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Thomas Bruce

SPE Member since 2012
Member Chapter: Southwest

2016 Caucus Application Portfolio

This portfolio contains a selection of images from my work documenting the Furry community, an internet-born subculture of people united by an interest in anthropomorphic animal characters and costumes. Furry is a fantasy made reality by way of community effort. Through prolific output by community members, Furry has built it's own history, art, etiquette, cliques, language, celebrities, economy and traditions.

After years of misunderstandings, negative public response, and degrading interpretations in mainstream media, furries have developed a hard shell that discourages open display to the regular world. But this hard shell has also created a community so desiring for acceptance and belonging that it has become a radically accepting site of cultural transgression. Furry is a space that requires the assessment of ones identity and the construction of an idealized avatar. It is space to try on not only a different species, but also new genders, sexualities and lifestyles. In this way, I see Furry as a site of a new type of queerness, one that revels in it's eccentricity and has no interest in bending towards a simple and linear categorization.

With my photographs I mean to display the broad range of intricately designed costumes put for the by the community, but also to display the inner workings of this cultural phenomenon. There is a painstaking amount of construction and effort that goes into every aspect of participation in furry culture. Outsiders are correct in thinking that it gets damn hot in those costumes, and that they're expensive and that it feels a little silly. But it is the fact that we still do it anyway, that we fly all over the country only to be around each other and to work together to make our world a reality, that I find so profound and beautiful.

Shia the Cabbit, at Furthemore in Baltimore, MD

Knox in the redwoods, Arcata, CA

Self portrait after fursuiting, at Midwest Furfest in Chicago, IL

Kihu getting into suit, at Midwest Furfest in Chigago, IL

Barkley and Flip Kissing at Midnight, at New Years Furry Ball in Wilmington, DE

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