SAN JOSE — Nearly 5,000 people, many in colorful, fluffy costumes, filled the San Jose Convention Center during last weekend’s Further Confusion, a two-day convention catering to the Furry subculture, a group of people who have an affinity for anthropomorphic animals.
The convention featured panel discussions, dance competitions, a Nintendo Smash Brothers tournament, a parade, two halls filled with vendors and plenty of people-watching opportunities.
The event raised more than $20,000 for the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center.
Further Confusion has grown steadily since the first such convention was held in 1999 with about 700 attendees. The community is united by its love for animals and costuming, and seems dedicated to creating an environment of inclusion and acceptance. Upon registration, attendees were shown a variety of badges indicating everything from the wearer’s preferred pronouns to whether, and under what circumstances, hugs were acceptable. This proved to be crucial, because there was a lot of hugging going on.
Attendees rubbed elbows (or tentacles, or paws, or in the case of one giant worm, torsos) with an incredible variety of creatures, from Pokemon and anime characters to science fictional cosplayers augmenting their fur suits with light sabers or post-apocalyptic accoutrements and original creations ranging from what looked like skeleton cats to samurai warriors.
While there is an NSFW-component to the Furry culture, this aspect was largely secluded from the rest of the family friendly convention. Specific events for the BDSM-inclined included fetish panels as well as a “Night Market” event on Saturday night.
The Furry community seems dedicated to inclusion and acceptance. If the famous Creature from the Black Lagoon is understood to be an embodiment of the dark, libidinous urges we fear in ourselves, Furries seem determined to personify an accepting and unconditional love. The costumes provided a plush suit of armor that allows the wearer to assume a different identity and cushions them from the anxieties of social interactions. Because of this, the community attracts all sorts of misfits from the mainstream looking for a community to call their own. The community boasts of its queer, neurodivergent and disabled members, and the convention provided panels focusing on gender and sexuality.
This year’s theme was “Cyberpunk.” Standout costumes included a 7-foot-tall moose in a fluorescent green tutu, a worm on a string suit, a red panda with a tail feet in length (who communicated using a dog’s squeaky toy she held in her mouth), a shaggy, white creature with illuminated antlers, a bunch of blue and white wolves, and an inflatable Charizardd Pokemon dragon.
Most of the fur suits were elaborate, original creations that required many hours of work and serious sewing skills. The dealer’s dens were filled with various creators selling their original costume headpieces for around $1,100 apiece. The dealers also took commissions to create visual representations of the attendee’s “fursonas” (their original fur characters) along with original costume designs, stickers, T-shirts, body pillows and other accessories for the Furry lifestyle.
Furries who can’t wait for next year’s Further Confusion in January 2021, can check out Fur Squared next month in Milwaukee, or July’s Anthrocon in Pittsburgh, Penn., one of the largest Furry gatherings nationwide.