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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 01 December 2017 > The Rise of the Furred Reich

The Rise of the Furred Reich

AS AMERICA GRAPPLES WITH THE FALLOUT FROM RACIST VIOLENCE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, FURRIES ACROSS THE LAND ARE DEALING WITH THEIR OWN NAZI PROBLEM. >>>> by Will Hicks
FUR BALL Thousands attend the Midwest FurFest in Rosemont, Illinois. Furries, people who identify with—and often dress up like— their favorite animals, say they’re all about being inclusive.
JIM YOUNG/REUTERS

FURRIES

JUNIUS, A HORSE IN HIS EARLY 20S, IS handing out stickers at a Hilton Double- Tree in suburban Philadelphia. It’s August, a week after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that roiled the country, and he’s set up a booth that has attracted an assortment of animals—from fennec foxes to Munchkin cats—all waiting in line for his merch.

Junius isn’t actually an equine. And his customers walk on two legs. They’re all furries, people who identify with—and often dress up like—their favorite animals, a fantasy that may include various forms of sex but not bestiality. These hirsute hobbyists are in town for Furrydelphia, the area’s first convention for furries. Many are queer and very left-wing, so it’s no surprise that the stickers— a swastika inside a paw print with a red slash through it—hold special appeal.

Many of these people grew up as outcasts and were bullied at school, and though they’re often mocked as horny fetishists, the furries insist they stand for much more than their sexual proclivities. They say they’re all about being inclusive and have welcomed people with niche gender identities and odd social quirks into their fold. But there are limits to that tolerance, and since the 2016 election, Junius and other furries have been confronting their version of the right-wing extremists who descended on Charlottesville. These “alt-furries,” as they’re known, hold similar views as the so-called altright, a white nationalist, anti-globalist movement that largely supports President Donald Trump.

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