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Supporters of Florida’s longtime ‘furry’ festival have slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis after the annual event was forced to ban children under the age of 18.
A writer for Rolling Stone magazine even went as far as to say the move was proof that the 2024 Republican presidential candidate had ‘sucked the pleasure out of many of life’s little joys.’
Megaplex, an Orlando-based ‘furry’ convention, has announced it would not allow minors to attend this year’s event in accordance with Florida law.
A ‘furry’ is someone with an interest in anthropomorphized animals – often depicted through wearing costumes.
An annual furry festival in Orlando was forced to ban children under the age of 18 from attending after a new law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (pictured on May 5) signed into law a bill that prohibits a person from ‘knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance’
Megaplex –a ‘furry’ convention’ said in a statement on Wednesday that its organizers decided ‘for legal reasons and protection of our attendees’ that convention-goers must be over the age of 18
‘Many have raised concerns about recent changes in Florida legislation,’ the group said in a statement.
‘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.’
Florida SB 1438, or the Protection of Children Act, prohibits a person from ‘knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance,’ defined as ‘any show, exhibition or other presentation in front of a live audience which, in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or specific sexual activities.’
DeSantis signed the bill into law earlier this year.
Though the decision was made by organizers of the annual event, which is dedicated to ‘people who enjoy dressing up as or making art of anthropomorphized creatures,’ Rolling Stone senior writer EJ Dickson slammed DeSantis for apparently ruining the event.
‘Florida governor and GOP presidential nominee Ron DeSantis has successfully sucked the pleasure out of many of life’s little joys, from drag brunches to Disney adult TikTok,’ she began her essay.
‘And thanks to the passage of SB 1438, or the Protection of Children Act, DeSantis may now be bringing the ax down on furries.’
Dickson dismissed the connection between furries and ‘adult entertainment’ as part of ‘pervasive misconceptions’ that furries are ‘inherently sexual.’
Rolling Stone senior writer EJ Dickson (pictured) slammed DeSantis for apparently ruining the event
‘While it is true that there is a segment of furrydom that does treat it as a kink, it is not a representation of the wider community, and many furries do not view their interest in anthropomorphic creatures as sexual at all,’ Dickson argued.
‘Though many conventions do cater to the NSFW aspects of the furry fandom, they typically save such programming for later at night to ensure the rest of the con is family-friendly, or cordon off adult vendors so they are not in full-view of other attendees,’ she claimed.
‘The fact that furry organizers felt pressured to bar children from the convention is yet another example of how [the law’s] been seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights,’ Dickson continued.
‘The furry fandom overwhelmingly skews LGBTQ, with nearly 80 percent of furries self-identifying as such,’ she explained.
‘Additionally, many furries identify as transgender and “would not feel safe at a convention in Florida”‘ due to its laws limiting bathroom use to that of one’s assigned sex.
She quoted a ‘transgender furry and the owner of furry adult toy company Lycantasy’ who said they agreed with Megaplex’s decision but said they do not want to go to the convention this year because ‘I don’t want to end up in a confrontation, or worse, jail or dead, just for going to the bathroom in Florida.’
Dickson wrote in a piece for Rolling Stone that the law is an attack on LGBTQ rights, as many furries identify as part of the community
Dickson argued over the past few years, more and more children have found a community with the ‘furry fandom’
Dickson continued on to defend the ‘furry fandom as a safe haven for children, arguing that the community attracts those who are ‘marginalized.’
‘Many furries are marginalized in some way: In addition to many identifying as LGBTQ, a sizable percentage of furries are also neurodivergent,’ she wrote. ‘As a result, they tend to view the community as a safe haven of sorts.
‘Over the past few years, children have increasingly been gravitating toward the fandom for this reason, as Rolling Stone has previously reported.’
Megaplex remains optimistic about having minors at its convention in the future, saying in its statement: ‘It is our hope that this change is temporary and that we can welcome members of all ages back next year.
‘This decision has been a difficult one, but 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 families.’
Its event last year included many events marked for those 18 and older that were held at night.
But others held during the afternoon, some of which were advertised for a general audience, included ‘How to Be Queer,’ ‘Babyfur/Kidfur Meet Up’ and ‘Transgender Furs Meet and Greet.’
Megaplex’s convention this year is scheduled for September 15 through 17 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando.