What does justice mean among furries? An unauthorized account of Megaplex, VancouFur, and Samuel ConwayPosted by charles they on Sat 18 Sep 2021 - 13:07
It can feel a kind of madness when the memory of the world has moved on without you and you are left unsmothered. It is not madness, however. The feeling is called injustice, and what I aim to show in this account of events, beginning in May of 2020 and ending with Megaplex of 2021, is that this injustice is a cultural issue in furry, produced from west coast to east by figures as disparate as Samuel Conway, the Megaplex convention board, and the British Columbia Anthropomorphic Events Association (BCAEA). I take these as case studies because they involve prolific figures, because they are current, or—with the BCAEA—because they are well-known to me even if they are not well known in general.
I could have chosen other case studies. There’s no scarcity of them—every few months there is a new bad story about a furry-run community group, a fursuit maker, a popular furry personality, or, most recently, a furry convention. This account, in its intention, is both to attempt a brief history of furry spaces since May of 2020 and to explain them as a part of a larger, overarching, and cultural issue. I do this in part because when there is a bad story every few months—one which often involves trauma of some kind—and numerous smaller pains arrive in the weeks in between, it can feel as though you have walked into a numbing fog.
The details become fuzzy and their dates more distant in memory, although they may have only happened months or weeks ago. For others, however, those bad stories aren’t just stories—they are real things that happened to a person and the numbing fog is not always so kind to them. It can feel a kind of madness, and historicizing them, putting them into context and connecting them with other, similar events, is my choice of remedy.
I grew up a nerdy theatre kid who wanted to be a punk. It taught me that I loathe the spotlight (I was compelled by an editor to add this section on myself). I get stage fright, with only the shakiest of legs, and, while I have an excellent memory—as this account may demonstrate—my perpetually flat affect made me unsuitable for serious acting. After that, I turned to writing, first stage plays, then later and with much more enjoyment, fanfiction. Furry as a subculture was a short leap away. While doing what amounts to queer/feminist studies at university, I joined a small poetry community on FurAffinity in 2016, and, unexpectedly, encountered a few poets who were upset whenever my poems mentioned punching Nazis.
My furry experience has continued in that general fashion ever since.
A few weeks ago, con chairman Samuel Conway wrote a Twitter thread about how a customer was stiffed by a seller in the Dealer's Den at Anthrocon.
OK, I just deleted a long thread where I detailed how an unscrupulous fursuit maker made Anthrocon look bad in the eyes of our friends in Pittsburgh. I intended to demonstrate that the whole "well, that's just how furries do business" affects ALL of us, not just one or two.
— Uncle Kage (@Unclekage) June 18, 2021
Bad business practices have been an ongoing issue in furry fandom. Taking the money and running is not only detrimental from a financial angle; it erodes trust in our fellow fans, and embitters the dreams of getting fursuits and art commissions. Since this frustrating problem has now reached a level where it's occurring within our Dealer's Dens, it also threatens to harm the reputations of the entrepreneurs who call those marketplaces home. If the fandom wants to secure the economic integrity of its spaces, new solutions will need to be developed to protect the honest exchange of goods and services.
Today we go over the harm that these situations cause, the extent and mitigation that furry fandom has committed already, and finally present a baseline of discussion for solutions to bring a sense of security back to the furry buyer.
As governments restrict gatherings of people, furry conventions are being postponed or canceled. Here's a quick run down of events and their status as of July 1st 2021 15:30 EDT (UTC-4) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic - updates to come.
A new section has been added for past events impacted for historical purposes. More information will be added to deal with virtual versions of a physical gathering if applicable.
Links go to statements if available, or to their Twitter feed or site. See also: Furry Fandom and the Internet forced back to roots by viral outbreak
The cockroach upon the Pittsburgh-themed horse sees the Chicago Raccoon off as it takes the lead, while special friends look on. (Art by SelkieGal)
A closing ceremony for the fandom's history books took place on December 3rd, 2017. In the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, uproarious cheers and howls could be heard. With the utterance of a simple number, the convention's attendance was revealed to the expectant furries and made waves. Around 8,700 people had attended the gathering in Chicago this year, and in that moment it became the largest furry convention in the world, surpassing Pittsburgh's furry convention, Anthrocon, whose attendance was 7,544 this year.
