Do Furries Belong at Pride Events?Jul 9th, 2012 | By AidenRN | Category: Aiden, Columns, Contributors
It was just after a weekend of various Pride festivals around Wisconsin and the Midwest, and I was sitting at a friend’s apartment recapping the events. They had gotten to go to Milwaukee Pride while I had been stuck at home, so I was grilling them for details as we had a couple beers. It came out in their conversation that there had been a lot of furries, or fetishists whose kink is to dress up as humanoid animals, at Pride. This sparked a surprising debate about why that particular group decided to make their presence known at an LGBT event.
Go to any kink event around Madison, and you are likely to run into someone who identifies as something other than cis-gendered or heterosexual. Similarly, go to any LGBT event, and you’re likely to meet someone who identifies as kinky or has an interested in some fetish. It’s even been suggested that sexual orientation- be it gay, straight, bisexual or other- is a fetish in and of itself. But does that mean that the two groups, queer and kinky, get along? Oh goodness no.
Prejudice in the Queer Community
As I have said in other articles, there is a certain level of prejudice in the LGBT community towards the kink community. Why? Isn’t the queer community supposed to be about accepting people as people, and eliminating damaging labels? And aren’t Leathermen (a group of gay men who wear and include leather in their sex lives) the staples of every Pride event? Shouldn’t the queer community be welcoming Kinksters with open arms?
Yes, it should. But a lot of queers can be prejudice towards kinksters because they feel like “being kinky” is damaging to their image. For years and years, the LGBT community has been fighting to show that they are everyday people like the rest of the “straight” world. This has created an almost phobia of appearing too “hippie”, too “weird” or too “queer”. For example, there’s a lot of unrest when very avant-garde celebrities, such as Lady Gaga, come out as ‘representatives of the queer community’; she may definitely be a part of it, but in no way is every queer individual walking around in a meat dress. Being kinky, and openly expressing that, can be seen as damaging towards that just-like-everyone-else mentality, and it creates a duality within the community of the “normal queers” and the “weird queers”.
So a lot of queers feel like having kinksters, such as furries, at Pride events is something to be frowned upon. As one friend put it, “I’m fine if there are, like, gay furries there, but if they’re straight I don’t see why they even bothered”. It was a nice politically correct answer, but essentially what she was saying was “I don’t think they should be here because they’re not gay”.
But Aren’t They Both Repressed?
In response to the one friend’s comment above, another friend chimed in and said “but us [the queers] and them [the furries] are both repressed sexual groups”. That’s also an interesting point– aren’t the LGBT community and the kink community basically asking for the same acceptance from society? After all, both groups are asking to be able to enjoy safe, consensual sexual acts with whatever partners they choose, and without the interference of the outside world on their bedroom activity. And is a mistress leading her slave by his leash down the street–both of them clothed and otherwise “decent”–really all that different from a gay or straight couple holding hands?
An analogy came up in the discussion; are the kink and queer communities like the African-American community and women in America? For example, while appearing to be two very different groups, both women and African American citizens struggle to be treated fairly in the work place, have equal opportunities in both housing and public aide, and both have struggled for decades to be paid fairly. So while very different at first glance, both groups are involved in an ongoing civil rights movement to be treated equally. In addition, the groups overlap- there are African American women who face even more challenges because they belong to both groups.
Are kinksters and queers on the same boat? After all, Pride events are supposed to show one’s pride and comfort in being something “other”. Would expressing one’s pride for being sexually liberated (or confined, depending on your kink) not fit with the theme?
So Do Furries Belong at a Pride Parade?
There’s no way I could answer that in one article, but you all should be thinking for yourselves. In finding a comfort zone for your sexuality, both in terms of orientation and kinks, it’s important to think of where your memberships in certain groups play out in your life. For example, would you rather it come out that you went to a Pride event, or to a kink event? Would it make a difference if you had to come out to your mother, or to your pastor? Which group of friends do you let know about your gender bending, and is it in the context of gender expression or sexual gratification? And even if you identify as heterosexual, how comfortable are you in having someone of the same sex take part in a scene with you?
Each of us is a member of many different groups, that come together to create the individual, but being able to express each one at all times, and in all places, is nearly impossible. Answering questions like ‘Do furries belong at a Pride event?’ can be a great way to start thinking about what aspects of kink you want to mingle in other parts of your life. For some people, those different worlds can blend effortlessly; for others, there is some resistance. And while we shouldn’t be passing judgement on others, our reactions to their displayed boundaries can be great teaching points for ourselves.
And who knows- maybe you’ll find you want your own pair of ears!