“Feeling as though your whole body is fur is so awesome”: Furries explain their animal alter-egos

“Feeling as though your whole body is fur is so awesome”: Furries explain their animal alter-egos

Furries—people who enjoy dressing up in elaborate, plushy animal costumes—were once mocked and derided even by other groups of nerds. Over the years, though, the subculture has started to find mainstream acceptance—a shift exemplified by Furnal Equinox, Toronto’s largest annual furry convention. In the past, the event has taken place at far-flung airport hotels. This year, though, it took over the Westin Harbour Castle, right at the foot of the CN Tower, where fursuit-clad attendees were free to mingle with tourists who just came to check out the aquarium.

For many devotees, furry fandom is more than a recreational activity. Some furries take pride in constructing intricate backstories for their animal alter-egos, and conventions are opportunities to let those animal personalities run wild. We asked a few people to tell us about their characters.

“Chibity” (Christine Clifford)

27, illustrator from Pickering

“Chibity is a character I developed when I was 11 years old. It literally came down to, ‘I like dragons, and there’s a name I already had, so let’s design a character that would be Chibity.’ So I made a furry red dragon.”

“Alassea” (Julia Schlaupitz)

27, floor-covering sales representative from Imlay City, Michigan

“I’m a kitsune. Usually I have wings. I don’t have a backstory for her. I’m still kind of developing that.”

“Please” (Taliyah Denton)

13, student from Brampton

“My fursuit is a pre-made one. It’s three years old. I started getting into drawing anthropomorphic animals when I was in grade five, and I decided to make my very own character. I named her ‘Please.’ This was before I knew what a fursona is, or what furries were.”

“Ian-exe” (Ian Wallace)

19, visual artist from Ottawa

“Basically it’s just me as a raccoon, but a bit more energized, a bit more fun. Feeling as though your whole body is fur is so awesome.”

“Strypes” (Fernando Po)

From Edmonton

“He’s a zebra who happens to be a referee.”

“Zafie” (Kaiden Brant)

27, sandwich shop worker from Quinte West

“I got inspiration for him when I was younger. We had a camping trailer and the colours of it were grey and blue, so I used that colour scheme for Zafie. Like me, Zafie is transgender.”

“Ballantine” (Nick Horvath)

21, car parts salesperson from Sudbury

“I’m a black-and-red fox. It’s a persona I use to get out there socially and get over some social anxiety issues. I don’t have a backstory or anything. It’s just something I created to help me get out there.”

“Shadow” (Alex Drolet)

28, pharmaceutical technician from Quebec City

“Shadow doesn’t have an epic background or anything. He’s plainly my alter-ego. He’s a fox, he’s cunning and he gets along with everyone, and he has this very charming smile, so everyone’s focused on him. That’s basically me in real life. Being in the costume allows me to go to raves that are specifically designed for us furries, which are a total blast.”

“Ash” (Michael Biron)

22, forklift operator from Les Coteaux, Quebec

“Ash is a Norwegian cat. One of my friends made up the character and I got it from them and made it mine. I’ve only had the suit for a few months. I’m not really into the storytelling for my character. I know others are, and that’s totally fine, but I’m not about that.”

“Vargar” (Tim P.)

37, government employee from Los Angeles

“He’s a demonwolf from another dimension. I just made him up, thought the name sounded cool. I’m a big fan of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, so he’s kinda from that universe.”

“Summer” (Sam Nelson)

14, student from Boston, MA

“I bought Summer off a site that sells fursuits. She wasn’t my character originally, but now she is. I haven’t made a backstory for her yet. It’s something I’m hoping to create. It’s been about a month since I was at a furry convention, which feels like a while. Wearing fur suits is fun, but when you’re not wearing them at a convention it kinda feels weird.”

“Maisie” (Kai Carew)

14, student from Toronto

“Maisie is a bengal cat. To me, she’s just a wild street cat. I haven’t figured out a backstory for her yet.”