A Modern Day Pride and Prejudice
BronyCon — the world’s largest convention for and by fans of the animated TV series My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic— was being held in Baltimore in 2013, and my 14-year-old, self-proclaimed Brony son was insistent about going. He had glitter t-shirts with his favorite pony, Rainbow Dash. He had written stories for the online fandom. He moderated a Facebook group for Bronies — teen boy fans of the show. He was not going to be denied.
I had been mostly amused by Cameron’s passion for the pink and purple cartoon ponies. His best friends were girls. He was a curious, imaginative kid who’d spend hours building alien worlds online or spray painting the walls with abstract art. He only learned to read because of the dialogue boxes on the video game Little Big Planet. He played chase with his dog, told fart jokes, and harassed his sister.
Didn’t all 14-year-old boys do that?
But actually taking him to a cosplay convention devoted to My Little Pony, which was sure to be filled with little girls and magic fairies, seemed a little over the line, even for me — Quirky, Permissive Mom.
“Look Mom. There’s lots of workshops and events just for Bronies.” He showed me the convention schedule, filled with celebrity signings, games, concerts, contests and yes, a parade. “We’re going, and that’s that.”
My long-term boyfriend was aghast. “Listen, I’ve been going along with this gay pony stuff, because I thought it was just a phase. But this is too much.”
“Well, maybe he is,” I said. “If he’s gay, he’s gay.”
The poor man almost stroked out. “We’re not going to LET him be gay!”
So, yeah, ex-boyfriend.
As I made preparations to drive Cam and his buddy from Chicago to Baltimore, I was, admittedly, a little embarrassed trying to explain where we were going and why. My family and friends, accustomed to my kids doing weird stuff — my daughter going off at age 15 to a 4-week Peace Building camp in the mountains with no cell phone reception — pretty much agreed with ex-boyfriend. This was crossing some imaginary gay line.
When we arrived, I was dumbstruck by the thousands of people in the Convention Center, pink-wigged and costumed and singing. Not because of the cuteness factor or the sugary music or the glitter fairies sprinkling everyone as they walked by.
But because of my son’s reaction. He was so happy.
He had clearly found his tribe.
For the next three days, I barely saw him. He checked in by text, came back to the hotel to shower and change, and occasionally needed to refill his wallet.
I spent those three days eating seafood, sitting in Camden Yards, and letting the truth sink into my brain. My kid was happy and smart and creative.
He started high school soon after, and either outgrew (or was bullied out of) his love for Rainbow Dash. But many of his new friends were queer, and he coached me solemnly on pronoun use whenever they came over.
Cameron didn’t actually come out publically for another 5 years. Typical of his generation, he just posted it on Facebook and Instagram. First, though, he sent me a text:
Cam: Hey Mom? I know you know, but I’m about to go live.
Me: About what?
Cam: About being queer.
Me: Oh. Facebook?
Cam: Yeah. And IG. Don’t follow me on Twitter Mom. I’m nasty on Twitter.
Me: Gotcha, gotcha.