every object we interact with one way or another--our cars, our homes, our pets and yes, even totally inanimate objects that do nothing but sit on your desk gathering dust. The objects of our desire, those fur, feather, scaled beings called "critters" and "morphs", etc., are more and less than "humans with fur". For some they're a simple escape from the harsh realities of an otherwise boring and insignificant life. For others, they are the embodiment of differentness--alien--xenobiology. Just because a creature has a humanoid appearance doesn't make it human to any extent. In fact, by our own history we've seen that those who look like us can often be our bane while those who look so startlingly different can nurture us when we need it most. People scoff at the story of Mowgli in The Jungle Book, yet we have photographic proof that creatures who should be natural predator and prey can and will care for individuals of that other species. I know that my avatars are the creation of my own mind, but who's to say that just because I imagined them they don't exist for real somewhere else?

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Oh, you mentioned The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in that long, rambling, new age ... well, it certainly was long, rambling and new agey!

My interpretation of the novel (because that's what the people really want!) is Dr. Jekyll was a douchebag, but he didn't like people calling him a douchebag, so he made a potion that made him look different and made up some justificatory bullshit about splitting his evil side so that he could be a douchebag but still be thought of as not a douchebag (even though he was a douchebag), and then he ended up killing himself before he could be tried for murder.

As compared to the actual protagonist of the novel, the lawyer Utterson, who also occasionally would have liked to be a douchebag and also did not want to be called a douchebag, but decided that the best course of action was just to not be a douchebag, and he lived happily ever after. The end!

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Hmm on some things about Therians and Furries, I could say I am both (I think) but at some points, sometimes the "not a choice" or "Can't un choose it" thing could sometimes be for both for me maybe and some others. Not everyone but some people yeah.

Like what about Therians or its called something else wanting to believe they are sort of a mixture of lets say a Bird and Human form (For example) but not completely a 0% Human form? Or wanted to be one? I think there are therians (Or its called something else) out there who has the same story but they are a mixture instead of purely not human (If its possible because Humans are just another specie in theory). If Anthropomorphic is what mixture of Human and other is called and that Anthropomorphic creatures them selves are called Furry also (Ofcourse, Furry can be whatever you want for you), than at some points, some people could be "born a furry" or "Can't un choose it as well" (SOME not all). Like therian can sometimes mean a mixture and not. You know, if you get what I mean. :P Or wait, do we already have another name for that?

Since I think I have one of those spiritual connecting things and beliefs but it would be more to a partly human sometime. And I would run into the term of "Anthropomorphic" and "Furry" sometimes.

I don't know if I am explaining this good, this may not be that well a reply ether.

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As a therian, I don't have to worry too much about vegetarianism because rats are not a common menu item in America. I did try once, however. But then I came home to filet mignons. My one weakness.

I don't consider myself an animal rights activist, but rather an animal welfare supporter.

I don't want to be any less human than I am, though. The Stalking Cat route involves too many surgeries and I cried like a bitch when I got the damn Gardasil shots. No anasthesia? No me gusta.

I also only own two pets right now, because the neighbor keeps stealing my cats and giving them to her daycare kids. (I can't prove it yet but as soon as I do I'll be taking action. Miss you, Isabel.)

Furry Pariah

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"Furry" is quite a false term, it's just a modern variation of being a fan of fables or fabulist, with more orientation on the appeal of making subconsciously zoophilically appealing candy-animals over meaningful story (it plays so well over the internet, it has just become another form of escapism).
Therians are quite relative, they see the fabulist's (ironically, this translates to fabulous) appeal of animals, as a hence, they'll pick a "fabulous" animal and delude themselves into thinking they are or were it in some way or another. Otherkin are alike therians but are even more ridiculous and believe they are/were (somehow) "legendary" beings.

So the human psychology is:
1. Person finds appeal in animal stereotype.
2. Person grows up liking certain animal stereotypes, especially of favorite animals, to extremes "sexually" (entry-level furry, etc).
3. Person may become defensive and start feeling as if they were that animal, perhaps invents appeal of being a reincarnation of some other species to make them feel secure, dreaming one day they'll die just to become another animal (therian/otherkin meets religion).
4. Person deludes themselves into thinking they are that animal / perhaps uses fursona(s) to create a nested sense of this.
5. Person most likely becomes misanthropic, an animal rights activist and dangerous (in general), some may even rape animals regularly to make up for their lack of the interaction they imagine they require with their chosen species, others may use a sense of innocence to avoid this inner desire.

So being a furry, therian and/or otherkin in these respects is a mental illness and volatile in the security of humanity, much like gays - and as a hence, just like gays and other sodomites, these persons will often celebrate drama to give them impulse and mental security... In time, furries/therians/otherkin supremacists will be spending more and more time flying "furry pride" flags instead of actually doing things in sense of worthwhile to their "community" and "self". This is why furry lifestylers (pretentiously asexual or not) and other sodomites should be locked up in mental hospitals. The most innocent "furries" are those "wannabe" furry 13 year olds on DeviantArt, yet they are just "special snowflakes" - or so they wish.

