Time and Place: Fur the love of Fursuiting

Attending Furry Weekend Atlanta was only partially about making pictures.

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Photographing colorful, furry costumes with fixed, dopey grins seemed like shooting fish in a barrel – pretty easy, potentially disturbing – but it was a racing sense of curiosity that made me show up early to the conference.

Furry Weekend Atlanta is a yearly convergence of fursuiters, folks who dress up in those previously described anthropomorphic costumes, and fursuiter enthusiasts. Some people probably have thought of them as “furries.” Others might have labeled them as “freaks” – it’s a common narrative that fursuiters are tired of combating.

“You should be aware that, if you are a news network and plan on doing a two-minute ‘hey, look at the freaks’ piece, you probably shouldn’t bother applying for a press pass,” it reads on the press section of the FWA website.

I was fascinated to meet people who are so invested in a niche, often ostracized interest. It’s hard, emotional labor to love anything society labels uncool – teens everywhere can attest. But thousands of those people – fursuit fans – were coming together, and I got to be a respectful witness to their community.

If that sounds like some intense waxing, it’s because the whole endeavor felt intense as I pulled up to the Marriott Marquis in my Uber (the conference website urged that parking be reserved for fursuiters coming from out of town). Security stopped me from taking pictures before I registered. During registration, I was told about places that were off limits to me, warned about respecting individuals’ privacy, and schooled on politically correct fursuiter terminology.

So before I made this picture I asked, sheepishly, if they minded. I told them, reluctantly, I was A Media Person© and that my photos go on The Internet™.

They laughed and said sure, then carried on their conversation. Because they weren’t ashamed. Why should they be? This is their passion. This is their thing. And they were excited to share it with me. If you go next year, they’ll share it with you too. I recommend you stay for the fursuiter rave.