5.1 Orientation

In a number of studies we’ve asked participants to indicate their sexual orientation. The 7-point scale, adapted from a traditional Kinsey scale, ranges from “exclusively heterosexual” to “exclusively homosexual” along a single dimension.1 Recognizing that many people do not consider their sexual identity to fall within this single dimension, we provided additional options (i.e., asexual, pansexual, and an option to write in their own option). It should be noted that many of the following analyses using two or more variables, the analyses often require continuous variables and, in such instances, only the data from the 1-7 scale is used. This is not a statement about alternative sexual orientations, but rather, is a byproduct of the type of analysis used and, wherever possible, we present data on other sexual orientations. In some instances, rarer sexual orientations are presented as an aggregate “other” category to protect the identity of those who may otherwise be identifiable for having provided a unique or rare response.

The data in the figure below represent the responses of furries and a non-furry sample of the general American population on the 7-item sexual orientation dimension. Furries were far less likely to report being exclusively heterosexual than the general population (wherein 90% reported predominantly or exclusively heterosexual as their orientation).2 Furries were approximately 7 times more likely to be predominantly or exclusively homosexual. Not shown in the figure, furries were more likely to report “other” as their sexual orientation (15.0% vs. 2.4%), which included pansexual, asexual, and a variety of self-provided orientations). To summarize, furries are far more likely to be non-heterosexual than non-furries, though it would be inaccurate to characterize the furry fandom as homosexual, as the most frequently-occurring single sexual orientation among furries is still “exclusively heterosexual.”

5-1 sexual orientation
In another study, we assessed whether there were gender differences in sexual orientation. Furries identifying as female were significantly more likely to be heterosexual than furries identifying as male.3
5-1 sexual orientation by gender

 

Other studies have compared the sexual orientation of furries to members of other fan groups.4 In the figure below, more than half of all fantasy sport fans, convention-going anime fans (A-Kon), and online anime fans identified as exclusively heterosexual. Furries, by comparison, were the only group where less than half of the group (and, in fact, less than a quarter of the group) identified as heterosexual.
5-1 heterosexual orientation by fandom

 

In addition, furries were 2-6 times more likely to self-identify as bisexual and 3-10 times more likely to self-identify as exclusively homosexual than members of the other fandoms.
5-1 homosexual orientation by fandom5-1 bisexual orientation by fandom

 

Furries were also more likely to self-identify with an “other” sexual orientation.

While furries were more likely to self-identify as asexual than convention-going anime fans and sport fans, they did not significantly differ from online anime fans in this regard.

5-1 other orientation by fandom5-1 asexual orientation by fandom

In a final analysis, the fan groups differed in the nature of the relationship between sexual orientation and sex (that is, people assigned “male” or “female” at birth). In the fantasy sport group and both anime fan groups, females were more likely than males to self-identify as homosexual (as indicated by higher numbers on the sexual orientation scale). In contrast, in the furry fandom, males—not females—were more likely to self-identify as non-heterosexual.

5-1 orientation by sex and sample

Given that only about 20-30% of furries self-identify as exclusively or predominantly heterosexual, it may be possible that they construe themselves as a minority within the furry fandom (in fact, this is not the case, as they still make up the single-largest sexual orientation group within the fandom). Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that some heterosexual furries may feel stigmatized or ostracized within the furry fandom as a result of this minority status. Alternatively, it may also be the case that members of other traditionally minority sexual orientations (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer persons) may nevertheless feel stigmatized within the fandom because they, too, constitute minorities within the fandom.

To test both of these possibilities, we asked furries whether they believed that straight and LGBQ people were accepted within the furry fandom (as separate questions).5 In line with our asking of an analogous question about gender diverse people within the fandom,6 we then compared the responses of straight and LGBQ participants to these questions. Analyses revealed that the two groups did not differ with regard to either question: both groups strongly agreed that both straight and LGBQ persons were accepted within the furry fandom, although both groups did more strongly agree with this notion with regard to LGBQ people (6.48 / 7.00) as compared to straight people (6.14 / 7.00).

In short, evidence suggests that, in general, people are accepted in the furry fandom regardless of their sexual orientation. This is perhaps most true of members of the LGBQ community, who seem to be the most strongly accepted members of the fandom. It may also be the case that the openness and acceptance of the furry fandom may allow people who consider themselves to be exclusively heterosexual to explore aspects of their sexuality they may otherwise not consider in other contexts. Ultimately, future research is needed to explore the nature of these interesting gender and fandom differences in sexual orientation.

References

  1. For more information on the 7-point scale, see Wikipedia: Klein Sexual Orientation Grid
  2. Anthrocon 2012 and IARP 2-Year Summary
  3. International Furry Survey: Summer 2011
  4. IARP 2014 3-fandom study
  5. Anthrocon 2017 Study
  6. See section 1.3 Sex and Gender

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