Fitting In

So over the weekend, I went to a kind of convention I'd never attended before. I went to a Furry convention. Here's the part where I'm supposed to deny actually attending the convention and claim I was only there as some kind of observer or ambassador (I'd been asked by some friends on the committee to run game demos), but you know what? I had a good time.

This particular subculture is much maligned and often misunderstood. While much of what you've probably heard is true to some extent, you're probably overestimating the extent, and there's probably a lot more "normal stuff" going on than you know. Most of all, these people know how to have fun.

Now, I was definitely an outsider. Most of the people there (there were about 100) already knew each other from other conventions and Internet communication, and only a few of them knew me. Everybody was very friendly, though. Everybody I smiled at smiled back, and everybody I said hello to greeted me back. They weren't all hitting on me, either. (There was one guy, but he was cute and didn't try too hard. He just didn't seem to notice my ring.)

I didn't see anything happen that I would have considered "family unsafe". I'm sure plenty went on back in people's hotel rooms, but like most adults, intimate acts were kept private. I've been to family reunions with more inappropriate behavior. There was considerably less swearing than I would have expected from a large group of primarily men in their 20's to 40's. I'd say there were probably about ten women there total, giving this group a higher percentage than the groups I used to hang around with in college.

Primarily, people were there to have fun, and hang out with people they shared an interest with. We watched movies. I played a bunch of games of course. There was an outdoor barbeque. People played frisbee and lasertag. People swung on the swings and lay around in the sun chatting. They put on a show.

One thing I'd never known (and was delighted to discover) is that most of the fur suiters are really good at it. They have characters and routines. Most can't really talk, so they have these elaborate pantomimes that are hilarious to watch. Over time I got to know which of the people were in some of the costumes (they rarely appear "headless", so it takes a bit of detective work) and the two personalities were often very different. Somebody who seemed sullen without their suit would reappear as a mischievious hyena or something. It really is like slipping in and out of a cartoon.

Sometimes when I go to conventions where I don't know a lot of people, I wind up feeling isolated. I didn't feel that here. Most people were ready to make new friends, and the people who weren't were just distant, not mean. I did see some people there who didn't seem as able to jump in and start talking to people, but hopefully they'll feel more open next year.

You know what? I hope I see them there.

2007.10.08 at 11:30pm EDT