I spent this past weekend with a group of people that are very enthusiastic about their hobby. You might say it borders on obsessive. There was a lot of cheering and encouragement and everyone involved was welcomed as we were all there for the same reason. Was I watching the 49er game? No, I was at Further Confusion.
What is Further Confusion, you ask? It is the annual gathering of furries and those that are interested in the furry fandom. Now some of you reading this are doing your due diligence and you’re Googling “furries” and “furry fandom” and you are probably wondering what it is all about. Go ahead. Take five minutes to do some research. Some of you might also be raising an eyebrow and thinking this is some strange perverted group of people that dress up in fursuits. I admit, I did the same thing three years ago when my son told me he was a furry. Immediately I searched the internet hoping that this “furry thing” was not what I thought is was. Even after much searching I still wasn’t convinced that this was a group of people I wanted my then 14 year old to hang around.
Two years ago he found out about The Convention or The Con as they say in fandom. I reluctantly gave in and took him for one day. I wasn’t about to give up my entire weekend to hang around a bunch of people dressed up like animals. We really didn’t do much but wander around the marketplace and watch a few people. The second year we went for two days but drove back and forth. I wasn’t about to blow our money on a hotel room so I could be close to a bunch of people dressed up as animals. I tagged along with my son and tried to not be “that mom” who embarrassed her kid but I also wanted to protect him from whatever dark forces were lurking around. This year we went for two days and stayed at a hotel so we could really immerse ourselves in the experience. A lot has changed in three years.
This is what I have learned. The people that attend this convention are some the nicest, most welcoming individuals you could ever hope to meet. Whether they are dressed in full fur or dressed in jeans in a t-shirt they are friendly, open, and accepting of everyone. With close to 2000 people in attendance I was pleasantly surprised at the good nature of the attendees. They even welcomed this obviously-not-a-furry mom. I learned I could relax my worrisome grip on my son and let him be who he is. I left him to find his friends, some of whom he was meeting face to face for the first time. (Gasp! Online friends that he has never met in person? How can you be friends with someone you have never met in person or you only see once a year? Oh wait, I have lots of friends that I only see once a year or that I only see via video conference so I guess it’s not much different than that.) As I sat watching the antics of fursuiters I was taken by how comfortable they were with themselves and how respectful and caring they were of others. Traits any parent hopes to nurturer in their children.
On the last day my son told me that he felt he could truly be himself at the convention, that he didn’t feel that way anywhere else, no one else really understands him. I told him I knew exactly how he felt because I had the same feeling as a teenager. Finding your tribe is so critical and sadly high school is not always the place where kids feel they can be themselves. To see your child open up and be comfortable in their own skin is a blessing and while I wish we didn’t have to travel out of town to experience that I know that he comes back home feeling more confident about himself than he did when he left.