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Furry fandom

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Furry fandom is a category (or sub-genre) of science fiction fandom dedicated to furry fiction. It originated as a fusion of science fiction, comic book, and animation fandom during the 1980s. It has thrived and grown, evolving into its own branch of fandom and finding adherents in America, Europe, Australia, and some parts of Asia.

Members of furry fandom describe themselves as "furries" or simply "furs". There are a large enough number of furries that they may be regarded as forming a subculture. Furry fandom has a large presence on the Internet, and many furry conventions in North America and Europe are held every year.

Furry fans (sometimes referred to as furries or furs for short) produce prodigious amounts of amateur artwork dedicated to anthropomorphics, or fictional animal characters given human personalities and characteristics (see furry for more details). They produce small-press comic books, written stories, and paintings and drawings. Fans with craft skills even put together their own stuffed plush furry toys. A number of furry fans build elaborate furry costumes called "fursuits" (complete with ears, fur, and long tails) and dress up in them for fun.

A number of them do more than dress up, and sexualize the experience to the point of paraphilia, often having sex in their fursuits or with their plushies: the latter group are known as plushophiles.

A percentage of furry fans create furry "personas" (imaginary characters based on their own personalities) and engage in elaborate role-playing sessions based upon these characters. Some furry fans write fictional stories or play role-playing games centered on their furry characters, while some of the fans with fursuits dress up as their characters on occasion. Furry role-playing can often become quite elaborate, to the point where some furry fans have difficulty determining where their "real" personae end and their furry personae begin.

Furry role-playing is greatly enhanced by the existence of FurryMUCK, the largest, oldest, and most popular of many furry-themed MUDs on the Internet. Quite a few furry fans have characters on the virtual MUCK, and when furry fans meet in "real life," they are often more familiar with one another's online personas more than their real identities.

Furry fans defend these actions by noting that there are large numbers of hobbyists who devote sizable portions of their lives to their hobbies. Sports fans dedicate their lives to their favorite teams (sometimes at the cost of their personal lives); political activists devote their entire lives to their causes; and likewise some furries devote themselves to furry fandom. The furry fans are quick to point out that the number of fans who become so obsessed with the fandom is very small; for most furry fans, the fandom is a hobby and a way to meet others who share the same interests. Some furry fans are especially sensitive to these accusations, and they are protective (some say overly so) of the "image" of furry fandom.

Because of its association with characters often considered to be children's entertainment, furry fandom has long faced a dilemma that has caused numerous arguments and divisions within the fandom itself. A large number of furry fans are adults, and a sizable portion of furry fiction (including furry-themed artwork and stories) contain themes that are created especially for adults. (As with other forms of fandom, including science fiction and horror fandom, there is a thriving pornographic element within the fandom, which furry fans refer to as spooge[?].) A long-running argument in furry fandom over the sexual content of furry fiction has caused a division among furry fans, with fans supporting unlimited content in furry fandom (including adult-oriented content) opposed to fans who seek a "cleaning up" of the fandom so as to present a more family-oriented image to outsiders. (See also: yiff)

Participants in furry fandom also mention the existence of a class of Furry Lifestylers, who believe in making the "furry ideals" a part of everyday life, and who many see as exhibiting a degree of fanboy elitism. These fans are largely in the minority, however, as most furry fans recognize that theirs is an unusual hobby that exists largely on the fringe of mainstream science fiction fandom.

See also: Plushophile

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