15 Minutes of Fame: The furry fandom

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15 Minutes of Fame: The furry fandom

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

If you think "the furry fandom" sounds like a bunch of players who like playing Tauren, you'd be right -- to a tip-of-the-iceberg degree. This week's 15 Minutes of Fame looks at a often maligned, frequently mocked yet little understood hobby and lifestyle: the furry fandom, or furries. Furries (or "furs") are fans of fictional, anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Together, these furries form the furry fandom, a community of artists, writers, roleplayers and general fans of the furry art forms who gather on the internet and at conventions. Yes, these are cosplayers in fur suits – but there's a lot more to it, as this week's profile will show.

Now, before we proceed: Yes, there's a segment of the furry community that's into erotic art. While the media have had the proverbial field day with this furry fodder, the sex-focused furs are by no means an especially representative segment of furry fandom. Even if they were, this profile is not headed there. Instead, let's head back to the WoW.com context of the furry fandom: a World of Warcraft player (and frequent WoW.com commenter) who expresses himself emotionally and spiritually through his furry persona.

EDIT: As always, hateful, insulting and trollish posts will get deleted. You don't have to agree, but you can disagree without resorting to personal attacks. Multiple offenders will be banned, k thx ~ The Management

Main character AishaLove
Server Gilneas

15 Minutes of Fame: Ok, AishaLove, let's take this from the top for readers who are totally new to the idea of the furry fandom. What exactly is a furry?

: Our community is mostly those who believe they have animal spirit, or are truly an animal on the inside. Some just like the art, some just like the friendly people. Some are part of the fandom because they like the freedom we seem to enjoy expressing ourselves. People that are otherwise human but still enjoy the fandom, we often call "furry friends." :P

Some of us like to dress up in a fur suit and become our fursonas in a sense. This is a minority in our fandom, and it's a harmless thing. I even know of people who go fursuiting to children's hospitals and other places, to bring some joy to others.

We have a huge art scene. A lot of it is erotic or adult, but certainly not all (though erotic art should never be seen as bad :P).

As for the furry community in WoW, I'm not well versed on it. I know that there are guilds in WoW that are all furs. I know they like to do thing like roleplay as their characters or "fursonas." You can often spot furs by their names -- names like "SlyFox," "KeriKitten" or "TomRabbit" can often be a fur. My ex-wife had a guild she called "Feline Mayhem." I'm sure after this article is posted, you'll find a lot of furry people coming out of the woodwork. :P

I'd like to note, I'm not an expert about the furry fandom. I'm simply a regular guy who happens to be furry. My views are coming from a personal perspective, not that of the entire fandom.

Obviously, there's a whole spectrum of beliefs and interests along the furry spectrum. Can you give us a quick guided tour?

From my experience, there are lifestylers (people who live a lifestyle as a fur). These people can have fun and interesting personality traits, like sounds they make like their respective animal fursona, or they might act a bit like an animal. They may even live as their fursona. These people often dabble in all or just a few other aspects of furdom.

We have artists, people who like drawing furry art work, and lots of writers in our fandom, too, from poetry to novels some of us can produce some awesome literary works.

We have furry friends. These are people that are otherwise human but enjoy the fun atmosphere the fandom often gives off. These people often like the art scene, as well.

We have the spiritual types, those who believe they are their animal spirit or fursona on a spiritual level. Some believe they will become their fursona when they die. Others believe they have an animal spirit watching over them. Others have different beliefs, as well -- the range of spiritual beliefs in the fandom is endless.

We have people who live to go to conventions and other furry events. The furry community has cons all over the United States and abroad, and some are attended by millions of furs! Our biggest con, I'd have to say, is Anthro Con or AC. Cons are great places to see furs and furry friends alike have a great time, doing all sorts of things together.

Our community is just chock full of gamers, it seems as well. In any popular game, you will often see furry servers, clans or guilds. Some games I'm aware of that have huge furry followings are Team Fortress 2, WoW, Left 4 Dead and Super Smash Brothers Brawl, just to name a few. We seem to love our consoles, too -- everything from the NES to the Wii and PS3.

Tell us about how being a furry is connected with your persona inside the World of Warcraft.

Well for one thing, my favorite race is the Tauren. Being the only furry race to choose from, it's a given. I feel ashamed I don't give no Tauren love, though, as I got tied into an Alliance guild. I still love them, though!

I always play females. I identify with my female side so much more closely than my male side. I became comfortable with my gender identity through support from the furry community.

