Fearless Furries Celebrate 20 Years at San Francisco Pride

by Patch O'Furr

Photo by AniMajor

Sunday, June 26 marked 20 years of furries at San Francisco Pride. (See the 2019 event and history or the Pride tag for more.) The Norcal Furries made a welcome return after no official parade marching for 2 years of a pandemic. They brought their own float, and it all came together so smoothly, it made an incredibly positive memory.

The biggest change from past years was no longer using rental trucks or Burning Man art cars. This year, Norcal Furries built their own float on a trailer. It was a wonderful asset. Using other people’s was always less than ideal (constrained by costs, time and logistics for loading/unloading, and even height with streetcar wires). All of that was easier under self management.

Compared to their last appearance in 2019, promotion and planning was lower-key and locked in place at the last minute. It was all thanks to the dedication of a small handful of volunteers. To name a few (no intention of forgetting anyone:) The float was built on an old boat trailer by Mr Disko, with Zoren who also handled the insurance, application, and fundraiser backed by Spottacus. Sound and music was set up by Groggy, Super Jay was a volunteer organizer, and Relay was the generous after party host, with chef catering by Renkairu. Contingent monitors kept the group safe to meet the requirements of SF Pride.

Furries start at about 1:56:24 and go until 1:58:45

For the Sunday morning parade, travel and gathering seemed slightly more challenging than past years. There was standstill traffic for crowds to pack the San Francisco parade route, so parking plans didn’t work for some. My car and passenger did a Plan B: park near the afterparty and take the BART train in with fursuits. That worked well thanks to leaving an hour early. A few others weren’t lucky and were too late. On arrival at the street for assembling the Norcal Furries contingent, the pair of us were alarmed. Other contingents were already starting to march! That wasn’t like past years when there were hours of wait after the official Go time. After hustling and almost running for blocks to find the furries, we made it just on time for a calm step-off.

The parade was a steady flow of amazing cheers and good vibes. I stayed with the Norcal Furries front banner the whole way and didn’t weave around and play with the crowd, but really enjoyed a few occasions of hyping them up. Being one of the first corner banner carriers they saw, I could do howling poses for a call and response from the crowd. The early step-off included a brisk pace, but the high energy made it feel like just the right dose of kaleidoscopic furry fun, with low risk of heat stroke in gentle weather. Head count from video after the parade was 75 or so members. It wasn’t overpacked and not skimpy, but just right with our resources and self-made trailer.

Walter Ringtail’s video of the float

There was fursuit change space and breakfast before the parade at Relay’s. The after party was also at his super tasteful ground floor apartment with a full rainbow of cocktails on tap, and catering trays of a furry-made (extremely delicious) dinner menu by Renkairu. The place was buzzing with eating and couch chats, backyard patio drinking and a hot tub. Previous years had packed a restaurant to bursting. Self-organizing this time made things much more chill and enjoyable. Although the 2019 pre-pandemic parade meet was somewhat bigger, I would call this the best, most fun, least stressful, most Prideful furry Pride I’ve done in 10 years of being there.

Afterthoughts: One difference in the vibe this year was the fresh rage at the overturning of Roe vs Wade and removal of body rights, and the close-to-home threat of rising fascism. It had even hit the SF Bay area with a library invaded by the Proud Boys hate group. There was also their attempted terrorism and mass arrest at a Pride event in Idaho. Fear lurked around the edges, with increased police presence. Every huge event can have risks and an incident of fighting shut the event slightly early, but it was after we were gone. It was all outshone by the fearless rainbow magic we all brought.

Group feedback: next year’s parade should have more focus on cooling the fursuiters like with leaf blowers on hand. There should be a contingent monitor meeting before the day. Restroom access is challenging and should have plans. The afterparty could have used more volunteer help. Securing a hotel room for fursuit changing is a thought for as soon as they open up, due to demand. Having a float opens many possibilities for an event at a campground or even coinciding with the rolling event Bike Party. The trailer could get redone with modular railings, and a generator and gear storage built beneath.

Gallery of photos and videos on Telegram: @sfpride2022furries

One unexpected piece of media turned up. A photo of the 2022 Norcal Furries was used (without a direct connection) in a Chinese based news source about a hacker group claiming to be gay furries and leaking private info from U.S. state governments who removed abortion rights.

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