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Leo Hardy Posts

Dear Sy

Dear Sy,

I’ve never met you, but I most certainly learned a lot about you from my friends and research I’ve done online.

ConFurence, the first-ever furry convention that you co-founded, ended in 2003 when I graduated high school. In April that year, I went with a furry-curious friend and drove around the Hilton Burbank Airport & Convention Center where the convention was held. I saw people walking the streets in animal costumes and thought: My God. Who set this whole thing up? This is surreal. I think that was the first time I realized the anthropomorphic community gave people the creative license to be the animal they wanted to be; that we didn’t have to live a linear existence and remain a “human.” You helped show this bewildered, closeted 18-year-old lion that is okay to exist. You helped show me that there were others like me out there, looking for same love, support and acceptance that I yearned for.

One year later, I was introduced to a furry message board called by Micah Coon. The message board included an extensive and active roleplaying section. Users posted up to 2,500-3,000 words of text to post. It was there I met a group of furries who, when I asked them, “What got you into the fandom?” they pointed to a series of articles written by someone named Sylys Sable, who wrote articles for FurVersion. I remember reading through the newsletter and realizing there was a living, breathing community that existed around the time I was born; that there was a desire to reach out and connect with others like us. You helped create a network for us to connect with a more primal version of ourselves and tap into our limitless potential as furries — as people who were accepted for embracing their sensual and feral nature without the societal inhibitions that have long kept us in a box without us ever realizing it.

This year, I will be turning 40. Having attended Further Confusion 2024, I saw several generation of furries living their most authentic lives, with their tails out, suits on and hearts open. I bore witness to unabashedly queer freedom that radiated with warmth through the con halls. Throughout the con, I thought about you and I thought about the medical trials and tribulations you’ve gone through recently. You helped pave the path for people to accept themselves. You helped pave a future for generations after us to reach a level of acceptance at a young enough age that they can enjoy a much richer existence of openness for a greater portion of their lives than we have. My generation and the generations before us struggled for years, even decades, to find the kind of peace and acceptance newer generations are able to experience in their prime. As time passes, the fandom continues to grow, and the obstacles to achieving furry self-acceptance and self-love continue to recede.

You walked for us. Now we’re running.

Sy, you literally opened your home in Garden Grove, California as a safe haven for furries to enjoy each other’s company as part of Prancing Skiltaire. Now we have conventions. Now we have outlets to communicate, to find and love each other as the creatures we always knew we were on the inside. You helped bring the animal in us to the outside world, likely saving countless lives of those who would’ve otherwise thought they were freaks and outcasts for relating with anthropomorphic creatures.

I am immensely grateful for your compassion and commitment to the furry fandom. As you make your transition to a higher plane, I want you to know how much you meant to a lot of us. You’ve certainly helped made this closeted kid’s life a little brighter by showing him he could be a proud lion who loves the diversity of his being.

Thank you. Truly.

Mark (Sy) has a long and tough road ahead. As some of you know, Sy was recently diagnosed with Stage IV liver cancer and has chosen to live his remaining days at home in hospice care. Vinson, Changa, Mark and Mark’s family need your help during this difficult time. Visit his GoFundMe page and donate to help alleviate the accumulating medical expenses not covered by his insurance. If you’re unable to donate, please share the page on social media and spread the word.

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