So when will people learn to not be so retarded, I wonder?
Where are the witch beheaders these days? Why is cynocephaly treat as a good thing today? I mean, to treat oneself as if they were a lower animal?

It is truly sickening. You are all deluded, sure, jerk that turkey to yiff like that zoophile voyeurist you really are, draw shitty "furry" art and some pretentious gay rave or amb(i)ent music on the side that doesn't even relate to the subject of called "fandom". But you are not a goddamn non-human animal, you never were and you never will be - and don't show off in public, you can be dressed as catgirl while you're being sodomised, but nobody wants to know - and nobody wants to know your gay, either - or straight, so stfu.

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Wow, didn't know Rick Santorum was a reader, welcome man, too bad about that primary loss huh? Better luck in 2016-- (not).

Gay was removed as a mental mental illness in the 70s, btw. And you think gays and furries are a threat to humanity, the planet you walk upon and the movement of cosmic bodies I think have a higher chance of fucking over our species as a whole. Must be volcanic eruptions are really just the geographical equivilant of gay porn; two tectonic plates just rubbing and going to town on each other until they explode in a fiery eruption, killing off life in the region.

On that note... jerk the turkey? I've heard of "choke the chicken"... never heard it referred as a turkey. Does your's gobble when you ejaculate? You should have that checked out.

I'd give a more serious response to your serious sounding post, but I get stuck on the first sentence: "Furry is a false term". Yet you just used it, and then ranted about it as if it is actually a term... it's the logical equivalent of "This statement is false". It's just incomprehensible from a logistical standpoint and was a perfect summary of the rest of your argument.

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"Gay was removed as a mental mental illness in the 70s"
Removed by gays, you mean. And this is quite obvious, considering how they have to orient the majority around their perversions.

"And you think gays and furries are a threat to humanity"
They are, and sodom and gomorrah were real places. Imagine if gays ruled the world, the leaders would have their heads in the cloud so much they'd become obsessed with liberalism to the point that sadists even had freedoms. Just see the US, the UK, etc, and how the celebration of gays has made politics more hypocritical than ever. And it's happened before. People dislike sodomites for a reason.

"the planet you walk upon and the movement of cosmic bodies I think have a higher chance of fucking over our species as a whole"
So you're saying the infestation of sodomites is less than processes that take millions of years to occur? I'd like to see statistical proof of this. Oh wait! There is none.

"gobble"
I am actually a girl, thank you. I am also lesbian (by choice), but society does not need people with the PDA (Public Display of Affection) and zoosexually-invoked species dysphoria diseases. Because that's just pure sick.

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So being gay is evil, but choosing to be in a same sex relationship (as you have) is okay? Or do you think you are evil and going to destroy this world? Or is it only evil if men do it? Or do you hate yourself and think you're part of a communist plot?

A volcano eruption or a comet hitting the planet doesn't take millions of years, it happens in an instant when it occurs. It'd be much more hard-pressed to prove how gays would cause such a devastating drop our specie's population to be of threat, last I checked, humans are classified as Least Concern. If we were in the Critically Endagered section than what you say would have more weight from a scientific standpoint.

Sodom was about a town full of people who wanted to rape one of God's messengers, if you actually read the Bible. Using sex as a tool of demeaning another and dominating one to break their spirit in disgusting ways.

Maybe gays are obsessed with liberalism because people like you scare them away from conservatism? Just saying, maybe you're the threat to your own cause. Maybe you're the "liberal tool", playing the social game right into their hands of partisanship. Maybe if you preach hard enough you'll get more Log Cabin Republicans to convert to 'liberalism', just as the liberals want you to do. If I were a liberal, I'd be thankful for all of your contributions to the cause. As a centralist, I just find it sad.

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I am 90% sure this person is being facetious; there is no such thing as a homophobic political lesbian.

Furry Pariah

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The expression "do not feed the trolls" comes to mind... This individual came onto a FURRY website to spout off an angry rant about furries. Clearly the intent is to provoke angry responses (the equivalent of yelling "FAGGOTS!" on a LGBT message board - and about as mature). Couched behind the thin veneer of academic language (which amounts to little more than grabbing a thesaurus or dictionary and picking out all the big-sounding words) is very little actual substance to the argument (no statistics, no data, no research...)

Troll if ever I've seen one...

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"There is no such thing as a homophobic political lesbian."

Evidently, Equi, you are not familiar with Andrea Dworkin. (Definitely a case of "Ignorance is bliss," actually.)

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I have heard of her. I know she was a political lesbian, an anti-pornography activist, beleived that all men are inevitably rapists/misogynists, and was so antisexual she, after no longer needing to do sex work for money, declared herself celibate. Pretty standard radfem fare, except in that she married a gay man (who, if I remember correctly, was(is?) also a redical feminist and wrote a book called Refusing to be a Man, or I Refuse to be a Man, or something similar). I do not, however, recall hearing that she was homophobic in any way. (Does hating all sex count as homophobia?)

Furry Pariah

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Hi Paden!

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.

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