An independent and alternative review of the new FFA convention
As I've been browsing Twitter recently, scrolling through various news about the fandom, I came across this QRT (quote retweet for the less savvy) talking about a new con and how it was going to fail right out of the gate. Being the curious investigator I am, I decided to look at the original post from an organization calling themselves AWOO or Anthro West Open Organization. From what I saw, I was saddened by the number of my fellow furs calling for death to the con, or wish harm to those that would hold it, especially since we used to be such a loving fandom. I kept reading more into the reasons why people both hated, and loved this con or the idea of it (whichever it is, we'll know for certain soon enough).
Evaluating the Cons against the Con
I decided to break this review up into two parts, the cons and the reasons for the con. Let's talk about some of the reasons people are against the con.
Rumor 1: The con is run by PeaceWolf, an alt-right, neo-nazi, white supremacy, Christian woman!
This was the most prominent rumor I had seen on Twitter or a variation that goes something along the lines of the con being aligned with the alt-right, neo-nazis, etc. After some digging, all I can find are alleged rumors that PeaceWolf is running the con, and even if she is (I did some more digging into her twitters I could find) I don't think that will be an issue as she is certainly not the neo-nazi, alt-right, white supremacist people are making her out to be. From what I can see, she has sad some hurtful things about various topics like Transgender people only having that label for the benefit, but her view is not an "abnormal" or "out of this world" opinion that's "inhuman". In fact, that viewpoint can logically be described as valid humanity. By that I mean that humans will always align themselves with something they think they can get the most benefit from. At the time she posted that tweet, I have no doubt but that there were quite a few doing that just to curry favor with others. On the flip side, it can also be viewed as an attack on those that actually have had to hide in the closet like myself, away from their families, friends, loved ones, so on so forth; but overall, was just an opinion and not a threat thus should be treated as if it was just one person's opinion, not someone holding a gun to your head. We are humans and won't get along or agree on everything, but we can agree to disagree while still being humane in our disagreements.
Verdict on Rumor 1
Having failed to find anything to verify independently or through the AWOO website who the leaders are, this stands as just a rumor and nothing more. Until AWOO or FFA definitively say who or reveal who their leaders/management is, this rumor remains unverified and just a rumor of social media circles.
Rumor 2: Pedophiles, Zoophiles, Sexual Assault people and others accused of henious crimes will be allowed at the con!
Now this one I was able to get a bit of information on not via AWOO, but through various other sources I know. AWOO being non-political and non-controversial once had Cani Lupine (an alleged zoophile, I cannot verify the legitimacy of these claims at the current time) as an attendee who would show up at the con. Since the announcement of FFA and the statement from the AWOO organization on being anti-political, Cani has withdrawn support of the con (though various other sources say that his fiance or girlfriend - we are unsure which it is - is still part of AWOO and may attend the con or be helping out, though these claims have yet to be validated). Since Cani has withdrawn support of the con, I am sure that various other figures like Growly (who has a verified history of jailtime for various charges), Magnus (various charges in various states), and others will get the picture that if they have a police history and or are political, they will be escorted from the con.
Verdict on Rumor 2
Having done the research on this rumor I'm more excited to see this con take off now. I'm very much a skeptic on any new con that shows up, but I have been very happy to read up that this rumor is utterly false and that those convicts will be removed from the con.
Rumor 3: This con was created to spite another Tulsa con known as TTFC!
This one I can actually speak on a bit more personally knowing some of the people involved in starting TTFC. TTFC was the brain child of the admins of a now defunct Telegram group called Tulsa Area Furs or TAF. The head of TAF at the time was Doitsu. Various admins from their group included May Opossum, Ace Shep, PeaceWolf, Rae (Koori Kitty's Wife), Koori Kitty, Nocty, and Rowdy. TAF was a splinter group of the Oklahoma Furs that was not directly under control of the state organization, but rather was modeled off the state organization and run independently sharing various information between the two organizations. TAF had decided that it had been too long since Oklahoma had a dedicated hotel-based furcon and decided to start up TTFC. When TTFC was founded, the con chair was PeaceWolf; Nocty was vice chair; Koori was head of the Board of Directors; Rae (Koori's Wife) was the secretary; Ace in charge of Photography; and Doitsu in charge of Security.
For various reasons, this board changed before the first con resulting in a mess of leadership that still produced an amazing first con. Having seen how amazing the first con was and ready to register for the second con, I was slammed with bad news from TTFC that made me rethink my plans to register and attend. The board had apparently gotten into an argument over their GOHs stating that one of them was too "homophobic" inspite of this GOH redacting her statement publicly and drawing homosexual artwork. This lead to the HR lead, Con Chair, and a few other leads, members, staff, ect leaving TTFC completely before the con. Thankfully for TTFC, they were saved from having to worry about finding new GOHs or organizing hurriedly again by COVID. The reason given by the board to an insider for picking the GOHs they did this year was "we need the popularity of the GOHs to help bring in the people otherwise we won't survive."
This surprised me to hear this because a GOH should - in my opinion - never be chosen based on their popularity and the number of people they will bring in, but rather be chosen for their deeds and personality and how they affect the people around them. To me choosing a GOH just for their popularity is shameful and unbecoming of a con and led me to decide not to attend TTFC when it ran this year.
As for the rumor, if it was created to spite the con (of which the only "evidence" is that they're using the same hotel and announced it a week before TTFC) then let them spite the con. However, I have a feeling that FFA was not created to hurt TTFC or the Oklahoma Furs, but rather help them regain an image they've lost.
Verdict on Rumor 3?
While not confirmed, I cannot deny that the con was created for spiteful purposes, though I have a gut feeling it wasn't. As such, I cannot say if this rumor is true or false.
Edit to Rumor 3: At the time this article was written (9/10/21), the hotel was still the same Marriott Hotel in Tulsa that TTFC was using. As of 9/14/21 at approximately 10:30 PM, AWOO made a public statement about the loss of the Marriott hotel but also of the continuation of Free Fur All through means of another venue.
Rumor 4: The Con Staff are hateful and have sent violent threats towards people!
I have run across tweets stating that one of the supposed staff members named "KKKlyde" is threatening people's lives and spewing hateful rhetoric. There have also been other various accounts that have popped up and have since been deleted or locked down doing similar. I was able to verify via a public statement made on both Telegram and Twitter last night that these people are not part of the organization, and - based on the response - are not welcome at the organization or convention.
Verdict on Rumor 4:
While I was happy to hear that they don't support hate or threats of any kind and that these people are imposters trying to damage the organization, I was left feeling sort of out and curious why they didn't address it earlier before it became a big issue for their organization.
The Reasons to Have the Con
Now let's talk about why the con may succeed over its competitors and critiques.
Reason 1: Apolitical con
AWOO remains firm that FFA will stand apolitical and not support any political candidates or topics. The trend from various cons over the past five to ten years has to been to trend towards being supportive of certain political topics or candidates. Whether for sincere reasons or just to hop on the bandwagon is speculation, but has happened and has had a negative impact on furcons over the years. Looking solely at the QRTs from the FFA announcement, I'd say that an apolitical con would be a very welcome sight in the fandom in this day and age. It seems that the "majority" is not actually the majority and is rather the minority with a god-like complex that they use to belittle people who don't agree with them. As such, I will hold back going to the first edition of the con until I have reports from inside as to how the con was run, but I will continue to look hopefully towards this new con being a beacon in the American Furry Fandom.
Reason 2: They aren't replying to social media posts
AWOO nor FFA have posted anything online that I have been able to see or confirm in response to rumors, or comments whether positive or negative. The only thing that I have seen is some of the people who RT/QRTed the announcement of FFA getting a reply from random people including the alleged leader PeaceWolf saying they couldn't wait to see them there.
This is good on the con's and organization's part because they aren't allowing themselves to be swayed by rumors or get riled over things and let others win. Cons on social media have a bad tendency to throw in the towel and make a statement on "such and such" issue when they really just should be quiet and let things go away. It's the reason the Oklahoma Furs have gained such a negative viewing in other states like Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia just to name a few. When you are worried about your image, you will damage your image. This con doesn't seem to be worried about their image other than what they've already said on their website and social media, and as such won't budge from the "staying silent" option. I believe this will help AWOO and FFA in the long run.
Reason 3: You have to apply to be part of AWOO
This was perhaps the most interesting one to me yet. We all know how private clubs are "pay to enter", but have you ever seen an organization in a hobby where it's free to join, but they run checks on you? AWOO has a form to submit that looks similar to a background check form you may fill out for an employer. While I have never seen this, it does make me think about how much easier it'd be to hold people accountable for their actions if you have their real life names and addresses. In my opinion, this is a good step in the right direction for the fandom.
To summarize, I am trying not to get my hopes up about FFA, but it seems like the con will have an amazing first year, especially since they were so ready to go on announcement day. Just checking their slightly bugged website, we were able to find various information about FFA and forms to fill out as well as how to apply to go to FFA as a con-goer or a dealer/artist. Again, I won't go the first year, but I am hopeful for this con to set the stage for other cons to follow.