Fursonalities: A Conversation With Anthro Northwest Founder Gabriel

**Updated to reflect Gabriel’s proper title of Founder**

If there is one person that has gone to great lengths to show the good sides of the furry fandom in recent years, it would be Gabriel, the Founder of Anthro Northwest. Looking to revitalize the community in Seattle after a..not so great impression was left with a previous furry convention, Gabriel worked to shed a different light on furry by creating a friendly convention that puts art, community, and charity at the forefront of it’s endeavors.

“The community at Anthro Northwest is as diverse as the world itself. Being a completely PG-rated Anthropomorphic Arts convention, the event is well-suited to all ages, and families of every composition.

Some of our members are aspiring artists and performers, but even more are scientists, engineers, business people and computer programmers. At Anthro Northwest you will find just about every ethnic and socio-economic background present. We are not complete without the incredible diversity that makes our community whole.

What brings us together is a love of anthropomorphic art. Whether it is an appreciation of costume performance, costume making, painting, sculpting, drawing, writing, videography, music or any of other activities we do, at our core we love to celebrate the amazing world of anthropomorphics together.”


Community via Anthro Northwest About Page


GFN had the opportunity to ask Gabriel a few questions via email, and have included the conversation for you down below so you might get the chance to know more about him, his vision, below.

GFN:
First and foremost, thank you so much for agreeing to do this!  As someone who has been to Anthro Northwest both years and has had a lot of fun being there and being involved, it’s a pleasure to get to talk to you more about both the convention and yourself!

GFN:
What prompted you to start a new convention in Seattle knowing the history of conventions there was less than..ideal?

Gabriel:
I experienced the love of a very beautiful community. I made a choice and a commitment. After 3 years, I am starting to understand the choice.

While I may have been a catalyst to start something, there were 809 people who gave Anthro Northwest a chance, and they are the ones that really started the convention. The credit goes to them.

GFN:
What sort of hurdles did you face starting a new furry convention in that area and what did you do to overcome those hurdles?

Gabriel:
The hurdles, like most hurdles were artificial, yet based on traumatic experiences people who had supported the community experienced. The roots of the hurdles were fear and prejudice reasonably based on past behaviors that misrepresented the essence of the community as a whole.

I believe the heart of the fandom is love and beauty. To overcome the hurdles, Anthro Northwest focused on providing the community an opportunity to express its core essence of love and beauty. Love can gently overcome all barriers for those who choose to be open and receive it.

GFN:
What sort of responses have you gotten from the community when expressing the all age inclusiveness of Anthro Northwest?

Gabriel:
The response has been exceptional; furries tend to be a very inclusive and diverse group, having the younger age group included has been very positive for the community.

GFN:
If you had to totally start over, do you think you would have made any different decisions starting ANW?

Gabriel:
I don’t believe in looking back and wishing for a different path in life. Even the most traumatic experiences provide an opportunity for growth and prepare one for the challenges that lie ahead. There has been much learning, this forms the foundation of choices going forward.

GFN:
You said you created your first fursuit before even knowing what furry was?  I have to ask, what species did you create and do you still use that suit/fursona now?

Gabriel:
He was a cartoon character, on very special private occasions sometimes he still goes out. The character was never a part of who I was, as it was a manufactured character created by a corporation. After finding the fandom I created a new character – they are an expression of who I am on the inside.

GFN:
You found the fandom fairly recently and then jumped straight into being a con chair for a fast growing fur convention, what has that been like?

Gabriel:
It has been the best and the worst. For both of those, I am profoundly grateful.

GFN:
What is one of your favorite memories from running Anthro Northwest?

Gabriel:
My favorite memory from Anthro Northwest was an experience during the 2017 Formal Masquerade Ballroom Dance. That was the only activity I got to do as an attendee. It was so very unexpected to get an invitation to dance, and was such a delight to experience the convention in that way, even if only for a moment.

