"#FursofColor": LGBTQ+ BIPOC Inner-Fandom Place-Making and the Politics of "No Politics"

Authors: Bobbi Zaman*, Portland State University
Topics: Gender, Sexuality, Social Geography
Keywords: BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Place-making, World-making, Digital, Race, Queer, Furry
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 50
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The furry fandom, a community for those who are interested in anthropomorphic animal characters, has developed as a place for individual identity exploration and queer worldmaking in digital and physical spaces. Within this subculture, youth and adults use fursonas and fursuits, theorized as furry technologies, to transgress and construct identities through anthropomorphic figures formed in the material and immaterial. However, while the fursona and fursuit allows one to mystify the self and to create nonhuman identities, furry technologies are often influenced by Anglo-American identarian sensibilities that obscure race through the anthropomorphic figure. Recently, LGBTQ+ BIPOC have created communities, both in digital and physical spaces, as a means to counter white narratives, manipulate furry technologies, and to (re)claim a place in the furry fandom. Based on an analysis of interviews with 20 LGBTQ+ BIPOC who use furry technologies, this paper explores the experiences and feelings of LGBTQ+ BIPOC who participate in the furry fandom digitally and physically. While LGBTQ+ BIPOC use furry technologies to explore identities, sexualities, and the self, the social dilemma within the furry fandom surrounding the visibility of race and sexuality impacts how LGBTQ+ BIPOC use furry technologies and how they (re)claim space and create places of care and solidarity within the furry fandom and beyond. The furry fandom has queer potentialities in reconceptualizing the home, the family, and the self, however discourses around identity creation often rely on a fantastical and white majoritarian politic of "no politics" that dismisses LGBTQ+ BIPOC lived experiences and racial identities.

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