Organizers of an upcoming fandom convention for “furries” in Florida have decided to limit its attendance to those 18 and older in a switch made to comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ law forbidding children from attending “adult live entertainment” events.
“Many have raised concerns about recent changes in Florida legislation,” the Orlando-based convention Megaplex announced in a statement last week.
“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.”
DeSantis signed SB 1438, the “Protection of Children Act” into law earlier this month.
Among other things, the legislation criminalizes “knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance” with a sentence of up to a year in prison.
Megaplex, which is scheduled for Sept. 15-17 in Orlando, caters to the subculture of furries, or people interested in anthropomorphized animals.
The subculture has been linked to a sexual kink for people-like animal characters by mainstream media but for most furries, their attraction to the community was not sexual, according to a survey of furries cited by Vox.
Still, there are some members of the community who are aroused by aspects of the fandom and furry conventions often have events catered to those members which are held later at night to avoid conflicts with the family-friendly offerings.
Megaplex said the decision to restrict the ages of attendees was not an easy choice.
“Megaplex has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception and making this change was very difficult,” the organizers said in a statement.
A writer for Rolling Stone slammed DeSantis’ law as an attack on the LGBTQ community — which shares a lot of crossover with the furry community.
“The fact that the furry organizers felt pressured to bar children from the convention is yet another example of how it’s been seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights,” EJ Dickson said of the legislation.
The journalist also spoke to furries and furry supporters who said they wouldn’t feel safe in the state of Florida.
“Right now anything that isn’t very straight-laced, in Florida, is starting to be called out as deviant,” co-founder of Moms of Furries Carrie told her. “Obviously furries are an easy mark for that.”
Another furry who is transgender said he supported Megaplex’s decision which he believes was done to protect attendees from potential harassment. SemJay, who also owns furry adult toy company Lycantasy, said he will not be attending the convention for his own safety.
“I don’t want to end up in a confrontation, or worse, jail or dead, for just going to the bathroom in Florida,” he told Rolling Stone.
Megaplex said it was hopeful that the age restrictions were temporary and that they could welcome back younger furries 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 family members,” the convention organizers said.