Already I can tell some hackles are raised, some are doing stretches so they won’t pull a muscle from so repeatedly rolling their eyes, but yes, this is a blog post, on the eve of my book release, about My Little Pony, one of the more polarizing elements of the internet over the last couple years. Let me be clear, this isn’t a conversion manifesto, I’m not asking anyone to watch episodes, this is more why I support the show. In case any bronies are reading this, I have seen both seasons 1 and 2, and have made one of my characters a Brony.
But let’s get right to the defense, shall we? I believe I’ll start with this:
Lauren Faust and the MLP team deserve a GLAAD award.
While Lauren Faust is credited as the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, I do acknowledge that there are many fine members of the cast and crew who contribute to every episode. But still, I realize that saying a show meant for young girls and its creators deserve an award for striking a blow against homophobia can be a little bit of a stretch. So I’ll try to explain it from one of the few areas that I can claim experience.
In case you didn’t read the title of my blog, I’m gay, I’m open about it, out to my friends and family and the world in general, but I know from personal experience that getting to that place is tough. There’s a lot of pain and difficulty and embarrassment waiting in the wings and you never know which, or if all three are waiting on their cue to make your life a living hell. Eventually, you get to a safe place, with some people you can trust, and you take a brave step and come out about what you feel, and then you discover that you’re not alone, that there’s a whole community of people out there who know what you’re going through, that can support you. And after a while, if you’re in a good place, “it gets better” as goes the trending phrase.
So what does this have to do with My Little Pony? Ask a lot of bronies to read the preceding paragraph and replace “I’m gay” with “I’m a brony”, and see how many nod their heads. Am I saying that all bronies are gay? Of course not, but Lauren Faust and the MLP Team, whether they intended it or not, certainly made them walk a microcosmic mile in our shoes, and that, I believe, is what deserves honoring. I’ve worked at a high school and seen a few kids wearing MLP fan-shirts, and they got just as much negative attention as the gay kids. For the internet, it shouldn’t be any surprise what they face when they admit to being a brony in a non-brony forum.
And it’s obvious that they don’t deserve it. Their only “crime” is liking a TV show that isn’t targeted at them. If that was truly as reprehensible a “gender crime” as the internet would like to make it, then not only would I be out of
work since women would be forbidden from buying my books, but they’d also be forbidden from watching football or playing violent video games, and then, dammit, my Borderlands team would be without its primary DPS, and f*ck that.
I have to admit that while MLP sports a mostly female cast, I wouldn’t really think of it as “girly”. Honestly, I think Faust herself says it best here, “People are so uncomfortable with bronies because they think no self-respecting man would lower himself to be interested in girl things unless he’s perverted… …It breaks my heart that the word ‘girly’ is synonymous with ‘stupid’. I want so badly for that to change. If this is a start in the direction of maybe changing that, or at least making that better, I can die happy.”
In my own words, I believe that men liking My Little Pony isn’t any more threatening to the state of masculinity than women liking M/M romance is threatening to the state of femininity. It’s simply a case of people viewing that boys are supposed to like motorcycles and guns and women are supposed to like clothes and cooking and god forbid a guy finds he likes designing evening wear without being thought of as gay or a girl want to ride a Harley without being thought of as a lesbian. The rampant internet derision of MLP, and it’s much more pronounced hatred for its fans is simply a haven for enforcing perceived gender roles, another bout of “get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich” jokes that invaded social media sites to be used “ironically”. This is, to put it simply, “safely spoken hatred”, timid bigotry.
And let’s face it, I can identify with what bronies go through. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear “gay” or “faggot” used in conversation, and it makes me worried. If America can’t handle some guys watching a TV show initially targeted at girls, how am I supposed to feel about them handling say… someone like me giving blood and not being immediately assumed as HIV+, or someone like me getting married, or starting a family with another man? But like bronies, I have a community I can fall back on as well, and much like the bronies, because of my community I’m working to be more open-minded and accepting, to love and tolerate as the bronies would put it.
And if this is all a step in the right direction, for a portion of the population to see the world in a different light, to be more accepting of differences just because of a TV show about ponies that teaches people how to be better friends and better people, well, like I said at the beginning, give that woman an award.