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How furries fought back against a mayor who demanded the library remove its LGBTQ books

Madison Country Library System, Mississippi, LGBTQ books, library books
Furries meet at a conventionPhoto: YouTube screenshot

When a bigoted Mississippi mayor recently threatened to pull funding from a local library unless they removed their LGBTQ books, an online group of furries responded by raising tens of thousands for the library.

While the furries are mostly known for dressing up in full-body costumes of furry animals, they’re also known for being pro-LGBTQ and opposing hate and bigotry in their communities.

Related: Furry Panic is sweeping through Trump supporters, anti-vaxxers & the religious right

Late last January, Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee (R) told the Madison County Library System that his office would withhold $110,000 in funding unless it got rid of all its “homosexual materials.” He said the books go against his Christian beliefs.

Tonja Johnson, the executive director of the county’s library system, told McGee that the library is not a religious institution and is there to serve the entire community. She said McGee emphasized that “he only serves the great Lord above.”

“He explained his opposition to what he called ‘homosexual materials’ in the library, that it went against his Christian beliefs, and that he would not release the money as the long as the materials were there,” Johnson said.

The lack of funds will significantly impair the library’s services and even cause them to lay off employees, Johnson said. So in response, the library began an online fundraiser for $2,500.

A furry named Soatok – a 30-something Twitter user who describes himself as a “blogger, programmer, security engineer, cryptography nerd” – caught wind of the fundraiser and notified his nearly 5,000 followers about the mayor’s threat.

“This isn’t small potatoes,” Soatok wrote in a January 27 tweet, “but it’s within the reach of the amounts raised by furries for charities at conventions all the time. Do you think we can crowdfund this library and tell their mayor to fuck off?”

 

Soatok donated $500 and encouraged others to assist. Other furries with larger Twitter followings shared his message. The library has since raised $68,910 of its newly set $75,000 goal. The fundraiser will remain active until February 14.

While it’s impossible to know how many of the contributions came from furries, the broadcast of McGee’s bigoted threat certainly didn’t hurt.

It’s unclear if McGee will even be able to follow through on his threat. The local library board, not the mayor’s office, makes library funding decisions. Also, his desire to censor the library based on his Christian beliefs violates the Constitution’s First Amendment forbidding the government from establishing a state religion.

The issue may end up in court, but thanks to the funding, the library may be able to continue supporting the entire community, even if McGee doesn’t want to.

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