GFN:
Every Con-Chair has at least 1 horror story (speaking from experience).  What would yours be?

Gabriel:
I feel like stories are only horrible when choices, traumas, actions or behaviors are not understood and are left unresolved. We have found that during the conflict resolution process, individuals and groups have been incredibly understanding and kind to work with. We almost always depart in peace and with mutual understanding. Our goal is to have healing in all situations, and are absolutely dedicated to achieving that goal, even if it takes many years.

Above all, let love guide you. After that, all the essentials fall into place.

Gabriel


GFN:
What advice would you give someone who is even contemplating starting a new furry convention today?

Gabriel:
Take time to define strong core values of your organization. Surround yourself with the best. Have courage and do something different. Above all express yourself through love in all that you do.

GFN:
Let’s talk CNN, Lisa Ling, This is Life which was shot at the first year of ANW.  How do you think it turned out?  Do you think people were a little less concerned once they saw the show?

Gabriel:
Furry is very much like a multi-faceted diamond. It is very beautiful, and when you look through a particular facet you will see something different. Lisa took the time to look through the facet of overcoming social anxieties through costume performance, and explored the incredible support that the community provides. That story was long overdue, and I so very grateful that she took the time to share that story with the world.

No story about the fandom is complete, nor can any one person represent all of the beautiful facets of the fandom at one time. I hope in the future, the media will continue to examine the other facets of the diamond that is furry so that we can better share our beauty with the world around us.

I believe as a fandom we should be incredibly grateful for the coverage Lisa provided and the exceptional quality of her production.

GFN:
Next year’s theme for ANW is “Growth” can you tell our readers what this theme means to you?

Gabriel:
The theme for this year is “Growth Beyond Self.” It is very much a theme that is in the spirit of Anthro Northwest. We exist as an organization to bring out the best in furry – we have currently defined that to be: charity, creativity and hospitality. We do that through art, education and building community.

While many of us are initially attracted to the community because of the outer beauty, Anthro Northwest’s primary purpose is further development of the beauty that is found on the inside of each one of us.

Growth is a huge part of development of the inner person. Much of this growth occurs when we have the courage to reach beyond ourselves to become the person that we desire to be on the inside.

The themeing artwork for this year is incredibly powerful. It connects with the theme in such a deep way. I am unable to use words to describe that connection. The artwork must be experienced. Special thanks to Spyn for creating the theme artwork.

GFN:
We ask everyone, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask you;
What is your favorite food? 😛

Gabriel:
My mom used to make Tawny Lion Stew (Taken from the little golden book – “The Tawny Scrawny Lion”), don’t worry it doesn’t contain lions 🙂

GFN:
I again want to express my appreciation for you taking the time to answer questions for GFN,  ANW has a warm place in my heart and I look forward to next year in the shiny new hotel!  Are there any parting thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

Gabriel:
After working with ANW, and experiencing what other convention chairs have experienced, I’d like to take a moment to encourage the fandom to be kind to their convention chairs and leaders in general. I’m not saying this for myself, but rather for the others who share this role. I see so many of them being abused by the community, many of our great leaders have left because of the trauma they have experienced. We must remember they are humans, they have feelings, and they make mistakes.

As a community, we should try to love them in our communications, and to build them up so we can prepare them to be the best they can be for us.

Eventually we will get the leadership we deserve. If we are unkind, we will attract the worst, most corrupt leaders to our fandom. However, on the flip side, if we are kind, good and loving we will attract the best leaders, who will in turn be a reflection of the core beauty that is in our fandom.

Anthro Northwest 2019 will be held at the Hyatt Regency Seattle on November 21–24, 2019. To find out more about ANW, visit the official site at: https://anthronw.com/2019/index.html
It’s a fun weekend that this writer has enjoyed since it’s first year and does recommend.

Now we want to hear from you! Have you been to ANW? How was your experience? Sound off in the comments below!

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