Furry fandom helps create culture of friendship, respect

Noah Nelson, News Contributor

When it comes to some of life’s struggles like trying to fit in, dealing with social anxiety and even battling depression, one Oregon State Student claims becoming a furry helped him out tremendously.

The student, who goes by Ace Osmyde as his furry name, said before he joined the furry community, he struggled severely with depression and anxiety. Osmyde said finding a community where he feels he fits in has been incredibly beneficial. He even met his current significant other at one of the meetups. Osmyde has found others with similar interests he has become close with, after connecting to a community more local to Corvallis.

The furry fandom is a community of people interested in a form of cosplay involving dressing up in full body costumes and donning a newly created personality that is unique to the costume. These costumes can really be any type of animal, with a few popular choices being wolves and lions. All of the costumes are defined as anthropomorphic, meaning that they are non-human entities with human characteristics. The goal of the costumes is not to be a convincing, real-life wolf, but to be a friendly, human-like wolf who walks on two legs and has an entirely new personality.

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At a furry convention, also called a “furmeet” within the fandom, one would see a number of people dressed up in their costumes, also called “fursuits.” The suiter refers to the person in the costume, while the fursuit refers to the costume itself. 

Some members, like Osmyde, struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts until they surrounded themselves in a community of like-minded, accepting individuals.

“I’m now happier than I’ve been in years and finally feel like I’m surrounded by people I can call friends.” Osmyde said.

Osmyde is part of a furry community called the Pacific NorthWest Furs, or PNW Furs for short. 

Brigitte Schovanec is the founder of the PNW Furs. The group was founded with the purpose of connecting like-minded individuals with one another and to create an inclusive community of people with similar interests, according to Schovanec.

“I had moved here from out of state and wanted to meet more people near me,” Schovanec said “My spouse had encouraged me to get more active in the fandom and believed it would help my social life.”

According to Schovanec, the PNW Furs meets have attracted a very large crowd, with suiters coming from nearby states like Washington and Idaho. She claims that new people show up to every meet, and some people even make a living off the furry fandom. With the increased demand for professional costume design and art, the community provides a living for artists, crafters, and designers, some of which get their income exclusively from within the fandom. 

The goal of the PNW Furs is to show people what a loving fandom furries are, according to Schovanec. Some people use the fandom as a chance to recreate themselves with a new persona. This is often called a fursona. This is the newly created personality that goes along with the fursuit. This persona can help members like Maddie, who asked to go by her first name, become more social.

“It’s helped me make new friends that are like family to me,” Maddie said via email. 

Maddie also said that the group has helped her with her social anxiety and made it easier to talk to people. 

According to Maddie’s mother, Elaine, being an active member of the fandom has helper Maddie get out of the house more often. She also says that the group is full of welcoming and fun loving people and that Maddie always has a positive experience at a meet up.

Schovanec mentioned other members of PNW Furs, and the things they have done. Some of them travel long distances just to help someone move, only if they have only met them once or twice. Many of them form lifelong friendships and relationships with people they meet in the fandom.

According to Schovanec, one can find furry meetups and fandoms around the world. Conventions give a space for people to learn new things, meet new friends, build up a business and more. Schovanec said that these meetups will often fundraise money for local charities in various nations.

“It truly is a loving community that wants to give back and show what it is really about,” Schovanec said.