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.
We are very sorry to announce that VancouFur's Art Show has been cancelled for 2017 due not being able to secure adequate staff and leads for the department. We thank everyone who put time and effort into the department this year and we hope that it can resume in future years!
Artists who paid for panels in the show are being contacted to arrange refunds.
The news follows the resignation of art show lead Mesa and her partner Silvermink, following their attempt to get a fan alleged privately of attempted rape banned from VancouFur, which led to intense debate for several weeks.
For those who missed out on the news over the last three months, here's a quick roundup.
Further Confusion 2013 garnered some coverage, including a Kotaku contributor's weekend at a furry convention – which started out with party-hopping, followed by a fursuit parade (admittedly, the experience for many FC attendees). The author reached the [adjective][species] statistics panel before returning to the party floor . . . and then, the dance floor.
SanJose.com also provided coverage of FC, albeit limited to an apparently remote Q&A session with the con's media representative, Chairo. The brief piece was fact-filled, yet in comparison with Kotaku did not venture deeply into the motivations of those attending.
Sneaking in at the end of the month was a cover piece in Nashville LGBT monthly Out & About (subtitled "It's not all about sex in fur suits"), and a photo-heavy article of the "everyday lives of furries at home", featuring the furry photography of Tom Broadbent. [tip: HappyWulf]
Canadian convention VancouFur has a theme for 2014: "Gateway to the Pacific", described by staff as a "celebration of Pacific Rim multiculturalism in Vancouver."
An announcement on VancouFur's official Twitter account stated: "We will be celebrating a country on the Pacific Rim and its cultural influence on our city each month leading up to #VF2014!" On March 7, when a member asked about wearing a kimono, VancouFur replied: "You most definitely can! :D Themed costumes are always such fun! :D"
On March 8, the VancouFur website was updated with a splash screen for 2014, shown as of March 10 with a "chop suey"-style font. (Wall Street Journal blogger Jeff Yang called a similar font "a cliche fake-brushstroke “oriental” typeface" when used in a grocer's flyer last year.)
By March 12, the VancouFur website had been quietly updated to use a different font.
This month saw several furry appearances in North American news media, with coverage from newspapers, magazines, and a Canadian TV news outlet. What did they have to say?
While L Magazine's brief (and largely paraphrased) interview with New York City furry writer and artist Joe Strike veers towards adult babies and "mascot costumes getting sweaty", the conversation eventually gets around to "the core of furrydom—the fursona", with Joe distinguishing furs from other fans: "furs create their own characters". Anthrocon gets a mention, while Joe puts in recommendations for WikiFur and Fur Affinity.
VancouFur gained a fair amount of coverage. As previously mentioned, the Burnaby News Leader gave a positive but relatively shallow article on "people who like to dress in colourful, furry mascot costumes," published before the event began, while CTV had video footage (Pixie: "It frees up a lot of inhibitions, like I don't feel so constrained or shy - I'm allowed to be a little more outgoing - because it's not me, it's the character.").
Conversely, BG News (the student paper of Bowling Green State University) talks to several north-west Ohio furs, who refute the assertions made by Burnaby News ("Fur suits aren’t even really required."). The local Black Swamp Furs talk about their bowling escapades, while slipping in FCN's charity fund-raising. Sex comes up, but the furs hang firm to their position ("We’re not sex based at all. [..] TV shows sometimes show us like that, but we’re not. It’s the complete opposite of what we’re trying to do. We’re just people who like to hang out.")
A more detailed analysis of VancouFur, and of furry fandom as a whole, is provided by The Dependent Magazine [tip: reddit], whose representatives are first "grilled" by con media representatives, then mobbed by furs wanting to tell their story.
Last weekend saw the debut of VancouFur, a Canadian furry convention held in Vancouver. The event attracted 347 attendees, an article in the Burnaby News Leader, and video coverage on CTV News (mirrored by the Globe and Mail). [Higgs Raccoon]
The event's first guest of honor was fursuiter and musician Thumper. In addition to regular furry convention fare, its varied programming included a session on hacking, lockpicking and cheese, introductions to AD&D and LARP, and a theatre/film audition workshop.