I just wrote about going to Rainfurrest, Seattle's biggest furry convention, in The Stranger, the first time any reporter has been allowed in to the convention. Getting permission to walk into their world and take photos took a bit of negotiation with the organizers—furries have been burned by shitty media coverage in the past, so they've learned to be wary—but I'm glad it worked out, and judging by the reaction within the community, so are they.
My weekend with the furries was a blast, but there were a few stories (and a ton of photos) that I just didn't have room for. So I put together a little YouTubey presentation of the photos that didn't make it into the piece, along with a story about one of the attendees who made an impression on me.
A few more details that didn't make it in to the piece:
• The hotel was kept at 55 degrees since everyone was decked out in furry costumes. Some employees were wrapped in winter gear.
• At one panel I attended, the speaker placed a giant goat head on the table, its face pointed straight at me. I had to look away because the gaze was making me uncomfortable.
• After just a few tweets about being at the conference, Twitter was on to me, and its algorithms started suggesting exclusively furry accounts for me to follow.
• There are some fucking hot furries out there, like model-hot, including a man in a blue dragon onesie whose chiseled cheeks kept turning my head whenever he walked by. I looked him up when I got home and discovered he's into diapers and car repair, which burst my bubble somewhat since I hate cars.
• "Some events, they go crazy with crystal meth," one hotel employee told me when I asked how Rainfurrest compares to other conventions. "This crowd is very good."
• A lot of the folks I talked to had had some kind of startling life event that was easier to endure or make sense of in animal terms. It might've been a change in career, or coming out of the closet, or dealing with a disability, or dealing with rejection. These are things that all humans have to deal with, and I'm endlessly fascinated by this group that's locked onto this one particular way of deal with the stresses of life.
• The convention assigned MetalFox to serve as my handler for the first few hours that I was there, showing me around and introducing me to folks, and it was only in casual conversation (in a ballroom full of inflatable pool toy animals) that I learned his background in the furry community involved a near-death experience.
• While I was talking to MetalFox, a guy approached us and then leaned in. "I've heard good things about you!" he told MetalFox. "Do you know Digger Dragonweasel?" MetalFox replied that he did, and the man said, "Allow me to give you a hug." They hugged. Interactions like these are apparently not an unusual experience for MetalFox.
• Rich Scherziner, the general manager of the hotel, told me that Rainfurrest is the SeaTac Hilton's single busiest event of the entire year, and that it's a point of pride that his facility is the epicenter.
• One myth I must sadly dispel is that furries are perverts. While I'm sure many are, they were all perfectly gentlemanly with me, and nobody made any untoward advances even though I had Grindr, Scruff, and Recon running the entire time I was there. If there was any hooking up happening (and there was) it was happening far from my prying eyes. For all the hidden frontiers I've plumbed, there's always more to explore.