Fan conventions have changed dramatically; evolving from what to outsiders looked like the solitary realm of Trekkies and geeks to a broad smorgasbord of pop culture gatherings. Events where fans of nearly anything with a common interest, whether anime, furry outfits, the Dude or what-have you, can gather as one to celebrate, reveling in their passion and knowledge for a pop culture phenomena of some matter of form.
BronyCon is a little different. What started as a small New York gathering in 2011 to celebrate “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” has now evolved into a multi-day, full-scale event. In Baltimore, more than 7,000 fans gathered at the Convention Center to celebrate and prance in a rain of artists, games, speakers, panel discussions, music, dancing and contests. Throughout it all some conventioneers decorated themselves in pony and unicorn costumes, playing the parts of characters in the show.
Though the television show is aimed at young girls, the fanbase has broadened dramatically among the ages and sexes. Though “Brony,” ‘bro’ and ‘pony’ mashed into one, originally identified male followers of the show, it has become an identifier of all fans, man or woman, boy or girl.
So, Sun intern Nicole Sakin and I set out early Saturday morning with a Nikon D800, iPhone with Hipstamatic app and a trunkful of gear with the idea to find out more about Bronies and learn something of their nature. Perhaps, we could discover why they had formed what some might say is a cult following of a commercial cartoon. At the same time, learn why they sincerely follow its message of friendship and community to a point of gathering in Charm City.