I am not sure when it began; but I know it has been for more than a year that Noah has had an interest in My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. It is indeed magic, and because of his gender and the fact so many of us grew up on a different kind of My Little Pony, so began the creation of The Brony. A Brony, if you don’t know is either a male or adult person who is a big fan of the My Little Pony (MLP) Friendship is Magic Series. This “reboot” of ponies was created by Lauren Faust (Powerpuff Girls, Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends) and is nothing like the ponies you may have grown up on.
These ponies are fierce, loyal, independent and full of love and tolerance. They tolerate and love the heck out of you even if you aren’t being so lovable. They have their own issues and battles to wage from time to time, but they have always found that through friendship they can achieve whatever it is they need to. At the end of every episode one of the ponies sends a letter about something they learned to their mentor Princess Celestia, who is the ruler of them all (Equestria) She certainly has her stuff in check. She also has a constantly flowing rainbow mane, which may be hypnotizing me a little.
As a society we can make up silly rules that don’t make any sense (ASD kids know this painfully well). Men and boys may feel slightly embarrassed they like a show that has an almost entire starring cast of female ponies. So they created get-togethers to share their fandom. And what began as a small 100 person convention in New York in 2011, turned into a 9607 person convention August 2014 at the Baltimore Convention Center called Bronycon.We were invited to Bronycon 2014 in Baltimare as they call it to cover the convention and I was most interested in how this Brony culture and special needs community gels together.
Like all conventions, Bronycon had numerous discussion panels, special guests, activity rooms and workshops. They were also very keen to highlighting fan created work. So we were able to enjoy fan fiction, fan made videos, music and even fan made video games. There was trading and a huge market place with about 200 vendors that sold both licensed and fan-created art and plushies. And most people walked around with some form of Cosplay.
Bronycon was very accommodating to people with disabilities there were special passes for anyone who could not wait in line or needed a separate entrance for mobility reasons. Along with the special pass they also had a card system to let others know how the person wearing them was feeling. Green meant, “talk to me, I have trouble initiating”, Yellow meant” I am social but only if I know you” and Red meant leave me alone. I couldn’t help but think this would be useful all the time. The convention was very considerate to make sure Noah had the same access that I did by granting him a press badge as well-which made him feel really important. There were numerous panel discussions, many about creating art, video and music. And there were some which involved people with various disabilities from blindness to autism and their creations, which gave everyone inspiration.
Two nights of the convention from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. was BronyPalooza an indoor concert that involved about dozen internet famous musicians who have created or can play music from MLP or their own. It was a nice dance fest full of glow sticks, and happy conga lines. People would give each other a “bro-hoof” which is like a fist bump. Noah collected over 152 during the two days we were at the convention.
Overall the convention was well organized and full of happy, pleasant people of all ages and genders.
At the end I asked Noah, “What was your favorite thing about Bronycon?” to which he replied “Everything!”. He did have a smile on his face the whole time. One of the best aspects about being a Brony for him is it gives him this access to other kids just like him. As ASD kids grow up, they can feel more isolated as they become more "different" and the whimsy of childhood turns into something less pleasant. The core beliefs of love and tolerance through MLP at Bronycon made it a very welcoming and non-judgmental environment, something all spectrum kids need-something most everyone needs. Friendship is indeed magic.
Fanmade MLP video Ponies reenact Star Wars