All of us veteran furries who've been in the fandom for a decade or so can remember the dark times. We remember when the warn out stigmas that tarnished our reputations began. We recall the horrors of "Fur and Loathing" and "Sex2K", brought about for the sake of ratings. Some may even remember that one convention on the west coast that sparked it all, but let's not beat a dead horse.
Returning to the present, we have witnessed a shift in the status quot. LGBT rights have gained a great success with the federal recognition of same-sex marriages, said marriages becoming legal in most states. Marijuana legalization/decriminalization has also been sweeping across the country, with states like Colorado legalizing it for recreational use. Atheists are also becoming more recognized as the decent people they tend to be.There's still a long way to go, but it's good to see that society is starting to wake up.
In the midst of this new wave of reason, our little fandom has not only learned to deal with criticism but we have left a huge paw print of kindness on the world. The old cliches that the media so often turned to for a ratings kick are no longer as effective as they were only a few years ago. We've raised hundreds of millions for hospitals, medical research, and animal shelters. We've helped those who's communities were ravaged by storms get their homes back, and in some cases opened our own homes to those who had none. I can't even count the stories where we've helped our own after they've been thrown out on the street simply for being who they are. Many first responders, police officers, and fire fighters are furries who put their lives on the line every day to protect the lives of others. Let's not forget the millitary furs fighting and taking bullets for something bigger then themselves.
We do all of these things with out so much as a second thought. All we have in common is our love of the anthropomorphic, but somehow in embracing the animals of our imagination we've become something so much deeper. It almost makes no sense how something so simple can unite so many from all walks of life, and with out even thinking about it, change the world for the common good.
Religion, racism, bigotry, and all the other things that give rise to hatred are exclusive to human society. In the process of, in a figurative sense, becoming our fursonas, we've cast aside these human traits. What we leave behind are things all people possess but few realize, things that make us the altruistic and empathetic mammals that we are.
So, what can we take from all this? Perhaps that despite how people may twist and distort the image of our fandom, it cant harm us. We've done too much good, helped too many people, and saved too many lives. To those furries who still hide it, don't deny it. There is nothing to fear, because we've got your back. If someone has a problem with it, tell them the story of Lemonade Coyote. Tell them about all the people we've helped. Look them dead in the eye as you explain how a furry will probably save their life one day with out them realizing it, and in the meantime they can fuck off.
I guess the point I'm trying to get to is, don't be afraid to be furry. Don't let some tired cliche keep you from living your life. Be yourself. If anyone tries to stop you, hit them with a car. Not literally. You get the point.