by Michæl W. Bard
©2008 Michæl W. Bard

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   A couple of years ago now I posted an observation about furdom’s general aversion to being publicly noticed. (On Fear and Furries, in Anthro #4). In essence, I mentioned how furries, and furcons in particular, hide from outsiders; we forbid reporters from attending our gatherings, we don’t tell people about our interests, etc. Looking back at this essay, it might be fair to say that I did not, at that time, wholly grasp what the fuss was about.
   Well, I think I understand it a bit better now. Unfortunately.
   A month ago, someone posted a request onto the forums. To quote the important bit:

   Hi. I’m not a fur, but I am working on a TV series about the wonderful world of fandom for the Space Channel and want to meet furries for an upcoming episode. Two reasons: to learn more about the community, and to find people to interview for the show.

   At first I thought I’d volunteer—why not? It’s local (Space is the Canadian SF specialty channel headquartered here in Toronto); Space is usually pretty good about these things; and, best of all, I can do my part to help spread good words about the fandom.
   But then, just to be safe, I bounced the idea off a few other friends. They, in turn, suggested that I tote up the possible benefits and possible negatives of doing this thing. And they pointed out what some of those benefits and negatives could be.



   Yeah, the last one is highly unlikely, but I find it conceivable. The bottom line is, I can get a warm feeling and be nice… at the possible cost of having my life destroyed. Or, at the very least, suffering through a few months of hatred and harassment. So I decided to just not volunteer.
   A sensible decision, perhaps. But it does beg the question: How do we, as a small and isolated fandom, break the cycle of hatred and distrust? I don’t know. Except, maybe, Anthrocon. My understanding is that three or four years ago, the city council of Pittsburg (Anthrocon’s home) discovered that the local economy had approximately two million dollars’ worth of cash-flow whose source they could not identify. Until somebody noticed that it occurred when Anthrocon was in town…
   After that, it was all open arms—although there are still assaults on storekeepers who support furries. In any case, a lot of the hiding has gone away, in the Pittsburg area at least. Much of this is doubtless due to the magnetic allure of cold, hard cash, of course. Much… but not all. Historically speaking, there are plenty of examples of shopkeepers who have absolutely refused to do business with one class of people or another, regardless of how much that business could have enriched them. This suggests that whatever degree of anti-furry prejudice may exist in Pittsburg, it is weak enough to be overcome simply by furries interacting normally with the greater society. And that, in turn, happily suggests that prejudice can be overcome.
   Maybe it will just take time—I so hope so!

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