DeSantis Law Forces ‘Furry’ Convention To Bar Children

The "furry" subculture often has heavy sexual overtones.
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 21: Furry enthusiasts gather at the Eurofurence 2015 conference on August 21, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Furry fandom, a term used in zines as early as 1983 and also known as furrydom, furridom, fur fandom or furdom, refers to a subculture whose followers express an interest in anthropomorphic, or half-human, half-animal, creatures in literature, cartoons, pop culture, or other artistic contexts. Many but not all of the followers of the movement wear furry animal costumes. The earliest citation of anthropomorphic literature regularly cited by furry fans is Aesop's Fables, dating to around 500 BC. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Adam Berry/Getty Images

A Florida “furry” convention will bar minors from attending in order to comply with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ new law prohibiting children at “adult live performances.”

Organizers for the Megaplex convention for “furries” announced last week that attendees must be 18 or older, citing the new law.

“After reviewing Florida SB 1438 it has been decided that for legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention, Megaplex 2023 attendees must be 18 years of age at the time of registration pickup,” convention organizers said Wednesday in a statement.

Adult live performances are defined in the bill as any show that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, lewd conduct, or prosthetic genitals or breasts.

The Megaplex convention is scheduled for September 15 to 17 at a Hyatt hotel in Orlando.

“Furries” are an online subculture of people who like anthropomorphic animal characters, often dressing up in animal costumes.

The “furry” fandom often has heavy sexual overtones. It grew out of an underground comic book genre that depicted explicit sexual content. A 2011 survey of “furries” found that about a third of the fandom said sex is an “important” part of their “furry” participation. The fandom even has a term for sexual activity between furries — “yiffing,” supposedly named after the sound foxes make during sex.

However, other “furries” insist sex has nothing to do with their interest in the fandom.

The subculture is overwhelmingly male — 84% of those surveyed said they were male. About a quarter of “furries” said they felt less than 100% human, and more than half of the “furries” surveyed said they would be 0% human if they could.

“Megaplex has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception and making this change was very difficult,” the Megaplex convention organizers said in their statement.

“It is our hope that this change is temporary and that we can welcome members of all ages back next year … Megaplex has not forgotten about or abandoned our younger fandom members and is looking into options for events and activities to include all age ranges and their family members,” the organizers said.

DeSantis signed the “Protection of Children Act” earlier this month.

The law punishes “knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance” with up to a year in prison. Businesses could face a $5,000 fine and then a $10,000 fine for a second offense for knowingly allowing a child into an adult performance.

Critics said the bill could end up barring children from drag shows, but state Representative Randy Fine, a Republican who sponsored a House version of the bill, said the goal is simply protecting children from explicit content.

“We’re not saying they can’t take their kids to a drag show. Our bill says they can’t take their child to adult live entertainment, as we’ve defined in the bill,” Fine said. “There is a right to parent your child, but there are guardrails. You can’t beat your child with a stick, you can’t choose not to feed them, you can’t say they can’t be educated — you have no right to abuse your child and we think sexualizing children is child abuse.”

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