In October of 2010, a new TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” hit the screens as the fourth generation of the “My Little Pony” franchise. Though makers of the new series intended an audience of children — specifically female — a new fandom was created known today as the “Bronies.”
Brony (BRO-NEE), is a nickname commonly given to male devotees of the “My Little Pony” show or franchise. BYU has a community of over 50 Bronies that all come from different backgrounds, yet hold one analogous interest; the TV show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”
BYU Brony Michael DeGraw is intrigued by the show’s values and morals. “(My Little Pony) is clean and it is uplifting and it is hard to find that stuff nowadays,” DeGraw said. “When you think of ‘My Little Pony’ you think of a show for little girls, but it is actually a good show.”
Bronies express their interest in ponies by sporting “My Little Pony” apparel and collecting paraphernalia.
The members of the BYU Brony club are not only male but female as well. Some female members prefer to be called “pegasisters,” others believe the brony term to a be gender-neutral title.
BYU student Amber Monson gladly accepts either the brony or pegasister title. Monson serves as the “Super Duper Party Pony” for the club. The party pony plans events and activities throughout the year. “I think Utah specifically has the highest amount of bronies per capita… We express ourselves through ponies,” Monson said.
Additionally, bronies express interest by collecting and creating fandom paraphernalia. Monson proudly wears her pony articles to school and collects pony plushies, the preferred term for their stuffed animals. “I have like three or four plushies,” Monson said.
The BYU Bronies hold meetups at The Wall on campus every Friday to watch a pony episode, share fan videos and teach classes. The classes are taught by fellow brony members and they include anything from learning how to write pony fiction stories to creating pony artwork.
BYU brony and history major Josh Bernhard enjoys creating digital pony artwork and selling it to other fans of the show. Bernhard admires the show’s level of detail and mythology. “It (isn’t) just some little girls show, it (is) something that was meant to appeal to a broader audience,” Bernhard said.
Though the audience may be broad, some bronies were surprised when they first developed interest in the show. BYU brony John Oviatt locked himself in his room when he first watched the show because he didn’t want other people to judge what he was watching. “The whole time I was in shock that I was enjoying this little girls show,” Oviatt said. “It took me a long time before I could bring it up to anyone, just because there is such a stigma against (bronies).”
The “stigma” is something that affected 11-year-old Michael Morones-Suttle in Mississippi, when he attempted to commit suicide after being bullied at school because of his “My Little Pony” obsession, as reported by USA Today.
BYU brony Lizzie Hunsaker hopes to end the negativity by advocating the message of friendship the show promotes. “It is just kind of ironic to me when people are judgmental about bronies because this show is promoting being nice to people, and other people are not being nice,” Hunsaker said.
Hunsaker first talked to her husband Jared Hunsaker at a ward activity after hearing he was a brony. Shortly after the first pony conversation, Jared asked Lizzie to attend a BYU brony event with him, later resulting in a pony-inspired themed wedding.
The Hunsakers later attended Ponycon (My Little Pony Convention) in Maryland.
Panels at Ponycon’s feature writers and voice actors from the show. A variety of activities and concerts fill the convention and attendees are also encouraged to dress in pony cosplay.
“I’ve gone three times now, they are a lot of fun,” Jared Hunsaker said.
The BYU Brony club has been a way for members to creatively express interest and create friendships.
“There really is something for everyone around here … just so much amazing content that people have produced. It has inspired so much creativity … There is definitely never a lack of new things to enjoy,” Jared Hunsaker said.
The BYU Bronies club official meeting is held at 4 p.m. in Clyde Building room 381, but they also meet every Friday at noon at The Wall.