This is an excerpt from Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about influencers and internet culture. You can sign up here. In our column, Niche Drama, we discuss online community micro dramas.
As if furries haven't been through enough, a collective known as the Anthro West Open Organization (AWOO), multiple members of which have been linked to the far right (though the group denies any political association on its website), hosted a Free Fur All convention last weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Concerns that the furry community has a far-right or Nazi problem have been spreading since 2017. But activists have been hard at work calling out radicalized individuals, many of whom are well known in the community. The majority of furries are not associated with the far right, and they say it’s frustrating that they even have to denounce its hateful ideology.
Backlash following the announcement of Free Fur All prompted AWOO to release a statement saying the venue had to change due to threats of unrest and declaring the conference "uncancelable."
Once people started sharing photos of furries who were associated with Nazi icongraphy at the convention, other furries decided that, in addition to drawing attention to the extreme viewpoints, it was OK to make fun of those in attendance. Onlookers dubbed the convention "FashCon," a play on the failed DashCon for Tumblr fans that also had a sad-looking ball pit in the middle of a room. At one point, there seemed to be a live snake in the pit. One Twitter user said the spectacle looked like "the straight pride parade of furry conventions."
Free Fur All included sparsely attended events, a furiety show, a fascinating group fursuit photo, a set from an anti-woke comedian, a deserted dance floor, Disney-themed karaoke, allegations of fursuit design theft, a solitary party light, live tortoises, and plenty of memes. Accounts with fursona profile photos did most of the teasing, but some furries cut through the noise to condemn the convention once again when it was over.
"As funny and cringy as #FreeFurAll22 has been, we need to remember that these people are completely serious," @shinyraticate tweeted. "and there's more than just the ~80 ppl who went to oklahoma. there's SO many cop furs and military furs and american nationalists in other cons. This isn't a small problem."