This was extracted from a Usenet article and explains fairly well the concept of "what is a Furry". The commenting editor's name has been lost in the sands of time and several moves between systems.
For a first issue, this seems like a good question to address. Unfortunately, it seems to be one that's caused more than a little disagreement among furry fans. Part of this article was taken from an "about furry fandom" file that has made its way to several BBS's across the country. If you're not a furry fan, this should give you an idea of what "furry fan" implies, and might let you know whether or not you really are a furry fan and just don't know it. If you are a furry fan and you don't like this definition, feel free to complain about it (several people I know already have). I have been told that the file was originally written by "Dr Pepper," but have never actually seen it with credits attached. I have assumed both this file
It was in fact written by "Dr Pepper"
and the messages from the DeathStar BBS which follow it are in the 'public domain,' as they were originally found without copyright notices on public-access BBS's and that, therefore, their authors do not mind if people outside these boards have the chance to read them in this form.
This's what I've gathered, too... if not, I'd like to hear about it.
First--now that the question's been brought up, just what IS a furry, anyway? Simply enough, a furry is a funny animal taken seriously. Roger Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, and Mickey Mouse are funny animals; they are anthropomorphic, mostly behave like people, and are pretty much the cartoon equivalent of character actors. Usagi Yojimbo, Omaha the Cat Dancer, and the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are furries (even though turtles don't have fur); they are
Then there's always Domino Chance, Space Roach extraordinare...
even more anthropomorphic in appearance than the funny animals are, but behave like crosses between humans and animals. They are sapient, and just as much "people" as any fictional character, but they aren't presented as animals for laughs. Most furries tend towards their human aspects, their "species" not all that important. Some are more strongly tied to the animals they are to, perhaps 'regressing' under stress (for example, Vincent on "Beauty and the Beast," who is perhaps the 'furriest' creature known to audiences--a nonhuman, animalistic character portrayed in a fairly realistic manner).
Well, I think this all depends on how you define furries... I would've said the late Jim Henson's best-known creations (Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, etc) would also fit the bill, and they're certainly better-known...
Even if you have no idea who Usagi Yojimbo and Omaha are, you could be a furry fan and not know it. Most funny animal fans are also animation fans, and there is a lot of "crossover" between devotees of anime (Japanese animation) and the furry world. If you enjoy old Warner Brothers cartoons or Disney films such as "The Fox and the Hound," "Lady and the Tramp" or "Oliver and Company"--or other animated films such as Bluth's "The Secret of NIMH" or Nelvana's "Rock and Rule"--there is at least a little furry in you. There have also been furry novels, of course, ranging from Andre Norton's _Breed to Come_ to Olaf Stapledon's _Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord_ and Steven Boyett's recent _The Architect of Sleep_. A furry "biblio- graphy" has been batted around on some California BBS's; perhaps this will find its way into a future issue of FurBytes. However, there is another use of "furry," a way of referring to a funny-animal/furry fan. For most people, this is where the idea gets fuzzy, if you'll pardon the expression. I have not been involved with fandom all that long--I have not attended that many conventions, and my first one was the 1986 WorldCon in Atlanta--and so have been mostly an outside observer in the "fandom is a way of life" versus "fandom is just a goddamn hobby" debate. I have been around long enough to run into people on both sides, ranging from the casual observers to the fanboys from hell to people who really do seem to make fandom a profession. As to whether or not any of the rest of this describes a "typical furry fan": from what I've seen, "typical fan" is an oxymoron.
You can also check out the definition on Wikipedia. There you will find out more about the literary aspect as well as the social views.
(credited to Dr Pepper)
This is an attempt to concisely explain furrydom to the curious. I am not myself a member of this group, this is what I have been told, have heard and read, or just observed in action. This is by no means complete but it is a start towards understanding.
[end of file]
For another perspective, we switch coasts from the California furry BBS's to the now-defunct DeathStar BBS of Washington, DC. The difference between east coast and west coast furry boards is quite noticeable: west coast systems tend to have a lot more 'involved' people wandering around them, but are also often harder to follow for a newcomer. California boards usually assume everyone knows what's going on; on DeathStar, there were only two or three people who had involvement with "furrydom" outside that BBS itself; despite the apparent disdain both the system and the furry SIG operator were held in by many West Coast fans, it was one of the few boards which delved, even briefly, into the philosophy of furry fandom:
11  *NRB* "Furriness" By: KEN COUGAR-DS189 On: Fri May 12, 1989 3:00 PM LR: Sun May 14, 1989 1:59 PM -- 6 Responses --
Furriness. Why you guys need to categorize it and analyse it; I don't know. What it is: I can only tell you what it is for me.
For me, it's an expression of parts of my personality that normally wouldn't get an outlet. It's Role-Playing that doesn't use a set of rules. For me, it's mostly an expression of myself for the people I care for.
Having a furry persona allows me to look at things; Life, relationships, mostly social activities, from a different perspective. But, it's a creative tool. I use my personas to test the possibilities of relations. An aggressive persona would handle things one way. A timid one, another way. Games. For me, it's an elaborate game.
I've been a Furry for as long as I can remember in my role-playing days. It's a way to be different. I feel I'm better able to accept the differences in other people because of it.
It's hard trying to explain this. I'm not making too much sense to myself, cause it would take most of this hard-disk to write down all of the little nuances and quirks of why I am what I am. It's a part of me. It's a part of me that really doesn't and shouldn't need explaining. I think you guys should get away from worrying about why and live with it. Have FUN with it. THAT is the jist behind it. It's FUN.
- Response 1 Of 6 - By BACKSLASH-DS147 On Fri May 12, 1989 9:24 PM
Actually, I understand what you are getting at. My own furry allows me to view myself from the outside, and is also a reflection/extension of my own personality.
Yeah, having a furry is great if you tend to be shy or not very social. I've made a lot of friends though furry fandom and have yet to really lose one. And like you said, it's fun!