My first article about Furries was based on a person wanting me to discuss it and how people perceive it. This wanted to be someone who explained what it meant them and how it fit into their lives. I have to admit; I didn’t know much about the subculture before I started this part of it. And, admittedly, I included it in the fetish and kink articles. For some, it is a part of that world and for many others it is not. This person wanted to show why it wasn’t fetish/kink for them. However, I still think it is appropriate to be included here because it is a means of escapism and coping, much like BDSM can be for many people. It is a means to separate one’s life from the day to day grind and, albeit for the moment, go somewhere else that offers a different perspective.
Many athletes/performers also talk about how once they get dressed in their particular drag and put on their game face, they become someone else. In effect, the person they were born as takes a back seat and a different side takes over. This is what many who belong to furries also say happens. Their “fursona” take the wheel and a new side emerges, completely whole and functional. As a gamer, I can relate to this. There are many games that are my favorites that suck me into them so much that I feel like I am the main character. I am the one running down the hallway, evading the enemy, trying to reload, and survive. It proves that the brain is an amazing machine in how it copes with perceived reality. With that in mind let me introduce you to the person that challenged me to write this article and have them explain themselves and who their fursona is. Experience it from someone who does not use this as a form of kink.
Meet H.D. Van Peterbilt, a 22-year-old from the eastern side of Cleveland. Meeting this person, you are quickly surprised by their profession and who they are on the inside. The aura given off is one who is demure and passive, at first, but you quickly realize it’s more of how they choose to act to disarm people and see what is going on behind their mask H.D. is a furry and also loves hula-a-hoops. Names have been changed to protect identities for varying reasons.
Tell me about yourself. Name, age, where you live, and what you do. My name is H D Van Peterbilt, I’m 22-years-old and I live in Ashtabula county. I drive big rigs for a living.
If it is not to personal, how do you identify? Sexual orientation, Gender Identity, Subculture (i.e. furry) I’m a straight(ish) female and I do furry cosplay as an escape from, well, everything because life isn’t always nice.
What does being a furry mean to you?The furry lifestyle is more of a break in reality and to my life, as well.
Do you have a fursona? If so, what is it like? My fursona is kinda complex, to say the least. I don’t consider myself any particular popular animal, I’m my own animal, my own beast and there’s no other like me. I’m not a cookie cutter.
Do you consider your Fursona to be a part of you who you are or a separate from you?
She is separated, I don’t like even bringing her into sex.
Do you consider yourself an animal? I’m a person, but when I’m in character, it’s me and the beast that’s on the inside. She is exotic, happy, free spirited, accepting, and just happy. When I am her, I am not dealing with stress or depression, there is no trauma or strife of work. family, or ANYTHING. I’m just… FREE TO BE and exist.
What kind of people make up the furry culture? Every type of person you could imagine; from truckers to doctors to maybe even President Trump, who knows! But some people show their face and some people wear a whole suit and head. But there is not a specific type of person, no.
Tell me about your normal day, when you are your fursona. I’m happier, I have more energy, more ambition, and more personality. I can think clearer and I’m smiling. I feel like the weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I can breathe, I can truly be me.
What are some common misconceptions you face about being a furry? People think it’s a fetish, for me it’s not. It is how I cope; it’s how a lot of people cope. There are things that have happened in my life that weigh on me so heavily that I’ve considered, and tried, suicide. And if for five minutes I can be something that is not myself, it is momentary relief. So, don’t think it’s just a sex thing, it is how I deal with life thing
Do people ask you why you dress the way you do or why you do it?
They ask why I dress this way, yes. People see it as a costume, you don’t really wear a costume except Halloween. For the furry culture, it could be your true authentic self or a shield from your daily self. People have different reasons for donning their fursona.
What are some microaggressions that make you feel unsafe? (“Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”)
There’s really nothing anyone says that makes me feel unsafe. I know I’m being judged and made fun of or called freak, but that’s okay. It just means that they just aren’t as free spirited or as comfortable to express themselves as I am.
Do you consider being a furry a sexual fetish? Me personally no, some others do use it for a sexual fetish.
If it is not about sex, then what is the biggest attraction to being a furry for you? It’s the escape for me. The freedom to be something more and not have to hide behind a shell. It is a way for others to see me for what I truly am.
What do furries do when they are together? FUCKIN’ PAAAARRRTTTTYYYYYY
Finally, what would you like people to know about furry culture? Don’t judge what you don’t understand. That may be the only way someone is able to function in this messed up world.
H.D.’s story isn’t so different from most of ours. Life can be difficult, and things pile up, sometimes we all need an escape. As a gay man, I remember some of the torment I experienced in my life and how I repressed it. My option was to push it down, once I fully understood who I was, I was able to shape a new persona. I became someone who was a bit happier and had a better outlook on life, but it is always a struggle. Being a furry is the way that H.D. chooses to handle life, the getaway needed for what builds up. It doesn’t dominate their life; it is a compliment. When its needed, they slip on a face and let their inner strength break free from the prison life has forced them to live in, for that, there is no need for judgement.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a subculture I know very little about. I am still learning, but thanks to H.D. and their story, I can say I am more knowledgeable than I was, and I understand there is more I need to learn. I personally want to extend H.D. a HUGE thank you for sharing their experiences with me and you guys, to talk about things we hide is never easy. To open up about trauma and how you cope is even harder. This, hopefully, is also another step for H.D. and their journey.