I can't say I'm lucky enough to have been able to interact with many furs in game. That is to say, many people I knew were furs. You see, we often seem like normal, everyday people until we choose to say, "Oh BTW, I'm a fur." But I do tend to let my furriness leak out. I'll often use my catch-phrase, "Myar!" Best way to describe it is kinda like how a cat goes "meow" or a dog goes "ruff" -- I go "Myar!" :P

What does being a fur means to you, personally?

To me personally? Being a fur is spiritual. It means I know who and what I am on a deep spiritual level. I am a DracoGryph (dragon/gryphon hybrid). I am spiritually of both genders (a blend of the two – androgynous, if you will), and to me, my soul is that of my fursona. To me, shi is me, I am hir ("shi" and "hir" are androgynous words we use to refer to gender, those of both genders). I may be male on the outside, but on the inside, being a fur allows me to see what I truly am and be content with that. It means that no matter what happens, I have my spirit watching over me.

When I describe my fursona and my spiritual beliefs, I'm dead serious when I say to me, I have a spirit watching over me. Shi is like my oversoul; this is my spiritual beliefs. I just don't call it a "religion" because my beliefs are 100% unique to me, and no one shares them quite the same way I do, though many share belief systems similar or that share a lot in common to mine. My beliefs could be summarized as a bit of a mix of Wiccan, native American and my own "fill-in-the-blanks" from years of trying to figure myself out. It's taken me 23 years to come to know myself as I come to see it now,and my beliefs will always keep changing and evolving as I do.

My journey into the fandom started when I was young, about 16. I was struggling with my sexuality, did not know if I was gay, straight or even that there was a third option (bi). Had no real spirituality; a baby sitter of ours used to take us to a Christian church, and that stuck, but mostly because I just did not want to go to hell.

When I discovered the fandom, I was introduced to so many new ways to view the world: the concept of accepting, even being joyful of who you are, no matter what anyone else thought, and the concept that it's ok to be different than what our culture deems acceptable. It was not easy coming to grips with being bi. I spent a long period even questioning my gender identity.

For me it's not about roleplay or fantasy. When I say I'm a blue herm DracoGryph in my heart, I feel great pride. The fandom is full of great roleplayers, though, and many of them have thier own beliefs, though some just like to role play. I'm not a roleplayer, though.

I have to stress, though, I live in the real world. I have no delusions that IRL, physically, I'm what I say I am on the inside, and I have no issues with my physical appearance differing from my spirit. It's just how life is, and that's fine with me.

I have many friends who have similar beliefs. Some are even part of mainstream religions like Christianity or Judaism. I know a good number of Wiccans, too.

I belong to a group of truly understanding, fun, open-minded individuals that just want to accept you for who you are, not to judge. It means I have the ability to help others through my understanding and openness and my ability to understand others from the point of view of someone who has struggled to find these things out for himself.

That sounds like a side of the furdom probably not many people are aware of. What about the lighter side?

The fandom is not all spirituality and roleplay. We are normal people, too, and we like to do everything the average person does. I guess we just let our inner child out more often then not and tend to enjoy many things in a furry way. Like movies -- we love furry movies like Bolt, The Lion King, Over the Hedge, etc., and we are huge fans of games with anthropomorphic characters, like Starfox and Animal Crossing. We enjoy comics, too, and god, you should see some of the comics the fandom can produce.

I suppose a lot of furs love roleplay so much because it's like a chance to be our fursona for a while, even if it's just pretend. For some, it's a chance to be their true selves. We have such a huge art community because what better way to bring your fursona to life then to draw or paint a picture?

So you're not connected with many other furries who play WoW?

I currently only play on one server. I enjoy the friends in my current guild and I am hesitant to leave, even though being in a furry guild would be fun :P

I know a few people from FurAffinity (the furry website), but I'm not aware of them in game or they play on other servers. I could name a couple of names, but I think that they would prefer their privacy. I'll let them comment on this article if they want to come out and play. :P

So are you in a mainstream guild, then? Are you able to be open about your furry interests with other members?

I'm a member of A Neo Creation. I would not say we are "mainstream." We are more a guild composed of friends and family of friends who just want to have fun together. They know I'm a fur, and most of them are not furs themselves. They understand it's the lifestyle I lead, and some even have been sources of support to me. No issues have ever come up related to my furriness.

WoW players seeking other furries can connect at Blizzard's Furry Friends.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- neither did we, until we talked with these players. From an Oscar-winning 3-D effects director to a custom action figure artist, catch it on 15 Minutes of Fame.

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