Do furries deserve conventions? Fandom assemblies in danger from foul behaviors
A letter coming out of Motor City Fur Con highlights a situation that furry conventions may need to be made aware of, and to take actions protecting against. This opinion piece will go over this situation, and why it's important that our community address this situation, and against possible weaponization of it.
Primarily, conventions are a big deal in the furry world. These organized efforts of staff and volunteers are an excellent opportunity for friends from great distances to come together and meet one another. Something that can seem quite simple on the surface creates great stress to those at the helm. Earlier this year we found a small group of furs overburdened and liquidating a company when they took on too much workload. The tragedy being there was probably no ill intention, but their small group taking on too much created vulnerability and eventually it all came tumbling down.
Leaders of conventions, and those that volunteer, sacrifice a lot in order to keep these essential functions for our fandom running. This sacrifice was emphasized through recent news out of Detroit’s Motor City Fur Con when the convention chair of FurSquared announced that in order to attend Motor City Fur Con, he lost his job. Now Alkali, a convention chair who has done an untold amount of hours for charity work and running panels at other various conventions, looks for subscription support in order to focus on creating content for the fandom he loves with his spouse Xanni. And in spite of this rock to his world, he is still running FurSquared this very weekend.
While Flayrah has been critical of leadership of conventions in the past, today the focus goes in the other direction, toward the attendees. Because the loss of employment of one of the volunteers of Motor City Fur Con was followed up by another troubling letter from the same convention about how other attendees chose to spend their time.
A respectful letter in the face of grave disrespect
Soon after the tragic news about Alkali’s job, another message from the same convention had been released a few days later concerning attendee behavior at the event. In this letter it noted that there were reports in the hotel of actions reminiscent of what had plagued RainFurrest before they were ousted from Washington state: vandalism and unsanitary conditions dealing with fecal matter. Rainfurrest to this day is a name ingrained with infamy that still echoes in fandom circles.
The letter Motor City released was well constructed. It addressed the issue without condescension. It took into consideration that accidents happen and encouraged people to find the courage to address those with the hotel directly instead of leaving an unpleasant surprise during regular cleaning rounds.
We received reports of multiple occurrences of feces on public restroom walls and private room bathrooms in a manner that is inconsistent with illness or accidents. Some guest rooms had feces left on beds or in sheets. This behavior is unacceptable and we have encouraged the hotel to assess fees and keep track of what rooms may have been left in this condition. Accidents can happen, but please clean up after yourself, ESPECIALLY in your own room, and notify the hotel about the situation if needed. If they need to take care of that sort of issue, sooner is better than later.
The fact that the letter maintained a professional demeanor, despite what the staff had to endure this year, is quite frankly a testament to the strong leadership they have. It was the right thing to publish it, as embarrassing as the content was to themselves and the fandom at large. My hope is that if those causing these issues read this, they will remember what was sacrificed for them and that they shall clean up their act not just for their sake, but for that of their fellow fans.
But unfortunately even if furries do behave better, this situation has highlighted another problem that could be soon coming our way. And that is if outside provocateuses take advantage of these continuing sore spots.
A vulnerability to our fandom’s gatherings
The staff of our furry conventions are clearly going to have to start taking preventative measures to deter such behaviors of attendees, and to have plans to deal with these continuing situations preemptively even outside of the Motor City.
I am not a person who will present the No True Scotsman fallacy here, it’s more likely than not the responsible parties are those who identify as furries and are part of our fandom. However, what is becoming increasingly clear to see is that this disturbing behavior could be an avenue of attack for people who dislike the fandom and those within it. No need to call up a hotel and threaten them with violence and risk jail time if caught. Instead you can just smear crap on the walls during the event in attempts to create the next Rainfurrest.
Given that we have seen political actors begin to propagate rumors about young folks ‘identifying as furries’ releasing their bowels on the floor of American schools, it’s an opportunity for sycophants of these political organizations, or other individuals who seek vengeance towards furry fans, to enforce these stereotypes by infiltrating our gatherings before defecating and smearing our good name using their own digestive byproducts. If I can think of that angle of attack against the furs, so can they. So we need to start preparing defenses against such vulnerability from both insiders and outsiders.
This means preemptive communication will most likely be necessary by convention leaders, new and old, to their hotels. Let them know that the fandom does have its fair share of trolls and folks looking to muckrake, in both the old-timey and modern sense of the term, in order to get our assemblies shut down. Conventions should work with the hotels to assure that as long as these situations are brought to attention that the furries will do what we can to make sure these troublesome guests are dealt with in our spaces.
Conventions should start to make clear to prospecting attendees that there will be communication between cooperating fandom organizations should names of these unhygienic fans (or interlopers) be given to them by the hotel, and that these issues will be handled firmly and discreetly in a more unified front on an inter-convention basis. We need to work together at this, for the stench from the fallout will surely make things harder for every gathering in the fandom should we not.
Our gatherings are more than just a time for fur fans to let their hair down and relax. There are content creators who work hard to create works of art and use this opportunity to start a business. There are eccentric folks, who despite keeping their nose to the grindstone, are still deemed as outcasts of society and use these events to just feel a bit more normal around other oddballs like themselves. This is what is on the line if we can’t take the steps necessary to address this situation.
Rest assured, there are people who want to see these spaces implode and all go the way of Rainfurrest. So let’s keep our shit together, and do what we can to flush this issue from our spaces for good.