It was on a Sunday, August 3rd, 2008. I was wondering if I could find other artists on a DevMeet (one of those big meetings organized by users from Deviantart), one of the first times I tried to go out with the intention to meet other people who also drew like me. The young Paco was carrying some sketchbooks and a portfolio, hoping to find other artists on that big new town he had just moved. When I arrived, I could see how most of the people already knew each other, I tried to join some of those groups. They were not exactly interested on my stlye, which I called "Toony animals", specially because all of them were drawing anime/manga/japanese styles, and I couldn't fit on their conversations because I haven't watched any of the asian series they were talking about.
I was about to surrender and I was deciding better to go back home (back then I was terribly shy). When suddenly a guy was interested on my portfolio, he was checking all my drawings, and he asked me "Are you Furry?"
I had no idea about that term, but instead asking what was that, I said I was not. But he kept asking me many questions about my drawings. I explained that the panda character was a representation of myself, and I had many stories in my universe, where anthropomorphic animals lived among humans. "Are you sure you're not furry? You even have a fursona!"
It was at that point when I decided to ask. Furry? Fursona? What was all that?
When he described me what exactly was the furry fandom, it was like an illumination, he was describing exactly what I was, how I felt in my imagination, so I was not the only crazy dude on this Earth who felt himself as a cartoon animal!
He took me with a group apart who were on a table drawing together, and I could see all of them were drawing animals. He introduced me with more furries, I blushed a lot when he introduced me as a panda. It was like a dream come true, they were taking serious that I was a panda bear. It was funny when all of them introduced themselves, telling me their species: "I'm a wolf. I'm a fox. I'm also a fox. I'm an hybrid of wolf and fox. I'm a wolf. I'm a fox"... so, everyone here are foxes and wolves? "Actually a panda is a very rare specie, why are you a panda?" Then I sat with them and explained my story, for first time I was telling someone else all the crazyness I had in my mind, and they were not judging me.
I was even amazed when they told me about fursuits. You have to know, some time before all this, I was a mascot of a sport team, it was a very important experience for me because I realized how much I loved to perform as an animal costume, and since that moment I wished I could have a suit of my own original character, the panda who represented myself, but I always wondered if once I had it, when I would use it? But at the moment they were telling me about the existence of fursuits, woooow, so this was the perfect world for me. "When do you usually meet to suit up?" "Oh no no, that only happens in USA, here in Mexico nobody has a fursuit". And it was true, back in 2008 nobody here had one. I was one of the first of having one, until 2011 (but I was not the first one). Now the fandom has grown up a lot even here in Mexico, now many people has fursuit here, and finally conventions in my country are happening.
I need to thank a lot the furry fandom, it definitely has been a before and an after in my life. I found a place where I belong to. Here is where I've found my best friends, people who I can consider like part of my family. I really love this fandom and I won't change it for anything.
Also I'm so glad with Megaplex, surely they didn't know about when exactly I was having 10 years on the furry fandom, but they hit the target. Today, August 3rd, 2018, Megaplex is starting. They invited me as Guest of Honor (first time a furry convention is inviting me as such). So what an awesome coincidence to celebrate this important date!! To celebrate how all this community full of joy and positivism held this panda bear 10 years ago.
This is not the only celebration, also my panda character is now 20 years by my side. I can't tell when exactly I drew him for first time, I only remember it was when I was 9yo, so for sure it was in 1998. No clue even the month. But any date I drew him back in 1998, happy birthday, Parinton!