Have you ever been in a place surrounded by about 7000 people wearing pony-ear-and-unicorn-horn headbands and rainbow-colored tails attached to the back of their jeans?
Last weekend I was in Baltimore for a business event, Mara Glazer’s Next Big Buzz Live. As big a deal as it was, it was TOTALLY overshadowed in terms of sheer numbers and splash by the be-sparkled and be-decked men and women of BronyCon.
A Brony, you see, is a young man, 17 to 35 years old, who loves the My Little Pony TV show. BronyCon was their 3rd annual convention.
Before you laugh and spit your drink all over your computer screen, hear me out.
I was incredulous when I heard it, too. In fact, when I walked into the hotel the first evening, I thought it must be some kind of Gamer convention or coding conference: the young-nerd quotient was VERY high. And though I’m now probably too old to be considered a nerd or a geek, I put myself lovingly in their ranks for many years.
It wasn’t until the next day when the convention started that the rainbow tails and unicorn horns came out, so they still looked like run-of-the-mill smarty-pants and overachievers.
At first I was shocked and confused, but then I sort of fell in love with the Bronys. Here’s why:
These young men were letting their Freak-Flags fly. Out in the open. Not just attending a public event for lovers of a children’s cartoon, but dressing up as their favorite characters.
Now, I consider myself a very tolerant person, but I did find it kind of ridiculous at first. My Little PONY? And I’m now publicly apologizing for my incredulity.
I stopped a BronyCon attendee wearing a T-shirt saying “Military Brony” with the biceps to prove it, to ask him why.
He said that when his friends invited him to watch, he made fun of them and turned away and first. Then he was irresistibly drawn to the themes of the story. Honesty. Kindness. Laughter. Generosity. Loyalty. Magic.
He also hastened to add that the new MLP was not the same as the old 1980’s cartoon, and that it plays on the HUB channel with shows like G.I. Joe. Better graphics, espeicially.
I’m not going to share any photos of the BronyCon event (one of their most deeply-held values is that you not touch or photograph one without their permission, so I didn’t take any).
More than that, though, I didn’t want this article to turn into a gawkers’ heaven. My very first instinct was to smirk and judge, and I don’t want to promote that behavior. If you want to see some of the photos, you can Google it. There are also a few FB pages devoted to the event.
Here are my top 3 ah-ha’s from BronyCon:
ü There’s safely and power in community
ü The Bronys probably went through HS feeling like outcasts. Isn’t it great that these young men decided to don rainbow-colored pony tails instead of resorting to violence against women, animals, or their own classmates?
ü The Bronys were proudly standing in their Truth. And, I note, they are MUCH more courageous than I am. I used to worry a lot about being judged about doing the woo-woo work that I do, especially by my former academic colleagues. But at least I wasn’t a man wearing a Unicorn horn or a sparkly dress
One of my friends at the business event mused that these people were from another planet, and that planet had unicorns. I immediately knew that was true. My first thought: Rainbow Children! (You know who you are.)
The subtitle of the MLP show is “Friendship Is Magic.” I’ve only watched the first few episodes so far—about the “elements of harmony”–and I’m already impressed by the themes: honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, loyalty, and magic are all pure Abundance Zone energies.
I’m quite comforted by the thought that, in 30 years or so, our country will be led by the Bronys. And you may see me at next year’s BronyCon, dressed as Twilight Sparkle.