as originally posted on post-gazette.com
By Atiya Irvin-Mitchell / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
How do you get banned from the largest furry convention in the Midwest? If you’re Dominic Rodriguez, you make a documentary that ruffles the feathers of Anthrocon organizers.
When Mr. Rodriguez set out to make “Fursonas,” his goal was do justice to the fur-suited community that had fascinated him since age 12. The 25-year-old South Fayette resident wanted his documentary to reflect the truth, which falls somewhere between the sensationalized version sometimes shown in the media and the carefully crafted image created by Anthrocon chairman and chief organizer Samuel Conway, who is known as Uncle Kage.
Although he isn’t allowed inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Mr. Rodriguez said he will be visible Downtown during the convention, which opened Thursday and ends Sunday.
“It’s my hometown and I like Anthrocon a lot,” he said in a phone interview. “For me, it’s not just about the programming offered, but also seeing my friends. They can’t stop me from talking to my friends. It’s gonna be the best Anthrocon ever because I know so many more people now.”
Anthrocon has an uneasy relationship with the media. Journalists covering the convention must wear their media badges at all times or be escorted by a senior Anthrocon staff member. Filmmakers like Mr. Rodriguez and collaborators Christine Meyer and Olivia Vaughn must agree to allow Anthrocon leaders to review all content and remove parts that disparage the group. Their refusal and decision to show some of the less respectable aspects of furry fandom, including inflammatory remarks by Uncle Kage, angered some Anthrocon members.
“I think our criticism of him is fair,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “I know I’m biased because I made the thing. But it’s important for someone like him in a position of power to be held to a standard of professionalism.”
Not all furries are denouncing the documentary. Mr. Rodriguez has been invited to screen “Fursonas” at Chicago’s Midwest Furfest on Dec. 1-4. But it won’t be shown in Pittsburgh. Instead, “Furries: A Documentary” by Eric “Ash” Risher will be screened at 6 p.m. today, followed by a Q & A with the director.
Mr. Rodriguez said he’s not upset about another documentary being shown in his hometown. In fact, he considers Mr. Risher a friend and likes his film. The furries shouldn’t fear the media, he said.
“It’s pointless to try to run away and control. It’s pointless to care too much about what people think of you.
“More stories are coming out that are optimistic and not just making fun of us. I’m vain enough to think I made a tiny bit of difference.”