Philly Metro's "Inside Philly's first furries convention" offers a compelling summary of our fandom's latest (and quite successful) convention. But its title betrays a lack of research. While Drayne and his team are to be congratulated for bringing a new furry convention to the City of Brotherly Love, it is by no means the first… nor even the largest furry con held there.
The first honour belongs to Furtasticon, chaired in November 1994 by Trish Ny – which was also furry fandom's second convention, spun up in the space of a few months, allegedly after perceived
Those attending Anthrocon this year that have an interest in non-fiction works about our little fandom will not want to miss the session I am hosting on Sunday, July 2nd to preview my book looking at the history of furries, Furry Nation. The book gives this "greymuzzle" freelance writer's perspective, having been in the fandom since 1988; a journey which all began with a surprise invitation in the mail to something called a 'furry party' being held at a Philadelphia Sci-Fi convention.
Furry Nation tells the story of the fandom’s birth and growth, from the earliest “funny animal” comic book fans and convention organizers to the worldwide fandom it is today. Artists, fursuit builders, and fans of all stripes are profiled, and of course our rocky relationship with the Hollywood animation community is also examined. In the book’s final chapter a genetic scientist discusses the possibility that genetic therapy will someday transform humans into actual anthropomorphic animals. Furry has indeed transformed many lives, including my own in ways I never expected— personal experiences that became a part of Furry Nation.
When Anthrocon started in Albany in 1997, the humble gathering went by the name of “Albany Anthrocon”. Two years later the convention found itself moving out of New York State and into Pennsylvania. Through that was learned the first major mistake a fledgling convention could make. Naming your new convention after the city it is hosted in is like someone getting their lover’s name tattooed to their arm. Ironically, it’s a mistake that other conventions still make to this day.
But living through mistakes is what makes one stronger in the end. It has now been about one decade since the largest furry convention had made its home in Pittsburgh. At this point I think it’s a much safer bet to commit to being inked.
As there were 6,389 recorded attendees to this convention, there are just as many stories and perspectives on the convention. So this review will focus on three sections I focused my experiences around: fursuiting, performances, and writing. It is essential to note that reviewing a convention is unlike reviewing any other medium where you can experience a full package. Many panels run concurrently so one has to make a choice, usually based upon one’s preferences.
Anthrocon is exceptionally supportive of furry music. The following performances – by Amadhia, Bucktown Tiger, Fox Amoore, "Bandthro", Matthew Ebel, Pepper Coyote and Rhubarb & Cosmik – can be seen at this year's event, running July 9–12 in Pittsburgh, PA.
E. Amadhia Albee: On Friday, July 4th at Anthrocon from 3-4pm in room DLCC 319-321, after a short retrospective about where the search for Hollywood funding succeeded and where it failed, we will be introducing the production team behind Kaze: Winds of Change, the new series that chronicles the love between Kaze and 'Bay, and the fall of the Kenmai dynasty.
We will be announcing an open casting call for the remaining parts in episodes 1 & 2 (scheduled for release at FurWAG in early October of this year), and we will be sharing a teaser recording of some of our principal cast doing a read-through of one of the scenes from the upcoming episodes. Close to 4p, we will be sharing a major bit of news that will likely have great appeal to Kaze fans.
