Dressing up in large animal suits is not a sex thing, says a member of the Okanagan furry community.
Cody Richards of Naramata posted a photo in a local Facebook group this week of a group of his friends dressed up in costumes hanging around Penticton. Costumes ranged from foxes to huskies and the pictures include the group hanging out at the Peach concession and other notable Penticton landmarks.
Within minutes of the public post, comments starting pouring in from people, some happy to see the people dressed up and others depicting the costume wearers as sexual deviants and possible pedophiles.
“I wasn’t surprised to see the comments. There is a stigma around the furry community, ‘oh, you know they dress up as animals. It’s all sexualized,’ but it’s really not about that. The community is about having fun, taking pictures with people, making people smile. I relate it closer to mascotting,” he said.
Richards said he’s been around the furry community for the last eight years, since he was about 13.
He acknowledged for some there is a subculture sexual component in the furry community.
“I think the community used to be more noticed for the sexual side,” he said. “The furry community as a whole is very accepting so there’s a lot of LGBT people and unique people that might not fit in in other places. The furry community is very accepting and provides them a community to fit in with,” he said.
Richards is on several furry social media groups and says there are at least 50 people in the Okanagan that are part of the furry community, and online there are over 500 members in B.C. furry networking group.
An annual convention dubbed Vancoufur held in Vancouver had more than 1,300 participants this year.
Furries are often seen at Comic-Con shows such as Penticon or other large events. Richards said those in the furry community will wear their suits at Halloween or on random public outings.
“They pay a lot for their suits so really any chance they can get to wear them they usually do,” he said.
People in the furry community have a special connection to animals and often create a character, back story and even art pieces from their chosen animal.
Suits range in price from $1,000 to $5,000 and often can take years to create.
Richards recently ordered his first suit.
His animal is a Sabre Tooth Tiger and he expects to have the suit in about four months.
“Within the furry community there are lots of us that like to draw but not everyone is a tailor. It’s quite expensive to have one made. There are people who make a living exclusively for making suits for the furry community,” he said.
Over the years his role has been handler. He explained that when furries go out in public they need people to keep an eye out to make sure people don’t pull their tails or they don’t walk into anything.
“You can’t see very well as you can imagine. So we’re there to make sure no one is pulling at the suit or to make sure they don’t run into lamp posts that kind of thing,” he said.
Richards said by putting photos out on social media and doing this article he hopes to reduce some of the stigma around the furry community.
“We’re normal people, not weirdos. We’re not here to do anything creepy. We’re just here to have fun, take pictures with people, share and bring smiles to people’s faces and enjoy ourselves,” he said.
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