Vermont town selectively bans fursuiters: Prejudice complaint and update.
by Patch O'Furr
The Vermont Furs have an active online presence including Facebook and Twitter. I see many positive events such as BBQ’s, bowling, camping, and a walk to benefit Cystic Fibrosis patients. They look like a fantastic group- the kind that makes me love everything about furries. But their activities are being harmed by treatment they feel is unfair.
Fursuiters kicked out of Mardi Gras event in Burlington, Vermont – but not others dressed in masks.
Why were they being singled out, the furries wanted to know, when the streets were teeming with other strangely dressed revelers?
“It’s just different,” was the response, Owens said.
A thoughtful and well-written article in the independent alt-weekly Seven Days recently covered the February 28 incident, and following talks with the city. The given reason was a lack of performer permits – (to be clear, none of them were busking or asking for money) – and child safety concerns.
For evidence, there was mention of a bad incident with a costumed “Elmo” Sesame Street character in New York’s Times Square. I googled the incident as suggested, but it didn’t mention children- only a panhandling offense. At the Seven Days article, I commented that it was quite a stretch to pick one sensationalized headline from hundreds of miles away, for a “think of the children” argument about people who weren’t hurting anybody.
A law regulating wearing masks to conceal identity has also been mentioned. The town had it on the books since the 1960’s. After being notified, the fursuiters gave cooperative spirit to successfully apply for a group entertainers permit. It was pending renewal, but the officials weren’t letting it happen.
The nearby town of Essex has established a welcoming relationship with the Vermont Furs. Fursuiters were invited to events including a public christmas tree lighting. In some parts of the U.S., city governments have honored furries for positive economic and cultural impact – such as the mayor of Pittsburgh’s declaration of “Anthrocon Day.”
A formal complaint, and talk of challenging the city mask ordinance.
The original report was posted by Vermont Furs on FurAffinity:
It is with great regret that we inform you that the Vermont Furs group is officially filing a formal complaint of discrimination against the Church Street Marketplace… We do understand that our entertainers permit is expired, however Mardi Gras is a public event and we were not there to be performers. Mardi Gras and Halloween are the only events in which the mask law is given an exception…. Singling us out continues the stigma that we fight so hard to control and it has to end.
Update – hope for a good resolution.
A town officials letter followed a meeting with the furries – offering a possible ray of hope:
We love your idea of a special ID our office would design for Vermont Furs to wear when on Church Street, and we’re proposing that to the Marketplace Commission at their Wednesday, April 15 meeting.
The members are being patient:
Our plan right now is to see what happens with this upcoming meeting. If we are denied a permit, we will let the members of vermont furs vote as to the course of action: which would be trying to get the city ordinance changed vs dropping all suiting in Burlington. We will of course be using other locations to try suiting in.
I’ll ask them to send further developments to share here.
Masks and fursuits fall in two different categories, I believe. Masks are often intended to remove identifying features – think of the Guy Fawkes masks that we’ve seen so much in popular culture recently. Fursuits are often highly customized to the particular owner and if anything may be even more identifiable than just one’s bare face. While creating a disconnect from one’s fursona to one’s non-furry identity, they are highly identifiable to those in the know.
It just seems to be a fear of the “other”. I wish them success with resolving this.
Thanks! I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes with their meeting.
“It was the guy in the Guy Fawkes mask!”
“But there are 100 people wearing that mask.”
“It was the guy in the dog costume!”
“You sure it was a dog and not a wolf? Or a fox?”
The trouble with this view is that if identifiable costumes should be permitted, then generic costumes that anyone could buy off the shelf should not. Who would decide what constitutes generic from identifiable?
Another issue is that we are used to recognizing identifiable features in each other, but the general populace is not. They might identify a dog as a wolf, or a dragon as a horse (it’s happened to me!), or any manner of confusion. They don’t see or remember specific colors, or patterns, or unique marks. They’re not used to looking at fursuits with the same critical eye they use for people, their faces, shapes, colors, and other distinguishing features.
I think from a government perspective, your face and some of your vitals are your identity. That’s why they’re on the government issued photo ID. I think that is the spirit behind the mask law, and any fursuit, no matter how unique or identifiable, would be in violation.
The “special ID” approach could bridge the gap between an “identifiable” mask and government issued photo ID. It’s not sufficient to prove one’s identity, or to conduct business requiring such (such as buying alcohol), but it establishes a connection that officials could follow to help identify the individual behind the mask, just as a license plate on a car helps identify the owner.
Hmmm… maybe this was due to the, I don’t know, the bad reputation furries have? The reputation most furries aren’t even interested in changing?
Maybe. Who knows.
So it’s totally okay for public officials to act on the basis of reputation and rumor. Great. Good to know.