Fred Patten will have a new anthology, Anthropomorphic Aliens, on sale at Anthrocon 2014. The 301-page book, published by FurPlanet Productions, presents eleven short stories and novellas featuring “furry” aliens from 1950 to 2013:
- “Mask of the Ferret” by Ken Pick & C. Alan Loewen
- “The Inspector’s Teeth” by L. Sprague de Camp
- “Specialist” by Robert Sheckley
- “In Hoka Signo Vinces” by Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson
- “Point of Focus” by Robert Silverberg
- “Novice” by James H. Schmitz
- “What Really Matters” by Elizabeth McCoy
- “Kings and Vagabonds” by Cairyn
- “The King’s Dogs” by Phyllis Gotlieb
- “A Touch of Blue: A Web Shifters Story” by Julie Czerneda
- “Fly the Friendly Skies” by Bryan Feir
Recently published survey results suggest there is "little relationship between furries and clinical diagnoses of psychological dysfunction". However, those identifying more strongly as furries tended to report "particularly active, vivid and magical mental worlds", and furries (at ~4%) were "at least 2.25 times more likely to have Asperger's Syndrome" than the general population, even after controlling for different sex ratios.
Being furry was not associated with anxiety disorders or medical conditions; indeed, it was "marginally associated with psychological and relationship well-being" (B=.062-3, p=.083-.079). Furries identifying as therians did not differ from non-therian furries on measurements of most psychological conditions, well-being or health, but differed in several cognitive factors, and were more likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (B=.099, p=.008).
The survey was conducted at Anthrocon 2013 by the Anthropomorphic Research Project. Researchers gave 820 adult participants questions that "assessed symptoms frequently associated with clinical lycanthropy, as well as numerous scales which assessed various indicators of physical and psychological well-being", with the goal of "understanding why the furry fandom is so frequently associated with dysfunction in popular culture and lay theory".
Jerry Beck on the Cartoon Research website has posted news that in April, animator Paul Terry and his Mighty Mouse were among this year’s inductees added to the New Rochelle (New York) Walk of Fame, just outside of the town’s central Public Library.
The plaque emphasizes Mighty Mouse (who is a lot more famous than Paul Terry). A past honoree is Walter Lantz, the third animator of Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit and creator of Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Homer Pigeon, and many other cartoon animals. Terry and Lantz have a connection to New Rochelle; Lantz was born there, and Terry’s studio was there.
But this raises the point of two recent Furry Halls of Fame: the AUSFA-administered Furry Hall of Fame, for notables of Furry fandom like Steve Gallacci, Stan Sakai, Anthrocon, and Sofawolf Press; and the ALAA’s Hall of Fame, for notables that have led to Furry fandom like Bugs Bunny, Walt Disney, and the novel Watership Down. All that they get are an attractive trophy or a certificate. What if there could be a real Furry Walk of Fame somewhere?
Pittsburgh's appreciation for Anthrocon was proudly advertised on the active block of shops, restaurants and bars by the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Many had windows and signs marked with "Welcome furries!", cartoon foxes, and Furry-themed specials. Hanlon's, next to Fernando's even served breakfast in souvenir dog bowls. (Yum!)
Occasional identity confusion came from the fursuits and furry names - it's a reason for badges, and nothing to be embarrassed about. This can lead to benignly playful and revealing situations. The latter happened on an airport shuttle.
"You must be the 17th person who asked today", said Tim at Hudson News in Pittsburgh International Airport. "There's not a shirt left in this airport."
This was a hunt for the "City Shirt", a special shirt made for the public as well as Furries, only for sale outside of Anthrocon by request from local merchants. Most wearers said they got it first thing on arrival, before it sold out. On the way out of the city, some held out hope to ask in case any were stashed away. One place had a shirt stashed under the counter, the last one from "boxes and boxes" of 30+ per size, but it was a tease, because it was reserved for an employee.
Siddy, a commenter on Anthrocon's post, reports:
When I picked up one of the shirts at the airport. The cashier never seen something sell so fast, she told me she had to restock the rack three times just that morning.
We should have all extended the con by a day given the air traffic!, said one responder to a mailing list message asking if anyone else was having trouble getting home from Pittsburgh.
During the convention, an Asiana Airlines jet crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing two, injuring 181, and delaying many flights.
What's your traveling experience been like for Anthrocon? Did you experience any other issues, such as difficulty with the high traffic in fursuit bins searched by TSA agents, following the Guinness World Record attempt to assemble the most fursuiters in one place?