Before we start, I would like to say: Yes, I am a furry. I have been for four years. I draw furry art and own a "fursuit." By writing this article, I hope I will help others to understand us. This is my invitation to you, from the furry fandom.
So, first, what is the furry fandom?
The furry fandom is a community made up of people who take an interest in anthropomorphic animals. So, Mickey Mouse would be categorized as an anthro, since he walks, talks, and wears clothing, yet he is still a mouse.
That's it. Despite the stigma around us, that's all it takes to become a "Furry." Even though we are undeniably a strange bunch, we are all just people who have one common interest. Together, we create a beautiful array of different, diverse, and interesting people. We come from all walks of life! Most express this through their art or writing, and some make or buy fursuits (as pictured).
We like thinking of furries in a realistic plain of existence. The world of furries is one of fantasy, where dragons co-exist with talking wolves and impossible hybrids. Some people even create their own species for others to make, with unique features and abilities! Many of us like to roleplay, in which we talk and describe our character's actions to other members to create a live story.
I would like to stress the fact that furries are NOT otherkin. Otherkin means you actually think you are an animal, or your spirit is. Furries rely on the world of fantasy to express themselves.
After you get past what being a furry is by definition, you can then ask yourself, "What's the point? Why?"
Some people come to this community for escape—escape from their real lives so they can indulge in a world of fantasy. Furries tend to show themselves off using a character called a "Fursona." A fursona is you, but as an animal. Your fursona can be any species, colour, or have any personality you want. Some furries share their fursona by using art, and others use fursuits to give them a more realistic, visual feel.
From my own experience, the fandom has always been about creative expression. I found the fandom through art. As a kid, all I ever drew were animals. I couldn't draw humans for the life of me, so I stuck with that. As I posted more and more art, I spiraled deeper into the furry fandom. I'd look through hashtags, finding other peoples' art, and that's when I found anthro-style pieces. Then I found fursuits and videos. The more I found, the more interested I became. I created my own fursona and, three years later, created my fursuit. It was the same feeling as falling in love.
There's little to no difference between falling in love with culture and falling in love with people. The furry fandom, like any group or community, has its ups, downs, and heartbreaks.
As I said, the fandom is full of creative expression and artwork. Most of this artwork is posted for all to see, which means it can be stolen. This is quite a common occurrence. Fursuits can also be stolen as well, online and physically, but this is much less common.
But thievery isn't the only thing that plagues the fandom for the worst. Even though the majority of us are honest and welcoming people, there are people who bully and judge. These people repeal newcomers from joining us and having a safe place to post art, stories, or having a place to go when things get tough.
Most of these "bad" people are often rejected by the people within the fandom. Coming across a repeated scammer is unlikely, but you should always be weary, nonetheless.
The furry fandom is incredibly misunderstood. Memes on the internet and bad examples abolish our name. Many of these unappealing representations even come from furries, themselves. From erotica to crime, furries continue to dig a deeper hole for themselves. For some, sex is important, but it's not a very large percentage of the fandom. The media likes to focus on anything that seems different or wrong, anything that can be inflated and portrayed as something worse than it really is. As a whole, many of us are here to have a good time, share our craft, and make friends.
To put this whole article simply: people shouldn't feel bad for having interests. Our fandom is nothing more than a place for those who feel lost to find acceptance.
We get called names by people we have never met, and are instantly judged as soon as we tell others we are furries. Sometimes we often have to "come out" as a furry, intervention style. Furries are referred to as mentally ill or autistic, and yes, a lot of us are! But that brings us back to the idea of escape and fantasy, and why we don't want to be in the real world. In the furry fandom, you will always find someone who you connect with and loves what you do. Never will you be cast away. As long as you look, community is around the corner.