Some people, including Joe Rogan, have spread baseless rumors about furries.
Two women known as the Moms of Furries spoke with Insider about what it's like to parent furries.
They're on a mission to debunk misconceptions and support kids and parents in furry fandom.
Editor's note: The parents in this story are being identified by only their first names to protect their children's identities.
Two moms are on a quest to share the truth. Carrie and Joelle, who call themselves the Moms of Furries, have been working together since 2018 to support parents and kids in the furry community. The women met while living in Reno, Nevada, where their teens attended school together.
"Our kids approached us and said they were interested in being furries, and we both had the same negative reaction," Carrie said. "Luckily, we have quirky kids, we have neurodiverse kids, so we were already broken in with them saying things and then educating us."
What are furries?
Furries have a strong interest in animal characters with human traits. The website Furscience says most furries create a "fursona," a character used for role-playing online and in person. It adds that a small percentage of furries feel spiritually connected to animals or less than 100% human.
Carrie and Joelle said that when their teens revealed their furry interests, the moms were overwhelmed and nervous.
Carrie said that as her 13-year-old explained the furry subculture, she relaxed. Carrie and her teen shared a passion for dancing, and furry dance competitions are enormously popular within the community.
Meanwhile, Joelle said she feared that being furry meant having a fetish and that her 14-year-old was headed for trouble. Joelle said her hesitations subsided when her teen explained that their interest was in art and animals, not sex, and that most furries don't enter the fandom for sexual reasons.
They learned more about the community
Wanting to learn more, the moms road-tripped with their teens to a furry convention in San Jose, California.
"From the moment we parked we saw furries, and we were mesmerized," Carrie recalled. "Throughout the weekend we saw what a welcoming community it was."
The moms said they were impressed by the elaborate costumes, character lore, original artwork, music, and dance competitions. But as much as they enjoyed the spectacle, the most powerful experience, they said, was watching their introverted kids gain confidence.
"We went to these conventions and watched our children change before our eyes," Joelle said. "The smiles came. They went up and asked for pictures with their favorite makers and favorite personas. It was magical to watch our kids open up and be happy."
Carrie and Joelle said they felt that there was a clear separation between the all-ages and adults-only portions of the convention and that restrictions for the adults-only events — which they didn't let their teens attend — were enforced.
The moms said that while they were enjoying the convention, a volleyball tournament being held at the same time presented some problems.
"We were walking under the mezzanine, and there were people standing overhead making fun of what was going on," Joelle said. "The mama bear in me was like, 'No, no, no, this is going to reflect poorly on the kids down there who are suiting and enjoying this.'"
Carrie and Joelle said they left feeling that they'd misunderstood the furry fandom and that most other people didn't understand it either.
They support furry families
To support parents and kids new to furry fandom, they posted a YouTube video about their experience, and they officially became the Moms of Furries.
In the four years since their first conference, Carrie and Joelle have built a social-media presence and launched the Young Furry Chill Space, a concept they bring to furry conventions nationwide to give kids and parents a place to decompress, chat, and find allies.
"We've run into kids who don't have support in their lives, but we have also met a lot of supportive parents," Joelle said. "At every single convention we end up crying with someone because people want to support and they want to share their stories."
Read the original article on Insider