Yiff Panic? Judgement in a Connecticut town shows it’s still not safe to be openly furry.

by Patch O'Furr

“Through Being Cool” by Devo

We’re through being cool
We’re through being cool

Eliminate the ninnies and the twits
Going to bang some heads
Going to beat some butts
Time to show those evil spuds what’s what

If you live in a small town
You might meet a dozen or two
Young alien types who step out
And dare to declare

We’re through being cool

In three stories I’m sharing today, look for small-town closed-mindedness.  It’s a force that propels many furries. If you’re young, have a big imagination and live in a place that can’t contain it, what do you do? Make friends out there in the furry world.  That was me in the mid-to-late 90’s (Woof! It sure wasn’t a phase), so there’s no lack of personal experience for the connections I’m making.

These stories happened in smallish cities near New England: West Windsor NJ (population 27,000), Burlington VT (population 42,000), and – in this week’s news – New Milford CT (population 28,000). They show a bit of honest-to-dog political fursecution.

OK, they aren’t black and white. They have debatable issues about behavior like 1) throwing an overstuffed party, 2) regulating hate groups, or 3) representing political constituents with an acceptable image. But then there’s freedom to have fun and hobbies (or even express private, consenting kinks), instead of being forced into a closet made of overbearing judgement. Who was really harmed in these stories – judgers, or furries themselves?

While you read, stay positive. New Milford is the closest location to the new Tiny Paws con, this weekend. They can’t hold furries down!

1) The NJ FurBQ hoax of 2012. Media: NJ.com – Communitynews.org –  Fox 5 News video – Dogpatch Press

The town council of West Windsor wanted to shut down volunteer emergency services based at a community center. Meanwhile, the community center was being used by the community; one of the volunteers organized a popular furry party there. It had fun and fursuiting, DJ’s and almost 200 adults enjoying beer and being boisterous (shock, horror.) What happened next resembled Mayberry in the 1950’s, if you switched Red Scare with Yiff Panic.  A town council member claimed to have photos of fursuiters humping on a car. News media piled on with their best stab at smearing adults for legal drinking and saying a swear word or two. The scapegoat was set up, and the council knocked it down with a vote to remove the community center funding and emergency service with it.

It was a perfect hit, except… the photos didn’t exist, and the council member hadn’t been there. The details only came out after online confusion where many furries bought the “fursuit sex” story, and rushed to blame each other for bad behavior that never happened.

Although the party was on Memorial Day in May, suspiciously, the news was released to exactly coincide with the spike of Anthrocon promotion in July. The volunteer service and $45,000 of funding were replaced with six figures worth of paid service (hmm, I wonder what crony got paid?)  There was also an election for a mayor (who just finished his fifth and final term in 2017). Furries were used as a big fluffy doormat for political gain.

2) Vermont fursuiters fight prejudice in 2015. Media: SevendaysVT.com / updateVPR.net – Dogpatch Press / update

Burlington had a public Mardi Gras event attended by costumers including the Vermont Furs. They were active organizers of charity events and had recently been invited to liven up an official Christmas tree lighting in a nearby town.  But an official told them that fursuiting wasn’t allowed in the town commons. Others wore masks for the event, so why stop fursuiters? They were told it was “just different”. A 1960’s-era law intended to stop masked KKK activity was cited. The furries applied for an entertainer’s permit (for buskers who made money) but the city gave them a paperwork runaround.

As a common theme in these stories, this one also hinted about sensational furry fear. The town mentioned a Times Square incident where a “bootleg Elmo” mascot hassled someone. I commented that it was hundreds of miles away and involved panhandling for money, not fursuiting.  And comments on my article reached for stereotype about a “babyfur” with no evidence. No harm mentioned, just labels. Again furries were bashing each other.

Eventually, the ACLU stepped in and backed the Vermont Furries. They tied the issue to political protests attended by masked Anonymous protesters. Furries went in front of the town council and got the law amended to only apply to masked crime. This time, being engaged with the lawmakers gained a positive resolution through nonjudgemental listening to others.

3) Connecticut councilman forced to resign by unwilling exposure of furry hobby. Media: Newstimes.com – NY Post

New Milford residents were upset to see Rick Agee‘s post on the town’s Facebook group. It smeared a Democrat town councilman elected in 2015. In the google cache and a screenshot, it got 68 comments and was a gallery revealing a private Sofurry profile that’s now gone.

I compared public accounts of this fellow furry. Their written profile portrays a nice older married person who is creative and seems to care about others. But these were used against him:

  1. There was weak separation of life and hobby. Their twitter has pics of their political role mixed with their fursuit by Sarahcat. He might as well have doxed himself. Not that you should have to worry if you’re a good person; but sadly others took the choice away.
  2. The closed SoFurry profile shows F-List-like topics. The info suggests this was written fiction and RP – for reading or writing with consenting adults – but no implication of practicing stuff that shouldn’t be. Furries are typically gentle and tolerant about such expression, but it’s liable to shock a small-town Facebook audience when it’s yanked out of private context.
  3. FA has yiff art from a comic. It’s labeled a soap opera, and does looks like very emotionally-focused narrative, something furries excel at – using cartoons to depict more humanity than ‘regular’ porn. It’s a shame that outsiders don’t understand how that’s positive, but they didn’t and it wasn’t hidden.

Here’s what followed the unwilling exposure:

On Thursday night, as town Democrats held a previously scheduled opening ceremony of party headquarters on Bank Street, a small group of protesters gathered outside.  Among them was Rick Agee, the resident who had made the original Facebook post. He carried a sign saying, “No perverts running our town!” – ”I have kids and grandkids in this town, and I don’t want him representing us,” Agee said.

@kt_domino noticed: “Rick Agee uses his company’s twitter to support the GOP.”

Wait, how did barging onto someone else’s private page involve kids?  Was there a reason someone HAD to? That’s the entire issue from this side; why don’t people just ask, or talk and listen about this stuff if it’s necessary?  Wouldn’t society be better with appreciation of healthy sexuality in all it’s permutations (even harmless “age play”, to some extent)?  Well, that isn’t the world we live in. Understanding gets stomped by judgement and power. There’s more in a followup post on the town page that’s still live. Facebook reaction post – Mayor’s post. It ties to an upcoming reelection campaign.

This guy didn’t hurt anyone for real.  The concerns these people are giving go far beyond the mayor’s careful wording about “higher standard”; they are trashing him for things that most fellow furries know he probably isn’t doing – in the balance of things, fears should be outweighed by knowing that expressing kink is mentally healthy and it’s his private business.

But mistakes were made. Not every place can be like it is near my den in San Francisco. The world crushes idealism, but it grows in the furry community anyways. Wherever you are, try to support each other, don’t fall for fearmongering, and stay safe and happy, furry friends.

Let me give the last word to the former councilman, as he wrote in 2014: “Our most enduring value as furs is the right to be who and what we want.”


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