My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has an avid fan base which includes — to name a few — my 8-year-old daughter, a large percentage of her 2nd grade class, horse-happy pre-schoolers and, in case you didn’t know, a strong contingent of males. The last group is the most surprising, since the show has all the earmarks of being made and marketed to young girls. But boys and grown men are embracing Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Pinkie Pie with all their hearts.
These male fans are called Bronys and are such a big phenomenon that there are websites dedicated to them, a convention called BronyCon and they were the subject of a documentary entitled Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. But even with all these positive takes on Brony culture and a very supportive male fan base, one young male fan felt so ostracized and was being so mercilessly bullied that he attempted to take his own life.
Michael Morones of Raleigh, North Carolina, was the victim of judgmental peers who hassled the 11-year-old My Little Pony fan to the point where he attempted suicide. The young boy hung himself off the side of his bunk bed. He was found alive but is now in the hospital with a breathing tube in his throat and he may sustain potentially life-long brain damage.
“He’s the kid that never walks. He dances everywhere,” said Michael’s mother, Tiffany Morones-Suttle to WTVD. “He’s so full of energy. He’s always on the move.” His parents saw the positive message in My Little Pony. “It teaches the most basic moral values to a lot of complex thoughts,” said Michael’s step-father, Shannon Suttle.
His parents aren’t lashing out at the bullies. They are embracing the positive message of the hit show and are facing those who drove Michael to the brink with compassion.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say you need to go after bullies and hold them responsible,” said Tiffany. “But you know, I don’t think that’s what Mike would want. I would rather teach people how to do right than turn around than punish, because punishment doesn’t always work.”
My heart breaks for Michael and his family. My own daughter is a huge My Little Pony fan but for the mere fact that she is a girl she would never be criticized for liking the show. The other day we were on YouTube watching a variety of clips from the show (we watched “What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me Song,” about ten times in a row) and we stumbled upon a video of a passionate grown man describing all sorts of obscure details and sharing trivia about that show. “He is so cool! He knows soooo much about My Little Pony!” she declared. She didn’t see anything wrong with a man loving the show as much she does. In fact, she thought it was totally awesome.
It comes down to this: Whatever fills your heart with joy, whatever makes you sing, whatever puts a smile on your face, if it is not hurting others than it should be embraced and celebrated. As a culture, we need to learn to be more tolerant of each other’s passions, be it food, football, or fictional ponies.
Our thoughts are with Michael, his family, and anyone who struggles with being judged for what they love.
Photo Source: Amazon