[theme music playing] The thing about furry is, that it can be anything to anybody; there’s so many definitions for what it can be to somebody. And that just attracts such a wide breadth of people. To the point, where it feels it’s such an interesting, fascinating melting pod. I didn’t initially join though, there was like a period in my life when I discovered furries, I was like, “Okay, I like talking animal people, sure.” People get, like, bullied a lot for being a part of this community, and I grew up already like that. So I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to associate myself with another group that’ll get bullied, so mmm…” And then later on, I’m like, a lot of my friends were furries. So I’m like, “Fine, I’ll do it.” [laughs] I knew that there was something, like, different about me at a very young age, when I was like 12/13. I started to, like, realize my interest and…you know…not straight things, I guess. But I always kind of pushed it away. I come from a very small southern town. Me being bisexual, I was really scared to even mention it to my parents. My sister – god bless her – was bisexual. One time she brought a girl home, and it was this whole thing. I learned what not to talk about with my family. And when I was 15 years old, my mom told me directly to NOT be bisexual, after my sister came out as bisexual. Well, I’mma get married at the age of 19, and I’m gonna set my life up for the rest of it, stay in the military for 20 years, and yeah, I realized very quickly that that’s not what I wanted. There was so much of my life that I wanted to experience, but I couldn’t, because I trapped myself in at a very early age with a situation that I wasn’t comfortable with. Being in the fandom, the community is so positive with LGBT and all that kind of stuff, that helped me a lot because it gave me a place to be myself and do what I like to do. The furry fandom has really pushed me into a much more stable lifestyle than I ever expected, and it’s really changed me in both an emotional stability aspect, as well as, just being more open with my own self. That helped me build the confidence to tell my parents at age 22 that I’m gay. If something were to go wrong, I have my friends in the fandom to support me, and be there for me. It allowed me to not be scared anymore. It’s very interesting being a female creator in the fandom, because so much of the fandom is made up of gay men, frankly, LGBTQ individuals. Overall, it’s been great, but you do have some instances of misogyny. There’s more meetings for only male people, and when you’re getting in those meetings, sometimes they reject you. Sometimes you have to act a little bit more male-ish to be accepted in their male congregations. It sounds kind of bad and hard, but it’s true. Select few men go, “Ew, girls are gross. Yeah, I don’t want anything to do with them.” And I’ve actually had people at conventions, like, approach my table and go, “Oh, I didn’t know that you were a girl.” Like, I wanted to buy from you, but like…” I’m still making the same art that you like, and why does my gender matter? But overall, it’s very positive. And being a fursuit maker – female is very interesting, because like in Mexico, we even took a picture of only female fursuit makers, and it was only 1 male, [laughs] and it was like 10 females. Females are – we are invading the world. [laughs] Whaha! When you think of big companies, it’s always guys running them, but in the fandom, it’s a lot of females doing the running of everything, which is a really nice change of pace. This community’s definitely made me more comfortable with myself. Like, it’s because of this community that I understood, that I wasn’t you know, like, you know, straight for example. Actually, it’s really weird. This community also helped me realize I was gay, and also not entirely gay, it’s very strange. “Oh, like I’m not entirely straight,” and like I appreciated that, but then, like, at the same time, like years and years later, I’ve never actually been with a woman, and like, I didn’t really feel comfortable, like, trying to confirm if I was entirely gay or not. But this community feels so accepting that, like, I felt a lot more comfortable exploring that side. And so I’ve just realized over time that sexuality’s fluid or a spectrum, at least in my opinion. And, I know if I didn’t have this community, I don’t think I might have been able to figure that out, so I appreciate it for that. Of course, we have our schemas or ideas of what, like, it means to be male or female, masculine or feminine. When I first joined the fandom, and I started to discover my sexuality, it was the art, that I was getting, was a great avenue to explore that. I, like, made a character that I found represented me so well, and started doing art, which is, like, genderbent. “Oh, I did this fun thing, what do you think about this?” and then people are like, “Oh, yeah, that’s really cute.” “And it looks like you, still,” kind of thing. “And it’s still you,” or “it’s more like you,” or something like that. And then, to get art with friends and that kind of thing. You post the art, and then there’s a bunch of comments that are like, “Oh, this is hot. This is great.” And then you feel good about that, and you’re like, “Yeah, okay, like, the way I’ve been feeling for the longest time is okay. And it’s okay to feel like that.” And it feels good to be that person, and there’s these people that are there to back me up. And then it just allows you to explore more, and be more true to yourself in a lot of ways. So, I identify as non-binary, and go by they/them. It’s tightly linked to all aspects of who I am. My passion was always science and science intrinsically is just non-binary. [extracts from videos] There was this big queer and science movement that happened. It’s called 500 STEM, and they wanted people to share their stories, both them coming out and being okay in the scientific community, and I took that opportunity to write a little bio about me, and my adviser saw it. He sent me an email, and he was like, “I completely support you with this.” I shared the emails on my furry Twitter, and it blew up, like, there was so many people that saw it. Somehow, my department ended up finding it, retweeting it. “We’re happy to have students that are like this in our department.” It was phenomenal. And that kind of confidence, I wouldn’t have been able to do that without furry, and all that backing that I had, especially on the internet. You have this big community of people that are so supportive on a digital media, that you can access all the time. For some people, I’ve noticed when… (I’m probably not the first person you’ve seen to talk about this kind of thing.) Like a common trope in furry interviews is like, “Oh, I’m very anxious and shy, but the community, like, helps me come alive, when I wear this fursuit, for example. I don’t feel like fursuiting makes me less shy – I think it makes me more socially introverted, because I find it harder to communicate with a suit on. Whereas, with drag, that’s when I really come alive, because, like, I can feel like I’m somebody else. I can be like the sassy person. The funny thing about drag and me, is that I actually became a drag queen because of this community. [music playing] Because I had a friend named Quick, who wanted to do a music video for David Guetta’s ‘Where them girls at’ and I was like, “I want to be Nicki Minaj!” I’ve never done anything like that. But I just, like, wanted to embody them, like even growing up, I would like see anime, and I was like, “Oh, I love when they have their hair in bangs and stuff, and it’s all feminine. Like, I wish I could be like that.” Because, like, as a 9-year-old, you don’t realize you can’t do that. And so, I stuck with it, and kept building. Now I am this monster that I am today, with my name on my hats. I didn’t make this, but I like it. [giggles] Drag can mean a lot of things, but it more or less encompasses just gender expression. I think it’s just nice to explore that entire spectrum. There’s really no reason to just, like, restrict yourself, and this is really one too. But like, I personally enjoy getting to be both masculine and feminine, and just not putting myself in one box. [music playing] Hey everyone, it’s Ash, director of the segment that you just saw. We’re doing a Kickstarter right now for season 2 of The Fandom. If you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, please consider donating to it, or to our Patreon, so that we may make a bigger and better production for season 2. Season 2 will largely be focused on the early history of the fandom, as well as where we’re headed as a fandom today. Thank you so much for your support!