+

Gabriel Sickel, an actor and musician from Rio Vista, California, can frequently be found hanging out in a white cat suit with blue eyes and a mile-wide grin.

Gabriel Sickel as Khord Kitty. Photo by Gabriel Sickel/Twitter, used with permission.


Sickel is a furry — and like many furries, frequently role-plays as an anthropomorphic animal, often in an intricate full-body cat costume, called a fursuit. While shows like "CSI" have cast furry-dom — reductively and unfairly, according to many furries — as a hobby that's exclusively sexual in nature, for furries like Sickel, getting into costume is primarily about performance, identity, and a sense of community.

Sickel spent last week performing as his alter ego Khord Kitty at VancouFUR, an annual gathering of furries in Vancouver, Canada.

On the last day of VancouFUR, the refugees arrived.

As the conference was drawing to a close, word began circulating among the over 800 attendees that a group of Syrian families had recently arrived in Vancouver.

The refugees' first stop would be the Executive Airport Plaza Hotel, where the furry conventioneers were staying.

A note distributed to VancouFUR participants warned that, for the refugees, arriving in the middle of a furry convention would likely be a "major culture shock" and urged the furries to steer clear if possible.

"Keep in mind that they likely will not want to interact with you, and that consent is important for everyone," the message read.


As two large groups staying in same hotel, however, the furries and the refugees couldn't avoid each other for long.

According to Sickel, many of the refugee children were a little scared at first, but the conventioneers — a few of whom had mascot experience — were excited to entertain them.

"After about five minutes, they all warmed up and then they started jumping around with me on my tail," Sickel told Upworthy. "It was really cute."


Sickel was proud to help provide the refugee children with an unforgettable first few days in their new country.

"It made me feel great." Sickel explained. "I mean, I was aware of the Syrian situation, so knowing that I could help their introduction to Canada be a lot warmer, I felt very privileged to get to do that."

Fursuitters, including Khord Kitty (far right), greet Syrian children. Photo by @JayCat/Twitter, used with permission.

Other VancouFUR attendees said that making newcomers feel welcome is exactly what the furry community is all about.

A conference-goer entertains refugee children. Photo by JayCat/Twitter, used with permission.

"It's sort of a makeshift safe heaven for people who feel bullied, discriminated, or alone," Chris Jantz, another convention participant, told Upworthy. Entertaining the refugees, he explained, was an extension of that ethic.

"Our fandom is all about the acceptance of those oppressed in one way or another."

Ultimately, there was plenty of love to go around.

"Khord Kitty ... got a big hug from one of the parents," Jantz said. "It showed us that not only can we, from different cultures, get along just fine, but I think it's heartwarming how much they appreciated what we did for their kids."

It was a scene few of the furries would soon forget.

"Thousands of miles and two different cultures ... but a warm greeting does wonders," another conventioneer, who goes by JayCat, told Upworthy via Twitter.

"We're all human after all!"

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less