Useful Notes / Furry Fandom
Image by Spotted Bunny

"When people hate, I just remember, we're furries, we embarrass ourselves every day! What can people say to make it worse?"

A furry is, at its base, a fan of anthropomorphic animal characters (who are frequently abbreviated to simply anthros). Exactly where on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism these characters are doesn't matter, but most of them fall under Petting Zoo People and Funny Animals, and they're not on either extreme end. The characters may in some instances also be shapeshifters, transforming from fully human form to some kind of animal.

The majority of the fandom consists of people who enjoy fiction and art revolving around anthropomorphic animal characters (sometimes a little too much), ranging from being in the form of text stories, art, and comic books, to more elaborate and mainstream forms of media such as Dreamworks Animation's popular and financially successful film franchise Kung Fu Panda, among other widely-known works based around anthropomorphic animal characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Star Fox, Zootopia and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to name a few. Furries may simply take part in what others create, or they may be creators themselves. Many, but not all, also have a fursona note , which is a furry character representing the individual who created it.

On the deeper end of the fandom, there lies those with literal anthropomorphic animal fetishes, including an even smaller subset of erotic cosplayers and other individuals who take their fetishes well beyond the computer screen. Despite the small size of this group and the fact that people with anthropomorphic animal fetishes are not part of the furry fandom per se, with the existence of people with those fetishes being much older and more widespread than the fandom that we know today, they have gathered the most attention in the fandom.

The stereotype is often considered by furries themselves to originate with the 1999 MTV film Furries and Plushies, which would later inspire the stereotypical furry in the media we know such as the one in CSI, ER, MTV, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vanity Fair, Maxim, Something Awful, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, and numerous other programs. With this media exposure, the broader public repeats thinking it 'knows' what a furry is - that is, a vaguely comedic pervert in some kind of cartoonish way, despite the fact that even those with anthropomorphic animal fetishes can not fulfill the quota; plenty of the sexual acts are deadly, as a fursuit can cause heat exhaustion and dehydration to the one who wears it for a long time unless there are safety measures implemented. This crude 'all the same' fallacy has left many furry fans distrustful of the media, and for several years, the fandom went so far as to ban members of the press from certain conventions to avoid being subjected to a two-minute 'smear job' on the news, although you also have a livejournal entry devoted to showing off the portrayal of furries in media to see how much media access they can give on the other side of the spectrum.

In the past few years, media coverage has been increasingly tolerant (NBC News was granted a unprecedented level of access during Anthrocon 2014, something that probably wouldn't have happened 5 before). Many attribute the decrease in negative media attention to the rise of related fandoms like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Sonic the Hedgehog, making furries look less strange in comparison to some other subcultures. The change in public perception, however, has been slow at best, as evidenced by the news coverage over an attack on Midwest Fur Fest in December, 2014, when chlorine gas was used to injure 19 people.note 

Considering that the negative stigma still remained at large, the news organizations tended to get sidetracked by the oddity of furries instead of concentrating on the attackers, and in correlation with that, some people on the internet decidedly supported the attackers rather than treated the attackers' actions as having crossed the line of what the victims might have actually deserved from a moral standpoint. Likewise, sites like The Mary instead treated the attack seriously.

Another subsection of the fandom that is often confused with the fandom as a whole would be Otherkin. Those who declare themselves to be one of these believe that they are, in real life, not actually fully human. It may be that they claim to have the soul of an animal, which may or may not be that of a real animal (therians limit themselves to real animals). Some go so far as to disown the human species entirely, and claim they've been born as the wrong species. Of course, even other furries will often mock Otherkin, just to give some context as to where Otherkin lie on the social ladder.

There is a significant stigma to identifying oneself as a furry,note  mainly because on the internet, they are often the butt of many jokes. For this reason, there are many who might clearly fall under the definition of a furry, but wouldn't identify as one. On the other hand, someone might be generalized as a furry simply for liking one or more works with anthropomorphic animal characters in them, which would technically be wrong since the reasons are rarely due to the anthropomorphic nature of the characters themselves. However, what exactly defines a furry is up for debate, and the only people you can be certain of are the ones who identify themselves as such.

Also, meet Dr. Kathy Gerbasi, social psychologist to the furs.

This poem, which was made by an actual furry, is often considered by many furries themselves to be a fair representation of the furry fandom at large.
All done! Now don't you just have a warm, fuzzy feeling?

Alternative Title(s): Furry, Furries