by Phil Geusz
©2009 Phil Geusz
Ive been attending furcons for about ten years now. A lot of things have changed during this time; on my end Ive divorced, grown heavier and grayer, and learned a lot more about how to exist in a hotel room. And, just yesterday, I realized that the cons have changed some, too.
The occasion was Furry Fiesta, held in the Dallas area. In part because someone Ive casually known for many years was the con chair, I volunteered to run the writing track for the cons startup year. Both the track and the con went pretty well, so far as I could tellthere were a few bobbles here and there, but far less than usual at first-time events. Indeed, one writing panel that Id been rather worried about ended up turning into a four-author event that was one of the most informative and pleasant writing events that Ive ever been part of. It was on Sunday afternoon, which I spent mostly wandering the halls waiting to give my last, late panel before the fourteen-hour drive back home, that a sudden realization struck me like a thunderbolt.
Where was all the X-rated material? I hadnt seen any all weekend! Not a single item!
Now, this isnt a totally unknown occurrence at furcons. Some are more adult than others, while a few can earn a genuine PG rating. And, there probably was porn present somewhere at Furry Fiesta, secreted away in an attendees hotel room if nothing else. But where was the blatant waving around of the stuff I was so used to seeing (and wincing at) in the lobbies? Where were the shocked bystanders and erotically-charged fursuit pantomines?
This led me to do some serious thinking. Long ago, when furry friends asked me what my first furmeet was likeremember, this was so early in the game that furmeets were still a rare and precious phenomenonmy frank, honest reply was Sodom and Gomorrah meets Tiny Toons. The event was simply awash in sex, from the art on open display to the intense cuddling (and, I suspect, more) on equally continual display in the lobby and along the corridors. I walked around that con blushing so red that anyone taking pictures probably thought their camera was on the fritz. And, I almost never attended a second con as a direct result.
Perhaps because my introduction to the fandom was so intensely spoogey, Ive continued to harbor deep concerns about the fandoms porn-level. (Indeed, just a few days ago I was prepared to post a rather unkind commentary on the porn saturation-level of our fandom here, instead of the words youre now reading.) Our reputation in this regard is miserable, as we all knowso bad that its negatively impacted my professional reputation and success as a writer. Ive also laid awake late at night worrying about the nightmare scenario, where, say, a kid is molested at a con and the cops find suggestive cub-art in the perpetrators room. Such an event would utterly destroy the fandom I love. Each year I worried more and more
perhaps not seeing, despite all the many other cons Ive attended since that first shattering event, that the fandom is steadily maturing in these matters, policing itself and recovering well from what just about anyone would have to admit was a rather powerful and profound puberty. So, when I saw at Furry Fiesta how far weve progressed I have to admit that I was rather taken aback. In much the same way, Ill add that Im always happily surprised when my young-adult daughter takes another step forward in her life, growing all the while. All parents, you see, eternally regard their children as juveniles. Furry Fiesta has helped me to understand that, just maybe, the fandom is growing beyond its childish roots into what its always had the potential to become.
Keep it up, my furry brothers and sisters. Were headed in the right direction.