The thing about trying to change reputation, is the perpetually-offended people who just can’t ever be pleased. They’re not open for solutions or acceptance. They want drama and moralizing forever. They’re basically bullies. People who look for excuses to attack without real reasons are on that side. It’s not black and white but appeasing them isn’t good. Sometimes it calls for legal action, organized protest, media stories or appeals to sense elsewhere. Or just keep on enjoying what you do without hurting anyone and outlive the bullshit culture war.
I personally believe that before dressing up for a parade, you do your research. Learn if the local authorities do not like you, and if they don’t, they don’t dress as a rainbow colored man-dog. Doing whatever you want usually leads to someone hitting you in the face. Whether that is right or wrong, such is life.
In other words, before heading into a forest, make sure there are no wolves in it.
Or never leave the house? Because you can’t really help it if people are going to arbitrarily pick on you, instead of the other guy wearing nothing but a grass hula skirt and puking in a dumpster… what’s Mardi Gras for, anyways?
Still, before leaving your house, look around first. Do leave the house, but be careful.
Or, you know, carry a gun. Isn’t that the American way? ;-p
I’d say using a firearm with a suit would probably dangerously lower your accuracy. But, it should also technically hinder ones motor skills in dancing as well, lol.
Sometimes being impaired is when life is most fun… but personally, fursuiting is the drug I need. It doesn’t stop some people from driving motor vehicles in suit though, so I’m sure some people mix it with foolishness with guns! Just try not to do all three at once. That would be scary…
Wow, I had to change settings to enable more levels of threaded comments here. Thanks for bringing more 🙂
At least one VT fursuiter is, and doesn’t hide the fact on his FA, a babyfur / diaper / scat / possible pedophile, then goes on Church Street in suit and they wonder why people are against them? All it takes is a name tag, a google search, and a rep seeing that sick fuck’s information and I don’t blame ’em for not wanting him on church street in a costume. Especially when he has pics online of him posing with children…
I don’t support this comment and find it unreliable. However, I’ll approve it to post while objecting.
The VT furry group keeps a code of conduct, and has gone out of their way to apply for licenses and work with the town. Regarding allegations about individual members, I find the “possible pedo” comments to be over the line. That sort of slippery slope is typically false and unfair. When it actually exists, people don’t put it on display. Stranger danger is loaded with hysteria as well. The most likely sources for danger comes not from strangers or weirdos, but from people with authority and trust, in your school, church or home. That isn’t part of the town’s issue with the fursuiters.
To be fair, if there are real and specific issues, please take them to the people who may be involved first, and if that doesn’t work, cite solutions that were tried.
Spreading rumors doesn’t solve possible issues. It only causes misunderstanding, and frequently blows up into false controversies over harmless things. I have an article about a rumor/hoax that hurt a lot of people scheduled to post on an important date next month. Causing such problems inside a group is worse than outside haters attacking it.
Regarding “babyfurs”, they make a very small group of their own, that frequently objects to being attacked for harmless role play, no matter if you or I wouldn’t do it. I believe “sick fuck” labels are more a problem than they are. It’s the othering impulse that gathers a lot of outcasts to a positive hobby in the first place. Compartmentalizing is a good thing in life, and so is treating others as responsible individuals. I respect people enough not to judge consenting things they do in private, and treat everyone equally in public.
You just made me want to write an article about Baby Huey. Huh, he had a live action movie? Astonishing!
“At least one VT fursuiter is, and doesn’t hide the fact on his FA, a babyfur / diaper / scat / possible pedophile, then goes on Church Street in suit and they wonder why people are against them? All it takes is a name tag, a google search, and a rep seeing that sick fuck’s information and I don’t blame ’em for not wanting him on church street in a costume. Especially when he has pics online of him posing with children…”
^== To be blunt and pat your ass in the same manner, ‘Patch O’Furr,’ the above states theory and possible reason for any “discrimination,” against furries and or fursuiters on Church Street; does not spread rumors or state anything that is not true but I wouldn’t expect you to do the research on that. But feel free to let the butthurt flow I suppose… the average furry doesn’t take to common sense or reading comprehension without adding a few grains of drama, don’t I know it lawdy, yes.
1: talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source
2: a statement or report current without known authority for its truth
“Derptonics Armament Corporation”: Not an authority or reliable source.
“At least one VT fursuiter”: (citation needed)
“possible pedophile”: unverified opinion.
“sick fuck”: libel.
Further trolling will be deleted.
The reason they said the “‘think of the children’ argument” is because in the mascotting incidences in Time Square involve disgruntled mascots pushing over children when their parents wouldn’t pay to have their picture taken.
It’s horrific that fursuiters have been demonized for no intelligent reason.
Mascots were charging for pictures? That seems impractical on Times Square.